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A long time coming
Mark Foley: SICK SICK SICK!!!
Looks Like Lamont Levels Lieberman?
Oil Prices in the tank
Clinton Reams Rummy
A long time...
Chandler/Abramson in '07?
A new poll
President Bush and the White House expressed disdain for former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett's comments on his morning radio show yesterday. He made some rather unsettling comments to the affect that aborthing the fetuses of black people would lower crime rates in America. While he attempted to qualify his comments, there's only a limited amount of qualifying one can do.
posted by Stithmeister @ 6:14 PM
Yep... too many stories coming in on much of the TV media about not giving equal time to the Texas prosecutor who's going after Tom Delay. Delay's called this a partisan attack when the fact is, Travis County prosecutor Ronnie Earle's gone after his own party members too. He's a veteran prosecutor who's done the job for 30 years. Delay's his last case and then he's retiring without an interest in further his "career."
NPR had the best story on him with a good review from a local newspaper personality who described Earle as an idealist, which is the one thing politicians like Delay can't stomach.
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:26 PM
Bill Bennett, former secretary of education, had an odd comment on his radio broadcast. I pulled this transcript from Media Matters. There's more to the story but this is what he said:
CALLER: I noticed the national media, you know, they talk a lot about the loss of revenue, or the inability of the government to fund Social Security, and I was curious, and I've read articles in recent months here, that the abortions that have happened since Roe v. Wade, the lost revenue from the people who have been aborted in the last 30-something years, could fund Social Security as we know it today. And the media just doesn't -- never touches this at all.
BENNETT: Assuming they're all productive citizens?
CALLER: Assuming that they are. Even if only a portion of them were, it would be an enormous amount of revenue.
BENNETT: Maybe, maybe, but we don't know what the costs would be, too. I think as -- abortion disproportionately occur among single women? No.
CALLER: I don't know the exact statistics, but quite a bit are, yeah.
BENNETT: All right, well, I mean, I just don't know. I would not argue for the pro-life position based on this, because you don't know. I mean, it cuts both -- you know, one of the arguments in this book Freakonomics that they make is that the declining crime rate, you know, they deal with this hypothesis, that one of the reasons crime is down is that abortion is up. Well --
CALLER: Well, I don't think that statistic is accurate.
BENNETT: Well, I don't think it is either, I don't think it is either, because first of all, there is just too much that you don't know. But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.
What else is there to say. I think Bennett's grasping here. Maybe... just maybe society should do a little more to bring others up from the poverty driven socio-economic dung heap they live in. It might make life a little easier. One thing Freakonomics did say was that conditions weren't based upon race, it was based on the socio-economic factors. In other words a white single parent family living in poverty will do just as badly in the end as a black single parent family living in poverty. Bennett failed to point that out. He's a racist and more specifically an elitist. "Freakonomics" is a great book by the way. I will heartily recommend it to anyone who's not read it yet.
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:20 PM
Reports are surfacing all over the political blogosphere that Congressman David Drier, R - CA, might just be gay with his chief of staff Brad Smith. The representative is a senior member of the Republican contingent in Congress and has repeatedly voted in against gay rights issues.
A good feature from Raw Story discusses the adventure of the Representative and his chief of staff as well as the daring expose' by Hustler magazine on the subject.
While I generally don't put much stock into rumor, there seems to be a lot of questions about this and why the mainstream media isn't picking this one up. There's also discussions going on suggesting he didn't receive the majority leader slot left open by Tom Delay's stepping down from the position.
If this story is true, it could spell more disaster for the Republican party. It seems the cascade effect may be starting. Now, if only they could do something with it.
posted by Stithmeister @ 7:14 PM
John Roberts was sworn in as the 17th chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). This passes the torch from one ultra conservative justice to another. It's also safe to say Roberts should be in the job for quite a while. He marks the youngest chief justice since John Marshall got the nod from John Adams a couple of centuries ago. The Washington Post has a decent article on the event.
John Glover Roberts Jr. was sworn in this afternoon as the 17th chief justice of the United States, replacing the late William H. Rehnquist, the mentor for whom he clerked.
The White House ceremony, attended by many of Washington's most influential political leaders, came less than four hours after the Senate voted 78-22 to confirm Roberts.
I thought before that letting Roberts go relatively uncontested might have been a good idea. Right now though, the Republicans are weakened and while they do fight, this might have been a prime opportunity to wound them again. The next fight will certainly be contentious. In all honesty, I hope the Democrats fight this one with vigor unless they got a moderate in the job. Of course, once they're in there, one has no way of knowing what's going to happen. Roberts could end up being a leftist gorilla but we shall see.
posted by Stithmeister @ 6:46 PM
It's ashame those who promised to bring integrity back to Washington DC are being indicted all around the president. Both majority leaders in deep. One's being indicted and the other is being investigated by the SEC. I wonder who else they can get. Arriana Huffington had a good post today. I've printed an excerpt. Please check out the entire entry though. It's quite good.
If This Is Integrity...: Delay, Frist, Abramoff, Safavian... Wasn't this the crowd that was going to "restore honor and integrity" to Washington? If this is what integrity looks like, let's bring back Oval Office blow jobs.
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:21 PM
House Majority Leader Tom Delay, R - Texas, stepped down from the post today after an indictment was levied against him by a Texas grand jury on Wednesday. The charge is criminal conspiracy, seeking to improperly funnel corporate donations to Republican candidates for the Texas Legislature.
I've included a link from CNN to the indictment. You will need a PDF reader for the document. I've also included a link Delay's statement and then a link to the story on CNN.
Tom Delay is in a bit of trouble. Whether anything comes of this is debatable but regardless, the Democrats once again have the Republicans in a weakened state. This charge was handed down by a grand jury and even if the reasons behind the investigation were political, there has to be something to or the indictment would not have been handed out.
Now, what the Democrats can do with this, I don't know. We've got so many possiblities right now to wedge, it's unbelievable. The problem with Democrats is it will take real leadership to not only take advantage of these but to take control of the agenda and get our message out there. I only hope we can do it.
posted by Stithmeister @ 5:48 PM
I picked this one up over at Eschaton. So the subject is open. Any reader can get in on any topic.
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:21 PM
I picked this one up at Crook & Liars. CBS News reported Michael Brown has been rehired at FEMA as a consultant to assess the response to Katrina. A move of absolute brilliance. My many cynical friends are cackling at yet another SNAFU by the Bush administration. In the corporate world, self-evaluation is important. It will be interesting to see what Brown has to say about himself. ARGH!
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:08 PM
Check out Project Censored
It points out a lot of irregularities. It's part of the cynics' handbook.
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:36 PM
Mark Nicholas had some good commentary on the situation regarding the funding problems with the KSP and the Lt. Gov. office coming up with huge swathes of cash for special projects. For a man with a military legal background, Pence sure does give the KSP all the tools they need to get the job done. John Schnatter, owner of Papa John's Pizza is even in on this. Unbelievable.
Check out WHAS for the complete story filed today by Chuck Olmstead.
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:28 PM
Ralph Long and his Long Way Home blog is an excellent read for people into Kentucky politics. He's got an interesting introspective on why he thinks Ernie Fletcher won't be impeached. He claims it has more to do with a running platform for Democrats than anything else. It's a somewhat cynical point of view but in thinking about it, it's absolutely correct. Please check out his blog. It's excellent.
posted by Stithmeister @ 9:09 PM
I was contemplating things today as I often do and it occurred to me the Democrats are suckers for wedge issues. In the 2004 election John Kerry had some good ideas. One thing he mentioned during the convention was commenting on OPECs ability to manipulate the U.S. economy. A great wedge issue that could've earned some great traction. The problem is they can never get their wedges to pick up traction yet the Republicans almost always are quick to identify and either plug or squash those issues.
Case in point is Ohio. The Democrats were doing quite well on Ohio, despite the strong Republican presence upto and include Bob Taft. The jobless rate is up, the war in Iraq is going on and things are looking good for the president. Then someone whispers QUEERS WANNA GET MARRIED and all hell breaks loose. "Damn those queers don't need to get married" or "them queers is gonna take us all to hell." The whole place sounds like the Westboro Baptist Church, Topeka, KS. It's insane. Then groups of people who'd never voted before, in 200 years of statehood voted in the election because George Bush is against queers/fags/lesbians etc. The liberals get ticked off because how dare anyone use religion to dictate terms on who should be able to get married and then how could anyone who's a Christian be a Democrat?
The Democrats get suckered into this arguements and it's absolutely ridiculous because we get eaten alive on them. In all honesty, Democrats need to try and avoid these hotbutton issues. Stay away from them for the moment. Concentrate on issues people understand, like gas prices and jobless rates. Talk about the national deficit. Ask why people in New Orleans died and why does the mouthpieces of the GOP spin it in another direction? The Iraqi war we have to be careful with because no one wants to be seen as being disloyal and not supporting the soldier but at the same time, Cindy Sheehan has the a voice and others like her should continue to hammer the administration because it's tough to argue against a mother who's son was killed.
