Saturday, October 22, 2005
Clinton helps Kaine raise $1.5 million
Two events with former president push Democrat over $17 million
BY TYLER WHITLEY
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Oct 22, 2005
Former President Bill Clinton remains the Democratic Party's No. 1 draw.
He raised a total of $1.5 million for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Timothy M. Kaine's campaign yesterday at two private appearances in Virginia.
The fundraisers were at a home in the Keswick area of Albemarle County and at a residence in McLean. Clinton made no public appearances.
The total pushes Kaine, the lieutenant governor, over $17 million.
President Bush raised $2 million for the Republican campaign of Jerry W. Kilgore at a home in McLean in July. His wife, Laura, and Vice President Dick Cheney raised $750,000 each for Kilgore, the former attorney general. Cheney appeared briefly Monday at the Goochland County home of Carmax board chairman Richard L. Sharp.
Fundraising is easier in Virginia than in many other states because the Old Dominion has no limits on how much money an individual or corporation can contribute.
Kilgore also raised money yesterday at a residence in Richmond after making ACC football predictions on a sports radio station in Staunton.
Independent candidate H. Russell Potts Jr. of Winchester had television interviews on stations in Norfolk and Washington.
Kaine planned to campaign today in the Richmond area, including the Gold Bowl football game at Virginia Union University. Kilgore will campaign in Colonial Heights and Southwest Virginia, including a rally in Norton. Potts will attend the Heritage Festival in New Market and make an appearance at the Arlington Free Clinic.
Friday, October 21, 2005article on Common Dreams that really cements a lot of the topics we've both been covering over the last few weeks:
I just read a fantastic article in Common Dreams that brings together a lot of the thoughts in my head over the past week about religion, faith and gender roles, as well as the ideals of the Reconstruction Theocratic movement. I'm only going to point out a few of the passages that were most pointed.
• In 1692, the “city upon a hill” faced unprecedented crises. The Crown had revoked its charter and ordered the arch-Puritan colony to tolerate dissenting faiths. Puritans were engaged in a bloody war with Native Americans, who had decimated Casco (Portland) and York. A military expedition to Quebec returned to Boston with heavy losses. A small pox epidemic spread outward from Boston to outlying communities like Salem and its rural offshoot, Salem Village. Salem Village, part of the larger, richer community, was straining against traditional geographic and political boundaries. Its men had to walk ten miles to participate in political affairs and enjoyed no infrastructure for settling local disputes. Nonetheless, their complaints were dismissed.
Much like the many problems that face this nation, many to the right have sought simplistic solutions, and debate on controversial knee-jerk reactionary issues such as abortion, gender roles, homosexuality, and childrearing.
I don't have time to comment now, but I highly recommend reading both it and her comments.
Astrology is scientific theory, courtroom told
Astrology would be considered a scientific theory if judged by the same criteria used by a well-known advocate of Intelligent Design to justify his claim that ID is science, a landmark US trial heard on Tuesday.
Under cross examination, ID proponent Michael Behe, a biochemist at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, admitted his definition of “theory” was so broad it would also include astrology.
The trial is pitting 11 parents from the small town of Dover, Pennsylvania, against their local school board. The board voted to read a statement during a biology class that casts doubt on Darwinian evolution and suggests ID as an alternative.
The parents claim this was an attempt to introduce creationism into the curriculum and that the school board members were motivated by their evangelical Christian beliefs. It is illegal to teach anything with a primarily religious purpose or effect on pupils in government-funded US schools.
Supporters of ID believe that some things in nature are simply too complex to have evolved by natural selection, and therefore must be the work of an intelligent designer.
Behe was called to the stand on Monday by the defence, and testified that ID was a scientific theory, and was not “committed” to religion. His cross examination by the plaintiffs’ attorney, Eric Rothschild of the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton, began on Tuesday afternoon.
Rothschild told the court that the US National Academy of Sciences supplies a definition for what constitutes a scientific theory: “Theory: In science, a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.”
Because ID has been rejected by virtually every scientist and science organisation, and has never once passed the muster of a peer-reviewed journal paper, Behe admitted that the controversial theory would not be included in the NAS definition. “I can’t point to an external community that would agree that this was well substantiated,” he said.
Behe said he had come up with his own “broader” definition of a theory, claiming that this more accurately describes the way theories are actually used by scientists. “The word is used a lot more loosely than the NAS defined it,” he says.
Hypothesis or theory?
Rothschild suggested that Behe’s definition was so loose that astrology would come under this definition as well. He also pointed out that Behe’s definition of theory was almost identical to the NAS’s definition of a hypothesis. Behe agreed with both assertions.
The exchange prompted laughter from the court, which was packed with local members of the public and the school board.
Behe maintains that ID is science: “Under my definition, scientific theory is a proposed explanation which points to physical data and logical inferences.”
“You've got to admire the guy. It’s Daniel in the lion’s den,” says Robert Slade, a local retiree who has been attending the trial because he is interested in science. "But I can’t believe he teaches a college biology class."
The cross examination will continue Wednesday, with the trial expected to finish on 4 November.
