is negotiating a possible deal with the Justice Department, in which he would agree to plead guilty and cooperate in the wide-ranging political corruption investigation focused on his dealings with members of Congress and executive branch officials, people familiar with the talks said last night.
in the Wikipedia. WaPo's chart
outlining Abramoff's dealings. A dKos diary
pointing out some omissions in the chart. [Newsfilter]
"I learned this week
that on December 6, Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them out of running the story
..." President Bush really
did not want journalists to reveal his NSA spying program against Americans [discussed here
.] And in yesterday's rare press conference
, the President said: "An open debate about law would say to the enemy, 'Here's what we're going to do.' And this is an enemy which adjusts... Any public hearings on programs will say to the enemy, 'Here's what they do. Adjust.' This is a war." Neocon guru William Kristol argues
that talk of Bush being an "imperial" president" is "demagogic" and "irresponsible" since "Congress has the right and the ability to judge whether President Bush has in fact used his executive discretion soundly." What is the role of "open debate" in a war against terror that may last for decades?
Senate Blocks Patriot Act Renewal
In a 52-47 vote, the Republican majority was unable to obtain the 60 votes necessary to end the bipartisan fillibuster. Roll call is in the title link as well as here
, Patriot Act provisions set to expire on 12/31
that the House passed HR 4241
this morning by a narrow vote almost entirely along party lines
. This is part of the Republican Party's Operation Offset
(previously discussed here
) designed to cut spending to counter the deficit, growing by leaps and bounds because of Iraq & Katrina (among other things). Now they'll have to work to reconcile it with the Senate version, SR 1932
(voting record here
). You may want to Write your representative
to let them know how you feel. You might also want to express your displeasure to the two Dems who didn't vote, considering the bill passed by a margin of 2.
[Mugshot filter] The Hammer is tanned, rested, and ready
... to kick some partisan-hack a**! But seriously folks, has Tom DeLay ever looked better in his life? Book 'im, Danno -- and don't muss that fabulous hair!
"Undeclared Global Weather War" : you're now living in a bad James Bond flick
Yeah, I know: a Hoagland morass.'Cept there's that damn pending weather mod bill in Congress
, the anomalous "tuning fork" patterns that seem to guide recent hurricanes ( see main link, esp. Ophelia footage ) , the USAF document, "Weather as a Force Multiplier"
, the '97 quote by Secretary of defense William Cohen..... Is somebody lobbing Hurricanes at the US ? Weather sure has been weird, I'll say that. Could it be......TeslaFinger™ ?
is what the Republicans are calling their budget cut plan to pay for Hurricane Katrina. Will there be tax cuts for the rich? Nope. The great majority of the proposed cuts target the elderly
and the poor, heavily targeting Medicare
. They eliminate all federal funding for energy conservation, the "Energy Star" program
, energy efficient vehicles, hydrogen vehicles, high-speed rail
, light rail
, PBS, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, AmeriCorps, the "Even Start"
program, the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, security/anti-drug funding for innercity schools, and all federal loans to grad students. Also facing cuts are the Global AIDS Initiative, the EPA, the Center for Disease Control, pensions and healthcare plans for retired federal workers, job programs and revitalization funds for poor neighborhoods, the school lunch program, community health centers, and health care for soldiers.
Petroleum Industry Christmas Wishlist
Conservative pundits are quick to point out that no "new refineries have been built since 1976
", and even quicker to blame "environmentalists". But the facts just don't support that. Refiners have chosen the environment that they do business in, and in some cases have willingly contributed to it. (Plenty of data here
.) Here's why:
- The government has allowed the industry to merge, consolidate, and restrict refining capacity, thus impacting pricing, supply, and demand.
- The quest for profits has caused the need to run extremely lean supplies (ie. no stockpiles of crude - it arrives when you need it, not before) and has resulted in susceptability to wild volatility in prices, but has allowed refiners to operate at very high efficiency but with no margin of excess capacity for temporary shortages, disasters, etc.
