Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The State of American Disarray

As I drove from working late to a dinner with friends I tuned in to the sad state of america as spun by the greatest malfactor on the world stage today. That our current resident of the white house would purport to tell us how well we are and how we are changing the world for the better is truly a lie wrapped in an enigma then wrapped in a barrel of oil to paraphrase Winston Churchill! This media curtain is more devastating then the cold war because it displays the frayed tenets of international law severed as Alexander severed the Gordian Knot with the sword of American Militarism, Cronyism, and Violations of that "outmoded principle" the Geneva Convention, if you believe our current Attorney General. We have come a long way from Robert Kennedy, and Ramsey Clark to a facist like Alberto Gonzalez!

Let's review but three of the many half truths and lies that were broadcast from the well of Congress to a fearful world. First Bush claimed credit for the millions we are donating to fight the world Aids epidemic. What he didn't say is that a great deal of that money is now going to faith based groups who are preaching abstinence; while this government refuses funding for family planning if it includes the distribution of condoms. It's a good thing that unprotected sex doesn't spread Aids; oh my God it does!

Then he discusses the two phone calls that we didn't intercept before 9/11 as justification for the illegal expansion of NSA listening that has been most impressive in it's project Echelon with it's listening posts on the British countryside, in Australia and elsewhere in the First World. How about the warnings from the Phoenix office of the FBI, shouldn't we have a major program on literacy and attentiveness for the various three letter intelligence agencies?

Now to the most hypocritical falsehood of all. This President claimed to be shrinking government by saying he had cut out of the budget many "Non Security Essential Programs". You know which programs these are. Assistance to working families, Tricare for Veterans and their dependents, staff for Labor law enforcement and Environmental Protection. Thankfully he still adminsiters through his countryclub appointees the largest expansion of government, maintaining an unbalanced budget, and making his friends rich beyond even their expectations.

This is a Liar, Criminal, and a blot on the reputation of this country. He must be impeached and that will require elected members of congress who are courageous, principled, and willing to represent the american public rather than special interests.


spare the rod, spoil the senator

I'm starting to realize why the Right thinks we're so ridiculous.

Since the Alito debacle yesterday, I've received dozens of self-congratulatory emails from various progressive groups, crowing over "the difference we made", followed by another deluge of emails urging me to thank the Democratic senators who were strong and brave and independent-minded enough to support a filibuster.

Folks, we didn't make that much of a difference, because we didn't conjure up enough votes for a filibuster. And the Democratic senators who supported the filibuster were simply doing their job, which is carrying out the will of their constituents.

In our dealings with ourselves and our elected representatives, we resemble nothing as much as those apocryphal liberal parents that O'Reilly and Limbaugh are always trotting out: the ones who are so politically correct and so worried about irreparably damaging their offspring's precious self-esteem that they've banned booing at Little League games and forbidden teachers from giving out gold stars to exceptional students lest it make the others feel inadequate and harm their burgeoning little egos.

The Right doesn't believe in nurturing kids with unconditional positive regard. The Right believes in discipline, tough love, if you don't punish them they'll never learn, and that there's nothing wrong with a kid that can't be fixed with a good, swift kick in the pants. While I think this is an abhorrent way to raise children, I think it's a pretty damn good way to deal with our legislators. They're grownups. Their psyches are already damaged. THEY'RE IN POLITICS. How could any one of us do anything worse to their spirits than they're already done themselves in the name of advancing their careers?

Look, I don't want to have to reason with Dianne Feinstein. I don't want to have to threaten her, cajole her, or bribe her. I don't want to send her a flowery little email thanking her for doing what she was supposed to. Because the truth is, she didn't do enough. We're supposed to thank these people because they grudgingly agreed to go along with a filibuster, only after we deluged them with emails, faxes, and phone calls? Why weren't they behind the scenes, twisting arms and using their influence to get their more recalcitrant colleagues on board? I'm sorry, but I have trouble believing that getting 41 votes for the Alito filibuster isn't something that they could have accomplished if they had really wanted to.

And we're left tearing our hair out, wondering why we can't achieve that lock-step unity that the Right manages so effortlessly while we email our Senators and thank them so profusely for doing so little. George Lakoff may be right about the Left, that we subscribe to the nurturing parent model, and that's a great way to raise kids. But I think it's time we started teaching our elected representatives a lesson with a good, swift kick in the pants. Because if you don't punish them, how will they ever learn?

Norm Ornstein, Part 2


We look forward -- cough, cough -- to tonight's State of the Union. As you may know, "customarily one member of the president's cabinet does not attend. This precaution is taken to provide continuity in the presidency in the event a catastrophe were to result in the death or disablement of the president, the vice president and other officials in the line of presidential succession gathered in the house chamber."

In addition, as a result of cursory post-9/11 thinking, starting in 2003 two members of each house of Congress, representing both parties, have also been absent in order to ensure some continuity.

No, no, no! says Norm Ornstein. You're all in denial and missing the big picture. If a catastrophe in D.C. wipes out the president and a sizeable part of the executive branch and/or a sizeable part of Congress, we are in deep doo-doo, ill-prepared for the Constitutional chaos that will ensue. There is no realistic plan in place to deal with this -- Constitutional or otherwise -- and nobody in power seems willing to deal with it seriously.

Despite initial consensus after 9/11 that something should be done, following the creation of and report from the Continuity of Government Commission, no actions have been taken.

(I know many of you are thinking that that kind of catastrophe might be just what we need, but be careful what you wish for.)

This is both tragic and fascinating... the inability of our leaders to plan regarding their own demise, especially in an era of so-called "homeland security". Read more at the Commission website, an Ornstein article in Roll Call and a Michelle Cottle article in the June, 2003 Atlantic Magazine "Norman Ornstein's Doomsday Scenario."


Cartoon from Clay Bennett, Christian Science Monitor

When Norman J. Ornstein Talks, I Listen


Norman Ornstein has been analyzing Washington politics for over 30 years. At his home think tank, the often right-to-far-right leaning American Enterprise Institute (AEI), he's the exception. The one who seems to be the token liberal, but that's only in comparison to his AEI associates, such as Newt Gingrich, Richard Perle, David Frum, John Yoo and Irving Kristol.

Dr. Ornstein is very much a centrist. In fact, in many ways he's non-partisan. What he does best is cut through the crap of policy and governance issues. It just happens that the overwhelming majority of the crap coming out of Washington these days is coming from the majority Republicans.... and this crap far, far exceeds the type and magnitude of the crap that the Democrats may have given us when they were in power.

(I'll also add that he's very much a gentlemen, as evidenced by his promptly responding to phone messages and emails that I left for him last fall.)

In a recent NY Times op-ed, Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann of the Brookings Institution offered their take on the real issue underlying congressional corruption (and other) scandals.

It all comes down to a lack of respect for rules and custom. I quote and paraphrase here (but check out the original op-ed):

"...this is not simply a problem of a rogue lobbyist or a pack of them. Nor is it a matter of a handful of disconnected, corrupt lawmakers taking favors in return for official actions.

