December 2004 Archives
Perennial hatemonger Fred Phelps
lets his Godly side shine bright (via Rawstory
Not that I expect anyone to defend something so outrageous: I would just hope for supposedly humane Christians to understand the logical evolution of their high-moral bigotry.
And I'm off for a long, hot shower.
When they asserted that the President has the power to condone torture if he wants to, and that the abuse has to result in your maiming or death in order to even meet the definition, they were only kidding
The Justice Department published a revised and expansive definition late yesterday of acts that constitute torture under domestic and international law, overtly repudiating one of the most criticized policy memorandums drafted during President Bush's first term.
That earlier definition of torture figured prominently in complaints by Democrats and human rights groups about White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, who oversaw its creation and is Bush's nominee to become attorney general for the second term. The new memo's public release came one week before the start of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Gonzales's nomination.
A new policy, to repair the damage done by the old policy -- that was written by our new Attorney General
nominee. Better have a good story on confirmation hearing day.
Actually, this is a little strange -- almost like the administration is throwing Gonzales under the bus. Or maybe they're counting on your short (statistically, nothing personal) attention span:
Many of the critics charged that the first memo -- which they said laid out a very narrow view of what behavior might constitute torture and was crafted to help interrogators at the CIA evade prosecution -- created the context for a record of persistent ill treatment by that agency and the U.S. military of detainees at prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba's Guantanamo Bay and undisclosed locations.
"Clearly the release of this now is backfilling for Gonzales's confirmation hearing," said I. Michael Greenberger, a senior Justice Department official in the Clinton administration who now heads the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland. "These memos have been a tremendous source of embarrassment to both Gonzales and the administration."
If the US wants to regain its credibility on the subject of human rights, more is needed than a repudiation of barbarous policy. The man who wrote the policy
must not become the nation's chief law enforcement officer...
More reasons why they want Joel Hefley
out of the way:
House Republican leaders
are urging members to alter one of the chamber's fundamental ethics rules, which would make it harder for lawmakers to discipline a colleague...
Republicans, returning to the Capitol on Tuesday after increasing their House majority by three seats in the Nov. 2 election, also want to relax a restriction on relatives of lawmakers accepting foreign and domestic trips from groups interested in legislation before the House.
A third proposed rule change would allow either party to stop the House ethics committee from investigating a complaint against a member.
Government watchdog groups called the proposals startling and unjustified. If the proposed rules are adopted next week as GOP leaders suggest, they would amount to "the biggest backtracking on House ethics rules that we have seen," said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21.
"This would be a fundamental undermining of the ethics rules in the House and a direct attempt to vitiate the findings of ethical misconduct against Majority Leader DeLay," Wertheimer said. "If this is done, it would be an extraordinarily destructive action against the ethics rules and would fundamentally undermine the integrity of the House."
an IBM commercial, right there:
is expected to save millions of dollars on Microsoft licence fees by migrating to Linux. In 2004 it paid $7.5m in licence fees, according to Venezuelanalysis.com.
It'll go nicely with those slick new Russian fighters
Chavez is buying.
The emerging antidote to Boeing and Microsoft? Perhaps not such a unipolar world, after all...
This whole 'stingy' thing has really frosted the shorts of the Bush administration. I mean, honestly -- the president had brush to clear on his ranch!
That's why he didn't have a press conference about the tsunami
until days after! And you blasted liberals had better stop making comparisons between Bush's absentee reaction to the South Asia crisis and the world's outpouring of support for the US after 9/11. That was, um, totally different
And then there's the actual money
, which presents its own tale of fact versus fiction:
As of yesterday, the amount the United States [$35 million] has pledged is eclipsed by the $96 million promised by Britain, a country with one-fifth the population, and by the $75 million vowed by Sweden, which amounts to $8.40 for each of its 9 million people. Denmark's pledge of $15.6 million amounts to roughly $2.90 per capita.
The US donation is 12 cents per capita.
''I think the disaster in Asia is a stark example of this for a lot of Americans. It challenges their perceptions of their own country," Sachs said. ''There is going to be even more shock when the US government asks for an additional $80 billion in Iraq and the American public juxtaposes that with what was given in one of the worst natural disasters the world has ever seen."
It's a reality gap
-- you know, like 70% of Bush voters believing that Iraq was involved with 9/11, or that we really did
find WMDs there:
Bush angrily replied to [the 'stingy' remark] at a press conference from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, on Wednesday, saying, ''Well, I felt like the person who made that statement was very misguided and ill-informed," said Bush.
''We're a very generous, kindhearted nation, and, you know, what you're beginning to see is a typical response from America," Bush added.
The perception that America is the most generous country in the world is one held by a majority of Americans, according to a 2001 poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes based at the University of Maryland. The think tank, which studies public attitudes toward various international topics, found that the average American believes that the United States spends 24 percent of its budget on assistance to developing nations, more than 20 times the actual figure.
Everybody's on the take in Washington anyway, so what's the harm?
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
has accepted tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts since joining the high court, including $1,200 worth of tires, valuable historical items and a $5,000 personal check to help pay a relative's education expenses.
The gifts also included a Bible once owned by the 19th century author and abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, which Thomas valued at $19,000, and a bust of President Lincoln valued at $15,000.
He also took a free trip aboard a private jet to the exclusive Bohemian Grove club in Northern California -- arranged by a wealthy Texas real estate investor who helped run an advocacy group that filed briefs with the Supreme Court.
Thomas has reported accepting much more valuable gifts than his Supreme Court colleagues over the last six years, according to their disclosure forms on file at the court.
The Ethics in Government Act of 1989 prohibits all federal employees, including the justices, from accepting "anything of value" from a person with official business before them.
Just a little love between old boys, right?
"Why would someone do that -- give a gift to Clarence Thomas? Unless they are family members or really close friends, the only reason to give gifts is to influence the judge," said Mark I. Harrison, a Phoenix lawyer who heads the ABA's Commission on the Model Code of Judicial Conduct. "And we think it is not helpful to have judges accepting gifts for no apparent reason."
"The public has to wonder when a justice accepts lavish gifts," said Northwestern University law professor Steven Lubet, a legal ethics expert. "The rich and powerful have a different set of economic interests than other people, and they can afford to give lavish gifts."
Not to mention that nobody's watching the watchmen:
This year, Scalia was involved in a controversy over whether a free plane ride aboard Air Force II to go duck hunting in Louisiana with Vice President Dick Cheney amounted to a gift at a time when an energy case involving Cheney was before the court.
Scalia rejected a demand from the Sierra Club that he withdraw from the case, arguing that his trip on Air Force II did not amount to something of value. Scalia noted that he, his son and his son-in-law had bought round-trip tickets so they could return home on a commercial flight.
"In other words, none of us saved a cent by flying on the vice president's plane," Scalia said in a March 18 opinion. He subsequently voted for Cheney in the court case.
By law and tradition, the Supreme Court justices are exempted from many of the rules that govern lesser federal judges. Moreover, each of the justices is free to decide how the general ethics guidelines apply to them.
For example, when the Sierra Club filed its motion with the high court asserting that Scalia should step aside in the Cheney case, the court referred the matter to Scalia for him to decide.
So what's worse? A little 'judicial activism,' or Supreme Court Justices that are bought and paid for?
After a two billion dollar
Presidential campaign season, I'd be a little tapped out, too.
You'd think that the fund-raisers themselves would get a break, though?
The inauguration package
being offered to top Bush and Republican Party fund-raisers asks for up to $2,500 per person, though both the fee and the events vary depending on how much people raised...
The political environment was different during the 2000 campaign, when political parties were raising unlimited soft-money contributions from wealthy donors who required care and feeding, Mr. Meyer said. New laws have banned those contributions.
...this is the second time this year that Republican fund-raisers have spoken out about the expense of attending political events. The Republican National Convention in New York drew complaints when fund-raisers were charged thousands of dollars to attend V.I.P. events.
Give 'em a year or so, and they'll know where their money went. Like it was ever about the dinners anyway.
It's no longer necessary to register with the TypeKey
service in order to post comments to RMPN weblog entries. We've found a better way to stop the waves of content spam (also known as craploading, blog flooding, et al.), without making it cumbersome to post.
From now on, in the 'enter a comment' dialogue, you'll see an image like this one:
Simply enter the displayed number in the field right below it with your comment, and you'll verify that you're an actual user instead of the world's most ubiquitous traveling Viagra salesman.
Thanks for your continuing visits during our little battle with these guys. I read the stats and know you're out there...
As the South Asia disaster
unfolds my pundit skills falter, and seem less appropriate. This is one of the great tragedies of our time.
Please visit Oxfam America's
Asian Earthquake & Tsunami Relief Fund, and give as much as you can.
Rental evictions at a five-year high
In Denver, eviction orders are up 55 percent this year over 2000, rising from 3,549 to 5,517, while Jefferson and Adams counties have seen 58 percent and 38 percent increases, respectively, in eviction orders during the same period.
Meanwhile, the number of evictions in Douglas County climbed more than 400 percent, from 141 in 2000 to nearly 600 this year.
The same causes for Denver's spiking homeless population
apply here: unaffordable housing
, wages that can't keep pace with rising costs for food, electricity
, fuel, auto
and health insurance...
The large percentage increase for exurban Douglas County is interesting -- unaffordable housing purging
a whole class of people from their midst. Douglas County has proposed subsidizing the housing of teachers and certain other vital low-income professionals. Those without a skill to offer the seven digits in Daniels Park can pack up and head to Denver where they belong
Meanwhile, the governor and prior legislature have refused to intervene -- even cutting vital programs like energy assistance
for poor people. How many of these thousands of Coloradoans hitting the street simply made the wrong choice between heat, or food, and rent?
Another Dickens moment...
Joel Hefley bravely stood up to Tom DeLay on changing the rules
to allow indicted GOP congressional leaders to retain their positions.
And they're gonna make him pay
During the last Congress, Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.), chairman of the House Ethics Committee, proved himself something of an inconvenience as well when it came to Mr. DeLay: Under his leadership, the all-too-often slumbering committee bestirred itself to admonish the majority leader for an array of ethical missteps. Now Mr. Hefley risks meeting the same fate as the discarded rule. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) is poised to decide whether to let Mr. Hefley continue in the thankless task of heading the committee. According to The Post's Mike Allen, Mr. Hastert is leaning toward removing Mr. Hefley.
Mr. Hastert's spokesman, John Feehery, says that no decision has been made about Mr. Hefley's continued tenure and that, if he were to be removed from the committee, it would be for "no other reason" than that he has served as chairman since 2001. "That's a pretty long time," Mr. Feehery told us. "It's tough duty being an ethics chairman."
Even tougher being an ethics chairman who still has some, apparently...
...it's hard to see his ouster, if it occurs, as anything other than payback for calling Mr. DeLay's fouls -- and as a means of avoiding other tough judgments in the future.
What 'slippery slope?' We're here, Orwell's vision is now
, grab your tinfoil hat and run for the remotest trailer park you can find.
Think I'm kidding, don't you? We've given law enforcement vastly expanded, unconstitutional powers in order to 'fight terrorism' -- a term which is now expanding to include common street crime.
Do you understand what that means?
Morales is the first gang member
in New York to be indicted under the state's terrorism statute, which became law shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
If the charges did not include the terrorism stipulation, he would face a sentence of 25 years to life if found guilty. With the stipulation, he faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole...
Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson, who brought the charges against Morales, said the terrorism stipulation was justified.
"The obvious need for this statue is to protect society against acts of political terror," Johnson said in a statement. "However, the terror perpetrated by gangs, which all too often occurs on the streets of New York, also fits squarely within the scope of this statute."
Next, we'll be talking about the 'terror' perpetrated by muggers. And child molesters. And burglars. And drug pushers (they're already big on that one). How about those aggressive panhandlers on the 16th Street Mall? Surely they're trying to 'intimidate a group of civilians.'
Can those 'criminal extremist
' protesters be far behind?
Really close gubernatorial election in Washington.
Dem comes out on top
after weeks of recounts.
Losing rightwing candidate jettisons
all that 'be the bigger man and move on' stuff from Florida 2000:
The night before Washington's secretary of state was scheduled to certify Democrat Christine Gregoire as the governor-elect, her Republican rival Dino Rossi called for a complete re-do of the longest, closest governor's race in state history.
"The uncertainty surrounding this election process isn't just bad for you and me - it is bad for the entire state. People need to know for sure that the next governor actually won the election," Rossi said Wednesday evening, reading from a letter he sent to Gregoire.
Can you imagine the kind of fury that would have greeted the Gore 2000 campaign if they
had asked for a do-over?
Here come the 'yeah, buts' --
...is what exactly they mean by that -- healthy for the forest? The communities they aim to protect? The logging industry?
! It's the latter.
First, the administration altered a management plan for the Sierra's national forests to emphasize more thinning operations deep in the forest and fewer near communities, where the projects are more expensive for loggers...
With an inadequate budget to start with, the Forest Service is proposing to shift 15 percent of its "hazardous fuel reduction funding" away from expensive areas to less expensive ones. That may sound like more bang for the buck. But isn't the intent of this program to make communities more secure, as opposed to cutting down the maximum number of trees?
No, the intention was always
to cut down the maximum number of trees. It's amazing that surprises people...
Or the wages of sin...and a huge setback for those of us trying to teach our kids that liars don't prospser --
In the most expensive presidential contest
in the nation's history, John F. Kerry and his Democratic supporters nearly matched President Bush and the Republicans, who outspent them by just $60 million, $1.14 billion to $1.08 billion.
But despite their fundraising success, Democrats simply did not spend their money as effectively as Bush.
And what was effective? Smear:
With a $177 million ad budget, the Bush campaign and its allies ran more than 101,000 anti-Kerry "attack" or negative ads, more than the combined total of "positive" and "contrast" ads, according to the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project, based on data from Nielsen Monitor-Plus ratings of media buying effectiveness.
Less than 5 percent of Kerry's ads were "attack" or negative, according to the Wisconsin advertising project, and the remaining 95 percent were positive or contrast ads.
By the time Kerry had raised enough money to begin his positive ad campaign two months later, the Bush "attack" ads had helped convert the ratio of Kerry's positive to negative ratings in battleground states...
And in particular:
The negative Bush barrage was followed in August by the Swift Boat Veterans ads, the first one airing on just four cable channels at a cost of $546,000. The Swift Boat Veterans eventually would raise and spend $28 million, but the first ad was exceptionally cost-effective: most voters learned about it through free coverage in mainstream media and talk radio.
Media hacks look at what happened and see superior tactics -- a brilliantly played game of hardball. Other observers, though, rue the success of character assassination in today's politics, and note this precedent with dread for the future...
Naturally, they don't love hearing it
...as a percentage of gross national product, the OECD's figures on development aid show that, as of April, none of the world's richest countries donated even 1 percent of its gross national product. Norway was highest, at 0.92 percent; the United States
was last, at 0.14 percent.
Maybe it was a coincidence? Probably not:
The city of Longmont says it has no records proving that Chivington Drive
, which was created in 1977, was named for John Chivington. But Chivington Drive is surrounded by roads bearing the names of Civil War heroes Sherman, Lincoln and Grant...
On Nov. 29, 1864, Col. John M. Chivington of the Colorado Militia ordered his 700 men to attack the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes at Sand Creek in southeastern Colorado. The tribes were flying the American flag and the white flag of surrender.
Among the chiefs at Sand Creek was Niwot, also known as Left Hand, who stood with his arms folded across his chest. An advancing soldier heard Niwot say, "Soldier no hurt me; soldiers my friends." Chivington's men summarily shot Niwot to death. After the massacre, Chivington's men burned the camp, mutilated the bodies of the dead and carried body parts back to Denver for a triumphant display.
Even in 1864, civilized people were horrified. Chivington was investigated by Congress and court martialed, but he could not be punished by the Army because he was by then no longer a member. But an Army judge said the Sand Creek Massacre was "a cowardly and cold-blooded slaughter, sufficient to cover its perpetrators with indelible infamy."
Well, this unhappy little story got settled
The Longmont City Council voted to get rid of Chivington Drive - named after Col. John Chivington - entirely from the addresses of a two-block stretch in the city's northern sector.
If anybody had been paying attention back in 1977 when this neighborhood was built, it likely never would have happened. Some developer played a pretty sick joke on the residents of Longmont, and they didn't get it for 28 years
As in Washington state, the belated results were worth waiting for. But oh my God, so nail-biting close
The Montana Supreme Court
on Tuesday overturned a decision that determined a disputed legislative race was tied, likely giving Democrats control of the state House of Representatives.
That, in turn, creates a 50-50 tie between Republicans and Democrats in the House and means the next House speaker likely will be from the party of Democratic Gov.-elect Brian Schweitzer. The party that controls the governor's office in Montana breaks ties in electing House speakers.
Democrats hold a majority of seats in the Montana Senate as well...
Aren't you glad, jubilant progressive Coloradoan, that you didn't just go through something like this? My doctor certainly is.
Apparently Fox News wasn't enough -- a full-blown DoD propaganda channel
The Pentagon has created its own 24-hour television channel to cut out the middle man -- the national media -- in covering news events at the headquarters of the world's most powerful military.
The Pentagon Channel contains 100 percent military content, with the goal of being a pure conduit of information for the troops. Although its primary programming includes Defense Department briefings and interviews with top defense officials, the channel also carries stories about the daily life and work of service members.
With all programs anchored by military personnel, the most popular show so far is a daily 30-minute newscast, said Miss Barber, although she added that another program called "Why I Serve" is an immense hit with the troops...
Probably brought Leni Riefenstahl
back from the grave to direct it...
Because, you know, that's what's expected of you
A female bartender who refused to wear makeup at a Reno, Nevada, casino was not unfairly dismissed from her job, a U.S. federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday...
"We have previously held that grooming and appearance standards that apply differently to women and men do not constitute discrimination on the basis of sex," Judge Wallace Tashima wrote for the majority.
How is that
The Lambda Legal Defense Fund, a gay rights group that backed Jespersen's suit, had argued that forcing female employees to have different standards than men was unlawful under rules, known as Title VII, against discrimination on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Sidney Thomas backed the reasoning of the plaintiff. "Harrah's fired Jespersen because of her failure to confirm to sex stereotypes, which is discrimination based on sex and is therefore impermissible under Title VII," he wrote.
What, you mean people actually care
about tens of thousands of South Asian dead?
"Crap, we'd better do something," says Karl.
The Bush administration
more than doubled its financial commitment yesterday to provide relief to nations suffering from the Indian Ocean tsunami, amid complaints that the vacationing President Bush has been insensitive to a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions.
Skeptics said the initial aid sums -- as well as Bush's decision at first to remain cloistered on his Texas ranch for the Christmas holiday rather than speak in person about the tragedy -- showed scant appreciation for the magnitude of suffering and for the rescue and rebuilding work facing such nations as Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Indonesia.
There was an international outpouring of support after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and even some administration officials familiar with relief efforts said they were surprised that Bush had not appeared personally to comment on the tsunami tragedy. "It's kind of freaky," a senior career official said.
Anyone with experience in meth will tell you that it is the worst scourge ever unleashed
upon Middle America --
In many Colorado counties, meth has become a leading cause of child neglect. Child-welfare officials estimate the drug now accounts for up to 80 percent of the cases in which they consider taking kids from their parents.
Child-abuse investigators "are walking into homes where there is no water, no electricity. The parents have sold all their furniture," said Theresa Spahn, the director of a state program that provides guardians to neglected children. "They're walking away from their children. This is a crisis."
Other than harsh penalties and aggressive enforcement, Colorado has no plan to deal with this crisis. As other drug epidemics have taught us, unless the emphasis is medical as opposed to criminal, the harm isn't reduced -- and the problem deepens.
But methamphetamines are different. Their effects are more pernicious, more devastating than heroin, cocaine, the other hard drugs. And nothing needed in meth's production is imported, so the dangerous work of its production is done in suburban kitchens and basements. The consequences of our failure to understand -- both the social and economic dynamics of this cottage-industry scourge, as well as the larger truths about drug addiction that we've never learned
...she sees meth addiction as an illness that Colorado does too little to treat. If adults seeking treatment lack insurance, aren't pregnant and don't have a pending child-welfare case, "they don't have access," she said.
Colorado's Medicaid program covers drug treatment only for pregnant women, "so what message does that send to the female addict? Go and get pregnant?" Wheeler asked. "We don't need any more drug-affected newborns."
In a recent report to legislators, the state Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division acknowledged that national surveys rank Colorado high for drug use and low for treatment.
A 2003 federal survey put Colorado second among 50 states in "past-month use of any illicit drugs," the state agency reported. At the same time, "Colorado ranks last in the nation in investing in treatment, prevention or research."
The right opposes public transportation.
The right supports 'financial responsibility' -- that is, everybody takes care of their own house. Sounds good.
But if you've got no viable public transportation options, and you have to leave your house (which most people do), you've got to drive. And in the era of unfunded 'responsibility mandates' handed to the citizens, that means you'd damn well better have auto insurance.
Trouble is, at least 20% of Colorado drivers can't afford it
. But rather than getting a handle on inaccessibility, which abandoning no-fault was supposed to do (ha ha), they're just cranking up the penalties
Starting Saturday, the first- time fine for driving without insurance will jump from $100 to at least $500, and the driver's license will be suspended until proof of insurance is shown.
Second offenses will bring a fine of at least $1,000 and a four-month license suspension. It gets even tougher with subsequent violations.
If the right's vision of the world is for everybody to drive everywhere they go, and yet driving is a privilege
that can be easily revoked (as everyone knows) -- plus you must buy insurance at a price that frequently exceeds the actual loan payment for your car...
A raw deal, unless you're an insurance company. And an unworkable burden for 20% of the population...
State Senator Abel Tapia has introduced a proposal
a couple of times now, that would pay for basic liability insurance out of gas taxes -- easing everyone's burden, and also reducing the need for uninsured motorist coverage. It's a very fair and market-driven proposal; charging a little more to people who use a little more, since higher gas consumers are either on the road alot or behind the wheel of something that could do alot of damage --
The prior legislature (surprise) killed the bill, but 2005 could be a very good year for some fresh ideas.
Events in South Asia make one dread the morning headlines
Arthur C. Clarke
The death toll from the epic tidal waves that rocked 11 countries rose to 40,000 people on Tuesday after Sri Lanka and Indonesia significantly increased their confirmed deaths.
Medical supplies, food aid and water purification systems poured into the region, part of what the U.N. said would be the biggest relief effort the world has ever seen. Millions remained homeless.
has messaged -- he's okay, but his Sri Lankan neighbors are in dire need:
For hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans and an unknown number of foreign tourists, the day after Christmas turned out to be a living nightmare reminiscent of The Day After Tomorrow...
This is indeed a disaster of unprecedented magnitude for Sri Lanka which lacks the resources and capacity to cope with the aftermath.
I feel obligated to mention at this point that RMPN's Executive Director, Michael Huttner, is presently vacationing in India. Though we haven't heard from him in a few days, we're trusting in India's expansive geography -- and pretty sure that he's okay.
Just got an email from Mike. All's well and dry with him, thank goodness...
Please visit the Red Cross website
, and help with relief efforts for this stricken region of the world.
Pull a Worldcom on Fannie Mae
, and here's what you'll get --
Franklin Raines, who was forced out as Fannie Mae's chief executive after five years, is slated to receive a monthly pension of more than $114,000 for life, according to documents the mortgage lending giant filed Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission...
Raines was forced out Dec. 21 by Fannie Mae's board of directors, along with Chief Financial Officer Timothy Howard.
The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, or OFHEO -- the company's chief regulator -- pressured the board to act after the SEC said the company must make accounting corrections that could erase $9 billion of past profit dating to 2001.
According to the filing Monday, Howard will be paid $84,000 in salary through Jan. 31 and receive a monthly pension of $36,071 for the rest of his life. He has more than 480,000 shares in stock options, ranging in value from about $27 to about $81 a share, and deferred compensation of $4 million.
Gosh, they must just feel awful about defrauding millions of shareholders. Perhaps I'll ring them up on the yacht-phone and express my sympathy...
First majority winner in years, Congress strongly in his column, every other word out of his mouth is 'mandate' -- so, as they say, where's the love?
prepares to start his second term with the lowest approval ratings of any just-elected sitting president in half a century, according to new surveys.
A Gallup survey conducted for CNN and USA Today puts Bush's approval rating at 49% -- close to his preelection numbers. That's 10 to 20 points lower than every elected sitting president at this stage since just after World War II, according to Gallup, which has been tabulating such data since Harry S. Truman won a full term in 1948.
Bush's Gallup rating echoed a survey published last week by ABC News and the Washington Post, which put his approval rating at 48%. That poll also found that 56% of Americans believed the Iraq war was not worth fighting. Time magazine also put Bush's overall approval at 49%.
"The question is, what happened to the honeymoon?" asked Frank Newport, editor of the Gallup survey.
Court-martialed for salvaging abandoned vehicles in Kuwait
So her unit could perform their mission in Iraq
She was among six Ohio reservists from the Springfield-based 656th Transportation Company who were court-martialed at a time when some U.S. troops in Iraq are complaining they have to scrounge for equipment.
Members of the unit said they needed the equipment to deliver fuel to U.S. forces in Iraq for everything from helicopters to tanks.
According to one of the reservists who was court-martialed, they took two tractor-trailers and stripped parts from a truck that had been abandoned in Kuwait by other units that had already moved into Iraq.