If we keep on these issues, I think the Dems can do better, it's just a matter of hitting the other side in the jimmy and keeping them reeling. It's tough but it's possible.
posted by Stithmeister @ 6:46 PM
Fox News, the scourge of liberal all over the country recently had an odd brush with credible news reporting by way of their news anchor, Shepard Smith. It seems, during a recent broadcast on Fox, he was down in NOLA post Katrina, explaining the situation. As any normal human would be, he was shocked, horrified and overwhelmed. He was reporting and had finished his statement. Sean Hannity, known for his Bush bandwagon lines offered to put thing "in perspective" and was immediately chastized by Smith. There's a great AP column about him regarding his performance. It's more from a television perspective but it's nice to see someone over at Fox not completely dumbfounded by the conservative movement in America.
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:30 PM
It looks like Media Matters jumped all over Bill for various things he said and did this past week. Honestly, Bill O'Reilly is nothing more than a bully. It's OK to be frank with someone, press them for information but one doesn't have to be rude and boorish. Of course the cynical side would say that's exactly what one has to be because it's what made his show a success in the ratings.
posted by Stithmeister @ 8:09 PM
A nice editorial by Larry Dale Keeling this morning. As usual, he didn't mince words regarding the problems surrounding what he calls the "boy governor" and merit system investigation. I've printed an excerpt. I invite you to check out the column:
Fletcher plan: Break laws, lessen penalties
FRANKFORT - When Gov. Ernie Fletcher appointed a panel to study the state merit system back in July, it was obvious he expected it to provide him political cover as he tried to cope with a criminal investigation of hiring practices in his administration.
After a round of pardons drove his re-election numbers down into the teens and a round of firings ended with Republican Party leaders publicly thumbing their noses at him, it might be too late for the Cover EF's Posterior Task Force to fulfill that mission.
But you have to give some of its members credit for still trying.
Keeling generally calls it like it is. Fletcher's political future looks pretty dim. He's only the second governor in Kentucky history with an opportunity to be re-elected and he probably won't be because it's safe to say some people will be looking to pick him off in 2007 primary. With any luck, the Democrats can get it together because Fletcher is ripe but McConnell isn't going to give up without a fight. Fighting is what he's best at.
posted by Stithmeister @ 6:25 PM
Yesterday in DC there was a ProWar rally to offeset the anti-war rally. There's a good article from the AP wire about it. Here's an excerpt:
Praise, Anger at Pro-War Rally in D.C. By ELISABETH GOODRIDGE, Associated Press Writer
Support for U.S. troops fighting abroad mixed with anger toward anti-war demonstrators at home as hundreds of people, far fewer than organizers had expected, rallied Sunday on the National Mall just a day after a massive protest against the war in Iraq.
"No matter what your ideals are, our sons and daughters are fighting for our freedom," said Marilyn Faatz, who drove from New Jersey to attend the rally. "We are making a mockery out of this. And we need to stand united, but we are not."
About 400 people gathered near a stage on an eastern segment of the mall, a large photo of an American flag serving as a backdrop. Amid banners and signs proclaiming support for U.S. troops, several speakers hailed the effort to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan and denounced those who protest it.
I did a bit of reading last night and I've discovered this war is about something much more crucial to our country. It's about money. I know, everyone is thinking. No DUH. It's about oil and money and money and American Freedom. But honestly, it's much more basic than that, it's about our very survival. Huh? Why you ask? What heck is that? You're full of it. We're money grubbing imperialist weasels. But that's not the issue for debate.
The money part is tied to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and currency. Right now, the defacto international currency is the U.S. dollar. Back during the Nixon administration, the U.S. dropped the gold standard to free up the U.S. from certain obligations. When they did that, the thing that gave value to the U.S. dollar, as my friend Cynicus pointed out is the bill itself. It says so at the top of the bill. It's not a gold reserve note or a silver certificate, it's a dollar, backed with the full faith and credit of the U.S., whatever that may be.
Right now, many other countries, with China at the top of the list, own huge amounts of dollars. China dedicates a full one fifth of their GDP towards the purchase of the U.S. dollar. Where does this tie in with Iraq you might say? Well... old Saddam suggested being paid in Euros. Well, if the Euro caught on, the it might become the primary currency and the value of the dollar in the world would drop. Creditor nations might start calling in their debts and we'd be in real trouble. You see, like most of the people in this country, lives deeply in debt, well beyond their means. All it takes is one of those major oil nations to start changing out their currency for Euros and we're in real trouble. Just like for nations like Iran and other to start waving that over our heads.
More on the IMF and the WB later but this should give you enough to chew on.
The war in Iraq is to protect our nation at it's most basic level, in the economy. If the dollar ever really slips, so will we and it will be ugly.
posted by Stithmeister @ 2:40 PM
Open topic for this one. I've seen some other blogs do it and it looks pretty cool. So anyone wishing to comment about whatever may do so.
posted by Stithmeister @ 2:36 PM
Bill O'Reilly had Phil Donahue on and it was quite the heated debate. The O'Reilly was his normal bulldog self and Donahue gave it right back to him. Some may not like Phil but if he can stick to Bill, then more power too him. We need more loud liberals anyway. Crooks&Liars has the link. Check it out.
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:37 PM
A great entry from Cenk Uygar had a great post over at Huffington. You should read the comments too. The topic is "Why Won't Democrats Fight" It talks about the reasons why Democrats won't press the advantage they have right now.
The problem is they don't have the ability to package a feasible alternative. They've got a good message but they don't have a competent salesman. Unfortunately, the best salesman they've had in the last 40 years can't run for office any more. It comes down to who sells the best package.
posted by Stithmeister @ 9:10 PM
The delightful folks over at Media Matters quoted Bill O'Reilly's syndicated radio program. O'Reilly, known as somewhat of an independent rightwing nutjob suggest Tom DeLay doesn't have any power anymore. Check out the link and you can hear the whole quote.
It seems the Republican party is in a decidely weakened condition in both Kentucky and the nation. The problem is the Democrats aren't fielding anyone right now to really do the damage they need to do to get them out of office. Also keep in mind the despite all else, the Republicans have a ton of money, both in Kentucky and in the country. That's going to be a problem the Democrats must overcome. It's easy to say grassroots support and working the oldfashioned way but the point is, the television is a powerful medium reaching a lot of people. They know how to use it most effectively. Handshaking is necessary but not nearly as powerful as one nasty commercial in an area with the right demographics.
posted by Stithmeister @ 8:32 PM
This is a great commentary. There's humor there but it's loaded with truth.
BIll Maher's Commentary
President Bush is phenomenally bad. He's, unfortunately, one of the worst president's in history.
posted by Stithmeister @ 8:08 PM
Johnson: "Given that background, we ought not to be astonished that this struggle in Vietnam continues," Johnson said. "We ought not to be astonished that that nation, wracked by a war of insurgency and beset by its neighbors to the north, has not already emerged, full-blown, as a perfect model of two-party democracy."
Bush: In his radio address on Aug. 27, Bush said: "Like our own nation's founders over two centuries ago, the Iraqis are grappling with difficult issues, such as the role of the federal government. What is important is that Iraqis are now addressing these issues through debate and discussion — not at the barrel of a gun."
Check out the story on the AP.
They sound so much alike. It's ashame so many of our citizens believed this to be a righteous war. We were protecting them from Saddam Hussein, protecting ourselves and the world from weapons of mass destruction, giving them PEACE and democracy, the ability to live free, to decide their own fate. What we provide instead is death, to them and to our own people. We treated our soldiers so poorly when they returned from Vietnam. They didn't deserve it. The soldier over there are good Americans, no doubt about it. It's ashame the people that sent them aren't.
posted by Stithmeister @ 7:43 PM
With dark clouds from Hurricane Rita above, Oklahoma National Guardsmen Spcl. Kenny Kvarme, left, and Spcl. Christopher Woods wave for a vehicle to stop at a checkpoint leading into New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2005. With the city recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the next storm is threatening to drench the area with tropical storm rains. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Hurricane Rita is full of power and destruction and will wreak havoc on the Gulf Coast, much a Katrina did. It looks to be a full swath from Alabama all the way to Texas with a complete line of devastation. Louisiana continues to pray something will remain of their city.
In a recent AP story, they quoted Governor Blanco:
"Rita has Louisiana in her sights," Governor Blanco said. "Head north. You cannot go east, you cannot go west. If you know the local roads that go north, take those."
As for those who refuse to leave, she said: "Perhaps they should write their Social Security numbers on their arms with indelible ink"
This is one Hell of a way to end the summer. Here in Kentucky we can't get rain and the Gulf Coast can't get away from it.
posted by Stithmeister @ 6:55 PM
I think it's safe to say John Roberts will be confirmed without a problem for the job of the next chief justice of SCOTUS. A number of major Democratic senators have stated they would vote no, including minority leader Reid and Senator Kennedy but enough Democrats have said they would vote for him.
