Friday, November 16, 2007

Murdoch and News Corp. accused of more things to promote Rudy

Murdoch and News Corp. accused of Sleazy & possibly Illegal efforts to protect & promote Giuliani By Steven Leser Rupert Murdoch wants to continue to have a friend in the White House. That is one of the emerging themes of election 2008. Murdoch, the conservative billionaire who founded News Corp and right wing publications and media like the New York Post and Fox News has been a visceral supporter of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for President. As reported in the New York Times, a new lawsuit by Judith Regan, a former head of a subdivision/imprint of Harper publishing, itself a subdivision of News Corp, alleges that News Corp senior executives encouraged her to lie to Federal Prosecutors investigating Bernard Kerik, a prominent friend of Giuliani. Regan says the reason given to her as to why she should lie was that her truthful input into the investigation of Kerik could harm Giuliani’s effort to win the Presidency. Murdoch - A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma The famous Churchillian quote about Russia applies to Murdoch. My research on him reveals a man who is enigmatic and ruthless but generous in terms of money and effort for his friends. But while Giuliani has been a good friend of Mr. Murdoch and Murdoch’s clear favorite to win the White House in 2008, as in the past Murdoch isn’t above hedging his bets. Murdoch contributed to the Kerry campaign in 2004 despite backing Bush and is contributing to the campaign of Hillary Clinton in 2008. You could spin the contribution to and support of Clinton a number of ways. You could say that Murdoch believes Clinton is the easiest for Giuliani to beat and therefore Murdoch wants her to be the nominee. Alternatively, you could say that of the candidates, he finds Hillary Clinton’s positions on the issues are the most palatable to him. Or, you could simply say that he believes she has the greatest chance to win among Democrats and he is hedging as I posited. I discussed another aspect of the enigmatic nature of Mr. Murdoch in one of my first articles, “Rupert Murdoch, Funds Red, Lives Blue” which explored the contradiction of a man who is a staunch supporter of all conservative causes and candidates yet chooses to live in New York City the epitome of a Liberal American city. At the time, December of 2004, Murdoch was preparing to spend $44 million for a New York City Co-op, which, in a city known for pricey real estate, would have been at the time the largest amount ever spent for a New York Co-op. So, Murdoch doesn’t just have a wee preference for liberal New York, he likes it so much he is willing to make an otherworldly massive investment in living there. Ruthless The Judith Regan lawsuit shows, allegedly, how far Murdoch is willing to go to promote and protect a friend. I reached out to News Corp for a comment on Regan’s allegations but the request went unanswered. According to the New York Times, Regan’s suit alleges: “…an effort to discredit and defame her starting in November 2006, including the release of what she calls false and defamatory statements by company executives to The New York Post, which is owned by the News Corporation, and to The New York Times...when she [Regan] realized the company had been assembling material with which to justify firing her she called a company lawyer. She says she wanted to confirm that accusations she had made about executives’ creating a hostile workplace had been included in her personnel file. One of those accusations was that an executive had advised her to lie about Mr. Kerik to protect Mr. Giuliani. “This smear campaign was necessary to advance News Corp.’s political agenda, which has long centered on protecting Rudy Giuliani’s presidential ambitions,”... The complaint asserts that a second unnamed executive advised her “not to produce clearly relevant documents in connection with the government’s investigation of Kerik.” “Thus, because of the damaging information that defendants believed Regan possessed, defendants knew they would be protecting Giuliani if they could pre-emptively discredit her,” the lawsuit says.---------------------------------------------------- Regan was accused of asserting that “A Jewish Cabal” was behind her ouster from her various News Corp positions. Regan says that the smear campaign made this up. She acknowledges that she used the word cabal, but Regan, who herself is Jewish, says she never mentioned a ‘Jewish’ cabal. Regan seems to have witnesses who corroborate her version of events in this regard. Intent to Protect and Support Giuliani Backfiring If the balance of Regan’s accusations is true, they paint an astounding picture of the ruthlessness of Murdoch and News Corp and how important Murdoch and News Corp consider the support of Giuliani’s Presidential ambitions. In an interesting twist, these efforts will probably do more to hurt Giuliani than anything else will, because Regan’s resulting lawsuit will keep Kerik and Giuliani’s friendship and support of Kerik in the news for the near future. There is also the hint of yet unrevealed information that would be extremely damaging to Giuliani if released.

Hey Michigan do you know this about Rudy?

Edited on Fri Nov-02-07 11:28 PM by Dems Will Win Rudy has no experience in national-level policy.Rudy picked a police chief who was mob-connected, and who is now headed for federal charges — tax fraud, bribery, taking money from the Mafia (he later recommended this guy for the U.S. cabinet!)He hired an unqualified crony for the NY Housing Development Corporation who later went to jail for child porn.Rudy’s key supporter in the Senate has been exposed using prostitutes both in Washington and Louisiana. Later he hired a child molester, boyhoood friend and Priest, Alan Paca, at his law firm.His urban reconstruction effort displaced low-income families to make room for big corporations.He indulged in racial profiling.He angered big chunks of his community for his support of the NYPD during the aftermath of the Amadou Diallo shooting.He tried so often to restrict free speech against his opponents that he lost 35 lawsuits on that one issue alone — thirty-five!The Farmersville garbage scandal helped force him to quit the 2000 Senate race.Rudy’s many scandals also forced him to take himself out of consideration for the Homeland Security job.He had to annul his first marriage because he was found to have married his first cousin; he dumped his second wife via a press conference rather than break the news in person — he was having an affair with the woman who would become his third wife. He actually was having 2 simultaneous affairs at the same time: Judith Nathan AND Christyne Letagano, from his office!Rudy unilaterally grabbed a $7 million endowment for the Brooklyn Museum of Art because he didn’t like one of their artworks. Then he tried to evict the entire museum. A judge slapped him down, and then warned him not to try to retaliate.Rudy tried to put public schools under a Catholic curriculum.Rudy told the police to permanently confiscate the vehicles of drunk-driving suspects — some of whom were acquitted.Rudy claims credit for reducing crime in New York, which actually began during the tenure of his predecessor, Dinkins, because of Dinkins’ policies (and enhanced by Clinton‘s decision to fund additional police officers, and the work of police chief Richard Bratton who later did the same for LA; Rudy still doesn‘t give Clinton or Bratton credit).He claimed credit to crafting the strategy for destroying the Mafia in New York, which was actually the work of Professor Bob Blakey at Cornell.He claimed he spent as much time at Ground Zero as the first responders; he later had to admit he lied. Giuliani also claims he knows more about foreign policy than McCain (Senate Armed Services Committee) or Biden (Foreign Relations Committee Chairman), but then he had to admit that he didn’t know North Korea was much further along than Iran in developing nuclear weapons!Giuliani spend a ton of money on ads claiming he turned a deficit into a surplus in New York. Actually he left a bigger deficit than he started with, and it would have been bigger even if 911 hadn’t happened. The next mayor, Bloomberg, was forced take extraordinary measures to save the city from collapse. How did this happen? Giuliani indulged in the same brain-dead wishful thinking Bush has indulged in, passing irresponsible tax cuts, occasionally raiding pension funds for money (which experts called irresponsible). Even there, Rudy’s claims are misleading: he claims he cut taxes 17 percent, but taxes really went from 8.73 percent to 7.24 percent..Rudy ignored the threat from Islamic extremists in New York even after the first WTC attack.His decision to locate the Office of Emergency Management headquarters in a long-identified target for a terrorist attack at the World Trade Center damaged the city’s response — the center was of course wiped out. The diesel fuel tanks placed at 7 World Trade Center to power the command center actually caused the building to collapse and burn.Firefighters on 911 were using exactly the same kind of radios that failed after the 1993 WTC bombing: 343 firefighters didn’t hear the evacuation order and died in the towers; Giuliani later claimed falsely they heard the order but ignored it.Ten days after 911 he claimed the air was safe to breathe despite the presence of serious contaminants; he botched the air quality issue at Ground Zero even though he knew there was a safety problem, and firefighters lacked proper protective gear and were insufficiently protected against pollutants (contrariwise at the Pentagon the workers were properly equipped and no one got sick).After 911, turf wars, sweetheart deals and Giuliani’s personal projects impeded the handling of the crisis further.Victims’ families complain they were shut out of the process of designing the 911 memorial.By 2007 Giuliani had to limit his appearances in New York because of protest from victims’ families, police and firefighters. Relatives and firemen said they didn’t want Giuliani even to speak at the 911 ceremonies in September 2007, saying it would be a “disgrace”.As Rudy left office he put his office records under the control of a private firm so that he could retain permanent control.Rudy represented heavily-polluting coal plants and Big Tobacco.His firm represented Purdue Pharma when the drug maker was nailed for lying about Oxycontin; the federal prosecutor who was handling the case was threatened by the White House to back off the investigation, and when the lawyer said no, the White House, only days later, put him on the list of US attorneys to be fired.Rudy’s firm worked for a guy who wants to do security work for the federal government — even though he is a confessed drug smuggler.Rudy probably hasn’t told the far right that his firm worked for the race tracking gambling industry.Rudy promised to leave his security consulting firm when he began his campaign, but he failed to do so; firm employees work for his campaign and the firm pays for his campaign security. He is violating federal campaign law.Only a small percentage of the electorate really knows Rudy, even on the social issues which have been the central focus for months: only 37 percent even know he’s pro-choice, and only 18 percent know he originally favored civil unions before he changed his mind. He supports school vouchers, supports torture, supports school prayer, supports putting the Ten Commandments in schools, and promises to appoint Scalia-like judges to the bench.Rudy wants to ban late-term abortion, mandate parental notification, and ban federal funding for most abortions under Medicaid.Rudy flipflopped on immigration and on civil unionsRepublicans in Iowa already complain that Giuliani only talks about one issue, terrorism.Rudy incessantly claims the Democrats will slash military budgets, impose socialism, and cause more people to die from terrorism. Lies and smears.Rudy hired the same smear team that crushed a black Senate candidate, Harold Ford, in the Tennessee Senate race by implying he had sex with a Playboy bunny (the same team that smeared McCain for Bush in South Carolina in 2000).A number of Republicans think he’s unfit for office. One might expect that from the far right, which has already rejected him because of abortion and his flipflops on some of their favorite issues. But even Al D’Amato – no reactionary – admitted that sponsoring Giuliani for a prosecutor job in New York was “the biggest mistake I ever made”.My favorite Rudy quote: “Freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.”
Via Dem U