The problem starts not with lobbyists but inside Congress. Over the past five years, the rules and norms that govern Congressional deliberation, debate and voting - what legislative aficionados call "the regular order" - have routinely been violated, especially in the House of Representatives, and in ways that mark a dramatic break from custom.

  • Roll call votes on the House floor, which are supposed to take 15 minutes, are frequently stretched to one, two or three hours. (House rules don't set a maximum period of 15 minutes for most roll call votes. But since the advent of electronic voting in 1973, 15 minutes has been the norm.)
  • Rules forbidding any amendments to bills on the floor have proliferated, stifling dissent and quashing legitimate debate.
  • Omnibus bills, sometimes thousands of pages long, are brought to the floor with no notice, let alone the 72 hours the rules require.
  • Conference committees exclude minority members and cut deals in private, sometimes even adding major provisions after the conference has closed.
  • Majority leaders still pressure members who object to the chicanery to vote yea in the legislation's one up-or-down vote.
  • The majority Republicans bypass normal procedures and ignore objections that parliamentary rules have been violated. They then reframe substantive issues as procedural matters that demand party discipline.

What has all this got to do with corruption? If you can play fast and loose with the rules of the game in lawmaking, it becomes easier to consider playing fast and loose with everything else, including relations with lobbyists, acceptance of favors, the use of official resources and the discharge of governmental power.

The original op-ed here....

Clean Money.... Before & After

Before: California

The California Clean Money Bill and Fair Elections Act (AB 583) passed the State Assembly on Monday by a vote of 47 to 26. On to the State Senate..... Details here.

After: Arizona

From AP: A little-noticed news
item from last Friday....

An Arizona legislator has been removed from office for overspending during his 2004 primary race, making him the first lawmaker in the country to be ousted for violating a state's public campaign financing system.

After a five-month court battle, the Arizona Supreme Court on Thursday ordered first-term Republican Rep. David Burnell Smith to leave office at midnight.

Read on...

Image copyright Grinning Planet

Monday, January 30, 2006

an open letter to the democratic party

Dear Senators:
Go fuck yourselves.

No, that's too easy. How about...


Dear John, Hillary, Charles, Patrick, Harry, Joe, Joe, Bob, Evan, Russ, Dianne, and all the rest of you:
I've had it. I want out.
That's right. I want out of my relationship with you and your cowardly, ineffective, let's-move-toward-the-center, GOP-whipped party. I'm ashamed to be associated with you. You're too afraid to be yourself.

See, I don't care if you come across as liberal. The more liberal you were, the more I loved you. But then you tried to make everybody else love you, too. I mean, I loved President Clinton because he was all I had. I spent eight years in denial believing he was still mine, while the whole time he was cutting welfare and approving NAFTA just so he could flirt with the center.

Well, he's gone now, and I've gotten used to being on my own. I don't need to be with a party that embarrasses me just so I won't be alone. I have to start thinking about myself now, since I can't count on you to support me. And I'm not even talking about financial support; I mean, I've been the one giving you money all these years, every time you asked. Never mind that my student loans have been cut, I can't find a decent paying job because the market is so bad that I can't find work in my field, and you can't even get it together enough to raise the minimum wage. I could forgive you for that.

Or that watching you stand there and let the Bush administration destroy my country makes me so upset that I need to be on antidepressants, which cost me $150 a month because I can't get health insurance because I'm on antidepressants. I could even overlook that.

But you couldn't even put together enough support IN OUR OWN PARTY to continue debate about Alito???????????? How could you, after all we've been through together? Remember that time when I was 2 weeks late and I was so thankful to you that you had fought for my right to choose? Or that other time, when...uhhh...hmmm. See? I can't even remember anything else you've done for me.

So, that's it. There's really nothing left to say. You can come by and pick up your bumper stickers and your old Kerry-Edwards t-shirts. I'm keeping all the Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky books and Springsteen CDs because I don't think you'll be needing them. And please don't try to call or get in touch. I don't want this to get ugly.

Leah Krinsky Atkins

Cloture, etc.

On Alito cloture vote: Aye 72, Nay 25

Shameful.

I'm taking the rest of the day off. But....

ReddHedd at Firedoglake is already gearing for the next fight. Don't know how she does it, but you go Christy! (Jane too. If you don't know their amazing site, put it on your must read list, now!)
Okay, so it's obvious there is cloture today. It sucks. But it happens in the big leagues that sometimes you lose an inning. That doesn't mean you stop playing, it just means you take a deep breath and go back to the dugout for some fresh plays.

All this Faxing and phone calling and e-mailing...has scared the bejeebers out of the Washington establishment over the last couple of weeks. You know why? It came from a true grassroots movement. From anger, from true concern, from patriotism -- from a wellspring of individual citizens who cared enough about their nation to get off their butts and do something.

That is a lot of power waiting to be harnassed, folks.

And the powers that be that have controlled Washington, D.C., aren't the ones in the driver's seat of this vehicle. The citizens of this nation are. Something out of their control entirely -- a group of angry citizens who know how to use communications tools, and who aren't going to just sit by and be silent any longer.

If they think the Alito battle is the only one we're willing to fight, they can think again. This was merely the first skirmish.

Ralph Reed can take his mis-used, duped letter writing brigade -- because I'll take a well-informed, personally invested, intelligent and motivated group of people like every single one of our readers any day of the week.

You think we're just going to slink away, tail between our legs and wallow in a little setback? Hell no. Here's the news of the day: the American public is wide awake. And we're pissed.

And we're gearing up for the next round. Oh, George? FISA/NSA hearings begin on February 6th -- and Glenn Greenwald has some questions for you.

That's as good a place to start as any. Who's with me?

Happy Birthday, Mr. Vice President

In all the hubbub, let's not forget that Dick Cheney turns 65 today. Hugs and kisses.


Friday, January 27, 2006

Howard Dean on Today Show

Katie asks Howard "What do you think -- in 30 seconds -- the Democratic Party stand for?"

Answered in 30 seconds, yes. Obviously given considerably thought beforehand, good.
  1. American jobs that'll stay in America, using energy independence to generate those jobs.
  2. A strong national defense based on telling the truth to our citizens, our soldiers and our allies.
  3. Honesty and integrity to be restored to government.
  4. A health care system that works for everybody just like they have in 36 other countries.
  5. A strong public education system, so we can have optimism and opportunity back in America
Crooks and Liars has the whole interview video. (This exchange starts at about 3:50.)

Given the importance, we can debate the exact list and the exact wording, but getting this into a concise, understandable list is critical and welcome. So shouldn't this be prominently displayed on the main page of the DNC web site (and elsewhere)? It isn't.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Kerry Calls For Alito Filibuster


Do your part here and here.

What's Wrong With This Picture?


