Thursday, April 27, 2006

Under the guise of cutting gas prices...ANWR is a target again....

Senators to push for $100 gas rebate checks
Under proposal, most U.S. taxpayers would get one
From Dana Bash
CNN


Thursday, April 27, 2006; Posted: 2:38 p.m. EDT (18:38 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Most American taxpayers would get $100 rebate checks to offset the pain of higher pump prices for gasoline, under an amendment Senate Republicans hope to bring to a vote Thursday.

However, the GOP energy package may face tough sledding because it also includes a controversial proposal to open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil exploration, which most Democrats and some moderate Republicans oppose.

Democrats are also expected to offer their own competing proposal, as members of both parties jockey for political position on the gas price issue.

"Our plan would give taxpayers a hundred dollar gas tax holiday rebate check to help ease the pain that they're feeling at the pump," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announced Thursday. "It also includes strong federal anti-price gouging protection to protect consumers against anti-competitive behavior by oil companies or other suppliers of gasoline. Our free market system works, but it works best when there's full accountability and full transparency."

Frist said the rebates would go to single taxpayers making less than $125,000 per year, and couples making less than $150,000.

Republican senators said they hoped soaring gas prices would inspire Democrats to support their proposals.

"A lot of these other things we're talking about today, supply, like ANWR, have had Democrats oppose them in the past, when gas was $1.25, $1.50. Gas is now $3," said John Thune, R-South Dakota. "I would expect that there would be a lot more bipartisan support for proposals that would increase supply in this country."

"We have been trying for years to do something about supply without their help. I hope now that we'll have their help," he added. (Wanh wanh wanh you lying bastard)

But Democrats seemed unimpressed.

"It's designed to protect Big Oil while mistakenly believing that drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will solve America's energy problems," Jim Manley, a spokesman for Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, told The Associated Press.

The energy package, sponsored by Sens. Charles Grassley of Iowa, Ted Stevens of Alaska, Pete Domenici of New Mexico and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania(speaking of assclown), will be offered as an amendment to an emergency spending measure now before the Senate funding the Iraq war and hurricane relief, according to a senior GOP leadership aide.

Under Senate rules, either the GOP amendment or the Democratic alternative would probably need 60 votes to pass, which is considered unlikely. However, the amendments would give senators a change to cast votes on measures designed to help constituents being hit by high gas prices.

As outlined by Frist and other GOP senators, the energy package would give taxpayers a $100 rebate, repeal tax incentives for oil companies and allow the Federal Trade Commission to prosecute retailers unlawfully inflating the price of gasoline.

The measure would also give the Transportation Department authority to issue fuel efficiency standards for passenger vehicles, expand tax incentives for the use of hybrid vehicles and push for more research into alternative fuels and expansion of existing oil refineries.

The GOP senators are also calling on the Bush administration to suspend deposits into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for six months to increase the nation's oil supply. President Bush announced Tuesday that he would halt new deposits into the reserve until after the summer driving season. (Full story)

On the other side of the aisle, Democrats on Wednesday called for a new energy bill and federal legislation to punish price gougers.

"There's no reason why we can't put forth a real energy policy that addresses the needs of this nation," said Rep. Bart Stupak, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, "from gouging to market manipulation to biofuels. We can do it." (Full story)

And leaders of the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday asked the Internal Revenue Service to let them examine the tax returns of the nation's 15 largest oil and gas companies, as part of a "comprehensive review" of oil industry profits.

"I want to make sure the oil companies aren't taking a speed pass by the tax man," said Grassley, the committee's chairman, in a written statement. (Full story) (you mean those billion dollar tax breaks and subsidies and incentives you passed in the Senate didn't already achieve that? I seriously think they think the American people are retarded, but then again they did vote Bush in twice)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Dear Jay Leno ...

Original article and active links at: www.americablog.com


The letter heard literally 'round the world
by John in DC - 4/26/2006 10:46:00 AM


My friend Jeffy Whitty wrote an open letter to Jay Leno recently. It was about Leno's penchant for making girly-man fag jokes on the air. Jeff wrote the letter because Leno ticked him off. Little did he know that the letter would make its way around the Internet so many times that he nows doing CNN interviews about it.

Pretty cool stuff. And an amazing example of what one person can do.

Even more interesting, Jeff didn't have to speak out. In fact, it was in his interes NOT to speak out. Jeff is a playwright. He wrote the book, as it's called, to the hit Broadway musical "Avenue Q," and he even won a Tony for it. Jay Leno, like Oprah, is someone you really want to tick off.

Didn't stop Jeff. Very cool.

Here are a few snippets from Jeff's letter - please do read the entire thing, and email it to some friends.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



April 20th, 2006



Dear Mr. Leno,



My name is Jeff Whitty. I live in New York City. I'm a playwright and the author of "Avenue Q", which is a musical currently running on Broadway.



I've been watching your show a bit, and I'd like to make an observation:



When you think of gay people, it's funny. They're funny folks. They wear leather. They like Judy Garland. They like disco music. They're sort of like Stepin Fetchit as channeled by Richard Simmons.



Gay people, to you, are great material.



Mr. Leno, let me share with you my view of gay people:



When I think of gay people, I think of the gay news anchor who took a tire iron to the head several times when he was vacationing in St. Maarten's. I think of my friend who was visiting Hamburger Mary's, a gay restaurant in Las Vegas, when a bigot threw a smoke bomb filled with toxic chemicals into the restaurant, leaving the staff and gay clientele coughing, puking, and running in terror. I think of visiting my gay friends at their house in the country, sitting outside for dinner, and hearing, within hundreds of feet of where we sat, taunting voices yelling "Faggots." I think of hugging my boyfriend goodbye for the day on 8th Avenue in Manhattan, and being mocked and taunted by passing high school students.



When I think of gay people, I think of suicide. I think of a countless list of people who took their own lives because the world was so toxically hostile to them. Because of the deathly climate of the closet, we will never be able to count them. You think gay people are great material. I think of a silent holocaust that continues to this day. I think of a silent holocaust that is perpetuated by people like you, who seek to minimize us and make fun of us and who I suspect really, fundamentally wish we would just go away.



When I think of gay people, I think of a brave group that has made tremendous contributions to society, in arts, letters, science, philosophy, and politics. I think of some of the most hilarious people I know. I think of a group that has served as a cultural guardian for an ungrateful and ignorant America.



I think of a group of people who have undergone a brave act of inventing themselves. Every single out-of-the-closet gay person has had to say, "I am not part of mainstream society." Mr. Leno, that takes bigger balls than stepping out in front of TV-watching America every night. I daresay I suspect it takes bigger balls to come out of the closet than any thing you have ever done in your life.



I know you know gay people, Mr. Leno. Are they just jokes to you, to be snickered at behind their backs? Despite the angry tenor of my letter, I suspect you're a better man than that. I don't bother writing letters to the "God Hates Fags" people, or Donald Wildmon, or the Pope. But I think you can do better. I know it's "The Tonight Show," not a White House press conference, but you reach a lot of people.



I caught your show when you had a tired mockery of "Brokeback Mountain," involving something about a horse done up in what you consider a "gay" way. Man, that's dated. I turned the television off and felt pretty fucking depressed. And now I understand your gay-baiting jokes have continued.



Mr. Leno, I have a sense of humor. It's my livelihood. And being gay has many hilarious aspects to it -- none of which, I suspect, you understand. I'm tired of people like you. When I think of gay people, I think of centuries of suffering. I think of really, really good people who've been gravely mistreated for a long time now.



You've got to cut it out, Jay.



Sincerely,



Jeff Whitty

New York, NY

Rove ....5 times the charm ?

Source: Rove to Testify in CIA Leak Case By JOHN SOLOMON
Wed Apr 26, 11:46 AM ET

WASHINGTON - Top White House aide Karl Rove prepared to testify Wednesday for a fifth time before the federal grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA officer's identity, a person familiar with the case said.

Rove consulted with his private lawyers before a scheduled afternoon court appearance and was prepared to answer questions about evidence that emerged since his last grand jury appearance last fall, the person said, speaking only on condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy rules.

That new evidence includes information that emerged late last year that Rove's attorney had conversations with Time magazine reporter Viveca Novak during a critical time in the case.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald met with the grand jury Wednesday. Among other things he is investigating why Rove originally failed to disclose to prosecutors that he had talked to Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper about the outed CIA operative, Valerie Plame, back in 2003.

Months before Rove acknowledged speaking to Cooper about the CIA status of Plame, Novak told Rove's lawyer the White House aide might have disclosed Plame's CIA work to Cooper.

Wednesday's session is believed to be only the second time the prosecutor has met with the grand jury which is examining questions left unanswered in the Plame affair. The only other time Fitzgerald was seen going before the new panel was Dec. 7.

An earlier grand jury expired Oct. 28, the day it handed up an indictment against Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on five counts of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI. Libby is scheduled to go on trial next January.

Rove's legal problems stem from the fact that it was not until more than a year into Fitzgerald's criminal investigation that the White House adviser told the prosecutor about his contact with Cooper about Plame.