- Oil refiners trimmed back capacity after the Oil Crash of the early 1980s and have been unwilling to reinvest in new technologies unless environmental restrictions and local fuel cleanliness mandates are reduced.
As one would expect, Bush's solutions nicely match up with the wishlists of OPEC
and US refiners
, who in the past few decades have largely undone the breakup of Standard Oil (via
) via mergers and joint ventures. Representative Joe Barton
, (R-TX), Chairperson of the Energy and Commerce Committee
, incidentally up for reelection and well funded
, by "the industry
" through various Political Action Committees
, has released a draft of the predictably named (to be found here
when released) Gasoline for America's Security Act of 2005
(committee discusion and webcast are scheduled for 9/28 at 8 am.)
Given that new refineries are years away, there is still no solution for current prices or the (90%?) increase in prices since January of 2001
Beyond DeLay: The 13 Most Corrupt Members of Congress. CREW
(Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) has released a report detailing the dirty business of many members of Congress.
Paying for Katrina:
Republican congressman Zach Wamp of Tennessee suggested today that the costs associated with Katrina were 'good reason to at least delay' expanding the Medicare prescription drug benefit. Should the elderly and poor be expected to bear this burden?
Four Amendments & a Funeral
Rolling Stone accompanies Bernie Sanders (I-VT) before the Rules Committee. It ain't pretty.
The aide laughed and explained that the best time for me to go would be just before the summer recess, a period when Congress rushes to pass a number of appropriations bills. "It's like orgy season," he said. "You won't want to miss that."
Now, if Tom DeLay & Co. were going to disallow Sanders' amendment, they were going to have to openly defy a majority vote of the U.S. Congress to do so. Which, it turns out, isn't much of a stumbling block.
In essence, the U.S. was giving $5 billion to a state-subsidized British utility to build up the infrastructure of our biggest trade competitor, along the way sharing advanced nuclear technology with a Chinese conglomerate that had, in the past, shared nuclear know-how with Iran and Pakistan.
Will not make you feel better about the Republican party leadership.
Previous Bernie Sanders, and his battle with the PATRIOT Act
Attention Citizens of New York:
The illegal searches begin tomorrow. And Congress
also voted to keep the PATRIOT ACT indefinitely. I can't say I'm not surprised, but I have to say I'm very disappointed.
- easy access to US Congressional Research Service Reports
"And the 'Soldier Kicking Asshat of the Month' award goes to..." Rep. Duncan Hunter
(R - San Diego), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, who stripped a bipartisan-approved amendment out of the defense budget which would have given America's 1.1 million reservists the ability to pay $75 a month / $233 per family for healthcare insurance. Hunter claimed that the extra cost would blow the DoD's budget. The cost? About $770 million a year over five years... approximately .0018% of the yearly defense budget, or about 2/3rds the cost of a single stealth bomber.
What your Congress is doing while you sleep...
Tacking riders on to military spending bills is nothing new and an easy way to get legislation passed. With the recently passed Real ID Act, however, post-9/11 America takes a decidely fascist left turn:
§102(c) "No court shall have jurisdiction to hear any cause or claim arising from any action undertaken, or any decision made, by the Secretary of Homeland Security, or order compensatory, declaratory, injunctive, equitable, or any other relief for damage alleged to arise from any such action or decision."
This new legislation dramatically — if quietly — usurps the separation of powers established over 200 years ago, and the consequences
are absolutely chilling, allowing the Department of Homeland Security to commit any criminal behavior it sees fit, without having to answer to existing state and federal laws. All the way from checking IDs on request, to detaining political undesirables, to South American-style "disappearances". And where are our so-called liberal media
outlets to report on this amazing and unprecedented transfer of power?
Recording a movie in a theater
is now likely to get you more time in jail than if you are found guilty of involuntary mansaughter.
Frist-led Telecast: Dems vs faith.