I’ll tell you, folks. The first step is to hate anything and everything Christian starting at least at Samhain and preferably sometime around the Autumn Equinox; after all, I find orange to be such a calming color when aiming for eternal damnation. Second, make sure you oppress every Christian you run into on at least an hourly basis. After all, how will they learn their place if you don’t teach them?
But it’s not easy work. Oh, no. To quote O'Reilly "To fight every single day of my life, which is literally what I do in this culture war, this intense battle, it just sucks the energy out of you."
He’s so right. I’m still worn out from last year, when I closed down at least five living nativities and TPed several lawn Christmas trees.
Oh, and for you people with no sense of humor: Yes, that was sarcasm.
O’Reilly is right about one thing: it is draining. I really am still beat from last season, with the overblown stories, the whiny persecution complex, and the twisting of facts. As a non-Christian liberal, I have absolutely no problem with Christmas (in fact, it’s my favorite time of year), and I don’t even mind it as a public holiday, so I’m a little tired of being told that I have some secret agenda to ban the “Sacred Holiday”. I do think that room should be made for those of other faiths, but that seems like such a small thing to ask that this damn persecution complex seems like overwrought theater to make people feel better about ignoring other peoples’ beliefs.
Also, I think there’s something else at work here, and it’s this stupid culture war. I mean, some people really seem to see this as a war on Christmas, a subset of their culture war.
Anyway, who better to speak for the oppressed Christians, than Mr. 5 in the noggin, John Gibson. He has a new book out, and it looks like last year’s attack on those attacking Christmas is going to return again this year. Excuse me while I ready my barf bag.
The War on Christmas : How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought (Hardcover)
Yes, Virginia, there is a war on Christmas. It’s the secularization of America’s favorite holiday and the ever-stronger push toward a neutered "holiday" season so that non-Christians won’t be even the slightest bit offended.
Traditionalists get upset when they’re told—more and more these days—that celebrating Christmas in any public way is a violation of church and state separation. That is certainly not what the founders intended when they wrote, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
John Gibson, a popular anchor for the Fox News Channel, has been digging up evidence about the liberal activists, lawyers, politicians, educators, and media people who are leading the war on Christmas. And he reveals that the situation is worse than you can imagine. For instance:
• In Illinois, state government workers were forbidden from saying the words "Merry Christmas" while at work • In Rhode Island, local officials banned Christians from participating in a public project to decorate the lawn of City Hall • A New Jersey school banned even instrumental versions of traditional Christmas carols • Arizona school officials ruled it unconstitutional for a student to make any reference to the religious history of Christmas in a class project
Millions of Americans are starting to fight back against the secularist forces and against local officials who would rather surrender than be seen as politically incorrect. Gibson shows readers how they can help save Christmas from being twisted beyond recognition, with even the slightest reference to Jesus completely disappearing.
The annual debate will be hotter than ever in 2005, and this book will be perfect for everyone who’s pro-Christmas.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
WASHINGTON Oct 19, 2005 — The senators in charge of Harriet Miers' confirmation are demanding more information from her before hearings begin, one describing the Supreme Court nominee's answers so far as "incomplete to insulting."
Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and senior Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont agreed Wednesday to begin Miers' hearings on Nov. 7, but also jointly sent a letter to the White House counsel asking her to more fully answer a questionnaire she turned in Tuesday.
The two senators also plan to ask the White House to provide information about Miers' work for President Bush, something the White House has said previously it will not do. "A number of Republicans have asked for non-privileged information," Specter said at a news conference.
Miers returned a 57-page questionnaire to the Senate answering questions about her legal career and background and such issues as how she would deal with court cases involving the Bush administration if confirmed as the replacement for retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Specter and Leahy said both Republicans and Democrats on the committee felt she did not tell them enough.
"The comments I have heard range from incomplete to insulting," Leahy said.
"Senator Leahy and I took a look at it and agreed that it was insufficient," Specter said.
Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino said the White House appreciated the timing of the hearings, had received the senators' letter and would respond soon.
Perino said of Miers: "From the first day when she was nominated, she told Senator Specter that she had years of files to go through and she would work to finish the questionnaire as soon as possible, but she would likely have to send follow-ups to provide additional information."
The senators said an official request for "non-privileged" information from the White House would come after they saw Miers' response to their new questions.
Among other things, they want her to explain more about her temporary Washington, D.C., bar suspension for nonpayment of dues and for her to double-check that she submitted all of her litigated work to the committee.
Arrest warrant issued for DeLay
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A Texas court issued a warrant Wednesday for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to appear for booking, where he is likely to face the fingerprinting and photo mug shot he had hoped to avoid.
Bail was initially set at $10,000 as a routine step before his first court appearance on conspiracy and money laundering charges. Travis County court officials said DeLay was ordered to appear at the Fort Bend County jail for booking.
The warrant was "a matter of routine and bond will be posted," DeLay attorney Dick DeGuerin said.
The lawyer declined to say when DeLay would surrender to authorities but said the lawmaker would make his first court appearance Friday morning.