Rove says he had forgotten the Cooper conversation, which occurred several days before Plame's identity was revealed in a column by Robert Novak.

Rove and Novak, who is not related to Viveca Novak, also had discussed the CIA status of Wilson's wife.

Other unfinished business in the probe focuses on the source who provided Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward information about Plame, whose CIA identity was leaked to Novak in July 2003.

Plame's identity was exposed eight days after her husband, Bush administration critic and former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, alleged that the U.S. government had manipulated prewar intelligence to exaggerate an Iraqi nuclear threat.

Woodward says his source, who he has not publicly identified, provided the information about Wilson's wife, several weeks before Novak learned of Plame's identity. The Post reporter, who never wrote a story, was interviewed by Fitzgerald late last year.

___

Senate getting a clue ...or dissing Bushco?

Senate Shifts Iraq Funds to Border Patrols By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer
43 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Wednesday to divert some of the money President Bush requested for the war in Iraq to instead increase patrols against illegal immigrants on the nation's borders and provide the Coast Guard with new boats and helicopters.

An amendment was adopted, 59-39, to cut Bush's Iraq request by $1.9 billion to pay for new aircraft, patrol boats and other vehicles, as well as border checkpoints and a fence along the Mexico border crossing near San Diego.

Later, the Senate voted by a veto-proof 72-26 margin to kill an attempt by conservatives to cut the overall bill back to Bush's request — just a day after the White House issued a toughly worded promise to veto the $106.5 billion bill unless it is cut back to below $95 billion.

Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran, R-Ill. — the key architect of the bill — is unhappy with the veto threat and easily beat back a move by Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., to kill $12 billion in add-ons such as $4 billion in farm aid, $1.1 billion for Gulf Coast fisheries and money for a much-criticized $700 million relocation of a Mississippi freight rail line.

While the border security funds had broad support, Democrats and Republicans argued over whether the cuts to Pentagon war spending would harm troops in Iraq. The cuts, offered by Judd Gregg, R-N.H., would trim Bush's request for the war by almost 3 percent but don't specify how.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., said Gregg's cuts would "take money from troop pay, body armor and even the joint improvised explosive device defeat fund. Now that is a false choice and it is a wrong choice."

Gregg responded heatedly, arguing that the cuts eventually would come from other parts of the massive Pentagon budget rather than U.S. forces in Iraq.

"To come down here and allege that these funds are going to come out of the needs of the people on the front lines in Iraq or Afghanistan is pure poppycock," he said.

An amendment by Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada to add the border security funds but not tap the Pentagon for them failed by a 54-44 vote.

In its veto statement, the White House said the bill contains too many items that are "unrelated to the war or emergency hurricane relief needs." It said a final House-Senate compromise "must remain focused on addressing urgent national priorities while maintaining fiscal discipline."

The bill is sure to be carved back in House-Senate negotiations next month, and Bush may very well not have to follow through on his veto promise.

To accommodate the White House's objections would require the Senate to shed numerous projects. That would represent a departure from the way a disaster aid bill was handled in December, when Congress added $12 billion in new spending not requested by Bush.

Even as the White House raised the potential of a first-ever Bush veto, the administration on Tuesday asked the Senate for $2.2 billion more to repair and strengthen levees in and around New Orleans. The request wouldn't add to the overall cost of the bill since it was accompanied by a decrease in Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster funds.

The White House acknowledges that FEMA coffers would have to be replenished again in the fall instead of next year under the proposal.

Bush insists that total spending in the bill be capped at his $92.2 billion request for Iraq and hurricane relief, though he is willing to accept $2.3 billion in the bill to prevent an outbreak of avian flu. His February budget anticipated the funding, but the White House has been slow to follow up with a detailed request.

Gregg chairs the Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee. His border security plan focuses used on the capital needs of the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard, including new planes, helicopters, ships, communications equipment and a project to build a fence along the Mexico border near San Diego.

Gregg said his plan would "give the people who are defending us on our borders, the border security agents, the Custom agents, the Coast Guard, the tools they need to do their job right — the unmanned vehicles, the cars, the helicopters which are a critical part of our fight in the war on terrorism. It has to be done now."

The underlying bill contains $67.6 billion for Pentagon war operations and $27.1 billion for hurricane relief, including grants to states to build and repair housing and $2.1 billion for levees and flood control projects. The funding for hurricane relief exceeds Bush's request by $7.4 billion.

To date, Congress has provided about $315 billion for the war in Iraq and anti-terror spending since September 2001.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Poverty is Rampant....but we need to stop the GAY

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
Published: April 24, 2006

WASHINGTON, April 23 — About 50 prominent religious leaders, including seven Roman Catholic cardinals and about a half-dozen archbishops, have signed a petition in support of a constitutional amendment blocking same-sex marriage.

Archbishop John J. Myers said of the campaign, "We think the American people are on our side on this, and we want the Senate to know it."



Organizers of the petition said it was in part an effort to revive the groundswell of opposition to same-sex marriage that helped bring many conservative voters to the polls in some pivotal states in 2004. The signers include many influential evangelical Protestants, a few rabbis and an official of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

But both the organizers and gay rights groups said what was striking about the petition was the direct involvement by high-ranking Roman Catholic officials, including 16 bishops. Although the church has long opposed same-sex unions, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops had previously endorsed the idea of a constitutional amendment banning such unions, it was evangelical Protestants who generally led the charge when the amendment was debated in 2004.

"The personal involvement of bishops and cardinals is significantly greater this time than in 2004," said Patrick Korten, a spokesman for the Knights of Columbus, a lay Catholic group.

The Catholic bishops and many of the other religious leaders involved have pledged to distribute postcards for their congregants to send to their senators urging support for the amendment. The Knights of Columbus is distributing 10 million postcards to Catholic churches.

The petition drive was organized in part by Prof. Robert P. George of Princeton, a Catholic scholar with close ties to evangelical Protestant groups. Aides to three Republican senators — Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Republican leader; Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania; and Sam Brownback of Kansas — were also involved, organizers said.

Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark said that at a meeting in Washington in February, the Senate aides recommended the idea of a postcard campaign, recalling the success of a similar effort that the bishops organized in support of a ban on so-called partial-birth abortion.

"We think the American people are on our side on this, and we want the Senate to know it," the archbishop said.

The campaign comes as many in the Republican Party are increasingly worried that their core supporters may stay away from the polls this year because they are demoralized by the war in Iraq and other matters. Senate Republican leaders have scheduled a vote on the proposed amendment in June, partly as a means of rallying conservatives.

No one expects the measure to pass this year. But drives to amend state constitutions to ban same sex-marriage proved powerful incentives to turning out conservative voters in Ohio and elsewhere in 2004. At least two states with contested Senate races — Tennessee and Pennsylvania, where Mr. Santorum is seeking re-election against a Democrat who also opposes abortion rights — are debating constitutional bans on same-sex marriage this year.

But Ohio and other pivotal states have already amended their constitutions, and at least one poll suggests that the public's negative response to the first same-sex marriages is cooling. A Pew Research poll in March found that 51 percent of the public opposed legalizing same-sex marriage, down from 63 percent in February 2004.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay advocacy group, said supporters of the amendment were out of touch. "We have a war raging in Iraq, we have a Gulf Coast that needs to be rebuilt, we have an economy barely hanging on," he said. "The last thing America wants is this Republican-controlled Congress spending time writing discrimination into the Constitution."

Matt Daniels, founder of the Alliance for Marriage, an umbrella group that supports the proposed amendment, said the religious leaders represented "huge numbers" of people. His group has set up a Web site, religiouscoalitionformarriage.org, which includes the petition, pew handouts and suggested notes for sermons.

Organizers said the petition had brought together cardinals from both the left and right sides of the United States bishops' conference, including the liberal Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles and the conservative Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, as well as Cardinals Edward M. Egan of New York, Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, William H. Keeler of Baltimore and Sean Patrick O'Malley of Boston.

The prominent conservative Protestant figures included leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination, as well as the president of conservative Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and a handful of Episcopal bishops.

Other (haters) signers included James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family; the evangelist D. James Kennedy; Bishop Charles E. Blake of the historically black Church of God in Christ; the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Jr., president of the National Hispanic Association of Evangelicals; Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb of the Orthodox Union; and officials of the Orthodox Church in America.

Original article at : http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/24/washington/24catholic.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Murtha Continues to Rip Bushco ...

Murtha assails Bush in Downtown speech

By Bill Steigerwald
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, April 20, 2006


U.S. Rep. John Murtha, continuing his criticism of President Bush's handling of the Iraq war, said today it would take more than Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation to restore Bush's credibility in the Middle East and with the American public.

The only way Bush can show he is ready to seriously change direction and pursue a diplomatic solution to the war is if he makes "substantial" changes in his administration, Murtha told about 100 people attending a luncheon sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh at the DoubleTree Hotel, Downtown.