Oprah tears a new one in author James Frey because he lied and it's all over the news, local and national.

W lies every time he opens his mouth, and our media yawns.


At today's news conference (from NYT):

Mr. Bush took issue with a questioner who asked why he felt the need to circumvent the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires court warrants for wiretaps.

"Wait a minute," Mr. Bush said. "That's a — there's something — it's like saying, you know, 'You're breaking the law.' I'm not." He said that the surveillance act "was written in 1978" and that now "it's a different world."


In 1791, the Bill of Rights was adopted into the U.S. Constitution. It's now even more of "a different world" than in 1791..... so perhaps the Bill of Rights should be ignored too.

Wait. Oh, shit.....

Photo source: Late Night With Conan O'Brian, (New U.S. Stamps)

Diversions For a Thursday Afternoon

OK, I admit that I watch American Idol.... sorta. (Simon has been particularly cruel this year, and both Paula and Randy have been acting kinda strangely too. So, I tape the show and then fast-forward through the commercials and the nonsense.)

That said.... one of the early favorites is Sherman Oaks (my hometown) resident Katharine McPhee (audition song "God Bless the Child"). "Goin' to Hollywood" for her means just ambling down the 101 a piece.

* * * * * * * * *

The Best Way To Travel
(Moody Blues/Michael Pinder)

And you can fly, high as a kite if you want to.
Faster than light if you want to.
Speeding through the universe,
Thinking is the best way to travel.

It's all a dream, light passing by on a screen.
And there's you and I on a beam.
Speeding through the universe,
Thinking is the best way to travel.

Listen to song (MP3)

Diebold: "No! It's My Ball. Go Away!"

From Anchorage Daily News: Alaska Democrats are being refused their request to examine the raw 2004 election data by state election officials and... ta da!.... Diebold.

The state Division of Elections has refused to turn over its electronic voting files to the Democrats, arguing that the data format belongs to a private company and can't be made public.

The Alaska Democratic Party says the information is a public record essential for verifying the accuracy of the 2004 general election and must be provided.

The official vote results from the last general election are riddled with discrepancies and impossible for the public to make sense of, the Democrats said Monday. A detailed analysis of the underlying data could answer lingering questions about an election many thought was over more than a year ago, they say.

"Basically what they say is they want to give us a printout from the (electronic) file. They don't want to give us the file itself. It doesn't enable us to get to the bottom of what we need to know," said Kay Brown, spokeswoman for the party. "At this point, it's impossible to say whether the correct candidates were declared the winner in all Alaska races from 2004." The private contractor hired to provide Alaska's electronic voting machines is Diebold Election Systems. It has told Alaska officials it owns the "structure of the database" though the data itself is public.
.
.
.
In a Jan. 6 e-mail, Diebold's lawyer, Charles R. Owen, told (elections director Whitney) Brewster that "the structure of the database file ... is proprietary information."

Perhaps, but it's not secret. Anyone can examine Diebold's format on a Web site set up by activists who have been raising questions about the company, the Alaska Democrats said.

"Copies of these kinds of files have been sitting on the Internet for over two years, with Diebold's knowledge," said Jim March, an investigator with Black Box Voting, a private organization that calls itself a national consumer protection group for voters.

Read full story...
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Related follow-up: The Brad Blog comments on The Washington Post finally reporting about the hacked Diebold machines in Leon County, Florida test.

Democracy on the March



NYTimes: Hamas Wins Clear Majority in Palestinian Elections
Hmmmm.

Corruption, fanaticism, corruption, terrorism, murder, fanaticism, corruption...

Choices, choices, choices. What's a voter to do?

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Update..... Note article from last month:

Bush to Blame for Hamas Popularity, Catholic Cleric Says
By Julie Stahl
CNSNews.com Jerusalem Bureau Chief

The top Roman Catholic clergyman in Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority areas blamed the policies of President Bush for an increase in the popularity among Palestinians of the terrorist group Hamas.

Read on....

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Guess Who Won't Be Invited To The WH Xmas Party This Year

A.G. Gonzales speaks at Georgetown University Law School:

As he spoke, more than a dozen students stood silently with their backs turned to the attorney general. Outside the classroom where Gonzales was to speak, a pair of protesters held up a sheet that said, "Don't torture the Constitution."

Outstanding!

AP story....

Just Wonderin'....


So when W proclaims publicly that a court order is of course necessary to listen in on private conversations, knowing full well that his administration has for years brazenly ignored the U.S. Constitution and the FISA laws untold numbers of times, could we refer to these actions as illegal liartaps?

Damned Diebold At It Again!

In a press release issued yesterday, Diebold claimed that "California Tests Find Diebold Touch-Screen Voting 100 Percent Accurate During November 2005 Election":
A report released by the California Secretary of State in early January indicates that the Diebold Election Systems touch-screen voting systems used in California proved to be 100 percent accurate during the thorough Parallel Monitoring accuracy testing conducted during the November 8, 2005 statewide election. A directive from the California Secretary of State requires Parallel Monitoring accuracy testing of all touch-screen voting systems during each election conducted within the state.
That's just hunky dory for Diebold. Except for one small problem. According to experts at VerifiedVoting.org, Parallel Monitoring accuracy testing ain't all it's cracked up to be (PDF file - scroll down to page 4, though the entire letter makes interesting reading). And Parallel Monitoring is not to be confused with parallel elections, in which citizens volunteer their time to conduct wholly transparent elections running in tandem with official elections. (More info on parallel elections can be found at Voterescue.org.)

Don't let Diebold lead the discussion in election accuarcy and reliability. We need to be the ones in control, not them.

Bowen Hearing Illuminates Voting Problems

As reported last week, State Senator Debra Bowen held hearings regarding transparency of voting systems in California and compliance with HAVA deadlines. As usual, Brad Blog submitted an entry which covers all the salient points. Concerning, though not at all surprising, were problems that were highlighted by the hearings (as reported by Ian Hoffman):

-Sequoia Voting Systems' computers don't reliably add in certain rare primary votes.

-Election Systems & Software's computers sometimes count more ballots than voters and can record the wrong choice for voters with long fingernails.

-Optical scanners made by Diebold Election Systems can be hacked (and so possibly can scanners sold by other vendors.)
What is even more concerning, but, again, not surprising, is the attitude of a number of registrars across the state, as evidenced by rather idiotic comments by Debbie Hench, San Joaquin Registrar of Voters:
"These meetings are tearing the (voters') confidence apart. They're saying every system is bad," complained Debbie Hench, San Joaquin County registrar of voters, in a legislative hearing.

"I'm sorry you feel scrutiny and transparency is bad," said Debra Bowen, D-Marina del Rey, chairwoman of the Senate Elections and Reapportionment Committee. But, she said, making a clean breast of voting problems is essential for fixing them and regaining the voter trust that has been in decline since the 2000 presidential elections.