The charges against the Texas Republican stem from allegations that a DeLay-founded Texas political committee funneled corporate money into state GOP legislative races through the National Republican Party. Texas law prohibits use of corporate money to elect state candidates.
DeLay is charged with conspiracy to violate state election laws and money laundering, felony counts that triggered House Republican rules that forced him to step aside as majority leader.
Two separate indictments charge that DeLay and two political associates had the money distributed to state legislative candidates in a roundabout way -- sending it from the political action committee in Texas to the Republican National Committee in Washington and finally back to candidates' campaigns.
DeLay has denied wrongdoing.
In a legal first, a unanimous federal appeals court has ruled that seven ranking Texas prison officials can be sued for damages due to discrimination based on sexual orientation, the American Civil Liberties Union announced today. The ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals came in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of a gay man who was repeatedly raped by prison gangs and whose pleas for help were ignored by officials.
Well, yesterday the verdict came in, and the officials were found not guilty. This is Texas Justice at its finest, folks. Someone who has been repeatedly raped begs for help and officials do nothing to protect them, based on the idea that there’s no “hard evidence”, despite the fact that he'd probably be dead if he named names or provided hard evidence while his sentence was still ongoing.
Besides that, their argument falls apart when you learn they made statements like this, which made me want to vomit:
According to the ACLU complaint, Johnson appeared before the prison’s all-white classification committee seven separate times asking to be placed in safe keeping from predatory prisoners. Instead of protecting Johnson, the ACLU complaint charges, the committee members taunted him and called him a “dirty tramp,” and one said, “There’s no reason why Black punks can’t fight if they don’t want to fuck.”
The truth is that the prison system failed to uphold his constitutional rights, plain and simple, and now the entire justice system is upholding that failure because prison rape is “not a problem." Everyone thinks these guys are already in jail, so let what happens happen. The only people I hate more than those who don't see a problem with rape happening in prisons are those who let it happen. And let’s not even talk about how increasingly stringent policies for drug arrests are manufacturing more and more “criminals”.
The whole situation is sickening.
Jurors Reject Texas Prison Rape Lawsuit
By ANGELA K. BROWN
WICHITA FALLS, Texas (AP) - Six prison officials were found not liable Tuesday in a federal lawsuit claiming they violated a gay convict's constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment by ignoring his pleas for protection from inmate rapes.
Roderick Keith Johnson, 37, had sought unspecified damages against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials at the Allred Unit near Wichita Falls, where he was housed for 18 months for burglary.
"I think the trial will have made a difference even though it didn't go our way," said Johnson's attorney, Margaret Winter. "I really think it's been a wake-up call to public officials in Texas."
The defendants smiled and hugged their attorneys and each other after the verdict was read. The jury of six men and six women deliberated nearly eight hours over two days.
Johnson, whose nearly four-year prison term ended in 2003, testified that prison gangs forced him to be their sex slave while the officials never investigated his reports of abuse or kept him in a safer area for vulnerable inmates.
The defendants and other prison employees testified they could not substantiate Johnson's half a dozen or so rape claims because he changed his stories or there was no medical evidence. They said Johnson usually seemed upbeat in prison, wearing tight pants and flirting with a corrections officer.
Juror Randy Shelton, 43, said he didn't think there was enough evidence of the assaults. "He probably was (raped), but he never came out with a rape test," Shelton said. International Herald Tribune:
U.S. refuses to rule out Syria strike
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2005
WASHINGTON The United States refused on Wednesday to rule out possible military action against Syria but said it had not exhausted diplomatic moves to get Damascus to change its ways over Iraq and Lebanon.
Addressing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said both Syria and Iran were allowing fighters and military assistance to reach insurgents in Iraq.
"Syria and Iran must decide whether they wish to side with the cause of war or with the cause of peace," Rice said at a hearing called to discuss U.S. strategy in Iraq, where more than 150,000 American troops are struggling to end an insurgency.
Pressed by senators over whether the Bush administration was planning military action against Syria in particular, Rice said the United States was still on a "diplomatic course" with Damascus but the military option remained open.
"The president never takes any option off the table and he shouldn't," said Rice when asked about a military option. The Bush administration has accused Syria of doing too little to stop foreign fighters from entering neighboring Iraq. Syria, in turn, says the United States has not done enough to secure the border or deliver technical help it has promised.
Rice declined to say whether the president would present any plans to Congress in advance of starting any possible military action against Syria, saying she did not want to circumscribe his powers.
Her strong criticism of Syria came as the United Nations was preparing to release a report on Friday on the assassination last February of Rafik al-Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister.
The United States, France and others, say they believe Syria might have played a role in the killing of Hariri and 20 others in a bombing in Beirut on Feb. 14 and are calling for strong action if that is the case. President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has said that his country was not involved in Hariri's death, and he reiterated this in an interview with a
German newspaper released on Wednesday, telling Die Zeit that Syria is "100 percent innocent."
Rice was in New York on Tuesday, and she discussed options with the UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, before the release of the report by a UN team led by a German prosecutor, Detlev Mehlis.