Primary ruling could be delayed

Friday, November 16, 2007 Primary ruling likely to be delayed Court suggests it needs extra time to decide whether Michigan can go ahead with Jan. 15 vote. Gordon Trowbridge / Detroit News Washington Bureau LANSING -- Michigan's presidential primary is likely to remain in legal limbo for several more days after an appeals court on Thursday suggested it needs more time to rule on whether plans for the Jan. 15 contest violate the state constitution. State officials had asked the three-judge panel to rule by today, but during oral arguments Thursday, the Michigan Court of Appeals judges got the state's lawyer to admit that they could delay their ruling without imperiling the election. "Do we face a drop-dead date? I think it's hard to say," Assistant Attorney General Heather Meingast told the judges. "The more we delay, the harder it is to follow the process that needs to be followed" to hold the election, she said. The appeals judges on Thursday expressed sympathy with the arguments of East Lansing political consultant Mark Grebner, the lead plaintiff of the group whose lawsuit has placed the primary in doubt. They won a ruling from an Ingham County judge last week holding the primary law unconstitutional because it would turn over voter lists generated in the state-funded primary to the Democratic and Republican parties but bar the public from accessing the lists. Because the law includes a clause invalidating the entire law if any part of it is rejected by the courts, the ruling placed the entire contest in jeopardy. "Why are they not public property?" Judge William Whitbeck, chief judge of the appeals court, asked Meingast about the lists. Whitbeck suggested the state was arguing the lists had been magically "transmuted from lead to gold," from public to private. When Meingast argued that turning over the lists to the parties served the public by discouraging masses of one party's voters from voting in the opposing party's primary, Judge Donald Owens said that amounted to "intimidation" of voters. Whitbeck also seemed to stump Grebner's attorney, Randolph Bodwin, when he asked if a law with any benefits for private parties invoked the constitution's requirement for a two-thirds vote, even if the law also has public purposes. When Bowdin said that yes, he believed that to be the case, Whitbeck said that argument would render virtually every state appropriation unconstitutional. After the hearing, Grebner said he believed the judges are looking for a way around the so-called "nonseverability" clause, which invalidates the entire law if any part of it falls. "It solves everything if they say, 'You can't steal the lists, but you can still hold the election,' " said Grebner.

House Repugs: No health and education for you

ANDREW TAYLORAP Features Nov 15, 2007 21:50 EST House Republicans on Thursday night easily sustained President Bush's veto of a Democratic health and education spending bill. The 277-141 vote looked deceptively close, falling just two votes short of the two-thirds tally required to overturn Bush's veto. But as they did on three previous occasions, GOP leaders confidently managed their ranks to make sure Bush would not be embarrassed. Some of the congressional combatants already were looking past the veto in hopes that it might prompt the White House to negotiate on that measure and 10 other bills that provide money to Cabinet departments for the budget year that began Oct. 1. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters that when Congress returns in December from a two-week Thanksgiving recess, Democrats would send Bush a catchall spending bill combining Congress' unfinished budget work — after cutting about $11 billion from them. Democrats have written domestic spending bills adding more than $22 billion to Bush's budget, prompting a wave of veto threats from the White House. Reid promised to cut that amount in half, saying it was a fair compromise. "We're going to bundle these bills up and send a bill splitting the difference," Reid told reporters. If Bush vetoes that bill, Democrats might just put the government on autopilot at current spending levels for weeks, months. "If the proposal is to split the difference," said Rep. Jim Walsh, a New York moderate serving as GOP bill manager for the health, education and job training bill, "I would advise the president to take yes for an answer." The Democratic-driven education and health bill contains $151 billion in discretionary appropriations under lawmakers' direct control. More than any other spending bill, it defines the differences between Bush and his Democratic rivals. In recent years, Bush has sought to cut the labor, health and education measure below the prior year's level. Lawmakers always have rejected the cuts, but the budget that Bush presented in February sought almost $4 billion in cuts from levels for the 2007 budget year, the largest he's ever recommended. Democrats responded by adding $10 billion to Bush's request for the 2008 bill, with another $2 billion in future-year funding devoted to education. The increases cover a broad spectrum of social programs backed by Democrats and moderate Republicans. Bill author Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., said Thursday night that splitting the difference with Bush on the health and education bill would still lead to unacceptable budget cuts such as a $400 million decrease for special education and a $200 million cut in community health centers that would affect 600,000 people. Republicans on Capitol Hill admit Bush's health and education cuts aren't sustainable. Some of them hope the unsuccessful veto override might spur the warring factions into negotiations aimed at averting a fiscal train wreck. "I've got the feeling that this will lead to some serious movement," said California Rep. Jerry Lewis, top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee. "If you work that bill out, everything else falls into place," Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., said. But plenty of lawmakers remained pessimistic that the impasse could be broken. Many GOP stalwarts want Bush to take a hard line, and thus far, he's shown no sign of wavering. The increases in the education, health and job training bill cover a broad spectrum of social programs, including: _A 20 percent increase over Bush's request for job training programs. _$1.4 billion more than Bush's request for health research at the National Institutes of Health, a 5 percent increase. _$2.4 billion for heating subsidies for the poor, $480 million more than Bush requested. _$665 million for grants to community action agencies; Bush sought to kill the program outright. _$63.6 billion for the Education Department, a 5 percent increase over 2007 spending and 8 percent more than Bush's request. _A $225 million increase for community health centers. ___

Senate blocks Iraq war money

Senate blocks Iraq war money Senate Blocks Bills to Pay for Iraq, Afghanistan ANNE FLAHERTY AP News Nov 16, 2007 10:36 EST The Senate on Friday blocked a Democratic proposal to pay for the Iraq war but require that troops start coming home. The 53-45 vote was seven votes short of the 60 needed to advance. It came minutes after the Senate rejected a Republican proposal to pay for the Iraq war without strings attached. The Republican measure failed 45-53, 15 short of the number of votes needed to go forward. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the only way to get troops the money was to approve the restrictions outlined by Democrats. "Our troops continue to fight and die valiantly. And our Treasury continues to be depleted rapidly, for a peace that we seem far more interested in achieving than Iraq's own political leaders," said Reid, D-Nev. Republicans said Democrats were being irresponsible. "We need to get our troops everything they need," said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "We need to get it to them right now." Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said this week that if Congress cannot pass legislation that ties war money to troop withdrawals, they would not send Bush a bill this year. Instead, they would revisit the issue upon returning in January, pushing the Pentagon to the brink of an accounting nightmare and deepening Democrats' conflict with the White House on the war. In the meantime, Democrats say, the Pentagon can eat into its $471 billion annual budget without being forced to take drastic steps. "The days of a free lunch are over," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. At the White House Friday, deputy press secretary Tony Fratto said: "DOD would have to eat into their annual budget and I believe that still presents difficulties in getting the troops in the field the resources they need to carry out their mission." "We'd rather see the Department of Defense, the military planners and our troops focusing on military maneuvers, rather than accounting maneuvers as they carry out their mission in the field," Fratto said. "I think Congress should send this money, allow these troops to get the equipment they need. There is no reason why they should not get the money. This isn't like this is a last-minute effort and call for funding." Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that unless Congress passes funding for the war within days, he will direct the Army and Marine Corps to begin developing plans to lay off employees and terminate contracts early next year. Gates, who met with lawmakers on Wednesday, said he does not have the money or the flexibility to move funds around to adequately cover the costs of the continuing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. "There is a misperception that this department can continue funding our troops in the field for an indefinite period of time through accounting maneuvers, that we can shuffle money around the department. This is a serious misconception," Gates told reporters at the Pentagon. As a result, he said he is faced with the undesirable task of preparing to cease operations at Army bases by mid-February, and lay off about 100,000 defense department employees and an equal number of civilian contractors. A month later, he said, similar moves would have to be made by the Marines. Some members of Congress believe the Pentagon can switch enough money to cover the war accounts, Gates said. But he added that he only has the flexibility to transfer about $3.7 billion, which is just one week's worth of war expenses. Lawmakers, he said, may not understand how complicated and restrictive the situation is. ___ On the Net: Congress: Pentagon: (This version CORRECTS SUBS 2nd graf to correct that vote on Democratic proposal was seven votes short of the number needed to advance; INSERTS 2 grafs to UPDATE with White House comment.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Congrats Thad!!!

Everyone raise a glass to Michigan Repug Thad McCotter for being named by Keith Olbermann as the "Worst person in the World" for attacking a group named Catholics United. What was the sin committed by Catholics United? They had the nerve to run TV ads questioning how can he claimed to be pro-life when he backs the Shrub veto of SCHIP. How did Thad respond? Well Thad wrote a piece over at the GOP water carrier the National Review where called the group "leftist" “false Prophet,” a “devil” and as being in “sin.” Again congrats Thad for attacking a group that support health care for kids.