"Nobody can believe these guys anymore," Murtha, D-Johnstown, told reporters after his speech, in which he listed the reasons he believes the Bush administration has "mishandled, mischaracterized and misrepresented" the planning and management of the war.

Whether it's Bush's fault or not that things are going badly in Iraq, Murtha said, "he's getting blamed for it, so he needs to make some substantial changes" in his top staff. "He's got to let loyalty and friendship take a subservient position to the good of the country."

Unless "we replace the people responsible for the failed plan" the U.S. will not be able to get the international help and cooperation it needs, Murtha said during his half-hour speech. He also again criticized Rumsfeld, saying he andBush "were wrong when it came to Iraq" but "won't admit it."

Though the president touts the elections in Iraq as evidence of success in the war, Murtha said in reality "we have lost the hearts and minds of both the Iraqi people, and as the polls indicate, of the American public and, obviously, of the world."

Murtha said the administration should admit it has made mistakes in Iraq and announce it wants to pursue a diplomatic solution.

"It's the only way it can be done
," he said. "All the military commanders will tell you it can't be done militarily."

Only the Iraqis can solve their problems now, Murtha said.

"We can't do it from the outside
."

The U.S., which he says is caught in the middle of a civil war, should "redeploy from a pervasive occupying presence inside Iraq to a powerful quick-reaction force" that is stationed nearby but outside the country.


Bill Steigerwald can be reached at bsteigerwald@tribweb.com or (412) 320-7983.

60 Minutes ...

Been on vacation ....it was enjoyable. Hope you all didn't miss me too much.

Original article and active links at : http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/008284.php


By now you've probably seen or heard about the 60 Minutes segment with the interview with Tyler Drumheller, the now-retired CIA officer who was head of covert operations in Europe during the lead up to the Iraq War.

I just got off the phone with Drumheller. But before we get to that, let's run down the key points in the story.

First, Drumheller says that most folks in the intelligence community didn't think there was anything to the Niger-uranium story. We knew that in general terms; but we hadn't heard it yet from someone so closely involved in the case itself. Remember, the CIA Station Chief in Rome, the guy who first saw the documents when they were dropped off at the US Embassy in October 2002, worked for Drumheller.

Second, Drumheller told us a lot more about the case of Naji Sabri, Iraq's Foreign Minister, who the CIA managed to turn not long before the war broke out. Drumheller was in charge of that operation. The White House, as Drumheller relates it, was really excited to hear what Sabri would reveal about the inner-workings of Saddam's regime, and particularly about any WMD programs. That is, before Sabri admitted that Saddam didn't have any active programs. Then they lost interest.

Now, if you didn't see the episode you can catch most of the key facts in this story at the 60 Minutes website.

But here's an angle I'm not sure we're going to hear much about.

Drumheller's account is pretty probative evidence on the question of whether the White House politicized and cherry-picked the Iraq intelligence.

So why didn't we hear about any of this in the reports of those Iraq intel commissions that have given the White House a clean bill of health on distorting the intel and misleading the country about what we knew about Iraq's alleged WMD programs?

Think about it. It's devastating evidence against their credibility on a slew of levels.

Did you read in any of those reports -- even in a way that would protect sources and methods -- that the CIA had turned a key member of the Iraqi regime, that that guy had said there weren't any active weapons programs, and that the White House lost interest in what he was saying as soon as they realized it didn't help the case for war? What about what he said about the Niger story?

Did the Robb-Silbermann Commission not hear about what Drumheller had to say? What about the Roberts Committee?

I asked Drumheller just those questions when I spoke to him early this evening. He was quite clear. He was interviewed by the Robb-Silbermann Commission. Three times apparently.

Did he tell them everything he revealed on tonight's 60 Minutes segment. Absolutely.

Drumheller was also interviewed twice by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (the Roberts Committee) but apparently only after they released their summer 2004 report.

Now, quite a few of us have been arguing for almost two years now that those reports were fundamentally dishonest in the story they told about why we were so badly misled in the lead up to war. The fact that none of Drumheller's story managed to find its way into those reports, I think, speaks volumes about the agenda that the writers of those reports were pursuing.

"I was stunned," Drumheller told me, when so little of the stuff he had told the commission's and the committee's investigators ended up in their reports. His colleagues, he said, were equally "in shock" that so little of what they related ended up in the reports either.

What Drumheller has to say adds quite a lot to our knowledge of what happened in the lead up to war. But what it shows even more clearly is that none of this stuff has yet been investigated by anyone whose principal goal is not covering for the White House.

-- Josh Marshall


This document is available online at this url.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

George Conway...super Repuker...starts eating his own !!!!

Check this out. http://conways.nationalreview.com/archives/094549.asp

It's written by George Conway, a Republican heavily involved in making Paula Jones a household word (i.e., he's really REALLY Republican). Yet, here is what he has to say about not just George Bush, but the entire Republican party.

And again, he's writing this on the Web site of the uber-conservative National Review:

I'm disgruntled, too, and I'm going to get it all of my chest this morning: I've never voted for a Democrat in a general election in my life, and I don't expect to anytime soon, but it's been impossible for me over the past couple of years to get enthused about the Republican party.

I voted for President Bush twice, and contributed to his campaign twice, but held my nose when I did it the second time. I don't consider myself a Republican any longer. Thanks to this Administration and the Republicans in Congress, the Republican Party today is the party of pork-barrel spending, Congressional corruption — and, I know folks on this web site don't want to hear it, but deep down they know it's true — foreign and military policy incompetence.

Frankly, speaking of incompetence, I think this Administration is the most politically and substantively inept that the nation has had in over a quarter of a century. The good news about it, as far as I'm concerned, is that it's almost over.
In one fell swoop, George Bush isn't just turning independents off of the Republican party, he's turning die-hard Republicans away.

The Democratic party has been handed a gift from God with George Bush. He is the ONLY issue we should be talking about between now and election day. And I'd say we hit on the specific messages Conway spells out: fiscal irresponsibility; corruption; and incompetence. Our goal? To woo every moderate to the Democratic party, and to horribly cripple the Republican party so even its Terri Schiavo base wants out.

Remember when the war on terror was Bush's strong point? Now even Republicans are willing to call Bush incompetent on that very issue. Before Rove and Mehlman wake up later this summer and yet again try to brand Democrats as wimps. And before Democrats find themselves facing another congressional resolution authorizing force against Iran. We need to unify and strike back hard, and now, against a president who is both hated by his own party and falling apart at the seams.

Cheating and Stealing...the GOP way ....

Phone-Jamming Records Point to White House By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer
Mon Apr 10, 4:55 PM ET



WASHINGTON - Key figures in a phone-jamming scheme designed to keep New Hampshire Democrats from voting in 2002 had regular contact with the White House and Republican Party as the plan was unfolding, phone records introduced in criminal court show.

The records show that Bush campaign operative James Tobin, who recently was convicted in the case, made two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period around Election Day 2002 — as the phone jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down.

The national Republican Party, which paid millions in legal bills to defend Tobin, says the contacts involved routine election business and that it was "preposterous" to suggest the calls involved phone jamming.

The Justice Department has secured three convictions in the case but hasn't accused any White House or national Republican officials of wrongdoing, nor made any allegations suggesting party officials outside New Hampshire were involved. The phone records of calls to the White House were exhibits in Tobin's trial but prosecutors did not make them part of their case.

Democrats plan to ask a federal judge Tuesday to order GOP and White House officials to answer questions about the phone jamming in a civil lawsuit alleging voter fraud.

Repeated hang-up calls that jammed telephone lines at a Democratic get-out-the-vote center occurred in a Senate race in which Republican John Sununu defeated Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, 51 percent to 46 percent, on Nov. 5, 2002.

Besides the conviction of Tobin, the Republicans' New England regional director, prosecutors negotiated two plea bargains: one with a New Hampshire Republican Party official and another with the owner of a telemarketing firm involved in the scheme. The owner of the subcontractor firm whose employees made the hang-up calls is under indictment.

The phone records show that most calls to the White House were from Tobin, who became President Bush's presidential campaign chairman for the New England region in 2004. Other calls from New Hampshire senatorial campaign offices to the White House could have been made by a number of people.

A GOP campaign consultant in 2002, Jayne Millerick, made a 17-minute call to the White House on Election Day, but said in an interview she did not recall the subject. Millerick, who later became the New Hampshire GOP chairwoman, said in an interview she did not learn of the jamming until after the election.

A Democratic analysis of phone records introduced at Tobin's criminal trial show he made 115 outgoing calls — mostly to the same number in the White House political affairs office — between Sept. 17 and Nov. 22, 2002. Two dozen of the calls were made from 9:28 a.m. the day before the election through 2:17 a.m. the night after the voting.

There also were other calls between Republican officials during the period that the scheme was hatched and canceled.

Prosecutors did not need the White House calls to convict Tobin and negotiate the two guilty pleas.

Whatever the reason for not using the White House records, prosecutors "tried a very narrow case," said Paul Twomey, who represented the Democratic Party in the criminal and civil cases. The Justice Department did not say why the White House records were not used.