First up we have a bit more confirmation on something that I think a lot of us already suspected: Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld hijacked the foreign policy apparatus of the U.S. and used it to push the PNAC agenda. I suspect Mr. Wolfowitz also had a hand in this, but he’s not mentioned. He also says that Condoleeza is “part of the problem”:
Instead of ensuring that Mr Bush received the best possible advice, “she would side with the president to build her intimacy with the president”.
Interesting. So if she’s the new vice president, will it be more of the same?
The article offers a decent summary of the speech, but a video is also available. It's pretty fascinating…here is the link:
And here is the story, from the Financial Times:
Cheney 'cabal' hijacked foreign policy
By Edward Alden in Washington
Vice-President Dick Cheney and a handful of others had hijacked the government's foreign policy apparatus, deciding in secret to carry out policies that had left the US weaker and more isolated in the world, the top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed on Wednesday.
In a scathing attack on the record of President George W. Bush, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Mr Powell until last January, said: “What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.
“Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences.”
Among his other charges:
The detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere was “a concrete example” of the decision-making problem, with the president and other top officials in effect giving the green light to soldiers to abuse detainees. “You don't have this kind of pervasive attitude out there unless you've condoned it.”
Condoleezza Rice, the former national security adviser and now secretary of state, was “part of the problem”. Instead of ensuring that Mr Bush received the best possible advice, “she would side with the president to build her intimacy with the president”.
The military, particularly the army and marine corps, is overstretched and demoralised. Officers, Mr Wilkerson claimed, “start voting with their feet, as they did in Vietnam. . . and all of a sudden your military begins to unravel”.
Mr Wilkerson said former president George H.W. Bush “one of the finest presidents we have ever had” understood how to make foreign policy work. In contrast, he said, his son was “not versed in international relations and not too much interested in them either”.
“There's a vast difference between the way George H.W. Bush dealt with major challenges, some of the greatest challenges at the end of the 20th century, and effected positive results in my view, and the way we conduct diplomacy today.”
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
There is one enormous journalism scandal hidden in Judith Miller's Oct. 16th first person article about the (perhaps lesser) CIA leak scandal. And that is Ms. Miller's revelation that she was granted a DoD security clearance while embedded with the WMD search team in Iraq in 2003.
This is as close as one can get to government licensing of journalists and the New York Times (if it knew) should never have allowed her to become so compromised. It is all the more puzzling that a reporter who as a matter of principle would sacrifice 85 days of her freedom to protect a source would so willingly agree to be officially muzzled and thereby deny potentially valuable information to the readers whose right to be informed she claims to value so highly.
One must assume that Ms. Miller was required to sign a standard and legally binding agreement that she would never divulge classified information to which she became privy, without risk of criminal prosecution. And she apparently plans to adhere to the letter of that self-censorship deal; witness her dilemma at being unable to share classified information with her editors.
In an era where the Bush Administration seeks to conceal mountains of government activity under various levels of security classification, why would any self-respecting news organization or individual journalist agree to become part of such a system? Readers would be right to question whether a reporter is operating under a security clearance and, by definition, withholding critical information. Does a newspaper not have the obligation to disclose to its readers when a reporter is not only embedded with a military unit but also officially proscribed in what she may report without running afoul of espionage laws? Was that ever done in Ms. Miller's articles from Iraq?
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Did Washington 'test' bioweapons on D.C. war protesters?
It is the most perplexing "non story" of the American terror era: For the first time ever, a half-dozen of the bioweapons air sensors installed around Washington, D.C., all set off alarms. Over a single 24-hour period, each had collected evidence of airborne quantities of the deadly bacteria francisella tularensis.
The bacteria is "one of six biological weapons most likely to be used against the United States," according to the federal government. It causes a deadly disease known as tularemia, which responds to treatment with antibiotics but otherwise kills half of its victims ... many of whom would assume they had common flu until it was too late.
And on the day those six sensors detected the deadly bacteria over a miles-long area of Washington concentrated on the National Mall, the largest anti-war demonstration since the Vietnam era was in progress. The news was dumped on a Friday night a whole week later, and promptly vanished ...
Meanwhile, a quiet nationwide warning by the Centers for Disease Control went out to U.S. doctors, advising them to look for patients with tularemia symptoms.
And in vivid contrast to this morning's fictional terror freakout in Baltimore and the New York subway hysteria of two weeks ago, the Department of Homeland Security expressed no concern for the hundreds of thousands of anti-war demonstrators who may have been infected with a biological weapon.
"It is alarming that health officials ... were only notified six days after the bacteria was first detected," House Government Reform chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., wrote in an Oct. 3 letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. "Have DHS and CDC analysts been able to determine if the pathogen detected was naturally occurring or the result of a terrorist attack?"
Government officials say the sensors detected a natural event. "There
is no known nexus to terror or criminal behavior," Russ Knocke,
spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, told the Washington Post.
"We believe this to be environmental."
