Saturday, April 30, 2005

Election Corruption Incidents Surfacing in Ohio

FBI raids the home of a Republican fundraiser who may have been illegally channneling money to the Bush campaign. Found on Toledo Blade.com via Buzz Flash.

Toledo Blade


And more hard facts on what really happened in Ohio during election 2004. Chilling. Absolutely chilling, but not surprising really. The election 2004 continues to reek of corruption and manipulation.

The entire story can be found here

From Free Press: A long article by Bob Fitrakis "How Blackwell and Petro Saved Bush's Brain: And the rise of the right wing juggernaut in Ohio" Fitrakis discusses how the bitterly contested election results in Ohio have taken on a religious twist. The Bush/Rove Ohio extremists are turning on even conservative Republicans who are not hard core fundamentalists. Fitrakis hopes that the attempts by Ohio's state elders to restore balance and dignity to their state's elections may be the "opening salvo of widespread revulsion against Ohio's right wing corruption and abuse that gave the 2004 election to George W. Bush."

Fitrakis reveals that a minster who Blackwell once applauded for his "honor to public service" is under scrutiny because on November 2, 2004, voting machines were transferred from poor, inner city urban areas to this minster's church.

Some excerpts from the article.

The mainstream press is silent no more

Still, the battle over the bizarre 2004 election results in Ohio continues to rage. Karl Rove and George W. Bush, with the acquiescence of some Democratic Party leaders, are orchestrating a cover-up as, simultaneously, shocking new evidence is emerging and a few mainstream media sources are beginning to report the story of a possible election theft.

A headline in the Akron Beacon Journal, for instance, screams: “Analysis Points to Election ‘Corruption’: Group Says Chance of Exit Polls Being So Wrong in ’04 Vote is One-in-959,000.” This report, signed by 12 statistical scholars and social scientists, should have sparked more interest in a nation purporting to be “the world’s greatest democracy.”

The Irish Times noted that, “The internet is still flickering with allegations of a conspiracy to steal the election, fueled by the discrepancies between exit polls that predicted Kerry would win by a margin of 3% and the official results which saw Bush win by a margin of 2.5%.”

Investigative reporter Christopher Hitchens’ article “Ohio’s Odd Numbers” in Vanity Fair stated, “Given what happened in that key state on Election Day 2004, both democracy and common sense cry out for a court-ordered inspection of its new voting machines.”

Prior to the election, Paul Krugman, warned in a New York Times article: “It’s election night, and early returns suggest trouble for the incumbent. Then, mysteriously, the vote count stops and observers from the challenger’s campaign see employees of a voting-machine company, one wearing a badge that identifies him as a county official, typing instructions at computers with access to the vote-tabulating software.

When the count resumes, the incumbent pulls ahead. The challenger demands an investigation. But there are no ballots to recount, and election officials allied with the incumbent refuse to release data that could shed light on whether there was tampering with the electronic records.

This isn’t a paranoid fantasy. It’s a true account of a recent election in Riverside County, California . . . .”

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that presidential candidate John Kerry’s wife Teresa Heinz Kerry told a Seattle luncheon group that it is “very easy to hack into the mother machines,” in reference to the commonly used central computer tabulators that count the votes on Election Day.

Robert Koehler of Tribune Media Services published perhaps the best piece entitled “The Silent Scream of Numbers: The 2004 election was stolen, will someone please tell the media?”

President Jimmy Carter actually mentioned the “f” word – fraud – recently in the Washington Post in reference to reforming the U.S. election system.

And even John Kerry finally acknowledged the obvious when he returned to the site of his concession speech in Boston and told the League of Women Voters, “Last year too many people were denied the right to vote; too many who tried to vote were intimidated.”

Scathing Interview with Democratic Rep. who Slams Bush's Social Security Agenda

Rep. Moran (D-Virginia) says Bush is completely out of touch with the American people. He surrounds himself with people who think like him and who are ass kissers nor does he read any books, articles or discuss issues in depth with anyone. Suggests Bush is a puppet for the right wing nuts.

In scathing interview, Democrat says Bush Social Security plan won't help; Dubs Cheney 'ass kisser'

Link


By John Byrne | RAW STORY

In an exclusive interview with RAW STORY, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) slammed President Bush and Congressional Republicans' attempts to take on Social Security, saying he believes Bush has surrounded himself with those who agree with him and has lost touch with America.


Touching on issues from Social Security to the president's energy plan, Congressman Moran asserted that Republicans had repeatedly put the interests of the wealthy before the poor.


"I think the Republicans basically resent the poor and they figure if we can get the poor investing in the stock market, maybe they’ll start thinking like Republicans," Moran said. "God help us."


The Virginian said he believes that the Republican base has used Bush to push Social Security reform, a project that he says is essentially one to axe Social Security.


"I think they realized that they’re never going to find anybody who is as willing to carry out the agenda of these Republican right wing nuts and reverse the course of American progress," he remarked. "This is their chance. This is their chance to cut taxes down to the bone. This is their chance to repeal Social Security and to bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid."


President Bush is holding an event to promote his plan in Moran's district Friday. The events—like most of those the president held during his presidential campaign—are prescreened to include supporters. Moran suggested that such events may have contributed to what he sees as a sense of "self-delusion" Bush has shown in promoting a plan that polls poorly with the American public.


"I don’t think he has much experience with regular people that haven’t been prescreened," he said.


"He doesn’t read any books, and he doesn’t talk with people that don’t already agree with him," he added. "He’s surrounded himself with ideological sycophants. And the biggest ass-kisser of all is Dick Cheney."

Friday, April 29, 2005

On Election 2004: "The Silent Scream of Numbers"

Disturbing yet not surprising piece found on Brad's Blog. Robert Koehler, the author of the article below, attended the recent National Elections Reform meeting in Nashville in which voter's rights activists, mathematicians and statisticians met to discuss the findings of the various groups' research on Election 2004. As we all very well know, there are huge problems and glaring discrepancies. Koehler is convinced the election was stolen but of course won't say that for the obvious reason. He expresses his dismay, if not alarm, by our media's lack of interest in this issue. We have to go it alone, he says - don't count on the media. By the way, the Chicago Tribune nor any other newspaper ran his story. According to Brad's blog, quite the contrary - the Chicago Tribune shredded Koehler's piece…but….didn’t run his story.

Robert - I gave up on TV MSM some time ago but we can never, ever give up the fight. We need to get the message out to our fellow Americans who are getting gutted and ripped daily by the Bush/Cheney/Rove agenda which is beholden to and owned by their "bases." The B/C/R team constructs language to trick and manipulate us - such as - "the American people need to know the 'truth'; or, what about 'families?' what about 'small business?' 'high gas prices effect families and small business.' What happens when a spouse dies early and a social benefit is frozen at age 40?" They think we are simple and stupid. They hope that we are simple, stupid and complacent.

Excerpt:
"I just got back from what was officially called the National Election Reform Conference, in Nashville, Tenn., an extraordinary pulling together of disparate voting-rights activists — 30 states were represented, 15 red and 15 blue — sponsored by a Nashville group called Gathering To Save Our Democracy. It had the feel of 1775: citizen patriots taking matters into their own hands to reclaim the republic. This was the level of its urgency."

http://commonwonders.com/archives/col290.htm


The silent scream of numbers
The 2004 election was stolen — will someone please tell the media?

By ROBERT C. KOEHLER
Tribune Media Services

As they slowly hack democracy to death, we’re as alone — we citizens — as we’ve ever been, protected only by the dust-covered clichés of the nation’s founding: “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

It’s time to blow off the dust and start paying the price.

The media are not on our side. The politicians are not on our side. It’s just us, connecting the dots, fitting the fragments together, crunching the numbers, wanting to know why there were so many irregularities in the last election and why these glitches and dirty tricks and wacko numbers had not just an anti-Kerry but a racist tinge. This is not about partisan politics. It’s more like: “Oh no, this can’t be true.”

I just got back from what was officially called the National Election Reform Conference, in Nashville, Tenn., an extraordinary pulling together of disparate voting-rights activists — 30 states were represented, 15 red and 15 blue — sponsored by a Nashville group called Gathering To Save Our Democracy. It had the feel of 1775: citizen patriots taking matters into their own hands to reclaim the republic. This was the level of its urgency.

Was the election of 2004 stolen? Thus is the question framed by those who don’t want to know the answer. Anyone who says yes is immediately a conspiracy nut, and the listener’s eyeballs roll. So let’s not ask that question.

Let’s simply ask why the lines were so long and the voting machines so few in Columbus and Cleveland and inner-city and college precincts across the country, especially in the swing states, causing an estimated one-third of the voters in these precincts to drop out of line without casting a ballot; why so many otherwise Democratic ballots, thousands and thousands in Ohio alone, but by no means only in Ohio, recorded no vote for president (as though people with no opinion on the presidential race waited in line for three or six or eight hours out of a fervor to have their say in the race for county commissioner); and why virtually every voter complaint about electronic voting machine malfunction indicated an unauthorized vote switch from Kerry to Bush.

This, mind you, is just for starters. We might also ask why so many Ph.D.-level mathematicians and computer programmers and other numbers-savvy scientists are saying that the numbers don’t make sense (see, for instance, www.northnet.org/minstrel, the Web site of Dr. Richard Hayes Phillips, lead statistician in the Moss v. Bush lawsuit challenging the Ohio election results). Indeed, the movement to investigate the 2004 election is led by such people, because the numbers are screaming at them that something is wrong.

And we might, no, we must, ask — with more seriousness than the media have asked — about those exit polls, which in years past were extraordinarily accurate but last November went haywire, predicting Kerry by roughly the margin by which he ultimately lost to Bush. This swing is out of the realm of random chance, forcing chagrined pollsters to hypothesize a “shy Republican” factor as the explanation; and the media have bought this evidence-free absurdity because it spares them the need to think about the F-word: fraud.