The Democrats said in their civil case motion that they were entitled to know the purpose of the calls to government offices "at the time of the planning and implementation of the phone-jamming conspiracy ... and the timing of the phone calls made by Mr. Tobin on Election Day."

While national Republican officials have said they deplore such operations, the Republican National Committee said it paid for Tobin's defense because he is a longtime supporter and told officials he had committed no crime.

By Nov. 4, 2002, the Monday before the election, an Idaho firm was hired to make the hang-up calls. The Republican state chairman at the time, John Dowd, said in an interview he learned of the scheme that day and tried to stop it.

Dowd, who blamed an aide for devising the scheme without his knowledge, contended that the jamming began on Election Day despite his efforts. A police report confirmed the Manchester Professional Fire Fighters Association reported the hang-up calls began about 7:15 a.m. and continued for about two hours. The association was offering rides to the polls.

Virtually all the calls to the White House went to the same number, which currently rings inside the political affairs office. In 2002, White House political affairs was led by now-RNC chairman Ken Mehlman. The White House declined to say which staffer was assigned that phone number in 2002.

"As policy, we don't discuss ongoing legal proceedings within the courts," White House spokesman Ken Lisaius said.

Robert Kelner, a Washington lawyer representing the Republican National Committee in the civil litigation, said there was no connection between the phone jamming operation and the calls to the White House and party officials.

"On Election Day, as anybody involved in politics knows, there's a tremendous volume of calls between political operatives in the field and political operatives in Washington," Kelner said.

"If all you're pointing out is calls between Republican National Committee regional political officials and the White House political office on Election Day, you're pointing out nothing that hasn't been true on every Election Day," he said.

Religious Nuts Sue for the Right to Discriminate ....

Christians Sue for Right Not to Tolerate Policies
Many codes intended to protect gays from harassment are illegal, conservatives argue.
By Stephanie Simon, Times Staff Writer
April 10, 2006


ATLANTA — Ruth Malhotra went to court last month for the right to be intolerant.

Malhotra says her Christian faith compels her to speak out against homosexuality. But the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she's a senior, bans speech that puts down others because of their sexual orientation.

Malhotra sees that as an unacceptable infringement on her right to religious expression. So she's demanding that Georgia Tech revoke its tolerance policy.

With her lawsuit, the 22-year-old student joins a growing campaign to force public schools, state colleges and private workplaces to eliminate policies protecting gays and lesbians from harassment. The religious right aims to overturn a broad range of common tolerance programs: diversity training that promotes acceptance of gays and lesbians, speech codes that ban harsh words against homosexuality, anti-discrimination policies that require college clubs to open their membership to all.

The Rev. Rick Scarborough, a leading evangelical, frames the movement as the civil rights struggle of the 21st century. "Christians," he said, "are going to have to take a stand for the right to be Christian."

In that spirit, the Christian Legal Society, an association of judges and lawyers, has formed a national group to challenge tolerance policies in federal court. Several nonprofit law firms — backed by major ministries such as Focus on the Family and Campus Crusade for Christ — already take on such cases for free.

The legal argument is straightforward: Policies intended to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination end up discriminating against conservative Christians. Evangelicals have been suspended for wearing anti-gay T-shirts to high school, fired for denouncing Gay Pride Month at work, reprimanded for refusing to attend diversity training. When they protest tolerance codes, they're labeled intolerant.

A recent survey by the Anti-Defamation League found that 64% of American adults — including 80% of evangelical Christians — agreed with the statement "Religion is under attack in this country."

"The message is, you're free to worship as you like, but don't you dare talk about it outside the four walls of your church," said Stephen Crampton, chief counsel for the American Family Assn. Center for Law and Policy, which represents Christians who feel harassed.

Critics dismiss such talk as a right-wing fundraising ploy. "They're trying to develop a persecution complex," said Jeremy Gunn, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief.

Others fear the banner of religious liberty could be used to justify all manner of harassment.

"What if a person felt their religious view was that African Americans shouldn't mingle with Caucasians, or that women shouldn't work?" asked Jon Davidson, legal director of the gay rights group Lambda Legal.

Christian activist Gregory S. Baylor responds to such criticism angrily. He says he supports policies that protect people from discrimination based on race and gender. But he draws a distinction that infuriates gay rights activists when he argues that sexual orientation is different — a lifestyle choice, not an inborn trait.

By equating homosexuality with race, Baylor said, tolerance policies put conservative evangelicals in the same category as racists. He predicts the government will one day revoke the tax-exempt status of churches that preach homosexuality is sinful or that refuse to hire gays and lesbians.

"Think how marginalized racists are," said Baylor, who directs the Christian Legal Society's Center for Law and Religious Freedom. "If we don't address this now, it will only get worse."

Christians are fighting back in a case involving Every Nation Campus Ministries at California State University. Student members of the ministry on the Long Beach and San Diego campuses say their mission is to model a virtuous lifestyle for their peers. They will not accept as members gays, lesbians or anyone who considers homosexuality "a natural part of God's created order."

Legal analysts agree that the ministry, as a private organization, has every right to exclude gays; the Supreme Court affirmed that principle in a case involving the Boy Scouts in 2000. At issue is whether the university must grant official recognition to a student group that discriminates.

The students say denying them recognition — and its attendant benefits, such as funding — violates their free-speech rights and discriminates against their conservative theology. Christian groups at public colleges in other states have sued using similar arguments. Several of those lawsuits were settled out of court, with the groups prevailing.

In California, however, the university may have a strong defense in court. The California Supreme Court recently ruled that the city of Berkeley was justified in denying subsidies to the Boy Scouts because of that group's exclusionary policies. Eddie L. Washington, the lawyer representing Cal State, argues the same standard should apply to the university.

"We're certainly not going to fund discrimination," Washington said.

Page Two : http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/la-na-christians10apr10,0,6596503.story?page=2

Monday, April 10, 2006

Isn't TREASON punishable by DEATH ?

Bush acknowledges declassifying Iraq intelligence
Mon Apr 10, 2006 12:57 PM ET
By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush acknowledged on Monday he ordered the declassification of parts of a prewar intelligence report on Iraq to respond to critics who alleged he manipulated intelligence to justify the war.

Bush offered his first comment on a prosecutor's disclosure last week that he authorized Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, to declassify Iraq intelligence.

The disclosure prompted a firestorm of criticism from Democrats who charged Bush was a hypocrite who denounces leaks of information while becoming the "leaker-in-chief." A Republican ally, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, urged Bush on Sunday to "tell the American people exactly what happened."

At issue is the administration's release in July 2003 of parts of an October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate that alleged Iraq under Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and was trying to develop a nuclear weapon.

Bush said he declassified parts of the document to answer questions raised about why the United States invaded Iraq.

"I wanted people to see what some of those statements were based on. I wanted people to see the truth. I thought it made sense for people to see the truth. That's why I declassified the document," he said.

Bush, answering questions from an audience after a speech in Washington, would not comment on the allegation that he authorized Libby to release the information to reporters.

But a senior administration official said Bush did not designate Libby or anyone else to release the information, trying to distance Bush from any tactical decisions made on how to release the information.

The White House release of the parts of the National Intelligence Estimate came in response to charges from former ambassador Joe Wilson that Bush had manipulated intelligence to justify the war.

Wilson later accused the White House of leaking the identity of his wife, who was then a CIA officer, Valerie Plame, to retaliate against him.

Libby is accused of obstruction of justice and perjury in an investigation designed to discover who leaked Plame's name. Continued ...

Page Two http://today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=uri:2006-04-10T165706Z_01_N10360810_RTRUKOC_0_US-BUSH-LEAK.xml&pageNumber=1&summit=

Friday, April 07, 2006

RIGHT WINGER CHURCHES WIN ANOTHER ROUND ...courtesy of IRS

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/07/us/07church.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Church Group Calls I.R.S. Unfair on Political Violations of Tax Code
By STEPHANIE STROM
Published: April 7, 2006


A group of religious leaders accused the Internal Revenue Service yesterday of playing politics by ignoring its complaint that two large churches in Ohio are engaging in what it says are political activities, in violation of the tax code.


In a letter to Commissioner Mark W. Everson, the clergy members cited reports of political events involving Fairfield Christian Church in Fairfield and World Harvest Church in Columbus and groups affiliated with them that have occurred or been disclosed since they raised the issue in January.

The group argues that the churches may be violating prohibitions on political activities by charities and other tax-exempt organizations and has asked the I.R.S. to audit their political activities.

The group often notes that the agency is investigating All Saints Church, a large liberal Episcopal church in Pasadena, Calif., over a sermon in 2004 that imagined a debate among Jesus, President Bush and Senator John Kerry, then the Democratic presidential candidate, and asks why the agency has not begun a similar audit of the two Ohio churches, which are conservative.

All Saints has denied wrongdoing and said the tax agency had not responded to its lawyers' calls.