Tularemia has been developed as a weapon by the U.S. military and is
stockpiled at America's bioweapons labs:
In the 1950s and 1960s, the US military developed weapons that would
disseminate F tularensis aerosols; concurrently, it conducted research to
better understand the pathophysiology of tularemia and to develop
vaccines and antibiotic prophylaxis and treatment regimens. In some studies,
volunteers were infected with F tularensis by direct aerosol delivery
systems and by exposures in an aerosol chamber.
Today, Salon.com revisits the possible bioweapons attack on the
nation's capital. Experts are bewildered by the lack of government concern,
and raise a question that should have sent the American news media into a
Another possibility is that somebody was testing U.S. biological
weapons defenses. How sensitive are the sensors? How quickly and effectively
can the government react?
"The Department of Homeland Security would have to consider the
possibility that it was neither natural nor an attack, but that it was a
testing of the system," says Alan Pearson, a former DHS official, who is now
the biological and chemical weapons director at the Center for Arms
Control and Non-Proliferation, a nonpartisan organization. "Was somebody
trying to see what would happen?"
"Somebody" testing U.S. biological weapons defenses ... on Washington's
Mall, on the very day an estimated 300,000 Americans gathered to
protest the White House's endless war. If somebody within the government was
running an experiment to "see what would happen," were they satisfied
that the news media would all but ignore the event if not directed to
The Bangor (Maine) Daily News seems to be the only other publication to
revisit what could have been either the biggest biological terror
attack in U.S. history or a government "drill" using live bioweapons on
citizens who oppose the nation's wars.
Responding Tuesday to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire, Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers gave few clues as to whether she had developed views on constitutional issues, but in material she provided to the committee she revealed that in 1989 she had supported a proposed constitutional amendment banning abortions except when necessary to save the life of the mother.
As a candidate for Dallas city council in 1989, Miers gave her view on the proposed constitutional amendment in response to a questionnaire sent out by the Texans United for Life group.
Her view in 1989 does not indicate how she would rule on the 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision, if she were to be confirmed to the Supreme Court. The Roe decision made abortion legal in all states.
In 1989, supporting a constitutional ban was largely a symbolic position to take — since it was clear that the required three-quarters of the states would not ratify such a proposed amendment.
Yet any such expression of support for banning abortion could jeopardize her confirmation, since most Senate Democrats and eight Senate Republicans are on the record as saying Roe v. Wade should not be overturned, as such a constitutional amendment would do.
In her written reply to the Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire, Miers said she saw the need for judges to restrain themselves and not set policy. present this point of view - especially when it's at odds with his boss's views:
"Return every single illegal entrant -- no exceptions," Chertoff said in prepared testimony to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on proposals to overhaul the immigration system.
Chertoff was joined by Labor Secretary Elaine Chao in presenting administration views on the illegal immigrant problem. He said President Bush remains committed to a comprehensive approach including gaining control of the border, enforcing workplace laws and establishing a temporary worker program.
Am I the only one who sees a contradiction there? Seal the border, round up the illegals working today, return them all, and, oh yeah, create a system so they can stay? What exactly is their message? I'm intrigued to see how they can defend this as internally consistent.
The truth is, they can't - Bush is going to defend whatever is economically advantageous to his constituents - Big Business - and there is absolutely no way they're going to give up all that cheap labor. I think this is just pandering to the Minutemen-like wing of the Republican party...again, attempting to be all things to all people. We've seen how well that's worked for them.
Admitting he might have possibly been responsible for something indirectly at some point but probably not with regard to Katrina? Zilch.
The major terrorism speech? Zip.
The most interesting part of all this is that his support with his bread and butter constituents, the suburbanites, has dropped 10 points in a month - with the last poll being taken after he tried to make himself come off as more effective and concerned during Hurricane Rita.
The GOP base still seems loyal, but they increasingly appear out of touch with the rest of the country.
Bush's job rating continues to drop
Poll shows president's performance approval at low point
(CNN) -- President Bush's job approval rating continues to plummet, with 39 percent of Americans surveyed in the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll supporting his performance, compared to 58 percent expressing disapproval.
The approval rating was lowest the poll has recorded during Bush's presidency, down from 45 percent in a survey taken September 26-28, and the disapproval rating was up from 50 percent.
The latest poll results, released Monday, were based on interviews with 1,012 adult Americans conducted by telephone October 13-16. In both surveys, the questions on approval ratings had a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Bush has seen his approval rating steadily decline since he was sworn in for a second term in January, when 57 percent approved of his handling of the job and 40 percent disapproved.
The rating in the September 26-28 poll was an uptick that reflected the public's generally favorable view of the way Bush handled Hurricane Rita. (Full story)
His previous low of 40 percent came earlier in September and reflected the public's strongly negative view of his actions following Hurricane Katrina. (Full story)
Until then, pollsters attributed the president's poll slippage largely to perceptions of the administration's handling of the war in Iraq. (Full story)
In the latest poll, Bush's support appeared to have eroded even among suburban residents, who had been among his strongest backers, falling from 51 percent in last month's poll to 41 percent in the latest survey.
Among urban residents, his approval rating did not budge from 34 percent, and among rural residents it was almost the same, 44 percent versus 45 percent last month.
The sampling error for these and other questions that were broken down among groups was plus or minus 7 percentage points in both polls.