And the numbers are still haywire. A few days ago, Terry Neal wrote in the Washington Post about Bush’s inexplicably low approval rating in the latest Gallup poll, 45 percent, vs. a 49 percent disapproval rating. This is, by a huge margin, the worst rating at this point in a president’s second term ever recorded by Gallup, dating back to Truman.

“What’s wrong with this picture?” asks exit polling expert Jonathan Simon, who pointed these latest numbers out to me. Bush mustered low approval ratings immediately before the election, surged on Election Day, then saw his ratings plunge immediately afterward. Yet Big Media has no curiosity about this anomaly.

Simon, who spoke at the Nashville conference — one of dozens of speakers to give highly detailed testimony on evidence of fraud and dirty tricks from sea to shining sea — said, “When the autopsy of our democracy is performed, it is my belief that media silence will be given as the primary cause of death.”

In contrast to the deathly silence of the media is the silent scream of the numbers. The more you ponder these numbers, and all the accompanying data, the louder that scream grows. Did the people’s choice get thwarted? Were thousands disenfranchised by chaos in the precincts, spurious challenges and uncounted provisional ballots? Were millions disenfranchised by electronic voting fraud on insecure, easily hacked computers? And who is authorized to act if this is so? Who is authorized to care?

No one, apparently, except average Americans, who want to be able to trust the voting process again, and who want their country back.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

More PR Woes for DeLay

I frankly don't care if DeLay or anyone for that matter smokes a Cuban cigar. Actually, forbidding Cuban cigars in this country is patently silly and it shows how out of touch we are with ourselves,not to mention the rest of the planet. I mean, when we have corporations who pedalled their wares to Iraq, among other countries, supposedly on the U.S. "sanction" list.....well...it all goes back to the political bases and has nothing to do with us as a nation.

When a conservative Christian Republican who rails against the "thugocracy" (takes one to know one) of Fidel Castro smokes a CUBAN cigar, I do care. Why? Because the extremists will talk the talk but they won't walk the walk.


From Time Magazine.com found on Buzz Flash
http://www.time.com/time/nation/printout/0,8816,1054968,00.html



Wednesday, Apr. 27, 2005
But Did He Inhale?
Anti-Castro Majority Leader Tom DeLay enjoys a fine Cuban cigar
By KAREN TUMULTY

Try 4 Issues of TIME magazine FREE!
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes, according to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a cigar is an economic prop to a brutal totalitarian regime. Arguing against loosening sanctions against Cuba last year, DeLay warned that Fidel Castro "will take the money. Every dime that finds its way into Cuba first finds its way into Fidel Castro's blood-thirsty hands.... American consumers will get their fine cigars and their cheap sugar, but at the cost of our national honor."

DeLay has long been one of Congress' most vocal critics of what he calls Castro's "thugocracy," which is why some sharp-eyed TIME readers were surprised last week to see a photo of the Majority Leader smoking one of Cuba's best—a Hoyo de Monterrey double corona, which generally costs about $25 when purchased overseas and is not available in this country. The cigar's label clearly states that it was made in "Habana." The photo was taken in Jerusalem on July 28, 2003, during a meeting between DeLay and the Republican Jewish Coalition at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.

"Generally, the Hoyo de Monterrey is considered a very good cigar, especially in those oversizes," says Gregory Mottola, tasting coordinator for Cigar Aficionado magazine. A review of the Hoyo de Monterrey double corona on the website www.topcubans.com raves: "Love at first sight. The beauty of the stick, is matched by it’s (sic) paradisiacal even roundness in the smoke. The Hoyo sweet tastes (crushed cacao/coffee, Moroccan leather), give this cigar a childish naughtiness character. This is a smoke full of prestige and smooth class."

DeLay's smoke may have run afoul of his principles, but it did not violate U.S. regulations at the time. However, it would now. Last September, the Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control tightened its prohibitions against U.S. citizens importing or consuming Cuban cigars. Even Americans licensed to bring back up to $100 worth of Cuban goods are no longer allowed to include tobacco products in what they carry. The regulation also noted that Americans are barred not only from purchasing Cuban goods in foreign countries, but also from consuming them in those countries.

Asked about the Majority Leader's consumption of a Cuban cigar, his spokesman Dan Allen replied there has been "no change in our Cuban policy."



Copyright © 2005 Time Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Privacy Policy

GOP Reverses Ethics Ruling Under Intense Public and Democratic Pressure

Political cost of changing rules to protect the Hammer apparently too great for GOP. Will ask House to vote to rollback rule imposed to protect DeLay.

Found on Truthout.org

    GOP to Reverse Ethics Rule Blocking New DeLay Probe
    By Mike Allen
    The Washington Post


    Wednesday 27 April 2005

January change led Democrats to shut down panel.


    House Republican leaders, acknowledging that ethics disputes are taking a heavy toll on the party's image, decided yesterday to rescind a controversial rule change that led to the three-month shutdown of the ethics committee, according to officials who participated in the talks.


    Republicans touched off a political uproar in January by changing a rule that had required the ethics committee to continue considering a complaint against a House member if there was a deadlock between the committee's five Republicans and five Democrats. The January change reversed this, calling for automatic dismissal of an ethics complaint when a deadlock occurs.


    Democrats rebelled against that and other changes -- saying Republicans were trying to protect House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) from further ethics investigations -- and blocked the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, as the ethics panel is officially known, from organizing for the new Congress.


    Republicans on the committee say they will launch an investigation of DeLay's handling of overseas trips and gifts as soon as the impasse over the rules is broken. The Washington Post reported last weekend that Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff charged DeLay's airfare to London and Scotland to his American Express card in 2000.


    House ethics rules bar lawmakers from accepting travel and related expenses from registered lobbyists. DeLay said that he will meet with the committee chairman and the ranking Democrat, and that his staff is assembling documents to turn over to the committee. The panel admonished DeLay three times last year for what it deemed inappropriate official behavior.


    The officials participating in talks about restarting the committee said Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has agreed to ask the House to vote later this week on a rollback of the rule change. A Republican adviser said the decision "is the speaker's way of trying to put this behind us and get us back to regular order."


    "There will be a [political] cost to this, but if he had not done this, the cost would continue to increase," said the adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because Hastert had not announced his decision.


    This morning, at a weekly meeting for all House Republicans, Hastert will present options for the rollback package, officials said. The officials, who demanded anonymity because the negotiations were confidential, said the proposal will include a reversal of the January rule that would automatically dismiss an ethics complaint after 45 days if the committee is deadlocked.


    "It's gone," an official said of the automatic-dismissal rule as he emerged from the negotiations.


    A House Republican leadership aide said that the automatic-dismissal rule is "the rule that is most commonly believed to be designed to protect Tom DeLay" and that it was "impossible to win the communications battle" on it.


    Leaving his office last night, Hastert would not say what form his recommended changes will take and suggested that one option might be to lengthen the time before the automatic dismissal occurs, to perhaps 90 or 120 days.


    "Sooner or later, there has to be a resolution -- people can't be dangled out there forever," Hastert said. "I think [the January changes] were good, fair things for the Congress -- everybody. But, you know, that is the point of contention. We can't move forward, we can't organize, we can't do the work that the ethics committee needs to do."


    The ethics committee's top Democrat, Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (W.Va.), said that if the Republicans rescind all three rules changes made in January, Democrats would vote to let the ethics committee operate. "That would return you to rules that were fashioned in a bipartisan way," he said. Without a full reversal, Democrats will demand creation of a bipartisan ethics task force, he said.


    The ethics committee's chairman, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), will support a vote on rule changes because he believes it is the only practical way to get the committee functioning, sources said. Hastings recently sought -- and received from the GOP leadership -- a large increase in the committee's budget and staff.


    The vote planned for later this week will mark the second time in four months that House Republicans have changed a rule but then changed it back under public pressure because the changes were perceived as designed to protect DeLay.


    Last November, Republicans rewrote an 11-year-old party rule that required a party leader to step aside if indicted, and instead made it possible for such a leader to maintain the party position. A grand jury in Austin was investigating the campaign finances of a political action committee created by DeLay and his political associates. After public objections to the maneuver, DeLay asked his party colleagues to rescind that change when they returned to Washington on Jan. 3 for the 109th Congress, and they did.


    The next day, the full House approved -- on a largely party-line vote of 220 to 195 -- changes that Democrats contended would make it harder to launch investigations and would undermine their effectiveness.


    A congressional aide said that changing the rules will mean "a couple of great days for Democrats" but that Republicans have calculated this will deny them long-term use of the ethics issue heading into next year's midterm elections.


 


   

Gannongate Resurfaces. Conyers, Slaughter Find Holes in Secret Service Reports

Secret Service Log shows Gannon signed in when visiting the White House, but in many cases, he never signed out. Interesting, very interesting, indeed.

Another great piece sent by Ken.


More questions about Jeff Gannon
http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/index.html

The Secret Service may have thought it was clearing things up when it turned over to Reps. John Conyers and Louise Slaughter security logs showing Jeff Gannon's comings and goings from the White House. It hasn't worked out that way.

As Raw Story noted almost immediately , there are all sorts of holes in the documents the Secret Service released. The documents show that Gannon got access to the White House roughly 200 times in less than two years, but they also show days in which Gannon is listed as arriving but not leaving and leaving but not arriving. Our inbox is full of hopeful speculation: Was Gannon somebody's overnight guest at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.?