Is this a crime? More of a disgrace -- and not to this officer or her brave reservists, but the commanders who "went to war with the Army they have
In World War I, near the end, Russian troops were sent into battle with orders to collect weapons from those who had fallen before them.
We know how that
More on the grisly practice of tranferring prisoners to torture-friendly counties, via Talkleft
The CIA calls this activity "rendition." Premier Executive's Gulfstream helps make it possible. According to civilian aircraft landing permits, the jet has permission to use U.S. military airfields worldwide...
According to airport officials, public documents and hobbyist plane spotters, the Gulfstream V, with tail number N379P, has been used to whisk detainees into or out of Jakarta, Indonesia; Pakistan; Egypt; and Sweden, usually at night, and has landed at well-known U.S. government refueling stops.
explains that this activity violates the UN Convention on Torture. They call it an 'open' secret. Not like anybody in Washington is sweating
Not to mention the credibility hit America's individual citizens
will take if they fail to demand an end
to this practice, now that it cannot be denied...
Denver Business Journal
has itemized what it thinks were the biggest economic developments of 2004 --
tried vainly to shake off a deeper-than-imagined recession in 2004, achieving only anemic total employment growth for the year -- but still managed to lay the foundation for a more secure economic future with key infrastructure investments.
The business community, in the end, needs things to function
-- with transportation that works, and health care that doesn't bankrupt the companies who provide it:
With an abundance of new hospital beds becoming available, insurers, for the first time in years, were in control when it came to bargaining on rates. But double-digit rate increases, paid mostly by employers, continued to take their toll on business expenses, and many businesses shifted higher costs to employees or dropped coverage altogether.
Quality, accessible colleges and universities are also important to the economy. Seems like the previous legislature never figured this out. Maybe that's why they're the 'previous' legislature.
Although tax collections rose as the economy improved, the automatic budget cuts and surplus refunds mandated by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) threatened to decimate higher education support, considered a key factor in economic development.
The bottom line, and a key component of all my New Year's Eve toasts this Friday:
With the change in political control at the Capitol, the rising awareness among business leaders about state fiscal matters set the stage for what promises to be one of the most interesting legislative sessions in memory.
Saddened by tragedy, humbled by nature's fury:
The giant waves
-- triggered by the most powerful earthquake on Earth in 40 years -- left thousands injured, thousands missing and hundreds of thousands homeless.
Perhaps we would have deposed Castro decades ago if we'd known -- the sugar lobby and mob couldn't convince Ike in 1959, or JFK in 1961, but I hear the oil industry's
got quite a bit of pull these days --
President Fidel Castro
said a crude oil deposit has been discovered off Cuba containing up to 100 million barrels, good news for a country that imports about half the petroleum it needs.
Oil specialists believe Cuba's waters in the Gulf of Mexico could contain large quantities of crude, just as those of Mexico and the United States do...
Can 'regime change' be far behind?
Bush doesn't think the Iraqi Army
is doing a very good job.
Trouble is, they're the only hope for the US, in terms of ever getting out of Iraq without civil war...
...following a string of deadly suicide bombings in southern Iraq, Bush made a sobering assessment and criticized the performance of Iraqi troops.
"There have been some cases where, when the heat got on, they left the battlefield -- that is unacceptable," Bush said at a Dec. 20 press conference.
The Iraqis don't share Bush's pessimism, apparently:
Zebari, Iraq's only four-star general, insisted none of his troops had deserted from combat. But he acknowledged that some recruits undergoing training had quit after being told they would be posted to the restive city of Fallujah, which was taken in a U.S.-led assault in November.
Perhaps they'll agree to disagree -- but nobody's given the American people a straight answer on how many Iraqi soldiers even exist
In March, the secretary claimed
that Iraq had 200,000 security forces "taking over responsibility for the country." This puffed-up figure was meaningless; most were untrained police or security guards, not forces trained to fight insurgents.
That bogus number has shrunk. U.S. officials now talk of efforts to train 125,000 Iraqi forces to secure the country. But Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., just returned from a trip to Iraq, says, "We haven't trained anywhere near that troop strength that can supplement U.S. troops."
Only a handful of specialized Iraqi units are ready to handle insurgents. Biden says it will take one to two years more to get Iraqi forces into shape.
Remember what Bush said during the first debate
Bush also said "100,000 troops" and other Iraqi security personnel have been trained to date. That's the official figure, but the President failed to mention that many trainees have received nothing more than a three-week course in police procedures -- what Armitage referred to as "shake-and-bake" forces.
Only 8,000 of the total are police who have received a full eight-week course of training, Armitage told the House...
Looks like somebody closed Bush's reality gap -- what a buzz-kill
that must have been.
You were worried about Salazar? Don't be
, he's jumping right in --
Sen.-elect Ken Salazar on Sunday predicted a "bloody fight" if the Senate's Republican leadership tries to change rules that allowed minority Democrats to block votes on judicial nominees they considered unacceptable.
The Colorado Democrat, who appeared on CBS's "Face the Nation" with incoming Republican Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and Johnny Isakson of Georgia, said a push to change the filibuster rule would negate any move toward bipartisanship Republicans have made...
I'm not sure what actual 'moves toward bipartisanship' he's referring to from the right -- but the whole 'bloody fight' thing? Pretty much count on that. In fact, thank goodness for it:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., has said the filibuster allows "tyranny by the minority," and he will do whatever it takes to end it.
Not to mention:
Salazar expressed skepticism of Bush's proposal to reform Social Security, which the Colorado attorney general said could increase the deficit by up to $2 trillion.
Here's hoping he hits as hard in the session as the pre-game show...
A reality check
for finger-pointing, buck-passing bureaucrats.
The state has been playing a shell game since the launch of CBMS
. State reports, documents and personnel provide repeated evidence of tens of thousands of cases not being served. Coughlin stated during the hearing that testimony from the state indicated there were more than 25,000 cases that had exceeded the federal timely processing period, and that this represented a serious problem. In response, the state had its expert witness testify that the backlog has not been growing.
All of these missteps and intentional obfuscation on the part of the state belies the [Rocky
] editor's claim that "a court-appointed monitor to evaluate the system is completely misguided." Defendants have shown themselves unwilling to be realistic or truthful about the problems they need to solve, and incapable of the discipline required to solve them.
The so-called 'recovery' hasn't reached Colorado
Kathy White with the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute
says this is the worst job recovery picture nationwide since the Great Depression
As the Congress is coming back into
session, there's been rumors of more tax cuts to stimulate the economy
and create jobs. Looking at whether the past tax cut plan has actually
done what it was intended to do, which was stimulate the economy and
create jobs, we can see that it hasn't. It hasn't been good nationally, and it hasn't been good in Colorado.
We would need 68,300 jobs [in Colorado] by the end of the year, to get back to just the number of jobs we had when the recession began in 2001. To provide for our growing working age population, and get the jobs back that we've lost during the recession, by the end of the year, we need almost 200,000 jobs.
Please note that I resisted the temptation use the letter 'K.'
They are tomorrow's GOP leaders, so you expect them to learn the ropes -- including shady fundraising tactics
The College Republican National Committee is under fire for using front organizations to collect millions of dollars in contributions, including money from elderly people with dementia...
Hold off on the 'rightwing dementia' jokes -- goodness knows I thought of them. This is pretty serious:
Many donors complained that they thought the money was going directly to the Republican Party, and not to the college group, which is no longer affiliated with the GOP. The controversy over the letters has produced angry responses from leaders of state College Republican chapters, including those in Washington state, North Carolina and New York.
The University of Washington College Republicans approved a resolution calling on Eric Hoplin, chairman of the national committee, "to take full responsibility for his actions," acknowledge that those actions have substantially harmed the College Republicans grass-roots organization and "promptly resign."
The Times reported that a number of elderly donors gave far more money than they could afford...
But it seems the national College Republicans chair has taken a cue from Colorado's own George Culpepper
-- when things get rough, deflect criticism with wild finger-pointing:
In the immediate aftermath, Hoplin e-mailed top state officials of the organization, telling them not to speak to the news media. "We need the story to go away," he wrote. "The story is full of lies and distortions written by a well-known liberal who is out to get us. If the press asks you about it, tell them you have no comment."
The College Republicans once were an arm of the Republican National Committee. In anticipation of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, it became independent and formed in April of that year what is known as a 527 organization under the tax code. Since then, the College Republicans have raised $14.8 million, largely through the direct-mail program run by Response Dynamics.
What do the College Republicans need with all that money, you ask? All those new chapters
, of course -- and then there's this little campaign they're running called the Academic Bill of Rights
Kanfer noted that since Response Dynamics took the account, "the College Republican budget has increased twenty-five-fold."
Next, part II: The year of Tituba
Often overlooked in discussion of the Salem witch trials of 1692 is the factional politics that played themselves out in the Court of Oyer and Terminer
. A majority of the accused witches in fact lived in outlying communities around Salem, many of whom had battled with Salem Village over the appointment of the new town minister in 1689 (as well as other municipal squabbles).
As the expanding hysteria began to consume Salem, the fury quickly turned to those who had quarreled with the village Puritans over almost any subject -- and the specific allegations became secondary to a climate of reflexive purging...
Now we turn to today's story
Traditionally, clashes over academic freedom have pitted politicians or administrators against instructors who wanted to express their opinions and teach as they saw fit. But increasingly, it is students who are invoking academic freedom, claiming biased professors are violating their right to a classroom free from indoctrination...
To many professors, there's a new and deeply troubling aspect to this latest chapter in the debate over academic freedom: students trying to dictate what they don't want to be taught.
In America today, like Salem of 1692, there's an intolerant view emerging -- and those who don't side with the Puritans can expect to be targeted. The right wing holds sway over the national government, the economy, most media. The only place many people's narrow, talk-show worldviews are challenged anymore is in their college classroom
"Even the most contentious or disaffected of students in the '60s or early '70s never really pressed this kind of issue," said Robert O'Neil, former president of the University of Virginia and now director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.
Those behind the trend call it an antidote to the overwhelming liberal dominance of university faculties. But many educators, while agreeing students should never feel bullied, worry that they just want to avoid exposure to ideas that challenge their core beliefs â€” an essential part of education.
Some also fear teachers will shy away from sensitive topics, or fend off criticism by "balancing" their syllabuses with opposing viewpoints, even if they represent inferior scholarship...
Conservative students have complained
that they are assigned Noam Chomsky, but not Sean Hannity; professors argue the vast scholarly inequality between the two. Conservatives decry the lopsided political representation among college faculty, while ignoring two obvious problems with their case:
1) The business school.
2) The products of objective research.
With the second being the key -- rather than dodging the issue, as nervous faculty occasionally seek to, ask yourself the honest question: why are there so many liberals in academia?
Could it be that scholarly examination of our culture doesn't lend itself well to rightwing politics? Just like the study of the horrors of war might lead to a scholarly field
that focuses exclusively on how to avoid it? Or a social work instructor, who takes for granted, based on years of experience, that basic safety nets for poor people are necessary
-- regardless of how Rush Limbaugh feels about it?
If one side of the debate keeps butting up against the conclusions of objective research, is the solution really to intimidate the researchers?
In the wider debate, both sides cite the guidelines on academic freedom first set out in 1915 by the American Association of University Professors.
The objecting students emphasize the portion calling on teachers to "set forth justly ... the divergent opinions of other investigators." But many teachers note the guidelines also say instructors need not "hide (their) own opinions under a mountain of equivocal verbiage," and that their job is teaching students "to think for themselves."
believes the AAUP, which opposes his bill of rights, and liberals in general are now the establishment and have abandoned their commitment to real diversity and student rights.
But critics say Horowitz is pushing a political agenda, not an academic one.
"It's often phrased in the language of academic freedom. That's what's so strange about it," said Ellen Schrecker, a Yeshiva University historian who has written about academic freedom during the McCarthy area. "What they're saying is, 'We want people to reflect our point of view.'"
Which brings us back to the nationally expanding, questionably funded
College Republican organization -- and also to 1692. Individual cases serve well to illustrate what's going on: for example, before the organization of the Auraria College Republicans
at Metro State in September of 2003, there had never been a case of ideological or political bias lodged by student in the history of the college
. Now there are numerous
such cases, all originating within this group.
This same story is playing itself out on campuses across the country
-- led by their own College Republican chapters, who sometimes jointly or separately refer to themselves as Students for Academic Freedom. The terms are more or less interchangeable these days, much the same way Horowitz equates the word 'liberal' with 'traitor.'
The academy is often referred to as an 'ivory tower' by its own members -- not in the pejorative, but reflecting their profound sense of responsibility to remain objective in the face of shifting cultural trends. In the right's angry zeal to consolidate power, and stifle all dissent, the barbarians have arrived at the gates...
The Bush administration spent years ignoring North Korea's gathering threat, while focusing on economically lucrative targets like Iraq.
They claim it's not a policy failure that North Korea now has deliverable nuclear weapons, which have been deployed since Bush became President
Does that make you feel safer? Cowboy swagger aside, apparently Bush is a little nervous
, as well --
The United States will deploy missiles to South Korea in 2005 with the aim of destroying underground facilities for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in North Korea...
Because goodness knows, we wouldn't want that 'smoking gun' to be a mushroom cloud...
It's the Partnership for a New American Iraq
-- a little 'structural adjustment,' anyone?
The United States is helping the interim Iraqi government continue to make major economic changes, including cuts to social subsidies, full access for U.S. companies to the nation's oil reserves and reconsideration of oil deals that the previous regime signed with France and Russia...
The government, which is supposed to be replaced after elections scheduled for January, will also pass a new law that will further open Iraq's huge oil reserves to foreign companies. U.S. firms are expected to gain the lion's share of access in a process estimated to be worth billions of dollars.
One major move the country is inching towards under U.S. guardianship, which was discussed this week, is a rollback of Iraq's huge subsidies system, which may have kept millions of Iraqis from starvation under U.S. and UK-backed sanctions imposed by the United Nations after the 1991 Gulf War.
The sanctions lasted for 12 years. A study by the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Iraq's Ministry of Health found that 500,000 more Iraqi children died under sanctions, from 1991 to 1998, than would have otherwise perished, but they stressed that not all the deaths could be directly blamed on the provisions.
It is believed that many more Iraqis would have died if not for a strong subsidies system that gave food rations to Iraqi families.
Under its October agreement with the IMF, Baghdad's interim leaders agreed to cut the support, among many other conditions...
Iraq was a colony once before
-- didn't end so well. Looks like we'll be re-learning this lesson...
We don't call him Crazy Davey
David Horowitz's nationally coordinated campaign to pass his Academic Bill of Rights is said to have targeted 20 states
for action next year. Nationally, with the right wing flush from widespread victory at the polls, he probably feels good about its chances.
But he's confronted with the problem of what to say about Colorado
Horowitz has consistently claimed victory for ABOR in Colorado, even though both resolutions introduced by his surrogates failed
. After weeks of delaying a vote of the main measure, Shawn Mitchell's HB-1315, the bill was killed
in exchange for a token agreement from the schools to uphold their existing policies
regarding free expression in the classroom.
More importantly, the specific cases brought to the legislature as evidence of liberal bias against rightwing students themselves spectacularly failed
. Horowitz was a key figure in the original organization
of the Auraria College Republicans student group, which subsequently waged a year-long war against the reputation of a Metro State professor named Oneida Meranto
. Hoping to build repeated allegations of bias into a case to justify the passage of ABOR in the state legislature, numerous complaints were filed against her using the school's existing grievance procedure...
RMPN documented the whole course of these events: beginning with Horowitz's original trip
to Colorado in the summer of 2003, when he met discreetly with key state GOP leadership to plot out the fall's events. His subsequent speaking engagement at Metro State
instantly produced a belligerent College Republican chapter, their ouster of MSCD's student body president
(who had the temerity to protest Horowitz's visit), and the budding case against Oneida Meranto.
Dr. Meranto committed one error
during this siege: at the time of Senator John Andrews' December 2003 hearing on 'campus liberal bias' (which paraded one aggrieved Republican after another, having given potential opposition hardly any notice at all), then ACR president George Culpepper
took his allegations against her to the press. Dr. Meranto offered her explanation for why Culpepper dropped the class in response to repeated press inquiries -- and this was deemed a violation of FERPA, which forbids the unauthorized disclosure of a student's academic record.
Other than that, multiple investigations
have proven that Dr. Meranto has never acted with bias towards any complaining student. Moreover, as the seedy details began to emerge about these students being rewarded for their testimony in support of ABOR with high-profile legislative internships
, and the paid operatives
from the Independence Institute
shadowing meetings held on the subject, as well as 'preparing' students to testify
before the legislature, the considerable steam that ABOR had been gaining suddenly fell apart.
Another reason for the ABOR intiative's decline was David Horowitz personally -- in February of 2004, about a month before HB-1315 was withdrawn, revelations about a highly dubious "guide to the political left" online database
being constructed by Horowitz made the front page
of the Rocky Mountain News
. This database, which listed numerous mainstream Colorado charities and nonprofits right alongside terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf and Al Qaeda, revealed at the very least some amount of paranoia on the part of Mr. Horowitz. This story
significantly changed many people's view of Horowitz, as well as his quixotic crusade to eradicate 'liberal bias' on college campuses.
In the end, Metro State administration was unequivocal
Students have demanded that professors be terminated for expressing in the classroom viewpoints and ideas with which the students strongly disagree. On their face, these allegations simply are not violations of the College's standards of professional conduct...
Complaints solely based on the grounds that the professor has offered a view that the student considers offensive or biased have been and will continue to be dismissed by the College.
In the specific case of Dr. Meranto
, and her alleged 'persecution' of conservatives:
"You are entirely within your legal rights to hold and express views contrary to your students' on Latin American politics, current public issues like the 'student bill of rights,' and the proper responsibilities of student organizations you advise and its members," Mr. Kieft wrote in his decision, on August 9. "The College cannot and will not presume that your treatment of students reflects ideological bias or prejudice merely because you express your point of view."
Despite this clear decision, and the subsequent failure of numerous, increasingly outrageous claims
filed by Culpepper and other College Republicans
, there are fresh rumors swirling of new attempt to harass Dr. Meranto next semester -- including large numbers of College Republicans purposefully registering for her classes. Culpepper, as well as another former complaintant Nick Bahl
, have both expressed their intentions to do so. Mr Bahl is in fact returning to Metro State, having graduated, specifically to take her course.
Given the history here, the only reasonable conclusion is that they intend to foster a hostile environment in her classrooms once again.
None of this looks particularly good for Horowitz's Students for Academic Freedom as they prepare the same campaign all across the fruited plain...their solution? At least in the short run, it's angry spin control
From the beginning of its campaign for an Academic Bill of Rights in Colorado, Students for Academic Freedom has had to cope with a partisan press...
Yeah, it's that pesky left-wing media that carefully prepared and invented the 'crisis' his pet law was going to solve; then irresponsibly covered the fact that his pack of instigators were in fact bumbling usual-suspect cronies. Not to mention that he himself is a paranoid extremist of the worst Osama-baiting kind.
In Davey's latest retelling of the Colorado ABOR saga, he seeks to portray Dr. Meranto as the belligerent 'aggressor,' conveniently leaving out the biggest part of the story -- that is, his masterminding of the entire campaign against her. His direction, through willing local accomplices like the Independence Institute
, of these students to initiate the complaints. His publication of Nick Bahl's rambling indictment
of Dr. Meranto, which resulted in the much-ballyhooed death threats against her.
Several claims made in this article are openly false
, such as a claim that Dr. Meranto 'asked students' in a Native American campus group to 'try to get Culpepper expelled,' and that Dr. Meranto sought to exclude Republicans from membership in a campus Political Science club. Both claims have been repudiated during lengthy on-campus investigations.
Horowitz's writer never even explains that these allegations were (except for the FERPA/Denver Post
business) all proven meritless
! While she points out correctly that counterclaims filed by Dr. Meranto and others against Culpepper have also failed, this was done because the intent of student conduct codes is not to expel students if at all possible. Schools exist to serve students, not faculty. The administration correctly saw the bigger picture here, and has chosen not to punish students for adolescent tantrums they may well later regret -- especially considering the outside agitation whipping them into this frenzy.
I've said before
that the actions of Colorado's rightwing legislature -- that is, their fixation on partisan crusades like ABOR while the state's financial situation deteriorated, definitely contributed to their ouster from power
on November 2nd.
In the end, Colorado's example doesn't fit very well with Horowitz's desired public image of the ABOR campaign; which explains why he feels the need to lay the spin down so thickly...
Merry Christmas, logging industry. You've got something special under the tree:
The government will no longer require
that its managers prepare an environmental impact analysis with each forest's management plan, or use numerical counts to ensure there are "viable populations" of fish and wildlife...
"With Bush's anti-environmental forest policy, you can't blame him for trying to hide behind other news, but not even Scrooge would unveil these regulations," Udall said. "These regulations, being offered two days before Christmas, cut the public out of the forest planning process, will inspire many more lawsuits and provide less protection for wildlife. It's a radical overhaul of forest policy."
Seven weeks after Black Tuesday
, and here's what we know:
In the two weeks since Mr. Bush was certified the winner here by 118,000 votes out of 5.7 million cast, watchdog groups have filed lawsuits contesting the outcome and questioning the counting of provisional ballots. The state has nearly completed a recount, at the request of the Green and Independent Parties. Liberal Democrats have demanded investigations into whether there was voter fraud, tampering and intimidation in urban districts.
"This has fundamentally shocked people's sense of whether any election can be accurately counted," said Daniel Hoffheimer, counsel to Mr. Kerry's Ohio campaign...
Then there are the ugly details, which the mainstream media still seems afraid to confront -- even when Kerry himself steps in (via Truthout
2004 Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry will file today, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, papers in support of the Green Party/Libertarian Party recount effort. Specifically, Kerry will be filing a request for expedited discovery regarding Triad Systems
voting machines, as well as a motion for a preservation order to protect any and all discovery and preserve any evidence on this matter.
Triad Systems has come under scrutiny recently after Sherole Eaton, deputy director of elections for Hocking County, swore out an affidavit in which she described her witnessing the tampering of electronic voting equipment by a Triad representative. Rep. John Conyers, the ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, has requested an investigation into this matter by the FBI and the Hocking County prosecutor...
Jesse Jackson, for his part, is unequivocal
''Kerry conceded much too quickly, before the facts were in," Jackson said in a conference call with reporters to discuss an ongoing challenge to Ohio's election results.
But the growing evidence of widespread fraud isn't enough to get back on the radar screens of most sensationalist media, because the numbers involved still don't claim to change any outcomes
...experts in election law say little clear evidence of fraud has emerged. Democratic officials have joined Republicans in arguing that any conspiracy to deny Mr. Kerry votes would have required Democratic complicity, because each of Ohio's 88 county election boards has two Democrats and two Republicans.
That's a pretty good trick, isn't it? Because you can't get on the news without a 'sexy' claim, after which you're dismissed as alarmist.
Consider for a moment the case of e-voting "Erin Brockovitch" Bev Harris, whose tireless efforts originally forced this debate into the public eye --
In a written statement, [Democratic Underground
] site administrators said Friday that they barred Bev Harris, founder of Black Box Voting, because her postings on the site "have made positive discussion of verified voting increasingly difficult."
A singularly unfortunate statement, since if it wasn't for Bev -- whom I've never had anything but the most pleasant, engaging conversations with -- nobody would be discussing this at all
Harris, a Washington-based publicist, became a leading critic of electronic voting machines after she discovered source code for a voting machine made by Diebold Election Systems on the internet in 2002. When Harris put out a call on the Democratic Underground site last year for help to examine the code, members who had technical expertise found numerous security flaws in it. Computer scientists at Johns Hopkins and Rice Universities then released a public report about the flaws, spawning a nationwide movement to demand more-secure voting systems.
Somewhere between mounting evidence and impatient calls for everyone to MoveOn, there needs to be a middle ground that can acknowledge both the urgent need for reform and
the larger realities of the 2004 election...
Bev Harris, despite Olbermann acrimony
, and DU's spineless admins, gets that. She has repeatedly insisted that she's not seeking the overturn of the 2004 election. She's just trying to answer the same question she had in 2002 --
Seems like a simple enough message, doesn't it? How about everybody getting on it
, instead of attacking our well-intentioned messengers?
The pain of millions of Americans will not be removed by punch card investigations in Ohio. To get at the real heart of the matter, we need to find out what the heck really happened in Pima County, Arizona; Lake County, Indiana; King County, Washington; Pinellas County, Florida; Lucas County, Ohio; San Bernardino County, California; Indian reservations in New Mexico; and of course Volusia, Palm Beach, and Brevard counties in Florida. Keep the local reports coming, folks.
We've all rolled up our sleeves, and started to put the tools together to rebuild the barn. Now the real work begins. Black Box Voting
is in this for the long haul, not to create specific election results, but to attain transparency and proper auditing in ALL elections, once and for all.
'Terrorists for Kerry,' you say?
held hostage for four months in Iraq said their militant captors told them they wanted President Bush to win re-election...
"We want Bush because with him the American troops will stay in Iraq and that way we will be able to develop," Malbrunot cited the captor as saying.
A TABOR solution is
coming. The original mandate for reform came on November 2
, and important civic groups
continue to express it --
Two activist groups want voters next November to consider getting rid of Colorado's tax-and-spend mechanism known as TABOR or seriously altering it to let the state keep more money.
The League of Women Voters and AARP submitted four proposals to the state Wednesday. Hearings have been scheduled for Jan. 5.