Detroit shines bright on national stage

Brighter vision of Detroit shines on national TV November 13, 2007 By TOM WALSH FREE PRESS COLUMNIST NBC-TV news anchor Brian Williams and sister station CNBC made one of their infrequent forays to Detroit on Tuesday to give the nation’s viewers a glimpse of the bleak, battered industrial heartland. What they saw was a bit different. Their cameras were set up inside the Warren Truck plant of the suddenly lean and lively Chrysler LLC, whose new superstar executive, Jim Press, was interviewed by Williams. “This is an opportunity to realize the American Dream, a chance to see American industry come back,” Press said of Chrysler’s new life under private equity ownership.Detroit’s newspapers screamed of good news for the long-derided city center: “QUICKEN TO BRING HQ, 4,000 WORKERS DOWNTOWN” was the headline on the Free Press that CNBC anchor Erin Burnett held up at the start of her 2 p.m. “Street Signs” business program.The overall thrust was decidedly “Detroit, sunny-side up.”Even the mid-November Michigan weather outside was sunny and bright. Go figure.Burnett’s producer juggled her guest lineup Tuesday to squeeze a remote interview of Quicken founder Dan Gilbert in between on-set chats with investment manager David Sowerby, Masco Corp. Chairman Richard Manoogian and Chris Ilitch, chief executive officer of the Ilitch family pizza, sports and entertainment empire. “There’s a gritty resolve among the leaders in this community to reinvent itself, to build on the old automotive manufacturing model and add to it,” said Chris Ilitch, who was interviewed by CNBC after joining his father, Mike, at the celebration of Quicken’s commitment to move downtown.Gilbert is pushing the tagline Detroit 2.0 to describe the next generation of business growth, moving the region beyond the Detroit 1.0 industrial world with a high-tech cluster of new companies and young workers moving into the city center. Quicken Loans is the nation’s largest Internet mortgage lender, with most of its 4,000 employees in Michigan.When CNBC’s Burnett interviewed Frank Ewasyshyn, Chrysler’s executive vice president of manufacturing, she rattled off grim statistics, such as Chrysler cutting 23,000 jobs. To which Ewasyshyn matter-of-factly replied that today’s Chrysler, unlike past regimes, won’t keep producing slow-selling vehicles and dumping them onto dealer lots. “We have to react to the marketplace,” he said, referring to a cutback from three shifts to two at Warren Truck.He said Chrysler is pleased with the flexibility its new UAW contract, which provides a two-tier wage for new hires, allowing the company to pay a lower wage to about 15% of its workers in a typical assembly plant who do noncore jobs not directly tied to building vehicles.Manoogian told me after his CNBC interview that Michigan and Detroit are now facing up to the reality that today is not like the old days, when a cyclical automotive downturn would be followed by a surge of growth and hiring. “This downsizing is more permanent,” he said, “and our challenge is to take that talented pool of people into alternative energy, life sciences and other growing fields.”No one should think that Michigan’s difficult days are over, just because Quicken is shifting a few thousand jobs from Livonia to Detroit, or because the sun shined on a November day when NBC and CNBC were filming here.The sunny side of the talk Tuesday is that it was grounded in a reality about what Detroit is and still can be, rather than more whining about what used to be, what will never be again and who’s to blame.

Report: Bush war cost average US family 20,000

Iraq, Afghanistan wars twice as expensive as expected, report says Nick Juliano Published: Tuesday November 13, 2007 President Bush's six-year invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq will end up costing Americans about $1.5 trillion, or nearly twice as much as the White House has actually spent to fight its wars, because of unseen costs like inflation, rising oil prices and expensive care for wounded veterans. The estimate was revealed in a Democratic staff report from Congress's Joint Economic Committee. The staff report, titled "The Hidden Costs of the Iraq War," estimates that the Iraq and Afghan wars have cost the average family more than $20,000. "The full economic costs of the war to the American taxpayers and the overall U.S. economy go well beyond even the immense federal budget costs already reported," said the report, which was obtained by the Washington Post. The White House apparently has vastly underestimated the war's costs. It requested $804 billion -- just more than half the total costs -- to keep up its wars and occupations through 2008. "The report argues that war funding is diverting billions of dollars away from "productive investment" by American businesses in the United States. It also says that the conflicts are pulling reservists and National Guardsmen away from their jobs, resulting in economic disruptions for U.S. employers that the report estimates at $1 billion to $2 billion," reports the Post's Josh White. Furthermore, the report takes into account the massive healthcare costs for injured veterans and the declining economic productivity of vets who return home seriously injured. It also takes into account the massive interest the US will have to pay on the borrowed money that is funding the war. Republicans took issue with the Democratic staff report. "We'll see what they come up with, but it sure seems that the Senate leadership is trying to protect their continual proclamations of defeat instead of working for bipartisan progress," a spokesman for Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), the top GOP member of the joint panel, told White. Some of the report's estimates need to be taken with a grain of salt, experts warn, because it is difficult to ascribe factors like increasing oil prices to the war in Iraq alone. The report finds that skyrocketing oil prices -- which tripled since 2003 to surpass $90 per barrel recently -- cannot be blamed solely on the war in Iraq, but declining production from Iraq's ravaged oil fields have likely caused the price to tick up "between $4 and $5 a barrel." The Democratic staff on the Joint Economic Committee -- which includes bipartisan representatives from the House and Senate -- is hardly the first to try to sum up the true costs of the war. Harvard University economist Joseph Stiglitz last year attempted a similar study that would take into account outside costs of war -- such as long-term care for the thousands of US troops injured on the battlefield. He estimated a total cost as high as $2 trillion for the war in Iraq alone. The Post spoke to Robert D. Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs and a former National Security Council staffer under Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter. Hormats took issue with the specificity of some of the Democratic report's findings, but he said President Bush has taken greatly differed from his predecessors when it comes to funding the war. "The wars will cost a lot more than the appropriated sums, and it's certainly true our children will be paying for this for a long, long time," he told the paper. "I'm very critical of the way they have financed the war, but I always hesitate to try to quantify any of these things, to make these numerical judgments."

Beware liberal bloggers Bill-O is sending Fox Noise flying monkeys after you

Host tries to get aggressive liberal blogger booted from law school For Bill O'Reilly, ambushing your political enemies with a video camera is just fine, as long as the camera is pointed in the opposite direction. Blogger Mike Stark has a history of haranguing O'Reilly during his call-in radio show, and he once visited the Fox host's house to mock him over sexual harassment allegations. And now Stark, 39, has become the target of a network executive working on behalf of the combative Fox News pundit. Fox VP Dianne Brandi has written to the dean of the Univeristy of Virginia's law school, where Stark is in his second year, urging an investigation of his conduct. Stark told RAW STORY his dean has shown him a copy of the letter but would not allow it to be distributed to others. The letter accuses Stark of violating the university's codes of conduct, and it warns that he would have trouble passing the fitness review required for admission to the bar. The showdown began with Stark's calls to O'Reilly's radio show -- "telling the truth when he didn't want to talk about the truth," as Stark characterizes it -- and escalated to a videotaped confrontation in O'Reilly's driveway. Brandi claimed the visit amounted to harassment, but Stark said he sees it as a reasonable response after O'Reilly sent a producer to the home of Jet Blue CEO David Neeleman when the airline sponsored this summer's YearlyKos conference of progressive bloggers and activists. O'Reilly made YearlyKos one of his favorite targets in August, when he smeared the conference's namesake blog, Daily Kos, with a few offensive comments dredged from the thousands posted by readers every day. Stark accosted O'Reilly at his Manhasset, NY, home and implored him to "stop lying" about the blog. He also distributed copies of a 3-year-old sexual harassment lawsuit filed against O'Reilly to his neighbors and displayed signs branding the host a pervert -- actions some say cross ethical boundaries. "Nobody's going to convince me that what I did is wrong," Stark said in a recent interview. O'Reilly is no stranger to ambushing his political enemies and shoving cameras in their faces. Just two weeks ago, an "O'Reilly Factor" producer showed up at a public book signing to ask former "View" co-host Rosie O'Donnell about her speculating that 9/11 was an inside job. In Stark's eyes, his actions are no different than those authorized by the Fox host, especially the Jet Blue visit. That's not how O'Reilly or Fox News sees things, and the bombastic host's latest assault mirrors earlier incidents when Fox's legal beagles have been unleashed against critics. O'Reilly's most famous legal troubles came in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former coworker. Before that lawsuit was even filed, O'Reilly and the Fox News legal team hit the host's accuser -- Andrea Mackris, a former Fox News producer -- with a countersuit claiming she was trying to extort $60 million from O'Reilly. The top-rated cable news host eventually settled for several million dollars and dropped the extortion suit against Mackris, who claimed O'Reilly had accosted her with sexually harassing phone calls. O'Reilly would ask his then-producer about masturbation, encourage her to purchase vibrators and appeared to be pleasuring himself during the phone calls, Mackris alleged. O'Reilly's legal troubles provided plenty of giggles for his critics when the story broke in October 2004. Stark, who runs the blog Calling All Wingnuts and is a regular commentor at Daily Kos, latched on to the most amusing allegation in the suit, taken from O'Reilly's description of his shower fantasies in a phone call with Mackris. "Then I would take the other hand with the falafel (sic) thing and I'd put it on your p---y but you'd have to do it really light, just kind of a tease business," O'Reilly told Mackris. Stark was confused as to how the Middle Eastern dish of chickpeas and vegetables would fare in the scene O'Reilly outlined. "How'd you keep the falafel together in the shower," Stark asked O'Reilly in the video as the host, wearing gym shorts and a T-shirt emerges from his house to fetch the morning paper. The antagonism directed O'Reilly's way is not limited to the driveway confrontation. Stark also distributed copies of the sexual harassment lawsuit to O'Reilly's neighbors in official-looking envelopes, and he displayed signs in the neighborhood branding O'Reilly a "pervert" and saying he "can't be trusted with your daughters." The letter to Stark's dean claims his actions "may constitute criminal harassment" under New York law, and it warns that a civil lawsuit could be headed Stark's way, he told RAW STORY. While he acknowledges that some may take issue with his tactics, Stark said the letter was more about damaging his personal reputation than raising any serious legal concerns. He has followed up with a letter to Fox News CEO Roger Ailes requesting an apology "for the attempt to harass and intimidate me at my school place," but he's received no response from Fox. "Ms. Brandi’s false and malicious assertions have the potential to redound to Fox’s negative benefit," Stark wrote to the network chief, "and Mr. O’Reilly’s bizarre abuse of the legal process reflects poorly upon the Fox News brand." Brandi, the Fox lawyer, also told the law school dean that Stark recently threatened to post O'Reilly's home address online, a claim the activist disputes. Her letter is not limited to defending O'Reilly; it alleges Stark has harassed his guests as well. Widely quoted political analyst Larry Sabato appeared on The O'Reilly Factor in late July, and that prompted an e-mail and phone call from Stark to Sabato "to inform guests that appear on O'Reilly's programs of his irresponsible rhetoric and behaviors." Brandi claimed Stark's letter and phone call interfered with the ability of Sabato -- one of the most prolific experts on elections -- to express his views on talk shows. The letter encouraged an investigation into whether Stark violated the university's code of conduct. "I have no public comment whatsoever," Sabato told RAW STORY via e-mail when contacted for this article. Stark said his dean does not plan to follow-up on the allegations in the letter. Calls and e-mails to the University of Virginia law school seeking comment were not returned. Brandi and a Fox News spokesperson did not return calls seeking comment. Despite the letter, Stark said he does not plan to curtail his criticism of O'Reilly, who he calls a "propagandist" whose methods deserve to be challenged. "This guy's going to other people's houses," Stark said, "and I had to impress the gravity of that on him by going to his house." Stark posted the following video online in August, after O'Reilly began targeting sponsors of the Yearly Kos