It's not impossible, we suppose, but we'll assume, until we see some evidence to the contrary, that the Secret Service just did a bad job of keeping track of who was coming and going at the White House. That's not exactly a comforting thought, either -- especially given Gannon's rather tawdry background -- and a group of internet sleuths calling themselves ePluribus Media have just raised a whole new set of questions about the matter. They've compared the Secret Service "access control" records with video clips of White House press briefings, and they say they've found five tapes that show Gannon at briefings inside the White House on days that the Secret Service says he wasn't there at all. The group asks: Did the Secret Service screw up that much on its own, or did someone at the White House figure out a way to help Gannon get in without appearing on the Secret Service logs?

Meanwhile, Conyers and Slaughter are asking some questions of their own. When Scott McClellan was pressed on Gannon's access back in February, he said: "Well, let me explain a few things. First, as the press secretary, I don't think it's the role of the press secretary to get into picking or choosing who gets press credentials. Also, I don't think it's the role of the Press Secretary to get into being a media critic, and I think there are very good reasons for that. I've never inserted myself into the process." But according to Conyers and Slaughter, the Secret Service documents show that McClellan's media assistant, Lois Cassano, requested 48 of the day passes Gannon used to get into the White House. In a letter they sent to McClellan this week, Conyers and Slaughter ask whether he'd like to "revise" his claim about not getting involved in the process.

Krugman: "The Oblvious Right"

In from Ken. A wonderful piece written by Paul Krugman. In it he reconfirms Paul O'Neil's comments about Bush in "The Price of Loyalty." The Bush people only listen to their bases - that is - the religious right and corporate America. They don't give a lick about the rest of the country. So now, despite the fact that the economy is reeling downward, the Bush people are talking about a "Bush Boom." 59% of those polled think the economy is worse. Boom? For whom? I think we know the answer to that.


The Oblivious Right
By PAUL KRUGMAN

Published: April 25, 2005

According to John Snow, the Treasury secretary, the global economy is in a "sweet spot." Conservative pundits close to the administration talk, without irony, about a "Bush boom."

Yet two-thirds of Americans polled by Gallup say that the economy is "only fair" or "poor." And only 33 percent of those polled believe the economy is improving, while 59 percent think it's getting worse.

Is the administration's obliviousness to the public's economic anxiety just partisanship? I don't think so: President Bush and other Republican leaders honestly think that we're living in the best of times. After all, everyone they talk to says so.

Since November's election, the victors have managed to be on the wrong side of public opinion on one issue after another: the economy, Social Security privatization, Terri Schiavo, Tom DeLay. By large margins, Americans say that the country is headed in the wrong direction, and Mr. Bush is the least popular second-term president on record.

What's going on? Actually, it's quite simple: Mr. Bush and his party talk only to their base - corporate interests and the religious right - and are oblivious to everyone else's concerns.

The administration's upbeat view of the economy is a case in point. Corporate interests are doing very well. As a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, over the last three years profits grew at an annual rate of 14.5 percent after inflation, the fastest growth since World War II.

The story is very different for the great majority of Americans, who live off their wages, not dividends or capital gains, and aren't doing well at all. Over the past three years, wage and salary income grew less than in any other postwar recovery - less than a tenth as fast as profits. But wage-earning Americans aren't part of the base.

The same obliviousness explains Mr. Bush's decision to make Social Security privatization his main policy priority. He doesn't talk to anyone outside the base, so he didn't realize what he was getting into.

In retrospect, it was a terrible political blunder: the privatization campaign has quickly degenerated from juggernaut to joke. According to CBS, only 25 percent of the public have confidence in Mr. Bush's ability to make the right decisions about Social Security; 70 percent are "uneasy."

The point is that people sense, correctly, that Mr. Bush doesn't understand their concerns. He was sold on privatization by people who have made their careers in the self-referential, corporate-sponsored world of conservative think tanks. And he himself has no personal experience with the risks that working families face. He's probably never imagined what it would be like to be destitute in his old age, with no guaranteed income.

The same syndrome has been visible on cultural issues. Republican leaders in Congress, who talk only to the religious right, were shocked at the public backlash over their meddling in the Schiavo case. Did I mention that Rick Santorum is 14 points behind his likely challenger?

It all makes you wonder how these people ever ended up running the country in the first place. But remember that in 2000, Mr. Bush pretended to be a moderate, and that in the next two elections he used the Iraq war as a wedge to divide and perplex the Democrats.

In that context, it's worth noting two more poll results: in one taken before the recent resurgence of violence in Iraq, and the administration's announcement that it needs yet another $80 billion, 53 percent of Americans said that the Iraq war wasn't worth it. And 50 percent say that "the administration deliberately misled the public about whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction."

Democracy Corps, the Democratic pollsters, say that there is a "crisis of confidence in the Republican direction for the country." As they're careful to point out, this won't necessarily translate into a surge of support for Democrats.

But Americans are feeling a sense of dread: they're worried about a weak job market, soaring health care costs, rising oil prices and a war that seems to have no end. And they're starting to notice that nobody in power is even trying to deal with these problems, because the people in charge are too busy catering to a base that has other priorities.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Some Moderate Republicans Bail From Radical Bush Agenda

As they well should. From Truthout.org.

By the way, the Washington Post reported yesterday that most American are oppoosed to ending the filibuster. You can find this article on Truthout.org.


 Clashes Growing between Bush and GOP Moderates
    By Ronald Brownstein
    The Los Angeles Times


    Tuesday 26 April 2005


    Washington - Conflicts are multiplying between congressional Republican moderates and the White House as President Bush pursues his aggressively conservative second-term agenda.


    The unexpected resistance to Bush's nomination of John R. Bolton as U.N. ambassador from several Senate Republicans marks the latest, and potentially most intense, clash. But battles over Social Security, Bush's budget proposal and ending the filibuster for judicial nominations also are raising tensions inside the party.


    The divisions do not appear as pronounced as the ideological divides among Democrats during Bill Clinton's presidency. But GOP moderates, especially in the Senate, seem more willing to challenge the administration than during Bush's first term, which was characterized by historic levels of party unity.


    "A lot of the moderates were willing to give the president the benefit of the doubt prior to the election, but now that he's no longer going to be on the ballot, they are putting their own interest somewhat before the White House's," said Marshall Wittmann, a former GOP Senate aide who is an official at the Democratic Leadership Council, a centrist party group.


    A senior White House official said the recent discord reflected the issues Bush was pushing, rather than diminishing presidential clout.


    "I wouldn't look at it as 'It's every man for himself' because the president has just been reelected. I just think it's a different issue environment and these are tougher issues," said the official, who requested anonymity. "It's not hard for a Republican to support a tax cut. But we are getting into issues that are tougher."


    Bush and GOP leaders could pressure enough moderates to prevail on most key issues. During the president's first term, the moderates often seemed to speak loudly and carry a small stick, voting for key administration proposals, such as tax cuts, after raising early objections.


    Also, Bush's sky-high job approval ratings among rank-and-file Republicans and his record of helping the GOP gain congressional seats in 2002 and 2004 encourage party discipline.


    "Those are very powerful hooks that will keep the Republican caucus more together than apart," said GOP pollster Bill McInturff.


    Yet more turbulence within the party was the last thing most Republicans expected after they expanded their House and Senate majorities in last year's election.


    The signs of insurrection have reached a point where some conservatives believe the White House must confront the dissenting voices more forcefully - especially as some Republicans' doubts about Bolton threaten the administration with its first defeat on a top-tier executive branch appointment.


    "If the moderates take down Bolton … then you are really starting to get into threatening the party's ability to govern," said Jeff Bell, a veteran conservative strategist. "I think Bush has to call the moderates' bluff in some way."


    Similarly, conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt predicted dire consequences for the GOP if Republican defectors thwarted the expected effort by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) to ban the filibuster for judicial nominations.


    "Fundraising for the National Republican Senatorial Committee will crater, and the majority so recently and dearly won could well vanish in a matter of 18 months," Hewitt said on his Web log last week.


    To many observers, the second-term disputes within the GOP appear noteworthy largely in contrast to the party's unity during Bush's first term.


    GOP House and Senate members managed a much higher degree of cohesion in their voting records than during the presidencies of Republicans George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan or Richard M. Nixon. The Republicans also were much less likely to break with the president than congressional Democrats during Clinton's first term.


    "By the standards of the Democrats … [the divide among the Republicans] is still pretty modest, but pretty modest means it is still probably a little different than in the first term," McInturff said.


    Even now, the level of defection on most issues remains small. Republicans this year voted almost unanimously to pass bills that limited class-action lawsuits and made it tougher for consumers to declare bankruptcy, both conservative priorities.


    But because Senate Democrats are holding together more effectively than during Bush's first term, even small numbers of GOP defections can sink party priorities, said Michael Franc, vice president for government relations at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank.


    "The strength of the moderate Republicans derives in no small part from the unity of Senate Democrats," Franc said.


    For instance, seven Senate Republicans joined with Democrats last month to block the administration's plan to seek major reductions in the growth of spending for Medicaid.


    Continued resistance from GOP moderates to large reductions in federal entitlement programs could keep House and Senate negotiators from reaching agreement on a new federal budget, according to Republican sources following the talks.


    Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) and Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record) (R-Ariz.) have indicated they would oppose any attempt to ban the filibuster for judicial nominations. Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (news, bio, voting record) (R-Maine) seems almost certain to join them. And enough other GOP senators remain uncommitted to leave the outcome in doubt if the issue comes to a vote.


    Last week, objections from Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) forced Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) to postpone a vote on Bolton's nomination until next month. Chafee and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) also have questioned the choice. With all committee Democrats planning to oppose Bolton, a defection by even one Republican would doom his confirmation.


    Opposition from moderate Republicans is adding to the administration's challenge as it confronts unified Democratic resistance to Bush's plan to carve out private investment accounts from Social Security. Since all Senate Finance Committee Democrats are likely to vote against the idea, it would die in committee if just Snowe, a committee member, holds in her opposition.