The Rev. Eric Williams of North Congregational United Church of Christ in Columbus has been coordinating the activities of the critical group and said it was sending a second letter to Mr. Everson because the troublesome activities were continuing. "The I.R.S. really needs to take a more proactive stance if it's truly concerned about the political activities of all churches," Mr. Williams said.

Last year, the inspector general of the Treasury Department said political considerations played no role in selecting charities for reviews.

"For the 2006 electoral season, we are poised to look into allegations quickly and get an agent involved promptly if there is a valid reason for concern," the I.R.S. said in a statement.

A spokesman for World Harvest Church, Giles Hudson, said the tax agency had not contacted his church.

"This latest complaint filed by a group of left-leaning clergy amounts to nothing more than a campaign of harassment, and with the primary election just three weeks away, the timing couldn't be more obvious," the church said in a statement.

No one returned messages seeking comment from Fairfield Christian.

The critics' group says that the two churches' activities continue to support the gubernatorial candidacy of Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell almost exclusively, violating requirements that nonprofit organizations treat all candidates in a race even-handedly.

In 2004, Mr. Blackwell flew to three events on the World Harvest Church plane with its pastor, the Rev. Rodney L. Parsley, to protest same-sex marriages. Mr. Blackwell paid $1,000 for the flights, The Associated Press said, and Mr. Hudson noted that Mr. Blackwell took the trips before he was officially a candidate.

Bush doesn't deny he was the LEAKER......Impeach !!!!

White House Declines to Counter Leak Claim By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer




WASHINGTON - The White House on Friday declined to challenge assertions that President Bush authorized the leaks of intelligence information to counter administration critics on Iraq.

But Bush's spokesman, Scott McClellan, appeared to draw a distinction about Bush's oft-stated opposition to leaks. "The president would never authorize disclosure of information that could compromise our nation's security," Bush's spokesman said.

Court papers filed by the prosecutor in the CIA leak case against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby said Bush authorized Libby to disclose information from a classified prewar intelligence report. The court papers say Libby's boss, advised him that the president had authorized Libby to leak the information to the press in striking back at administration critic Joseph Wilson.

McClellan volunteered that the administration declassified information from the intelligence report — the National Intelligence Estimate — and released it to the public on July 18, 2003. But he refused to say when the information was actually declassified. The date could be significant because Libby discussed the information with a reporter on July 8 of that year.

On Thursday, disclosure of official authorization for Libby's leaks to reporters brought strong criticism from administration political foes, but little likelihood that their demands for explanations will be met.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., citing Bush's call two years ago to find the person who leaked the CIA identity of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, said the latest disclosures means the president needs to go no further than a mirror.

In his court filing, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald asserted that "the president was unaware of the role" that Libby "had in fact played in disclosing" Plame's CIA status. The prosecutor gave no such assurance, though, regarding Cheney.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said that "in light of today's shocking revelation, President Bush must fully disclose his participation in the selective leaking of classified information. The American people must know the truth."

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the president has the "inherent authority to decide who should have classified information." The White House declined to comment, citing the ongoing criminal probe into the leak of Plame's identity.

In July 2003, Wilson's accusation that the Bush administration had twisted prewar intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat "was viewed in the office of vice president as a direct attack on the credibility of the vice president, and the president," Fitzgerald's court papers stated.

Part of the counterattack was a July 8, 2003, meeting with New York Times reporter Judith Miller at which Libby discussed the contents of a then-classified CIA report that seemed to undercut what Wilson was saying in public.

Separately, Libby said he understood he also was to tell Miller that prewar intelligence assessments had been that Iraq was "vigorously trying to procure" uranium, the prosecutor stated. In the run-up to the war, Cheney had insisted Iraq was trying to build a nuclear bomb.

The conclusion on uranium was contained in a National Intelligence Estimate, a consensus document of the U.S. intelligence community. Libby's statements came in grand jury testimony before he was charged with five counts of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI in the Plame probe.

Libby at first told the vice president that he could not have the July 8, 2003, conversation with Miller because of the classified nature of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, Fitzgerald said. Libby testified to the grand jury "that the vice president later advised him that the president had authorized defendant to disclose the relevant portions" of the NIE.

Libby testified that he also spoke to David Addington, then counsel to the vice president, "whom defendant considered to be an expert in national security law, and Mr. Addington opined that presidential authorization to publicly disclose a document amounted to a declassification of the document."

Libby testified that he was specifically authorized to disclose the key judgments of the classified intelligence document because it was thought that its conclusions were "fairly definitive" against what Wilson had said and the vice president thought that it was "very important" for those key judgments to come out, the court papers stated.

After Wilson began attacking the administration, Cheney had a conversation with Libby, expressing concerns on whether a CIA-sponsored trip to the African nation of Niger by Wilson "was legitimate or whether it was in effect a junket set up by Mr. Wilson's wife," Fitzgerald wrote. The suggestion that Plame sent her husband on the Africa trip has gotten widespread circulation among White House loyalists.

Wilson said he had concluded on his trip that it was highly doubtful Niger had sold uranium yellowcake to Iraq.

The prosecutor's court papers offer a glimpse inside the White House when the Justice Department launched a criminal investigation of the Plame leak in September 2003. Libby "implored White House officials" to issue a statement saying he had not been involved in revealing Plame's identity, and that when his initial efforts met with no success, he "sought the assistance of the vice president in having his name cleared," the prosecutor stated.

The White House eventually said neither Libby nor Karl Rove had been involved in the leak. Rove remains under criminal investigation.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Only 5 % of Ship Cargo is INSPECTED....Tough on Security my ass

22 Chinese nationals sneak into US inside uninspected ship cargo - could have just as easily been Al Qaeda or a nuke

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1110AP_Human_Smuggling.html

Is everyone still comfortable with the fact that the Bush administration, 4 and a half years after September 11th, is still letting 95% of containers shipped to the United States arrive UNINSPECTED.

You want to get a nuke into the US? Forget the Mexican border. Just ship it legally.

Bush has known this for four and half years and done NOTHING about it. And today, by simple luck, we catch 22 Chinese nationals in a shipping container that, by chance, was selected to be examine, some day, but in the meantime the Chinese slipped out of it and were caught elsewhere.

Fortunately, the Democrats are going to fix the problem while the Republicans refuse. Two Democratic members of Congress got an amendment passed today in a House committee, and the amendment requires 100% of incoming cargo to be inspected - not the paltry 5% that George Bush and the Republicans have been comfortable checking. But remember they are tough on security. VOMIT http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/ny08_nadler/SOSCmtePass040506.html

The Republicans simply refuse to review or challenge anything BushCo does, and America's security goes down the tubes while they dawdle. Thank God the Democrats have finally found their voice, and now using their power to force the Bush administration to keep America safe.

The Republicans are the majority, they control the White House, the US House and the US Senate. This fall, for the sake of ourselves, our families, our friends, and our children, it's time for a change.

Bush ordered Plame Leak.....testifies Scooter

Updated: 12:52 PM EDT
Cheney Aide Says Bush OK'd Leak on Iraq
By PETE YOST, AP

WASHINGTON (April 6) - Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide told prosecutors President Bush authorized the leak of sensitive intelligence information about Iraq, according to court papers filed by prosecutors in the CIA leak case.

I. Lewis Libby told the grand jury investigating the CIA leak case that he got the OK from President Bush, through Vice President Cheney, to leak intelligence information about Iraq.

Before his indictment, I. Lewis Libby testified to the grand jury investigating the CIA leak that Cheney told him to pass on information and that it was Bush who authorized the disclosure, the court papers say. According to the documents, the authorization led to the July 8, 2003, conversation between Libby and New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

There was no indication in the filing that either Bush or Cheney authorized Libby to disclose Valerie Plame's CIA identity.

But the disclosure in documents filed Wednesday means that the president and the vice president put Libby in play as a secret provider of information to reporters about prewar intelligence on Iraq.

There was no indication in the filing that either Bush or Cheney authorized Libby to disclose Valerie Plame's CIA identity.

The authorization came as the Bush administration faced mounting criticism about its failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the main reason the president and his aides had given for justifying the invasion of Iraq.

Libby's participation in a critical conversation with Miller on July 8, 2003 "occurred only after the vice president advised the defendant that the president specifically had authorized defendant to disclose certain information in the National Intelligence Estimate," the papers by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald stated. The filing did not specify the "certain information."

"Defendant testified that the circumstances of his conversation with reporter Miller -- getting approval from the president through the vice president to discuss material that would be classified but for that approval -- were unique in his recollection," the papers added.

Bush gets spanked by a Patriot .....

Updated: 01:30 PM EDT
Bush Spars With Heckler Over Surveillance
By NEDRA PICKLER, AP

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (April 6) - President Bush, told by a critic he should be ashamed of his policies, defended the government's secret eavesdropping program Thursday and said he would not apologize for listening in on the phone and e-mail conversations of Americans talking to people with suspected al-Qaida links.

A man who identified himself as Harry Taylor rose at a forum here to tell Bush that he's never felt more ashamed of the leadership of his country. He said Bush has asserted his right to tap phone calls without a warrant, to arrest people and hold them without charges and to revoke a woman's right to an abortion, among other things.