Colorado's accessible referendum process is what gave us TABOR to begin with, but the legislature wants a chance to tame it:
"I think it's way too soon to give up on representative democracy," said incoming Speaker Andrew Romanoff, a Denver Democrat.
"We intend to put a solution on the ballot ourselves, and we intend to do it with groups like the League of Women Voters and AARP."
Governor Owens, despite the opportunistic flexibility
he's shown in the last few weeks, ardently defends the broken status quo whenever possible:
Owens' spokesman, Dan Hopkins, said the governor would never approve of abolishing TABOR or significantly changing it.
"The governor is a staunch defender of TABOR and believes it has served the state well," Hopkins said.
Whatever he claims, the governor's own proposal
represents a 'significant change,' according to Independence Institute president Jon Caldara:
Governor Bill Owens has endorsed the tax increase plan of Democratic House Speaker-elect Andrew Romanoff. It calls for a small income tax rate cut to disguise a much larger $500 million a year tax increase via a TABOR override...
But with Owens negotiating without them, and the new legislature moving, and groups like the LWV and AARP ready to take action
if the legislature fails to, the bleatings of the left-behind Independence Institute
become irrelevant. In the back of everyone's mind is the knowledge that this whole crisis is the product of their rejected vision
Here's hoping your house is buttoned up tight.
And that you're not choosing between food and heat
"We believe there are record numbers of seniors and low-income people needing help this year," said Skip Arnold, executive director for Energy Outreach Colorado, a nonprofit organization that provides energy assistance to low-income families.
Last fiscal year, more than 110,000 Colorado families received $40 million in aid from the state's Local Energy Assistance Program and Energy Outreach to pay their energy bills. This year, the number of households needing help is expected to increase by up to 20 percent.
"Last year, with natural gas prices rising as high as they did and even higher this year, low-income families were unable to catch up," said Peggy Hofstra, spokeswoman for Energy Outreach. "We're seeing a lot of balances owing $400 to $500, so they're already behind going into this winter."
The Colorado LEAP program has paid $7,552,530 for 34,838 households as of Dec. 11, an average of $216.79.
LEAP is "trying to stretch fewer dollars
among more families this year," Hofstra said.
...to go with that, you know, violation
In response to numerous complaints from women, the government has ordered airport security personnel to avoid touching female passengers between their breasts when performing patdowns.
Security screeners now will keep their hands to the ``chest perimeter'' of women unless detection equipment picks up the possibility that they are hiding explosives between their breasts.
The Pell Grant
swindle we discussed a few weeks ago is going forward, just in time for the holiday news blackout
The department plans to announce in the Federal Register that it is, for the first time in a decade, updating the amount it forgives most families for their state and local tax payments when determining how much income the families have left over to pay college costs.
According to an analysis by the American Council on Education, about 1.3 million students and their families will see their eligibility for federal financial aid drop next year, when the formula change takes effect, because the new formula will show them to have more money available for college than before. The families of some of the 90,000 students disqualified from Pell Grants could also appear to be rich enough under the change, according to the council, that they will be ineligible for state and institutional aid as well.
Despite opposition from Democratic lawmakers, college lobbyists, and advocates for students, Congress gave the department the green light to make the change to the federal needs-analysis formula when it approved a vast budget bill this month for the 2005 fiscal year.
Isn't anybody the least bit upset about the audacity with which Bush lied about Pell Grants
during the campaign, even the debates themselves
? I mean straight-up, smile-for-the-camera lied to you?!
After getting away with lying to you about Iraq
, they must figure that all these other lies are no big deal.
I'm going to seize up here -- my God, people!
Don't you remember the zeal in the eyes of that gaggle of House impeachment 'managers?' Tall ones, short ones, fat ones, skinny ones, all smiling, all corrupt
-- marching over to the Senate to solemnly invoke constitutional crisis over a presidential blow job?!
How far we've come, indeed...
Thought we had learned this lesson in our last
Iraq's Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) has ruled out the return of Fallujah evacuees
to their homes during the coming days, dismissing statements by the interim government, due to wide scale destruction caused by the US military campaign that rendered the city "uninhabitable".
On the ground, the sufferings of Fallujah displaced and evacuees have critically escalated seven weeks after being forced to leave their hometown. The sufferings are manifested in severe shortage of foodstuff, medical requirements and services as well as the freezing cold, featuring Iraq's winter.
In an exclusive statement to IslamOnline.net Tuesday December 21, AMS secretary general, Sheikh Hareth Suliman Al-Dari said, "Fallujah is completely destroyed and sabotaged. It has become uninhabitable with no water, electricity or wastewater facilities."
"The rotten smell of the dead is widespread and smokes of internationally banned weapons [used by the US occupation] cover its sky. So, I don't think they will return to it even if the occupation forces depart. They will probably be back in months or even years", Al-Dari resumed.
Of course, what one consenting adult chooses to do in the privacy of his own Oval Office is another matter
"Now, the temptation is going to be, by well-meaning people such as yourself and others here, as we run up to the issue, to get me to negotiate with myself in public," Bush told the questioner on Monday.
Frankly, I don't ever want to see that.
(shakes head) This is not
the way, people. A right turn
at the DNC?
Roemer is running with the encouragement of the party's two highest-ranking members of Congress, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and incoming Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada. Dean, a former presidential candidate, is popular with the party's liberal wing.
If Roemer were to succeed Terry McAuliffe as Democratic chairman in the Feb. 10 vote, the party long viewed as the guardian of abortion rights would suddenly have two antiabortion advocates at its helm. Reid, too, opposes abortion and once voted for a nonbinding resolution opposing Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion...
Weak presidential candidates, appeasement of Bush, all bad -- but this
truly makes me afraid for the future of the Democratic Party...
Remember, Bush wishes
At a government-run Moscow auction, one of the world's largest oil production companies was "sold" for $9.3 billion -- about half its estimated worth -- to a previously unknown firm of undisclosed ownership that had appeared three days before. The new petroleum giant gave as its address a building in a provincial town housing a cafe and a cell phone store. In this way Mr. Putin and the circle of former KGB operatives around him seized the prime asset of Yukos Oil Company...
This brazen assault on private property and the rule of law stunned even the most jaded international investors, who rushed yesterday to sell Russian shares in Moscow and other markets. Yet almost incredibly, it appeared to have no impact on President Bush, who at a news conference insisted that he intended to preserve the "good personal relationship" he has with Mr. Putin.
Whether or not the state likes it, the court is done screwing around:
A Denver District Court judge Tuesday ordered
state officials to fix the new computer welfare system and has set goals and deadlines to ensure thousands of Coloradans receive benefits.
Coughlin wrote that the backlog in benefits such as food stamps, the Colorado Child Health Plan Plus and Medicaid has put the needy in "precarious positions."
He gave the state a Feb. 28 deadline to reduce by 40 percent those backlogged cases out of compliance with federal and state requirements, with a further reduction of 40 percent every 60 days after that until "substantial compliance" is reached.
While everybody's dog-piling to claim victory, don't forget that the state argued stridently that there wasn't a problem
"We have made substantial progress and are confident that we will be able to fully comply with the judge's decision," Owens' statement read. "It is clear the court, the counties and the state all share the same goal."
Then why was a lawsuit necessary, at all? Why did the state make such hay over the plainiffs only bringing six people with them to court, and then try to blame the counties
for their supposed 'computer illiteracy?'
Where exactly does the buck stop, again?
The long term effect
of fiscal neglect, promoting sprawl while fighting public transportation, moral crusades, bankrupting higher education, et cetera --
Colorado, long one of the top destinations for people leaving California, lost more people to other states than it gained for the second year in a row. But immigration and births pushed its population up 1.2%, to 4.6 million.
"We had a lot of high-tech jobs in telecommunications and computer software," says Richard Lin, a Colorado demographer who tracks population estimates. "We lost a lot of these jobs."
Big population gains in other Western states such as Idaho, New Mexico and Utah may indicate that some of Colorado's appeal is fading, Lang says...
Tolerance and compassion, Christian academy
Three weeks ago an 18-year-old honor student at Trinity Christian Academy was cruising toward graduation. He had already been accepted to a prestigious university, and the final months of high school seemed a mere formality.
He was a varsity athlete and a winner of service and citizenship awards at the fundamentalist private school in Addison [Texas]...
But when the school's top administrators learned that the student had created a Web site where teens chat about homosexuality, he said they gave him a choice: either leave quietly or face expulsion for "immoral behavior," which is prohibited by the school's code of conduct.
In a matter of days, the student, who is gay, went from prized student to sinner outcast...
Those who work with gay teens say the expulsion of gay students from private fundamental school is quite common.
"I've heard of kids being outed in chapel in front of the whole school," said Marc Adams, who runs a Seattle-based group called Heartstrong that counsels gay students attending religious schools. "It happens all the time. It's just that so few people come forward to talk about it."
Here's the deal: private schools, as long as they have some kind of recognized accreditation, can pretty much teach whatever they want, exclude
whomever they want, et cetera. Not like there's a law protecting gays in Texas from discrimination anyway.
But remember this next time you hear the words "school voucher program," and imagine your taxes funding madrasas
like this one...
So counting every single God-blessed everloving vote
isn't important, eh?
OLYMPIA, Wash. Dec 22, 2004
-- Democrats have claimed victory in the race for Washington governor by a razor-thin margin of eight votes, citing preliminary results of a hand recount they say puts Christine Gregoire in front for the first time...
The 'eight votes' thing sounds dramatic, but there's more to the story:
A Gregoire lead could widen if the state Supreme Court allows the 700-plus recently discovered ballots from the Democratic stronghold of King County to be added to the total. The high court was scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday morning in a lawsuit over those ballots, which were excluded from first two counts because of mistakes made by county election workers.
Poor Washington -- seven weeks
. But it was all worth it, apparently; and that's a cogent lesson for everyone who ever said "it's time to move on..."
What do we have to show
for almost two years engaged, over thirteen hundred American dead, and $200 billion spent?
For a year, the administration has suggested that Iraq would move closer to stability as it reached one milestone after another: the capture of Saddam Hussein; the handover of sovereignty and the appointment of an interim government; the deployment of Iraqi security forces; the military campaign to expel the insurgents from strongholds like Fallujah, and the first round of elections next month for a constitutional assembly.
Yet most of those milestones have passed with little discernible improvement in the security situation. Now some analysts are concerned that the elections could make the political situation in Iraq even more unstable by producing an outcome in which the Sunni minority feels so marginalized by Shiites that it fuels not just more violence against Americans and Iraqis working with them but more intense sectarian strife or even civil war...
I've heard many who say that Bush took away quite a number of votes, for no other reason than the voter was nervous about ousting a sitting president in wartime. That's never happened, even when things got really bad -- LBJ saw it coming for him in 1968 and got out of the way. We may dearly regret
such unthinking patriotic acquiescence this time...
Bush's first term is ending, and with it all that nonsense about 'compassionate conservatism.'
With the budget deficit
growing and President Bush promising to reduce spending, the administration has told representatives of several charities that it was unable to honor some earlier promises and would have money to pay for food only in emergency crises like that in Darfur, in western Sudan. The cutbacks, estimated by some charities at up to $100 million, come at a time when the number of hungry in the world is rising for the first time in years and all food programs are being stretched.
As a result, Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services and other charities have suspended or eliminated programs that were intended to help the poor feed themselves through improvements in farming, education and health.
"We have between five and seven million people who have been affected by these cuts," said Lisa Kuennen, a food aid expert at Catholic Relief Services. "We had approval for all of these programs, often a year in advance. We hired staff, signed agreements with governments and with local partners, and now we have had to delay everything."
He don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows --
The Republican's proposal
, which includes reducing the state income tax and cashing its tobacco settlement, resembles a leading Democrat's plan from five months ago.
Good for Owens and his ability to cave when he's been beat. But you can't please everybody:
The harshest critique of Owens' plan came from a think tank that generally supports him. Jon Caldara, president of the conservative-leaning Independence Institute, said he was "disappointed" at the proposal and its TABOR changes.
"The governor and the legislature had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to re-create government," he said.
Substitute the word 'destroy' for 're-create,' and you're closer to Caldara's extremist vision
. A vision which has been rejected
by the people of Colorado, and even Owens gets it...
Leading the world backwards
While there is no longer any serious debate in the scientific and business communities about whether global warming is real, the Bush Administration last week executed perhaps its most astonishing act of denial at the conclusion of a two-week international conference in Buenos Aires.
The UN conference, attended by some 6,200 government officials, NGO observers and journalists, aimed to begin the implementation process for the 132 nations that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, and to begin planning further ways to mitigate the spread of greenhouse gases after Kyoto expires in 2012.
But the United States--the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases--all but told the conferees to take a walk. Besides blocking all efforts to conduct substantive discussions, the U.S. allied itself with none other than Saudi Arabia in obstructing efforts to create a system of payments to help poor, low-lying island nations cope with the cost of mitigating damage related to global warming, such as rising sea levels, land erosion and increased storm damage.
Pelosi to Bush: get your facts straight
"Today, President Bush disingenuously stated that as the first step toward Social Security reform, 'we're going to have to explain to Members of Congress that crisis is here.' Mr. President, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has determined that Social Security is secure for nearly 50 years, without any changes whatsoever. A better first step would be for the President to stop pretending otherwise.
"Social Security faces a long-term challenge, but it is a manageable challenge that can be addressed without jeopardizing a system that has provided retirement security for millions of Americans."
Interesting stuff on Alternet this AM -- AG nominee Gonzales, feared by many for his permissive attitude
towards torture in legal memos drawn up for the White House, has apparently got another side.
describes a case of a teenager who requested an abortion, but was denied by openly anti-choice Texas judges. But when the case went before the Texas Supreme Court, they ruled in favor of allowing the girl to choose -- and the swing vote was one Alberto Gonzales, who defended upholding the law with admirable verbage.
Despite that, despite his humble origins (also well-narrated), he's got alot to answer for in his defense of barbarous intelligence policy. And it wasn't some haphazard opinion --
The memo reveals something else: A clash within the administration. Secretary of State Colin Powell opposed throwing the Geneva Convention out the window, favored treating the "detainees" as prisoners of war. The Secretary of State's legal adviser, in contrast with Gonzales, agreed. But it was Gonzales' views that prevailed...
Bottom line? The author points out alot of mixed dirt on Gonzales -- his abortion decision angers conservatives, just as it complicates opposition to him from the left...
A great deal of this rests upon the larger question of human rights abuses
during the War on Terror, and whether or not that growing scandal begins to threaten the administration. If it does, look for his name on a long list of heads that should roll.
He claims victory all over his web sites and emails, but David Horowitz's campaign to pass his dubiously-named Academic Bill of Rights
has dismally failed
in Colorado -- a fight from which he emerged with no small amount of personal discredit
Yet his campaign of faculty intimidation, corrupt organization of willing student accomplices to plant false claims
of bias into the schools, and open collusion with key reactionary leaders
in the state who sponsor the appropriate legislation in response -- it's a pretty tight game plan, and he's trying it elsewhere.
We were lucky to beat it -- not only did we beat it, but public outrage over rightwing fixation
upon the issue while the state's fiscal crisis magnified helped drive them from power
Davey's next stop is Indiana
Don't let him claim
Students for Academic Freedom will ask lawmakers to pass legislation during the 2005 session to protect students from what it sees as harassment or discrimination based on political beliefs, said the group's founder, conservative intellectual David Horowitz.
The group plans to push its "academic bill of rights" in about 20 states in the coming year, Horowitz told The Herald Times for a story today.
that Colorado is some kind of 'ABOR state.' He knows better, and so do we...
Amazing, the kind of stuff that comes out when one government agency gets miffed at another -- while the human rights case against the administration grows --
are increasingly complaining about what they consider abusive physical and mental torture by military officials against prisoners held in Iraq and Cuba, including lighted cigarettes stuck in detainees' ears and Arab captives being humiliated with Israeli flags wrapped around them, according to new documents released today.
The FBI records are the latest set of documents obtained by the ACLU in its lawsuit against the federal government and include instances in which bureau officials were disgusted that military interrogators pretended to be FBI agents and used the scheme as a "ruse" to glean intelligence information from prisoners.
In addition, the FBI complained that military interrogators have gone far beyond the restrictions of the Geneva Conventions prohibiting torture and have followed an apparently new executive order from President Bush that permits the use of dogs and other techniques to harass prisoners.
A mountain of evidence
, but only patsies brought to justice. This cover-up could be about to blow up
"Isn't that amazing that no officer has been charged with any crime at Abu Ghraib," prominent military defense attorney Frank J. Spinner, who represents Spc. Sabrina D. Harman in the Abu Ghraib trials, said to reporters yesterday.
Davis, 27, and Harman, 26, have maintained that the detainee abuses were directed by higher-ranking officers and intelligence operatives from the earliest stages of the investigation, when Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba was conducting his probe of prisoner treatment that became public when the scandal unfolded in the spring.
Davis' defense attorney, Paul Wayne Bergrin, said yesterday that Davis followed orders he considered morally questionable because he did not think he had any other choice...
Whatever -- it's pretty clear from those horrific photos that they were enjoying themselves
as they committed wartime atrocity.
But they're being scapegoated, a fact which could be sufficiently obvious now to do tremendous damage, all the way up the chain of command
Like waking up after a long night of drinking...what happened
, you ask?
First of many: 'don't ask me, I didn't vote for him.'
While a slight majority believe the Iraq war
contributed to the long-term security of the United States, 70 percent of Americans think these gains have come at an "unacceptable" cost in military casualties. This led 56 percent to conclude that, given the cost, the conflict there was "not worth fighting" -- an eight-point increase from when the same question was asked this summer, and the first time a decisive majority of people have reached this conclusion.
Bush lavished praise on Rumsfeld at a morning news conference yesterday, but the Pentagon chief who soared to international celebrity and widespread admiration after the terrorist attacks three years ago can be glad he answers to an audience of one. Among the public, 35 percent of respondents approved of his job performance and 53 percent disapproved; 52 percent said Bush should give Rumsfeld his walking papers.
All honeymoons end -- but this one is setting a record...
Looks like the NM recount effort is about done, and it's Democrats
pulling the plug --
Gov. Bill Richardson
, who chairs the state canvassing board, said Friday he won't accept a proposal from Green and Libertarian candidates for a partial recount of votes in the presidential race.
The candidates, faced with the board's order to pay $1.4 million upfront for the statewide recount they requested, have proposed a more limited and less expensive review of the votes.
"I'm not accepting the compromise," Richardson said. "It's time to move on. Let them have a full recount, if they can come up with the money."
The perception that those seeking recounts are actually clinging to hope against hope that the election can be overturned has poisoned their attempts, even though New Mexico wouldn't change anything if it flipped to the blue column. The minor parties know that
It's a shame, and an valuable research opportunity lost on the altar of political expediency. And as for the New Mexico Secretary of State
-- it's pretty clear that she's been running interference for her voting system corporate benefactors the whole time. I don't know what Governor Richardson's excuse is...or John Kerry's
, for that matter...
So there's going to be a new (ahem) DNC chair
Webb pitches his successes as mayor, which includes growth, a construction boom and reduced crime.
"I never get in a contest that I don't expect to do well," Webb said last week.
But others caution Webb may be overreaching and that big-name rÃ©sumÃ©s still are rolling in.
"I hear a lot of doubts about his candidacy," said Webb's one-time boss, former Colorado Democratic Gov. Dick Lamm. "However talented as mayor, this is a pretty far stretch for somebody who needs a national base."
So far, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean has gotten the most mention among those competing for the job.
"To me," said Gordon Fischer, head of Iowa's Democrats, "the question facing the party is: 'To Dean or not to Dean."'
The thing is that I kind of like Webb, and would love to see the triumph of Colorado progressives extend itself into the national Democratic Party.
But Dean also represents the vast power of a new, grassroots, much more personal movement than the vision of old Party leadership. If he doesn't endure yet another punking by the same establishment (which would be a huge mistake for them), it's his for the taking...
Woah! Okay, note that disclaimer
I wonder what he's got on 'em?
is doing a spectacular job, and the president has great confidence in him," Card said on ABC's "This Week."
I would like three of whatever they're smoking
Bush administration panders
to the fiscal right, whom (it's fair to say) he has alienated in four years of irresponsible policy --
U.S. President George W. Bush plans to cut spending in his upcoming budget, not just trim the rate of growth in government outlays, Treasury Secretary John Snow said Sunday.
Snow would not disclose details, but he told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" that Bush would submit "a tight, disciplined budget" to Congress next year.
"I don't want to forecast the new budget, which will be out soon, but there will be actual cuts in many programs as a result of this year's budget proposal," he said.
I said something about 'irresponsible policy.'
The U.S. government ran a $413 billion deficit in fiscal year 2004, the Congressional Budget Office concluded. That figure is lower than initially estimated, Snow said, but still $35 billion higher than the previous record of $377 billion set in 2003.
The Bush administration blames the recession of early 2001, the al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington and the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan...
In addition, Bush lobbied Congress to enact an estimated $1.6 trillion in tax cuts over 10 years. The administration argues that those cuts have stimulated economic growth, and Bush wants to make those permanent in a second term.
And take a hacksaw to the budget. As poorly as they managed the last few years of blank-check borrow-and-spend, which they have tried to palm off -- unsuccessfully -- as wartime exigency, God only knows what they'll do now.
This isn't gonna work
-- they cannot reconcile their impulsive need to cut taxes with the financial requirements of fighting wars abroad and funding vital programs at home. Whatever they think they can cut will either be miniscule, or will drive the AARP into open rebellion. And they did it to themselves
by promising everything to everybody -- the bitter fruit of their own demagoguery.
Further, there's no evidence, despite their arbitrary insistence, that the tax cuts are 'helping the economy.' Indeed, as the government is forced to borrow ever-larger sums of money to pay
for those tax cuts -- why isn't this stone-cold obvious?
Dozens killed every day in senseless violence -- but something about this attack
is particularly chilling:
A brazen daylight attack in the heart of Baghdad with rebels executing election workers in cold blood served as a chilling reminder Sunday of the deteriorating security situation in the Iraqi capital with just more than a month before crucial parliamentary elections.
Iraq's Independent Electoral Commission said in a statement that about 30 militants hurling hand grenades and firing machine guns attacked the car carrying five of its employees as they were driving to work.
Three employees, identified by the commission as Hatem Ali Hadi al-Moussawi, a lawyer and deputy director for the commission's Karkh office, and two of his office employees - Mahdi Sbeih and Samy Moussa, were dragged from their cars and shot dead. Two men escaped unhurt.
In the dramatic photo sequence one of the captives is shown lying on his side on the pavement, while a second is on his knees nearby in the street. The gunmen casually display their handguns as they shoot the two men.
Both of the victims shown in the sequence wore traditional Arab headscarfs. In contrast, the attackers were bareheaded and apparently unafraid to show their faces.
That's what's so disturbing about this -- why so unafraid to kill in broad daylight, even 'casually?'
Is it because they believe they're winning?
If you saw the opening scene of Fahrenheit 9/11, you know they're really
worried about --
will be sworn in next month for a second term amid the tightest security in inaugural history, with police planning to search every one of the tens of thousands of people expected to line the parade route.
The inauguration is designated a National Special Security Event, giving the Secret Service the lead among about 40 federal agencies involved in security planning and execution. A joint command center has been set up in suburban Virginia to enable top officials at these agencies to make quick, coordinated decisions in the event of an attack, violent protest or other problem.
Naturally, they downplay the protesters -- the biggest reason for militarizing Washington next month, not concerns over a terrorist attack. Hopefully, their security will behave better than Bush's convention security
did. Despite what most people think (there's that fact gap
again), police riots
cause most protest injuries...
A fact-free president, returned to power by a fact-free electorate
. How do you say this nicely?
...even after Charles Duelfer, special adviser to the director of Central Intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, made his final report to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72 percent of President Bush supporters continued to believe the opposite.
Bush supporters were equally resistant to accepting that Iraq was not linked to al- Qaeda, with 75 percent continuing to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al-Qaeda, and 63 percent believing that clear evidence of this support had been found.
Moreover, 60 percent of Bush supporters thought their view was in line with the conclusion of most experts, and 55 percent believed, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the Sept. 11 commission. Meanwhile, large majorities of Kerry supporters held exactly opposite perceptions on these issues...
Bush lied to the country and got away with it. That's not news. But what does it mean?
We should be troubled by that. The more that people in red and blue America speak only to those who share their views, we, as a nation, risk dismissing facts we don't like as opinions, losing our ability to hear what others experience and think and increasingly responding to difference as threatening...
It's called a 'Propaganda State,' and history tells us that they don't hold up so well over time --
Minimum Wage Barely Pays Rent
Most Americans who rely on just a full-time job earning the federal minimum wage cannot afford the rent and utilities on a one- or two-bedroom apartment, an advocacy group on low-income housing reported Monday.
John Parvensky, president of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, on Denver's burgeoning homeless population
He pulls no punches on the state government's culpability:
First, the problems of the Colorado Benefits Management System, the state's computerized fiasco, have been widely reported. However, homeless- service providers are now seeing a significant increase in families and individuals seeking shelter and emergency services because the safety net benefits which are supposed to be provided by government are delayed by months.
Second, state-funded mental health services are 25 percent below the level of two years ago, while the need for such services has increased...
Third, cuts in eligibility for Medicaid and the increase in uninsured individuals in Colorado have placed a strain on health centers throughout the state.