Ex-publisher says News Corp wanted her to lie to protect Giuliani

Ex-Publisher Says News Corp. Official Wanted Her to Lie to Protect Giuliani By RUSS BUETTNER Judith Regan, the book publisher who was fired by the News Corporation last year, asserts in a lawsuit filed today that a senior executive at the media conglomerate encouraged her to mislead federal investigators about her relationship with Bernard B. Kerik during his bid to become homeland security secretary in late 2004. The lawsuit asserts that the News Corporation executive wanted to protect the presidential aspirations of former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Kerik’s mentor, who had appointed him New York City police commissioner and had recommended him for the federal post. Ms. Regan makes the charge at the start of a 70-page filing that seeks $100 million in damages for what she says was a campaign to smear and discredit her by her bosses at HarperCollins and its parent company, the News Corporation, after her project to publish a book with O.J. Simpson was abandoned amid a storm of protest. In the civil complaint filed in state court in Manhattan, Ms. Regan says the company has long sought to promote Mr. Giuliani’s ambitions. But the lawsuit does not elaborate on that charge, or identify the executive who she alleged pressured her to mislead investigators, nor does it offer details or evidence to back up her claim. Ms. Regan had an affair with Mr. Kerik, who is married, beginning in the spring of 2001, when her imprint, Regan Books, began work on his memoir, “The Lost Son.” In December 2004, after the relationship had ended and shortly after Mr. Kerik’s homeland security nomination fell apart, newspapers reported that the two had carried on the affair at an apartment near Ground Zero that had been donated as a respite for rescue and recovery workers. Mr. Kerik, who in 2004 said he withdrew his nomination because of problems with his hiring of a nanny, was indicted last week on federal tax fraud and other charges. “Defendants were well aware that Regan had a personal relationship with Kerik,” the complaint says. “In fact, a senior executive in the News Corporation organization told Regan that he believed she had information about Kerik that, if disclosed, would harm Giuliani’s presidential campaign. This executive advised Regan to lie to, and to withhold information from, investigators concerning Kerik.” Officials of the News Corporation were asked in a telephone call for comment on the lawsuit, but had yet to issue a statement. One of Ms. Regan’s lawyers, Brian C. Kerr of the firm Dreier L.L.P., said she possesses evidence to support her claim that she was advised to lie to federal investigators who were vetting Mr. Kerik. But Mr. Kerr declined to discuss the nature of the evidence. “We’re fully confident that the evidence will show that Judith Regan was the victim of a vicious smear campaign engineered by News Corp. and HarperCollins,” Mr. Kerr said. The News Corporation controls a vast array of media outlets worldwide, including Twentieth Century Fox, the New York Post and the Fox News Channel, where Ms. Regan once hosted a talk show.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Vote puts early primary in doubt

Vote puts early primary in doubt Senate restores Jan. 15 date but Democrats refuse to go along Charlie Cain / Detroit News Lansing Bureau LANSING -- Michigan lawmakers failed Thursday in their attempt to save Michigan's endangered Jan. 15 presidential primary. The Senate voted 26-9 on a bill to restore the primary in a way that could pass legal muster with a judge who this week declared the law establishing the primary unconstitutional. But Democrats refused to vote for a companion procedural motion to give the bill "immediate effect." And without that, the bill cannot become law until around March 1 of next year -- long after the proposed primary vote. The state parties have until Wednesday to tell the secretary of state, who oversees elections, if they plan to hold a primary. The bill's sponsor, Sen. Michelle McManus, conceded that without immediate effect the primary is all but dead. She blamed Democrats and their union allies who want party caucuses, rather than a primary. Caucuses likely would work to the favor of ex-North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who has powerful friends in organized labor, because unions would have a better chance of controlling caucuses than a primary in which anyone who requested a Democratic ballot could vote. "These guys want to do it behind closed doors, they want political bosses to decide who their presidential candidate is," she said. Democratic caucuses likely would attract around 100,000 voters, while a projected 1 million would be expected to vote in a Democratic primary. New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has a substantial lead among likely Michigan primary voters. Her name remains on the ballot, but the other leading Democrats, including Edwards, have taken their names off because the date violates the national party's pre-set calendar. Those advocating an early primary say it would give Michigan a greater voice in selecting both parties' nominees. Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, had urged his colleagues during Senate debate to vote to restore the primary. "If you don't support immediate effect, you have destroyed our opportunity to have a presidential primary on Jan. 15," he said. "Make us relevant in this (nominating) process." Bishop was hoping the House would pass the bill and return it to the Senate, where another vote on immediate effect then could be held. But later Thursday evening, House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford Township, cast doubt that will happen. Dillon said the primary wouldn't be very meaningful if all of the Democrats, except Clinton, decide not to participate. "It costs us $10 million to have the election," Dillon said. "When the (top) Democrats pulled out, it hurt the quality of it ... I'm not sure it's worth $10 million to hold a primary that only involves one party." Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis said the Senate "took the right step to re-establish" the primary, and urged House Democrats to quickly pass the primary legislation. GOP spokesman Bill Nowling said the Senate vote was troublesome. "I think we can still pull off a Jan. 15 primary," he said. "With the Senate vote, we got half a loaf, so we'll take that and keep moving forward. We're just in limbo at the time being." Republicans say a presidential primary remains their first option. But if the primary fails to win legislative support, Republicans would likely hold a statewide presidential nominating convention on Jan. 25 and 26. Between 3,000 and 5,000 party activists would likely participate in a GOP convention. Debbie Dingell, a Michigan member of the Democratic National Committee, worked feverishly to round up votes for the primary. And she said Thursday it isn't dead. "Not yet," she said. "We're still moving forward on the legal side and the Legislature may come back next week and could take it up." If the primary isn't held, Dingell said the fallback plan is to hold a Democratic caucus the same day as New Hampshire's primary, which will take place in early January -- although the date has not yet been set. "I want the primary because I think it's the right thing," Dingell said. The primary law was struck down Wednesday by Ingham County Circuit Judge William Collette. He said it was unconstitutional since it would have allowed the lists of voters who took part in the primary to go only to the Democratic and Republican parties. He said the Legislature would have had to give the law, approved in August, a two-thirds vote to allow the spending of public money to benefit a private interest, in this case the political parties. The law didn't have two-thirds support. In other developments on Thursday, the national Republican Party, as expected, said it will punish five states -- including Michigan -- for scheduling nominating contests before Feb. 5. It said Michigan would lose half of its delegates to next summer's nominating convention. But GOP Michigan Chairman Anuzis said he took that as an idle threat. "I remain confident that all of Michigan's 60 national delegates will be seated next year in Minneapolis-St. Paul," he said.