Base remains supportive
Bush's base appeared to remain largely supportive, with 62 percent of respondents who described themselves as conservative approving of his performance, down from 68 percent last month.
Support from moderates fell from 40 percent to 32 percent, and remained about the same for liberals, rising from 14 percent to 17 percent.
And the GOP faithful remained overwhelmingly steadfast in their support, with 84 percent voicing approval, versus 85 percent in last month's poll.
That was not the case among those who identified themselves as Democrats, whose support for Bush dropped from 15 percent to 8 percent.
It appeared that many Americans do not know what to make of the travails of top Bush political adviser Karl Rove, who was interviewed again last week by a grand jury regarding his possible role in leaking the name of a CIA operative.
Asked their opinion Rove, 22 percent of respondents said it was favorable, down from 25 percent in July, and 39 percent said it was unfavorable, up from 34 percent in July.
But 39 percent said they were unsure, down from 41 percent in July's poll. Both questions had a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Cheney’s office:
As the investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's name hurtles to an apparent conclusion, special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has zeroed in on the role of Vice President Cheney's office, according to lawyers familiar with the case and government officials. The prosecutor has assembled evidence that suggests Cheney's long-standing tensions with the CIA contributed to the unmasking of operative Valerie Plame.
In grand jury sessions, including with New York Times reporter Judith Miller, Fitzgerald has pressed witnesses on what Cheney may have known about the effort to push back against ex-diplomat and Iraq war critic Joseph C. Wilson IV, including the leak of his wife's position at the CIA, Miller and others said. But Fitzgerald has focused more on the role of Cheney's top aides, including Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, lawyers involved in the case said.
As a bit of a side note, I pride myself on my knowledge of Intelligence agencies, including their basic operating framework, aegis, and positions within the Intelligence Community. I’m a bit of a junkie for the stuff; I’ve always had a fascination with the arcane and untouchable, and have eaten up every story about the American Intelligence Community that I can get my hands on. I don’t post what I know, how I know it, or its connection to the world at large because I respect the institution, for all its flaws and admitted evils over the years. The CIA and its brethren, the NSA, NRO, DIA, and other agencies, developed into respectable organizations during the Clinton years; there are still MOs in use from that time that are admirable.
That said, the agencies represent the Administrations. That’s why I wasn’t surprised to learn of Rendition or the agencies’ roles in Abu Ghraib and other torture scandals; this is an Administration hellbent on damaging other people, and of course the Community will be forced into that role, like it or not.
That’s why this story strikes me as such a surprise. If the CIA is really just an arm of the White House, then what is the disconnect between it and Cheney? I also didn’t really understand the relevance of a relationship between the Vice President’s office and the CIA. Then I thought about it, and the entire thing makes sense in the context of Cheney’s connection with the PNAC agenda and the CIA’s stubbornness on the yellow cake story, which would have put them at odds with that agenda.
The old CIA was a remnant of the Clinton Administration; it believed in verifiability, accountability, and reliability. That’s why Tenet had to go, and that’s why Plame had to be outed. Porter Goss is a symptom of the same sickness that created this whole scandal, that led an Administration to betray the very people that it is elected to protect and serve. I make no bones about not liking Goss, and when I think about these two events in tandem, the entire picture makes a great deal of sense. I wonder if that’s what’s going on in Fitzgerald’s mind.
Also, if Cheney goes down, do we get a new Vice President? What happens at that point? I’m interested in seeing how this develops…
Monday, October 17, 2005James at GOI...
Monday, October 17, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT
Two days after President Bush announced Harriet Miers's Supreme Court nomination, James Dobson of Focus on the Family raised some eyebrows by declaring on his radio program: "When you know some of the things that I know--that I probably shouldn't know--you will understand why I have said, with fear and trepidation, that I believe Harriet Miers will be a good justice."
Mr. Dobson quelled the controversy by saying that Karl Rove, the White House's deputy chief of staff, had not given him assurances about how a Justice Miers would vote. "I would have loved to have known how Harriet Miers views Roe v. Wade," Mr. Dobson said last week. "But even if Karl had known the answer to that--and I'm certain that he didn't because the president himself said he didn't know--Karl would not have told me that. That's the most incendiary information that's out there, and it was never part of our discussion."
It might, however, have been part of another discussion. On Oct. 3, the day the Miers nomination was announced, Mr. Dobson and other religious conservatives held a conference call to discuss the nomination. One of the people on the call took extensive notes, which I have obtained. According to the notes, two of Ms. Miers's close friends--both sitting judges--said during the call that she would vote to overturn Roe.
What followed, according to the notes, was a free-wheeling discussion about many topics, including same-sex marriage. Justice Hecht said he had never discussed that issue with Ms. Miers.
Then an unidentified voice asked the two men, "Based on your personal knowledge of her, if she had the opportunity, do you believe she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade?"
"Absolutely," said Judge Kinkeade."
"I agree with that," said Justice Hecht. "I concur."