"If you just tell people, 'Trust us, we'll make it all go away,' that's not the way you establish confidence," said Bowen, a Democratic contender for secretary of state.
From my own experience with watching L.A. County's Registrar of Voters, Conny McCormack, deal with the same sort of attempt to shed light on the truth about Diebold, Sequoia and ES&S, such petulance from many Californian registrars is quite common. How dare we, in an attempt to make certain fair elections are the rule and not the exception, make their lives difficult! Debra Bowen and all concerned voters are just bad people!

Debbie and Conny, I've got one thing to say to you: can't handle the heat? Get out of the damned kitchen and let real chefs take control. We don't need no cooking school dropouts.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Osama and Ike

"...if you compare the small number of dead on the day that Bush announced the end of major operations in that fake, ridiculous show aboard the aircraft carrier with the tenfold number of dead and wounded who were killed in the smaller operations, you would know the truth...This is that Bush and his administration do not have the will or the ability to get out of Iraq for their own private, suspect reasons. " Osama bin Laden, 1/20/06

What does it say about our leadership when bin Laden starts sounding like a pretty reasonable guy?


Saw the documentary "Why We Fight" last night. I was especially impressed with its narrative structure, which interweaves several different themes. The two most compelling are the story of a NYC cop who lost his son on 9/11 and the background of Dwight Eisenhower's farewell address in which he warns against the growing Military-Industrial Complex. By today's standards, Eisenhower would be considered a raging liberal. I wonder how the right would Swift-Boat him? Dig up a picture of him and Stalin where he's smiling a little too broadly at one of Stalin's jokes? Suggest that the invasion of Normandy made him appear pro-French? Hint that the slogan "I Like Ike" sounds a little gay? Bastards.

But I digress. Go see the movie.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Hurting the Troops' Morale

I attended last night's Iraq panel at the church in Hollywood. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that at some point during the stirring calls to action, I started looking around at the crowd and my mind wandered to this imaginary scenario...

IRAQ, JANUARY, 2005. A MARINE ENCAMPMENT. 4 BIG, MEAN-LOOKING, TATOOED JARHEADS ARE SITTING IN A CIRCLE, STARING DISCONSOLATELY AT THE GROUND AS THEIR C.O. BROWBEATS THEM.

C.O. Am I hearing right??????? Are you men shitting me?????? What in sweet Jesus, Joseph, and Mary's name is going on here?????????

MARINE 1: We're not going on patrols today, sir.

MARINE 2: What's the point?

C.O. What's the point???? The point is, you're Marines. You're here fighting for this pissant country's freedom.

MARINE 3: I know, sir. We're the toughest, meanest killing machines in the armed forces...

MARINE 1: ...blah, blah, blah.

MARINE 4: Sure, we're in top physical condition, we've been trained to withstand inhuman conditions and still come out fighting...

MARINE 2: (CHOKING BACK A SOB) But nobody told us there'd be protesters!

C.O. Protesters?????????? What in Satan's balls are you talking about????

MARINE 1: Protesting the war...back in the States. Little old ladies, retirees...

MARINE 3: Single women who own lots of cats...

MARINE 4: (BURSTING INTO TEARS) Soccer moms!!!!!!!

HE WEEPS AS THE OTHER MARINES COMFORT HIM.

MARINE 4: I'm so demoralized.

MARINE 2: Me, too.

C.O. SITS DOWN ON THE GROUND, SHAKEN.

C.O.: I'm sorry, men. I had no idea. Those heartless bastards.

MARINE 3: Sir, would you like to listen to some Fiona Apple? She really helps.

C.O. Yeah, bring it on.

SOMEONE HITS "PLAY" ON A BOOMBOX. FIONA APPLE SINGS AS THE MEN STARE AT THE GROUND.

END.

Start At Home


From AP
: The Senate may be the place for some former first ladies, but President Bush on Thursday categorically ruled out a run for office by his wife, Laura Bush.

"She's not interested in running for office. She's interested in literacy," Bush said...

Read on.... (if you must)


Image: Bravery (Girl With Pet Goat) © 2004 Scott G. Brooks

Diversion For a Thursday Afternoon


Ozymandias*
Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
written 1818

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said:—Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

* Any similarity to any person living or currently in power is strictly coincidental.

Jack Who???

Tuesday's White House press briefing, conducted by presidential spokesliar Scott McClellan....

Q: Scott, just quickly back to
Abramoff. Can you give any more specificity on those meetings, when they were, years, times?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, this is sticking with our past policy. We're not going to engage in a fishing expedition.

Q: Not even years? I mean,
you're talking about --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the Hanukkah receptions were back in 2001 and 2002.

Q: Okay, you talked about the Hanukkah receptions. Can you talk about the staff-level meetings and what years those were, or --

MR. McCLELLAN: No --

Q: And why would you tell us the Hanukkah --

MR. McCLELLAN: I did a check for you all, to provide you that information. But we're not going to engage in a fishing expedition. I know that there are some that want to do that. But I don't see any reason to do so.

Q: Can you explain why you wouldn't want it out there?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, this has been in keeping with past practice, in terms of what -- in similar incidents. In terms of why we wouldn't want what out there?

Q: Why wouldn't you want to just clear up who these meetings were with, who was there, who wasn't --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think there are some people that are insinuating things based on no evidence whatsoever. I said if you have a specific issue of concern, then we'll be glad to take a look into that. But no one has brought anything like that to my attention.

Q: You could clear up all the insinuation that you say is going on?

MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said, people are insinuating things based on no evidence whatsoever. And remember, this is a gentleman who contributed, either through himself or through his clients, to both Democrats and Republicans. This was not --

Q: Not many Democrats.

MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, there's significant amount, if you look at some of the media reports, that has been contributed by his clients to Democrats.

Q: Far more Republicans.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, and Senators Richard Durbin, Charles Schumer and Debbie Stabenow have written to President Bush asking him to explain the White House’s numerous connections to indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and to disclose further unknown ties so that the American people can be assured that the White House is not for sale.

Read the letter....

Keep the pressure on.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

BTW...

The $20 Banana Note reported here previously sold for $25,300 at auction.

Speaking of Ethics

Last week, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Department of Justice against Congressman Jerry Lewis (R-CA, 41st CD), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

According to the public letter posted on CREW's website:
The complaint asks the Attorney General to have the Public Integrity Section initiate an investigation into the relationship between Rep. Lewis and lobbyist Bill Lowery and Mr. Lowery’s firm, Copeland Lowery Jacquez Denton & White.

A recent story in the San Diego Union-Tribune asserts that Rep. Lewis, as Chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, has approved hundreds of millions of dollars in federal projects for Mr. Lowery’s clients. In apparent return, Mr. Lowery, his partners, and his firm’s clients have donated 37% of the $1.3 million that Rep. Lewis’s political action committee has received over the past six years.