Enjoy the dark ages

Enjoy the dark ages by Jack Lessenberry 11/7/2007 How would you like it if a group of religious nuts seized your state government and vowed to choke off important advances in science and medicine — even at the expense of further damaging our state's badly limping economy? Well, guess what. That's what's happened in Michigan, without most of us even noticing, and that's no exaggeration. I am talking about embryonic stem cell research, biology's hope of the future. Our state is being prevented from making progress or doing research in this vital area by fundamentalist zealots — mostly, the badly misnamed group Right to Life of Michigan. Right to Life was set up, as you likely know, to prevent women from having the right to control their own reproductive systems. They are, in other words, an anti-abortion group. That's fine; Right to Life is perfectly free to argue against what the U.S. Supreme Court says is a constitutional right. They are, at least, fairly honest about where they are coming from on abortion, though, like most of their ilk, they generally show little or no interest in what might become of the unwanted babies they would force women to bear. But now they are also doing their best to destroy our medical and economic hopes for the future. They oppose stem cell research, something that doesn't involve destroying a single potential life, though they sometimes lie and say it does. They also like to pretend researchers can learn just as much from stem cells that come from healthy adults, though virtually no biologists believe that. The fact is that embryonic stem cell research has more potential for good than any other technology in a long, long time. Embryonic stem cells are, scientists tell me, sort of a fast-growing, universal genetic substance that, properly prodded, can grow into all sorts of different kinds of cells. Thanks to a new technique called "somatic cell nuclear transfer," it may be possible to solve the problem of tissue rejection. The potential that opens up is almost beyond imagining. Otherwise crusty scientists have been known to wax lyrical about the potential of all this. There is a real possibility that, with time and experimentation, the effects of diseases from Parkinson's to Alzheimer's may be rolled back. People with severe spinal cord injuries might be able to recover function in their paralyzed limbs. Michigan has excellent research facilities, including the University of Michigan's medical center and the Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids. But not only can such research not qualify for government funding here, it cannot even be legally done. Believe it or not, Mississippi's laws on embryonic stem cell research are better than ours. Only four small, backward states have laws as restrictive as ours: North and South Dakota, Arkansas and Louisiana. None of those states have the ability to do world-class stem cell research anyway. We do, but our scientists, such as Sean Morrison, director of the University of Michigan's Center for Stem Cell Biology, are forbidden from it by our medieval laws. Some of our best scientists have left. Others are, sadly, certain to go. State Rep. Andy Meisner (D-Ferndale) knows how stupid this is. He's holding hearings on a bill that would allow embryonic stem cell research. State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) is trying to do the same thing in the Michigan Senate. But they are unlikely to succeed. The elected zombies Right to Life controls are too strong. There is an alternative, however: Putting a constitutional amendment on next year's ballot that would allow this, and a group called Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research and Cures is trying to do just that. Right to Life, which has a lot in common with the Taliban, will fight that tooth and nail. They know that if it gets on the ballot it will win overwhelmingly. You can contact the good guys at or 248-948-5555. By the way, here's something else the Taliban won't tell you. Every day they stymie stem cell research is another day they steal money from you. Civilized states like California know this. Our pathetic president has twice vetoed, you may remember, federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, his fellow Republican, promptly encouraged his state to defy the Shrub and invest $3 billion. He's no fool; a nonpartisan study shows they'll get back up to $12.6 billion as a result. Naturally, this doesn't matter, because we don't need new jobs or money in Michigan, right? After all, we'll always have clapboard churches. And, for the refined, Gregorian chants. Coming a Cropper: State Sen. Alan Cropsey (R- Dewitt, west of Lansing) isn't a guy you would normally think of as a transportation expert. During his college days at that intellectual powerhouse, Bob Jones University, he studied how to teach math (fundamentalist math, naturally) to little kids. Nor is he on the transportation committee. But he has been fighting hard to protect the interests of Matty Moroun, the shadowy billionaire who wants monopoly control of commercial traffic across the Detroit River. Old Matt has that now, thanks to his ownership of the Ambassador Bridge. Economically, that ancient bridge is the single most important border crossing between the United States and Canada. More than $100 billion worth of stuff crosses it every year, and if something were to happen to it, there is no backup system. For a long time, Matty contended there was no need to build any other bridge, that one wasn't needed. Then one day a joint Canada-United States group called DRIC, for Detroit River International Crossing, started a serious, federal-and-state-funded study of where a new bridge should go. Suddenly, the Matster announced that he would build a second bridge, right next to his old one. Imagine that. He said we should stop studying other alternatives, right now. You'd expect him to say that, just as you would expect cooler heads to tell him to stuff it. What you wouldn't expect is that Alan Cropsey would turn into Matty Moroun's free (?) lobbyist. During the budget negotiations, Cropsey tried hard to kill the DRIC study, even though that would mean the state would have to pay millions of dollars back to the federal government. What reason did he give? "None that made a whole lot of sense," state Sen. Ray Basham, a Democrat who is on the transportation committee, told me. About all Cropsey would say in public was that the state couldn't afford a publicly funded bridge. No, except that such a bridge would mean lower tolls for the taxpayers. A fully loaded tractor-trailer pays far less to cross the much longer Mackinac Bridge than what Matty soaks 'em for. Plus, while Cropsey probably didn't learn much about diplomacy at Bob Jones, he needs to understand, however dimly, that Canada is a sovereign country. All indications are that they don't want a second Ambassador Bridge, and if they say no, Old Matty will have to stop his second span right in the middle of the river. That might make for an interesting wrought-iron work of abstract art, but wouldn't be much help in transportation terms. Wouldn't it be a good idea for some reporter at this point to carefully scrutinize who has been donating to Alan Cropsey's political campaigns?

FBI calls on colleges to guard against spies

FBI Calls on Universities to Guard Against Spies By Kim Zetter November 07, 2007 3:43:23 PMCategories: Surveillance The FBI's relationship with university students and academics has never been one of wine and roses -- see the agency's covert campaign to discredit Albert Einstein. Therefore, it might be a bit surprising to know that some university presidents are now embracing the agency and are perhaps even willing to become its eyes and ears on campus. The National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, launched in 2005, consists of 20 university presidents around the country who are working with the FBI on matters of campus security and counter-terrorism to identify threats to students and staff. But the board is also being asked to guard against campus spies who might be out to steal not-yet-secret secrets. According to this report from NPR, the presidents are being advised to think like "Cold War-riors" and be mindful of professors and students who may not be on campus for purposes of learning but, instead, for spying, stealing research and recruiting people who are sympathetic to an anti-U.S. cause. Speaking this week at Penn State University, FBI Director Robert Mueller told an audience that universities need to guard against spies who are out to acquire bits and pieces of technology and research and said he's worried that "pre-classified and pre-patented" technologies could fall into the wrong hands. The NPR report doesn't say how universities would accomplish this without clamping down on their ordinarily open, information-sharing nature. Presumably, one possible way, not discussed in the NPR piece, would be to simply bar some foreign students and academics from entering the U.S. Another possible solution, used in the past, would be to bar U.S. academics from publishing or otherwise publicly presenting research that the government deems sensitive. Mueller says, however, that the FBI isn't trying to impose its will on campuses; it simply wants to make academics cognizant of these issues. "It is certainly not our intent to interfere in any way with the academic environment, but we must remain alert to the threats we all face, and we must learn to balance openness with awareness," he told Penn State. In addition to helping the FBI fight terrorism and guard against research theft, a 2005 FBI press release about the advisory board also discusses having universities develop school curricula aimed at helping the FBI recruit on campus. Director Mueller said "As we do our work, we wish to be sensitive to university concerns about international students, visas, technology export policy, and the special culture of colleges and universities. We also want to foster exchanges between academia and the FBI in order to develop curricula which will aid in attracting the best and brightest students to careers in the law enforcement and intelligence communities." Graham Spanier, president of Penn State University and head of the FBI's advisory board, told NPR that he's finding some universities resistant to the FBI's friendly overtures.

Dems take a humorous swipe at Romney

Dems take humorous swipe at Romney By PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press Writer 27 minutes ago Democrats are taking a humorous swipe at Republican Mitt Romney's attempt to turn his supporters' discards into campaign cash. The Democratic National Committee planned to launch an online auction Friday to sell goods symbolizing the past policy positions they say Romney has dumped. The presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor this week asked supporters to sell off old items to benefit his presidential bid. Romney Campaign Manager Beth Myers sent an e-mail to supporters and asked them to sell their old belongings on "Mitt Market," an online auction site. "Do you have items lying around that you don't use?" the campaign asked on its site. "From bicycles that the kids have outgrown to old electronics or baseball cards, your stuff may be someone else's treasure." Democrats then turned the tables with a tongue-in-cheek stunt. "It comes as no surprise that a presidential candidate who has so cravenly pandered to the right wing of his party by auctioning off his past would ask supporters to do the same," DNC spokesman Damien LaVera said. "Unless smooth-talking Mitt Romney was planning on recycling those old tax-raising, pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-immigrant, pro-gay rights and pro-campaign finance reform positions in a general election, we thought we'd auction them off for charity." Democrats' online packages include representations of past positions Romney held while campaigning for public office in the moderate-to-left Bay State. Included in the kit are a snowman to represent Romney's reluctance to participate in a YouTube debate that included a question on global warming from a melting snowman, a DVD with examples of Romney's changed policy stances and a pair of flip-flop sandals. The Romney campaign wasn't laughing. "It just proves that the last person they want to run against is a chief executive like Governor Romney with a proven record of accomplishment who is determined to change the status quo of Washington and the free-spending, high-taxing ways of the Beltway Democrats," said Sarah Pompei, deputy press secretary.( Flipin Mitt spokesperson must be hitting the Kool-Aid hard before making this comment) The DNC said it would donate a matching amount from the auctions to a pet shelter. That gibe was intended to highlight animal rights activists' criticism of Romney for strapping the family Irish setter in a dog carrier to the roof of the car before taking his family on a 12-hour road trip in 1983. The dog survived the ride.