Are we paying attention? [NY Times link]
Peak Oil discussed in the US Congress. Roscoe Bartlett
(Rep. 6th District, Maryland - R) delivers a presentation on Peak Oil to the 109th United States Congress. More here
and a backup of the full text with a bit more of an introduction by Rep. Gilchrest here
$127 Billion Army Modernization Project Sidesteps Oversight.
A nice story about how a system designed to streamline simple and small commercial purchases is being used to avoid congressional oversight while spending $127 Billion USD in taxpayer funds.
"Pentagon Budget Blackmail"
A milblog is reporting that there's some funny accounting going on with the funding that's used to pay US troops. "I think it's early May when we run out of money," reads one ominous quote. This is all tied into the supplemental funding the Bush Adminstration has requested of Congress; in a related (hopefully soon to be non-)issue, the specific request for increased death benefits seems to be on a bit of a spacewalk at the moment
September 11, 2001
is an online documentary from the Library of Congress with "nearly 170 audio and video interviews, totaling 40 hours, with photos, drawings, written narratives and poems." (About the collection.
) [via Salon]
Hustler's magazine's anticipated expose
of closeted congressman David Dreier (R – California) hits newsstands today. Raw Story reports that the article “offers a handful of new details not previously reported, including a charge that high-level California Republicans have been aware of (and sanctioned) Dreier’s gay lifestyle for many years.”
The article recounts how Dreier’s gay life was exposed earlier this summer by blogACTIVE.com, RAW STORY, and then picked up by L.A. Weekly
(previously discussed here
, and here
Dreier was targeted because he had repeatedly voted against gay rights measures – all the while keeping his alleged partner on his office payroll.
Hustler gave permission to blogACTIVE
and RAW STORY
to excerpt parts of the article. The full article is only available in the print edition of the magazine.
Do you like fast-forwarding through commercials on a television program you’ve recorded? How much do you like it? Enough to go to jail if you’re caught doing it? If a new copyright and intellectual property omnibus bill sitting on Congress’s desk passes, that may be the choice you'll face.
Let's hope this legislation goes lame duck like this session of Congress.
Dirty Dirty men.....
America, Mark Twain once said, "is a nation without a distinct criminal class with the possible exception of Congress."
"The Federal Trade Commission and Congress must act to prevent Fox News from using the deceptive and misleading trademark 'Fair and Balanced.'"
After yesterday's 2,700 viewing parties
and a Doonsbury
plug, Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism
is now the #1 selling DVD on Amazon
. At the same time, MoveOn
launches a campaign against the slogan, and AlterNet challenges Fox's trademark
. (Previous discussion
Wave of Outings hits Congress--Closet-cases running scared
--being targeted are the closeted anti-gay members of Congress (and their staff), all a result of the Federal Marriage Amendment, due to come to a symbolic vote sometime before the election in November. More here, too: “We have accepted for far too long fellow gays who work for horribly anti-gay politicians and thus help those politicians bash our community,” Aravosis said.
“It’s time we stopped tolerating this situation as normal. These people need, at the very least, to be confronted over their hypocrisy, and when we see them in public we ought to tell them we don’t approve.”
And still more from Signorile
Veith v. Jubelirer affirmed by the US Supreme Court
In a 5-4 opinion, the US Supreme Court
upheld that gerrymandered Congressional districts are legal and overruled Davis v. Bandemer
. Full opinions available
. For a background on why this is a structural constitutional problem and why we should be worried about it, read Gerrymandering - "The Great Contradiction"
Behind Diplomatic Moves, Military Plan Was Launched.
An excerpt from the new book "Plan of Attack"
by Bob Woodward
. Amongst its claims are that Saudi ambassador Prince Bandar
was informed of the plans for Iraq before Colin Powell, and that $700 million designated by Congress for the war in Afghanistan was used to prepare for the war in Iraq
HR 3077 - "unprecedented federally mandated intrusion into the content and conduct of university-based area studies programmes."