In all honesty, I think most of the Democrats are saving their furor for the next nominee. With Roberts replacing Rehnquist, it maintains the status quo, whoever replaces O'Connor will probably greatly upset the balance of the court and it will have a decisively conservative bent. The liberals are strong but John Paul Stevens is getting old. He had a couple of years on Rehnquist although Stevens appears to be in good health. My bet is we will see a fillabuster on whomever replaces O'Connor
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:54 PM
*in my best Gomer Pyle* SURPRISE! SURPRISE! SURPRISE! The forthright panel put together at the behest of the right honorable Governor Ernie Fletcher to investigate ways to improve the state merit system recommends decriminalizing violations of said rules. I don't wish to step on the toes of my cynical friends but... WOW... this is just so UNEXPECTED? Here's the story from the AP Wire by my dapper pal Joe Biesk:
Panel proposals include decriminalizing Merit System violations
JOE BIESK - Associated Press
FRANKFORT, Ky. - Gov. Ernie Fletcher's Merit System task force announced Wednesday it is considering decriminalizing portions of state personnel laws, under which nine members of the administration were indicted on misdemeanors.
Panel members outlined 26 preliminary proposals to change the state Merit System, including a plan to make state employees undergo drug testing both before and during their state employment. The panel's final vote on the proposals was scheduled for next month.
Attorney General Greg Stumbo's ongoing personnel investigation, which has stymied the Fletcher administration since May, has been at the center of the task force's work.
Stumbo, who had been appointed to the task force, resigned from it last month after questioning its legitimacy. Deputy Attorney General Pierce Whites said the panel's preliminary recommendations would be a "step backward for Kentucky."
"It's a mistake to decriminalize someone's civil rights," Whites said Wednesday.
The state Merit System was created in 1960 and designed to insulate rank-and-file state employees from political influence.
A Franklin County special grand jury indicted nine current or former administration officials on misdemeanors stemming from the investigation; Fletcher subsequently pardoned them. Last week, Fletcher fired nine members of his administration - four of whom received pardons - for their role in his administration's hiring practices.
State Sen. Dan Kelly, R-Springfield, said removing the threat of criminal prosecution would make it more practical for enforcement.
Based on testimony from task force consultants and state employees, it would be difficult to remove politics from the personnel system, Kelly said. Instead, it's more important to hire qualified candidates and protect them from being arbitrarily fired, he said.
"What we're recommending is sound, and in fact would allow a greater deterrent because it could be more effectively implemented," Kelly said.
Violators would face a fine and the loss of their state employment for five years under the proposal. The state Personnel Board would review allegations and forward them to the attorney general under the plan.
Personnel Cabinet Secretary Erwin Roberts, who headed the task force, said based on the testimony, "patronage is kind of part and parcel" to government hiring.
"It would be almost impossible to have a 100 percent guarantee of no influence in the Merit System," Roberts said.
Bill Lear, a Lexington attorney and panelist, said he didn't see any recommendations that would remove political influence.
"I assumed one of the things that we were going to try to do is adopt some reforms that would make it more difficult," Lear said.
State Rep. Mike Cherry, D-Princeton, said he was "leery" of the idea and would study it further.
"I don't want to weaken the penalties for misuse of the Merit System, period," Cherry said.
Charles Wells, director of the Kentucky Association of State Employees, said the proposal would hurt government workers. Wells said he would oppose them in the General Assembly.
"It's a bad idea," Wells said.
Among other things, the recommendations would also:
_Allow for an affirmative action program.
_Give state employees optional 40-hour work weeks.
_Prohibit "burrowing" by requiring people who switch from non-merit to merit status to undergo a one-year probationary period.
_Offer employees mediation in job disputes.
_Reduce the number of job classifications.
_Encourage personnel disputes to be resolved before going to the Personnel Board.
When Fletcher opened the panel's first meeting, he said he wanted it to propose changes that would protect state workers and ensure governors could "advance his or her vision."
Fletcher spokeswoman Jodi Whitaker said Fletcher had not reviewed the proposals.
"The governor wants the Merit System law improved, and he will await the final recommendations of the task force and evaluate those when they're received," Whitaker said.
This whole panel is a flim flam. No wonder Stumbo resigned. I doubt they did much in the way of a study. They're just doing what their told. But, I guess I'm not surprised and honestly, this is really kind of minor compared to the violations the governor and his cronies have been accused of. I feel for sure they did it but they'll never get a fair trial. And there's my glorious senator and floor majority leader Dan Kelly. Unfortunately, the man is actually my personal senator. It makes me ashamed to know that Dan Kelly is in the office. He's got to be removed.
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:16 PM
The Washington Post ran a story yesterday discussing the new intiative AG Alberto Gonzalez is directing the FBI to pursue and that is pornography. Forget the fact pornography is considered protected speech. Many people won't say in public they enjoy pornography but many certainly pay enough for it in private. Between the PPV from your local satellite or cable company to the occasional visit to your favorite hotel chain like say the Hyatt, a lot of people, both men and women, like to view sexually explicit material in private. I guess Gonzalez feels otherwise as he attempt to suck up to Bush's base so he'll have a better shot at SCOTUS or some other political future. Check out the WP article:
Recruits Sought for Porn Squad
By Barton Gellman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 20, 2005; A21
The FBI is joining the Bush administration's War on Porn. And it's looking for a few good agents.
Early last month, the bureau's Washington Field Office began recruiting for a new anti-obscenity squad. Attached to the job posting was a July 29 Electronic Communication from FBI headquarters to all 56 field offices, describing the initiative as "one of the top priorities" of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and, by extension, of "the Director." That would be FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.
Mischievous commentary began propagating around the water coolers at 601 Fourth St. NW and its satellites, where the FBI's second-largest field office concentrates on national security, high-technology crimes and public corruption.
The new squad will divert eight agents, a supervisor and assorted support staff to gather evidence against "manufacturers and purveyors" of pornography -- not the kind exploiting children, but the kind that depicts, and is marketed to, consenting adults.
"I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."
Among friends and trusted colleagues, an experienced national security analyst said, "it's a running joke for us."
A few of the printable samples:
"Things I Don't Want On My Resume, Volume Four."
"I already gave at home."
"Honestly, most of the guys would have to recuse themselves."
Federal obscenity prosecutions, which have been out of style since Attorney General Edwin Meese III in the Reagan administration made pornography a signature issue in the 1980s, do "encounter many legal issues, including First Amendment claims," the FBI headquarters memo noted.
Applicants for the porn squad should therefore have a stomach for the kind of material that tends to be most offensive to local juries. Community standards -- along with a prurient purpose and absence of artistic merit -- define criminal obscenity under current Supreme Court doctrine.
"Based on a review of past successful cases in a variety of jurisdictions," the memo said, the best odds of conviction come with pornography that "includes bestiality, urination, defecation, as well as sadistic and masochistic behavior." No word on the universe of other kinks that helps make porn a multibillion-dollar industry.
Popular acceptance of hard-core pornography has come a long way, with some of its stars becoming mainstream celebrities and their products -- once confined to seedy shops and theaters -- being "purveyed" by upscale hotels and most home cable and satellite television systems. Explicit sexual entertainment is a profit center for companies including General Motors Corp. and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (the two major owners of DirecTV), Time Warner Inc. and the Sheraton, Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt hotel chains.
But Gonzales endorses the rationale of predecessor Meese: that adult pornography is a threat to families and children. Christian conservatives, long skeptical of Gonzales, greeted the pornography initiative with what the Family Research Council called "a growing sense of confidence in our new attorney general."
Congress began funding the obscenity initiative in fiscal 2005 and specified that the FBI must devote 10 agents to adult pornography. The bureau decided to create a dedicated squad only in the Washington Field Office. "All other field offices may investigate obscenity cases pursuant to this initiative if resources are available," the directive from headquarters said. "Field offices should not, however, divert resources from higher priority matters, such as public corruption."
Public corruption, officially, is fourth on the FBI's priority list, after protecting the United States from terrorist attack, foreign espionage and cyber-based attacks. Just below those priorities are civil rights, organized crime, white-collar crime and "significant violent crime." The guidance from headquarters does not mention where pornography fits in.
"The Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation's top priority remains fighting the war on terrorism," said Justice Department press secretary Brian Roehrkasse. "However, it is not our sole priority. In fact, Congress has directed the department to focus on other priorities, such as obscenity."
At the FBI's field office, spokeswoman Debra Weierman expressed disappointment that some of her colleagues find grist for humor in the new campaign. "The adult obscenity squad . . . stems from an attorney general mandate, funded by Congress," she said. "The personnel assigned to this initiative take the responsibility of this assignment very seriously and are dedicated to the success of this program."
There's a reason adult entertainment has been the driving force on the internet since word go. Keep in mind this initiative isn't about child pornography. People who abuse and molest children for fun and profit should have horrible things done them too grotesque to talk about. This is adult entertainment from various works made with consenting adults. It's considered free speech, protected by SCOTUS.