He was booed by the audience, but Bush interrupted and urged the audience to let Taylor finish.

"I feel like despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administraiton," Taylor said, standing in a balcony seat and looking down at Bush on stage. "And I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and grace to be ashamed of yourself."

Bush defended the National Security Adminsitration's survelliance program, saying he authorized the program to protect the country.

"You said would I apologize for that?" Bush told him. "The answer is absolutely not."

The challenge to the president came near the end of a lengthy appearance before the World Affairs Council of Charlotte, where he took questions from the audience. This has become a regular feature of Bush's appearances as he tries to revive public support for his leadership.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

This is so hysterical.....from the Rude Pundit ...

4/5/2006
The Mainstream Media's Niggering of Cynthia McKinney:

The Rude Pundit wasn't going to write about the incident where Representative Cynthia McKinney sauntered past security at the Capitol, didn't answer calls for her to stop, and then struck a DC cop who touched her arm to stop her. McKinney's a showboating publicity whore, has been for a long time, and the cop's actions, however justified, were a gift, like a drag queen finding a trashed stash of Judy Garland's boas - such unexpected joy in the most unexpected places. And McKinney's pathetic press conferences to tout the racism and sexism of the cops asking her to stop and plaintive cries that her hair style may have radically changed, but her face did not were and are laughable, distracting, and meaningless. Besides, Aravosis dealt with it over at Americablog, puttin' that puppy to sleep and tossin' it in the dumpster.

Yet there was still an uncomfortable taste left by the whole rigamarole. It wasn't that Neil "I Can Swallow This Here Pig Whole" Boortz said that McKinney looked like a "ghetto slut," which he later apologized for, although he had previous said that McKinney is "the cutest little Islamic jihadist." One expects such things from idiotic wads of fuck like Boortz, people whose talk radio studios are so filled with the piquant stench of their own farts that the crew has to wear gas masks to adjust the mikes.

It was the contrast between the mainstream media's treatment of McKinney and of the fallen Tom DeLay. This morning, the Rude Pundit was watching that hilarious parody of a news program on Fox called Fox and Friends, and while mostly enjoying the delicious undercurrent of gay male tension between Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade (try and figger out which one is the pitcher or catcher between those two), the Rude Pundit was struck by the way that Kilmeade aggressively interviewed McKinney, a guest on the show, and who, like every fuckin' politician out there, stuck to her idiotic talking points instead of answering the questions. Kilmeade dogged McKinney, asking her repeatedly if McKinney had struck the cop. And that made the Rude Pundit wonder: did anyone ever on one of the "news" networks go after Tom DeLay and ask him over and over, directly, if he had laundered money in Texas, even during his farewell interviews last night?

For example: Here's CNN's Wolf "My Manly White Stubble Can Sand Wood" Blitzer with McKinney on Monday: "Congresswoman McKinney, did you strike one of those Capitol Police officers during this incident on Capitol Hill?" McKinney, of course, did not answer.

Now, here's Blitzer with Tom DeLay last night: "How worried are you that these former aides of yours might say something or provide some sort of evidence or suggestion that could further cause you grave, serious legal problems?" and "What would you have done differently involving your relationship with the now-indicted Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist? Looking back on that relationship that you had with him, what would you have done differently given what you know right now?" DeLay, of couse, said he would do nothing differently and he's done nothing wrong. (This is not to mention Blitzer's later comment to DeLay, "But everybody makes mistakes, right? You're not perfect," the verbal equivalent of a reach-around.)

Which one of these members of Congress has been indicted for a felony? Which one is being treated like a felon?

Let's see if we can hold a few seemingly contradictory thoughts in our heads at once. Yes, Cynthia McKinney is an arrogant, self-aggrandizing shithead who deserves whatever backlash is coming her way. Yes, Tom DeLay is a skeevy cocksucker who has pissed in and poisoned the already-putrid wells of Washington. And both should be treated with contempt and pursued aggressively to show the cynicism and greed - for power, money, and/or attention - that drives them.

But you wanna know where the racism and sexism is here? It ain't with the Capitol cops (in this case), who are in a crappy position under the stress of terrorism neurosis that pervades everything. It's with the media, who act with deference towards a white male thrice-admonished alleged felon who has intimate connections with convicted felons and who feel free to attack the black woman who has yet to be charged with anything.

Oh, and that's not to mention that McKinney's a Democrat and DeLay's a Republican.


http://www.rudepundit.blogspot.com/


// posted by Rude One @ 10:25 AM

Does Buckley Hate America ?

February 24, 2006, 2:51 p.m.
It Didn’t Work


"I can tell you the main reason behind all our woes — it is America." The New York Times reporter is quoting the complaint of a clothing merchant in a Sunni stronghold in Iraq. "Everything that is going on between Sunni and Shiites, the troublemaker in the middle is America."


One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed. The same edition of the paper quotes a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Reuel Marc Gerecht backed the American intervention. He now speaks of the bombing of the especially sacred Shiite mosque in Samara and what that has precipitated in the way of revenge. He concludes that “The bombing has completely demolished” what was being attempted — to bring Sunnis into the defense and interior ministries.

Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans.
The great human reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No doubt they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols.

The Iraqis we hear about are first indignant, and then infuriated, that Americans aren't on the scene to protect them and to punish the aggressors. And so they join the clothing merchant who says that everything is the fault of the Americans.

The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, elucidates on the complaint against Americans. It is not only that the invaders are American, it is that they are "Zionists." It would not be surprising to learn from an anonymously cited American soldier that he can understand why Saddam Hussein was needed to keep the Sunnis and the Shiites from each others' throats.

A problem for American policymakers — for President Bush, ultimately — is to cope with the postulates and decide how to proceed.

One of these postulates, from the beginning, was that the Iraqi people, whatever their tribal differences, would suspend internal divisions in order to get on with life in a political structure that guaranteed them religious freedom.

The accompanying postulate was that the invading American army would succeed in training Iraqi soldiers and policymakers to cope with insurgents bent on violence.

This last did not happen. And the administration has, now, to cope with failure. It can defend itself historically, standing by the inherent reasonableness of the postulates. After all, they govern our policies in Latin America, in Africa, and in much of Asia. The failure in Iraq does not force us to generalize that violence and antidemocratic movements always prevail. It does call on us to adjust to the question, What do we do when we see that the postulates do not prevail — in the absence of interventionist measures (we used these against Hirohito and Hitler) which we simply are not prepared to take? It is healthier for the disillusioned American to concede that in one theater in the Mideast, the postulates didn't work. The alternative would be to abandon the postulates. To do that would be to register a kind of philosophical despair. The killer insurgents are not entitled to blow up the shrine of American idealism.

Mr. Bush has a very difficult internal problem here because to make the kind of concession that is strategically appropriate requires a mitigation of policies he has several times affirmed in high-flown pronouncements. His challenge is to persuade himself that he can submit to a historical reality without forswearing basic commitments in foreign policy.

He will certainly face the current development as military leaders are expected to do: They are called upon to acknowledge a tactical setback, but to insist on the survival of strategic policies.

Yes, but within their own counsels, different plans have to be made. And the kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat.

William F. Buckley Jr. National Review , Editor

Franken vs. Coulter....coulter loses ....again....

An Evening with Ann Coulter: Opening Statement
COULTER DEBATE OPENING STATEMENT – UNIVERSITY OF JUDAISM

Thank you. First of all, I know I join Ann in thanking the University of Judaism for hosting this event. We’ve had an opportunity to spend some time with President Wexler and have dinner with many folks from the University community.

And I’d like to answer the question that I actually get asked the most when I do an event for a Jewish organization. Yes, I had enough to eat.

You know, in these kinds of debate forums, someone has to go first. It’s always preferable to go second, because you can react to what’s been said, giving you something of a tactical advantage. More importantly, it pretty much spares you the chore of writing out pre-prepared remarks.

Both Ann and I said we preferred going second, but I didn’t insist on it, because I understood somebody had to go first. And being a liberal, I just wasn’t tough-minded enough to insist on a coin toss.

So, I’ll try to use my time to define the terms of the debate – if you will. “Whence Judaism?”

No. I think we should talk about the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress and what it has accomplished over the past five years. I’m talking, of course, about well over two trillion dollars added to the national debt, the increase in poverty in our country and the added millions of Americans, including children, without health insurance. I’m talking about the sale of our democracy to corporate interests that pollute our water and our air. I’m talking about the widening gap between the haves and the have nots in this country. And I’m talking about the war in Iraq.

I’m talking about an increasingly corrupt, secretive, and incompetent federal government that rewards cronies, a Republican majority in Congress that’s acted as a rubber stamp, that has performed virtually no oversight and which excludes the minority party from the legislative process in a way unprecedented in our recent history.

I also want to discuss with Ann the coarsening of dialogue in this country. I want to discuss values with Ann. Values like love, of family, of your fellow man, of country. Ann has said repeatedly that liberals hate America. I disagree.