In addition, at least one staffer has moved back and forth between Rep. Lewis’s and Mr. Lowery’s offices: Jeffrey Shockey left Rep. Lewis’s employ in 1999 after which he joined Mr. Lowery’s lobbying firm. He remained with the firm until 2005, when he left to return to work for Rep. Lewis. When he left, Mr. Lowery’s firm hired Mr. Shockey’s wife, Alexandra, to represent some of her husband’s old clients, with the result that on behalf of her husband’s former partners, she now lobbies staffers who work for her husband.

CREW is seeking a Department of Justice investigation, in part, because the House Ethics Committee has abdicated its responsibility to police and investigate the conduct of Members of the House of Representatives, leaving only the Department of Justice to stand between the integrity of Congress and the rule of cronyism and opportunism.

CREW letter to Attorney General Gonzales (pdf format).

Democrat Louie Contreras is challenging Lewis in the 2006 41st Congressional District election. (The 41st CD covers most of San Bernardino County.)

Voting Security Hearings Happening NOW!

Just received this blast:
Here is information on how to listen to today’s hearings that Senator Bowen is holding on the topic of vote security and issues with electronic voting machines.

The hearings are on NOW!

The hearing isn’t on television.

People can go to this link, http://www.assembly.ca.gov/committee_hearings, then click on "Broadcast Room List," then click on Room 447.
Check it out.

ACTION ALERT: Encourage An Alito Filibuster!

Even though the confirmation vote on Samuel A. Alito Jr. has been delayed until next week, there are actions that need to be taken by activists NOW. Senator Ben Nelson (D) of Nebraska has said he'll vote to confirm Alito and our own Senator Dianne Feinstein has said, though she'll vote against Alito, she doesn't support a filibuster against him, even though his documented record in regards to an issue dear to her heart - female reproductive rights - is is a troubling one.

Now is the time to call your senators to encourage them to filibuster the Alito confirmation. For Californians, from PDA and Rainbow Push Coalition:
Sen. Feinstein needs to hear from us on Alito On Sunday's Face the Nation, Sen. Feinstein stated, "I don't see those kinds of egregious things emerging that would justify a filibuster" of Alito's nomination, despite her belief that the justice he would most resemble if confirmed is Antonin Scalia. Pick up the phone right away and ask Sen. Feinstein to stop making statements that take off the table any options for stopping this tragic nomination. Call Senator Dianne Feinstein Today!

Fresno: 559-485-7430
Los Angeles: 310-914-7300
San Diego: 619-231-9712
San Francisco: 415-393-0707
Please let us know you called!

Let Sen. Feinstein know that you expect her to do whatever it takes to stop the Alito nomination.

Alito's record is clear: he will likely condone the abuse of power by the president, vote to overturn Roe v. Wade , and help curtail Congress' ability to protect the health, safety and welfare of the American people. Tell Sen. Feinstein that Alito's record alone is "egregious," and you're counting on her to do whatever it takes to stop his confirmation.

Call Senator Dianne Feinstein Today!!!

Laugh of the Day

"We need to reform the rules so that it is clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what is ethically acceptable," Speaker Hastert said at the unveiling of his lobbying reform package. He and Rep. David Dreier will be crafting legislation....


"The idea of Republicans reforming themselves is like asking John Gotti to clean up organized crime"
-Sen. Harry Reid press release

More, much more on so-called "ethics reforms" at Progress Report.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Don't do as I do; believe the lie that I say...

It is truly preposterous that the President today said the following and expected us to believe what he said versus the havoc and damage that his administration does every day.

President Bush hailed Martin Luther King Jr. Monday as one of the greatest Americans who ever lived, but said more must be done to ensure that his dream of equality becomes a reality.

This President who allows working class men and women to die in a fruitless and tragic conflict in Iraq, and who failed when tested in response to the devastation of Katrina. This President who piles debt upon debt destroying the infrastructure that would further the dream and aspirations of Dr. King. This President who places a Black in a high profile position in his cabinet, but disenfranchises minority voters in Florida, Ohio and Michigan neighborhoods. His actions have so balkanized the American people that minority rights and desires are dashed on the shores of political expediency. He can no more expect us to believe his disengenious statements than we can deny his blatant dishonesty and illegal actions that merit being summarily impeached.

Consitution in Crisis, A Bi-partisan and Non-partisan Assessment


You may not hear about this much in the "mainstream media." Al Gore addressing the American Constitution Society on the threat to the Constitution from President Bush's domestic wiretap policy:

"I'd like to start by saying that Congressman Bob Barr and I have disagreed many times over the years. But we have joined together today with thousands of our fellow citizens, Democrats and Republicans alike, to express our shared concern that America's Constitution is in grave danger.

In spite of our differences over ideology and politics, we are in strong agreement that the American values we hold most dear have been placed at serious risk by the unprecedented claims of the administration to a truly breathtaking expansion of executive power.

As we begin this new year, the executive branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress precisely to prevent such abuses. It is imperative that respect for the rule of law be restored in our country.

And that is why many of us have come here to Constitution Hall to sound an alarm and call upon our fellow citizens to put aside partisan differences insofar as it is possible to do so and join with us in demanding that our Constitution be defended and preserved.

It is appropriate that we make this appeal on the day our nation has set aside to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who challenged America to breathe new life into our oldest values by extending its promise to all of our people.

And on this particular Martin Luther King Day it is especially important to recall for that for the last several years of his life Dr. King was illegally wiretapped, one of hundreds of thousands of Americans whose private communications were intercepted by the U.S. government during that period.

The FBI privately labeled King the -- and I quote -- "the most dangerous and effective negro leader in the country" and vowed to -- again, I quote -- "take him off his pedestal."

The government even attempted to destroy his marriage and tried to blackmail him into committing suicide. This campaign continued until Dr. King's murder.

Continue with full transcript...

Video of speech at C-SPAN.

Thank you, sir. If only more people had the guts to speak up.

MLK

"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than
sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

Martin Luther King Jr.
(Jan. 15, 1929 - Apr. 4, 1968)
Strength to Love, 1963

It Isn't a GATE; it's a Constitutional Crisis

Let's cut to the chase. Before "_____Gate" became overused and often redundant; there was President Richard Nixon and his resignation when facing impeachment!

He wiretapped reporters and opponents and used the IRS and other intelligence agencies to harass and look at what became the "White House Enemies List". Articles of Impeachment were brought to the House of Representatives, and Senate Hearings were held. He resigned under national pressure.

President Bush II has used illegal authority to target the entire population as open to domestic spying, wiretapping, recording faxes and e-mail traffic without the Legally created FISA secret tribunal. Notwithstanding anyone's opposition to the Patriot Act's more onerous provisions; the White House has them. There is no excuse for the President breaking the law. It is time to Impeach him and drive him from office.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Budget Deficit, Dishonesty Surplus


Administration predicts that the federal budget deficit will rise back above $400 billion for the fiscal year that ends in September.

From WaPo:
But some budget analysts cautioned that the estimate should be considered more of a political mark to inform the coming budget debate than an economic forecast.