    Defections by moderates also produced a series of close calls for Bush during recent Senate votes on his budget. Seven Republicans broke from his proposal to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but the plan narrowly survived when it attracted support from three Democrats.


    In the House, Republican leaders passed Bush's budget only after promising skeptical moderates a vote later this year on legislation to loosen the restrictions the president imposed in 2001 on embryonic stem cell research.


    Presidents usually find it tougher to herd their party during a second term.


    "There is a certain degree of 'lame-duck-itis' that sets in," said Wittmann, who was an aide to McCain before joining the Democratic Leadership Council.


    But on several fronts - such as restructuring Social Security, limiting federal spending and nominating the unwavering conservative Bolton for the U.N. - Bush is pushing moderates to the limits of their political and philosophical comfort levels.


    Antonia Ferrier, Snowe's communications director, expressed a common sentiment among GOP moderates when she said, "The senator will try to support the president when she can, but there are times when she has to do what is in the best interest of her state."

Does Bush Violate Constitution in Calling Home in Crawford Western White House

As always, the Nashua Advocate writes a thought provoking, deeply reflective and stunning article about Bush's so called Western White House. Claims Cheney and others run our government while Bush vacations thousands of miles away, while trying to project the false image of a hard working President. Also claims the only other world leader who retreated to a residence outside the capitol was Louis XIV.

I just finished reading "The Price of Loyalty" by Ron Suskind about former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and his first hand experience with the Bush people. The piece below reconfirms O'Neill's deep and troubled concerns about Bush and Company. Cheney, by the way, recruited O'Neill to the position, but that is another story at another time.
Excerpt.:

Well, consider this: the last world leader to so remove his nation's Seat of Government was baroque-era tyrant Louis XIV, the so-called Sun King, who moved his official operations from Paris to Versailles in a patent attempt to screw with the nobility and further entrench his iron grip on France.

Of course, The Sun King had nothing stopping him from moving his Seat of Government to Versailles.

Whereas this President did.

And indeed took a sworn oath to uphold the document which made unilaterally relocating the White House illegal.

But no one called him on it.

Until now.

http://www.nashuaadvocate.blogspot.com/

Did President Bush Violate the U.S. Constitution in Designating His Private Property in Texas the Seat of the Executive Branch of U.S. Government?



Scandal Involving the So-Called "Western White House" Far From Trivial, Implicating Both the Events of September the 11th, 2001, The President's Ongoing Penchant for Propaganda, and His Historic Disregard for the Constitutionally-Mandated Separation of Powers

By ADVOCATE STAFF

Remember September 11th, 2001?

Of course you do.

We all do.

And for those of us not particularly fond of this President or confident of his competence, one of the first questions which nagged us after that horrible day in American history, and which nags at us still, is this: Could the President have done more to protect us?

As the controversial but critically-acclaimed movie "Fahrenheit 9/11" famously disclosed to the nation, President Bush spent an alarming percentage of his first eight months in office relaxing on his private ranch in Texas. Indeed, the President was a rare sight in Washington in the months leading up to September 11th, leading many to question not only President's early-term political agenda--a missile defense system which has never yet worked now seems an absurd political "priority," in retrospect, and seemed so to many progressives at the time--but also the President's commitment to governing this nation as opposed to, well, vacationing on his private property hundreds of miles from the nation's capital.

Which brings us to the headline emblazoned above, which should be every bit as troubling to the average citizen as it was to us at The Nashua Advocate when we first stumbled across the story.

So, to begin.

On August 3, 2001, USA Today ran a story, entitled "White House to Move to Texas for a While," which should have raised some heads among average citizens and legal scholars alike, but, in the event, did not:

Six months after taking office, President Bush will begin a month-long vacation Saturday that is significantly longer than the average American's annual getaway. If Bush returns as scheduled on Labor Day, he'll tie the modern record for presidential absence from the White House, held by Richard Nixon at 30 days.

Ronald Reagan took trips as long as 28 days.

White House officials point out that the president is never off the clock. They refer to the 30 days at his Texas ranch--now it's called the Western White House--as a working vacation. He'll receive daily national security updates and handle the duties of the Oval Office from his 1,583-acre spread near Crawford.

But some Republican loyalists worry about critics who say Bush lets Vice President Cheney and other top officials do most of the work. They're also concerned about the reaction of the average American, who gets 13 vacation days each year.

....

When Bush retreats to his ranch, aides say, the White House just changes location. "He'll be returning to Texas and operating out of Crawford," says Karen Hughes, counselor to the president, referring more to the small town where reporters will gather than the exact site of Bush's command center. He'll be 7 miles down narrow, winding Prairie Chapel Road.

[Emphasis supplied].

Say what?

Does any legal scholar in America doubt that the President can't move the White House, either formally or pragmatically, without prior Congressional approval?

More importantly, to put the finest point possible on this previously unreported story: while it's true that the President could live in a shack in Anacostia if he wanted to, his official government residence--and, far more importantly, the constitutionally-prescribed "Seat of Government" (yes, that's an actual term from the U.S. Constitution)--must not only be on federal property, but must be in a "District" (there's that pesky Constitution again) designated by, you guessed it, the Congress.

Meaning, not the President, and not the Executive Branch of government, of which the President is the head.

And lest anyone doubt that the White House's intention in August of 2001 was to move the Seat of Government, one need only consider the statement articulating same by the President's Chief Adviser (bolded above), as well as the inescapable fact that, approximately thirty days prior to the worst assault on America soil since Pearl Harbor, the Bush Administration actually put up a sign declaring Bush's private property to be the "Western White House."

And the nation--consumed, at the time, with the sordid Chandra Levy/Gary Condit fiasco--failed to take any notice of the change.

Oh sure, a few blogs noticed--but no one thought the move was illegal.

Nor, as a much less momentous matter, did anyone note the cravenness of the move, quite apart from it being illegal.

First, because Texas is incontrovertibly in the South, so the misnomer "Western White House" was a predictably transparent Team Bush attempt to make good copy, in this case by avoiding the inescapably provincial/Civil War-era implications of confiding to the nation that its President escaped to the "Southern White House" every few weeks (or even more frequently than that). After all, this nation has a fairly bloody history where "two White Houses" are concerned (particularly where one of them is in the South).

Moreover, the overtly-political maneuver was likewise transparent for its attempt to paint the President as a "hard worker": not only did USA Today report in its August 3rd, 2001 article that fully 30% of the nation refused to tell pollsters the President was "working hard enough," but, as "Fahrenheit 9/11" would later alert the nation, during his first eight months in office--the crucial eight months preceding the attacks of September the 11th--the President was cloistered in the "Western White House" a staggering 42% of the time.

Still think the President's attempt to evade the prying eyes of the Legislative Branch, and to force the people's representatives in Congress to seek a private audience with him on his private property instead of merely driving down the street to the real White House, isn't a big deal?

Well, consider this: the last world leader to so remove his nation's Seat of Government was baroque-era tyrant Louis XIV, the so-called Sun King, who moved his official operations from Paris to Versailles in a patent attempt to screw with the nobility and further entrench his iron grip on France.

Of course, The Sun King had nothing stopping him from moving his Seat of Government to Versailles.

Whereas this President did.

And indeed took a sworn oath to uphold the document which made unilaterally relocating the White House illegal.

But no one called him on it.

Until now.

The Nashua Advocate here puts forward the following premise: the President's declaration that the seat of the Executive Branch of government would, during the entirety of his Administration, and whensoever he might choose, be variously something other than property owned by the citizens of the United States--and in a "District" duly designated by the Legislative Branch as the Seat of Government--was an illegal act for which any member of the Legislative Branch could now seek immediate redress, remedy, and injunction in a court of law.

The President can vacation wherever he likes, but he cannot establish a "Western White House" and declare, as he has, that the operations of the Executive Branch of government will from time to time be conducted solely from a location that is, in no uncertain terms, his own private property.

Now, for the legal proofs:

Article I, Section 8, Paragraph 17. [In part]. "Powers Granted to Congress: To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District...as may, by...the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of Government in the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be..."

COMMENTARY: So what does this tell us? First, that the notion of a "Seat of Government" is a constitutionally-prescribed precept. Second, that there is only one "Seat of Government," not two or three or thirteen. Third, Congress decides which one place will be the "Seat of Government," and Congress alone. Fourth, that the "Seat of Government" must rest on federal--that is, public--property, meaning property "purchased [by Congress, on behalf of the People] by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same [Seat of Government] shall be..."

The President's "Western White House" fails each and every one of these tests. Which means both that it isn't the "Western White House" and may not be called that, and that the President may not make his Crawford ranch the Seat of Government for the Executive Branch for any period of time, period. Meaning, he can vacation there but can't set up even semi-permanent operations (let alone 42%-of-his-reign operations) in the State of Texas, whatever his Chief Adviser thinks.

Article IV, Section 3, Paragraph 2. [In part]. "The Congress shall have the Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States;..."

COMMENTARY: So what does this tell us? Well, that Congress controls all federal property, including, of course, the White House. And that since Congress is responsible to the American public for its actions, the White House can truly be termed "The People's House." Not so "The Western White House," which is private property owned by George W. Bush, citizen. Congress has no power there. The American people do not own that land. George W. Bush, citizen, can invite or not invite to his private home anyone he wants.

So, what's the significance of all this?

[Anticipating, here, the frivolous objections to this article from, candidly, those many frivolous conservatives whose pet issues involve, typically, how many politically-correct albatrosses you can balance on the head of Tom DeLay, or a toilet-bowl scrubber, whichever is worth more, and not, God forbid, anything touching upon the Constitution of the United States. Which, by the by, doesn't in any way disallow filibusters].