House approves business surcharge

House approves business surcharge Plan to replace service tax money faces Senate fight November 9, 2007 BY CHRIS CHRISTOFF FREE PRESS LANSING BUREAU CHIEF LANSING -- The drive to repeal an unpopular tax on services before it takes effect Dec. 1 got another boost Thursday from the state House, which voted to replace it with a bigger business tax. The vote sets up a political dance with the Senate, where majority Republicans support killing the service tax but not necessarily replacing the lost $614 million in revenue this year with another tax. AdvertisementThe House bill was supported by a long list of the state's largest businesses -- the Detroit Three automakers included. They determined a business tax increase was better than the 6% service tax passed Oct. 1 in a frenzied rush to balance the state budget with tax increases. Auto companies face big taxes for warehousing under the services tax. Although the Legislature is scheduled to begin a 2-week recess today, the House and Senate left the door open for meetings next week to try to resolve the tax issue. The House bill passed on a 58-48 vote, with only two Republicans joining 56 Democrats. The bill would repeal the tax on services -- roundly condemned by business groups for its impact on businesses large and small -- and instead impose a 32.9% surcharge on the new Michigan Business Tax. The MBT takes effect Jan. 1 to replace the Single Business Tax. The surcharge would drop to 27.3% after 2008. No business would pay more than $2 million. The surcharge would affect about 60,000 businesses that are expected to pay the MBT next year. It would not affect another 40,000 businesses that would pay a cheaper, alternative business tax, according to the state Treasury Department. Insurance companies would not pay the surcharge because they would not pay the MBT, but rather pay a different tax based on their premiums. Treasury analysts said that, compared with the sales tax on services, the MBT surcharge would shift a larger burden of business taxes to out-of-state companies. The Senate voted Wednesday to repeal the tax on services, but that bill did not address the lost revenue the repeal would cause. Some Senate and House Republicans oppose a replacement tax and called for further budget cuts instead. Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, however, said she wouldn't support eliminating the services tax without a replacement tax that produces the same revenue. House Minority Leader Craig DeRoche, R-Novi, complained that Democrats would not consider a Republican plan to cut $650 million. DeRoche called the Thursday evening vote a Democratic rush to raise taxes. Majority Democrats rammed through the bill without allowing GOP amendments or debate on it. Democrats called DeRoche an irrelevant player who refused to take part in negotiations or committee hearings on the bill. House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford Township, said it was important that the House pass the measure before the recess as a show of good faith to businesses that supported it. Earlier this week, Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford lobbied Granholm and legislative leaders in Lansing. The surcharge would have a relatively minor impact on automakers because of a $2-million cap on payments

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Rep. Wexler Will Urge the Judiciary Committee to Hold Immediate Hearings on Impeachment!!!

Rep. Wexler Will Urge the Judiciary Committee to Hold Immediate Hearings on Impeachment!!! Submitted by davidswanson on Wed, 2007-11-07 20:48. Congress Rep. Robert Wexler sent his constituents this beautiful and admirable Email today: As a person who supports holding this Administration accountable for their deceptive actions, you may be interested to know about the recent votes in the House regarding H.Res. 333, "Impeaching Richard B. Cheney, Vice President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors." I share your belief that Vice President Cheney must answer for his deceptive actions in office, particularly with regard to the preparations for the Iraq war and the revelation of the identity of covert agent Valerie Plame Wilson as part of political retribution against her husband. That is why I voted against the motion to table debate on H.Res. 333. Along with only 85 other Democrats, I opposed tabling the measure and supported beginning immediate debate and a vote on the Cheney impeachment resolution. The vote on tabling the Kucinich resolution was rejected, and the House subsequently voted to refer the matter to the Judiciary Committee. Vice President Dick Cheney and the Bush Administration have demonstrated a consistent pattern of abusing the law and misleading Congress and the American people. We see the consequences of these actions abroad in Iraq and at home through the violations of our civil liberties. The American people are served well with a legitimate and thorough impeachment inquiry. I will urge the Judiciary Committee to schedule impeachment hearings immediately and not let this issue languish as it has over the last six months. Only through hearings can we bring begin to correct the abuses of Dick Cheney and the Bush Administration; and, if it is determined in these hearings that Vice President Cheney has committed High Crimes and Misdemeanors, he should be impeached and removed from office. It is time for Congress to expose the multitude of misdeeds of the Administration, and I am hopeful that the Judiciary Committee will expeditiously begin an investigation of this matter. Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions or concerns. I sincerely appreciate your input and hope that you will feel free to contact me anytime I may be of assistance to you. In addition, I hope you find my website ( a valuable resource in keeping up with events in Washington and in South Florida. With warm regards, Congressman Robert Wexler SignatureCongressman Robert Wexler

Announcing Robertson's endorsement of Giuliani, MSNBC failed to note Robertson's numerous controversial remarks

Announcing Robertson's endorsement of Giuliani, MSNBC failed to note Robertson's numerous controversial remarks Summary: Reporting on the announcement that Pat Robertson would endorse Rudy Giuliani for president, MSNBC's Contessa Brewer stated, "A big coup, of course, for Giuliani, who is fighting to win the votes of social conservatives." NBC political director Chuck Todd described Robertson as "the guy that almost invented the social conservative political movement" and asserted: "Robertson is a foreign policy hawk, and on foreign policy he sees eye to eye with Giuliani." But neither Brewer nor Todd noted that Robertson has repeatedly made controversial and inflammatory comments, including calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and endorsing the late Rev. Jerry Falwell's comments that "the abortionists," "the feminists," and the American Civil Liberties Union "helped this [the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks] happen." During the 9 a.m. hour of the November 7 edition of MSNBC Live, reporting on the announcement that Pat Robertson, former Republican presidential candidate, founder of the Christian Coalition founder, and host of the Christian Broadcast Network's (CBN) 700 Club, would soon endorse former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) for president, MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer reported: "It now appears that Pat Robertson, the evangelist, is going to come out and endorse Rudy Giuliani to be the Republican nominee for president. This is expected to happen at 9:30 this morning. A big coup, of course, for Giuliani, who is fighting to win the votes of social conservatives." NBC political director Chuck Todd described Robertson as "the guy that sort of almost invented the social conservative political movement" and asserted: "Robertson is very much a foreign policy hawk, and on foreign policy sees eye to eye with Giuliani." Todd later added: "[I]t's interesting. I mean, abortion and gay rights -- they are just not playing in this election. I don't know if you want to say that it's pragmatism when it comes to Republicans, or the fact that Pat Robertson looks around and says, you know what, they're all flawed, OK, but my number one priority is foreign policy. Well, if that's the case, the guy that probably lines up closest on foreign -- on some of the key foreign policy issues regarding the Middle East, both Israel, Iran, and Iraq -- well, then Robertson lines up closest with Giuliani." However, neither Brewer nor Todd noted Robertson's history of controversial remarks. As Media Matters for America has extensively documented, Robertson has repeatedly made controversial and inflammatory comments, including calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and endorsing the late Rev. Jerry Falwell's comments that "the abortionists," "the feminists," and the American Civil Liberties Union "helped this [the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks] happen." From the 9 a.m. hour of the November 7 edition of MSNBC Live:
BREWER: Good Wednesday morning, everyone. I'm Contessa Brewer. We have some breaking political news now. It now appears that Pat Robertson, the evangelist, is going to come out and endorse Rudy Giuliani to be the Republican nominee for president. This is expected to happen at 9:30 this morning. A big coup, of course, for Giuliani, who is fighting to win the votes of social conservatives. And another big endorsement this morning: Sam Brownback, who was a presidential candidate himself, the conservative senator from Kansas, now is going to endorse his former Republican rival, John McCain. Let's get right to Chuck Todd, NBC's political director. Chuck, big endorsements this morning. But how effective are they really? How influential in terms of getting votes?
TODD: Not influential of getting votes, but influential of creating this idea and story line that social conservatives are completely split in this Republican primary. You know, Pat Robertson, this is the guy that sort of almost invented the social conservative political movement. You know, Jerry Falwell started it, but Pat Robertson made it practical and rode it to a second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses back in 1988. He comes out for Rudy Giuliani. You know, a year ago, the idea of that would have seemed crazy. But in the last few months it doesn't seem so crazy. You know, Robertson, very much is a foreign policy hawk and on foreign policy sees eye to eye with Giuliani. Meanwhile, you go over to John McCain. John McCain and Sam Brownback have been very chummy in the Senate for quite some time. Brownback had been flirting with possibly endorsing Giuliani. I mean, the one person he didn't want to endorse was Mitt Romney. And see - and that's what all of these endorsements have in common.
BREWER: Why is that? Why did he have such a problem with Mitt Romney?
TODD: It's interesting, for Brownback, he was uncomfortable that Romney, I think, was a flip flopper on this stuff, or a Johnny-come-lately on social conservatism. Not quite sure if that's where Pat Robertson is going to be, and why he did this. I mean, it will be interesting to see what he says. But that's sort of like I said the common denominator here. This isn't not good for Fred Thompson or Mitt Romney. Both of them have been trying to figure, to be the candidate that could coalesce social conservatives. Instead, they're as split as ever. Pat Robertson, look, as a political leader anymore, his days are - you know, he's sort of waning as far as influence is concerned, but symbolism, it's huge, and that's why I think the Giuliani campaign is --
BREWER: OK, but here's Mitt Romney, who has already won an endorsement from Bob Jones III, he founded this very famous Christian university. You have James Dobson, Focus on the Family, who says none of these guys are who I want representing my views. And now you have Robertson coming out and saying Giuliani is my man. Well what about his stand on abortion?
TODD: Well it's interesting. I mean, abortion and gay rights -- they are just not playing in this election. I don't know if you want to say that it's pragmatism when it comes to Republicans, or the fact that Pat Robertson looks around and says, you know what, they're all flawed, OK, but my number one priority is foreign policy. Well, if that's the case, the guy that probably lines up closest on foreign -- on some of the key foreign policy issues regarding the Middle East, both Israel, Iran, and Iraq -- well, then Robertson lines up closest with Giuliani. I mean, one of the things that a lot of us overlook when it comes to Giuliani is, yes, he is a social moderate or liberal when it comes to gay rights or an abortion, but not -- he's very much in the conservative when it comes to foreign policy as far as his ideology on that or when it comes to taxes. So, you know, on one hand you sit there and you say, wow, the New York City mayor is getting Pat Robertson endorsement? It's sort of cats and dogs living together. This seems nuts. But watching this campaign over the last three or four months, it isn't that nutty and it isn't that surprising. Again, collectively, Brownback for McCain, Robertson for Giuliani, this is not something that's going to make Mitt Romney or Fred Thompson happy. Because it's just more proof that social conservatives aren't going to coalesce. And that's good news right now, for the national front-runner, Rudy Giuliani.
BREWER: So what we'll do is we'll stay on top of this, and once again, that announcement about Robertson's endorsement is expected to come at 9:30. So we'll be looking at that. Chuck, thanks. [...] BREWER: We want to go back to Washington, D.C., now, where we understand the political breaking news that we've been following this morning is under way. Apparently an announcement about who is endorsing Rudy Giuliani. Let's listen in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- International Family Entertainment, who has a very important announcement and statement to make. Thank you.
ROBERTSON: Thank you. Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, I want to give a prepared statement and then I guess we'll take some questions. In less than two months, American voters will begin choosing the nominees of their respective political parties for the office of the presidency of the United States. To me, the overriding issue before the American people is the defense of our population from the bloodlust of Islamic terrorists. Our second goal should be the control of massive government waste and crushing federal deficits. Uppermost in the minds of social conservatives is a selection of future Supreme Court justices and lower court judges who will sit on both the federal circuit courts and the district courts. Our world faces deadly peril: Nuclear-armed North Korea and the foreboding of nuclear arms in Iran. Deadly violence from Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel. The possible overthrow of Pakistan's government. And drawn-out wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In all of the crises which confront our nation and the world, we need a leader with a bold vision who is not afraid to tackle the challenges ahead. For months I have contemplated our future and the outstanding group of men who are offering themselves to the Republican Party to be its standard bearer in the 2008 presidential election. Today, it is my pleasure to announce my support for a mayor, America's mayor, Rudy Giuliani, and a proven leader who is not afraid of what lies ahead and who will cast a hopeful vision for all Americans. Rudy Giuliani stood tall as his city was rocked by the worst terrorist act in America's history. Rudy Giuliani took a city that was in decline and considered ungovernable and reduced its violent crime, revitalized its core, dramatically lowered its taxes, cut through a welter of bureaucratic regulations and did so in the spirit of bipartisanship which is so urgently needed in Washington today. He proved time and again that he is a true fiscal conservative. Rudy served as a high official in the Justice Department of Ronald Reagan and later, as a United States attorney, won a claim as a valiant crime fighter. Justice triumphed as he took down mafia dons, drug traffickers, and corrupt politicians. He understands the need for a conservative judiciary and, with the help of the distinguished Ted Olson, who's here today, and other members of his team, has assured the American people that his choices for judicial appointments will be men and women who share the judicial philosophy of [Supreme Court Chief Justice] John Roberts and [Justice] Antonin Scalia. Today, I wish Rudy Giuliani success in the caucuses and primaries which will take place in a few months. And beyond that, it is my hope and prayer that he will lead the Republican Party to victory in November of 2008. Congratulations. GUILIANI: Thank you very much. ROBERTSON: Thank you. GIULIANI: Thank you very, very much, Pat. I am very, very honored by this endorsement. Pat Robertson is very well known leader, person of great, well-deserved reputation, someone who has, as Ted pointed out, run for president of the United States, been all across this country, understands, I think to a very large extent, what America is all about, and has very well articulated what are the overriding issues of our time: dealing with the Islamic terrorist war against us, dealing with that in a way in which we are safe or as safe as we can be, and we conclude it with victory and success as quickly as it reasonably can be done, and the enormous importance of having --
BREWER: All right, Rudy Giuliani there, accepting the endorsement from Pat Robertson today to be the Republican nominee for president. Of course Pat Robertson is a staunch conservative, founded the Christian Coalition, founded the Christian Broadcasting Network. And in a time when the Republican candidates are fighting to win support from the Christian right, obviously, his endorsement means something there to Rudy Giuliani. Bad day for Mitt Romney though, and Fred Thompson with this endorsement. We've also heard today that Sam Brownback has endorsed John McCain for president. So, there you are on the political front