Last year I had the honor of speaking at West Point. It was an audience not so very different from this one. Except that instead of you, the audience was made up of about twelve hundred cadets. Many of whom will be going to Iraq in the next year or so.

The occasion was the Sol Feinstone Lecture on the Meaning of Freedom endowed by philanthropist Sol Feinstone. It’s an annual event and Sol Feinstein’s granddaughter, who is about my age, attended.

After telling a number jokes and getting the cadets on my side. I told them that we had been lied into the war in Iraq. I had just published a book entitled The Truth (with jokes), and I told the cadets that you can’t have freedom without the truth. You can have freedom without jokes, as has been proven by the Dutch and the Swiss.

I proceeded to prove that we had been lied into war, citing example after example of President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and Condi Rice, who had been National Security Advisor in the lead-up to the war, telling the public information that they knew not to be true.

At the end of the speech I received a standing ovation from the cadets. Sol Feinstone’s granddaughter told me she had gone to every lecture for the last thirty or so years, and that I received only the second standing ovation. The other was for Max Cleland, who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam.

By the way, Ann has written that Max Cleland was lucky to have lost his legs and his arm in Vietnam. I disagree. More importantly, I know Max, and he disagrees.

I believe I received the standing ovation because the cadets knew that I was speaking from the heart, and that the information I had given them was all true. And as I said, you can’t have freedom without the truth.

You can’t have good government without the truth. During the crafting and passage of the Medicare prescription drug bill, the chief actuary of Medicare was told to withhold from Congress the true cost of the bill. He’d be fired if he told the truth.

The bill costs so much, in large part, because the bill prohibits Medicare from negotiating with the pharmaceutical companies on the price of drugs. As a result, seniors now pay on average 44% more than veterans getting the same drugs through the VA which is allowed to use its size to negotiate with the drug companies. To get the bill passed, the vote was held open for three hours. Tom DeLay was later admonished by Republicans on the ethics committee for attempting to bribe, and then extort, Republican Nick Smith of Michigan to get him to change his vote. The chairman of the Commerce Committee Billy Tauzin who ushered the legislation through, soon left Congress for a two million dollar a year job as the chief lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry. Obviously, a complete coincidence.

During the 2000 campaign George Bush ran for president by saying repeatedly, and I quote, “by far the vast majority of my tax cut goes to those at the bottom.” Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, the president continues to ask for and sign tax cuts that go primarily to those at the top. By the way, until George W. Bush, our country had never cut taxes during a time of war.

As a result, our deficits grow and the cuts – in Medicaid, Pell Grants, food stamps, low-income housing subsidies, community block grants – are targeted at the poorest in our society.

George W. Bush famously said that Jesus was his favorite political philosopher. Frankly, I don’t get it.

I’m Jewish. Thank you. I’m not an expert on the New Testament. But I know that if you cut out all the passages where Jesus talks about helping the poor, helping the least among us, if you literally took a pair of scissors and cut out all those passages, you’d have the perfect box to smuggle Rush Limbaugh’s drugs in.

I don’t understand when the Christian right says that equal rights in marriage threatens marriage. I’ve been married 30 years, many of them happy. I don’t think that if my wife and I were walking around in Boston, where we met, if we saw two men holding hands with wedding bands… I don’t think I’d say “Hey, that looks good. Y’know, honey, you don’t like watching football on Sundays. Maybe I could marry a guy, watch football with him, and then if I wanted to have sex, I could come over and have sex with you.”

I was just talking to Newt Gingrich the other day. And I said to him, “Don’t you want for a gay couple what you had with your first wife? Don’t you want that bond that comes with the pledge of fidelity that you had with your second wife? Don’t you want what comes with that lifelong bond that you may or may not have with your third wife – I have no idea what’s going on there.”

You know, Bill O’Reilly always talks about his “traditional values” – as opposed to “the far left’s secular humanist values.” I didn’t realize phone sex was a traditional value. I didn’t think the phone had been around long enough. Maybe telegraph sex.

In her book Slander, Ann referred to Democrats and our “Marquis de Sade lifestyle.” I’ve been married for thirty years. Ann, you’re an attractive woman. And I know you support the president’s abstinence-only sex education. I want to congratulate you for saving yourself for your one true love.

When my daughter was six years old, her teacher asked all her students to write about how their parents had met. We told Thomasin that we met at a mixer freshman year of college. I saw Franni across the room, gathering up some friends to leave. I liked the way she was taking control and I thought she was beautiful. So I asked her to dance, and then got her a ginger ale, then escorted her to her dorm and asked for a date.

My daughter wrote, “My dad asked my mom to dance, bought her a drink, and then took her home.” Now all the facts were accurate, but what my daughter wrote was extremely misleading. Now my daughter wasn’t lying. She didn’t realize that what she wrote made her mom seem like a slut.

Ann, however, is not six years old. And she has developed her own techniques for misleading, by leaving out important facts. Let me give you an example of Ann lying by omission.

Also in her book Slander, Ann tells her readers that Al Gore had a leg up on George W. Bush when applying to their respective colleges. Harvard and Yale. Ann writes:

“Oddly, it was Bush who was routinely accused of having sailed through life on his father’s name. But the truth was the reverse. The media was manipulating the fact that – many years later – Bush’s father became president. When Bush was admitted to Yale, his father was a little-known congressman on the verge of losing his first Senate race. His father was a Yale alumnus, but so were a lot of other boys’ parents. It was Gore, not Bush, who had a famous father likely to impress college admissions committees.”

What does Ann omit? Well, that Bush’s grandfather Prescott Bush was also a Yale alum and had been Senator from Connecticut, the home state of Yale University. That Prescott Bush had been a trustee of Yale. That Prescott Bush had been the first chair of Yale’s Development Board – the folks who raise the money. That Prescott Bush sat on the Yale Corporation for twelve years. That Prescott Bush, like George W. Bush’s father, George H. W, Bush, had been a member of Skull and Bones. That the first Bush to go to Yale was Bush’s great great grandfather James Bush, who graduated in 1844. That in addition to his father, grandfather, and greatgreatgrandfather, Bush was the legacy of no less than twenty-seven other relatives who preceded him at Yale, including five great great uncles. Seven great uncles. Five uncles, and a number of first cousins.

Now why did Ann leave out these somewhat relevant facts? Ann grew up in Connecticut. Ann, did you really not know that Prescott Bush had been your senator when you were born?

Ann, is it possible that when Prescott’s son George H. W. Bush became president, it totally escaped your notice that his father had represented your state in the United States Senate? Did neither of your parents mention it in passing at the dinner table? Did no one at home in Darien make any comments about the new president’s lineage?

Understand. This isn’t sloppiness. This is deliberate. For Ann’s purposes – to claim that the media that was manipulating facts here – Ann herself had to manipulate facts – in such a shameless way. This is what she does.

And she does it over and over and over again.

Let me give you another example.

On page 265 of her book Treason, Ann writes of Tom Friedman, the New York Times columnist. “He blamed twenty years of relentless attacks by Muslim extremists on- I quote – ‘religious fundamentalists of any stripe.’”

This didn’t sound like Tom Friedman to me, so I found the one Friedman column that contained that phrase – “religious fundamentalists of any stripe.” It was from a December 26, 2001 column called “Naked Air,” about an airline where everyone would fly naked. “Think about it,” Friedman writes, tongue firmly planted in cheek, “If everybody flew naked, not only would you never have to worry about the passenger next to you carrying box cutters or exploding shoes, but no religious fundamentalists of any stripe would ever be caught dead flying nude.”

Let me repeat. Ann wrote of Tom Friedman, Jewish by the way, that “he blamed twenty years of relentless attacks by Muslim extremists on – I quote – ‘religious fundamentalists of any stripe.’” She bothered to put “I quote” in there for emphasis.

Friedman actually wrote “no religious fundamentalists of any stripe would ever be caught dead flying nude” in service of a conceit that illustrated our dilemma of either becoming less open as a society or learning to live with much higher risks than we’ve ever been used to before.

Friedman was not blaming 9/11 on the Lubavichers, as Ann suggests.

Now this sort of deliberate misrepresentation contributes to a coarsening of our nation’s dialogue. Ann recently told an audience:

“We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens’ creme brulee,” Coulter said. “That’s just a joke, for you in the media.”

Here’s my question. What’s the joke? Maybe it’s a prejudice from my days as a comedy writer, but I always thought the joke had to have an operative funny idea. I’ll give you an example of a joke.

Like they do every Saturday night, two elderly Jewish couples are going out to dinner. The guys are in front, the girls riding in back. Irv says to Sid, “Where should we go tonight?”

Sid says, “How about that place we went about a month ago. The Italian place with the great lasagna.”

Irv says, “I don’t remember it.”

Sid says, “The place with the great lasagna.”

Irv says, “I don’t remember. What’s the name of the place?”

Sid thinks. But can’t remember. “A flower. Gimme a flower.”

“Tulip?” Irv says.

“No, no. A different flower.”