So, if you're looking for the meat in all this, look at it this way: first, the President of the United States may have violated the United States Constitution (and even the Declaration of Independence, to the extent it's binding [see below]), contrary to his oath to uphold same under Article II, Section 1, Paragraph 8.

That's a big enough hill of beans any way you look at it.

Second, there are damn good reasons the Founding Fathers gave the most representative branch of government control over where and how the President would set up the Executive Branch of government.

For example:

1. The Founders did not want the Seat of Government in the United States to be bifurcated--or worse--in a geographic space spread across the length and breadth of the country. They believed, presumably, that doing so would fragment American government and reduce its effectiveness and even its authority (while, simultaneously, raising exponentially the transaction costs of running the affairs of the nation).

2. The Founders did not fight the American Revolution simply to reinstate some of the worst excesses of the pre-French Revolution monarchy: namely, a hereditary monarch whose control over the Seat of Government annually allowed him to control, as one would a marionette, say, every organ of government business. By removing itself to a remote location, the Executive Branch could, the Founders presumably reasoned, interfere with the proper functioning of other branches of government and place a disparate stock of power in the hands of the Executive Branch. With a "Western White House," the President A) need not open the space to the public, B) need not receive any person, in government or otherwise, he does not wish to receive, C) might not be obligated to disclose his business--and who he sees or does not see--to the American People, and so on.

3. The Founders established Washington as the nation's capital as a compromise between the Several States who were parties to the Constitutional Convention. To move the Seat of Government hundreds of miles to the west abrogates the intentions of all parties to the signing of the United States Constitution in a fashion which (had it been suggested, say, at the time) might well have nullified all such signatures to the Founding Document. In other words, the whole deal, the whole kit-and-kaboodle might have fallen through in 1789 had Crawford, Texas (of course, then a part of Mexico) been made the capital instead of Washington, which was the official compromise of the Several States then in existence at the time.

4. The Founders wanted the Seat of Government to be a publicly-accessible space, one which would effectively reify what Lincoln would eventually term--and the Founders certainly strove for--"a government of the people, by the people, for the people." Does a government which conducts its affairs, and makes its Seat, on a private ranch in Texas meet that standard? Does anyone doubt that Crawford, Texas was the Seat of Government during the 42% of the time Bush was there between January and September of 2001? Alternately, are any of you conservatives out there willing to concede publicly that Bush was hundreds of miles from the Seat of Government in the months leading up to September 11th?

No, of course you won't. Karen Hughes couldn't or wouldn't admit it, and neither will you.

5. This President has a history of mingling the powers of the Legislative Branch with his own (supposed) powers. Witness, for example, the Administration's refusal to turn over documents to Congress which would have established, conclusively, just who was behind Team Bush's so-called "energy policy." This latest revelation is no different: the President wants to spend approximately 42% of his time at a private location, inaccessible to the People's representatives and indeed the People themselves, make it in every sense the Seat of Government, and then--through a trickery of signage--not be called on it. When, in fact, the sign does little more than confirm the President's unconstitutional intent in slithering off to his "Western White House."

The President should be asked, by a Member of Congress, to remove the plaque from the President's private ranch in Texas which dubs said private property "The Western White House."

There is no Western White House.

There is just a White House.

And it is the People's House.

And when the President goes to Crawford, Texas, he goes on vacation--not to his "other office" or to a second Seat of Government which, conveniently, he owns, controls, operates, maintains, and, in the private-citizen sense, governs exclusively.

The Crawford ranch is a private residence.

Calling it anything more than that, especially as a justification for escaping accountability in Washington, and/or escaping the demands of the People's representatives, is quite simply illegal.

That's right, illegal.

You heard it here first.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: To the doubters, particularly those who, like many conservatives, believe the non-binding, pre-constitutional dicta of the Declaration of Independence is sacrosanct, whatever the U.S. Constitution says: What would you say if it was proven to you that The Declaration of Independence specifically addresses what Bush has done during his Presidency--and addresses it using George's name, too, as the actions taken by this President mirror those by George III?

To quote from the Declaration:

The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

Monday, April 25, 2005

From PEN: Filibuster Defense Update

The People's Email Network FILIBUSTER DEFENSE Update

Please submit the form below. I haven't had time yet to make the web address "live".

There is a fringe group in America who has a vision of our government as a dictatorship, without any of the checks and balances our founders had the wisdom to create over 200 years ago. And the most cynical part is that it has NOTHING to do with people of faith. This is all about people either too biased or too corrupt to be trusted with lifetime appointments to our federal courts, including a judge lacking even the ethics to recuse herself in cases involving her own campaign contributors.

The filibuster exists precisely to protect the minority from being abused by a bare majority. How much more important is this where the TRUE majority of our people are OPPOSED to the radical and dangerous agenda being pushed by the current administration? Those who would seek to usurp all power in our country know they can never win over the American people on the merits. Not satisfied with a court system already stacked with their own nominees, they are obsessed with breaking the rules to lurch even further to the right. They MUST be stopped NOW.

http://www.usalone.com/filibuster.htm


Did they not hear us hear us the first time we told them a small number of their proposed nominees were TOTALLY unacceptable? Do they have to hear from each and every one of us in person for them to get the message? Well, maybe they do. And that's why it is so important for all of us speak out now by submitting the form above and tell them once and for all that no means no!

This is another battle we are SUPPOSED to win. The other side has internal polls that show them far behind in public opinion. But our true majority will only continue to prevail if we keep speaking out at every opportunity. If you want to do more to support this movement we have even have an action form you can put on your own website and having working in just a minute. Simply download the zip archive below, unzip it and follow the easy instructions

http://www.usalone.com/qnum32_form.zip

Please post the above links everywhere you can to everyone you know

Saturday, April 23, 2005

CNN's New Boss Says Progressives "Don't Get Too Worked up About Anything"

The moron has probably been watching Fox News and his own pathetic show time CNN news exclusively. He obviously doesn't read or use the Internet either. Idiot.

From Fair & Accuracy In Reporting
CNN New Boss


CNN's New Boss: Progressives "Don't Get Too Worked up About Anything"



Action Alert (4/12/05)

Over the years, media owners and editors have come up with different explanations for the lack of left or progressive voices across the media landscape. We're told those ideas are unpopular with the public, for example, or that leftists aren't as engaging or likeable as, say, Sean Hannity.

The new CNN President Jonathan Klein offered another theory during an appearance on PBS's Charlie Rose Show on March 25: Progressives aren't angry enough. When Rose asked if there could ever be a successful progressive version of Fox News Channel, Klein thought not. He explained that while Fox was tapping into a brand of "mostly angry white men" conservatism, "a quote/unquote, 'progressive' or liberal network probably couldn't reach the same sort of an audience, because liberals tend to like to sample a lot of opinions. They pride themselves on that. And you know, they don't get too worked up about anything. And they're pretty morally relativistic. And so, you know, they allow for a lot of that stuff."

Does Klein really think progressives don't get too worked up about anything? If he does, that might be because he's watching too much CNN, where centrists are often booked to stand in for bona fide progressives. (See "I'm Not a Leftist, But I Play One on TV,"Extra!, 9-10/04.)

But outside the CNN studios, evidence would suggest that progressives get plenty worked up. Internet organizing groups like MoveOn.org, which advocates against Bush administration policies, attract millions of members. Hundreds of thousands of Americans marched against the Iraq war, and the 2004 Republican convention in New York City provoked massive protests. The expansion of liberal talk radio network Air America, as well as the success of the Bush-bashing documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, would also seem to suggest that there's an audience for programming from a distinctly left-of-center perspective.

As for progressives being "pretty morally relativistic," Klein's insult seems misapplied. One could argue that it's the right and not the left that tends to see the killing of civilians as important only if the civilians are of the right nationality, for example, and thinks that torture may be acceptable if the right people are torturing.

Presenting a skewed political dialogue that underrepresents progressive points of view is bad enough; but Klein's explanation that progressives simply don't get "worked up" makes no sense whatsoever.


ACTION:
Tell CNN President Jonathan Klein that the notion that progressives don't get "worked up" is wrong-- and that if he'd allow genuine progressives on his network more often, he'd know that.

CONTACT:
CNN President
Jonathan Klein
Phone: (404) 827-1500

Reid Accuses Bush of Lying

Reid calls it as he sees it.
Excerpt:

“Last week, I met with the president and was encouraged when he told me he would not become involved in Republican efforts to break the Senate rules. Now, it appears he was not being honest, and that the White House is encouraging this raw abuse of power.

From Raw Story's John Byrne

exclusives/byrne/reid_accuses_bush_lying_filibuster_422.htm

FILIBUSTER THIS
Reid accuses Bush of lying about role in filibuster ban


RAW STORY


Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) accused President Bush of "going back on his word" for having Vice President Cheney get involved in the debate over banning a Senate procedure that allows Democrats a last-resort veto.


Cheney made a point to stop during an address today to say he would support a ban on the filibuster.


“These nominations were held up strictly for partisan political reasons, in an astounding departure from historical precedent,” Cheney said. “If the Senate majority decides to move forward and if the issue is presented to me in my elected office as President of the Senate and presiding officer, I will support bringing those nominations to the floor for an up-or-down vote,” he said to applause from the politically friendly audience. “On the merits, this should not be a difficult call to make.”

Reid fired back.


“In the span of three minutes, the vice president managed to reinvent 200 years of Senate history and ignore the fact that Congress has already approved 205 of this administration’s nominees," he said in a statement. "Apparently, a 95 percent confirmation rate is not enough for this president. He wants it all, even if it means shattering the checks and balances in our government in order to put radical judges on the bench."


Reid's full statement follows.