Fourth, Colorado general funds for substance-abuse treatment services have declined by 13 percent in the past two years...
Fifth, the state has not provided any general fund dollars for affordable housing in the past two years. Its housing funds have been reduced from $2 million in grants and $20 million in tax credits to zero.
And his efforts to replace this disruption in government aid with private assistance are laudable. Let's not forget, though, who we have to thank for years of heartless inaction under the Gold Dome.
And which door these facts should be nailed to --
Post tells Owens where he can cram his proposal to vice-cop poor students
if they want to go to college --
If the risk of cancer won't dissuade a student from smoking, does it really make sense to deny the teenage smoker a college education? And how would it be good for Colorado to punish a 17-year-old's college chances for having a drink? Even alcohol and drug use need to be evaluated in a broader context than such nanny-state dictates would allow.
Stripped of the goody-two-shoes clause (we count on the legislature to take care of that), the rest of the governor's scholarship proposal deserves a good look. More basically, it is a good idea that is woefully underfunded, initially providing just $1.5 million a year. That won't go very far among the 34,000 new students that enter Colorado colleges every year, even if restricted to low-income students...
If the proposal has no funding to do anything other than facilitate a bully pulpit for the bedroom-peeping right, what the heck was this whole flap even about?
I think I just answered my own question...
Santa Claus is checking your parents' portfolio
this year, and determining based upon that whether you've been naughty or nice.
Widening class divide is determining the extent of your holiday cheer for you...
The holiday 2004 season
is turning out to be sharply divided between the haves and the have-nots.
Luxury stores like Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and small designer boutiques are enjoying robust sales of $8,000 mink ponchos, $1,000 snakeskin handbags, $200 crystal-studded jeans and $25,000 bejeweled bangles as their well-heeled shoppers have benefited from a recovering economy.
On the other hand, discounters like Wal-Mart and mid-level stores such as Sears Roebuck and Co. and May Department Stores all have struggled with tepid sales.
Earlier in the holiday season, I celebrated
Wal-Mart's crappy performance, on general Wal-Mart hating principles -- and was corrected by a reader about the real implications. The holiday shopping season, like or no, is a highly reliable economic barometer -- and the larger percentage of Americans are not participating in this so-called 'recovery.'
A predatory sector of the economy continues to choke off already-diminished spending power:
Chief among shoppers' woes has been a surge in energy costs. While today's average pump prices of $1.84 is down nearly 20 cents a gallon from October, gasoline still costs 26 percent more now than it did a year ago. And the cost to heat homes could end up being 15 percent to 35 percent higher than last winter, according to the Energy Department.
Count oil money among the haves. The have-nots include, among many others, formerly great Denver retailer Ultimate Electronics
The company's stock closed at $1.12, down 53.7 percent, while trading more than 8.2 million shares -- well above its 507,000 daily average and nearly half its market cap of 16.69 million.
Ultimate Electronics, located in Thornton, is a specialty retailer of consumer electronics and home entertainment products operating under the name SoundTrack. Earlier Monday, the company said a continued sales decline, lenders' requirement for additional reserves against availability of funds, and a potential loan covenant violation "raise substantial doubts about its ability to continue as a going concern."
It's fair to note that ULTE's fortunes had been declining for a couple of years, reflecting a decline in their upper-middle class target market. Audio/video buyers are either shopping above their tier at places like Cherry Creek Audio, or hoping they can afford something decent from Wal-Mart.
Tells a piece of this story by itself, don't you think?
America has prided itself since World War Two in its broadly distributed prosperity; one expression of which is piles of gifts stuffed under Christmas trees, in every home that chooses to celebrate the holiday.
Let's not trade that for a story Charles Dickens (or maybe even Upton Sinclair) should have been the last to tell...
A simple message
-- tell the truth to the world, and they'll believe you.
A message lost on the Bush administration, now so far in bed with mass deception that they can never accept this past-due advice. If you take away their saber-rattling hyperbole and 'mushroom cloud' imagery, they'll have nothing left:
Several newspapers report that a bitter debate is raging in military circles over a secret plan to use covert disinformation and propaganda campaigns to manipulate views of America abroad.
"The critical problem in American public diplomacy directed toward the Muslim world is not one of 'dissemination of information,' or even one of crafting and delivering the right' message. Rather, it is a fundamental problem of credibility. Simply, there is none."
This is not just an abstract moral discussion. Credibility is an invaluable weapon that cannot, and should not, be squandered. American officials, military and civilian, need the capacity to reveal and rebut the fabrications spread by foreign foes. That's much more difficult if official policy undermines their legitimacy.
America does not have to lie to tell its story effectively...
doesn't, but as for her present leadership...?
Compassion? For Donald Rumsfeld
, it's a form letter
has acknowledged that Donald H. Rumsfeld did not sign condolence letters to the families of soldiers killed in Iraq, but it said that from now on the embattled defense secretary would stop the use of signing machines and would pick up the pen himself.
Stars and Stripes quoted families of the dead saying they were insulted that Rumsfeld did not sign the letters himself. They also said they were suspicious about the signature on similar letters they received from President Bush, but a White House spokesman said Bush does put pen to paper himself...
Mustache artists sharpen their pencils...
...for reshaping the rules of politics to fit his 10-gallon-hat
Actually, I think he's just happy to see you
. God help us all.
It's a good deal, occupation money -- remember that scene from Fahrenheit 9/11?
Aparently it's easy money, and if your hands get a little dirty, hey! Not like there's an International Criminal Court
that can bust you or anything.
to a mountain of post-election dirty laundry --
Attorneys for a U.S.-based security company accused of setting up sham companies in a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme in Iraq are contending in court that the firm cannot be sued under a key federal anti-corruption law because the allegedly stolen money belonged to Iraqis, not Americans.
The potentially precedent-setting case could undercut fraud claims involving billions of dollars in reconstruction contracts that were issued by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority and paid for with money belonging to the Iraqi people.
a slick deal. Easy as Amway
to get started:
Custer Battles was one of the first U.S. contractors on the ground in the chaotic days after the fall of President Saddam Hussein last year.
The company's two founders, Scott Custer and Mike Battles, are former special operations forces soldiers who opened for business with almost no money and little experience.
Nonetheless, the company won at least four contracts in Iraq worth millions of dollars, including a deal to provide security at Baghdad's international airport and another to help Iraqis swap their old currency for new dinars minted by the CPA.
Those contracts came under scrutiny after several former employees stepped forward and accused Custer Battles of creating a series of shell companies that were used to bilk the CPA out of millions of dollars.
The CPA issued as much as $20 billion in contracts paid for by the Development Fund for Iraq, which consisted of Iraqi oil revenue, seized assets and money and other valuables recovered from Hussein's regime.
"It's perfectly clear that if the judge dismisses [the case], then all fraud against the Coalition Provisional Authority will never be punished," said attorney Alan Grayson, who represents former Custer Battles employees who have alleged fraud.
Halliburton would sing their praises, wouldn't they?
The perfect shill. He's got a response for everything that makes right-wingers uncomfortable -- from Fahrenheit 9/11 to swift boat lies
to, today, Mexican-American heritage
A new Spanish-language television station going on the air in Colorado next month - Azteca Colorado/TV Azteca - is named after the mass murderers who ran the largest human sacrifice and cannibalism cult in history. Spanish-speaking societies have so many good things worth honoring, it is disgraceful that McGraw-Hill chose to name the station after an evil empire...
That's right, Dave -- for Latin Americans to value any part of their heritage that wasn't forced on their ancestors by Cortez
, along with encomiendas and smallpox, is totally unacceptable.
Maybe we should talk about what those wonderful Spaniards were doing to Jews and other 'heretics' in their own country, about the same time? Unbelievable, revisionist nonsense...
Fact is, there's hardly anyone in this market willing to prostitute himself for the bigoted, imbecile right quite like Dave Kopel. He shouldn't be fired: he should be left to spew his vile race-baiting trash talk, and in so doing provide both object lesson and warning
Of course he did
-- all they had to do was turn a vote for Kerry into a sin
"With white Catholics, Bush did better" than in 2000, said John Green, a political scientist at the University of Akron and an expert on religious voting patterns. "With regular Massgoers, he did even better. And in swing states, he did even better. There are a lot of divisions in the Catholic community, and Bush was able to exploit one, between more traditional and less traditional Catholics."
Analysts were unsure of the influence of Catholic bishops who had warned that parishioners should vote in accordance with church teachings on abortion and other "life issues."
White, the Catholic University professor, believes the bishops "helped Bush enormously..."
People's sacred beliefs are above criticism. I will not do that. I will simply point out, again, what Kerry himself said about church morality meeting executive authority -- that his personal view is conformal to the church's teachings, but he could not conscionably force those views on others who might not agree. To do so would be an abuse of power.
"Give us Barabas!" scream the heedless faithful...
What a kinder, gentler nation we've become. Here's a story
that'll take you right back to 1942 or 1954 -- land of the free (certain exclusions apply, depending on ethnicity).
Nearly half of all Americans believe the U.S. government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslim Americans, according to a nationwide poll.
The survey conducted by Cornell University also found that Republicans and people who described themselves as highly religious were more apt to support curtailing Muslims' civil liberties than Democrats or people who are less religious...
This is how we Americans destroy our credibility with the rest of the world, you know. Shame on these people who call themselves 'patriots' while violating everything this country stands for
This could be the most important story in the world right now. Or not, but it's time to start paying very careful attention...Wayne Madsen's
source on a GOP-developed software application intended explicitly to alter the outcome of elections is talking -- to Congress
Republican Congressman Tom Feeney of Oviedo asked a computer programmer in September 2000, prior to that year's contested presidential vote in Florida, to write software that could alter vote totals on touch-screen voting machines, the programmer said.
Former computer programmer Clint Curtis made the claim Monday in sworn testimony to Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee investigating allegations of voter fraud in the 2004 presidential election involving touch-screen voting in Ohio.
In his testimony, Curtis said that Feeney, then a member of the Florida House of Representative, met with Curtis and other employees of Yang Enterprises, an Oviedo software company, and asked if the company could create a program that would allow a user to alter the vote totals while using the touch-screen machine. The program had to be written so that even the human-readable computer code would not show its illicit capabilities, Curtis recalled.
Curtis said he wrote a prototype program for Feeney, and that he believed the program might not only be usable on touch-screen voting machines, which some counties - predominantly in South Florida - now use, but also on optical-scan machines, which most of the state's counties used in the 2004 elections.
Feeney could not be reached for comment.
"I immediately assumed that he was trying to keep you guys from cheating," Curtis told Democrats at the hearing Monday. Curtis further said that Li Woan Yang, a co-owner of the company, told him that, "We need to hide the fraud in the source code, not reveal the fraud, because it's needed to control the vote in South Florida."
Good Lord, if this is true
Time for another cup of coffee.
Moral high ground in Colombia a little tough? Solution: move those boys to Iraq
, where they need
that human-rights violating skill --
Efforts have been made in several Latin American countries to recruit contractors for Iraq, but Colombia's conflict, pitting leftist rebels against right-wing paramilitaries, presents special complications.
The recruitment drive here comes as outlawed paramilitary groups are demobilizing. Suddenly those fighters -- many of whom also once served in the army -- are finding themselves out of work after waging a dirty war of massacres and assassinations against rebels and their suspected collaborators...
Precisely which U.S. company or companies are hiring contractors in Colombia is unclear -- and the desire for anonymity appears to be intentional.
"It's a really low-profile process, with a lot of confidentiality," the former officer said. "It's a sensitive thing ... to take military personnel out of a country like Colombia to work in another country."
Now they say
that these mercenaries are being 'carefully screened' to weed out the worst sorts -- and in Colombia, that gets pretty bad...
Just like they told you that nobody gets tortured at Guantanamo Bay
, and that Abu Ghraib
was an 'isolated incident.'
The scariest part is how little you'll hear about them once they're in Iraq. The last four mercenaries who made the news, you know, only did so after being dragged through the streets of Fallujah.
That must be why, even in impoverished Colombia, Iraq duty is worth $6,000-$8,000 a month. And that's the 'outsourced' rate for mercenaries these days -- you don't even want to know what the South Africans get. Bet their Humvees
are armored, too. There are thousands
of these mercenaries in Iraq now, from all over the world. Their exorbitant salaries represent a bigger chunk of the $200 billion we've spent on this war than anyone wants to admit.
And when they die? A footnote about 'contractors' is all anyone will see. And since they don't officially represent a national government, increasingly narrow definitions under the Geneva conventions don't apply to 'em. Two big reasons why they're worth thousands of dollars a month more than a GI to the war effort...
Don't like a report that the UN is writing? Only the US has got this kind of juice --
The lead writer of a U.N. report on freedom and governance
in the Arab world said on Saturday the United States was threatening to cut off funds to a U.N. agency if the United Nations releases it.
Nader Fergani, the Egyptian social scientist who has worked on the last three Arab Human Development Reports, told Reuters defying the United States could cost the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) about $100 million a year.
U.S. officials have denied trying to delay or suppress the report, which was originally due to come out in October...
"My understanding is that this time they are threatening a much heavier penalty -- the entire U.S. contribution to the UNDP budget, or $100 million," Fergani told Reuters.
Washington is unhappy, Fergani said, with sections in the report on the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the activities of its ally Israel in the Palestinian territories...
Been a really bad few weeks for oil spills.
As of Friday
, clean-up crews under the direction of the U.S. Coast Guard had collected 1.4 million pounds of oily solids, and 15,000 gallons of oil and water mix from the Delaware River.
So far, 136 birds have died as a result of beingdrenched in oil while another 175 have been captured, 125 of which have been cleaned by members of state and federal agencies and volunteers...
A collision in the Houston Ship Channel
Wednesday night caused an oil spill, forcing officials to shut down part of the waterway, Local 2 reported.
A spill from a damaged Kuwaiti oil tanker has polluted a 16-kilometre stretch of the Suez Canal
, north-east of the Egyptian capital.
Canal authorities say the 161,000 tonne al-Samidoun has been damaged in a collision with a dredger near Ismailiya.
Authorities have allowed the tanker to continue north to the Mediterranean due to the high rate at which the oil is leaking, fearing an environmental disaster...
And the worst one seems to be in the Aleutian Islands:
Salvagers say it is not possible to recover an estimated 170,000 gallons of bunker oil from the bow section of the Selendang Ayu
"As the vessel continues to sink and settle on the bottom, it continues to degrade and continues to leak," said Capt. Ron Morris, a Coast Guard official who serves on the Unified Command Team of federal, state and industry officials overseeing the salvage effort and oil-spill cleanup.
The bow section could continue to leak fuel into the stormy coastal waters of Unalaska Island for days or weeks. Heavy seas also are expected to continue to batter the wreckage. It is unclear how much, if any, fuel will be left by the time salvage efforts are launched next year.
Wildlife damage assessments are just beginning in part of the Alaska Maritime Wildlife Refuge that is home to sea birds, sea otters and many other animals. Rescue teams earlier in the week retrieved a dead sea otter, as well as four dead birds, and have spotted other birds that appear to be oiled.
Federal and state officials say they do not have a good estimate of how much fuel has been released, and that uncertainty increased yesterday with reports that water is moving in and out of damaged tanks on the bow section...
Maybe it's just a run of bad luck, or maybe Mother Nature's speaking her mind --
Reggie Rivers, and some surprising insight:
Would people really fight that hard for a phrase that they truly believed was benign? I doubt it. If "Merry Christmas
" is deeply meaningful for Christians, it's not difficult to imagine that non-Christians might be deeply offended by this official governmental endorsement of Christianity.
This is a serious dilemma. If the words "Merry Christmas" remain on top of the City and County Building, then non-Christians may feel offended and/or marginalized. If the mayor suggests replacing the words with a non-sectarian phrase like "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings," then Christians feel that they're under attack.
If the removal of "Merry Christmas" can provoke this type of reaction, then no one can reasonably argue that it's a benign phrase that shouldn't offend anyone.
The simple answer is that religious beliefs should be practiced by individuals, not government agencies. The government should never post a religious message or express a religious belief of any kind.
In a surprising move, Romanoff also said he has a "simple but ambitious" plan that would lower the state's income-tax rate from 4.63 percent to 4.5 percent. In return, lawmakers would ask voters to change TABOR to forgo any refunds.
"Most folks would be better off with an upfront tax cut than a wing and a prayer and a hope that they find themselves members of the lucky tax-credit club," Romanoff said.
This easy solution finally gets at the real problem, which this year amounts to over $450 million in refunds mandated by TABOR -- effortlessly plugging what would otherwise be a $260 million deficit that never had to exist
. Hooray -- there's no time to waste; staunch the bleeding now
instead of later. But their simple, logical approach to reforming TABOR merely underscores the total failure of the previous regime. Ah, regime change...
Makes you wonder why the old legislature couldn't come up with something so simple? Unless of course they liked
what was happening.
And they had so many more important things to discuss --
Sen. Peter Groff, D-Denver, who will be a top leader in the Senate, said his party will have "an ambitious, values-laden agenda" that will represent "Colorado's true voice."
"Morality and values are not about whether gays can get married, or whether the Ten Commandments are posted on every wall, or if there are more or less conservatives on Colorado campuses," he said, referring to Republican measures from the past.
"We want a paycheck for every family, a book for every child and a bed for every patient."
"Kerik exuded too much quiet authority and dramatic effect, trying a shade too hard to convey that he knew things he couldn't speak of and was working from the deep inside, privy to secrets that he carried locked inside the bank vault of his barrel chest. I could see how this tough-guy shtick -- which obviously wasn't entirely shtick, but a tough streak that had been refined into an urban lawman persona -- would impress fake swaggarts like, well, George Bush, who likes to play dress-up as a range hand and fighter pilot to show what a Hungry man entree he is."
"Going Republican has been very good for Koch and Kerik, and Kerik seemed to earn his reward for lending Bush a little extra 9/11 aura on the campaign trail when he was picked to succeed Tom Ridge as head of that corporate boondoggle known as Homeland Security."
But it has pretty spectacularly failed to work out...Randi Rhodes
pointed out yesterday that Bernie wouldn't be having nearly the problems with this in the other Party...
Possibly, although there's the intrigue and mob connections
angle: that's not so keen. Maybe a reluctant high-five for Judith Regan
(got me there), followed by a call to his wife to remind her how much this cheating low-life is worth in court
Or, if you prefer, lopping your nose
to spite your face:
Cutting school funds
Voters incensed over a superintendent's decision to remove a Nativity scene from an elementary school Christmas program took out their anger at the ballot box, helping to defeat bond measures worth nearly $11 million.
Tuesday's rejection of the two measures -- one of which would have paid for construction of an elementary school -- marked the first time in more than a decade that voters in this bedroom community west of Oklahoma City denied additional funds for their school district.
over the lack of a nativity scene? Do you suppose they thought that one through?
My goodness, there's alot of this flying around. Makes you wonder if some phone calls aren't getting made, keeping this "Merry Christmas crisis" on the front burner? Increasingly clear that the holiday spat
we had here in Denver was part of a much bigger campaign --
Christian conservatives across the country, energized by the re-election of President Bush, have been working to increase the Christian aspects of Christmas.
Some have criticized or boycotted retailers and other businesses they say are giving up "Merry Christmas" wishes in favor of "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings."
On Wednesday, four families filed a federal lawsuit accusing a school district north of Dallas of banning Christmas and religious expression from their children's classrooms...
So who is attacking who here? The evangelical Christians portray this as a defensive engagement -- you know, "Christmas besieged" and so forth. But it's pretty obvious who's really
picking the fight...
He's rolling down the Ronald Reagan Highway
Colorado Springs has its official daily newspaper: the Gazette.
And, thanks to the International Bible Society, Colorado Springs now has its own customized Bible.
This Sunday, Dec. 19, the two will officially join hand in glove. That's when all 91,000 Gazette subscribers will retrieve from their driveways or their porches -- or their rooftops -- copies of the New Testament, tucked inside the newspapers standard blue plastic wrappers.
You should hardly expect any less from Colorado Springs, fundamentalist Christian Vanity Fair (and I mean that in the original Pilgrim's Progress
The cover of the customized Bible is a panoramic photograph that squeezes in downtown buildings, the Air Force Academy chapel and Garden of the Gods with Pikes Peak as a backdrop. Inside, in addition to the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, etc., Colorado Springs' version includes a brief history of the city, as well as [local] testimonials...
Really, the AFA cathedral is a nice touch
. And those of you presently rolling your eyes, thinking to yourself, "This is
Colorado Springs, after all," had better take note --
Colorado Springs is merely the first city where the International Bible Society plans to distribute the New Testament inside daily newspapers. Jackson said the group is currently in discussions with the Denver Post to distribute a Denver version; Seattle, Nashville and Santa Rosa, Calif. are also high priorities.
An article detailing the plan appeared two months ago in the newspaper's Oct. 16 lifestyle section, in which Gazette publisher Bob Burdick compared the plan to other endeavors, like giving out laundry detergent and America Online computer disks...
Only thing is that if you don't take advantage of this free trial, the product's distributor expects you to receive 1,000,000,000,000 free hours in hell
There are residents of the Springs who fall outside the target demographic for this, ah, special offer...but they're not the one's buttering the Gazette's toast these days.
Temple Shalom administrator Mary Simon says some congregants plan to cancel their subscription in protest. But they also have another idea for people who don't want the New Testament with their Sunday newspaper. Temple Shalom plans to collect unwanted Bibles and deliver them to a church or a homeless shelter that needs them. "We're trying to make a positive statement," Simon said.
Now that's admirable, especially since the Gazette initially planned to distribute the New Testaments on Dec. 12, until some bright bulb realized that day falls in the middle of Hanukkah and maybe, just maybe, getting a Bible from the Gazette might be an even harder slap in the face to non-Christians.
From Temple Shalom's perspective, there is a more disturbing consideration: respect for that which is holy. For many Jews, putting Bibles in plastic sacks and then throwing them on the ground is desecrating God's word. "We don't even put our Bibles on the floor," Simon noted. "If a car runs over it, or it falls into the gutter, that's desecration; it's the name of God."
For myself, I'll be happy to take one if it arrives in my Sunday Post someday, and I've got a place on my shelf for it -- right between my Tao Te Ching
and Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces
'Cause like Davey Horowitz
says, "you can't get a good education if they're only telling you half the story."
Where the college voucher
fight was headed, all along. And the Rocky is right on cue, per usual:
Regis, though operated by the Jesuit order of Catholic priests, was deemed not pervasively sectarian by the Colorado Supreme Court in the 1980s, and the commission continues to be guided by that ruling. Those three schools are not named in the law, however, and it is possible in principle that one or more of the other private postsecondary institutions in Colorado might eventually qualify for the voucher program, too.
But Colorado Christian already appears to meet the other conditions. It was rejected because of its religious practices. It says that's discriminatory, and it's absolutely right.
I guess the smart choice would have been for Owens to not demand inclusion of any private schools, eh? Because the moment he did, like I said before
, this court challenge became inevitable. I can't help but believe they knew that
as the law was passed --
Colorado's progressive state legislature was elected for a clear purpose: to restore the state to fiscal health. If you've stood in line for hours at your county clerk's office recently, or pay tuition at one of Colorado's colleges for yourself or your children, or depend on any public service from roads to clinics to senior centers, this matters. TABOR reform matters.
Last year, as you know, nothing got done
. Owens skipped town
every chance he got while the budget situation deteriorated
. Ideologues like outgoing Senate President John Andrews made sure the Governor's inaction was compounded by obstruction under the Gold Dome; it's their vision
to see the public sector bled white
The vision of men like John Andrews finally got through to the people of Colorado, and they didn't like what they saw -- all roads charge a toll, all schools private, welfare programs administered by charity or not at all
And the voters sent them packing. Today's Post is surprisingly candid
on the subject:
The difference this year is that Democrats are in control of the legislature, and the budget problems are worse because officials failed to deal with the problem earlier this year.
Even better, the next sentence sums up the artificial nature of this crisis perfectly:
Lawmakers are expected to face cuts of more than $263 million while having to refund $459 million to taxpayers because of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, or TABOR.
But this year, instead of throwing up their hands (some with a knowing smile
), there are actual solutions in the works --
Romanoff named three proposals that he sees coming to the forefront.
The most ambitious would be a plan he floated earlier this year to cut taxes but to allow the state to keep all the revenue.
Another would allow the state's spending to bounce back immediately after a recession, something it can't do now under TABOR. It would require two-thirds approval of each chamber.
The last plan would use a provision of TABOR to ask voters to allow the state to keep the surplus revenue. A majority of lawmakers in each chamber would have to approve the plan before it could go on the ballot.
Owens said he supports the last proposal, but is willing to consider others...
It's reasonable to presume that the governor will support whatever proposal delays reform the longest, and allows the ongoing TABOR evisceration of vital public programs to do as much lasting harm as possible.
Fortunately for Colorado, it's no longer up to him.
What Norman Schwarzkopf
thinks of 'leaders we have' --
After a soldier told Rumsfeld that he and his fellow servicemen must scrounge for metal to better fortify their Humvees, the secretary told him, "You go to war with the Army you have." That response didn't sit well with the former general.
"They deserve every bit of protection we can give them," Schwarzkopf scowled in an interview with "Hardball" host Chris Matthews on MSNBC. "I was very, very disappointed - let me put it stronger - I was angry by the words of the secretary of defense."
is now calling for Rumsfeld's head, as well -- I would quote him, but my overarching disgust at everything he stands for won't allow it.