Shortly thereafter, according to the notes, Mr. Dobson apologized and said he had to leave the discussion: "That's all I need to know and I will get off and make some calls." (When asked about his comments in the notes I have, Mr. Dobson confirmed some of them and said it was "very possible" he made the others. He said he did not specifically recall the comments of the two judges on Roe v. Wade.)
The benign interpretation of the comments is that the two judges were speaking on behalf of themselves, not Ms. Miers or the White House, and they were therefore offering a prediction, not an assurance, about how she would come down on Roe v. Wade. But the people I interviewed who were on the call took the comments as an assurance, and at least one based his support for Ms. Miers on them.
U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy attempted to rescue six men who had become trapped by high tide on a jetty off Hyannisport on Sunday.
The Massachusetts Democrat eventually left the rescue to Hyannis firefighters, The Cape Cod Times reported Monday.
Kennedy was walking his two dogs on the shore at 11:15 a.m. when he spotted the men cut off from shore by the rising waters. They had been fishing on a jetty that begins at the tip of the Kennedy compound.
Tides had risen over the patchy rocks, which made it difficult to walk back to shore.
Kennedy and a friend tried to rescue the men using a 13-foot boat but rough waters forced them back.
A crew from the Hyannis Fire Department picked them up. The men, in their 20s, were not identified. They were brought to Cape Cod Hospital with mild hypothermia.
Bush to Blair: First Iraq, Then Saudi
By Marie Woolf
The Independent UK
Sunday 16 October 2005
George Bush told the Prime Minister two months before the invasion of Iraq that Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea may also be dealt with over weapons of mass destruction, a top secret Downing Street memo shows.
The US President told Tony Blair, in a secret telephone conversation in January 2003 that he "wanted to go beyond Iraq".
He implied that the military action against Saddam Hussein was only a first step in the battle against WMD proliferation in a series of countries.
Mr Bush said he "wanted to go beyond Iraq in dealing with WMD proliferation", says the letter on Downing Street paper, marked secret and personal.
No 10 said yesterday it would "not comment on leaked documents". But the revelation that Mr Bush was considering tackling other countries over WMD before the Iraq war has shocked MPs. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have been close allies of the US in the war against terror and have not been considered targets in relation to WMD.
The confidential memo recording the President's explosive remarks was written by Michael Rycroft, then the Prime Minister's private secretary and foreign policy adviser. He sent the two-page letter recording the conversation between the two leaders on 30 January 2003 to Simon McDonald, who was then private secretary to Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary.
Mr Rycroft said it "must only be shown to those with a real need to know ".
The revelation that Mr Bush told the Prime Minister Iraq should be seen as a first step comes in the American edition of Lawless World, a book by the leading international lawyer Philippe Sands QC, who is also a professor of law at University College London and senior barrister at Matrix chambers, which he shares with Cherie Blair.
"The conversation seems to indicate that Iraq was not seen as an isolated issue but as a first step in relation to a broader project," he said. "What is interesting is the mention of Saudi Arabia, which to the best of my knowledge had not at that time been identified particularly as a country with WMD. An alternative view is that the mention of Saudi Arabia indicates that the true objectives were not related exclusively to WMD."
The inclusion of Pakistan, also a key US ally, is also surprising, although there has in the past been concern about nuclear proliferation in that country. has written a story on the war between the House, the Senate, and the Administration over torture, revealing just what vile people are in charge of our country. One passage particularly struck me:
Last summer, at the order of the president, this-and two other corollary McCain amendments to the same appropriations bill-resulted in Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist yanking the entire $440 billion appropriations bill off the Senate floor. The White House was afraid the McCain amendments setting clear standards of prisoner treatment would pass.
Before that happened, Dick Cheney had been sent to muscle McCain to withdraw his amendments. McCain refused. More White House pressure was put on McCain and some of his co-sponsors at the beginning of October, when the appropriations bill came up again. Having refused to crack under North Vietnamese torturers, McCain was not moved.
Yes, God forbid we ACTUALLY take a stand and define torture as something that Americans do not do. We must mouth the words, not actually live them.
But consider what the continuing threat of a presidential veto-of funds for American servicemen on the front lines in Iraq-reveals about George W. Bush.
Bush insistently believes that, as commander in chief, he is the law, and neither Congress nor the courts have any right to interfere with his conduct in the war on terrorism.
When there are adverse court decisions partially disagreeing with him, Bush grudgingly appears to back off briefly, but he continues to move in the courts to assure his supremacy.
Speaks a lot about the people in charge of our nation. What does it say about the people who re-elected him, though?
Oh, Hentoff also covers the story of Captain Ian Fishback, a veteran of this Iraq war, who stands with McCain against torture.
Captain Fishback wrote-and somebody should show this to the commander in chief, who doesn't read newspapers-"Overcoming the fear posed by terrorist threats is a tremendous test of our courage. Will we confront danger and adversity in order to preserve our ideals, or will our courage and commitment to individual rights wither at the prospect of sacrifice? My response is simple. If we abandon our ideals in the face of adversity and aggression, then those ideals were never really in our possession."