Since the beginning of media, sexually explicit material has been available. Old books and scrolls had drawings. Back in the 20s, they had silent films. It's certainly plentiful now. I respect parents rights to keep such content away from children if they so desire, that's there choice. I don't a religious based group should have the power, in our country, to dictate terms like this that violate the privacy of my own home. The 4th amendment says I should be secure and the 1st guarantees the speech so Alberto Gonzalez and the rest of the government should stay out of my bathroom when I read my Playboys or whatever I or anyone else chooses to do. It's my morality, such as it is. Leave me the hell alone.
posted by Stithmeister @ 8:27 PM
The state has charge acting transportation secretary Bill Nighbert with violating the whistleblower law, saying he fired Missy McCray for testifying. The debate seems to be whether or not the pardon issued by Governor Fletcher would cover this indictment. Tom Loftus wrote a good piece in the Courier Journal. Here's an excerpt.
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Acting Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert was indicted yesterday on charges that he punished a whistleblower in the state hiring investigation, allegedly telling her that in his younger days he might have "socked her in the mouth."
Gov. Ernie Fletcher pardoned Nighbert last month on separate misdemeanor charges alleging that he made personnel decisions on the basis of politics, not qualifications, which would break state hiring laws.
The new indictment accuses Nighbert of punishing Sarah Missy McCray by rejecting a recommendation that she receive a special pay raise.
It also alleges that Nighbert told McCray that if it were 20 years ago, "I probably would have come back there and socked you in the mouth."
This is just one more thing by the Fletcher administration. The question I have at this point relates more to the pardons though. Assuming all these pardons are accepted, doesn't that mean that all pardoned parties have to admit guilt to accept those pardons? If this is the case, based on the way the law reads, wouldn't that mean that many of these appointees wouldn't be eligible to keep their jobs? Just a thought. I might have been answered on some of the other blogs but I must admit I've been a bit lax in examining those lately.
posted by Stithmeister @ 8:25 AM
Photo courtesy of Wiesenthal Center
A young Polish architect, weighing about 90 pounds was found by U.S. soldiers, almost dead, at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria in 1945. As his health returned, he began preparing information for the U.S. on Nazis he had encountered and others. He prepared files and detailed dossiers. He worked for the OSS and the Central Intelligence Corps. After his work with them was done, he began working to gather information for law enforcement to begin going after Nazis and did so for the rest of his life. He nailed Adolph Eichmann and many other Nazi fugitives over the decades. He wasn't able to stop the Nazis during the war itself, but he certainly sought vengence during his later years. He even captured Karl Silberbauer, the man known to have arrested a now legendary 14 year-old-girl named Anne Frank.
A golem was a mythical creature from Budapest in Hungary. It was made of earth and the legend goes that it would help protect the Jews in their times of peril. Many during the war wondered where it might be. Simon Wiesenthal became a sort of golem but tracking down so many people known for committing such heinous crimes that have gone down in history as crimes of true evil.
Wiesenthal wasn't a hero. He was man troubled by nightmares during his waking hours, who, between he and his wife, lost 89 relatives including parents, cousins, aunts, uncles and many others. He was a man though...a man who sought justice and to paraphrase him, "even if I don't get all the Nazis, they will fall asleep every night wondering whether or not Wiesenthal would be there when they awoke."
To learn more about Simon Wiesenthal, please check out the link above.
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:36 PM
It looks like Hurricane Rita is barreling down for Texas. The NHC is predicting a possibility of a category 4 hurricane. That's what Katrina was when it hit the Gulf Coast. Right now, everyone terrified of hurricanes so everyone is using their brains and getting the hell out of town in places like Galveston, Houston and even New Orleans is getting everyone back out that had come back. If this storm were to hit NOLA again, it would probably finish the city off. If it cut to the Gulf Coast again to hit maybe Mississippi or areas that Katrina hit, I don't know what folks would do. Here's an article on CNN. Here's an excerpt covering part of the evac:
GALVESTON, Texas (CNN) -- With Hurricane Rita intensifying as it treks westward through the Gulf of Mexico, the mayor of Galveston declared a state of emergency Tuesday night.
Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas ordered mandatory evacuations of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities starting at 6 a.m. Wednesday.
She also said mandatory evacuations of other parts of the city would begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The major point we must consider though is the economic impact of another category 4 hurricane. Depending on how it hits, it might devastate the nation further. Much of our nations oil infrastructure is located all along the Gulf Coast. New Orleans is still fighting for life and while the docks themselves weren't that bad, the infrastructure to support those is on hold for the moment. Most of the shipping is being routed toward Houston. So is Hurricane Rita. Some of the largest oil refineries in the U.S. are also near the Gulf Coast of Texas. It would drive oil prices up higher and some people say the country is taxed now... it would get much worse.
A recent opinion by Professor Peter Morici of Robert H.Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland offered some insight:
Moreover, the full impact of Hurricane Katrina on the economy remains vague and uncertain—economists have been forced to revise their forecasts more than once with new revelations about the damage and chaos wrought by state and federal dysfunction.
One of the problems he addressed was the housing bubble so many discuss. The Fed has raised interest rates the last several months in an attempt to get a hold on the economy. Morici points out though raising interest rates at this time would create real problems as the need for low interest construction costs will be a necessity if the Gulf Coast is to be rebuilt.
Keep in mind however, this wasn't taking into account the current hurricane. If Rita wreaks havoc like Katrina did, oil could very well hit the $80 mark a barrel. Right now, the market seems to think Rita will dodge the Houston area refineries and dropped $1.16 a barrel today. Even so, all the major oil companies are evacuating their rigs in the Gulf.
The refineries in Houston handle about 13% of the U.S. processing capacity and while they are operating normally, they are beginning preparations just in case.
In any event, there are real worries right now and if Rita turns ugly as some are predicting, it could severely damage the nation's economy as a whole, primarily because of the oil.
All that being said, the Fed said today they will probably raise the interest another quarter point. They said they were more worried about the inflation and the short-term problems of the Gulf Coast. The Washington Post reported on this story:
Federal Reserve officials expressed confidence yesterday that Hurricane Katrina has caused no more than a temporary setback to the U.S. economy, allowing them to raise their key short-term interest rate another notch to make sure inflation stays under control.
As the federal government and insurance companies are put tens of billions of dollars into Gulf Coast reconstruction, Fed policymakers expressed more worry about rising inflation pressures than slower economic growth and indicated that they will probably keep raising interest rates in the months ahead.
Whether or not their report takes Rita into account is uncertain. One can only hope that Rita does minimal damage so this won't be an issue.
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:46 PM
Looks like the state Republican party executive committee told evil Ernie where to go today. Ernie called for the resignation of the state party chair and he refuse. The executive committee voted on the matter today and said he would stay where he is. So much for Fletcher's follies. He's dug the grave in record time too. It only took him 2 years to do it in. Here's part of Jack Brammer's story on it in the Herald-Leader:
FRANKFORT - Three days after Gov. Ernie Fletcher called for the ouster of Darrell Brock Jr. as state Republican Party chairman, GOP leaders today defied the governor and kept Brock in his job.
Members of the Republican Executive Committee had little to say about their party chairmanship after a closed-door meeting, but Democrats immediately called the GOP’s decision a rebuke of Fletcher.
Former Democratic Gov. Julian Carroll, who now is a state senator, called it “a signal of Fletcher’s death knell as a candidate for re-election in 2007.”
Brock became party chair with Fletcher’s blessing last April after heading up the governor’s local development office.
I talked with a number of the press folks today who've been covering the story and most of them agreed that this story has been too easy to tell. As many today at the picnic pointed out, someone had to go to the AG's office for this to start. Ernie Fletcher's career in politics was short lived because it's pretty obvious it's over. He has no support in the party, it would seem, from anyone. The folks from D.C. are staying tight lipped about it and most locally elected Republicans are staying quiet about it. That means the word's come down from Mitch that Ernie is on his own and he's not doing so well. He was a lousy choice for governor and this is a great time for the Democrats to begin hammering the message home. Today was a good start but it's still quite a while until 2006 elections and the governor's race in 2007. We need to work on it now.
posted by Stithmeister @ 12:20 AM
It was great to get out to the picnic today. There were a lot of Democrats out there. Some of the more noteworthy included: Dr. Dan Mongiardo, Congressman Ben Chandler, Senator Wendell Ford, Governor Paul Patton, Heather French Henry(I didn't realize just how pretty she was), House Speak Jody Richards and the list goes on. The highlight was meeting former Georgia Senator and Vietnam Vet Max Cleland. He was something else and a real American hero. How they could bill him as unpatriotic boggles the mind.
All in all, it was a great experience and am really excited. It was meant to be an energizing experience and it was.
posted by Stithmeister @ 3:56 PM
Todays's the Democratic Party picnic at the Democratic HQ in Frankfort. I'm going to stop by for a while and hope to see some of you there. It's from noon to 5 and they're providing food, rides and stumping however know blackberry jam may not be there.
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:43 AM
Ernie Fletcher's ship of state is sinking fast. Someone should compose a requiem for a lightweight. Fletcher's first sacrificial lamb was Dan Druen. Payback is hell. Druen is starting to let information go and Agman Richie Farmer looks like he's going to get drawn into this mess too. The Republicans aren't fairing to well in this mess. Check out the Herald-Leader story today. It's a good start.
Druen's testimony is the most detailed allegation so far that Fletcher was aware of and possibly took part in personnel actions that violated state laws.