Rumsfeld is toast very soon, though. These gaffes reveal an underlying cluelessness about his job, and it's intolerable even to neocon standard-bearers. I would like to add to this list
of potential replacements -- and I'm not just crying Wolfowitz.
No, I'd really like to see JJ from Good Times get it, so the response to every question at press conferences can begin with 'Dyn-o-mite!'
Election's over, so what the heck do they need him for?
An audio recording
purportedly by Osama bin Laden, in which he mentions a December 6 attack in Saudi Arabia, was posted on the Internet today.
The recording, in which bin Laden blesses a group of Saudi militants who stormed the US consulate in Jeddah, suggests the al-Qaeda leader is alive.
Yup, the fear. He's still good for it.
Too bad about this
, then, isn't it?
Washington has downgraded its efforts to catch the al-Qa'eda leader in Afghanistan, from where he supervised the September 11 attacks, because it has become convinced that he is hiding in Pakistan's virtually lawless Tribal Areas, which hug the 1,200-mile frontier.
Come to think of it, he's more valuable to the Bushies alive and scaring...
Blown out of the water yet again:
A federal Education Department
analysis of test scores from 2003 shows that children in charter schools generally did not perform as well on exams as those in regular public schools. The analysis, released Wednesday, largely confirms an earlier report on the same statistics by the American Federation of Teachers.
The department, analyzing the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress test for fourth graders, found charter students scoring significantly lower than regular public school students in math, even when the results are broken down for low-income children and those in cities...
It's only going to worsen these
next four years:
AP - Federal officials Wednesday backed away from the findings of two major studies on birth control pills, saying the research was flawed and that a new analysis shows there is no evidence that oral contraceptives cut the risk of heart disease.
Easy when you despise science. And women. And minorities. And the poor. And the rest of the world...
Industry Hires House's Author of Drug Benefit
Representative Billy Tauzin (Republican) will become president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the chief lobby for brand-name drug companies.
...Thomas A. Scully, the administration's main negotiator with Congress on the drug bill, got a waiver of federal ethics rules that permitted him to negotiate with potential employers while he was still running the Medicare program. Since he joined a law firm last December, Mr. Scully has registered as a lobbyist for drug companies, including Abbott and Aventis.
...Representative Pete Stark of California, the senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, said: "As a member of Congress, Billy negotiated a large payout to the pharmaceutical industry by the federal government. He's now about to receive one of the largest salaries ever paid to any advocate by an industry."
So, gee, think it's possible the authors of Social Security privatization will end up on Wall Street?
I just read something that reduced me to about two inches in height.
But first, this news
After the election, local political activists seeking a recount analyzed how Franklin County officials distributed voting machines. They found that 27 of the 30 wards with the most machines per registered voter showed majorities for Bush. At the other end of the spectrum, six of the seven wards with the fewest machines delivered large margins for Kerry.
Voters in most Democratic wards experienced five-hour waits, and turnout was lower than expected...
Most senior state officials, Republican and Democratic alike, tend to play down the anger. National Democrats -- including the chief counsel for Kerry's campaign in Ohio -- say they expect the recount to confirm Bush's victory.
But that official view contrasts sharply with the bubbling anger heard among rank-and-file Democrats. While some promote conspiratorial theories, most have a straightforward bottom line. "A lot of people left in the four hours I waited," recalled Thivener, the mortgage broker from Columbus. "A lot of them were young black men who were saying over and over: 'We knew this would happen.'
I believe that it's likely that the recounts will not turn the election. I've said repeatedly that the important thing is what we can learn from what happened, and try again to reform the system --
Which is all fine happy-day, but thousands of people were still disenfranchised in Ohio this year
, just like Florida in 2000. And once again, we're talking about largely African-American, Democratic voters. More to the point, we're not
talking about it. I said something about feeling two inches tall -- that would be courtesy Kos blogger Shanikka:
...the collective Democratic silence
about what happened in Ohio demonstrates conclusively that Democrats are no better, morally, than the very Republithugs they condemn...The Citizens Council buys politicians -- of all races, since after all easy money has a way of de-colorizing the best of folks -- who conveniently forget to have enough machines on hand for voters; realign precincts and voting places immediately before the election; issue rules locking down public records, or even petty ones about the weight of paper for a valid ballot. Policians who take care of their massas because their massas take care of them, by permitting thugs to challenge legitimate voters en masse without a whimper, forgetting to send absentee ballots, forgetting to count ballots that are actually there. All far more genteel and "intelligent" than the methods of old, wouldn't you agree?
Yet all have the same ultimate impact on African-American voting rights, in the end. And that is what the fight in Ohio is really about, for those of you who don't get it.
There is a saying in the Black community: If you don't stand for something, you will go for anything. The reaction (or, most notably, lack thereof) of mainstream Democrats and the Democratic Party to what happened to African-American voters in Ohio, following what happened in Florida, makes crystal clear to this African-American voter what the Democratc Party is indeed willing to go for.
So, as I said before, y'all don't get it. I am becoming increasingly convinced that you will never get it because, in the end, it's all about you, and not about us. What is happening now with the Democratic "leadership" (including its strongest advocates and mobilizers in the blogosphere) is making crystal clear that you are quite happy to allow our rights to be sacrificed for some "larger good" that you are seeking (one which conveniently doesn't negatively impact YOUR rights or access to power).
I don't really know what to say, because she's absolutely right and I feel a little sick to my stomach with guilt -- so I'm just going to look at the floor, and try to do a better job tomorrow.
Bought and paid for in the Land of Enchantment -- why interfere with the process outright, when you can pretend
to cooperate while raising the bar impossibly high
The state Canvassing Board on Tuesday, after some deliberation, granted a late November request for a recount by presidential candidates David Cobb of the Green Party and Michael Badnarik, a Libertarian.
Recount backers say their goal is to verify the accuracy and credibility of New Mexico's voting systems. They have raised concerns about touch screen voting machines and the so-called undervote.
But according to state election officials, recount proponents will have to come up with $1.4 million by 10 a.m. Thursday in order to proceed.
"I am requiring that much money because the taxpayers are not responsible for footing this bill," Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron said.
Vigil-Giron at first moved to deny the recount request, but later withdrew the motion and then moved to approve the application...
This gets interesting -- according to the Institute on Money in State Politics website
, Ms. Vigil-Giron's 6th largest campaign contributor in 2002 was one Ken Carbullido
, vice president of Election Systems and Software (ES&S)
Rebecca Vigil-Giron is a Democrat, and other major campaign contributors include the New Mexico Federation of Labor. If that initially throws you off the scent, it's understandable -- I did a double take before thinking it through. Welcome to the confounding world of American elections, where the conflicts of interest seem to wedge their way in, heedless of other affiliations.
PR Newswire, Sept 25, 2003
The New Mexico Secretary of State has awarded a five-year, multi-million dollar agreement to Election Systems & Software Inc. (ES&S), to build, deploy, and support a HAVA-compliant, centralized, real-time, statewide voter registration and election management system...
Such a cozy relationship
, these Secretaries of State and their election-system benefactors. That isn't much of a secret:
Shortly after leaving office, former California Secretary of State Bill Jones sent letters to each member of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, reassuring them that the electronic voting machines they wanted to buy were reliable.
One month after Jones sent the letters, the Republican became a paid consultant for Sequoia Voting Systems, a touch-screen manufacturer that was bidding for Santa Clara County's $19 million contract and ultimately won it.
Critics say Jones' move illustrates a troubling reality of elections in the electronic age: close, often invisible, bonds link election officials to the equipment companies they are supposed to regulate...
In addition to hiring former secretaries of state and their staffs, voting equipment companies help pay for a multitude of industry conferences, including those sponsored by organizations like the National Association of Secretaries of State, or NASS.
"Personally, I've known a lot of these people for a long time, and we've become a family," said Rebecca Vigil-Giron, New Mexico's secretary of state and NASS' president-elect.
According to an NASS spokeswoman, the fees paid by corporate sponsors such as Diebold, ES&S, IBM and Accenture account for more than half of the association's $420,000 budget.
When does this start to matter? About the time this same individual decides to ensure the products of these companies never get properly audited
These recount efforts represent an priceless opportunity to study the large-scale implementation of a system both vital to our democracy, and imperiled by credible accusations of vulnerability -- or worse
. If the systems work as well as the industry reps -- that is, the ones padding Ms. Vigil-Giron's expense account
-- claim, then such an analysis would vindicate them -- and put these questions to bed.
Leads inevitably to a rather disturbing question, doesn't it? Perhaps answered in part by understanding these collusive
links? Does New Mexico have the courage to ask it?
Add this to the list of really spooky Election 2004 stories.
I'd say this qualifies as a 'lingering question
A representative from Triad Systems
came into a county board of elections office un-announced. He said he was just stopping by to see if they had any questions about the up-coming recount. He then headed into the back room where the Triad supplied Tabulator (a card reader and older PC with custom software) is kept. He told them there was a problem and the system had a bad battery and had "lost all of its data". He then took the computer apart and started swapping parts in and out of it and another "spare" tower type PC also in the room. He may have had spare parts in his coat as one of the BOE people moved it and remarked as to how very heavy it was. He finally re-assembled everything and said it was working but to not turn it off.
He then asked which precinct would be counted for the 3% recount test
, and the one which had been selected as it had the right number of votes, was relayed to him. He then went back and did something else to the tabulator computer.
The Triad Systems representative suggested that since the hand count had to match the machine count exactly, and since it would be hard to memorize the several numbers which would be needed to get the count to come out exactly right, that they should post this series of numbers on the wall where they would not be noticed by observers...
There have been 2 or three stories
since November that, if credible, would blow the whole election wide open. Something's gotta give soon, if it's going to, if for no other reason than my family's history of coronary trouble...
I guess it's where you are -- perhaps some of these depressed blue-staters are coming out of their shells, and realizing that some good things did happen November 2nd, after all. This never seemed very 'hidden' to me, and maybe that's why we're not so dejected -- why we're not clinging to lingering electoral questions
in Ohio with forlorn hope (although we do
expect them to be answered
), but looking forward to a surprise brighter future for our state:
had great success in state legislative races this year, even as they performed poorly in the presidential race and campaigns for Congress. Many Democratic gains came in the heart of Republican territory.
Colorado Democrats took control of both the House and Senate for the first time since 1974. Montana Democrats won the state Senate and could control the state House, depending on the outcome of a legislative race that finished in a tie and is the subject of a court battle.
Nationwide, Democrats added more than 60 legislative seats, reversing the 2002 results that gave Republicans more state legislators than Democrats for the first time in a half century.
Democratic state legislators now outnumber Republicans by two: 3,658 to 3,656. A pair of undecided races could leave it tied.
"It was like a hidden election," says Tim Storey, political analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures. "The result was remarkable and not easy to explain."
I've said it before -- exasperation with broken rightwing 'leadership,' and the lasting damage they were doing, is what drove them from power in Colorado's legislature. And it can
be a model for retaking the national government. It's the same paradigm: corrupt leaders taking aim, in the end, at their own feet --
That's right, young worker. You think those retirement benefits that your grandparents take for granted -- and are in many cases living off of right now
-- are gonna be around for you?
Sorry -- they're going to eliminate company-paid retiree health benefits
years before we're old enough to use them. And we'll be left at the mercy of a by-then eviscerated Medicare:
Many companies are dropping their promise of health benefits for future retirees, who now might have to stay on the job longer and rely on government health care in their old age.
Quite a vision they've got for your future, between this and the looting of Social Security
, isn't it? Better save our pennies, fellow future paupers...
Do you think he'll challenge Alan Colmes to a duel?
U.S. Sen. Zell Miller
will be joining Fox News Channel as a contributor next month, Fox announced Tuesday.
When he signed this deal, I wonder if he noticed the pen vanishing into smoke, the lights dimming, and that funky red guy with a pitchfork who laughs and laughs and laughs...
When this kind of thing happens to people with money, there's usually hell to pay -- 'emotional distress,' anyone?
Instead of receiving Medicaid cards for two of her daughters in the mail last week, single mother Christine Boes
received more confusion from the state...last Tuesday's mail contained four letters.
The first told Boes that she wasn't eligible for Medicaid, which was OK, she said, because she never applied for Medicaid for herself, only for her two youngest daughters.
The second said both the youngest daughters are eligible for Medicaid, and the cards are on the way.
The third said one daughter was eligible, the other not, because a Social Security number was missing.
The fourth said both were ineligible because the mother's income was too high.
Later, the state employee assured Boes that the letter containing the good news was the accurate one.
She earlier had told Boes that her department is understaffed and has difficulty keeping up with even the most dire cases...
When the story about Boes was first published, several readers called the News to ask why a single mother such as Boes would continue to have children who needed public assistance. She has three daughters ages 9, 3 and 7 months.
Boes said it's a series of unfortunate circumstances.
In true Rocky form: an article that should focus on the ongoing failures and disruption caused by Governor Owens' $200 million benefits-processing boondoggle
turns to an attack
on this unfortunate Colorado single mom, and the reasons why she has so many kids
. What a great way to run cover for the state's failure to provide legally mandated benefits to needy people in a timely manner -- they're all just deadbeats anyway.
In addition to amounting to trillions of dollars in new debt
, converted into blind investment capital for Wall Street in what is really one of the greatest acts of corporate welfare
in American history -- Bush's plans to privatize Social Security
also do nothing to stabilize benefits in the long term...
As President Bush gears up for a major public push to overhaul Social Security, he has focused almost all his rhetorical energy on the need to let people divert some of their taxes to private retirement accounts.
But nearly every leading Republican proposal on Capitol Hill acknowledges that private accounts by themselves do little to solve the system's projected shortfall of at least $3.5 trillion. Instead, those proposals rely on deep cuts in benefits to future retirees.
Mr. Bush, who is likely to step up his call for private accounts when he acts as host of a two-day conference on the economy this week, has steadfastly avoided any reference to cutting future benefits...
"They are using smoke and mirrors in the sense that they are cutting taxes in the here and now and making cuts way off in the future," said Laurence J. Kotlikoff, a professor of economics at Boston University who has written extensively on the long-term financial problems of Social Security and Medicare. "What I see them doing is very gradually wiping out the old system, and putting something very minor in its place."
Take a deep breath, and try to come to grips with the magnitude of this historic swindle
-- like Darth Vader said, they are "altering the deal." Pray they don't alter it any further.
They gave us Jim Jeffords, so it's only fair to return the favor --
Nope. Sorry, but the more I read about this
, the less I like it.
The Washington Post, citing two anonymous sources, reported Sunday that Bush wants Lieberman for a Cabinet position.
With former New York police Commissioner Bernard Kerikâ€™s unceremonious withdrawal Friday from consideration as the nationâ€™s next secretary of homeland security, Liebermanâ€™s name has popped up again among a half-dozen others as a candidate for the post...
The fact is that no Democrat has appeased the Bush crowd since 9/11 quite like Joe Lieberman, who never met a PATRIOT Act or Iraq war that he didn't like.
His appointment to such a post would nonetheless be trumpeted as bipartisan endorsement of the Bush Doctine; that is, curtailed civil liberties at home and 'pre-emptive' aggression abroad.
Lieberman represents Democrats about as well as Zell Miller
did...with such a move, I'd say his journey towards the dark side is complete --
Something about too much debt
, too many imports, while we borrow hundreds of billions
more to pay for the Iraq war...
``The Fed isn't expected to say anything surprising, and the deficits are still the primary reason behind the dollar's decline,'' said Minoru Shioiri, a manager of foreign exchange trading in Tokyo at Mitsubishi Securities Co. ``The dollar's trend remains down.''
The dollar traded at $1.3314 per euro at 10:03 a.m. in Tokyo, from $1.3310 late yesterday in New York, according to electronic currency dealing system EBS. It was also at 104.68 yen, from 104.84 yen.
The trade shortfall probably widened to $53 billion in October from $51.6 billion in September, based on the median forecast of 65 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. It reached a record $55 billion in June.
They really need to change Bush's tape on this...if I hear him mouth the words "Mah administration supports a strong doller" again, I'm gonna blow a gasket...
This just in from
Red Square Pennsylvania Avenue
Bush, who campaigned for reelection as a wartime president, will have more than the usual military flourishes at his second-term inaugural ceremonies.
With 138,000 U.S. troops serving in Iraq and casualties reported nearly every day, the White House wanted to showcase the role of the armed services in the war against terrorism...
Officials are tight-lipped about details, awaiting a briefing this week from the Presidential Inaugural Committee. But the military theme will thread through the 10 days of inaugural events that are normally highlighted by pomp and circumstance, a time when the nation's capital turns into a lavish backdrop for the revelry of the winning party.
Ah, grand formations of marching soldiers, tanks, fighters overhead...remember, they won't be goose-stepping. That's that other
for that neocon Pax Americana -- prick them, do they not bleed?
China and Russia will hold their first joint military exercise next year, the Chinese government said Monday, as President Hu Jintao called for an expansion of the rapidly growing alliance between the former Cold War rivals...
Xcel is raising residential electric rates. You know that
There's been talk about conflicts of interest at the Public Utilities Commission. You know, cozy with industry
. Who wants 'the market' to help them jack up rates.
today talks about the PUC allowing Xcel to squeeze a deadline for public notification of this latest increase, and requiring only buried announcement of the rate hike in the classifieds section.
Post says that 'fortunately,' Xcel was good enough to publicize the increase itself...
I'd say it's another sign of regulatory capitulation
-- can you still tell where 'energy company' ends and 'oversight body' begins...?
John McCain said Monday that he has "no confidence" in Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, citing Rumsfeld's handling of the war in Iraq and the failure to send more troops.
Eight U.S. Marines were killed in two separate incidents in Anbar province, a vast region encompassing the battleground cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, the military said Monday.
The deaths equal the highest number of Marines killed in a single day since a car bombing outside Fallujah on Oct. 30, which was the deadliest attack against the U.S. military in nearly six months.
"You go to hell with the leaders you have."
It's a fresh look
at Colorado higher ed's funding crisis -- for that, be grateful:
Rep. Tom Plant, of Nederland, who serves on the Joint Budget Committee, has created a creative accounting plan that would treat each student's $2,400 voucher as a tax refund under TABOR.
It's clever in that it frees up about $300 million dollars in TABOR refunds, but you've got to wonder what will happen if TABOR is (God forbid) actually reformed -- in which case those 'refunds' this fix depends on would disappear.
Seems like every time one runs up against TABOR funding constrictions on vital public services, it's treated like some inviolate sacred cow -- a political third rail if there ever was one.
Heck, the College Opportunity Fund itself is an end-run around TABOR. We're papering over the papering over of the real problem...
This has to be a joke, right?
reporting that our very own Governor Bill Owens
is being considered for the HHS secretary post being vacated by Tommy Thompson.
I'm wondering how, given his wholesale neglect of human services in Colorado -- fiscal irresponsibility
and that disastrous new benefits-processing computer system
-- they could possibly be considering him with a straight face. It's just absurd.
Isn't it a rule in business that you never promote
your problem employees?
UPDATE 4:20PM: Thank goodness
. Oh, wait a minute
... our reputation in the Muslim world...
IAEA Leader's Phone Tapped
The Bush administration has dozens of intercepts of Mohamed ElBaradei's phone calls with Iranian diplomats and is scrutinizing them in search of ammunition to oust him as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to three U.S. government officials.
Have you ever met Rep. Keith King, (R) Colorado Springs? And people think Al Gore
is made of wood?
From kingpin to groveler in one election
In January, Rep. Michael Merrifield, D-Manitou Springs, predicted it would be difficult to get things done in the state legislature in that session because he feared the Republican majority would kill Democrat-sponsored bills.
An encounter with House Majority Leader Keith King of Colorado Springs did not help matters. Merrifield noted that a jovial King said to him: "How does it feel to know none of your legislation is going to pass?"
At the time, King said he was "probably joking."
But now the tables are turned, and the Democrats have control. So what does King say now about the Dems?
"I'm hoping they're going to be as fair as I was in how I ran the floor of the House," he said.
Yesterday's protest at the Capitol
was not by people clinging to false hope, or stuffing their hats with tinfoil --
While protest leaders could offer no proof of a conspiracy, they want the issue to gain mainstream media attention to help sort out Internet hype from fact.
Stuff is out there, and I think it might be true," said protester Carol Farina. "But if the legitimate media won't touch it, how are people supposed to know if it's true?"
The protesters, primarily supporters of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, have the support of state Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon, a Democrat. In a letter read aloud at the rally, Gordon promoted transparent, verifiable elections. He closed by saying: "Thank you for caring about democracy. Not enough people do, and therefore it is in danger."
And there are lingering questions
. Questions that need answers
, no matter who won --
sums up why the Electoral College anachronism should be done away with --
Originally created as a compromise to help get the Constitution approved, the Electoral College served a useful purpose very early on in this country's history when we were a much younger, less democratic and certainly less sophisticated nation. When the Founding Fathers created the Electoral College, America was largely agricultural, communication was slow and more than half of Americans were uneducated or illiterate. Moreover, to put past practice into perspective, slavery was an accepted institution; women had few legal rights and could not vote; citizens could not directly elect their U.S. senators; and political parties were not yet established. So, taken in context of the times, it might have made sense to have such stewards of the public trust acting on behalf of voters and their states to choose a national leader who would serve in the best interests of all.
But there really is no legitimate reason to keep such an archaic system in place today, more than 200 years later.
Electoral College reform becomes more inevitable with each passing day; as states like Colorado grow out of their "flyover" youth, and wake up to their diminished clout relative to depopulated hinterlands next door...
Seriously, aren't you tired of people telling you how natural resources
should count like votes? Colorado doesn't need that crutch anymore.
New rules at the State Capitol allow administrators to eject protesters
from the grounds "if the U.S. is under a heightened level of security."
Trouble is, the US has been under a 'heightened level of security' for years now
, and it shows no signs of letting up...
"Under the ... new rule, the DPA would have had discretion to cancel any permit for any demonstration since September 2002," the lawsuit charges.
State responds, "but we haven't actually cancelled anybody yet!"
Which is a nice way of saying, "we should at least get to use this improperly once
The ACLU spoils their fun, yet again...
Some say progressives should steer away from discussions that involve defining moral values, or talk of 'spiritual conviction.'
I say that progressives should embrace what makes us strongest -- our moral convictions
that freedom, tolerance, and compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves are worth something beyond their market value. That maybe religion isn't so much about where you go when you die, but about what you do to benefit the world you live in -- isn't that what Jesus (and for that matter Buddha, or Darwin
) was all about?
This is at odds with many in America who calls themselves Christians. The evangelical right is steeped in messianic delusion -- rendering concerns like the environment or intelligent foreign relations irrelevant to them, because Jesus is coming back to make all that go away. Still more are blinded by narrow-minded indoctrination on a few wedge issues, making any participation in other debates impossible.
Above all, they are co-opted by a plutocratic horde of corporate interests who care nothing for their religion except for the manner in which they exploit it. That's how Christian Coalition fair-haired boy Ralph Reed becomes Microsoft lobbyist Ralph Reed, and Bush campaign official Ralph Reed. It's seamless now. Millions of sincere American Christians have traded Jesus for a political machine
, and have no idea...
In the aftermath of an election in which President Bush solidified his hold on white evangelical voters, Bobo and other left-leaning religious activists
are struggling to broaden the "moral values" debate in American politics.
They hope to move beyond issues of sexual morality and put the spotlight on the administration's new domestic agenda to overhaul the tax code and privatize Social Security.
Earlier this year, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, the nation's second-largest Protestant denomination, directed its regional offices to "prepare a strategy for action to promote and establish a just tax code in every state."
Last week, more than 100 church leaders from across the nation met at the Washington office of the National Council of Churches, where they vowed to put new emphasis on poverty issues.
"From a Christian perspective, we can't ignore our communal responsibilities to one another. From the Hebrew Scriptures on through, the Bible talks about how important it is that we care for the poor," said the Rev. Leslie Tune, a spokesman for that ecumenical organization. "We need to get our legislators and policymakers to understand that there's more to morality than who you have sex with and whether or not you have an abortion."
Told the troops last week
that the plants were at full capacity, and couldn't make armor for their Humvees any faster (and believe you me, he'd asked
A [Phoenix, Az.
] firm that provides critical armor for military vehicles in Iraq is operating at only half-capacity despite complaints from soldiers who say they are being sent into combat without adequate protection.
"We've been telling the Pentagon for months that we have the capacity to double our production," said former U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, a consultant for ArmorWorks of Tempe.
"We're ready, and we haven't heard a thing."
"The Pentagon right now, in its postdebacle spin, is trying to convince everyone that contractors are operating at peak capacity," Salmon told The Arizona Republic. "In our case it's flat-out not accurate."
Salmon, a conservative Republican who narrowly lost the 2002 governor's race, has been a paid consultant for ArmorWorks for more than a year.
He said the firm is producing about 300 armor kits a month but easily can ship twice that many...
Salmon said he joined ArmorWorks amid an earlier controversy when family members of soldiers in Iraq were coming to the company to buy personal body army because the military wasn't able to provide adequate supplies.
Who do you believe? And do you still think they should get their money by the hundreds of billions to fight this war?
Where's that money even going
, if not to buy armor for the troops...?
Those of you who are losing interest, simply because these investigations are not likely to miraculously oust Bush in mid-December, are making a huge mistake...
"It's critical that we investigate and understand any and every voting irregularity anywhere in our country, not because it would change the outcome of the election but because Americans have to believe that their votes are counted in our democracy," John Kerry said last week, after calling for a statewide recount in Ohio.