Michigan Repugs loses delegates

By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Republican Party announced Thursday that it will punish five states for scheduling early nominating contests. New Hampshire, Florida, South Carolina, Michigan and Wyoming will lose half of their delegates to the national convention, said Mike Duncan, chairman of the Republican National Committee. RNC rules require the punishment for states that hold their nominating contests earlier than Feb. 5. Iowa, which plans to hold Republican caucuses on Jan. 3, would not be penalized because, technically, the caucuses are not binding on convention delegates. Nevada, which plans to hold its caucuses on Jan. 19, would not be penalized for the same reason. The RNC voted 121-9 Thursday to impose the penalties. Duncan, who has final say over the matter, said he will abide by the vote. "After significant examination we convened a meeting today and upheld the rules that were unanimously passed by our party in 2004," Duncan said in a statement. Nevertheless, state party leaders expressed optimism that their entire delegations will be seated, perhaps hoping that the eventual nominee will restore them. "While not surprised, I was disappointed that the full committee did not recognize the validity of Florida's position that it is not in violation of the rule," Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer said in a statement. "This is a long process and I continue to be confident that Florida will ultimately seat its full delegation." Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis(R-tool) said, "I remain confident that all of Michigan's 60 national delegates will be seated next year in Minneapolis-St. Paul. ... There will be much discussion in the coming months about the makeup of the national convention, including the credentialing of delegates." Wyoming is scheduled to hold its nominating conventions on Jan. 5. Michigan is to hold its Republican primary on Jan. 15, pending the outcome of a lawsuit. South Carolina Republicans vote on Jan. 19 and Florida on Jan. 29. New Hampshire has not yet set a primary date, though it is required by state law to hold its primary at least seven days before any other, raising the possibility of a December vote. On the Democratic side, the party has vowed to strip all the delegates from Florida for violating party rules by moving up its primary.

Fox Noise losing it: airs bizarre claim that Hillary ordered hit on cats

Fox News airs bizarre claim that Hillary ordered hit on cats David Edwards and Jason Rhyne Fox News on Wednesday aired a bizarre accusation that Sen. Hillary Clinton is connected with the murder of two cats. Sen. Clinton's accuser is Kathleen Willey, the one-time White House aide who in 1993 claimed to have been groped by then-president Bill Clinton in the Oval Office. Willey raised the strange cat-killing allegation -- and a raft of others -- in her new book, Target: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton. The Fox and Friends morning program detailed charges in the book that Willey's cat, Bullseye, was the victim of a targeted hit by a Clinton-hired henchman. "A man, he was pretending to be a jogger, he came up to me and just asked did I ever find my cat?" Willey told the New York Sun, who also picked up the cat story Wednesday. "He mentioned my cat by name and [said], 'Yeah, that Bullseye was a really nice cat.'" Willey told the Sun the abducted cat was part of an intimidation plan organized by the Clintons after she was called to testify in Paula Jones' sexual harassment suit against the president. "But it didn't stop there," said Fox News host Brian Kilmeade. "Does the name Fluffy mean anything to you? A year later she bought a cat, named it Fluffy. That cat ended up dead as well underneath the porch. She thinks somehow, and she claims somehow, the person who did this is linked back to Hillary." Willey appears to found her accusations on the word of conservative talk show host Melanie Morgan, who says she had a conversation in which a private investigator named Jack Palladino all but admitted to being the culprit in the cat business. "The only regret that I had about the whole thing was that Hillary did not pay me in a timely fashion," the P.I. allegedly said, according to Morgan's account. But the online newspaper WorldNetDaily, which is affiliated with the publisher of Willey's book, reported on Wednesday that Palladino denied those charges outright and is even threatening a libel lawsuit. "It's total fantasy," Palladino said."No, that's too kind; it's a lie." The cat killings are the least of Willey's accusations against the Clintons, who she suspects -- wholly without evidence -- were involved in the murder of her husband. She also contends the couple orchestrated the attempted theft of an early manuscript of Target. The UK's Daily Mail also published a story on those claims, which the conservative website Drudge Report linked to in a banner reading "Here comes Kathleen." At the close of their Clinton segment, Fox and Friends offered the disclaimer that the new book's publisher, World Ahead, had "from time to time bashed the Clintons." The company is also behind such titles as I've Always Been A Yankees Fan: Hillary Clinton in Her Own Words and Their Lives:The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine. Left-leaning watchdog group Media Matters has more on Willey's suspicion that the Clintons were involved in her husband's death. The following video is from Fox's Fox & Friends, broadcast on November 6, 2007.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Detroit NAACP gets complaints over new ID requirement

Voter complaints over new ID requirement hit NAACP November 6, 2007 BY NIRAJ WARIKOO FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER The Detroit NAACP has received a number of complaints today from voters turned away at the polls because of a new photo ID requirement. About 40 voters have called into the local offices of the NAACP, said Melvin (Butch) Hollowell, general counsel for the civil rights organization. "The complaints started first thing this morning," Hollowell said. "Voters are angry and confused." Hollowell said the number of complaints is about 40% higher than the number of complaints usually received during presidential or gubernatorial elections, which draw higher numbers of voters. "It's really a mess," he said. The problem is that there was not any effort by the Secretary of State's office to make the public aware of the new requirement, Hollowell said. The Detroit NAACP, Michigan ACLU, and other groups filed a complaint earlier this year that challenges the photo ID requirement. Kelly Chesney, Secretary of State spokeswoman, said that "we have worked very hard to get the message out" about the photo ID requirement. And, she said, her office has not heard of major voter problems today. "We have not heard complaints from our local election officials that people are being turned away," she said. If a voter does not have a photo ID, they can sign an affadavit to vote, she said. Hollowell said his office got a call from a man turned away from voting because he didn't have an ID. Hollowell also said that at some voter locations, poll workers were given incorrect and outdated information from 2005 that mistakenly said voters should be given a provisional ballot if they sign any affadavit. Those ballots would usually not count, he said. Hollowell said that Detroit election officials have been contacted and are working to solve that problem.