By statute, people in merit positions may not be hired, fired or transferred based solely on politics.
Fletcher was briefed on both the memos that targeted employees for hiring or firing, Druen told prosecutors in the Aug. 26 interview.
During one May meeting with Transportation Cabinet leaders, the acting secretary handed the list of targeted employees to Fletcher who said, "Great," before giving it to his personnel director, Druen said. He did not make clear in his deposition whether Fletcher reviewed the document first.
Fletcher insisted yesterday that he never saw the list until it became public this summer.
Fletcher continues to make our state look shameful. He may have been an effective governor and now we'll never know. His administration is in shambles, he faces the grand jury and the way things look, he'll likely be indicted. He might be impeached or perhaps just resign. His part is distancing itself as he continues to tighten his own noose. He did bring change to Frankfort, it's a shame it's the wrong kind of change.
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:56 PM
I don't follow federal judges much to be honest but the Washington Post had a great story today on U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth. He was appointed by Reagan so he's been in the job for a while now and I have to say, I'm most impressed with him. Here's the Washington Post story and it's great:
Straight Shooter to Some, Loose Cannon to Others
By Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 15, 2005; Page A31
The fans of U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth praise his straight-talking ways, his defense of the wronged, and his stinging rebukes of lawyers and officials who try to fudge the facts.
So many decades after he left his beloved Texas and cowboy roots for a legal career in government service, fellow judges and former colleagues say, old Royce still gets riled up when he smells a bunch of bull.
The Justice Department will try Friday to have U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth taken off a case alleging Interior Department mismanagement of Indian trust funds.
The Justice Department will try Friday to have U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth taken off a case alleging Interior Department mismanagement of Indian trust funds.
When Lamberth theorized in a July ruling that the Interior Department's failure, over many decades, to account for potentially billions of dollars owed to Native Americans could only be explained by outright evil, apathy, cowardice or -- more likely -- crushing bureaucratic incompetence, the Justice Department decided to go after the judge.
In one of the rarest legal moves Justice has ever taken, the government asked that a higher court remove Lamberth from a case he has overseen for the past nine years.
In the escalating and unparalleled war between the judge and Interior, Justice lawyers said privately they saw no other option. They argued to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that Lamberth has gone overboard in a string of verbal harangues in recent years, accused agency officials of racism and lost the appearance of impartiality in the case. Already, he has found two secretaries of Interior in contempt of court and ordered sanctions against numerous government lawyers for improper conduct in the case.
When they stand before a different bench tomorrow, government lawyers are expected to try to shift the discussion from the acknowledged failure of Interior to properly account for money held in trust and due 50,000 Indians, to the often assaulting words and actions of a powerful Reagan appointee who has made no secret of his disgust. Only three times before has this appeals court disqualified a trial judge from a case.
Lamberth and Justice Department officials declined to comment for this article. But their most recent writings in the case of Cobell v. Norton capture the tenor of what the appellate court's chief judge called the "peculiar dialogue going on" in Courtroom 21.
"On numerous occasions over the last nine years, the Court has wanted to simply wash its hands of Interior and its iniquities once and for all," Lamberth wrote. The plaintiffs have urged him to appoint a receiver to take over, he wrote, "but doing so . . . would constitute an announcement that negligence and incompetence in government are beyond judicial remedy."
In their Aug. 15 request for a new judge, Justice lawyers said that besides using intemperate language, Lamberth has ignored appellate rulings and accused the government of "falsification, spite and obstinate litigiousness" with "no legal or factual basis."
Lamberth has many defenders, from conservative Supreme Court justices to left-wing civil liberties lawyers, and is repeatedly ranked by lawyers as among the most skilled judges on the court.
Many of his fans applaud his stamina and even his outrage, but a few say privately that they think Lamberth has been pushed too far in the Interior case and has made himself a target with his sharp tongue. Said one fellow judge who requested anonymity: "He's been driven beyond the limit of his patience by these people. In his heart, he may know he's no longer dispassionate."
Since a Blackfeet tribe leader named Eloise Cobell filed this lawsuit in 1996, several independent investigations found much evidence for Lamberth's concerns. Although, the government initially said its existing Indian trust fund records were in good shape, Lamberth hired a hacker who found they could easily be accessed and altered from outside. Other reviews found that the Interior Departmenthad never kept complete records, used unknown amounts of money to help balance the federal budget, and let the oil and gas industry use Indian lands at bargain rates. They also concluded that the Clinton and Bush administrations have repeatedly sidestepped initiating the required accounting because of the likely cost.
Colleagues say Lamberth's strong prose is motivated by his government service and belief that it is a high calling. "He believes every person -- whether it's the president of the United States or an administrative clerk -- has a duty to serve the American people and do their duty as required under the law," said Mark Nagle, who worked under Lamberth when he ran the civil division of the U.S. attorney's office.
"I remember him calling up some senior-level presidential appointees and telling them: 'We can't defend this one. And we're not going to,' " Nagle said.
Lamberth's directness continued when he joined the bench. In presiding over several controversial cases involving the Clinton administration, Lamberth repeatedly accused government officials of trying to dupe the court.
In the November trial of Murder Inc. gang members, Lamberth spotted one defendant mouthing words to an ex-girlfriend as she reluctantly testified. Lamberth excused the jury, then let loose. "You sit down and shut up," the judge growled. "If you want to be bound and gagged for the rest of this trial, you just keep it up."
Lamberth has never spared the government in Cobell , and government lawyers say they cringe at his sometimes mocking tone. "You know any banker would be in jail for handling funds like this, don't you?" he told one Interior witness.
U.S. District Judge Stanley Sporkin, now retired, who was removed from a criminal case by the appeals court after not following sentencing guidelines, said Lamberth's motives are undoubtedly pure in Cobell , and the appeals court needs to acknowledge this litigation is "no tea party."
"Here you have a judge who is terribly frustrated," Sporkin said. "Every time he tells the government to get something done, they don't. It seems to me you have a bunch of crybabies that aren't willing to do what has to be done."
This may be one of the best stories of read in a while. As I said, I generally don't follow judges and root for them, especially conservatives appointed by Reagan but this guy, in this decision I have to applaud. Holding two Interior Secretaries in contempt of court? That takes stones and he's got them by the truck load I'd say. I'm rooting for him but I don't know that he'll survive this. It's ashame too. I hope the appeals court let's it ride because he's too good to leave this one.
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:50 PM
It seems ol' Ernie might be having some real problems right now. He called for resignation of Darrell Brock, chair of the Republican part in Kentucky and it seems Brock may be telling him no. Consider the governor traditionally picks the party chief, this would be a problem however the governor is not the most powerful Republican in the state. This article is by Mark Chellgren at the AP. It does prove quite interesting. I pulled it from WKYT's website.
Brock Defying Fletcher By Staying On At Party
MARK R. CHELLGREN
FRANKFORT, Ky. - Kentucky Republican Party Chairman Darrell Brock is apparently defying Gov. Ernie Fletcher by staying on at his party post.
When Fletcher fired nine officials Wednesday for breaking personnel rules and making his administration look bad, the governor also said Brock should be dismissed from his party post.
But in an oblique statement released by the party later Wednesday, Brock said he believed party officials were pleased with his performance. "I'm pleased to serve at their pleasure and with the support of a great many of our Republican leaders from this Commonwealth," concluded the two-sentence statement.
Brock has not returned repeated calls for comment since then and even other GOP officials seem reluctant to get into the fray, which will presumably come to a head Saturday when the state party's executive committee is scheduled to meet.
Spencer Noe, a Lexington lawyer who was often the party's spokesman during the special grand jury investigation that indicted Brock and the others, said Wednesday he did not know what the executive committee might do.
And members of Kentucky's congressional delegation weren't very forthcoming either on Thursday.
A spokeswoman for Fourth District Rep. Geoff Davis said, "The executive Committee should do what it feels is necessary to continue leading a strong, unified Republican Party in Kentucky. We will support their decision."
A spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, arguably the most influential Republican in Kentucky, said he had no comment.
No one else in the GOP congressional delegation returned calls seeking comment on Thursday.
Brock was formerly director of Fletcher's office of local development and went to the party job with the governor's blessing in April.
"He has shown tremendous leadership while serving in my administration," Fletcher said at the time "I commend him for his dedication to public service and the betterment of the commonwealth."
Among those on the executive committee are Basil Turbyfill and Vince Fields, two officials fired by Fletcher on Wednesday. A Fletcher spokeswoman said Fletcher did not want Turbyfill and Fields removed from the GOP committee.
In a related matter, questions began Thursday about some of the officials still in the administration even though they were also implicated in personnel wrongdoing and were among those indicted, but pardoned by Fletcher.
Acting Transportation Cabinet Secretary Bill Nighbert, Deputy Secretary Jim Adams and Tim Hazlette, personnel chief in the cabinet, were all indicted for personnel violations and pardoned by Fletcher. They were not among the nine officials sacked on Wednesday. Fletcher left a press conference Thursday before questions could be raised about their status.
"There's a difference between the criminal standard and the management standard," Fletcher spokeswoman Carla Blanton said Thursday.