The nation's voting system
, despite improvements since the 2000 Florida fiasco, remains a locally administered patchwork whose lack of national uniformity distinguishes the United States from many other democracies.
Although most complaints have come from Democrats and the third-party candidates, Republicans and bipartisan groups acknowledge problems. The Government Accountability Office is investigating election problems...
"We definitely did not have a glitch-free election," said [US Election Assistance Commission] chairman DeForest Soaries Jr., a Bush appointee.
We have had three election cycles now of confidence steadily eroding in the accuracy of the count. The problem is that the questionable returns have consistently favored one side...thus, what should be of compelling interest to every American, regardless of political affiliation, becomes a campaign plank of the progressive left.
Refer again to this survey
, showing how right-wingers think everything is just fine with our election systems.
My point? You'd damn well better keep paying attention to this. While you do, beware of whitewash commissions and 'magic bullet' theories...
The new Democratic majority in the Colorado Legislature ought to be ready to propose changes in the state's TABOR restrictions on taxes and revenue, according to two of the new freshman Democrats from Southern Colorado...
"We can fix TABOR," McKinley said. "The problem was that Republicans and Democrats were too busy fighting over who they were instead of what needed to be done. This new class of freshman Democrats understands that we need to take action and fix it."
As an example, McKinley said the Legislature and Gov. Bill Owens have been overmanaging the state's public school system.
"We need to get the governor out of the classroom and put teachers back in charge," he said.
Gallegos said he hoped Democrats would foster a more tolerant atmosphere in the Legislature. He noted that he intends to sponsor legislation that would call for schools to observe a nondenominational moment of silence or reflection each day as an alternative to fighting over school prayers...
You can tell how much people love a guy (or not) by how eagerly they speculate
about his replacement. Poor Bill Owens -- lame duck, damaged goods
, left behind. And he's still got two years to serve.
Having said that, try not to choke on the words "Governor Beauprez."
They must not just assume the loyalty of any constituent group, however 'natural,' if they do not act
in its best interests:
The GOP's inroads among Latinos
were significant enough to trigger a warning to Democratic Party officials by leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who said there has been a "continuing pattern of neglect" of the nation's fastest-growing minority group by the party.
"Republicans have been committed, methodical and are clearly winning the battle for the Hispanic voters," caucus leaders wrote in a letter released Thursday. "If Democrats do not undertake a major paradigm shift in how they deal with Latino vote, the future of the party is in serious jeopardy."
And a new power is emerging -- this is what should have these Neville Chamberlains
at the helm of the Party quaking in their boots:
The Hispanic caucus's warning came the same day that MoveOn's political action committee blasted the party's establishment and called on members to get involved in picking McAuliffe's successor.
Saying the Democrats "cannot afford four more years of leadership by a consulting class of professional losers," the e-mail said donations to Kerry and the Democrats by grass-roots activists provided a new model for the party. "Now it's our party," the message said. "We bought it, we own it and we're going to take it back."
The last, best hope for the Democratic Party's redemption after years of appeasement and defeat. Blog rebellion --
When you read something like, "Fuel shortage crippling Iraq
," do you fully comprehend what's being told to you? They have no fuel
in a country with the world's second-largest proven oil reserves...
If that doesn't help you get your head around the full extent of the deteriorating situation over there, try this:
In another setback for U.S. efforts to win the confidence of local people, an American sergeant was convicted of murdering an injured 16-year-old Iraqi in what troops had called a "mercy killing"; many Iraqis complain other killings go unpunished.
Perhaps chaos on the ground and human rights violations committed by the United States aren't enough to snap you out of it, yellow-ribbon American. Let's talk about your wallet
, and your kid's wallet, and maybe his kid's...
The latest energy problems come as sources in Congress said the U.S. government, facing mounting violence and demands from troops for better equipment, is assembling a funding package for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan that could outstrip earlier estimates, by as much as $75 billion to $100 billion.
We've spent enough fighting the Iraq war to put men on Mars, feed our poor, send millions of kids to college. This war, fought to eliminate threats that didn't exist
, which has now compromised our long-term security instead of enhancing it. We sow lasting hatred of the United States, and invite the next 9/11 upon us --
The headlines we could
have, instead of these...
Because we don't want that 'smoking gun' to be a 'mushroom cloud,' right?
The United States manipulated intelligence
on North Korea's nuclear program in a similar fashion to its use of weapons of mass destruction to justify the war on Iraq, a US foreign policy expert said in an article...
The intelligence was manipulated for "political purposes," he said in the magazine's December 17 issue.
This was largely to waylay South Korean and Japanese efforts at reconciliation with the North and ostensibly to keep open the option of "regime change" as in the case of Iraq, Harrison claimed.
Four more wars, anyone? I hope they didn't take it to heart -- we were just kidding...
Joanne Homer would do anything for her son, the Marine.
And the Mims mom is doing it now -- trying to keep him from harm by helping gather
nearly 500 bulletproof vests for the troops in his unit to use to protect the Humvees they'll ride through the war zone in Iraq.
Similar concerns about a lack of armored protection for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are growing.
Around the country, other families and community members have taken similar actions. In Alabama, for example, soldiers and high school students from the small town of Foley put improvised armor on vehicles before the unit went to Iraq.
The bulletproof vests heading to Holt's unit are coming from law-enforcement agencies around Central Florida, including many in Brevard County.
The vests are not being used by police agencies because of expired warranty dates, but still are effective, officials said. By lining the inside of their vehicles, the Marines hope to add a measure of protection.
All of this is commendable, of course, but it ignores the obvious question --
Kerik was also coming under close scrutiny for his windfall profit from stock options in Taser International, a company that makes high-voltage stun guns. He netted more than $6 million on the options, without ever having invested any of his own money. Kerik joined the Taser board after leaving his police commissionerâ€™s job in 2002. New York City was a purchaser of the stun guns, as was the Department of Homeland Security. Kerik sold the stock in early November, shortly before an Amnesty International report charged that there had been more than 70 Taser-related deaths since 2001.
... wasn't Bush quoted in Newsweek, when asked about U.S. election-day polling, as saying 'ignore exit polls, they're meaningless'???
Only if you didn't buy 'em, it seems...
It was motivation, above all, that powered this Democratic victory
. Democrats were hungry from decades in the political wilderness. Republicans were complacent and soft from too long in power. These attitudes translated into discipline and unity for Democrats, indulgence and disunity for Republicans. GOP factionalism was endemic and fatal.
The message gap was a consequence of this motivation gap. Democrats talked about making Colorado a better state, about not letting Republicans cut cherished programs, and about the GOP's supposed obsession with "gays, guns and God." Republicans talked about ... what? Other than denying their charges and hurling some back, we pretty much punted...
As frank a discussion as this is, he just can't comprehend that the voters really have left their reactionary agenda behind. He still thinks it's about the packaging...
That's right, Dick Vitale isn't torture enough.
"Bill Owens' Sports Connection" is a monthly program
that is repeated on the new Altitude sports channel so often that you might take him for Ron Popeil.
Owens has a one-year contract with Altitude. We think the governor also should give thanks that he has two years left on his deal with the people of Colorado...
We certainly don't really begrudge him doing the show - he does it on his own time and you have to admire his unabashed enthusiasm for sports - but with the governor popping up on everything from the NBC Nightly News to CNN to Fox to talk about Major League Baseball's steroid policy, let's just say that the state's tight fiscal pursestrings deserve some attention, too.
The moment Owens decided to let any
private school receive funds from the dubiously-named College Opportunity Fund
, this became inevitable:
An evangelical Christian university based in metro Denver has filed a federal lawsuit against the Colorado Commission on Higher Education after it denied the school's application to a new college voucher program for in-state students.
The lawsuit points out that Denver's Regis University, run by Jesuits, is eligible for state student aid...
Makes you wonder, doesn't it? Why would Owens allow public funds for one Christian college, but not another? An indefensible double standard -- intended to provoke a lawsuit that the state cannot win
, and blow the whole college voucher program open to every vocational school and seminary in the state?
I wonder if they're really that slick?
well in this morning's editorial
, on the troubles associated with the new benefits-management computer system:
The new computer system is hardly living up to expectations that it would quickly streamline the clunky older system by which the individual counties verified eligibility and benefits for needy households. That alone is cause enough to wonder if taxpayers have gotten a good deal for their $200 million investment.
A number of counties have been struggling to master the system's unexpected intricacies since it went online Sept. 1. In addition to re-certification backlogs, software glitches are creating stress for people who receive conflicting notices of whether they are approved for benefits.
There are indeed an unknown number of people, undoubtedly thousands, whose cases are behind the statutory time frame for processing. And in the interim, counties are failing to provide some of them with recourse to emergency aid. Human services officials we've talked to don't deny such problems exist.
But since they really don't want you to get overly worked up about this, they conclude than nobody's proven there are 'thousands' of people suffering -- mostly because there's no list in one place:
Evidence presented to the court in recent days suggests progress is being made in both areas. Yet if that is the case, shouldn't the state be trusted to continue correcting whatever problems remain?
...we'd be naive not to expect an unfortunate few to fall through the cracks in the transition.
It's up to counties to provide the hard data as to how many. Until then, the claim the computer problems are depriving "thousands of people" of their benefits ought to be taken with a grain of salt.
So, the counties are supposed to just voluntarily fork over data that will aid plaintiffs in a lawsuit against them (uh-huh) -- and until they do, everybody should just shut up and 'trust the state,' because this is obviously way too complicated for us to understand? What a patronizing load.
By their own admission thousands are
likely hurting, even if the counties don't want to tell you so; and it's pretty clear that the Rocky Mountain News couldn't care less.
Really big shoes
``I'm going out telling the story that I think is the biggest story of our time: how the right-wing media has become a partisan propaganda arm of the Republican National Committee,'' says Moyers. ``We have an ideological press that's interested in the election of Republicans, and a mainstream press that's interested in the bottom line. Therefore, we don't have a vigilant, independent press whose interest is the American people.''
One of the closest things we had to it was his program...wish him well, and hope his progeny learned the skill.
Nobody seems to be happy with what their kids learn in school these days.
If you're educated, your kids aren't learning enough.
If you're a fundamentalist Christian, your kids are learning that the Earth probably isn't six thousands years old, and took longer than seven twenty-four hour periods to make.
If you're a racist
Christian? This school has got you covered both ways --
Students at one of the [Raleigh, NC's
] largest Christian schools are reading a controversial booklet that critics say whitewashes Southern slavery with its view that slaves lived "a life of plenty, of simple pleasures."
Leaders at Cary Christian School say they are not condoning slavery by using "Southern Slavery, As It Was," a booklet that attempts to provide a biblical justification for slavery and asserts that slaves weren't treated as badly as people think.
Principal Larry Stephenson said the school is only exposing students to different ideas, such as how the South justified slavery. He said the booklet is used because it is hard to find writings that are both sympathetic to the South and explore what the Bible says about slavery.
"You can have two different sides, a Northern perspective and a Southern perspective," he said.
Here are a few gold nuggets:
* "As we have already mentioned, the 'peculiar institution' of slavery was not perfect or sinless, but the reality was a far cry from the horrific descriptions given to us in modern histories." (page 22)
* "Slavery as it existed in the South was not an adversarial relationship with pervasive racial animosity. Because of its dominantly patriarchal character, it was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence." (page 24)
* "There has never been a multi-racial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world." (page 24)
* "Slave life was to them a life of plenty, of simple pleasures, of food, clothes, and good medical care." (page 25)
Disgusted yet? The author of this 'textbook' is one of the heroes of the burgeoning neo-Confederate
movement, usually found in dying little towns way
south of the Mason/Dixon line (not to mention northern Idaho).
A step further -- imagine tax dollars, plugged into vouchers, paying for this...
Mouthing the words, oblivious to his plans: Bush told you in the debates that he has 'expanded' the Pell grant program
If the formula is changed, an estimated 90,000 students receiving Pell grants would become ineligible for the program, and an additional 1.2 million students would see their grants shaved by $200 to $300, according to a financial-aid advisory committee created by Congress.
The Pell program, which was authorized in 1972, is the principal federal grant program for higher education. About five million students a year now receive Pell grants, splitting $12.5 billion. Congress has invested heavily in the program in recent years, but the Pell applicant pool has grown so quickly -- up 37 percent in the last decade -- that appropriations still routinely lag behind demand.
Consequently, Congress has frozen the size of Pell awards for the last three years at $4,050 annually -- an amount given only to the neediest students.
The trouble is, nobody froze college-related expenses...
Available in increasing numbers, all along Speer Boulevard:
A sputtering economy coupled with increased housing costs in Denver has created the largest homeless population
in years, a report released Wednesday found.
John Parvensky, president of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, said the problem stems from a confluence of state and federal budget woes, the rise in lower-wage jobs and lack of affordable housing in one of the nation's more expensive real estate and rental markets.
Inflated cost of housing
Metro-area shelters also claim to be seeing huge increases in first-time and working poor homeless. Parvenksy tied it directly to wages and cost of living, saying that a person making minimum wage would need to work 108 hours a week just to afford the rent on a two-bedroom apartment.
In fact, Samaritan House Shelter reported the average wage for the working people it sees at $8.94 an hour, with their take-home pay totaling $1,193 a month. That barely covers the 2004 fair market rent set by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development -- $964 a month for a two-bedroom apartment in the Denver metro area.
It's a story that Charles Dickens could tell best, especially this time of year. Try to be nice to those retail workers you'll be dealing with in the next few weeks -- they're lucky
if they make $8.94 an hour...
Like 'fan interference' that helps the home team, they're cool with it --
Assistant poll director Clay Richards noted that the degree of satisfaction varied
between winners and losers. He said 95 percent of the Republicans quizzed said they were very or somewhat confident in the result, compared to only 58 percent of Democrats...
That's how the game is played, right? Jerry Springer
America, and the win is all that matters...
The path Dems take in the next four years...
I've expressed concerns
about reflexively abandoning the vital core constituents and progressive tenets they've championed. Not to mention that i get more strident relative to morning coffee intake, especially these days.
A reader smartly weighs in:
If we mobilize, we have the grassroots power to prevent that from happening. I do want the Democrats to position the party wisely. I do not think they should move to the left because I think that would be a strategic mistake as well. I want them to tighten their message with an emphasis on economic justice: min wage increase, health insurance, tax fairness etc. These policies benefit both the middle class and the disaffected who are not voting. If the Democrats show them that they are fighting for them, there is a much better chance to move them to the polls.
We do have to do the values stuff . That involves doing the hard work of thinking about how to present all this as a package while avoiding the appearance of kowtowing to the interest groups within the Democratic coalition.
If we can increase Dem turnout then I think we can talk about moving the party to the left. Until we have the voters to replace the ones we'll lose in moving to the left we have to be strategic. I do think that the basic Democratic message is progressive enough to be attractive if it is presented effectively. In this climate, we also have to be convincing on national security and foreign policy.
Remember, I've said from the beginning
that the recount efforts and investigations are about reforming the process, and not necessarily altering the outcome of the election.
Richard Nixon: in a rare moment of dignity in 1960, facing a tiny margin of loss to his opponent as well as evidence of significant Democratic vote fraud in Illinois and Texas, chose not to contest the results of the election. He certainly could have, and might even have won. The point is that the country, and individual players, generally choose to avoid constitutional crisis in this situation. Peaceful transfers of power are a rare gift in American history (take a look at Viktor Yushchenko's
face if you don't agree). 2000 gave backing to the idea...
And the election was over the moment John Kerry conceded.
Now, as for the fraud
A Democratic congressman and Jesse Jackson said Wednesday they will continue to investigate complaints of election irregularities in Ohio, but they won't call for a delay in the official certification process.
You'll notice that this has pretty much been the line all along -- study this event, enact real reforms afterward. This has to start with election software that is transparent. The increasingly tech-savvy public understands that source code for election systems kept secret by copyright law are a fundamental threat to our democratic process
. In Australia, they run trouble-free elections on public-domain software, and there's no lack of confidence in the results. Voting is also (ahem) compulsory.
Haven't heard anything new on the vote-switching software
angle, highly meaty stuff lacking only Mulder and Scully -- getting play mostly in the conspiracyplanet.com realm. Hell of a read, though.
Change a couple of numbers, and switch 'Colorado' for 'California.' Or wait a couple of years, and you won't need to change the numbers much:
In a recent poll
of [California] residents, nearly one-fourth of those surveyed said they were considering moving elsewhere because of high rents and dim prospects of finding an affordable home.
Three-fourths said they were worried that their children and grandchildren will never be able to buy a house, according to the survey by the Public Policy Institute of California.
The Golden State has never been an Eden of inexpensive living. As Woody Guthrie once put it, "Believe it or not, you won't find it so hot if you don't have the dough-re-mi.'
Woody probably never imagined that a median-priced home in California would one day cost $465,000, as it does now, according to the California Association of Realtors. The minimum annual income needed to buy that home is $107,880. Four out of five households don't have that kind of dough...
Bush talks about 'ownership' -- but if you're spending half of your income (or more) paying off your overvalued home, doesn't the bank own you?
Like I say, this story is coming for Colorado, although we're likely to spend a few more years acting as a safety valve for Californians fleeing outrageous speculation -- Denver MSA
is the 16th 'hottest real estate market' in the nation...
Seems they're only sorry that they got caught
US military officials witnessed the mistreatment of Iraqi detainees at a second Baghdad prison at the height of the Abu Ghraib scandal and were threatened and harassed when they attempted to report the abuse, official memos released by the Pentagon have shown.
The documents, which were obtained by human rights organisations, contradict the Pentagon's claims that the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib was isolated to the jail and involved a handful of lowly reservists.
"These documents tell a damning story of sanctioned government abuse, a story that the government has tried to hide and may well come back to haunt our own troops captured in Iraq," a statement from the ACLU said.
Whitewash this -- we have no moral authority
to wage war in Iraq...
This is what happens at the CIA
when your intel doesn't jive with what the administration wants to hear -- and it will only get worse under Porter Goss
A senior CIA operative who handled sensitive informants in Iraq asserts that CIA managers asked him to falsify his reporting on weapons of mass destruction and retaliated against him after he refused...
The subject of that reporting has been blacked out by the CIA, and the word "Iraq" does not appear in the heavily redacted version of the legal complaint, but the remaining language and context make clear that the officer's work related to prewar intelligence on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.
The lawsuit marks the first public instance in which a CIA employee has charged directly that agency officials pressured him to produce intelligence to support the administration's prewar position that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were a grave and gathering threat, and to suppress information that ran counter to that view.
"Their official dogma was contradicted by his reporting and they did not want to hear it," said Roy Krieger, the officer's attorney.
Are you disgusted, or maybe not the least bit surprised...?
caused by Owens' $200 million benefits-processing boondoggle is growing:
Colorado's nursing homes have "a significant crisis pending" because Medicaid applications aren't being processed fast enough, a nursing home executive testified Tuesday in a lawsuit against the state.
Vendors are about a month away from cutting off food deliveries and other services to many of the homes, said John Brammeier, vice president of the Colorado Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.
A sampling of nursing homes in Jefferson, Denver and Arapahoe counties late last month found a shortfall of $3.6 million because of the delay in processing Medicaid, Brammeier said.
That's 366 patients who should have been approved for Medicaid, but haven't been, he said.
Lawyers with the Colorado Center for Law and Policy are trying to show the delays are caused by the new $200 million Colorado Benefits Management System.
They want Denver District Judge John Coughlin to appoint an overseer of the system, mandate that more technicians be hired to process welfare applications, or force another solution.
The goal, they say, is to ensure the state's 600,000 people who rely on welfare benefits get them before they go hungry, get sick or lose their homes...
Here's a little extra reading, entirely unrelated
, compliments of our friends at the Independence Institute
[Colorado Constitution] Article XXI -- Recall from Office
Section 1. State officers may be recalled. Every elective public officer of the state of Colorado may be recalled from office at any time by the registered electors entitled to vote for a successor of such incumbent through the procedure and in the manner herein provided for, which procedure shall be known as the recall, and shall be in addition to and without excluding any other method of removal provided by law...
Here's the skinny: a petition with signatures equal to 25% of the total votes cast in the prior election for the office in question. Now, according
to the Secretary of State's office, there were a total of 1,412,602 votes cast for the office of Governor in 2002. So a petition to recall Owens would require 353,150 valid signatures.
Just so you know.
Governor Owens proposes something
. That's news by itself.
He wants low-income kids to have money for college, as long as they're willing to sign away their privacy rights:
Gov. Bill Owens on Tuesday proposed a new scholarship program to allow deserving low-income students to get financial help for college.
But they have to stay away from drugs, alcohol and tobacco to qualify.
Carol DeLockroy, interim principal at Green Mountain High School in Lakewood, was not sure how the students would be tracked for alcohol, drug or tobacco violations - or whether she even could because of privacy issues.
"My first reaction is that if (the governor) would ask me to provide that information about a kid, I don't think I could," she said.
And note that there's nothing in Owens' proposal about cheating on one's significant other
. I guess some things should stay private, eh, Bill?
Check it out, Colorado Treasurer Mike Coffman. You've given us an object lesson in abuse of power
State Treasurer Mike Coffman violated the Fair Campaign Practices Act when he issued three press releases in 2000 opposing a statewide ballot measure and urging voters to defeat it, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday.
Why do incumbents tend to stay in power? Why do their opinions seem to matter more than everyone else's? It's called leverage...like having a microphone and staffers to push your point of view on the public --
Answer: a long, long time.
President George W. Bush
refused to say when US troops would leave Iraq, days after the Pentagon said it would increase its strength there from 135,000 to about 150,000 soldiers amid ongoing violence which has claimed the lives of over 1,000 US troops...
"As chief of staff of the army, I have to plan on this being the new reality. I have to plan on this being open-ended," Schoomaker said.
Earlier this year, US officials said they would withdraw up to 70,000 troops from Europe and Asia over the next decade in a move to meet the new threats facing the world.
The Pentagon also has called tens of thousands of part-time reserve and National Guard troops to active duty -- some for more than a year at a time -- in the largest mobilization since the 1990-1991 Gulf war.
And the US Congress authorized the army to add 30,000 soldiers to its force by 2009 in the fiscal year 2005 defense authorization bill after Pentagon officials said they needed still more troops to meet ongoing threats...
Before the election: 'not a moment longer than we need.' Now, the answer is 'four more years!'
How many civilians
have died since the invasion of Iraq?
British Prime Minister Tony Blair rejected a call Wednesday for an independent inquiry into the civilian death toll in the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
The call came in an open letter to the premier made available to Reuters and signed by over 40 diplomats, peers, scientists and churchmen.
Any totaling of the Iraqi civilian war dead could embarrass Blair ahead of a general election expected next May in a country that mostly opposed the U.S.-led war...
Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time (as somebody recently put it) -- and the troops know it
It's an offense punishable by death during wartime. It's been committed by 5500 soldiers since the war with Iraq began.
The men, who have violated military orders and oaths, tell 60 Minutes Wednesday that it isn't cowardice, but rather the nature of the war in Iraq, that turned them into American deserters...
One soldier, Pfc. Dan Felushko, 24, tells Pelley, "I didn't want...'Died deluded in Iraq' over my gravestone."
Soldiers who want to be assigned to non-combat jobs have the option of applying for conscientious objector status.
Spc. Jeremy Hinzman, from Rapid City, S.D., filled out those forms, and while he waited for the decision on his request, he worked in a kitchen in Afghanistan.
The Army eventually told Hinzman he didn't qualify as a conscientious objector. "I was walking to the chow hall with my unit and we were yelling, 'Train to kill, kill we will,' over and over again," recalls Hinzman.
"I kind of snuck a peek around me and saw all my colleagues getting red in the face and hoarse yelling, and at that point, a light went off in my head and I said, 'You know, I made the wrong career decision.'"
Despite his decision to leave the army, Hinzman says he wasn't looking for a way out of his commitment to the military.
"I was told in basic training that, if I'm given an illegal or immoral order, it is my duty to disobey it, and I feel that invading and occupying Iraq is an illegal and immoral thing to do," says Hinzman.
He later adds that his contract with the military was "to defend the Constitution of the United States, not take part in offensive, preemptive wars."
So, we let our soldiers freeze -- because the winter coats we sent them are the wrong color
? Via Stars & Stripes
, even --
In Iraq, the weather has suddenly and shockingly dipped from 100-degree days to near-freezing nights.
One might think this would be the perfect time for soldiers to pull out their brand-new, toasty-warm $99.95 Polartec U.S. Army Spear jackets. They are among the favorite pieces of gear from the Rapid Fielding Initiative, a Christmas-like cascade of high-tech presents showered upon the 138,000 troops as they arrived in Iraq last spring.
But most jackets remain in soldiers' duffle bags around the country.
The brass in Baghdad have barred soldiers from wearing the jackets because, according to one sergeant major in the know, they do not have rank and unit insignias on them, and because they are the wrong color (black).
Actually, it is permissible to wear them underneath the sand-colored desert camouflage uniforms. Kind of like pulling on a T-shirt over your ski jacket.
As a result of this order, some $13 million worth of fleece jackets are now moth food -- at least until the 138,000 troops in Iraq get home next spring...
An old vet once told me that the army with the prettiest uniforms is generally the one that loses
Because if you think your job is criminal, soldier, you must be insane!