"There is a great deal at stake for American higher education and academic freedom. If HR 3077 becomes law - the Senate will review the bill next - it will create a board that monitors how closely universities reflect government policy. Since the legislation assumes that any flaw lies 'with the experts, not the policy', the government could be given the power to introduce politically sympathetic voices into the academic mainstream and to reshape the boundaries of academic inquiry. Institutional resistance would presumably be punished by the withdrawal of funds, which would be extremely damaging to Middle East centres especially."
you didn't have reason to call your congressperson tomorrow? you do now. frightening.
via the excellent openbrackets.com
Why is C-Span downplaying the 9/11 Hearings?
I don't even get C-Span 3 with my cable company. Is this a pattern?
Supreme Court to be overruled by Act of Congress?
H.R.3920 Title: To allow Congress to reverse the judgments of the United States Supreme Court
There's a bad moon risin', folks. I want to move to Canada.
"Just consider what you're doing now. You don't want to have the freakin' president of the United States mad at you for the rest of your life...If you step off this cliff, gravity never goes up, it goes down."
Those were the words of, Larry Telford
, of the National Republican Congressional Committee threatening a Texas citizen who dared to run in the Republican primary for the US House of Representatives.
The Quorum After
Ricin, anthrax, plane crashing into the Capital--there've been several serious threats to our Congresspeople in the last couple of years and, despite having a couple of bills introduced to rectify the matter, we still have no program in place to manage an emergency that deprives us of a quorum. Norman Ornstein explains (and though link is NYT, no babies required as payment). I know, I know, but it really does matter.
When does politics become treason?
Lincoln did it...almost. Why shouldn't GW Bush follow suit ? The Neocon Case for Imprisoning and Executing Congressional War Opponents.
: ' "Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled or hanged" - that's what President Abraham Lincoln said during the War Between the States.
' Right then. Where's the noose? Step this way, my traitorous friends. I'll flip ya' for first in line.
Politics as usual?...if you're in the mafia, maybe. Pressuring [Republican Congressman] Nick Smith to vote for a Medicare reform bill, House GOP leaders threatened to support candidates running against Smith's son for Congress, Nick Smith said Monday. (via TPM)
A friend reports that she's in lockdown in her office at The Canon House Office Building
in Washington, D.C. due to a man wielding a .38 pistol. The Canon House Office Building houses 1/3 of the members of the United States Congress. Offices are now being searched for the gunman. He is supposedly a shorter man with dark hair and white shirt. News first emerged of the gunman around an hour ago.
Iraq Estimates Were Too Low, U.S. AdmitsThe White House acknowledged Monday that it substantially underestimated the cost of rebuilding Iraq and that even the additional $87 billion it was seeking from a wary Congress would fall far short of what is needed for postwar reconstruction. Administration officials said President Bush's emergency spending request - which would push the U.S. budget deficit above the half-trillion-dollar mark for the first time - still left a reconstruction funding gap of as much as $55 billion. Reserve Tours Are Extended With U.S. forces stretched thin in Iraq and the Bush administration still searching for additional international peacekeepers, the Army has ordered thousands of National Guard and Army Reserve forces in Iraq to extend their tours in the country to a year, months longer than many of the troops had anticipated, Army officials said yesterday.
$87,000,000,000 + $55,000,000,000=$142,000,000,000
One year tours for National Guard and Army ReservistsHope you enjoyed your meal--here's your bill...
Congress to bicyclists: get a car!
A new transportation appropriations bill would eliminate $600 million of annual federal funding for "transportation enhancements
" (more info here
), such as bike paths and walkways, while increasing
funding for highways. Is this a proper reflection of U.S. transportation habits, or just a scheme to deprive alternate transportation of much-needed funding?