###

BUSH GOES BACK ON WORD AND ENCOURAGES IRRESPONSIBLE ABUSE OF POWER


Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid released this statement in response to the vice president’s comments on the nuclear option earlier today.

“In the span of three minutes, the vice president managed to reinvent 200 years of Senate history and ignore the fact that Congress has already approved 205 of this administration’s nominees. Apparently, a 95 percent confirmation rate is not enough for this president.%

How Abramoff Got To DeLay: A Primer on Buying Influence

Want to read the lobbyist's handbook on how to get to an elected lawmaker, choked on power and out of touch with our, the American constituents' reality? Read this carefully. Jack needs Ed and Ed needs Jack. Ed gets to Tom who is drunk on power. Tom delivers and Tom, Jack and Ed all profit. We lose. How a lobbyist can purchase influence in Washington. DeLay allowed himself to be bought and sold. Sadly, Tom a.ka. the hammer and cockroach, is probably not the only one. Most disturbing, however, is how religion is blatantly manipulated and used as a political tool. I suppose it is another "talking point." What a despicable lot.

Excerpt:

In concluding his letter, Abramoff, an Orthodox Jew, used a religious flourish that likely strengthened his bond with Buckham, a Christian minister," the Journal reporter writes. "It was the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, and Abramoff wrote: 'Today, all I can do is pray, but, as you know, prayer is really the only important thing any of us can do. It is all in the hands of Heaven, though we can help move things along, too.'"



From Raw Story.com http://rawstory.com/exclusives/byrne/abramoff_delay_national_journal_422.htm

RAW STORY


"Lobbyist Jack Abramoff got to be good friends with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, with some inside help," the (paid-restricted) National Journal reports in Saturday's editions.


In an extended piece, the Journal's Peter Stone will reveal how DeLay's former chief of staff brought now-fallen GOP power lobbyist Abramoff to the leader's table.


In September 1996, Stone pens, "after what sources say was a golf date, Abramoff dashed off a thank-you note to DeLay's then-chief of staff, Ed Buckham."


"I hope this finds you well," Abramoff wrote Buckham. "Friday was fun. I hope we can get together again soon." Abramoff also included concerns about issues facing three of his largest clients: the Mississippi Choctaws, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rican businessmen seeking statehood.


The note began what would become a fruitful friendship between the two and give Abramoff DeLay's ear. Buckham would later travel with Abramoff and DeLay to Mariana Islands, Russia and Scotland, some of which were covered at Abramoff's expense.


"Abramoff's friendship with Buckham underscores how the once high-flying lobbyist built his business by forging ties with top congressional aides, a few of whom worked for DeLay," Stone notes. "These aides helped Abramoff when they worked on the Hill, and some of them later became his business partners. Buckham, for example, became an Abramoff ally in both lobbying and fundraising ventures."


Sources told Stone that Abramoff aided Buckham's lobbying career after he left DeLay. In doing background work for Abramoff clients, Buckham did not have to register as a lobbyist.


"A lobbyist who talked with Abramoff at the time recalls Abramoff saying that in the first year or two after Buckham left the Hill, Abramoff's clients paid him as much as $500,000," Stone remarks.


A lobbyist close to DeLay's office explained to Stone how the Buckham-Abramoff relationship ripened.


"Jack needed Ed for access to DeLay, and Ed needed Jack for his business acumen," the lobbyist told National Journal. Remarked an erstwhile GOP leadership aide, "When Ed left, he wasted little time in capitalizing on his relationship with Jack."


Buckham was warm to Abramoff's clients.


In an e-mail to Buckham from a Mariana Island official in 1997, the official thanked him profusely, saying, "DeLay was also very kind to allow our group to virtually take over his office yesterday."


Some Puerto Rican businessmen who hired Abramoff directed huge chunks of money to Republican candidates and enterprises associated with Abramoff in an attempt to win statehood. In the 2001-02 cycle, some $68,500 in contributions were made, mostly to GOP candidates.


In August 2001, Stone reports, DeLay met Abramoff and Buckham in Kuala Lumpur, Abramoff had recently agreed to represent government of Malaysia—somewhat unusual as the prime minister was under fire for anti-Semitic comments.


A deal Abramoff inked funneled $1 million to DeLay's former press secretary's thinktank, Stone adds, which then paid another firm to hire Abramoff and others, including DeLay aide Tony Rudy. It brought in a further $620,000 to Buckham's firm.


From there, Abramoff, Buckham and DeLay enjoyed at $70,000 junket to Scotland, of which $50,000 was paid by Abramoff clients, in violation of House rules. What's more, Abramoff billed his firm for $13,318 for some of the trip's expenses, including more than $4,000 for the DeLays' posh lodgings.


Stone concludes with Abramoff's 1996 thank-you note to Buckham, which, he says, "alluded to another link between the two men."


"In concluding his letter, Abramoff, an Orthodox Jew, used a religious flourish that likely strengthened his bond with Buckham, a Christian minister," the Journal reporter writes. "It was the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, and Abramoff wrote: 'Today, all I can do is pray, but, as you know, prayer is really the only important thing any of us can do. It is all in the hands of Heaven, though we can help move things along, too.'"


2 Comments


Article originally published Apr. 22, 2005. Original upon which this article is based on appears in Saturday's The National Journal.

Friday, April 22, 2005

More on Fabrication and Sham: Chair of Election Assistance Commission, a REPUBLICAN and Baptist Minister to Boot, Resigns

Bush/Cheney and the Republicans won't put any money into the commission. Baker is on the commission to make sure nothing happens, i.e. elections must remain open to rigging and manipulation.

Excerpts:
"It's bad enough to be working under extremely adverse circumstances, but what throws your thinking into an abyss, as it were, is why you would be doing that when, for instance, you have to beg Congress for money as if the commission was your idea," Soaries said."

"There is so much more work to do to bring federal elections to the standard I think that the citizens expect, and there doesn't seem to be a corresponding sense of urgency among the policy-makers in Washington," Soaries said. "Nor does there seem to be a national consensus among leaders of the states about what success looks like."

From Yahoo News.com via Brad's Blog
http://beta.news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050422/ap_on_go_ot/election_reform_resignation&printer=1


Chairman of Voting Reform Panel Resigns


By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press WriterFri Apr 22, 5:02 PM ET

The first chairman of a federal voting agency created after the 2000 election dispute is resigning, saying the government has not shown enough commitment to reform.

DeForest Soaries said in an interview Friday that his resignation would take effect next week.

Though Soaries, 53, said he wanted to spend more time with his family in New Jersey, he added that his decision was prompted in part by what he called a lack of support.

"All four of us had to work without staff, without offices, without resources. I don't think our sense of personal obligation has been matched by a corresponding sense of commitment to real reform from the federal government," he said.

Soaries, a Republican former New Jersey secretary of state, was the White House's pick to join the Election Assistance Commission, created by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to help states enact voting reforms.

A Baptist minister, Soaries was confirmed by the Senate in December 2003 and elected the independent agency's first chairman by his three fellow commissioners. His term as chairman ended in January 2005 and since then he has stayed on as a commission member.

Soaries and the other commissioners complained from the beginning that the group was underfunded and neglected by the lawmakers who created it.

"It's bad enough to be working under extremely adverse circumstances, but what throws your thinking into an abyss, as it were, is why you would be doing that when, for instance, you have to beg Congress for money as if the commission was your idea," Soaries said.

White House spokesman Allen Abney said only, "We appreciate his service and we are working to fill the vacancy promptly."

Envisioned as a clearinghouse for election information that would make recommendations about technology and other issues and distribute $2.3 billion to states for voting improvements, the commission initially couldn't afford its own office space. The commissioners were appointed nine months later than envisioned by the Help America Vote Act, and of a $10 million budget authorized for 2004, the panel received just $1.2 million.

Soaries said the commission could claim some credit for last November's relatively smooth election, including recommending "best practices" to voting administrators and getting the election reform money to states faster than it otherwise would have gone. The commission has sent about $1.8 billion to states so far.

But the commission has failed to preside over the kinds of sweeping reforms some hoped for, with many counties still relying in November on the same punch-card and lever machines derided after the 2000 election. Soaries said the commission is making progress with improvements, including technical guidelines and centralized voter registration lists, that are supposed to be in place for the 2006 election.

"There is so much more work to do to bring federal elections to the standard I think that the citizens expect, and there doesn't seem to be a corresponding sense of urgency among the policy-makers in Washington," Soaries said. "Nor does there seem to be a national consensus among leaders of the states about what success looks like."


Soaries said election reform was on the front burner after the 2000 presidential recount, but it moved to the back burner — and stayed there — after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.


Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer (news, bio, voting record), the No. 2 House Democrat and a lead sponsor of the Help America Vote Act, said Soaries' resignation underscored a need to give the commission adequate resources.


"I hope this administration and Congress seriously consider Mr. Soaries' observations as we develop the fiscal year 2006 budget," Hoyer said.


The commission also has run into opposition from state officials accustomed to running their own elections and wary of federal involvement. Earlier this year, the National Association of Secretaries of State approved a resolution asking Congress to dissolve the Election Assistance Commission after 2006.


But Soaries said that despite his frustration and Congress' lack of engagement, he saw a lasting role for the Election Assistance Commission.

"Someone's got to wake up every morning with the mission of improving federal elections in a way that assures the voting public that they can have confidence in voting," he said.

___

On the Net:

Election Assistance Commission: http://www.eac.gov


Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.


Copyright © 2005 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.
Questions or Comments
Privacy Policy -Terms of Service - Copyright/IP Policy - Ad Feedback

Ripped Again: Bush People Cover Up Terrorism Rates

The liars, thieves, bullies and nutjobs are at it again. They continue to fabricate or delete information for public consumption.