This is the third straight year in which the White House has summoned reporters well ahead of the official budget release to project a higher-than-anticipated deficit. In the past two years, when final deficit figures have come in at record or near-record levels, White House officials have boasted that they had made progress, since the final numbers were below estimates.

"This administration has a history of overestimating the deficit early in the year, lowering expectations, then taking credit when it comes in below forecast," said Stanley E. Collender, a federal budget expert at Financial Dynamics Business Communications. "It's not just a history. It's almost an obsession."

Read on....

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Scoundrels are Afoot!

The President of the United States has been waving the flag of proper patriotism and trying to intimidate honest criticism of the boondoggle of Iraq by claiming that many of us who are opposed are giving aid and comfort to the enemy. The last time I looked I was supplying no aid or comfort to Halliburton, The Iraq Planning Group, or the liars that pushed us into a 'quicksand' conflict that is decimating the Iraqi population and killing countless American men and women in uniform.

Dr. Samuel Johnson stated:

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
and the way Patriotism is bannered by the right, it is the act of scoundrels.
We don't mean love of country, a committment to justice, and a desire to export the rights that may protect other nations. We mean the jingoistic, subversion of the best our nation used to offer, watered by the blood of young soldiers and the people of occupied Iraq. The Administration are liars, they manufactured and spun raw intelligence to show the world facts that were false! They attempted to marginalize a former Ambassador, Joe Wilson, when he reported that there was no effort to purchase 'yellow cake' uranium in Africa. They violated the law in stripping away the anoniminity of his wife as a CIA employee, and only the VP's lapdog former Chief of Staff "Scooter Libby" has taken the fall for that so far. When the US President only speaks at military bases, reminiscent of dictators like Fernando Marcos, who hid his last years on military installations; he is no better than any idealogue feigning democratic actions. When the President, Chicken Hawk that he is, attempts to call Veterans opposed to the policies in Iraq, traitors; he is no better than a Madame DeFarge sitting by the Guillotine! When the President, says we are staying the course while elections are engineered in a country originally designed by Britain; he is twarting the wishes of the Kurds and the Sunnis to possibly form three nations where one is cobbled today! When the President states that this war has nothing to do with Petroleum resources; the world knows he is patently dishonest. When the culture in Washington as promulgated by the Republican leadership is bereft of honesty, laiden with corruption, and the wishes of Americans are scoffed at; it is time for a sea change!

This President has proudly admitted to breaking the law, and John Dean, former White House Counsel in the Nixon White House, has stated that he is the first President to publically admit to an impeachable offense, what more needs to be said. The charge that leads to a Bill of Impeachment is the commission of High Crimes and Misdemeanors! Now is the time to drive the scoundrels out as they are afoot upon the land!

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

Click here first before you read the post. (Just do it.)

From WaPo:

Criminal investigators at the Internal Revenue Service froze more than 120,000 taxpayers' refunds last year on suspicion of fraud without notifying the taxpayers or giving them a chance to respond, the national taxpayer advocate said in a report released yesterday.

The advocate's office, which is part of the IRS, looked at a sample of taxpayers who complained that they never received their refunds. In two-thirds of those cases, there was no evidence of fraud. Many of the returns were filed by low-income workers, including some who claimed the earned-income tax credit, which sometimes entitles filers to a cash payment on top of their refunds.

The median adjusted gross income of taxpayers who were found to have committed "no fraud" was $13,330, and the median income of those who claimed the earned-income tax credit was $11,956. The median refund received was $3,685, which represented significant income for the taxpayers involved, said Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson in her annual report to lawmakers on problem areas in tax administration.

Based on data from fiscal 2004, the Taxpayer Advocate Service estimated that as many as 1.6 million refunds have been frozen by the IRS's Criminal Investigation (CI) division over five years.

"At a minimum, this procedure constitutes an extraordinary violation of fundamental taxpayer rights and fairness. In our view, it may also constitute a violation of due process of law," said Olson of the IRS's freezing of refunds without giving taxpayers notice or the opportunity to defend themselves.

Read on....

Now click again. Thanx, and have a good one!

Tipping Point


I won't make any value judgments (just yet) regarding whether on an objective level things are about to get very good or very bad for this nation, or whether on a subjective level things are about to get very good or very bad for any of us individually.

But I will predict that life in the U.S. (and the world) as we've come to know and rely on it is at the tipping point of monumental change.

But what am I saying? Don't mind me..... by all means, go get your nails done.

Crying Macho Woman


The weepy Martha-Ann Alito made me think of "Crying Macho Man", a comic book that often skewers the adminstration, written and drawn by a friend, Jose Cabrera. (The fact that the latest drawing appeared in my inbox just before the event had nothing to do with it.)

I don't doubt that Ms. Alito's reactions were sincere, but what person of goodwill could not have doubts about the way the situation was typically reported, or of the evasive Mr. Alito?

A related aside.... I'm starting to read psychologist/philosopher Erich Fromm's seminal work "Escape From Freedom" (1941), which examines in an historical context why despite human beings longing for freedom, we fear nothing more than that freedom.

Now You're Talking!

Now that the Alito hearings have proven to be nothing more than political theater... and really bad, bad theater at that, Joe Biden's idea just be the most notable comment of the week:

From AP:
Supreme Court nominees are so mum about the major legal issues at their Senate confirmation hearings that the hearings serve little purpose and should probably be abandoned, Democratic Sen. Joe Biden said Thursday.

"The system's kind of broken," said Biden, a member of the Judiciary Committee considering the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito. "Nominees now, Democrat and Republican nominees, come before the United States Congress and resolve not to let the people know what they think about the important issues," such as a president's authority to go to war, said Biden.

As the committee headed into its fourth day of hearings on the Alito nomination, Biden told NBC's "Today" show that a better solution might be to skip hearings and send nominations straight to the Senate floor for a vote.

Read on...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Bush Man


A Bush Man all the way, i.e. L-L-L-L-L-L-Liar.


Well, yes, he is lying, but I wanted to ask other people the same question. So, during the lunch break, I went down to the press area with Tim Tagaris, armed with only a single question:

"Do you believe Judge Alito is telling the truth about his association with Concerned Alumni for Princeton?"

I managed to ask the question to the Presidents of three major advocacy organizations, and also to Senator Durbin. Here were the responses:

  • Ralph Neas of People for the American Way said that Alito's response to this line of questioning was "not credible." Mr. Neas added that he personally remembered the 1980's pretty well, including what organizations he was involved with at the time.
  • Nan Aron of the Alliance for Justice said that it is "hard to know what to believe" and she asked "how do you forget" being a member of an organization for eight or nine years. I had a simple response to this question that generated laughs among the people around me: "because he's lying."
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Alito is lying about his involvement with Concerned Alumni for Princeton, and the reason he is lying is because membership with such an organization demonstrates an embarrassing level of opposition to civil rights in this country that should disqualify someone from being a Supreme Court Justice. That he is unwilling to be truthful during his confirmation hearings further demonstrates just how unqualified he is.