It’s a great piece; I highly recommend it.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
My Four Hours Testifying in the Federal Grand Jury Room
By Judith Miller
The New York Times
Sunday 16 October 2005
Mr. Fitzgerald asked me to read the final three paragraphs aloud to the grand jury. "The public report of every other reporter's testimony makes clear that they did not discuss Ms. Plame's name or identity with me," Mr. Libby wrote.
The prosecutor asked my reaction to those words. I replied that this portion of the letter had surprised me because it might be perceived as an effort by Mr. Libby to suggest that I, too, would say we had not discussed Ms. Plame's identity. Yet my notes suggested that we had discussed her job.
In July 2003, Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador, created a firestorm by publishing an essay in The New York Times that accused the Bush administration of using faulty intelligence to justify the war in Iraq. The administration, he charged, ignored findings of a secret mission he had undertaken for the Central Intelligence Agency - findings, he said, that undermined claims that Iraq was seeking uranium for a nuclear bomb.
It was the first time Mr. Wilson had gone public with his criticisms of the White House. Yet he had already become a focus of significant scrutiny at the highest levels of the Bush administration.
Almost two weeks earlier, in an interview with me on June 23, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, discussed Mr. Wilson's activities and placed blame for intelligence failures on the CIA. In later conversations with me, on July 8 and July 12, Mr. Libby, who is Mr. Cheney's top aide, played down the importance of Mr. Wilson's mission and questioned his performance.
My notes indicate that well before Mr. Wilson published his critique, Mr. Libby told me that Mr. Wilson's wife may have worked on unconventional weapons at the CIA.
My notes do not show that Mr. Libby identified Mr. Wilson's wife by name. Nor do they show that he described Valerie Wilson as a covert agent or "operative," as the conservative columnist Robert D. Novak first described her in a syndicated column published on July 14, 2003. (Mr. Novak used her maiden name, Valerie Plame.)
This is what I told a federal grand jury and the special counsel investigating whether administration officials committed a crime by leaking Ms. Plame's identity and the nature of her job to reporters.
During my testimony on Sept. 30 and Oct. 12, the special counsel, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, asked me whether Mr. Libby had shared classified information with me during our several encounters before Mr. Novak's article. He also asked whether I thought Mr. Libby had tried to shape my testimony through a letter he sent to me in jail last month. And Mr. Fitzgerald asked whether Mr. Cheney had known what his chief aide was doing and saying.
My interview notes show that Mr. Libby sought from the beginning, before Mr. Wilson's name became public, to insulate his boss from Mr. Wilson's charges. According to my notes, he told me at our June meeting that Mr. Cheney did not know of Mr. Wilson, much less know that Mr. Wilson had traveled to Niger, in West Africa, to verify reports that Iraq was seeking to acquire uranium for a weapons program.
As I told the grand jury, I recalled Mr. Libby's frustration and anger about what he called "selective leaking" by the CIA and other agencies to distance themselves from what he recalled as their unequivocal prewar intelligence assessments. The selective leaks trying to shift blame to the White House, he told me, were part of a "perverted war" over the war in Iraq. I testified about these conversations after spending 85 days in jail for refusing to cooperate with the grand jury inquiry. Having been summoned to testify before the grand jury, I went to jail instead, to protect my source - Mr. Libby - because he had not communicated to me his personal and voluntary permission to speak.
At the behest of President Bush and Mr. Fitzgerald, Mr. Libby had signed a blanket form waiver, which his lawyer signaled to my counsel was not really voluntary, even though Mr. Libby's lawyer also said it had enabled other reporters to cooperate with the grand jury. But I believed that nothing short of a personal letter and a telephone call would allow me to assess whether Mr. Libby truly wished to free me from the pledge of confidentiality I had given him. The letter and the telephone call came last month.
Equally central to my decision was Mr. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor. He had declined to confine his questioning to the subject of Mr. Libby. This meant I would have been unable to protect other confidential sources who had provided information - unrelated to Mr. Wilson or his wife - for articles published in The Times. Last month, Mr. Fitzgerald agreed to limit his questioning.
Without both agreements, I would not have testified and would still be in jail.
I testified in Washington twice - most recently last Wednesday after finding a notebook in my office at The Times that contained my first interview with Mr. Libby. Mr. Fitzgerald told the grand jury that I was testifying as a witness and not as a subject or target of his inquiry.
This account is based on what I remember of my meetings with Mr. Fitzgerald and my testimony before the grand jury. I testified for almost four hours, much of that time taken by Mr. Fitzgerald asking me to decipher and explain my notes of my interviews with Mr. Libby, which I had provided to him.
I was not permitted to take notes of what I told the grand jury, and my interview notes on Mr. Libby are sketchy in places. It is also difficult, more than two years later, to parse the meaning and context of phrases, of underlining and of parentheses. On one page of my interview notes, for example, I wrote the name "Valerie Flame." Yet, as I told Mr. Fitzgerald, I simply could not recall where that came from, when I wrote it or why the name was misspelled.
I testified that I did not believe the name came from Mr. Libby, in part because the notation does not appear in the same part of my notebook as the interview notes from him.
You can read the whole story at Truthout.