Fletcher's remarks Thursday did not acknowledge wrongdoing by anyone, even those who were indicted. Instead, he said their problems involved being too eager to please local officials, sending too many inappropriate e-mails, lack of respect or understand of the Merit System or a "lack of insight" about how their actions "might reflect upon the ethics of this administration."
Court documents indicate Nighbert was installed at Transportation to replace retired General Clay Bailey because Bailey was not doing enough to get political supporters into cabinet jobs. He and Adams were indicted for conspiring to fire the cabinet's deputy inspector general for supporting Democrat Ben Chandler against Fletcher in 2003.
Ernie Fletcher continues to dig his grave. Based on other stories from a speech he gave in Northern Ky, Fletcher's losing the wind in his sails very quickly. He gotten rid of his top supporters, many of whom probably shouldn't have been there to begin with. The problem with Fletcher is that his credibility is gone, he has no more moral fiber. He led a corrupt administration and honestly, I don't know if he's got it in his belly to continue on this fight because it's not over yet.
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:29 PM
I got my issue of Time today and the feature story discusses the collapse of government in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The magazine breaks down the fault lines in to four sections, the Mayor, referring to Ray Nagin, the governor, referring Governor Kathleen Blanco and then we go now resigned FEMA chief Michael Brown and the head of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff. Here's a paragraph from early in the story.
Already it's clear that this debacle was more than an act of God. This country's emergency operations, awesome in their potential, are also frighteningly interdependent. The locals are in charge--until they get overwhelmed. Then they cede control to the feds--but not entirely. The scarier things get, the fuzzier the lines of authority become. As TIME's investigation shows, at every level of government, there was uncertainty about who was in charge at crucial moments. Leaders were afraid to actually lead, reluctant to cost businesses money, break jurisdictional rules or spawn lawsuits. They were afraid, in other words, of ending up in an article just like this one.
The article breaks it down this way. The city had a plan and it wasn't great. Ray Nagin probably could've done better because a lot of procedures should've been in place and he didn't call for mandatory evacuations until the day before the storm hit. But, as he said in the article, the basic plan was to get out as many as possible and then hole up on higher ground and wait for the feds to come in. One of the cities biggest single problems was lack of a communications infrastructure to handle the disaster as well as have a good command center. On the upside, he did get 3 interstates moving out of the city and estimate claim 80% made it out. That leaves nearly 100,000 left, which is about what the contingency plan expected.
The governor, while slow and considerate of her actions severely underestimated the response of FEMA and her expectations were much different than the reality. When she eventually figured out she was going to half to get things done, she got Bill Clinton's old FEMA chief and brought him in to assist. She called the White House multiple times and no one responded to her pleads. She ended up having to leave a message.
That leaves Brown and Chertoff, neither of whom took this whole situation seriously. Brown was a political favor and Chertoff was a hardnosed prosecuting attorney. Neither was up to the task at hand and neither took it seriously until it was much too late. The Bush administration had neutered FEMA to the point of being almost inoperable because they didn't take it's duty seriously. Clinton brought in disaster experts, Bush brought in cronies.
This brings us to the president, where the buck stops. He was right to accept responsibility but it goes much deeper than his one speech. FEMA and DHS need to be serious organizations with serious budgets. They need to be able to train personnel at all levels to be able to handle lots of mandated training for natural or any other type of disaster. Yep, you and your administration continue to do us in Mr. President. We're glad you care. You're not evil, you're inept and unintelligent, which in this case may actually be worse.
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:40 PM
It looks like Governor Fletcher's canned the 9 disciples involved in merit system scandal.The problem for Fletcher is that this one is no where near over. This story came from Joltin' Jack Brammer over at the Lexington Herald-Leader:
FRANKFORT - Gov. Ernie Fletcher today called for the resignations of nine members of his administration and state Republican Party Chairman Darrell Brock Jr.
Of the nine members of his administration he asked to resign, four have been indicted by a special grand jury investigating hiring in the Fletcher administration.
There's more to the story and I advise you to check it out. Here's the deal Fletcher is in deep now and he knows it. He's all alone. His move was somewhat shocking but it's not over. He even called for the resignation of the Republican party chair, Darrell Brock Jr. Here's the thing, even though Fletcher has issued pardons, they may or may not take them because if they accept the pardons, they would also be admitting guilt in the whole affair. Then, once pardoned, they're free to testify against Fletcher. The other side is if they don't testify, they might make a deal with prosecutors to testify. They're pretty much out of state government for a while anyway.
This has all be said before in recent weeks by people with much better legal knowledge than I but I will say this: Governor Fletcher is in deep on this one and continues to go deeper. He will be lucky to escape with his name, albeit not so good right now. Whether he will be impeached remains to be seen but I've noticed something else too. It seems like Pence is keeping a relatively low profile in all this. Probably for the best as he could may well be governor soon but I can't help but feeling he knows all about everything that's going on and he should probably resign or be impeached as well but that's something we'll never know.
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:22 PM
In an unprecedented and brilliant PR move today, President Bush accepted full responsibility for the poor response to the relief effort. During his press conference with the Iraqi president, he had these words:
Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government. And to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility. I want to know what went right and what went wrong. I want to know how to better cooperate with state and local government, to be able to answer that very question that you asked: Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack or another severe storm. And that's a very important question. And it's in our national interest that we find out exactly what went on and -- so that we can better respond.
One thing for certain; having been down there three times and have seen how hard people are working, I'm not going to defend the process going in, but I am going to defend the people who are on the front line of saving lives. Those Coast Guard kids pulling people out of the -- out of the floods are -- did heroic work. The first responders on the ground, whether they be state folks or local folks, did everything they could. There's a lot of people that are -- have done a lot of hard work to save lives.
And so I want to know what went right and what went wrong to address those. But I also want people in America to understand how hard people are working to save lives down there in not only New Orleans, but surrounding parishes and along the Gulf Coast.
It's to see the president finally stepping up to the plate after 5 years in office. It's sad that it's taken this man this long to do so but he has. Now... where do we go from here? He's going to make sure the canal and levy systems are fully funded? Is going to help the poorest of the poor in Mississippi and Louisiana get out of poverty by making sure they have jobs and education and an environment conducive to providing a future of those higher standards or is it going to be more of the same like tax breaks to the oil companies and to the wealthiest in the nation who know better than to trickle down all their wealth into the masses? Is he going to rework NAFTA and CAFTA to make sure they are as amicable to U.S. workers as they are workers from say El Salvador? Will he work to equalize the trade deficit with China, even at the cost of irritating them? Just remember this, running things requires knowledge of the military cliche known as the 7 P's: Piss Poor Planning Promotes Piss Poor Performance. You get what you pay for in Bush's America.
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:59 PM
A congressional report issued today found that the governor of Louisiana requested aid days before the hurricane hit, taking all the necessary steps to get federal emergency assistance. In a statement issues by Representative John Conyers office, he discusses the report in some detail:
Pursuant to a September 7 request by Representative John Conyers to review the law and legal accountability relating to Federal action in response to Hurricane Katrina, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report today about whether the Governor of Louisiana took the necessary and timely steps needed to secure disaster relief from the federal government. The report unequivocally concludes that she did.
Congressman Conyers issued the following statement:
"This report closes the book on the Bush Administration's attempts to evade accountability by shifting the blame to the Governor of Louisiana for the Administration's tragically sluggish response to Katrina. It confirms that the Governor did everything she could to secure relief for the people of Louisiana and the Bush Administration was caught napping at a critical time."
In addition to finding that "...it would appear that the Governor did take the steps necessary to request emergency and major disaster declarations for the State of Louisiana in anticipation of Hurricane Katrina. (p.11)" The report found that:
-- All necessary conditions for federal relief were met on August 28. Pursuant to Section 502 of the Stafford Act, "(t)he declaration of an emergency by the President makes Federal emergency assistance available," and the President made such a declaration on August 28. The public record indicates that several additional days passed before such assistance was actually made available to the State;
-- The Governor must make a timely request for such assistance, which meets the requirements of federal law. The report states that "(e)xcept to the extent that an emergency involves primarily Federal interests, both declarations of major disaster and declarations of emergency must be triggered by a request to the President from the Governor of the affected state";
-- The Governor did indeed make such a request, which was both timely and in compliance with federal law. The report finds that "Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco requested by letter dated August 27, 2005...that the President declare an emergency for the State of Louisiana due to Hurricane Katrina for the time period from August 26, 2005 and continuing pursuant to (applicable Federal statute)" and "Governor Blanco's August 27, 2005 request for an emergency declaration also included her determination...that 'the incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of disaster."
The federal government dropped the ball. Bush knows it and said as much. At this point, the blame has been claimed. Now we need to make sure that not only does the gulf coast get fixed and quickly but also that plans are in place and updated every five year or so to make sure they don't happen again.
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:51 PM
Naturally, everyone and their brother is covering the FEMA thing right now so I'll throw my two cents in. Bush's choice was a political one and you get what you pay for. Here's the story off the AP Feed:
Mike Brown, the subject of blistering criticism after Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast and overwhelmed the government's response, quit Monday as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The White House moved quickly to replace him, installing a top agency official with three decades of firefighting experience as acting director.