Read on...

The Alito Myths

Progress Report analyzes the first day of Republican Senatorial spin in the Alito hearings:

CLAIM -- ALITO HAS SHOWN JUDICIAL RESTRAINT
FACT -- ALITO HAS A HISTORY OF LEGISLATING FROM THE BENCH
While on the federal bench, Alito has been more than willing to actively overstep judicial boundaries and overturn existing laws. Lawrence Lustberg, a criminal defense lawyer who has known Alito since 1981, described him as "an activist conservatist judge." In 1996, Alito was the sole dissenter in U.S. v. Rybar, arguing that Congress had no power under the Commerce Clause to ban fully automatic machine guns and demanding that "Congress be required to make findings showing a link between the regulation and its effect on interstate commerce, or that Congress or the president document such a link with empirical evidence."
Read on...

CLAIM -- ALITO HAS PUT HIS PERSONAL VIEWS ASIDE
FACT -- ALITO HAS PUSHED A CONSERVATIVE AGENDA
Alito's conservative politics -- going back to his days in the right-wing Concerned Alumni of Princeton group -- have appeared throughout his career. While applying for a job in the Reagan administration in 1985, Alito wrote that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion" and while in the Solicitor General's office, he was able to "help advance legal positions in which [he] personally believe[s] very strongly." These assertions were Alito's personal views, not the views of his employer.
Read on....

CLAIM -- ALITO HAS DECIDED EACH CASE ON AN INDIVIDUAL BASIS
FACT -- ALITO'S DECISIONS HAVE BEEN 'ALMOST UNIFORMLY CONSERVATIVE'
Legal scholar Cass Sunstein noted that Alito's 41 dissents as an appeals court judge "are almost uniformly conservative. In the overwhelming majority of cases, he has urged a more conservative position than that of his colleagues." Knight Ridder also found a clear pattern in a review of Alito’s 311 published opinions on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals: He has "seldom sided with a criminal defendant, a foreign national facing deportation, an employee alleging discrimination or consumers suing big businesses."
Read on....
Complete analysis and links at today's Progress Report....

Check Carol's previous post for links on what you can do.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

ACTION ALERT: Help Stop Alito!

As many of y'all no doubt know, the confirmation hearings for Judge Samuel Alito are starting on Monday, January 9, 2006. Think there's nothing you can do to affect the ultimate outcome? Well, think again, my friends! For those of you in Los Angeles County, a lunchtime rally will be held outside the US District Courthouse:
Monday, January 09, 2006 @ 12:00 PM-1:00 PM
U.S. District Courthouse
312 N. Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Can't make it to the rally? Check out SaveTheCourt.org for actions in your area, including phone banking and informing your Congresspeople of your positions. SaveTheCourt.org is also the one-stop-shop for Alito information, as is Moving Ideas. Excellent resources at both sites. If you want to throw your net even wider, then just give Googling a try and add your city or county to the search string.

Let's do what we can to stop Alito from ascending to the Supreme Court!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Let's Not Delay Ethical Reforms in Congress

The news today that Thom DeLay, Member of Congress from Texas, and the former Majority Leader for the House of Representatives; had stopped attempting to reclaim his leadership post is an example of better late then never.

Reuters

DeLay Abandons Bid to Remain House Leader

AP - 1 hour, 7 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Embattled Rep. Tom DeLay on Saturday abandoned his bid to remain as House majority leader, clearing the way for leadership elections among Republicans eager to shed the taint of scandal. In a letter to rank-and-file Republicans, DeLay said, "I have always acted in an ethical manner."

That the arrogance of power caused him to not only not just resign his leadership post, but to continue holding the House captive to his legal problems truly indicates his lack of regard to the legislative duties that his fellow congress members must deal with. Aristotle wrote many millenia ago "That power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" and his observation is sadly reinforced almost daily by the current partisan leadership in the Congress. You have the Senate Majority Leader, Dr. Bill Frist, not running for another term while under a cloud of suspicion. We all are listening to the Abramoff scandal with it's laundry list of members of congress, a majority of whom are Republican, who accepted massive political contributions with undeniable links to favorable pork barrel legislation or amendments to appropriation bills to favor clients with special treatment. This goes far beyond the position that as a Conservative my positions are in agreement with those who donate to my campaign to paraphrase an unidentified but sadly not atypical member of the leadership.

When you look at the neutering of the House Ethics Committee you realize that no one wanted to even consider reigning in this culture of indulgence, malfiesance, and votes for sale to not only the highest bidder, but the well connected. This is also an outgrowth of the "K Street Project" where the Republicans demanded that lobbying firms be sure that all employment be peopled with lobbyists whose partisan registration passed the RNC litmus test. Keep watch as we see this SELLING OF THE CONGRESS story unravel! Our fondest hope is that we might find a public outcry for true reform and a new class of members of congress that will reflect positively on a renewed committment to honest government like we saw in the Watergate class that brought us Patricia Schroeder, former congresswoman from Colorado, and others of like reputation to the Halls of Congress. Keep an eye on this blog as we write a continuing series on the "Selling of the Congress"!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Senator Debra Bowen to Hold Open Source Voting Hearings

Press release issued from State Senator Debra Bowen's office:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Evan Goldberg
January 5, 2006

BOWEN ANNOUNCES HEARINGS ON "OPEN SOURCE" VOTING SOFTWARE ISSUE FOR FEBRUARY OR MARCH

SACRAMENTO – The issue of whether California should be using electronic voting machine systems that rely on "open source software," instead of the traditional proprietary software being used today, will be addressed in a pair of public hearings by Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee.

"If we want people to have confidence that their votes are being counted accurately, the systems counties use to tally ballots need to be open, accessible, and completely transparent," said Bowen, a long-time open government advocate and the author of the 1993 measure that put all of the Legislature's bills, analyses, and voting records on the Internet. "Nationwide, only 48% of the people are confident their votes are actually being counted correctly or being counted at all and you don’t build confidence in our electoral system by leaving people in the dark. To restore people's faith in the system and ensure ballots are tallied accurately, we need to turn on the lights and let people see how their votes are being counted and protected."

The hearings will be held by March of this year, most likely in Sacramento and Silicon Valley. Members of the open source software community, county elections officials, voting machine vendors, and others will be invited to participate. "Open source software" has been around for several decades but it’s become more popular in recent years. Some of the more well-known names in the open source software world are Firefox (an Internet browser), Linux (an operating system), and Red Hat (which sells and supports a version of Linux for businesses).

"We've worked hard to make elections more transparent over the years by, for example, making it easier for voters to track campaign contributions, but when it comes to the fundamental issue of how the accuracy of the election results are ensured, voters are left completely in the dark," continued Bowen. "Open source software has the potential to make a critical – arguably the most critical – part of the electoral process open and transparent. We're in the middle of an intense discussion over whether Diebold's voting machines should or shouldn't be re-certified for use here in California for the 2006 elections. I want to look further ahead and study what alternatives there are to relying on proprietary software that can't be examined and has turned out to be fatally flawed."