“Magnolia?”

“No, no. A basic flower.”

“Orchid?”

“No! Basic.”

“Rose?”

That’s it! Sid turns to the back seat. “Rose. What was the name of that restaurant…?”

That’s a joke. What exactly is the joke in “We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens’ creme brulee?” Is it the crème brulee? Is that it? Because Stevens is some kind of Francophile or elitist? Is it the rat poison? See, I would have gone with Drano. I’m really trying here, Ann. Please, when you come up, explain the joke about murdering an associate justice of the Supreme Court. One who by the way, was appointed to the Supreme Court by Gerald Ford, and who, also, by the way, won a Bronze Star serving in the Navy in World War II. What is the joke? ‘Cause I don’t get it.

Now in Ann’s defense, she doesn’t always make horribly offensive remarks or knowingly craft lies. Very often Ann is just wrong out of ignorance or pure laziness. Take this from the MSNBC Show – Saturday Final – on August 30, 2003 – MSNBC. She is talking about how well the war in Iraq is going.

COULTER: I think the rebuilding is going extremely well. Douglas MacArthur was in Japan five years after V.J. Day. There were enormous casualties in Germany after World War II. The rebuilding is actually going quite well compared to past efforts. And really, all we’re getting from Democrats is constant carping.

Ann, do you know how many combat fatalities the American military had in Germany after V-E day? Zero. You know how many in Japan after V-J day? Zero.

Ann and I have debated once before. In May of 2004, and Ann still felt the war was going amazingly well. Let me quote her from that debate:

“…. This war is going amazingly well… the casualty rate is incredibly small for the rebuilding. It is going better than can be expected. You cannot read about how well things are going against Al Sadr, where you have Iraqis protesting against Al Sadr; all these stories about how Al Sadr had (this) vast support among the Iraquis… oh no no no. They recently held a protest march saying, ‘Al Sadr, get out.’”

As you know, Ann, Moktadr al Sadr, recently picked the Shiite choice for prime minister for the new government, Mohamed al Jafaari. Sadr has thirty-two seats in the Iraqi assembly compared to Ahmed Chalabi’s zero. And remember, it was Chalabi to whom we were going to turn over the Iraqi government.

Things are not going amazingly well in Iraq. And they haven’t been going amazingly well since we allowed the looting of Baghdad. A week ago, former prime minister Ayad Allawi said that Iraq was already in a civil war. And as George Bush said in September of 2004, we should listen to Allawi because – and I quote – “he understands what’s going on there – after all, he lives there.”

The first thing this Administration needs to do in Iraq is to start acknowledging the truth and level with the American people.

I think the one lesson we can all agree on from Vietnam is that we cannot blame the troops. By and large, the vast, vast majority of our troops have performed heroically. And they deserve our gratitude and support. And that means supporting them after they’ve come home.

Two thirds of the wounded in Iraq now have brain injuries. That’s because so many of the casualties are from IED’s, and the injuries are concussive and not ballistic. Each one of those brain injuries is going to cost a million dollars over the course of that veteran’s life. And we need to fund programs for those who come back with post traumatic stress disorder – a higher percentage than in any previous war.

Now another value I believe in is love of country. For some reason it rankles Ann that I’ve done six USO tours and have had the nerve to talk about it. I do so because I want people to be aware of the work that the USO does. I want anyone here today who is a Hollywood celebrity to think about giving up a couple weeks of your life to entertain our men and women in uniform. I think it rankles Ann that I’ve talked about going on the USO tours because she can’t conceive that anyone would actually do something for anyone else. I didn’t go to Iraq to prove that Democrats are patriotic, Ann. I did my first USO tour in 1999, when Clinton was president. We went to Kosovo, a war that was vehemently and vocally opposed by many Republicans. Even so, we didn’t call them traitors. I was invited by the USO to go to Iraq because they know I do a good job and that it means a lot to the troops when anyone comes over to show them we care.

My daughter is 25. She teaches inner city kids in the Bronx. And that makes me proud. She hates when I say it, and that makes me even more proud.

My son is an engineering student. He wants to build fuel efficient cars. He’s a junior in college and got a job at Ford this summer working on a new manufacturing process for power trans. I don’t know what that means either. But he got there because he works his butt off.

But my son doesn’t feel that he got where he is because he is some kind of rugged individual. That he did it all himself. He knows that he stands on the shoulders of those who stood on the shoulders of those who stood on the shoulders of those who stood on the shoulders of those who stood on the necks of Indians.

My wife and I tried to instill certain values in our kids. But we don’t love them because they’re perfect. We love them because they’re decent, loving kids. Kids who care about others and care, by the way, about the truth.

One last thing. Speaking of the truth. A few months after my last debate with Ann, the following appeared in a New York Observer story about Ann. From the September 13, 2004 issue..

The writer asks Ann in the article:

“She debated Al Franken recently?

“’Yes,’ she said. ‘It’s not an interesting debate, because liberals can’t argue. So it’s never like point-counterpoint; all we do is hear about his fucking U.S.O. tours for three hours. Excuse my French.’”

Ann, let’s see if we can have a point-counterpoint, and an interesting debate. And by the way, Ann, I have here a DVD of that entire three hour debate – And I’ll bet you my speaking fee tonight that I spoke about my USO tours for less than a grand total of three minutes. How about it Ann? My speaking fee against your speaking fee?

I mean we care about the truth, don’t we?

Feingold has Brass Ones.....

Feingold Backs Legalizing Same-Sex Marriages

By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 5, 2006; A09



Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), a prospective 2008 presidential candidate, said yesterday that he thinks bans on same-sex marriages have no place in the nation's laws.

Feingold said in an interview that he was motivated to state his position on one of the most divisive social issues in the country after being asked at a town hall meeting Sunday about a pending amendment to the Wisconsin state constitution to ban same-sex marriages.

Feingold called the amendment "a mean-spirited attempt" to single out gay men and lesbians for discrimination and said he would vote against it. But he went further, announcing that he favors legalizing same-sex marriages.

That puts him at odds with many prominent Democratic politicians who support gay rights but not same-sex marriage. Should Feingold decide to run for the party's presidential nomination in 2008, his position would put him to the left of many likely rivals.

"Obviously, it's a very difficult issue and evokes a lot of emotions," Feingold said in a telephone interview yesterday. "I think it's something ultimately that people throughout the country will accept, but it's not an easy issue." He accused the Bush White House and the Republican Party of using same-sex marriage as a wedge issue "to hurt Democrats who are against discrimination."

The Wisconsin senator said he is prepared to work with supporters of same-sex marriage to ensure that it is legal in the future.

"Further steps would be appropriate,
" he said, noting that his first priorities are to defeat the proposed Wisconsin amendment as well as a federal constitutional amendment that is expected to come to a vote in the Senate later this spring.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I accidentally purchased voting machine stock....LOLOL

Blackwell reports embarrassing buy of Diebold stock
Rivals pounce on controversy over accidental share purchase
Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Columbus -Secretary of State Ken Blackwell made an embarrassing announcement Monday: He accidentally bought stock in Diebold Inc., a voting machine maker that benefited from decisions made by his office.

In a required filing with the Ohio Ethics Commission, the GOP gubernatorial hopeful said his hefty portfolio included 178 shares of Diebold stock, which sold for a loss.

"While I was unaware of this stock in my portfolio, its mere presence may be viewed as a conflict," Blackwell wrote in a letter that accompanies his annual financial disclosure statement.

As the Blackwell camp attempted to downplay the controversy, rivals from both parties pounced.

Blackwell "has a pretty unique history with this company," said Bob Paduchik, spokesman for Attorney General Jim Petro, who is also seeking the GOP nomination for governor. "This should be investigated."

Blackwell spokesman Carlo LoParo called the request for an investigation "absurd" and said county boards of election determine which machines to use.

In his duties as secretary of state, however, Blackwell's staff narrowed the list of companies eligible to replace Ohio's antiquated voting equipment with more modern technology. The Green-based Diebold made the cut, and a rival firm accused Blackwell of improperly favoring the Ohio company.

Diebold also drew the ire of critics after then-CEO Wally O'Dell sent a fund-raising letter in which he committed to deliver Ohio's electoral votes to President Bush in 2004.

LoParo maintains that Diebold's machines are safe and reliable and he described Blackwell's Diebold holdings as an honest mistake.

According to Blackwell's letter, he does not approve individual stock selections but has instructed his money managers to avoid all conflicts of interest.

"Those instructions were not followed by the new financial manager" that took over the account last year, he said. This unidentified woman bought 178 shares of Diebold at $53.67 per share in January 2005, then sold 95 of them for a loss of $15.68 per share.

On Saturday, while reviewing his annual ethics filing, Blackwell said he learned that he owned the remaining 83 shares and also sold them for a loss.

Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Brian Rothenberg could hardly contain his glee.

"If Ken Blackwell didn't know how his own money was being spent, why would the people of Ohio think he would be a good steward of their checkbook?"

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:

stheis@plaind.com, 1-800-228-8272