Some of Brown's critics agreed with his decision, saying it would put the focus on efforts to manage the aftermath of the disaster, including helping the thousands of people left homeless.
Bush named R. David Paulison to replace Brown.
The president was told of Brown's resignation earlier Monday and spoke to Homeland Security Secretary Mike Chertoff, who was Brown's boss, from Air Force One in the afternoon as he flew back to Washington from an overnight visit to the region.
Proof positive the administration knows this operation was screwed up from the word go. Many of the right wing nut jobs have blamed the governor and the mayor but in a situation like this, responsibility comes from the top down. One of the only "common men" ever to serve in the White House defined the job in one sentence and nothing more relevant was ever said before or after: "The buck stops here!" Harry Truman new what it took to be in charge and he made excruciatingly hard decisions that history still debates the morality of. It's ashame George Bush can't find it within himself and his administration to do the same.
posted by Stithmeister @ 8:55 PM
In the wake of great disasters comes linings of silver... at least if you're a multinational oil company. The Boston Herald had a great article today discussing the fact the big oil companies are making more money in net revenues than they've ever made and more than any company has ever made in a single quarter. The average American is paying nearly $3 a gallon at the pump and families are having to worry about whether or not they'll be able to afford to pay heating costs with natural gas slated to climb 71% by some accounts. But... the energy and natural gas companies are making record profits. Here's the lead for the story:
Oil companies came under new fire yesterday when it emerged that ExxonMobil's profits are likely to soar above $10 billion this quarter on the back of the fuel crisis.
That's $110 million a day, and more net income than any company has ever made in a quarter. It's also a stunning 69 percent increase over the same period a year ago and a 34 percent jump from the $7.6 billion Exxon made just last quarter.
``Do you realize President Bush has just given a tax break to ExxonMobil?'' thundered Rep. Ed Markey (D-Malden). ``Of all the companies in the history of the world that needed a tax break, this month, ExxonMobil should be at the bottom of the list.''
I don't know there's a lot to say on this one. It's quite obvious people are being gouged severely at the pump and at a cost yet to be determined. As various goods and services climb in prices as companies profit margins erode due to fuel costs, lifestyles will decline. Much of our economy, built on disposable income, will wither and begin to dry up. This means that the wealthy will be able to live like they always have and the distance between them and everyone else will continue to increase, which I suppose is the way they like it.
The process is collusion on many levels and while certainly the oil producing countries and members of OPEC are making money, I daresay they're not entirely comfortable with the levels of production they're being forced into AND it's fairly obvious oil refineries haven't been running at capacity levels much as they've been stating for months now. It's enough to drive one mad as one fills with anger and would really like to see these criminals drink the sludge by the barrel they're pumping out of NOLA right now.
posted by Stithmeister @ 7:40 PM
Is America have problems? Why is Blackwater running security with M16s? They're a private security firm that plays hardball. I mean real hardball. This story comes from AttyTood. I've reprinted part of it here. Check it out:
A Georgia-based doctor and military veteran who blogs under the name Otter has been down in the disaster zone the last few days, and he has seen the private Blackwater security forces everywhere. He wrote yesterday from a police precinct house in New Orleans:
Blackwater Security is here--clean, well-equipped, and armed to the teeth.
The New York Times has seen them too:
No civilians in New Orleans will be allowed to carry pistols, shotguns or other firearms, said P. Edwin Compass III, the superintendent of police. "Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons," he said.
But that order apparently does not apply to hundreds of security guards hired by businesses and some wealthy individuals to protect property. The guards, employees of private security companies like Blackwater, openly carry M-16's and other assault rifles. Mr. Compass said that he was aware of the private guards, but that the police had no plans to make them give up their weapons.
Once again, it shows there's a distinct difference between the haves and the have nots. A recent report on television also noted that a number of wealthier individuals and security groups have been carrying automatic weapons in order to protect private entities. On the one hand individuals do have right to protect their property but on the other hand, martial law has been declared and the authorities said no private citizens will be carrying firearms in this situation. This uttler ridiculous. The weapons in question need to be confiscated and these security groups need to leave. It should be enforced by the DHS. I believe they do have the jurisdiction. Once again, more words ring hollow in Bush's America.
posted by Stithmeister @ 12:57 PM
But good ol' G.W. doesn't want to do it. Wonder why? No Really? Maybe he's going to fork out the money himself? Doubtful. Is the U.S. government going to fund the operation? Probably not.
Does he want to see them become part of the "ownership society"? Hey...this could be the answer. If those bloody savages would quit fighting with each other and start doing business and democracy then they could certainly take care of the problem themselves. It's just a natural disaster and with proper planning and abstinence then they certainly could take care of this themselves.
Nicholas Von Hoffman had a great editorial on the decidely bad idea.
Britain, France, Spain, Italy and Sweden are going to sell bonds and use the money to pay for vaccinating children in what is called the developing world. The World Health Organization says that the immunizations will save the lives of millions of African kids.
Bad idea. President Bush has put the kibosh on it.
They cannot cure everything. President Bush is the panacea man. Had he been in Florida and touched Terri she would have awoken from her coma and raised up from the bed. He often comes to New Orleans to cure the sick. Those who say he’s doing it for the photo ops or strong leadership ops or the vision thing ops, they lie. They lie like rugs, they are dissing our President and the You Know Who is going to turn them into African children.
Unfortunately, the powers that be in this country are more worried about being "holier than thou" than actually holy. As I said in my post about Malawi, these people are in genuine trouble but we don't utilize our resources to help anyone, not even ourselves. We utilize them to start bullshit wars half a world a way that do absolutely nothing other than put a strain on our economy. These people are starving, loaded with disease and who know what else. They have no natural resources we're interested in so we're not interested. I suppose when they're all dead we can resettle them later. The problem is if we could show them a little technique, give them some tougher stuff to grow and help provide SANITATION we take for granted, they wouldn't have half the problems they do. But then again, What does the U.S. care in Bush's America.
posted by Stithmeister @ 12:34 PM
Cynicus pointed out this delightful, yet sarcastic, cynical and liberal website. I encourage folks to check it out. I will be adding it to my links.
People ought to check out this rip on the "monopoly" on religion the right seems to think they have.
posted by Stithmeister @ 12:27 PM
Liberal Blog CrooksAndLiars is currently in an Internet shouting match with talk show host and rightwing nut job and Bush lackey Mark Williams (note the editorialization).
Williams made a number of comments many feel (including myself)were racist on a recent episode of "Showbiz Tonight" and C&L made some comments along with a number of responses from the gallery and Williams proceeded to send an email blasting them. My vote is for C&L and Williams continues to show the ass of the conservative, Republican party. He also proceeded to slam popular rapper Kanye West, referring to him as a "Klansman in black face."
Comments on stranded NOLA folks:
Williams: ..they didn't have the necessary brains and common sense to get out of the way of a Cat 5 Hurricane and then when it hit them- stood on the side of the convention Center expiring while reporters were coming and going...
He went on:
Williams: The only role race plays in this is that the American black population has been the prototype for an entire race of people being, being turned into a group of dependents of the government--trapped there, I'm using that word very loosely are screaming we want help, we want help...
The problem is people like this guy talk out of both sides of their mouth. He preaches one thing and then says another. If he were generally interested in making sure people could "do things for themselves" then he would reach out, take the time and make sure the groups he was talking about were what he might call productive parts of society. This whole disaster just goes to show the difference between poor America and everyone else. But, do you expect something different in Bush's America?
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:22 AM
I've added a couple of things recent. First is the link to the Red Cross. They need all the help they can get. I've also added a news feed on the left. It pulls from major news sources so people can find some decent information. Please enjoy and keep coming back. I will post some more later tonight and in the morning.
posted by Stithmeister @ 9:32 PM
Crooks and Liars and a pretty good clip from MSNBC's Imus In The Morning. They were playing an exchange between an MSNBC White House Press Corp and the Scott McClellan.
It's quite amusing when Imus calls Scott McClellan a "sniveling whore."
Check it out.
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:21 PM
I'm on my way home today and I'm listening to public radio as I often do and I hear something that's both heartwarming and troubling. Right now, Southern Africa is facing drought and famine, which means starvation for sure. Malawi caught my attention though.
More than 4 million people will be able to meet their basic nutritional requirements. HIV/AIDS is runs rampant, with almost 900,000 people of the just over 12 million infected. This isn't counting all the other diseases in extremely poor countries like hepatitis A, typhoid, malaria, plague and even schistosomiasis. They've been facing problems most of the summer because they failed to get the rain required for growing corn and they're facing real problems in the coming months because already, one third of their population does get enough to eat. They have a 10.3% infant mortality rate and the average lifespan is 37. It's not old. I'll be 37 in a couple of years myself.
The nation was originally a British Protectorate during the colonial period of Africa and they are wedged between Mozambique and Zambia and Tanzania. They have a multiparty democracy and nearly 80% of the population is Christian. This country is about as poor as poor can get, facing starvation, disease running rampant, and they have no oil, they have some coal and uranium but no research has been done on them. They have very little but they had enough to send to the United States relief effort for New Orleans.