Under California law, an exact copy of the source code for all ballot tally software must be placed in an escrow facility designated by the Secretary of State before a voting system can be certified for use in California. However, that source code is never revealed to the public. Using open source software will make the process more transparent because open source software, by definition, is open to public examination.

"We need to do away with the secrecy and the 'Trust us, we know what we're doing' approach the voting machine vendors and the Secretary of State are taking with this issue," continued Bowen. "Nearly two months ago, the Secretary of State discovered a problem with some Election Systems & Software (ES&S) voting machines and threatened to decertify them. Days later he announced the problem was fixed and ES&S was in the clear, but he still hasn't released any information on what the problems were with the machines, how ES&S proposed to fix those problems, or why voters should have any confidence in their solution. That's unacceptable and California voters deserve better."

###

Evan L. Goldberg
Chief of Staff
Senator Debra Bowen
(D-Redondo Beach)
I first met Debra Bowen at the California Democratic Convention in April (when I was but a baby activist), where I was impressed with her manner and her positions. My favorable view of her was strengthened when I happened to be seated next to her at an awards banquet in June and everything I've read since has only shown that Senator Bowen is one of the best people we Californians have working for us.

Guess who has my vote for Secretary of State this year?

(Keep an eye on these pages for updates on the hearings.)

Yes, We Have No $20 Bananas

From AP:
An ordinary fruit sticker that mysteriously ended up on a $20 bill could spur currency collectors to bid up to 1,000 times the bill's face value at an auction Friday.

The flawed bill bears a red, green and yellow Del Monte sticker next to Andrew Jackson's portrait. The bill originated at a U.S. Treasury Department printing facility in Fort Worth, but how the fruit tag found its way onto the greenback is unknown.
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In the case of the banana note, the seal and the serial number are both printed on top of the Del Monte sticker, meaning the fruit tag must have found its way onto the bill midway through the process, he said.

The note is all the more rare because the Bureau of Printing and Engraving diligently inspects and destroys flawed currency before it escapes the plant, Bradford said.

Read on....


After hearing about this I looked in my wallet and found this $10 bill. In place of "IN GOD WE TRUST" it says "IMPEACH BUSH". Oh, those whimsical engravers at the Bureau!!! Wonder how much it would be worth at auction.....

Photo Op


Bush & Co. "meet" with 13 former Secretaries of State and Defense. The whole story from The NY Times:
Colin Powell said nothing - a silence that spoke volumes to many in the White House today.

His predecessor, Madeleine Albright, was a bit riled after hearing an exceedingly upbeat 40-minute briefing to 13 living former secretaries of state and defense about how well things are going in Iraq. Saying the war in Iraq was "taking up all the energy" of President Bush's foreign policy team, she asked Mr. Bush whether he had let nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea spin out of control, and Latin America and China policy suffer by benign neglect.

"I can't let this comment stand," Mr. Bush shot back, telling Ms. Albright and the rare assembly of her colleagues, who reached back to the Kennedy White House, that his administration "can do more than one thing at a time."

The Bush administration, the president insisted, had "the best relations of any country with Japan, China and Korea," and active programs to win alliances around the world.

That was, according to some of the participants, one of the few moments of heat during an unusual White House effort to bring some of its critics into the fold and give a patina of bipartisan common ground to the strategy that Mr. Bush has laid out in recent weeks for Iraq.

But if it was a bipartisan consultation, as advertised by the White House, it was a brief one. Mr. Bush allowed 5 to 10 minutes this morning for interchange with the group - which included three veterans of another difficult war, the one in Vietnam: Robert S. McNamara, Melvin R. Laird and James R. Schlesinger. Then the entire group was herded into the Oval Office for what he called a "family picture."

Those who wanted to impart more wisdom to the current occupants of the White House were sent back across the hall to meet again with Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, and Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. But, as several of the participants noted, by that time Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had gone on to other meetings. (Empasis added)

Read on...

Gee, these lofty decision makers allocated 5-10 whole minutes for discussion. (I wonder how long it took to take that beautiful picture....)

Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, Robert McNamara, Melvin Laird, James Schlesinger, Lawrence Eagleburger, James Baker, Alexander Haig, George Shultz, William Perry, Frank Carlucci, William Cohen, Harold Brown in attendance.

I guess Bush was just royally pissed that Henry Kissinger, Caspar Weinberger and Warren Christopher didn't attend.

The Washington Post really blew it. No mention of how limited the interchange was, but felt it important to include this: "I've also had a chance to listen to their concerns, their suggestions about the way forward," Bush said.

This might have been something valuable to the nation, rather than just to the administration. Photo op indeed.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Face of Evil

From AP: Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine punishment for "dividing God's land."

"God considers this land to be his," Robertson said on his TV program "The 700 Club.""You read the Bible and he says `This is my land,' and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, `No, this is mine.'"

Read on...

I hate these people. There, I've said it. I really hate these American Taliban. If you don't believe that there are a lot of them and that they're fully committed to destroying the America that we love and rely on, then you better come around quickly. (If you haven't read the Book of Revelation lately, then I suggest you put it on your to-do list, post haste.)

Update: Video at Media Matters.

Crony Watch


Direct from the White House:

President George W. Bush today recess appointed the following individuals. (Ed. note: That means that Dubya appointed these 17 people while Congress was not in session, because he wouldn't or couldn't get Congress' approval.)

Floyd Hall, of New Jersey, to be a Member of the AMTRAK Reform Board.
Enrique J. Sosa, of Florida, to be a Member of the AMTRAK Reform Board.
Nadine Hogan, of Florida, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Inter-American Foundation (Private Representative).
Roger W. Wallace, of Texas, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Inter-American Foundation (Private Representative).
Gordon England, of Texas, to be Deputy Secretary of Defense.
Benjamin A. Powell, of Florida, to be General Counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Ronald E. Meisburg, of Virginia, to be General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board.
Julie L. Myers, of Kansas, to be Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security (Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
Tracy A. Henke, of Missouri, to be Executive Director of the Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness at the Department of Homeland Security.
Arthur F. Rosenfeld, of Virginia, to be Federal Mediation and Conciliation Director at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
Ellen R. Sauerbrey, of Maryland, to be Assistant Secretary of State (Population, Refugees, and Migration).
Dorrance Smith, of Virginia, to be Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs).
Robert D. Lenhard, of Maryland, to be a Member of the Federal Election Commission.
Steven T. Walther, of Nevada, to be a Member of the Federal Election Commission.
Hans Von Spakovsky, of Georgia, to be a Member of the Federal Election Commission.
Peter N. Kirsanow, of Ohio, to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board.
Stephen Goldsmith, of Indiana, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Details on some of the more controversial appointments at WaPo.