Congress to Big Media: Not so fast
Debate in Congress is shifting as grassroots organizers put pressure on to override FCC ownership rule changes. Not that Fox is looking to buy MeFi anytime soon, but still, who wants to repeat what happened in Minot
Old white Congressman tells black activist to get out of his state: "The people of Michigan have a simple message to you: go home and stay there. We do not need you stirring up trouble where none exists. Michiganders do not take kindly to your ignorant meddling in our affairs. We have no need for itinerant publicity seekers, non-resident troublemakers or self-aggrandizing out-of-state agitators." (pdf link -- emphasis added)
You'd be forgiven for assuming this letter was written in 1965 from a southern segregationist to a civil rights activist. But the writer is actually the most senior Democrat in Congress, John Dingell
, the activist is University of California Regent (and Affirmative Action opponent) Ward Connerly
, and the letter was written July 6, 2003. It seems Dingell isn't happy with Connerly’s efforts to promote a Michigan ballot initiative outlawing the use of race as a factor in hiring and college admissions
. But Connerly isn't one to just bow his head and shuffle back to Cali
: "[T]he term arrogance does not begin to capture the essence of a United States Congressman advising an American citizen to refrain from participating in the affairs of his government. Ironically, your advice is the echo of southern segregationists who sought the comfort of states' rights to practice their discrimination against black Americans. Have you learned nothing about 'civil rights' from that horrible chapter in our nation's history?" [via Critical Mass]
GWU's Encyclopedia to the 2003/2004 Election Cycle
- I was impressed when I checked out "Democracy In Action", GWU's excellent breakdown of everything political in the 2003/2004 cycle. It features an excellent detailed comparison of Democratic presidential candidates
(e.g., here's my personal fave
) featuring their voting record, stances, finances, and organization. Also, you can understand how a candidate campaigns in NH
, see ads that were placed by interest groups
, check out which member of congress has endorsed who
, where all the staffers from the 2000 election are working now
, -- you can even see who's on the Green Party's Presidential Exploritory Committee
. Thanks, GWU -- I'll never be productive ever again!
Upload a File, Go to Prison.
A new bill called the Author, Consumer and Computer Owner Protection and Security Act of 2003, or ACCOPS
, proposed in US Congress on Wednesday would land a person in prison for five years and impose a fine of $250,000 for uploading a single file to a peer-to-peer network. The bill "clarifies" that uploading a single file of copyright content qualifies as a felony. Penalties for such an offense include up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. In addition, filming a movie in a theater without authorization would immediately qualify as a federal offense.
House Democrats Storm Out of Ways and Means Committee
Chairman Calls Capitol Police to Restore Order - ARRRGGGGH! This government is so frustrating. No side is right they are all wrong. Is anything being done for the good of the nation anymore or do they all just do what they want? Poor impulse control all around.
A University, far away.
Tens of thousands of U.S. students will lose most or all of their financial aid.
John Dean's analysis of the administrations case for War.
"What I found, in critically examining Bush's evidence, is not pretty. The African uranium matter is merely indicative of larger problems, and troubling questions of potential and widespread criminality when taking the nation to war. It appears that not only the Niger uranium hoax, but most everything else that Bush said about Saddam Hussein's weapons was false, fabricated, exaggerated, or phony."
The New Chosen.
After reading about six Congressmen living in unbelievably cheap housing
owned by a religious organization called "The Fellowship Foundation" (or "The Fellowship" or "The Foundation") (via Fark
), I became curious about the group. They sponsor the National Prayer Breakfast, but they'd rather you didn't know that - they go to great pains to give the impression that it's an official government function. (President Bush's remarks from 2002
, and Rev. Rob Schenck's take
on missing the same breakfast.) In March, Harper's Magazine
ran Jeffrey Sharlet's first-person account on being a Fellowship neonate
, in which he describes the group's organizational structure (which takes its clues from terrorists, Hitler, and the Mafia). In 2002 the Los Angeles Times
published an examination of the Foundation's political activities
(hosted at toobeautiful.org
, which recounts an interesting episode in which three Congressmen, all Fellowship members, take the opportunity to proselytize to a foreign head of state while on official government business. [more inside]