On June 15, 2003, Sgt. Frank "Greg" Ford, a counterintelligence agent
in the California National Guard's 223rd Military Intelligence (M.I.) Battalion stationed in Samarra, Iraq, told his commanding officer, Capt. Victor Artiga, that he had witnessed five incidents of torture and abuse of Iraqi detainees at his base, and requested a formal investigation. Thirty-six hours later, Ford, a 49-year-old with over 30 years of military service in the Coast Guard, Army and Navy, was ordered by U.S. Army medical personnel to lie down on a gurney, was then strapped down, loaded onto a military plane and medevac'd to a military medical center outside the country...
Excuse me, was that a captain
he reported to? You mean, an officer? Not some reservist MP from West Virginia? Read on:
You'd think Rumsfeld, of all people
Disgrunted U.S. soldiers complained to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Wednesday about the lack of armor for their vehicles and long deployments, drawing a blunt retort from the Pentagon chief.
"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?" Wilson asked. A big cheer arose from the approximately 2,300 soldiers in the cavernous hangar who assembled to see and hear the secretary of defense.
Rumsfeld hesitated and asked Wilson to repeat his question.
"We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry with us north," Wilson said after asking again.
Rumsfeld replied that troops should make the best of the conditions they face...
This dialogue would make for an oustanding
recruitment poster --
If what the Colorado Center for Law and Policy alleges is true, this scandal has now crossed over from negligence to gross violation of public trust:
Either way, it's front-page stuff
The state's contention that its new computer system processes welfare benefits as fast as its old system is "a fabrication," a consultant for lawyers suing the state testified Monday.
"It's a falsehood belied by every piece of data I've seen from the state," consultant Robert Bardwell said in Denver District Court. "They saw they were only processing half as much as before, so they simply multiplied by two."
The real goal? Protect Governor Owens and his pet cronies from the fallout over this debacle --
Bardwell said an example of the way the state inflated CBMS numbers is by counting one case of a household getting food stamps for September, October and November as three completed cases.
The most valid accounting shows that the new system is processing cases at about half the rate of the old systems, Bardwell contended...
And while the state spends thousands trying to fight off the charges in court, while lying to the media
about the real effects of this broken system, the intended beneficiaries are the ones suffering:
Annette Kowal, chief executive officer of Colorado Community Health Network, an association of 100 primary care health clinics, testified that the manual fixes to CBMS aren't working.
She said pharmacists and specialists are balking at filling prescriptions or seeing patients because the reimbursements from Medicaid aren't coming.
A 20 percent drop in reimbursements because of delays in Medicaid benefits means each month her clinics, collectively, lose $1.2 million; 12 doctors can't be paid; and 50,000 visits can't be made, she said. She predicts layoffs of doctors, nurses and others within 90 days unless CBMS has a reversal of fortune.
Later, Kowal said, one health center director told her that it has 700 Medicaid applications pending, 600 more than was typical before CBMS went on line. She said the centers are beginning to decide which benefits to cut...
Time for the Party of Responsibility to take some. Starting with a Governor whose failed absentee leadership
has resulted in a string of unacknowledged disasters, just like this one --
That Berkeley study
may have some holes
The analysis was not peer-reviewed, although Hout and the students said that seven professors examined their numbers. They would not speculate about what occurred with the voting machines, but voting activists on internet forums seized the study as proof of faulty voting machines or election fraud. Drexel University's McCullough, however, found fault with the study.
"What they did with their model is wrong, and their results are flawed," McCullough said. "They claim those results have some meaning, but I don't know how they can do that."
It's heavy homework indeed, if statistics grads at Berkeley get it wrong. Nevertheless:
[Berkeley professor] Hout defended his study, saying that he and the students tested several alternative hypotheses, but none eliminated the machines as a possible cause.
"The point that there might be something else that these counties have in common besides the technology is always a possibility in any statistical analysis," he said.
And the bottom line? One study doesn't make or break anything --
On Tuesday, Common Cause, the Century Foundation and the Leadership Council on Civil Rights are holding a day-long conference in Washington, D.C., to discuss the election. And the nonpartisan Social Science Research Council has launched a National Research Commission on Elections and Voting to examine systemic issues with elections and voting as well as specific issues from this year's elections, such as the disparity between exit polls and final election results.
Airtight rightwing propaganda collusion gets a little tighter
News Corp.'s Fox News has reached an agreement to become the primary news provider to radio giant Clear Channel Communications Inc.
The teaming of Fox News and Clear Channel is sure to raise eyebrows among some media-watchdog groups. With about 1,200 radio stations, Clear Channel of San Antonio has become a lightning rod for concerns about consolidation in that industry. Fox News, for its part, often is accused of having a conservative bias...
Isn't that the point?
More than just hard-selling new 'distributors' for their pyramid-scheme empire? In the thrall of a bigger one
In the book ["Merchants Of Deception"], Scheibeler exposes an Enron sized fraud with Amway raking In billions of dollars annually, and the billionaire founding families being the largest soft money contributors to the GOP, with funds that have been generated from what may turn out to be one of the largest consumer fraud scandals in history, perpetrated by the world's largest multi-level marketing company (MLM).
During its investigation, Dateline smuggled hidden cameras into recruitment meetings in order to document the company's deceptive claims and promises, and to expose its multi-million dollar 'secret' business. The expose verified the common allegation made in numerous consumer lawsuits, that the company is merely a front for a hidden pyramid business based on selling books, tapes, and registrations to seminars and rallies to new recruits, with nearly all participants losing money.
And here's the good stuff:
Amway's billionaire founders, Rich DeVos and Jay VanAndel, have been the largest soft money contributors to the GOP on and off for the past 20 years. Together, DeVos and VanAndel gave $4,000,000 to a 527, just 45 days prior to the last election. And you can bet that they demand (and get) a bang for every red cent.
Scheibeler's book reveals how GOP donations and corporate promotion have resulted in a trade off for political protection and tax reduction benefits for the MLM. His web site provides a goldmine of documentation to back up his claims, including audiotapes.
By going to the site, you can hear Newt Gingrich promoting Amway at a large event, or you can listen to audio clips of then Texas Governor George W Bush. There is even a clip sent by high-level kingpin distributors from a private meeting within the White House.
Scheibeler tells how some members of the GOP have been paid as much as $100,000 for a single promotional appearance at an Amway seminar. The list of high-paid Republican speakers who have appeared at rallies over the years, reads like a list of who's who in the GOP. It includes former Presidents George Bush, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford and former Vice Presidents Bob Dole and Dan Quayle, along with other GOP heavyweights like Gingrich, Oliver North, Senator Rick Santorum and even the latest SE Regional Chairman for the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign, Ralph Reed...
Ones hates to overwork the term 'axis of evil,' but seriously -- have you ever been pitched by these guys?
America! The terrorists are (still) hiding under your bed!
And Saudi Arabia
is a "free nation!"
"The attacks in Saudi Arabia remind us that the terrorists are still on the move," Bush said at an Oval Office photo opportunity with al-Yawer. "They're interested in affecting the will of free countries. They want us to leave Saudi Arabia. They want us to leave Iraq..."
He should tell that to a Saudi woman who can't drive, or gets beat with a stick in the street by religious police if she (Allah forbid) shows some ankle
: or any Saudi citizen, who would like to vote like those 'free' countries do.
This kind of nonsense would be laughable if it wasn't coming out of the mouth of the President of the United States...
Now you see him, now you don't
Mr. Bush never lingers at much of anything, but he really doesn't linger in museums and at historical sites. On Tuesday in Quebec, the president spent only 30 minutes at the National Archives of Canada, where he efficiently gazed at portraits of Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In 2002, Mr. Bush spent only 30 minutes at the Great Wall of China, which he visited on the way to the airport. In 2003, during a six-day trip to Africa, he spent 15 minutes at the Slave House on Goree Island in Senegal, which is said to have been the holding pen and departure point for as many as a million slaves who were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean.
He spent only 60 minutes at a game park in Botswana, a country he visited for a total of six hours.
The president has even less patience with elaborate welcoming ceremonies and official dinners on foreign trips. "He'll usually get on the plane and jokingly say, 'Thank you, Condi, I enjoyed that,' " said a Bush aide, who asked not to be identified because the president's remarks reflected impatience with his job...
It's been a few weeks, and the homework is getting turned in...at least you're sitting down as you read this
The manipulation of computer voting machines in the recent presidential election and the funding of programmers who were involved in the operation are tied to an intricate web of shady off-shore financial trusts and companies, shady espionage operatives, Republican Party politicians close to the Bush family, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) contract vehicles.
An exhaustive investigation has turned up a link between current Florida Republican Representative Tom Feeney, a customized Windows-based program to suppress Democratic votes on touch screen voting machines, a Florida computer services company with whom Feeney worked as a general counsel and registered lobbyist while he was Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, and top level officials of the Bush administration...
The implications of this are, if true, pretty much staggering. As a crime story, it's got it all -- dirty money, shadowy connections to the highest levels of American political power, cool software, murder. Read the whole thing and freak out for yourself...
It's like a scene near the end of a movie, where everybody's celebrating, but there's still a danger
(think 'Fat Bastard' at the end of the second Austin Powers):
In 2000, an entering in-state freshman at a public university in Colorado could expect to pay tuition and fees totaling approximately $2,300 for the academic year. The price has steadily increased at the University of Colorado over the last four years, reaching about $3,000 this past fall.
But everything is going to change starting in the fall of 2005. Earlier this year, lawmakers passed a voucher plan, which will provide funds directly to students instead of colleges to pay for tuition. The College Opportunity Fund will give recent high school graduates vouchers for $2,400 that can be put toward tuition at any public junior college, state college, or four-year university in the state.
Sounds like a great deal.
However, students won't really know if they'll come out ahead until the spring or summer of 2005 when new tuition and fee rates are announced...
Therein lies the rub, and confusion over this runs rampant on college campuses --
"I'm concerned some of the students believe it is a $ 2,400 reduction in their bill," said Pam Shockley-Zalabak, chancellor of the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, who supports the voucher. "In fact, the tuition they pay will be the same. It doesn't make college less expensive; it is just a different funding mechanism."
According to Governor Bill Owens (R), the new system is better because it puts money directly into the hands of students...
Here's the thing -- Governor Owens is 100% clueless on the actual effect of these vouchers, as he indicated
late last June:
In a speech Wednesday to about 200 educators and college administrators gathered in Denver for the Summit on Accountability and Performance, Owens spoke about Colorado's first-in- the-nation tuition voucher bill.
...Owens told the audience that the stipend means that any student who wants to attend community college in Colorado will be able to do so "essentially free."
"When that youngster finishes high school and is told he has a credit of $2,800, $2,700, $3,000 available, and that will allow you to go to a community college essentially for free, that is going to result, I believe, in some of the most affordable institutions in Colorado, and it's also going to let some of these students for the first time really understand that they can go to college without significant financial resources - perhaps with no financial resources."
But as it turns out, that's not true...
Owens' misinformation reveals an underlying, fundamental lack of understanding of what these funding decisions mean to students. But those students won't be so confused when they open their tuition bills this fall. And none of his numbers
In fact, some uncertainty exists about whether Colorado can manage $2,400 vouchers or whether the number will drop to $1,600.
Time for those last-minute movie heroics...or maybe the first thing on the new legislature's agenda?
Our 'cutesy' parade intended to promote downtown Denver shopping has made it to the New York Times
Like a spark in dry tinder, the result was a flare-up that caught even some church leaders by surprise. A holiday rite that had drawn thousands of paradegoers annually suddenly became a symbol, for many Christians, of secular society run amok...
what 16th Street merchants had in mind, I'm sure.
So for the two nights of the parade, on Friday and Saturday, hundreds of Denver-area faithful headed downtown for a mild but determined protest: from the sidewalk, they sang carols about mangers, shepherds and holy nights, handed out hot chocolate and spoke of their faith.
Many people, including parade organizers who say they will re-evaluate their policies for next year, say the event might never be the same.
You can argue that the parade organizer's refusal to allow openly religious displays in the parade was excessive and intolerant. You can make the related case (which they do) that Hickenlooper was being 'intolerant' initially opting to switch 'Happy Holidays' for 'Merry Christmas.'
Conversely, it's possible that a newly energized constituency has got a big, fat chip on its shoulder, and is looking to throw its weight around...
Pick one, but I've seen enough 'mandate' semantic abuse to know the score --
While you can
George Bush's new administration, and its supporters controlling Congress, are setting out to dismantle three decades of US environmental protection.
In little over a month since his re-election, they have announced that they will comprehensively rewrite three of the country's most important environmental laws, open up vast new areas for oil and gas drilling, and reshape the official Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
They say that the election gave them a mandate for the measures - which, ironically, will overturn a legislative system originally established by the Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford - even though Mr Bush went out of his way to avoid emphasising his environmental plans during his campaign.
That's right -- Remember Reagan's first interior secretary, James Watt
? The rapture's coming soon, so let's pump, chop, burn
What, you think it's any better when the alleged perps happen to have a (D) after their name?
The right needs to be held accountable for its abuses of power -- but to do so with credibility, the left must face their Tammany Halls
The search warrant served by FBI special agent John Jimenez to [East St. Louis] City Manager Robert Storman is worded to give the federal government great latitude in its investigation. It cited specifically three crimes that the U.S. attorney's office is looking at: election fraud, mail fraud and "obstruction of an official proceeding by the destruction of records." But, at the end of the warrant signed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Gerald B. Cohn, it states "as well as the fruits of these crimes."
"That's very common" to use one thing to get to another in a federal investigation, said Kent Redfield, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield. The vote fraud "is the foot in the door that allows you to open it up."
Or, if you like, a human
Heavily populated southern Canadian cities
could be littered with the debris of nuclear warheads if missiles fired at the U.S. from North Korea were were shot down by a missile-defence shield over Canada, says a prominent U.S. physicist.
A multi-state examination in the Chicago Tribune
A Tribune analysis of voter records suggests that more than 5,000 dead people remained on the rolls on Election Day in New Mexico. The presidential election there was decided by 6,000 votes.
And New Mexico is not alone. The Tribune's review of voter data there and in five other key states--Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota--found widespread flaws in the integrity of voter rolls...
Further, more than 90,000 voters in Ohio cast ballots without a valid presidential choice. Either they decided not to choose a candidate, the machine failed to register their choice, or they mistakenly voted for more than one candidate.
And the FBI is investigating allegations that Republicans in Florida mounted a large-scale campaign to tamper with ballots.
Those developments come after an election that most observers agree was a vast improvement over the 2000 vote.
I guess that means only that fewer people are arguing about the result -- it's an improvement that we're not battling it out over five hundred some-odd votes in one state, a la
four years ago today...
But it seems that most of the problems from 2000 were still kicking along in '04, HAVA or no, and that legacy won't inspire much confidence next time.
Good Lord. Take a walk through Dave Kopel's world
(A little less frequently published these days).
This week, be begins by castigating
the Rocky and Post for their 'softpedaling' coverage of a highly controversial Dutch euthanasia proposal. Okay.
But he does so by accusing the Dutch as a whole
of barbarism, and wildly distorting the specifics --
Accurately summarizing the AP article by Toby Sterling, the News headline called the killings "infant euthanasia," while the Post headline read "baby mercy death." According to the AP, one condition for killing the child is "when parents think it's best."
Leaving out the (ahem) other 'conditions,' which are "when the child's medical team and independent doctors agree the pain cannot be eased and there is no prospect for improvement."
Kopel continues to froth at the mouth, citing an obscure Knight-Ridder story
(found it in the Grand Forks, ND paper) that he claims "gives doctors the power to kill a child even when the parents object, and allows the killing of children up to age 12."
Here's what he leaves out:
"It is for very sad cases," said a hospital spokesman, who declined to be identified. "After years of discussions, we made our own protocol to cover the small number of infants born with such severe disabilities that doctors can see they have extreme pain and no hope for life. Our estimate is that it will not be used but 10 to 15 times a year."
A parent's role is limited under the protocol. While experts and critics familiar with the policy said a parent's wishes to let a child live or die naturally most likely would be considered, they note that the decision must be professional, so rests with doctors...
Euthanasia has been legal in the Netherlands since 1994. Under the law, any critically ill patient older than 12 can request an assisted death, including adults in the early stages of dementia.
So what they're doing is applying their existing right-to-die laws to everyone, not 'killing children up to age 12.' And Kopel's conjured image of Dutch doctors slaughtering children over the screams of their objecting parents is totally ludicrous.
While some of the details of this proposal are
quite sobering in implication, and worthy of patient ethical evaluation, Kopel responds with exactly what he accuses the media of doing so often; usually when they've done something that pisses off the reactionary right. His verbage is calculated for maximum -- not to mention incendiary -- effect on his readers. He omits the facts that don't suit his argument, and blows the ones that do out of all earthly proportion...
The Dems -- soul-searching, or soul-losing
seems to like the idea of Democrats 'moving to the center' --
Democrats hoping to change an image of outdated liberalism after John Kerry's narrow loss to George Bush have formed a new group aimed at organizing moderate Senate Democrats as "the front line in a campaign to give the party a more centrist profile."
Yeah, that's what you do after narrowly
losing -- abandon the 'almost half' in favor of the 'slightly more than half.' Most of whom still think Democrats represent Satan:
There are those who fear that the Democratic Party, by going centrist, will forget its populist roots and abandon core values that have championed the underprivileged and equal rights.
Between the weak dollar
, anemic retail season
, and the exploitative price of gas, we're getting squeezed. Here in Colorado, you can add in yet another utility price hike:
Xcel Energy officials blamed the [electricity rate hike] request on the rising price of natural gas. The gas is used to produce electricity.
This increase would be on top of a four percent increase in the rate Xcel charges for natural gas that went into effect earlier this week. If approved, the latest increase would go into effect in January.
And like we talked about recently, Xcel never gets told
Beating the hell out of the Russians in terms of new weapons contracts -- what a wonderfully dubious honor
Indian officials are preparing to discuss with Rumsfeld a possible purchase of the Patriot missile system when he visits New Delhi on Thursday, according to media reports here. The Patriot is a ground-based missile system that can defend against ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft.
The visit comes as Pakistan is negotiating to buy F-16 fighters and other advanced military equipment from the United States.
The two nuclear-armed South Asian nations, which have fought three wars in the past five decades and are stalled over the disputed territory of Kashmir, already are developing new offensive medium- and long-range missile systems.
The prospect of a multi-billion-dollar American arms sale has stirred up opposition on both sides of the heavily fortified border.
That's one heck of a deal -- selling advanced, high-dollar weaponry into both sides
of perhaps the world's scariest nuclear rivalry. Machiavelli would be proud...
So, they're gonna hold elections in Iraq next month. What kind of elections can be had in a war zone? Is there any region of this country that's been pacified? Even Baghdad, itself?
Such has been the escalation of violence
in the run-up to the January 30 elections that for the first time in four visits, the [Australian] Defence Minister could not make it to the centre of the Iraqi capital last Friday.
So dangerous has the main highway to and from the airport become, with daily suicide bomb attacks, he did not visit the Australian embassy or the Green Zone that comprises the headquarters of the US-led coalition forces in Iraq.
Everyone wants the Iraqs to self-determine. No question. But this dogmatic insistence from Bush that the elections are going forward in January, even if conditions on the ground render them entirely meaningless
, is a recipe for disaster...
Not so mighty these days, of course. Exports could benefit, and some wildly overvalued assets and services in the United States might be brought back to earth. Not to mention perverse debt relief.
Not everyone will benefit
, though, and if policies are not ready to keep real incomes stable as the money devalues -- this country has a record of failure here. Or do you think you can really live off of $5.15 an hour? How about when that no longer buys, as they say, a bag of chips?
breaks it down pretty well this morning:
If the dollar loses value slowly, giving businesses and investors plenty of time to adjust their spending and portfolios, the main effect may be to make the American economy more competitive. That would be a happy conclusion.
But if the dollar takes an abrupt dive, the consequences may be dire. Companies and consumers alike may find themselves stripped of purchasing power and ground down by sky-high interest rates...
So far? Well, it is happening pretty amazingly fast -- and that's not good:
"The best outcome would be a rise in U.S. saving coupled with a gradual decline in the dollar to a sustainable level," Professor Obstfeld said. "There's no doubt that the dollar will need to decline more, and the economy will be able to adjust much more smoothly if the adjustment is a gradual one."
That outcome, though, is far from certain. If investors lost confidence in the business climate in the United States, or in the federal government's ability to pay its debts, the dollar could plunge sharply and interest rates could rocket.
In that case, investors would demand a higher return to match what they perceived as higher risks of lending money or buying equity in the United States. But if the flow of investment also slackened, the demand for dollars to buy American securities would dry up. That could be the start of a vicious cycle, forcing a further slide in the dollar and leading investors to demand an even higher return.
A similar situation occurred two decades ago. "The danger is if the decline in the dollar gets too severe, that could really drive U.S. bond yields up like it did in the early 80's," Mr. Wyss said. "Then you could be looking at 15, 20 percent mortgage rates again. That could cause a recession despite the fact that the trade gap is closing."
Investors' attitudes could change abruptly, Professor Obstfeld said, especially if they focused on how one piece of news might change the economic outlook. "Certainly, the fiscal measures that are being tossed around in Washington are not particularly helpful," he said, referring to the multitrillion-dollar liability that could result from adding private accounts to the current Social Security system. "It's clear that it's a big fiscal shift that could have an impact on the markets."
That could bring back unpleasant memories of the 1980's, when the "twin deficits" in trade and the federal budget damaged the country's economic competitiveness. A weaker dollar wasn't enough to close the gaps then, and it may not be enough now, either.
For the gospel of the almighty dollar
President Bush started speaking in 2002 about the need to bring democracy to the Arab nations. Since then, however, the popular view of the United States in the region has grown so dark, even hateful, that American officials are approaching the meeting with caution and with a package of financial and social initiatives that have only a scant relationship to the original goal of political change...
The Middle East Partnership Initiative, which has received $264 million from Congress since 1993, has a political component. But a study by two scholars at the Brookings Institution, published this week, found that it was "increasingly shifting its resources from democracy promotion and engagement with local volunteer organizations, to the far less provocative path of regime-led economic development."
That "can have the effect of subsidizing an Arab government's attempts to build a kinder, gentler autocracy," it added.
"The whole thing rings hollow," said Steven A. Cook, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan research group based in New York. "What is missing is not technical and financial know-how, it is the political will to reform," said Mr. Cook, whose field of study is political change in the Arab world. "I don't think these programs mesh with the president's rhetoric."
That depends -- if you view the "president's rhetoric" as mere cover for a wholly separate agenda, which cares nothing for 'democracy' and 'human rights' if there's no money in it
, it meshes perfectly...
The 'Dairy Queen dozen' fights back
They were among 3,000 to 4,000 people who had gathered in Colorado Springs for a protest against the impending war in Iraq. Before the day was over, police fired tear gas at protesters and arrested more than 30 people.
Doub said he, his parents and three other people had carpooled to the protests and had marched at a rally at Palmer Park.
Then they went to another protest outside the base, and when they found it was breaking up, they went to a nearby Dairy Queen. Doub said he was standing in line to order food when police entered the business. Others were using restrooms, sitting in vehicles or eating at a nearby restaurant, according to the suit.
The lawsuit quoted a police officer as saying that people leaving Dairy Queen without food would be arrested. Doub said he realized he had no money and asked the officer if he could go to the family minivan. Police told him if he did, he would be arrested, which is what happened.
Along with Doub, the other plaintiffs named in the lawsuit are Rolando Garibotti, William Doub, Lisa Kelly, Paula Pant, Arden Buck, Jose Alcantara and Diana Alcantara.
"These people were doing absolutely nothing wrong," said David Lane, a Denver lawyer who filed the suit on their behalf. "They were literally at the Dairy Queen buying food. They still got arrested."
The lawsuit says police used excessive force, and claims physical and emotional injuries...
That's what happens when you dissent in Reagan Memorial County...
Guess who's not getting the axe
? Like Condi and Dick -- the chief Iraq war liars are being rewarded, not punished.
Rumsfeld's tenure has been marked by unanticipated postwar violence in Iraq and more than 1,250 U.S. deaths, as well as enormous increases in spending on the military after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Despite controversies, the hawkish, sometimes acid-tongued Rumsfeld has kept Bush's confidence.
Rumsfeld also has a long history of influential support from Vice President Dick Cheney from their days together in the Ford administration in the mid-1970s.
The secretary's future had been the subject of much speculation, after revelations about abuses at Abu Ghraib and other U.S.-run prisons in Iraq. Though Bush steadfastly backed his defense chief -- one of the more hawkish members of his administration -- Rumsfeld had many detractors in Congress and the military.
It had been widely believed at the Pentagon that Rumsfeld wanted to stay on, at least for a time, in order to oversee the continuing transition in Iraq and shepherd his plan for a fundamental transformation and modernization of the U.S. military.
Wait a second: Rumsfeld had
many detractors? The President speaks, and they all melt away?
Believe me, they're not going anywhere -- to quote Stan Goff
Rumsfeld is a narcissist who has convinced himself he is a military genius. His boss is a preppy pretending to be a cowboy, and he is a techno-geek pretending he is the new Clausewitz.
So when your kid comes up to you in a few weeks, confused about people who lie sometimes in fact propsering, try not to use Rummy's example. Explain that the Bush administration is the exception to what should
be the rule...
Latest on the Bush chopping block -- Tommy Thompson.
And he has a few things to say
on his way out...
Mr. Thompson, freed from the constraints of administration policy, gave candid, unexpected answers to questions posed to him at a news conference at his department.
He said he wished Congress had given him the power to negotiate with drug manufacturers to secure lower prices for Medicare beneficiaries. The White House and Republicans in Congress have insisted that the government should not have that power...
Asked what worried him most, Mr. Thompson cited the threat of a human flu pandemic caused by mutations in a strain of avian influenza virus, known popularly as bird flu.
"This is a really huge bomb that could adversely impact on the health care of the world," killing 30 million to 70 million people, he said.
Despite 'electoral honeymoon' shopping season predictions, despite the health shown at the very top of the retail food chain, despite even our own hopes that the season would go well --
In a report
issued yesterday, Margaret Mager, an analyst with Goldman, Sachs, advised her customers to "expect higher promos ahead."
"We know that November was disappointing," she said in an interview. "Thirteen out of 16 of the specialty retailers we track came in below expectations." Two of these merchants, Gap and Limited Brands, are among the largest retailers in the country. Gap's sales were down 4 percent from last year - measured against the same stores open at least a year - and Limited reported sales were down 5 percent.
Gap, Ms. Mager said, has now projected lower operating margins for the holiday season - in other words, the company will not make the profit executives had hoped for just a month ago. "They said it was pretty much because they have to step up the markdowns, particularly in their Old Navy stores - to move the inventory now," she said.
"How much later can they respond?" she asked. "There's not much you can do to change the game plan now: the major promotions have been scheduled; the clothes are in the warehouses or the stores - the only thing you can change is the prices - and keep your fingers crossed."
Earlier in the week, we had mentioned that Wal-Mart's poor sales were bucking initial trends. I attributed it to rising antipathy towards Wal-Mart. A reader astutely pointed out
that Wal-Mart's sales could be slumping because the huge class of people they serve are hurting
I get it now, and so does Goldman, Sachs...
Because economic justice is a moral responsibility
But, although Democrats and their allies mobilized an unprecedented get-out-the-vote operation, they were outsmarted and out-hustled by Republicans. Kettenring believes that Kerry might have taken more votes away from Bush in Florida if he had embraced the minimum-wage campaign, as many labor and progressive activists urged him to do. But he inexplicably ignored the issue. It is imperative that Democrats and progressives start a nationwide debate that frames economic justice as a moral issue...
The minimum-wage victories in Florida and Nevada are a political neon sign blinking brightly. In January, when Bush is sworn in for a second term, the array of people and groups who worked to elect John Kerry (unions, environmentalists, community-organizing networks, civil rights groups, disaffected millionaires and religious organizations) should announce a nationwide moral crusade to raise the national minimum wage to the official poverty level--$9.50 an hour--which translates to $19,000 a year.
It's a simple question, this year's airtight propaganda to the contrary: would Jesus really have voted the "screw the poor/God hates gays" ticket?
, or cut to nothing. Pick one, they say.
"Let me state clearly that there are no free lunches here," said N. Gregory Mankiw
, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, at a conference on tax policy here.
"The benefits now scheduled for future generations under current law are not sustainable given the projected path of payroll tax revenue," he added. "They are empty promises."
And what's the "projected path" of payroll taxes? Down, irresponsibly down. And that's (surprise) thanks to the same guys telling you that you'll get no Social Security benefits now.
Creating the crisis, anyone?
And how exactly does a lifetime of Social Security withholdings become a 'free lunch?' Isn't the real problem here the fact that the government -- that means YOU, deficit-loving neoconservative -- has borrowed away Social Security funds for years, and doesn't consider them yours anymore?
Another Alien versus Predator scenario, compliments of the fiscally oblivious right: whoever wins, young workers like me lose.
Viagra was heralded like the second coming of Christ, trumpeted (so to speak) by everybody, from Hugh Hefner to Bob Dole --
Girls looking for a clinical marital aid? You can wait
In a move that could chill excitement about experimental drugs to treat female sexual dysfunction, federal advisers refused to endorse a new testosterone patch for women...
Of course they should make sure every drug is safe, but do you get the feeling that helping women's sex lives is just not, you know, a priority for our puritanical
We are making a joke of our claims to moral leadership.
Torture's bad? Well, maybe it is, but Gitmo inmates
apparently have no right to complain:
U.S. military panels reviewing the detention of foreigners as enemy combatants are allowed to use evidence gained by torture in deciding whether to keep them imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the government conceded in court Thursday.
One of the most tacit admissions yet that torture is being used
on Terror War prisoners:
Leon asked if there were any restrictions on using evidence produced by torture.
Boyle replied the United States would never adopt a policy that would have barred it from acting on evidence that could have prevented the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks even if the data came from questionable practices like torture...
Ah, the bottom line again: "9/11 changed everything." Maybe it's really in the process of reducing
everyone -- to the depths of barbarism.
outrage -- Wasn't this supposed to end with the protester-files
Apparently, they just got clever about it:
The ACLU disclosed documents that it says show the terrorism task force is spying on people who are politically active in environmental, political and animal-rights issues.
In one instance, Colorado Springs police collected license-plate numbers of those at a peaceful protest against the timber industry and sent them to a Denver police detective on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the ACLU said.
In another, the ACLU said, task- force members obtained e-mails from activists planning peaceful activities on animal-rights issues and a Palestinian rally, as well as a schedule for Columbus Day protests.
"These kind of actions on the part of the FBI are very dangerous in a democracy," Mark Silverstein, legal director for the ACLU in Colorado, said at a Denver news conference...
And how's this for blurring the line between crime and terror?
The ACLU's 24-page request, which the group posted on its website, says the FBI has labeled nonviolent protesters as members of terrorist organizations in a computerized database called the Violent Gang and Terrorist Organization File.
Because they're all the same, you know...
Our government seems increasingly fearful of its own citizens. Last time this happened, after years of repression, the government's actions were thoroughly repudiated; and safeguards -- removed since 9/11 -- were put in place to prevent investigative abuse of lawful dissidents.
Full circle, baby. How long will it take this time?
Isn't it funny how as the days pass since the recent elections, the news
gets worse? Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
A surprisingly soft 112,000 new U.S. jobs were created in November, the Labor Department said on Friday, casting a shadow across an already downbeat holiday sales season with consumers apparently worried by scarce work and high oil prices...
Why did the Democrats get their clocks cleaned nationally on November 2?
Maybe it's because they bloodied their own
, and colluded with their supposed adversaries?
According to the last data I could find, Moore recently made a movie that was seen by tens of millions of people around the world and has grossed nearly $120 million in the U.S. alone. Furthermore, it was, according to exit polls, a much better demographic success than the actual Democratic party. A Harris poll conducted in July found that 89 percent of Democrats agreed with "Fahrenheit 9/11," along with 70 percent of independents. That means Moore outperformed John Kerry among independents by about 19 points, if we are to go just by the data presented by bum-licking power-worshipper Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times at the [Democratic Leadership Council] roundtable.
"You know, let's let Hollywood and the Cannes Film Festival fawn all over Michael Moore. We ought to make it pretty clear that he sure doesn't speak for us when it comes to standing up for our country." -- Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute, the think tank of the Democratic Leadership Council
While it is not exactly clear who else Marshall is talking about in this quotation, it is fairly clear that he means that Michael Moore does not speak for him personally. Which makes sense, of course.
In addition to his duties as the president of the PPI, Marshall kept himself busy in the last few years. Among other things, he served on the board of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, an organization co-chaired by Joe Lieberman and John McCain whose aim was to build bipartisan support for the invasion of Iraq.
Marshall also signed, at the outset of the war, a letter issued by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) expressing support for the invasion. Marshall signed a similar letter sent to President Bush put out by the conservative Social Democrats/USA group on Feb. 25, 2003, just before the invasion. The SD/USA letter urged Bush to commit to "maintaining substantial U.S. military forces in Iraq for as long as may be required to ensure a stable, representative regime is in place and functioning."
Clearly, Marshall was thinking about the good of the Democratic Party, and not the integrity of his grimy little network of missile-humping cronies, when he and Al From made the curious -- and curiously conspicuous -- decision to denounce Moore, Hollywood and France at the DLC meeting in early November...
Thoroughly disgusted yet, loyal blue? I know of a house in need of some serious cleaning --
Fascinating developments out of Kiev:
Seems their priorities might be shifting? Perhaps the answer lies in these competing headlines --
Butt out of Ukraine, Putin tells the West
Russia will not accept a divided Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday as he delivered a harsh warning to Western governments to stay out of that country's affairs...
Not to be outdone:
I'd say neither party's got much moral high ground this time. Better leave it to the, ah, actual Ukrainians...
150,000 troops in Iraq
at least through March, '05 -- most ever, after Bush promised they'd be under 100,000 -- by a year ago... Oh, and at least 135 Americans died
there in November.
Pentagon lies to media
for propaganda purposes. What else have they been lying about
Bush and his attack pup Norm Coleman call
for UN investigation and Annan resignation -- over failed Iraq policy. Pot: Kettle!!!!
. Pentagon knew about abuse well before Abu Ghraib.
Buried and ignored Pentagon advisory board report calls Bush Iraq policy the central disaster
responsible for the collapse in America's reputation in, and ability to influence the Muslim world
And, of course, the right wing controlling the country has eviscerated 200 years of law and order on Capitol Hill
in order to run government by fiat.
Get your Ukrainian Orange! gear
Maybe January 20th (inaugural) should be "Wear Orange!" day.
As if you didn't know, they're tracking you
, peaceful activist.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado is poised to accuse the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force of documenting the activities of Coloradans engaged in lawful demonstrations.
The organization will hold a news conference today in Denver to present what it says is evidence that the task force has conducted surveillance of people who were peacefully expressing their opinions on war, environmental issues, animal rights and labor rights - topics that have no connection to terrorism.
No connection to terrorism, but investigated by antiterror agencies...
And the PATRIOT Act is used against ordinary criminals...
Remember all those commercials equating the smoking of pot with support for terrorism? You know, "Katie bought a dime-bag from a guy who bought it from Osama bin Laden?"
Where does this road end, do you suppose?
"Come quietly to the camps,"
sings Jello --
from 'hanging chad' country -- (via Kos
Florida's election supervisors, impressed by the success of early voting, proposed dramatic reforms Tuesday that would eliminate Election Day, replace it with an 11-day election season and do away with precincts...
''What we're basically telling the Legislature is the precinct system is an archaic system, which does not serve the intent of the voters very well,'' said Ion Sancho, Leon County elections supervisor. ''Requiring that you go to your precinct to vote is not unlike [Caesar] requiring everyone in the Roman Empire showing up in the town of birth so you could do a census.''
At least they're thinking out of the (black) box...and expanding access to the polls can't hurt anything...
This is really appalling
-- after all the wicked smear we've seen on TV this year? Blogosphere
The CBS and NBC television networks are refusing to run a 30-second television ad from the United Church of Christ because its all-inclusive welcome has been deemed "too controversial."
"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations," reads an explanation from CBS, "and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks."
Similarly, a rejection by NBC declared the spot "too controversial."
If you watch the actual commercial
, you see it makes no mention whatever of marriage. What exactly does pointing out (rightly) that 'Jesus didn't turn people away' have to do with legislative initiatives from the 'Executive Branch?'
Absurd, and ominous
Or, if you prefer, straight-up BSing you
In an October 14 interview from Iraq, 1st Lt. Lyle Gilbert announced that a major U.S. military operation was under way in Falluja -- three weeks before the offensive that eventually recaptured the city began.
A senior Pentagon official told CNN that Gilbert's remarks were "technically true but misleading." It was an attempt to get CNN "to report something not true," the official said.
CNN management has asked the Pentagon for an official response to a report in the Los Angeles Times that identified Gilbert's comments as a possible case of deliberate misinformation of news outlets. The newspaper reported that the interview was part of a broader effort to manipulate the media to achieve U.S. goals in Iraq...
You don't say
'Unwinnable' Iraq war
, anyone? (Salon Premium)
Not released to the public before the election
"Finally, Muslims see Americans as strangely narcissistic -- namely, that the war is all about us. As the Muslims see it, everything about the war is -- for Americans -- really no more than an extension of American domestic politics and its great game. This perception is of course necessarily heightened by election-year atmospherics, but nonetheless sustains their impression that when Americans talk to Muslims they are really just talking to themselves."
This passage is not psychobabble, punditry or monologue. It is a conclusion of the Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communication, the product of a Pentagon advisory panel, delivered in September, its 102 pages not released to the public during the presidential campaign, but silently slipped onto a Pentagon Web site on Thanksgiving eve, and barely noticed by the U.S. press...
...and oh my God, this is the most scathing indictment of the specious, self-destructive motivations for the 'war on terror' you've ever read:
The Bush administration, according to the Defense Science Board, has misconceived a war on terrorism in the image of the Cold War -- "reflexively" and "without a thought or a care as to whether these were the best responses to a very different strategic situation." Yet the administration seeks out "Cold War models" to cast this "war" against "totalitarian evil." However, the struggle is not the West vs. Islam; nor is it "against the tactic of terrorism." "This is no Cold War," the report insists. While we blindly and confidently call this a "war on terrorism," Muslims "in contrast see a history-shaking movement of Islamic restoration" against "apostate" Arab regimes allied with the U.S. and "Western Modernity -- an agenda hidden within the official rubric of a 'War on Terrorism.'"
In this conflict, "wholly unlike the Cold War," the Bush administration's impulse has been to "imitate the routines and bureaucratic responses and mindset that so characterized that era." So the U.S. projects Iraqis and other Arabs as people to be liberated like those "oppressed by Soviet rule." And the U.S. accepts authoritarian Arab regimes as allies against the "radical fighters." All of this is nothing less than a gigantic "strategic mistake."
"There is no yearning-to-be-liberated-by-the-U.S. groundswell among Muslim societies -- except to be liberated perhaps from what they see as apostate tyrannies that the U.S. so determinedly promotes and defends. (Original emphasis.)" Rhetoric about freedom is received as "no more than self-serving hypocrisy," daily highlighted by the U.S. occupation in Iraq. "Muslims do not 'hate our freedom,' but rather, they hate our policies." The "dramatic narrative since 9/11" of the "war on terrorism," Bush's grand justification, his story line connecting all the dots from the World Trade Center to Baghdad, has "borne out the entire radical Islamist bill of particulars." As a result, jihadists have been able to transform themselves from marginal figures in the Muslim world into defenders against invasion and attack with a growing following of millions...
Ignored by the White House, out of diabolical indifference or messianic hubris. But Jerry Garcia sang it best -- "One way or another, this darkness got to give."
Good sport for the right-wing. They're doing everything but slipping the word 'Antichrist' into their denunciations --
The United States
distanced itself from a call by a leading US lawmaker for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to resign over the scandal-plagued Iraq oil-for-food program...
Coleman, the Republican chairman of the Senate investigations subcommittee that is conducting its own probe of the oil-for-food program, wrote in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that Annan should step down because of fraud that occurred "on his watch."
"It's time for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to resign," Coleman wrote. "I have arrived at this conclusion because the most extensive fraud in the history of the UN occurred on his watch."
We've talked about what a joke this is -- how the primary benificiaries of any oil-for-food corruption were:
1) Saddam Hussein
2) Bunch of American oil companies
But going after our own oil companies would be Unamerican, wouldn't it? And bashing the UN makes it easier to bash things like global arms
treaties, the International Criminal Court
And out comes Norm Coleman, swinging the bat for the UN-hating right. Every time this guy opens his mouth, I get a little emotional over Paul Wellstone.
Al Capone didn't like the authorities much, either -- and for the same reasons
All of you who believe there's still the slightest, remotest hope that last month's election could be overturned -- here's
your big chance:
George W. Bush's victory in the U.S. presidential election will be challenged in Ohio's Supreme Court Wednesday when a group of Democratic voters will allege widespread fraud. President Bush clinched reelection by winning the state of Ohio on Nov. 2 by a margin of 136,000 votes over Democratic candidate John Kerry. Despite claims of fraud and technical glitches, Sen. Kerry decided that they were not big enough to affect the result and conceded the election on Nov. 3.
However, Cliff Arnebeck, a lawyer representing a group of voters challenging the Ohio result, claimed new analysis of various anomalies suggested it was rigged...
Please note that the Dem bigwigs are not on board
for this particular lawsuit:
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, who conceded Ohio and the election Nov. 3 after his aides concluded there was no reasonable chance for him to overturn Bush's margin there of 136,000 votes, refuses to join the challenges.
"We haven't seen any evidence to suggest that the outcome of the election would change," Kerry spokesman David Wade said.
Kerry's campaign has filed one legal brief, but it argues only that if there is a recount, it should include all Ohio counties. It doesn't call for a recount.
Probably both right -- widespread problems, but we're not talking about altering the outcome...
Benefits system progress 'glacial';
Colorado's new $200 million system for calculating welfare benefits has processed less than 20 percent of the applications it had on hand three months ago, leaving a total of 540,000 in the to-be-completed pile, state officials reported Thursday.
Next time somebody asks you why Latin America is so suspicious of our motives and actions, remember this
A senior U.S. official on Tuesday took a dim view of the possibility that Venezuela would buy Russian MiG-29 fighter jets to replace its U.S.-made F-16 jets.
"We shoot down MiGs," said the Bush administration official, who spoke on condition he not be identified.
Venezuela, which is enjoying a windfall from high world oil prices, plans to buy large amounts of arms from Russia, leftist President Hugo Chavez said after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last week...
On what planet is that not a threat? Would it be any different if one substituted 'Boeing' for 'Russia?'
More banned weapons
US troops are secretly using outlawed napalm gas to wipe out remaining insurgents in and around Fallujah.
News that President George W. Bush has sanctioned the use of napalm, a deadly cocktail of polystyrene and jet fuel banned by the United Nations in 1980, will stun governments around the world.
And last night Tony Blair was dragged into the row as furious Labour MPs demanded he face the Commons over it...
Last August the US was forced to admit using the gas in Iraq.
A 1980 UN convention banned the use of napalm against civilians...America, which didn't ratify the treaty, is the only country in the world still using the weapon.
More post-election news dumping
. They've never, as you know, charged an officer in connection with the Abu Ghraib torture scandal --
A confidential report to Army generals in Iraq in December 2003 warned that members of an elite military and CIA task force were abusing detainees, a finding delivered more than a month before Army investigators received the photographs from Abu Ghraib prison that touched off investigations into prisoner mistreatment...
Herrington's findings are the latest in a series of confidential reports to come to light about detainee abuse in Iraq. Until now, U.S. military officials have characterized the problem as one largely confined to the military prison at Abu Ghraib -- a situation they first learned about in January 2004. But Herrington's report shows that U.S. military leaders in Iraq were told of such allegations even before then, and that problems were not restricted to Abu Ghraib. Herrington, a veteran of the U.S. counterinsurgency effort in Vietnam, warned that such harsh tactics could imperil U.S. efforts to quell the Iraqi insurgency -- a prediction echoed months later by a military report and other reviews of the war effort.
Herrington's report also noted that sweeps pulled in hundreds and even thousands of detainees who had no connection to the war. Abu Ghraib, for example, swelled to several thousand more detainees than it could handle. Herrington wrote that aggressive and indiscriminate tactics by the 4th Infantry Division, rounding up random scores of detainees and "dumping them at the door," was a glaring example.
Ready to face this yet, America? Or was Bush's victory also a 51% mandate for torture?
This is one screwed-up election we just had. Boston Globe
reports in detail --
In the month since the election, serious instances of voting machine problems or human errors in ballot counts have been documented in at least a dozen states, each involving from scores of ballots to as many as 12,000 votes, as in a North Carolina county. On Election Day, or in later reconciling tallies of ballots and voters, local officials discovered problems and corrected final counts. In some cases, the changes altered the outcomes of local races. But in North Carolina, the problems were so serious that the state may hold a rare second vote, redoing a contest for state agriculture commissioner decided by fewer votes than the number of ballots lost...
In addition, minor presidential candidates requested recounts in four states -- a partial one completed yesterday in New Hampshire, and statewide in Ohio, New Mexico, and Nevada.
None of the recounts or inquiries is expected to affect the results of the presidential election, which Bush won by more than 3.3 million votes.
But the fact remains that real reform is needed, and the system is awash in bad faith and flawed safeguards:
No group has been more aggressive than Seattle-based Black Box Voting, which bills itself as ''consumer protection for elections." Led by founder Bev Harris, the organization is seeking election records from around the country for audits of the results. The primary focus is Florida, where internal computer records have been requested in all 67 counties, and the results in glitch-plagued Volusia County, in the east-central part of the state, are being contested.
Four years ago, during vote-counting on election night, a faulty memory card initially deducted 16,022 votes from Democrat Al Gore's vote total in Volusia. Despite spending about $300,000 to upgrade equipment and avert a repeat, there were memory card problems this year in tabulators for six Volusia precincts. The optically-scanned paper ballots were re-fed into other counting machines to reach an accurate tally, a county election official said.
''All day long, I get desperate calls from people who are in so much pain," said Harris, the Black Box founder, who said she is convinced fraud occurred in some places Nov. 2. ''They say: Can you fix it? Can you solve it? Can you turn around the presidential election? We're not trying to turn the election around. We're trying to get elections to be more transparent, because with the new machines, it's not transparent."
Owens' $200 million benefits system debacle
isn't the only way his gross mismanagement is hurting Colorado's neediest:
doubled in the past two years, inflicting particular hardship on households that hold to a tight budget. The number of Coloradans needing help with utility bills doubled in four years, to 107,000 families last year, and is expected to rise another 20 percent again this winter. Costs are so high that many low-income families already are $500 in arrears on their utility bills - before the winter started. Some families are foregoing groceries or medicines to heat their homes.
Owens has already responded -- and the message? Screw the poor:
Last spring, the state legislature passed a measure that would have tacked a small surcharge onto monthly utility bills to create a heating subsidy for low-income families. Consumers who couldn't afford the 50 cent charge would have been exempted. The plan would have raised $10 million a year and enabled LEAP to help needy families at last year's levels. The measure was strongly supported by the oil and gas industry, Xcel Energy and other utilities. But Owens vetoed it, saying he prefers a voluntary program...
Owens' decision left Colorado as one of just 14 states without some minimum assistance to help with heating costs.
More heartless arrogance from a failed, negligent, lame-duck Governor.
It's not a pressing matter of state, but jeez...
The Rocky is miffed
at Hickenlooper for changing the words "Merry Christmas" on the City and County Building's light display to "Happy Holidays."
Apparently, a slogan that people who celebrate Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Tet, or anything other than Christ
mas can still get some meaning from is a victory for "intolerance."
And they make a wholly ridiculous 'slippery slope' argument -- 'the nativity scene is next! Hickenlooper is going to take your Bible away!' Okay, that last one wasn't in there, but I kept waiting for this ridiculous argument to conclude with a Bush '04 campaign slogan...
Not to mention the very substantial Jewish community in Denver; which is, I expect, happy to tell the Rocky
where it can stick the notion that a more inclusive slogan is somehow 'intolerant.'
Ah, the watchdogs...
Defenders of consumers against the excesses of technical monopoly? Not if they're in bed
with said monopoly --
A consumer advocacy group has asked the chairman of the state Public Utilities Commission not to take part in hearings on Qwest's bid for deregulation...
The law says...
The Colorado Public Interest Research Group is citing these portions of state statute 40-6-124 when asking that PUC Chairman Gregory Sopkin step down from hearing a case involving Qwest:
"The commissioners ... shall refrain from financial, business and social dealings that adversely affect their impartiality."
"Members shall conduct themselves in such a manner as to ... maintain public confidence in the integrity of the commission's actions, and to prevent the appearance of impropriety or of conflict of interest."
With that in mind, here's the problem:
Accepting a leadership position on the board of the Federation of Economically Rational Utility Policy (FERUP), a nonprofit started with a $24,230 loan from the Progress and Freedom Foundation, which is funded by Qwest, Xcel Energy and other companies.
Engaging in phone conversations and electronic correspondence during business hours with Ray Gifford, head of the Progress and Freedom Foundation and Sopkin's predecessor as Colorado PUC chairman.
According to a mission statement on the Progress and Freedom Foundation's website, the group is a think tank "with a classically conservative view of the proper role of government." The foundation believes that technological change has created opportunities that can only be realized if governments "resist the temptation to regulate, tax and control."
Sopkis, thus far, refuses to recuse himself from the upcoming debate on Qwest deregulation -- and denies
any conflict of interest. I think about Xcel never, ever getting told 'no' when they ask the PUC for more money, and I haven't done business with Qwest since I wore one of their badges (another good story) -- it's hard not to agree with Colorado Common Cause's Peter Maysmith, who can't figure out how this isn't
a huge conflict...
Meet the new AG -- worse then the old AG?
We talked yesterday about an ICRC report
alleging conditions at Guantanamo Bay that are "tantamount to torture." Let's stop for a moment to reflect on who we have to thank --
Mr. Gonzales was the architect of the legal strategy that led President Bush to order that the Geneva Conventions should not be applied to anyone captured in Afghanistan. Secretary of State Powell and others vigorously opposed Mr. Gonzales' decision to dispense with the Geneva Conventions...
Something needs to be done. If Gonzales sails through confirmation, as is expected, it will send a message to the world that we explicitly agree with his argument; that torture is okay on certain people.
And of course it's not -- torture, like chemical weapons and land mines, should be relegated to the cautionary histories of civilized nations.
Click here -- Human Rights First
is organizing a letter-writing campaign. Time to get in your Senators' faces, and let them know that torture is not a family value...