Not stopping with Cheney, Kucinich plans to impeach Bush

Kucinich not stopping with Cheney, plans Bush impeachment resolution too Jason Rhyne Published: Tuesday November 6, 2007 (Update at bottom: GOP blocks Dem-led motion to kill impeachment resolution; measure sent to House Judiciary ) Presidential hopeful Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who brought an impeachment resolution against Vice President Dick Cheney to the House floor on Tuesday, says he is also planning a similar resolution to impeach President Bush. The news came during a conference call Kucinich held with supporters Monday evening, although technical problems kept most on the call from being able to hear the congressman. But activist David Swanson, who spoke directly with Kucinich during the call, summarized the contents of his conversation in an email: "He is going to introduce a privileged resolution on the floor of the U.S. House Tuesday morning to force a vote on his resolution to impeach Cheney," confirmed Swamson. "While that bill includes offenses related to Iraq and Iran, Kucinich plans to focus his remarks on Iran and the fact that the current Pentagon bill includes funding to retrofit bombers to carry 15-ton bombs." Concerning the possible resolution against Bush, Swanson said Kucinich "wanted to let everyone know that he will not only continue pushing for the impeachment of Cheney but will also take up the impeachment of Bush with a new resolution." It's unclear as to when such a resolution would brought to the floor, or how dependent its introduction would be on the success of today's move against Cheney. The former Cleveland mayor will hold a press conference today at 3:00 p.m. Swanson added that Kucinich was prepared for a debate on the substance of the charges against Cheney, but also mentioned the measure could be tabled --a move that effectively kills a pending matter by ending debate -- or sent to committee. If the latter option happens, the committee in question will be the House Judiciary. The Kucinich campaign's website states that the technical problems with the conference call were because "public interest in the issue exceeded technological capacity." The call will be rescheduled. Kucinich's "privileged resolution" on the Cheney matter is a maneuver which will require a vote from all House members -- and allows him to act in spite of protestations from Democratic leaders, who don't want a vote to come to the floor, according to Politico's Ryan Grim. According to The Hill newspaper, Kucinich's idea -- which would put legislators on the record about Cheney's impeachment -- is making some Democrats uneasy. "If he pulls it off, it could make for an uncomfortable situation for Democratic leaders and centrist Democrats," The Hill's Mike Soraghan writes of Kucinich's plan. "Liberal activists are pushing for impeachment, while leaders worry such a move could turn off independent voters. They have made it clear that impeachment of Cheney or President Bush is off the table." Democrats might be tempted to opt to send the resolution to committee, according to Soraghan, who says that such a move "avoids an immediate floor vote and might be the most appealing option to the Democratic leadership." Despite its apparent unpopularity among Democratic legislators, the Kucinich proposal is not necessarily out of line with American public opinion: a July poll from American Research Group found that 54% of those surveyed favored the "US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against Vice President Dick Cheney." “Congress must hold the Vice President accountable," Kucinich said in a statement last week. "The American people need to let Members of Congress know how they feel about this. The Vice President continues to use his office to advocate for a continued occupation of Iraq and prod our nation into a belligerent stance against Iran. If the Vice President is successful, his actions will ensure decades of disastrous consequences.” House Republicans vote against Democratic-led move to table Cheney impeachment measure; resolution sent to House Judiciary In an unexpected move, House Republicans on Tuesday voted against a measure to kill an impeachment resolution introduced against Vice President Dick Cheney by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). A motion to table, which would have ended debate on the resolution, had been brought by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) soon after Rep. Kucinich took to the floor to read from his proposed articles of impeachment. "Impeachment is not on the agenda," Rep. Hoyer had told Fox News earlier on Tuesday."We have some major priorities. We need to focus on those." Although the roll call vote had initially appeared to favor Hoyer's motion, Republicans -- who had at first voted in with the majority leader -- began to switch their votes. That decision is being widely interpreted as an attempt to embarrass the Democratic leadership, which is not keen on seeing further action on the impeachment resolution. “I am surprised that Republicans would treat an issue as important as the potential impeachment of a vice president of the United States as a petty political game,” Hoyer said in a statement. "Republicans gleefully said they wanted the debate to show the public how many Democrats would actually support impeaching Cheney, which they consider a move supported only by a fringe element of anti-war activists," reports the Washinton Post. According to The Hill newspaper, Republican sources credit Congressman John Shadegg (R-AZ) with the idea of trying to keep the debate afloat. The final vote count on the measure was 251-162. Following the failure of his motion, Rep. Hoyer immediately moved to have the resolution sent to the House Judiciary Committee, which the House eventually approved in a 218-194 vote along strict party lines. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) told Fox News on Monday that moving forward with impeachment was not in the best interests of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). "If she were to let this thing out of the box," said Conyers, "considering the number of legislative issues we have pending ... it could create a split that could effect our productivity for the rest of the Congress." The Baltimore Sun's blog, The Swamp, describes the resolution as "buried in committee." But a spokeswoman for the House Judiciary did not rule out consideration of the measure. "We were surprised that the minority was so ready to move forward with consideration of a matter of such complexity as impeaching the Vice President," she said. "The Chairman will discuss today's vote with the Committee members but it would seem evident that the committee staff should continue to consider, as a preliminary matter, the many abuses of this Administration, including the Vice President." Kucinich said in a press conference late Tuesday afternoon that he believed the measure may still have a life. "I've spoken to Mr. Conyers and I'm quite confident that the ball is in good hands," said Kucinich.

Kentucky gets a little blue

AP) - Democrat Steve Beshear easily defeated the scandal-plagued Republican incumbent Tuesday to become governor of Kentucky, pulling off a political comeback 20 years after he last held office. Gov. Ernie Fletcher had won four years earlier on a campaign promise to clean up Frankfort, but was weakened by an indictment charging that he rewarded politically connected Republicans with jobs at the expense of Democrats. A Lexington attorney who had lost his last two political races, Beshear had little problem against Fletcher. He reminded voters about Fletcher's scandal at every opportunity, whether in televised debates, political ads or stump speeches. Beshear made ethics a key issue in the gubernatorial race, saying Fletcher not only broken his promise from four years ago but had actually made a mess of his own. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Beshear had 619,567 votes or 59 percent, to Fletcher's 435,856 votes or 41 percent. "Tomorrow begins the hard task of governing," Beshear told jubilant Democrats at the Frankfort Civic Center. "Tomorrow begins the time when I call on every person in this state to come together with us, join hands with us, because together folks we can make Kentucky a much better place to call home." The civic center crowd cheered loudly as former Democratic Govs. Wendell Ford, Julian Carroll, Martha Layne Collins and Brereton Jones walked on stage, revving up the crowd for Beshear, who had run unsuccessfully for the job in 1987. Fletcher said he called Beshear and congratulated him "on a vigorous campaign." In his concession speech at a Lexington hotel, he said it was time for him to move on, and he would work for a smooth transition. "As someone once said, high office brings distinction, but also trouble. Oh I wish I'd have seen that more clearly when I stood here flush with victory four years ago," he said, an apparent reference to the legal woes that spilled over to members of his administration. At least 14 people were indicted, including the governor himself, who was charged with scheming to violate state hiring laws. Fletcher issued pardons to everyone but himself. Prosecutors dropped the misdemeanor charges against Fletcher in a deal, in which he acknowledged that the evidence "strongly indicates wrongdoing" by his administration and that the actions "were inappropriate." The governor has since maintained that the investigation and resulting indictments were politically motivated by Democrats to lessen his chances of being re-elected. John Mason, a Lexington engineer, said he voted for Beshear even though he wasn't an enthusiastic supporter. "I'm actually voting against Fletcher," Mason said. "I've never seen a guy screw up in a governorship the way he has," Mason said as he left the polls at a small church. Another Lexington voter, Patrick Galbin, said he voted for Fletcher. "I think his problems have been mostly politics," Galbin said. "I think he's done a fine job. I think he's got high morals, and that's what the state needs." Both candidates used religious themes in the campaign. Beshear emphasized his roots as the son of a western Kentucky preacher. On the eve of the election, Fletcher ordered the Ten Commandments to be displayed in the Capitol along with other framed historical documents. He said the timing had nothing to do with the election, though his opponent and political scientists scoffed at that notion. An ordained Baptist minister, Fletcher tried to get the focus off the hiring scandal by criticizing Beshear on the issue of casinos. Beshear favors a referendum - not yet on the ballot - that would amend the Kentucky Constitution to allow casino gambling. Fletcher tried since early in the campaign to paint the governor's race as a referendum on casinos, saying a vote for Beshear would be the same as voting for expanded gambling. Allowing casinos at horse racing tracks and in a handful of communities along the state's borders, Beshear contends, would generate $500 million in additional tax revenues that could be used to improve the lives of Kentuckians. But before the constitution could be changed to legalize casinos, voters would have to approve it in a ballot referendum. Fletcher aired a series of TV ads vilifying casinos, saying, if legalized in Kentucky, they would bring a number of social ills, including divorce, suicide and prostitution. And in debates, the governor continually raised the issue, saying Beshear's support for a constitutional amendment on gambling shows he is out of touch with Kentucky voters. Political scientist Kendra Stewart, a professor at Eastern Kentucky University, said some people will argue Beshear won because of his support for gambling. Stewart said, however, that Beshear came out on top because of Fletcher's perceived ethical lapses. "I wouldn't say it's enough to be a referendum on gambling, but there are certainly politicians who would spin it that way," she said. ad 611,925 votes or 61 percent, to Lee's 394,953 votes or 39 percent.