It brings to mind a story from the Bible about the poor woman who gave more than all the rich people when donating to the temple because she gave all she had. She gave when she had nothing to give. They new about their problem as far back as May.
Do you know why the people of Malawi give? "You know the difference between our brothers, black Americans? Malawians are used to hunger. Malwains are used to challenges in life. Those people are not."
The quote comes from the radio program "The World." They were interviewing a woman who helps run the food relief efforts for the UN in Malawi and African nations. They're saying Malawi could become the next Niger.
It's sad the we Americans are so insulated. I'm guilty of it myself. We play video games, go see football games, we live in a world of entertainment. Political campaigns cost millions of dollars, heck nearly a billion in the last presidential race yet we as "Christian" nation don't go help our neighbors in these poor countries. Some say, help themselves, they let themselves get this way. I submit they did not. They were abused and left for dead by western colonialism and while our nations sit fat and well fed with lots of leisure time, we sit and let the masses die of starvation. No child should go to sleep thirsty or hungry... anywhere. Not in America...not in Malawi or any other nation.
posted by Stithmeister @ 7:47 PM
Scanning the blogosphere, I found this. Steve Gilliard has a strong opinion of the crisis in Louisiana. This entry is from 9/03/05.
This guys writes an entertaining blog. Just read then entry. He's clear, concise and to the point. He doesn't mince words and I like that.
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:11 PM
All major media have been turned away from New Orleans as the federal government doesn't want them show the bodies as they start the draining of the city. Some folks from Knight Ridder made it in. A photographer from Lexington got photos. Also a German newspaper turned up a disturbing but realistic photo. I've provided links to the photos. I picked up on this from DailyKos. I don't think this is necessarily a partisan issue and they have declared martial law in NOLA but, the people have a right to see what's going on. If that happens, perhaps the country will demand an appropriate reaction so it doesn't happen again.
Some of the photos are quite gruesome but that's what happens in situations like this. Right now, bloggers are one of the best news sources of the event. It's a little more difficult to regulate them because they don't drive the trucks. I hope they can continue to get out information. This story NEEDS to be told. But then again, it's not much but lies anyway in Bush's America.
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:47 PM
SCOTUS is a but disheveled right now. Justice O'Connor announced her retirement several weeks ago. Bush nominated John Roberts for the slot. Over the weekend, Chief Justice Rehnquist died and left another open slot. Bush moved Roberts to fill the Rehnquist slot but he's still got to cover the first one now. He jokingly suggested today that Attorney General Gonzalez might be his man for the job.
It's not surprising, Gonzalez would be a good "politically correct" candidate for the job. He's hispanic and he's one of Bush's men. He fits the mark nicely. I do like the fact that he pisses off evangelicals but that could be a facade too. We shall see.
Here's an article I picked up on the NYT:
President Bush said Tuesday that his list of candidates to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was "wide open," and he jokingly but pointedly singled out Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.
Mr. Bush's mention of Mr. Gonzales as a possibility, in comments to reporters at the end of a cabinet meeting, fueled concern among conservatives, who were already mobilizing against the attorney general. Conservatives say that Mr. Gonzales has not shown himself to be sufficiently opposed to abortion rights and that nominating him would miss an opportunity to move the court fundamentally to the right.
Mr. Bush said that he had yet to make up his mind and that he would "take a good, long look at who should replace Justice O'Connor." But he mentioned only one name, that of Mr. Gonzales, a longtime friend and aide who, if nominated and confirmed, would be the first Hispanic on the court.
"The list is wide open, which should create some good speculation here in Washington," Mr. Bush said to laughter in the Cabinet Room, with the attorney general sitting directly across from him. "And make sure you notice when I said that, I looked right at Al Gonzales, who can really create speculation."
The president's remark came as the Senate delayed until next week confirmation hearings for Judge John G. Roberts Jr., who had been nominated to fill Justice O'Connor's seat but who was selected by Mr. Bush on Monday as his nominee for chief justice after William H. Rehnquist died on Saturday. The hearings on Judge Roberts's nomination to Justice O'Connor's seat had been scheduled to begin Tuesday.
The White House has already signaled that Mr. Bush will not announce a selection of a new replacement for Justice O'Connor this week. The president went further on Tuesday, suggesting that he would hold off on a selection at least until Judge Roberts's nomination reached the Senate floor, if not until he was confirmed.
There's more to the story but it's clear Gonzalez is at least in the thought process. Many would like to see the president nominate a woman also but as to who, we can only speculate. We do still have Roberts to get through.
posted by Stithmeister @ 8:13 PM
An AP story that just came off the wire says a lot. It discusses the White House's current inability to control the message and the agenda right now. This is absolutely crucial, especially considering this administration is renowned for its ability to control the agenda:
Newsview: White House Falls Out of Step
By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - The Bush White House is known for its ability to remain in control of its message and image, sliding out of crises with barely a scratch. Not this time.
Despite day after day of appearances by President Bush aimed at undoing the political damage from a poor response to Hurricane Katrina, the White House has not been able to regain its footing, already shaken by the war in Iraq and a death toll exceeding 1,880.
The administration on Tuesday struggled to deflect calls for an accounting of who was responsible for a hurricane response that even Bush acknowledged was inadequate. There were increasing calls for the resignation or firing of Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"I think it's clear we're in damage control now," said Norman Ornstein, political analyst at the American Enterprise Institute think tank.
It's a troubling position for Bush, already suffering the lowest approval ratings of his presidency.
The mistakes have come one upon the other.
Even as Katrina was bearing down on the Gulf Coast that Sunday night and early Monday, Aug. 28-29, and the National Hurricane Center was warning of growing danger, the White House didn't alter the president's plans to fly from his Texas ranch to the West to promote a new Medicare prescription drug benefit.
By the time Bush landed in Arizona that Monday, the storm was unleashing its fury on Louisiana and Mississippi. The president inserted into his speech only a brief promise of prayers and federal help.
He continued his schedule in California, and he didn't decide until the next day that he should return to Washington. But it took him another day to get there, as he flew back to Texas to spend another night at his home before leaving for the White House.
Once the president was in Washington, the criticism only intensified.
While a drowned New Orleans descended into lawless misery, Bush delivered remarks from the Rose Garden that were seen as flat and corporate. It was a sharp contrast to the commanding, empathetic president the public rallied around in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
In a television interview, Bush said — mistakenly — that nobody anticipated the breach of the levees in a serious storm.
Even Monday's trip to the region was a redo, hurriedly arranged by the White House over the weekend after lukewarm response to Bush's first in-person visit to the Gulf Coast last Friday.
Bush had raised eyebrows on his first trip by, among other things, picking Sen. Trent Lott (news, bio, voting record), R-Miss. — instead of the thousands of mostly poor and black storm victims — as an example of loss. "Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house — he's lost his entire house — there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch," Bush said with a laugh from an airplane hangar in Mobile, Ala.
In the same remarks, Bush gave FEMA chief Brown — the face for many of the inadequate federal response — a hearty endorsement. "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," Bush said.
Later in Biloxi, Miss., Bush tried to comfort two stunned women wandering their neighborhood clutching Hefty bags, looking in vain for something to salvage from the rubble of their home. He kept insisting they could find help at a Salvation Army center down the street, even after another bystander had informed him it had been destroyed.
And at his last stop that day, at the airport outside of New Orleans, Bush lauded the increasingly desperate city as a great town because he used go there and "enjoy myself — occasionally too much."
Unlike his galvanizing appearance in the rubble of the World Trade Center just days after the 2001 attacks, Bush has stayed far from the epicenter of New Orleans' suffering. His only foray into the city was to its edges to watch crews plugging one of the breached levees on Friday.
On Monday, he skipped the hardest-hit coastal areas entirely, choosing instead to visit Baton Rouge, the state capital about 80 miles northwest of New Orleans, which sustained no damage. He also went to Poplarville, Miss., to walk the streets of a middle-class neighborhood that seemed to suffer little more than snapped trees, a couple off-kilter carport roofs and a downed power line or two.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the president avoided New Orleans to stay out of the way of search-and-rescue operations.
"It's going to be almost impossible to overcome the perception about the president that he didn't show compassion and didn't get control of the policy failures," American University political scientist James Thurber said. "The vivid images that are coming across the television are really destroying his image as a leader."
White House counselor Dan Bartlett said the president and his aides are unconcerned for now about the unrelenting criticism.
"Emotions are running high. People are tired," Bartlett said. "If we focused more of our attention on decisions that have already been made, rather than on those before us, there's potential for making far greater mistakes. ... We really don't have time to play the political game right now."
The administration is losing its touch. How long this lasts is anyone bet but this report demonstrates one thing for sure, it clear demonstrate just how out of touch Bush is with just about everyone in this nation. He main mean well but that's beside the point. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Even Bill Clinton had humble beginnings. Bush is totally inept and this goes to show you, he's the biggest loser in Bush's America.
posted by Stithmeister @ 9:37 PM
I'm currently working in the telecomm industry but one of my passions is still politics.
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