Excerpt:
Lest you forget, this is what they do. They trim. They edit. They censor. BushCo kills what they do not like and fudges negative data where they see fit and completely rewrites whatever the hell they want, and that includes bogus WMD reports and CIA investigations and dire environmental studies and scientific proofs about everything from evolution to abortion and pollution and clean air, right along with miserable unemployment data and all manner of research pointing up the ill health of the nation, the spirit, the world.

Sent from Ken earlier today.

Bush Lies, America Cries
This just in: Global terrorism rates are higher than any time since 1985.
Thanks, Dubya!
- By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Friday, April 22, 2005

Oh my God I feel so much safer. Don't you?

I mean, don't you feel so much more secure in your all-American gun-totin' oil-happy lifestyle now that we have wasted upward of $300 billion worth of your child's future education budget, along with 1,600 disposable young American lives and over 20,000 innocent Iraqi lives and about 10,000 severed American limbs and untold wads of our spiritual and moral currency, all to protect America from terrorism that is, by every account, only getting worse? Nastier? More nebulous? More anti-American?

Here's something funny, in a rip-your-patriotic-heart-out-and-spit-on-it sort of way: Just last week, BushCo's State Department decided to kill the publication of an annual report on international terrorism. Why? Well, because the government's top terrorism center concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985. Isn't that hilarious? Isn't that heartwarming? Your tax dollars at work, sweetheart.

Lest you forget, this is what they do. They trim. They edit. They censor. BushCo kills what they do not like and fudges negative data where they see fit and completely rewrites whatever the hell they want, and that includes bogus WMD reports and CIA investigations and dire environmental studies and scientific proofs about everything from evolution to abortion and pollution and clean air, right along with miserable unemployment data and all manner of research pointing up the ill health of the nation, the spirit, the world.

In other words, if BushCo doesn't like what comes out of their own hobbled agencies and their own funded studies, they do what any good dictatorship does: They annihilate it. Now that's good gummint!

Let's be clear: The obliteration of the National Counterterrorism Center report merely goes to prove what so many of us already know -- that BushCo's brutish and borderline traitorous actions since they leveraged 9/11 to blatantly screw the nation have done exactly nothing to stem the tide of terrorism -- and, in fact, have, by most every measure, apparently increased the threat of terrorism. In other words, the world is a more dangerous place because of George W. Bush. Is that clear enough?

Let's put it another way: Under Bush, in the past five years, the U.S. has made zero new friends. But we have made a huge number of new and increasingly venomous enemies. And no, they don't hate us because of our malls, Dubya. They don't hate us because of our freedoms. They don't hate us because of our low-cut jeans and our moronic 8 mpg Ford Expeditions or our corrupt Diebold voting system that snuck you into office. They hate us, George, because of our policies. Anti-Muslim. Pro-Israel. Oil-uber-alles. Anti-U.N. Anti-Kyoto. Anti-planet. Pro-war. Pro-insularity. Pseudo-swagger. Bogus staged "town hall" meetings stocked with prescreened monosyllabic Bush sycophants. Ego. Empire.

But here's the truly sad part, the hideous and depressing and soul-shredding part about all those young kids in the U.S. military right now, all those mostly undereducated, lower-middle-class kids, most of whom aren't even old enough to buy beer and many of whom have barely had sex and many who got sucked into the military vortex in an honest attempt to help pay for a college education so they could go out and not find a decent job in this miserable economy. The sad part is all those kids in the military who've been trained/brainwashed to believe they are serving in Iraq to protect America's freedom, to protect us from, well, something dark, and sinister, and deadly. When in fact, they're not. Not even close.

The truth is, we were never under threat from Iraq. There were never any WMDs, and Bush knew it. Our military is protecting nothing so much as our access to future stores of petroleum, nothing so much as helping set up a giant police station in Iraq to ensure surrounding nations don't get all uppity about just who controls the rights to those oil fields.

So let's get honest and just ask it outright: Is this a worthy use of the massive bloated machine that is the U.S. military? Of the largest and most advanced fighting force in the world? To protect the flow of oil to the most gluttonous and wasteful and least accountable developed nation on the planet? Is this worth so many young American lives? You already know the answer. Ask any oil exec. Any government economist. Any BushCo war hawk or auto manufacturer or the leaders of any major manufacturing industry. Ask the president himself. They all say the same thing: You're goddamn right it is.

Here, then, is the warped, convoluted irony: We went to war under the lie of a Saddam-fueled terrorism threat that never existed. We are at war, instead, to protect our oil and to establish regional control, an act that, in turn, has destabilized the Middle East even further and is actually inciting much of the very terrorism we were ostensibly there to battle in the first place, thus producing a level of anti-U.S. hatred not even a (still alive and apparently very chipper) Osama bin Laden could have wet dreamed. Isn't democracy fun?

We are not "spreading democracy" by invading Iraq. We are not giving a gift of a more peaceable Iraq to a grateful world. That is merely insidious Republican PR spin. Right now, the U.S. military is, in short, protecting your right to a $3 gallon of gas, which will soon be $4 and then maybe $5 and $6 as we are running out of the stuff faster than anyone thought and the fight for that which remains will only turn uglier and more violent and so I have to ask again, do you feel safer?

Because if you say yes, you are, quite simply, lying. Or delusional. Or you have had your brain edited by BushCo. Or those are some mighty powerful drugs you are obviously taking and you might wish to consider switching to aspirin and wine and Fleshbot.com. They say that violence is the last refuge of a desperate nation. And violence under the guise of secrecy and outright lie such as BushCo has foisted upon the nation is the last refuge of a nation of thugs. Yes, I'm looking at you, Rummy. I'm looking at you, Cheney. I'm not looking at you, Karl Rove, because looking at you makes my colon clench and looking at you makes birds die and looking at you makes small children feel hopeless and lost, like the world is full of black venomous hate and bilious condescension that is aimed squarely at their heads, like a gun.

It's true. We are living in a nation run by overprivileged alcoholic frat boys and power-mad thugs. This much we know. This much we need to be reminded of, over and over again, until we finally wake up.

Ah, but there is good news. There is always good news. The good news is, they are now confiscating all cigarette lighters at the airport. In the name of safety. In the name of homeland security. In the name of America, apple pie, babies, puppies, Jesus and guns. Lighters are now forbidden on all air travel. I mean, thank God. I feel safer already.

Halliburton Rips Off Taxpayers - US - AGAIN

This article is infuriating and appalling. It will make your blood boil. Halliburton overcharges of $212 MILLION were concealed from UN monitors by the Bush administration, according to Rep. Waxman. Get this – Halliburton charged $45.00 a case for sodas for our troops ($1.87 for a can of Coke!) and $100.00 to do 15 lbs. of laundry – a duffle bag full- 2 loads? A former employee of Halliburton, an auditor, said no effort was made to hold down costs because taxpayer, OUR, money was being used. When one thinks about how so many of our troops were shipped to Iraq without adequate protective gear while Halliburton made huge profits at their expense, well it’s enough to make a sane person insane. If the conservatives don’t see what despicable and deplorable thieves the Bush/Cheney people are after this revelation, they never will. How do these thugs sleep at night?
    
Found on Truthout.org

    Double Trouble for Halliburton
    By William Fisher
    Inter Press Service

    Friday 22 April 2005

The Halliburton corporation, already the Iraq war's poster child for "waste, fraud and abuse", has been hit with a new double-whammy.

    New York - The Halliburton corporation, already the Iraq war's poster child for "waste, fraud and abuse", has been hit with a new double-whammy.

    A report from the U.S. State Department accuses the company of "poor performance" in its 1.2-billion-dollar contract to repair Iraq's vital southern oil fields.

    And a powerful California congressman is charging that Defence Department audits showing additional overcharges totaling 212 million dollars were concealed from United Nations monitors by the George W. Bush administration.

    The new overcharges bring to two billion dollars, or 42 percent of the contract amounts, the grand total of questionable bills from Halliburton.

    According to Rep. Henry Waxman, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Government Reform, "both the amount of Halliburton's overcharges and the extent of the information withheld from the auditors at the U.N.'s International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB) were much greater than previously known."

    Waxman said the Defence Contract Audit Agency, which monitors all Pentagon contracts, had identified Halliburton overcharges and questionable costs of totaling 212.3 million dollars - double the total amount of known overcharges under Halliburton's Iraq oil contract.

    In one case, Waxman said, the overcharges exceeded 47 percent of the total value of the task order.

    But the Defence Department - at Halliburton's request - withheld the new amount from IAMB, the U.N. audit oversight body for the Development Fund for Iraq, Waxman charged.

    In letters to government auditors, Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root explained that it redacted statements it considered proprietary or "factually inaccurate or misleading" and gave consent for the release of the audits to international auditors "in redacted form." The administration then sent the heavily edited report to the IAMB.

    "The withholding of this information is highly unusual and raises serious issues," Waxman complained in a letter to Subcommittee Chairman Christopher Shays. "The evidence suggests that the U.S. used Iraqi oil proceeds to overpay Halliburton and then sought to hide the evidence of these overcharges from the international auditors."

    Waxman also renewed his request that the subcommittee hold hearings on the administration's "mismanagement of the Development Fund for Iraq".

    Previously, Waxman disclosed that Defence Department auditors found 108 million dollars in fuel-related overcharges by Halliburton for work in Iraq under one of several Halliburton task orders for the importation of fuel into Iraq.

    He also alleged that although Halliburton was paid in significant part from Iraqi oil proceeds in the Development Fund for Iraq, the administration - acting at Halliburton's request - concealed these overcharges from the international auditors charged by the United Nations with monitoring the expenditures from the fund.

    In these new audit reports, he says, "extensive additional information has been withheld by the Administration from the IAMB. A review of these audits shows that references to overcharges and other questioned costs were blacked out over 450 times in the versions of audits sent to the IAMB."

    Rick Blum of the advocacy group OpenTheGovernment.org told IPS, "Once again, the secrecy system fails us. They wouldn't have done it if they thought anyone cared or would find out."

    "If the public had known about this earlier, we could stop it, better protect our troops, and better use our taxpayer dollars to make our families safer," he said. "This should be a wake-up call to ensure more openness to strengthen our national defence." And Scott H. Amey, general counsel of the Project on Government Oversight, a non-partisan government watchdog, told IPS, "If a taxpayer was able to support only 63 percent of their tax return, he or she would be brought to justice. In the case of Halliburton, however, the government continues to let it slide." The State Department's report focused on Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR), the Halliburton subsidiary contracted to repair Iraq's southern oil fields.

    The report does not provide details about what it calls "poor performance and excess spending", but it says that the American Embassy had issued a "Cure Notice," a threat to terminate the contract unless Kellogg, Brown & Root replaced some senior managers. It says the government remains dissatisfied.

    As a consequence, one of KBR's competitors, Parsons Corporation, has been asked "to execute some of the remaining work" in the south, originally meant for KBR.

    KBR has previously been criticised for excess spending in its multibillion-dollar contract to provide logistical support for the military and in an earlier, 2.2-billion-dollar contract for oil repairs and fuel imports that was granted secretly as the Iraq invasion began. KBR won the contract to work on northern oil fields.

    The Embassy has reallocated an additional 832 million dollars in planned spending away from huge projects managed by U.S. companies toward smaller repairs using local businesses and the training of Iraqis to maintain power and water systems.

    Halliburton has attributed its slow progress to attacks by insurgents, years of neglect and lack of investment in the country's oil facilities. The State Department report says Iraq's oil output of 2.1 million barrels a day in February was lower than it was last fall.

    Halliburton - of which Vice President Dick Cheney was formerly chief executive officer - is the largest single contractor in Iraq. The Pentagon has already awarded the company contracts worth up to 18 billion dollars for its work in the country. Many of them were no-bid contracts that drew widespread criticism on Capitol Hill and in the press.

    The company says it performed well under difficult circumstances in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq and that cost disputes "are part of the normal contracting process." But former Halliburton employees have alleged intentional and systemic waste.

    Lower-than-expected oil exports are exacerbating the Iraqi government's budget deficit, which the report estimates could reach five billion dollars this year. A quarterly update on Iraqi reconstruction was delivered to Congress last week.

    A former Halliburton employee, Marie deYoung, audited accounts for Halliburton subsidiary KBR. She claims there was no effort to hold down costs because all costs were passed on directly to taxpayers. She repeatedly complained to superiors of waste and fraud.

    The company's response, according to deYoung was: "We can be as dumb and stupid as we want in the first year of a war, nobody's going to care."

    The former Army chaplain produced documents detailing alleged waste even on routine services: 50,000 dollars a month for soda, at 45 dollars a case; one million million a month to clean clothes - or 100 dollars for each 15-pound bag of laundry.

    "That money could have been used to take care of soldiers," she said.

    Another former employee, Mike West, says he was paid 82,000 dollars a year to be a labour foreman in Iraq, but never had any labourers to supervise. "They said just log 12 hours a day and walk around and look busy," he said.

 

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Democrats Reject Republican Sham Investigation of DeLay

Hang tough, Democrats. The longer DeLay stays in the limelight, the better for us. Let DeLay continue to show his true colors to the world.

Found on Yahoo.News via Buzz Flash


------------------------------------------------------------------------
Democrats Reject Conditional Offer on DeLay Probe

Wed Apr 20, 9:43 PM ET


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives ethics committee rejected a conditional offer by Republicans on Wednesday to clear the way for another probe of Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who was admonished by the panel last year on three separate matters.


Reuters Photo

AP Photo

Slideshow: Tom DeLay

 

Rep. Alan Mollohan (news, bio, voting record) of West Virginia said a Republican proposal to end a stalemate over the way investigations are conducted would undermine the ability of the panel to do its job.


"It would allow complaints to be dismissed without -- in some instances, perhaps not all -- without proper contemplation," Mollohan told a news conference.


Mollohan spoke minutes after committee chairman Doc Hastings, a Washington state Republican, said he would move to form an investigative subcommittee to "review various allegations concerning travel and other actions by Mr. DeLay" if Democrats agreed to revised changes.


Failure of Republicans and Democrats to adopt new rules has prevented the committee from functioning this year and stopped DeLay from even addressing the panel.


DeLay, a Texas Republican, was admonished by the committee last year for actions that critics denounced as strong-armed political tactics.


In recent weeks, DeLay, who denies any wrongdoing, has faced new questions about foreign trips paid by outside groups, ties to lobbyists and use of campaign funds.


Said Hastings, "We hope that Mr. Mollohan and his Democratic colleagues will agree that it's time to get on with the important work of the ethics committee."


DeLay said in a statement, "I appreciate House Republicans' continued efforts to search for a way" to get the ethics committee "up and running."


"For more than a month I've said I hope for a fair process that will afford me the opportunity to get the facts out and set the record straight," DeLay said.


The Republican-led House approved new rules for the ethics committee in January, but Democrats on the panel have refused to go along with them, saying they would make it more difficult to even initiate a probe.


House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, called the revised Republican proposal "a charade and an absolute nonstarter."


"This issue is bigger than the majority leader, it is about the integrity of the entire House now and in the future," Hoyer said.




Story Tools
 Email Story
  Post/Read Msgs
  Formatted Story  
Ratings: Would you recommend this story?
Not at all 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 Highly



------------------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Ohio's Republican Senator Temporarily Saves Us From Abusive Bolton

It is comforting to know that someone on that side of the aisle is rational and truly committed to what is best for this country and has the courage to stand up to the Bush Bullies. Bet the Bush bullies beat the poor guy up. They are not forgiving or understanding people. Not by any stretch. DeLay and Frist are probably having their sheets ironed as I write. We should send Senator Voinovich a thank you note.

Found on the Chicago Tribune.com via Buzz Flash.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0504200144apr20,1,6607782,print.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

Eroding support stalls Bolton vote

Republican requests delay, expresses doubt about UN nominee

By Mike Dorning
Washington Bureau

April 20, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Support for President Bush's embattled nominee for ambassador to the United Nations weakened in Congress on Tuesday, with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee postponing a vote on John Bolton's confirmation at the request of a Republican senator previously thought to be one of his backers.
An hour into a spirited debate on Bolton's confirmation and moments before a scheduled vote, Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) asked for the delay, saying he did not "feel comfortable" with Bolton and questioning whether the nominee was temperamentally suitable for the job.
The committee's staff will now take three weeks to investigate accusations that Bolton, a top State Department official, tried to manipulate intelligence on biological weapons, sought to fire espionage analysts who disagreed with him and harassed subordinates. One former contractor for the Agency for International Development alleged in a letter that Bolton chased her down a hallway in a Russian hotel a decade ago and threw things at her after she raised concerns about the performance of a contractor that Bolton at the time represented as a private attorney.
"There's enough here that has caused me to be concerned about how he treats other people. How we treat our fellow man is important," Voinovich said, explaining a decision that caught his fellow Republicans by surprise.
Republican swayed
Voinovich said he had come to the meeting prepared to vote for Bolton but was swayed by the often-impassioned arguments that Democrats made for greater scrutiny of the nominee, a rare instance of political debate changing a senator's position.
The postponement is a serious blow to Bolton's prospects, signifying deteriorating Republican support and providing additional time for opponents to make their case against his confirmation. The delay also raises the possibility that Bolton's nomination could be swept up in a looming confrontation over Senate approval of federal appellate judges that threatens to bring the body's work to a virtual halt.
Still, the White House said it remains firmly behind Bolton. "John Bolton is exactly the person we need at the United Nations at this time," Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said.
Shortly after the committee adjourned, Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) backtracked from previous statements that he was "inclined" to support Bolton, saying that he was now neutral on the nomination. He said his vote would depend on further examination of episodes of alleged harassment and manipulation of intelligence.
Asked if support for Bolton among Republicans is eroding, Chafee said, "That's accurate."
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) also said his support for Bolton was uncertain and would depend on the picture of Bolton that emerges, although he indicated during the committee's debate that he was prepared at the time to forward the nomination for consideration by the full Senate.
With Republicans holding a 10-8 majority on the committee and Democrats unified against Bolton, opposition from any Republican would doom the nomination. A tie vote keeps the nomination bottled up in committee.
Bolton, 56, currently undersecretary of state for arms control and one of the Bush administration's most caustic and deeply conservative foreign policy officials, was a controversial choice for UN ambassador from the start. He has been a harsh critic of the United Nations, once telling an audience that the world body would lose nothing by lopping off 10 stories from its headquarters in New York.
Unflattering portrait
But since his nomination, he has been linked to accusations that the administration manipulated intelligence on weapons of mass destruction, and testimony at his confirmation hearings has provided an unflattering portrait of a volatile and vindictive personality.
In an extraordinarily rare instance of public testimony by one senior official in an administration against another, former Bush administration Assistant Secretary of State Carl Ford Jr. last week described Bolton as "a serial abuser" and "a quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy."
Ford testified that a red-faced, finger-waving tirade that Bolton launched against a State Department biological weapons analyst who disagreed with him left the analyst in fear of losing his job and sent a chill through the State Department's intelligence branch. Ford said he fended off efforts by Bolton to dismiss the analyst and that the episode so concerned the department's analysts that then-Secretary of State Colin Powell made a visit to the intelligence shop to bolster morale.

Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune