Wednesday, March 28, 2007
White House withdraws ambassador nominee - Yahoo! News White House withdraws ambassador nominee By SAM HANANEL, Associated Press Writer 22 minutes ago President Bush on Wednesday withdrew the ambassadorial nomination of businessman Sam Fox after Democrats denounced Fox for giving money to a controversial conservative group that undermined Sen. John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. Kerry, D-Mass., had criticized Fox because of a $50,000 contribution that Fox made in 2004 to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Many Democrats blame the group for sinking Kerry's presidential hopes that year after it aired a series of controversial ads that impugned Kerry's military record in the Vietnam War. "Sam Fox had every opportunity to disavow the politics of personal destruction and to embrace the truth," Kerry said Wednesday. "He chose not to. The White House made the right decision to withdraw the nomination. I hope this signals a new day in political discourse." But one of Fox's strongest backers, Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., said it was "disappointing that a capable and qualified candidate with bipartisan support has become a victim of a political vendetta." The White House announced the withdrawal in a press release distributed less than an hour before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee gathered to vote on his nomination to be ambassador to Belgium. On Tuesday, Kerry's Vietnam crew mates had sent a letter urging committee members to oppose Fox's nomination. "In our judgment, those who finance smears and lies of combat veterans don't deserve to represent America on the world stage," said the letter signed by 11 Vietnam Swift Boat veterans who served with Kerry. Complicating matters is the presence of three Democratic presidential hopefuls on the committee — the chairman, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del.; and Sens. Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record), D-Ill., and Chris Dodd, D-Conn. "I had serious concerns about Mr. Fox's candor, judgment and qualifications for this important post, and I am pleased that the Bush administration acknowledged that it would not be able to muster the votes to confirm his nomination," Obama said. Dodd, the second ranking member of the committee, had pledged to oppose the nomination a day before the vote because Fox "refused to apologize for his behavior" during his confirmation hearing last month. "His unwillingness to denounce the reprehensible activities of the Swift Boat organization and express regret for providing $50,000 to bankroll the organization convinced me that he would not be an acceptable candidate to represent the United States abroad," Dodd said. Fox, 77, of St. Louis, is national chairman of the Jewish Republican Coalition and has donated well over $1 million to Republican candidates and causes since the 1990s, according to Federal Election Commission records. He was deemed a "ranger" by President Bush's campaign for helping to raise at least $200,000. Kerry grilled Fox about the Swift Boat contribution during the Feb. 27 hearing, asking him why he gave money to a group that was "smearing and spreading lies" and had been condemned by members of both political parties. Fox replied that he considers Kerry a hero. But he refused to call the contribution a mistake. "When I'm asked, I just generally give," Fox told Kerry. Fox did not backed down in a series of written responses to Kerry since the hearing. Fox had garnered the public support of Bond and Sens. Claire McCaskill (news, bio, voting record), D-Mo., Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa., all of whom testified for him. Sidebar: Now Kerry is making a stink about the Swift boat Whores for Bush, where was this from Kerry three years ago when every cable news outlet was giving these lying prostitutes a platform to spew their lies about him? Kerry's inaction during that two week slime fest period gave these scumbags creditability even tho some people managed to get these Swiftboat whores to stumble over their lies Kerry didn't move on it because of two things either he thought the media would do the right thing and tell the truth or some DLC loser advisor told him not to fight back.
Shiite police kill up to 60 in revenge spree - USATODAY.com Shiite police kill up to 60 in revenge spree BAGHDAD (AP) — Shiite militants and police enraged by massive truck bombings in the northwestern town of Tal Afar went on a revenge spree against Sunni residents there on Wednesday, killing as many as 60 people, officials said. The gunmen began roaming Sunni neighborhoods in the city late Tuesday and continued through 8 a.m. Wednesday, shooting at residents and homes, according to police and a Sunni official. ON DEADLINE: Eyewitness account from Tal Afar hospital Witnesses said relatives of the Shiite victims in the truck bombings broke into the Sunni homes and either killed the men or dragged them outside and shot them in the streets. Ali al-Talafari, a Sunni member of the local Turkomen Front Party, said the Iraqi army had arrested 18 policemen accused of being involved after they were identified by the Sunni families targeted. But he said the attackers included Shiite militiamen. He said more than 60 Sunnis had been killed, but a senior hospital official in Tal Afar put the death toll at 45, with four wounded. The hospital official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to security concerns, said the victims were men ages 15 to 60 and were killed with a shot to the back of the head. Police said earlier dozens of Sunnis were killed or wounded, but they had no precise figures, and communications problems made it difficult to reach them for an update. The shooting continued for more than two hours, the officials said. Army troops later moved into the Sunni areas to stop the violence and a curfew was slapped on the entire town, according to Wathiq al-Hamdani, the provincial police chief and his head of operations, Brig. Abdul-Karim al-Jibouri. "The situation is under control now," said al-Hamdani. "The local Tal Afar police have been confined to their bases and policemen from Mosul are moving there to replace them." The violence came a day after two truck bombs that shattered markets in the city, killing at least 63 people and wounding dozens in the second assault in four days. After Tuesday's bombings, suspected Sunni insurgents tried to ambush ambulances carrying the injured out of the northwestern city but were driven off by police gunfire, Iraqi authorities said. Tal Afar, 418 kilometers (260 miles) northwest of Baghdad, is in the province of Ninevah of which Mosul is the capital. It is a mainly Turkomen city with some 60% of its residents adhering to Shiite Islam and the rest mostly Sunnis. The city was an insurgent stronghold until an offensive by U.S. and Iraqi troops in September 2005, when rebel fighters fled into the countryside without a battle. Last March, U.S. President George W. Bush cited the operation as an example that gave him "confidence in our strategy." But even though U.S. and Iraqi forces put up sand barriers around Tal Afar to limit access, the city has suffered frequent insurgent attacks — Tuesday's was the deadliest since the war started. Among the largest previous attacks were suicide bombings that killed 20 people on Sept. 18 and 30 on Oct. 11, 2005. The Sunni owner of a grocery store in Tal Afar said the situation in the city was tense. Tal Afar resident, Ahmed kamal, Sunni owner of foodstuff shop described the situation in the city as tense. "There was a kind of stability in the city before and there is only fear about the future," Ahmed Kamal. "The attack on the Shiites was a criminal act. But on the other side, what is the guilt of innocent Sunnis who were killed?" "The victims from both sects have nothing to do with what happened. It is a carnage against both sects. This is a carnage against the Muslims," he added. The hard-line Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars said 50 people in the rampage in Tal Afar were killed and blamed Shiite-dominated security forces for the violence, saying it was further evidence "of the clear plot and coordination between the militias and the governmental forces of interior and defense to violate the civil rights according to a hateful sectarian policy that serves the interests of external countries and sides. The death toll in the bombings, as well as the shooting deaths on Wednesday, were among the worst bloodshed in a surge of violence across Iraq as militants on both sides of the sectarian divide apparently have fled to other parts of the country to avoid a U.S.-Iraqi security crackdown, raising tensions outside the capital. Suicide bombers also detonated explosives on trucks carrying highly toxic chlorine in Fallujah on Wednesday, wounding about 15 U.S. and Iraqi security forces, although the attackers were blocked from reaching government buildings, the American military said. The chlorine gas attack was the eighth launched since Jan. 28, when a suicide bomber driving a dump truck filled with explosives and a chlorine tank struck a quick-reaction force and Iraqi police in Ramadi, killing 16 people. A parked car bomb also struck a market in the predominantly Shiite city of Mahaweel, 60 kilometers (35 miles) south of Baghdad, killing at least four people and wounding 16. Nationwide, the number of deaths from car bombs has decreased slightly since the Baghdad security operation began Feb. 14, but it has more than doubled in areas outside the capital, according to an Associated Press tally. Car bombs killed at least 349 people in Baghdad in the six weeks since the crackdown began, down from 525 such deaths in the preceding six weeks. But the numbers killed by car bombs outside the capital jumped from at least 100 in the earlier period to at least 233 in the latest six weeks. Most of the bloodshed in Tal Afar on Tuesday came when an explosives-laden truck was detonated by remote control as people gathered to buy wheat flour it was carrying in the center of town. A few minutes earlier, a truck loaded with vegetables blew up near a wholesale market on the city's north side. Al-Jubouri said the first blast killed at least 62 people and wounded 150. The other bomb killed one person and wounded four, he said. On Saturday, a man wearing an explosives belt blew himself up outside a pastry shop in Tal Afar's central market area, killing at least 10 people and wounding three. Baghdad was not immune from the violence. A parked car bomb struck a busy commercial area in the religiously mixed western neighborhood of Baiyaa, killing at least three people and wounding 12, police said. A British soldier also was wounded by small-arms fire while on patrol in the southern city of Basra on Wednesday, military spokeswoman Capt. Katie Brown said. The helicopter that was evacuating the wounded soldier also came under fire, but it was able to take off as planned after British guards shot at the attacker, she said. Meanwhile, hundreds of Iraqis detained in the U.S.-led security crackdown in Baghdad are being held in two detention centers designed to hold at most a few dozen people, an Iraqi monitoring group said. The claim, which was first reported by the New York Times, said more than 700 people were packed into an area built for 75 at one of the detention centers, in Mahmoudiyah, south of Baghdad. The other center, on Muthanna Air Base on the western edge of Baghdad, held 272 people, including two women and four boys, in a space designed to hold about 50. Officials from the monitoring group said they did not know the sectarian composition of the detainee populations.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
The Raw Story Noose tightens around embattled US attorney general Noose tightens around embattled US attorney general Published: Tuesday March 27, 2007 The noose tightened Tuesday around beleaguered US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, after a top aide, fearing criminal prosecution, refused to testify in a scandal over the dismissals of eight federal prosecutors. Questions about what role Gonzales might have played in the affair intensified, after senior aide Monica Goodling invoked her Fifth Amendment rights to avoid potential self-incrimination and declined to answer lawmakers' questions about the firings. "The hostile and questionable environment in the present congressional proceedings is at best ambiguous," her lawyer John Dowd said in a statement. "More accurately, the environment can be described as legally perilous." Goodling, 33, is on a leave from her post as counsel to the attorney general and as the Justice Department's White House liaison. She is refusing to appear at a US Senate hearing Thursday at which another former senior aide who played a key role in the firings is to testify. Lawmakers want to shed light on why the eight US attorneys -- powerful local and regional prosecutors who are appointed by the president -- were fired, even as several of them were in the middle of sensitive corruption investigations. But the overriding question remains what role might have been played by Gonzales, who, in a television interview broadcast late Monday, gave the first indication that he is weighing whether he should leave his high-power post, in light of the scandal. "Every cabinet official has to ask themselves every day, 'Is it still appropriate for me to lead a cabinet department?' It's something that I've been asking myself more lately than perhaps others," he said. "At the end of the day, it's not about Alberto Gonzales. It's about this great Department of Justice that does so many wonderful things for the American people," he said. Gonzales who said he would ride out the controversy "as long as I have the confidence of the president," said nevertheless that it "pained" him. "The attacks on my credibility ... really have pained me and my family," he told NBC television. "I grew up with nothing but my integrity. And someday, when I leave this office, I am confident that I will leave with my integrity," he said. "I would never have asked for their resignations to interfere with a public corruption case or in any way to interfere with an ongoing investigation. I just wouldn't do that," the US top prosecutor continued. "I've got nothing to hide in terms of what I've done," he said. His assertions came after a new batch of e-mails released Friday showed he may have had more involvement in last year's firings than he first indicated. Copies of e-mail messages and other documents sent by the Justice Department to Congress indicate Gonzales attended an hour-long meeting in November on the firings with his then-chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, the aide in charge of putting together a list of those to be dismissed. Gonzales however told reporters two weeks ago that the dismissals were an "effort that was led by Mr. Sampson," and that they "never had a discussion about where things stood." Sampson is to appear under oath Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the matter. Leading Democrats continue to suspect that the White House removed the prosecutors for partisan reasons, while allies of President George W. Bush say the prosecutors serve at the pleasure of the president, and the president has the authority to dismiss them.
Poll backs subpoenas of Bush aides - USATODAY.com Poll backs subpoenas of Bush aides By Susan Page, USA TODAY WASHINGTON — Americans overwhelmingly support a congressional investigation into White House involvement in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, and they say President Bush and his aides should answer questions about it without invoking executive privilege. In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday-Sunday, respondents said by nearly 3-to-1 that Congress should issue subpoenas to force White House officials to testify. POLL: Complete results There is skepticism about the motives of both the administration and congressional Democrats: •By 53%-26%, respondents say the U.S. attorneys were dismissed primarily for political reasons, not because they weren't doing their jobs well — as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has said. •By 59%-30%, they say Democrats are investigating the dismissals mostly for political advantage, not because of ethical concerns. VIDEO: Americans' views on prosecutor firings Even so, the findings underscore the president's risks. The White House last week offered to allow adviser Karl Rove and other aides to answer questions — but only in private, not under oath, and without a transcript being prepared. The Senate and House judiciary committees have authorized subpoenas. The poll finds little sympathy for the administration's claim that White House aides shouldn't have to testify to ensure that a president gets candid advice. By 68%-26%, those surveyed say the president should drop the claim of executive privilege in this case. That's similar to the public's view in 1998 when asked if President Clinton's aides should testify about the Monica Lewinsky affair. Interest in this controversy is much lower than it was in the Lewinsky scandal, however. Only 14% are following the U.S. attorneys story very closely; 32% are following it somewhat closely. One in five say they aren't following it at all. On whether Gonzales should resign, Americans are split: 38% say he should go and 38% say he should stay; 24% have no opinion. Partisanship plays a big role. Republicans by 52%-20% say Gonzales should stay in the job. Democrats by 53%-27% say he should resign. Independents divide almost evenly. It's funny Republicans want Gonzo to stay after he's been caught lying but they wanted Clinton's head for lying about a blow job.
Senate signals support for Iraq timeline - Yahoo! News Senate signals support for Iraq timeline By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent 34 minutes ago The Democratic-controlled Senate narrowly signaled support Tuesday for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq by next March, triggering an instant veto threat from the White House in a deepening dispute between Congress and commander in chief. Republican attempts to scuttle the non-binding timeline failed, 50-48, largely along party lines. The vote marked the Senate's most forceful challenge to date of the administration's handling of a war that has claimed the lives of more than 3,200 U.S. troops. It came days after the House approved a binding withdrawal deadline of Sept. 1, 2008. After weeks of setbacks on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry Reid said the moment was at hand to "send a message to President Bush that the time has come to find a new way forward in this intractable war." But Republicans — and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (R- War whore) argued otherwise. John McCain R- sellout., a presidential hopeful, said, "we are starting to turn things around" in the Iraq war, and added that a timeline for withdrawal would encourage terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere. Bush had previously said he would veto any bill that he deemed an attempt to micromanage the war, and the White House freshened the threat a few hours before the vote — and again afterward. "The president is disappointed that the Senate continues down a path with a bill that he will veto and has no chance of becoming law," it said. Similar legislation drew only 48 votes in the Senate earlier this month, but Democratic leaders made a change that persuaded Nebraska's Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson (news, bio, voting record) to swing behind the measure. Additionally, Sens. Chuck Hagel (news, bio, voting record) of Nebraska and Gordon Smith (news, bio, voting record) of Oregon, vocal critics of the war, sided with the Democrats, assuring them of the majority they needed to turn back a challenge led by Sen. Thad Cochran (news, bio, voting record), R-Miss. The debate came on legislation that provides $122 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as domestic priorities such relief to hurricane victims and payments to farmers. Final passage is expected Wednesday or Thursday. Separately, supporters of an increase in the minimum wage readied an effort to attach the measure to the spending bill, along with companion tax cuts that Republicans have demanded. The House and Senate have passed different versions of the bill but have yet to reach a compromise. The House has already passed legislation requiring troops to be withdrawn by Sept. 1, 2008. The Senate vote assured that the Democratic-controlled Congress would send Bush legislation later this spring that calls for a change in war policy. A veto is a certainty, presuming the president follows through. That would put the onus back on the Democrats, who would have to decide how long they wanted to extend the test of wills in the face of what are likely to be increasingly urgent statements from the administration that the money is needed for troops in the war zone. "I hope he will work with us so we can come up with something agreeable for both" sides, Reid said at a post-vote news conference. "But I'm not anxious to strip anything out of the bill." As drafted, the legislation called for troop withdrawal to begin within 120 days, with a non-binding goal that calls for the combat troops to be gone within a year. The measure also includes a series of suggested goals for the Iraqi government to meet to provide for its own security, enhance democracy and distribute its oil wealth fairly — provisions designed to attract support from Nelson and Sen. Mark Pryor (news, bio, voting record) of Arkansas. Despite the change, Pryor voted to delete the timeline. The vote was a critical test for Reid and the new Democratic majority in the Senate nearly three months after they took power. Despite several attempts, they had yet to win approval for any legislation challenging Bush's policies. Republicans prevented debate over the winter on non-binding measures critical of Bush's decision to deploy an additional 21,500 troops. That led to the 50-48 vote derailing a bill that called for a troop withdrawal to begin within 120 days but set only a non-binding target of March 31, 2008, for the departure of the final combat forces. Some Democrats said they would support the non-binding timetable even though they wanted more. "I want a deadline not only for commencing the withdrawal of our forces but also completing it rather than a target date," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record), D-Vt. "This provision represents a 90-degree change of course from the president's policy of escalation in the middle of a civil war," he said, "I'm confident once the withdrawal of our troops begins, there will be no turning back." Lieberman, who won a new term last fall in a three-way race after losing the Democratic nomination to an anti-war insurgent, depicted the vote as a turning point. He said the effect of the timeline would be to "snatch defeat from the jaws of progress in Iraq." Republicans spoke in similar terms. "Wars cannot be run from these hallowed and comfortable and sanctified chambers 10,000 miles away from the war zone," said Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo. "How about allowing the officers, the men and the commanders in the field who are engaged daily, risking their lives to bring peace and security to Iraq, determine when and how we can best turn over to the Iraqi security forces the critical job, the critical job of assuring security."
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Detroit likened to Iraq Detroit likened to Iraq Violence equal, lawmaker says March 22, 2007 BY TODD SPANGLER FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER A Republican congressman representing rural southern Michigan is taking heat for saying that most of Iraq is at least as under control as Detroit is. Freshman Rep. Tim Walberg's (R-tool) comments, made Monday on WILS-AM in Lansing, didn't sit well with Democrats -- who issued a news release Wednesday -- or the office of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. "Any reference to Detroit as a war zone is absurd," said Matt Allen, the mayor's spokesman. Walberg of Tipton didn't quite say Detroit was a war zone. He said most of Iraq "is reasonably under control, at least as well as Detroit." Walberg's spokesman, Matt Lahr, said the congressman "frequently shares sentiments expressed to him by the soldiers and veterans he meets." He wouldn't say whether a soldier or soldiers made the Detroit remark. There have been 3,223 U.S. military deaths in Iraq since the war began in 2003, and more than 10,000 Iraqi civilian and security forces killed since January 2006, according to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count. About 1,576 people died as a result of homicide or nonnegligent manslaughter in Detroit since the beginning of 2003. I know this been around the blog sphere since Monday, but being from Detroit this sort of things pisses me off. Douches like Walberg would crap on themselves if any Detroit officials would make an off hand comment about the burbs.
Edwards presses on with 2008 campaign - Yahoo! News
Edwards presses on with 2008 campaign By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer 32 minutes ago Democrat John Edwards said Thursday that his presidential campaign "goes on strongly" in the face of a repeat cancer diagnosis for his wife, Elizabeth, a somber development that thrust his White House bid into uncharted territory. The couple revealed that Elizabeth Edwards' breast cancer had spread to her bone during a news conference designed to reassure the public about the prognosis for her health and his candidacy. "The bottom line is, her cancer is back," said John Edwards, the 2004 vice presidential nominee and former senator, at a news conference in their hometown of Chapel Hill, N.C. "We are very optimistic about this, because having been through some struggles together in the past, we know that the key is to keep your head up and keep moving and be strong." The Edwardses suffered through the death of their teenage son, Wade, in 1996 and Mrs. Edwards' breast cancer diagnosis the day after John Kerry and John Edwards lost the 2004 election. She was treated with surgery and several months of radiation and chemotherapy. The recurrence of the cancer presents a setback for the couple, both personally and politically. "Getting these results was not a good day for us," John Edwards allowed. Elizabeth Edwards' illness and treatment are certain to affect her husband's campaign schedule and may raise questions about the viability of his campaign, especially among financial donors wondering whether he will be in for the long haul. The first fundraising deadline is fast approaching on March 31. Edwards has been considered among the top-tier candidates although he trails front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record) in public opinion polls. His forceful opposition to the Iraq war — and oft-repeated apology for his 2002 vote for it — as well as his plans on universal health care have improved his standing among the party's liberal base. Both Edwardses said the cancer was treatable and that they would stick with their plans to campaign vigorously for the nomination. "The campaign goes on. The campaign goes on strongly," said Edwards, who argued, "other than sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves, there was no reason to stop." Wade E. Byrd, a Fayetteville, N.C. lawyer and one of Edwards' chief fundraisers, said the Edwardses sounded optimistic enough that he didn't think donors would be wary "right now" about him abandoning the campaign to be with his wife. "I wouldn't have been shocked — although I would have been disappointed in a major way — if he had gotten out of the campaign," Byrd said. "I'm not surprised at all that Elizabeth was more than likely the one saying, 'You will not get out of this campaign.'" New Hampshire state Sen. Lou D'Allesandro backed Edwards' 2004 campaign in large part because of his affection for the candidate's wife, but remains uncommitted for 2008. He said his heart broke for the Edwards family and he was a bit surprised that the campaign will continue. "To some extent, yes, because she is such an integral part of the campaign," he said. "I couldn't envision the campaign without her." Other candidates have faced cancer in their families and have not let it slow their campaign. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley ran for re-election this year despite his wife's diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer in 2002. Republican presidential candidate John McCain (news, bio, voting record) has had repeat occurrences of skin cancer. McCain rival Rudy Giuliani is a prostate cancer survivor, as was 1996 Republican nominee Bob Dole and 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry. Democrat Paul Tsongas made his survival from cancer an issue in his 1992 campaign for the Democratic nomination. He lost the primary to Bill Clinton. Tsongas' cancer later returned and he died three years later. The recurrence was discovered after Mrs. Edwards broke a left rib, likely moving a chest, and had x-rays that also found something suspicious on the right side. Mrs. Edwards' doctor called her in for more testing, and her husband cut short a campaign visit to Iowa to accompany her to the hospital Wednesday. A biopsy confirmed that the cancer had returned, and the Edwardses are awaiting further testing to see if the cancer may have spread to her liver. "There were times yesterday that we thought it might be a lot worse than it is, and we wouldn't be having the same conference we're having right now with the same hopeful tone," Mrs. Edwards said. The Edwardses smiled and joked throughout their appearance, held in the same hotel garden where they had their wedding reception nearly 30 years ago. "I don't look sickly, I don't feel sickly," Mrs. Edwards said. John and Elizabeth Edwards hosted a barbecue for their top national fundraisers Wednesday night, but never mentioned the diagnosis. Instead, they both talked optimistically about his presidential prospects. "We're all sort of flabbergasted" to hear the news Thursday, said Richard Thaler, a vice chairman of Deutsche Bank Securities and a top Edwards fundraiser who attended. "It was a wonderful event last night, and everyone is very, very upbeat about his chances." After the news conference, the couple left on a two-day fundraising trip to New York and California that included a stop in Boston so Mrs. Edwards could visit their adult daughter, Cate. They also have an 8-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son. The news about the cancer's return and the decision to keep the campaign going was a closely held secret, with family friends and senior campaign advisers unaware of the diagnosis. John Moylan, a senior adviser who runs Edwards' campaign in South Carolina, said he learned the news by watching it on television. "This was a very private decision about a very private matter," the attorney from Columbia, S.C., said. "It was the best way to handle it." Rival candidates were quick to offer words of encouragement. Obama and Clinton posted pictures of Mrs. Edwards on their campaign Web sites, and McCain spoke to her on the phone. She also got some warm words from the White House. "Good going, our prayers are with you," said presidential spokesman Tony Snow, who has battled cancer. ___ Associated Press writers Mike Baker in Chapel Hill, N.C., Beth Fouhy in New York City and Jim Kuhnhenn in Washington contributed to this report.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
House panel OKs subpoenas for Bush aides - Yahoo! News House panel OKs subpoenas for Bush aides By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer 13 minutes ago A House panel on Wednesday approved subpoenas for President Bush's political adviser, Karl Rove and other top White House aides, setting up a constitutional showdown over the firings of eight federal prosecutors. By voice vote, the House Judiciary subcommittee on commercial and administrative law decided to compel the president's top aides to testify publicly and under oath about their roles in the firings. The White House has refused to budge in the controversy, standing by embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and insisting that the firings were appropriate. White House spokesman Tony Snow said that in offering aides to talk to the committees privately, Bush had sought to avoid the "media spectacle" that would result from public hearings with Rove and others at the witness table. "The question they've got to ask themselves is, are you more interested in a political spectacle than getting the truth?" Snow said of the overture Tuesday that was relayed to Capitol Hill by White House counsel Fred Fielding. "There must be accountability," countered subcommittee Chairwoman Linda Sanchez D-Calif. The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a vote Thursday on its own set of subpoenas, with Democrats complaining that the threat of force is the only way to get a straight answer from the White House. "The White House is in a bunker mentality — won't listen, won't change," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein D-Calif. "I believe there is even more to come out, and I think it's our duty to bring it out." The House subcommittee Wednesday approved, but has not issued, subpoenas for Rove, former White House Counsel Harriet Miers, their deputies and Kyle Sampson, Gonzales' chief of staff, who resigned over the uproar last week. The panel also voted to compel the production of documents related to the firings from those officials and Gonzales, Fielding and White House chief of staff Joshua Bolton. Fielding a day earlier refused to provide Congress internal White House communications on the subject. The full Judiciary Committee would authorize the subpoenas if Chairman John Conyers of Michigan chose to do so. Authorizing the subpoenas "does provide this body the leverage needed to negotiate from a position of strength," said Rep. William Delahunt (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass. Republicans called the authorization premature, though some GOP members said they would consider voting to approve the subpoenas if Conyers promises to issue them only if he has evidence of wrongdoing. Conyers agreed. "This (authority) will not be used in a way that will make you regret your vote." Several Republicans said, "No" during the voice vote, but no roll call was taken. For his part, Bush remained resolute. Would he fight Democrats in court to protect his aides against congressional subpoenas? "Absolutely," Bush declared. Bush said Tuesday he worried that allowing testimony under oath would set a precedent on the separation of powers that would harm the presidency as an institution. If neither side blinks, the dispute could end up in court — ultimately the Supreme Court — in a politically messy development that would prolong what Bush called the "public spectacle" of the Justice Department's firings, and public trashings, of the eight U.S. attorneys. Bush defended Gonzales against demands from congressional Democrats and a handful of Republicans that Gonzales resign. "He's got support with me," Bush said. "I support the attorney general." Democrats say the prosecutors' dismissals were politically motivated. Gonzales initially had asserted the firings were performance-related, not based on political considerations. But e-mails released earlier this month between the Justice Department and the White House contradicted that assertion and led to a public apology from Gonzales over the handling of the matter. The e-mails showed that Rove, as early as Jan. 6, 2005, questioned whether the U.S. attorneys should all be replaced at the start of Bush's second term, and to some degree worked with Miers and Sampson to get some prosecutors dismissed.
Ousted Mich. U.S. attorney argued politics were at play Ousted Mich. U.S. attorney argued politics were at play March 21, 2007 BY TODD SPANGLER FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER For months, Michigan's first female U.S. attorney played along with the bosses who had ousted her, holding her tongue as the questions over her dismissal and those of seven other federal prosecutors got louder and hoping the people in Washington who had let her go would help her find a new job. But as it became clear that Justice Department officials would criticize her performance in office and use that as the basis for her dismissal, former Western District U.S. Attorney Margaret M. Chiara fired off a series of e-mails, arguing that such an explanation was erroneous, and that her ouster was a political one. "Politics may not be a compelling reason," she wrote Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty in an e-mail March 4, "but the truth is compelling." On Tuesday, the political firestorm over the dismissal of the U.S. attorneys grew, fueled by congressional complaints that if the eight were pushed out for political reasons it could hamper the independence of the nation's federal prosecutors, who -- all acknowledge -- serve at the pleasure of the president. Presidents often replace U.S. attorneys when they are initially elected. Amid calls for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' resignation and the Senate's approval of legislation limiting the president's power to unilaterally fill vacancies among the nation's 93 U.S. attorneys, the Justice Department released thousands of pages of documents relating to the ousters. White House counsel Fred Fielding said the papers "do not reflect that any U.S. attorney was replaced to interfere with a pending or future criminal investigation or for any other improper reason." Chiara, 63, a former Cass County prosecutor, did not return calls for comment Tuesday, and no one answered the door at a home listed in her name in East Lansing. Calls to the Department of Justice also were not returned. But e-mails between Chiara and Justice Department officials -- which were among those documents released -- explained at least in part why the case of her dismissal remained relatively quiet in recent weeks: She was looking for work. After being told Dec. 7 that she would be dismissed, she received an extension on the job while she sought employment. In February, she asked McNulty about a position with the department's National Advocacy Center in South Carolina, where Chiara owns a home. "Could we make this happen?" McNulty asked another department official, Michael Elston, who replied, "This idea may help us avoid linking this to the others." There may have been other reasons to keep Chiara around. Appointed in 2001, she ran an office based in Grand Rapids and covering the western half of the Lower Peninsula and the entire Upper Peninsula. The office achieved an increase of more than 15% in felony prosecutions and convictions during her tenure. Chief Western District Judge Robert Holmes Bell on Tuesday called Chiara a focused prosecutor and administrator and described her as a dignified woman who had a "sense of what is right and wrong." "We were mystified," Bell said of her dismissal. "She's too good." But there were indications -- albeit vague ones -- of problems in the office, as well. In documents prepared in early 2005 by Gonzales' chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, Chiara was listed among those recommended for removal as "ineffectual managers and prosecutors." And a draft memo -- one that did not include a heading or a clear reference as to who wrote it or when -- said that during Chiara's tenure, "the office has become fractured, morale has fallen, and" Chiara "has lost the confidence of the leadership team and some career prosecutors." Another item that could have played a role, as reported by the Grand Rapids Press, were bonuses paid to Leslie Hagen, a former Huron County prosecutor and longtime friend of Chiara whom she hired in the U.S. Attorney's Office. The Press reported last week that Hagen received $10,250 in bonus pay in her first 30 months on the job, while the average for other criminal attorneys in the office was $2,200. Still, Chiara seemed convinced she was dismissed for some reason -- never illuminated in the e-mails -- other than her performance until the March 4 e-mail to McNulty. "As you know, I have assiduously avoided public comment by pursuing an informal version of the 'witness protection program' in order to elude reporters! However, the legal community in Grand Rapids and organizations throughout Michigan are outraged that I am being labeled a 'poor performer,' " she wrote. Then, on March 6, a deputy attorney general went before the House Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee to defend the dismissals. While there, he noted the absence of two of the ousted U.S. attorneys -- Chiara was not there -- and said, referring to their dismissals, "Those individuals would have been in the management category." That led Chiara to send an e-mail to McNulty demanding to know what management problem was being referred to. On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said he is concerned about all the ousters and is pleased the Senate Judiciary Committee, like its counterpart in the House, is looking into them. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said she spoke in recent weeks to Chiara and that she knows the former U.S. attorney -- whose last day was Friday -- fears the allegations that poor performance led to her ouster could hurt her career. "I certainly want to know more what led to it," Stabenow said. She also called for Gonzales' resignation, saying his reputation with Congress is hopelessly dashed. On Monday, a release on the Western District's Web site announced the appointment of Brian K. Delaney as the interim U.S. attorney until mid-April. Then, Charles R. Gross -- a first assistant U.S. attorney in the Western District before he was recalled to active duty as a colonel in the Marine Corps last year -- will take over as the interim U.S. attorney, serving until the president nominates a permanent replacement.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
DeLay assails GOP colleagues in new book - Yahoo! News DeLay assails GOP colleagues in new book By JOE STINEBAKER, Associated Press WriterTue Mar 20, 5:46 PM ET Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's(R-inmate 666123) just-published memoirs skewer his former comrades in the historic 1994 Republican revolution for squandering the victory through useless and ineffective leadership. DeLay's book, "No Retreat, No Surrender," which hit bookstores this weekend, singles out former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey, DeLay's predecessor as House majority leader. Former President Clinton is described as "slimy," and President George W. Bush is dismissed as "compassionate, but ... certainly no conservative." Only DeLay's wife and daughter escape unscathed. DeLay, dogged by charges of money laundering in Texas, resigned from Congress last June and is awaiting trial. He told The Associated Press on Tuesday that writing the book had been a "cleansing process" and that his co-author, Stephen Mansfield, "really captured me." "This is the life of a leader in Congress, the history of what happened," DeLay said in an interview from New York. "I was a little worried about the parts where I pointed out people's strengths and weaknesses. That made me feel a little uncomfortable. "Seeing that in print makes you kind of go, 'Oh, I don't know if I want to do this.'" DeLay blames Gingrich, who is mulling a 2008 presidential run, for the GOP's inability to achieve many of its goals in the mid-1990s. "Newt is an amazingly gifted man," DeLay wrote. "He is intelligent, articulate, informed and passionate to a fault ... It is equally true, though, that he was an ineffective speaker of the House." DeLay paints Gingrich as vain, unable to translate his ideas into legislation and unsure how to push his party's agenda. At Gingrich's right hand was Armey, who DeLay describes as "so blinded by ambition as to be useless to the cause." DeLay also says Armey told Gingrich that DeLay was behind an insurgency aiming to topple Gingrich — a lie, DeLay said, that ended his relationships with both men. "I was livid," DeLay wrote. "He had lied to cover his ambitions, betraying both his movement and his fellow leaders." Armey did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment. Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler said only: "No interest. Thanks." DeLay briefly acknowledges indiscretions with alcohol and women, describing himself during his early years in the Texas legislature and Congress as a party boy with a roving eye. "I drank too much," he writes. "I slept with women I wasn't married to. I neglected my family. This is the truth, and I recount it with a deep sense of grief that I ever lived in such a manner." Despite the 2006 Democratic overturn of the 1994 revolution, DeLay calls 2008 a "grand opportunity." "The vast majority of Americans are dissatisfied with George W. Bush and eager for change," he writes. "It is a wake-up call, a summons to battle ... Republicans were, as they long have been, right on the issues and terrible at communication." One question for the roach boy wasn't he partly responsible for the mess the Republican party finds itself in? I mean outside re-districting Texas ten years early so his cronies can get elected isn't something most Americans would smile upon as being good. Then taking money from people who makes a living off sweat shop labor and from sex trade while claiming the high moral ground. Sorry Roach boy no dice guys like DeLay, Smirk, Cheney and Rove are the reason people turned off politics.
Bush warns Dems to take offer in firings - Yahoo! News Bush warns Dems to take offer in firings By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer 18 minutes ago A defiant President Bush warned Democrats Tuesday to accept his offer to have top aides speak about the firings of federal prosecutors only privately and not under oath, or risk a constitutional showdown from which he would not back down. Democrats' response was swift and firm: They said they would start authorizing subpoenas as soon as Wednesday for the White House aides. "Testimony should be on the record and under oath. That's the formula for true accountability," said Patrick Leahy D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Bush, in a late-afternoon statement at the White House, said he would fight any subpoena effort in court. "We will not go along with a partisan fishing expedition aimed at honorable public servants," he said. "It will be regrettable if they choose to head down the partisan road of issuing subpoenas and demanding show trials when I have agreed to make key White House officials and documents available." He added that federal prosecutors work for him and it is natural to consider replacing them. While saying he disapproved of how the decisions were explained to Congress, he insisted "there is no indication that anybody did anything improper." Bush gave his embattled attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, a boost during an early morning call and ended the day with a public statement repeating it. "He's got support with me," Bush said. The Senate, meanwhile, voted to strip Gonzales of his authority to fill U.S. attorney vacancies without Senate confirmation. Democrats contend the Justice Department and White House purged eight federal prosecutors, some of whom were leading political corruption investigations, after a change in the Patriot Act gave Gonzales the new authority. Several Democrats, including presidential hopefuls Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barrack Obama, Joe Biden and John Edwards, have called for Gonzales' ouster or resignation. So have a handful of Republican lawmakers. "What happened in this case sends a signal really through intimidation by purge: 'Don't quarrel with us any longer,'" said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (news, bio, voting record), D-R.I., a former U.S. attorney who spent much of Monday evening paging through 3,000 documents released by the Justice Department. Bush said his White House counsel, Fred Fielding, told lawmakers they could interview presidential counselor Karl Rove, former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and their deputies — but only on the president's terms: in private, "without the need for an oath" and without a transcript. The president cast the offer as virtually unprecedented and a reasonable way for Congress to get all the information it needs about the matter. "If the Democrats truly do want to move forward and find the right information, they ought to accept what I proposed," Bush said. "If scoring political points is the desire, then the rejection of this reasonable proposal will really be evident for the American people to see." The House Judiciary Committee was expected to authorize subpoenas for Rove, Miers and their deputies on Wednesday; the Senate Judiciary Committee was to follow suit a day later. Bush said he worried that allowing testimony under oath would set a precedent on the separation of powers that would harm the presidency as an institution. "My choice is to make sure that I safeguard the ability for presidents to get good decisions," he said. "If the staff of a president operated in constant fear of being hauled before various committees to discuss internal deliberations, the president would not receive candid advice and the American people would be ill-served." Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who is leading the Senate probe into the firings, spoke dismissively of the deal offered by the White House: "It's sort of giving us the opportunity to talk to them, but not giving us the opportunity to get to the bottom of what really happened here." Even without oaths, Bush aides would be legally required to tell the truth to Congress. But without a transcript of their comments, "it would be almost meaningless to say that they would be under some kind of legal sanction," Schumer complained. Fielding's meeting on Capitol Hill came a few hours after Bush spoke with Gonzales in an early morning phone call — their first conversation since the president had acknowledged mistakes by his longtime friend and lawmakers of both parties had called for Gonzales' ouster. The White House offered to arrange interviews with Rove, Miers, deputy White House counsel William Kelley and J. Scott Jennings, a deputy to White House political director Sara Taylor, who works for Rove. "Such interviews would be private and conducted without the need for an oath, transcript, subsequent testimony or the subsequent issuance of subpoenas," Fielding said in a letter to the chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary committees and their ranking Republicans. He said documents released by the Justice Department "do not reflect that any U.S. attorney was replaced to interfere with a pending or future criminal investigation or for any other improper reason." Someone needs to tell the boy president no one cares what he has to say.. Last time I check Smirk has an approval rating of 27% one point away from hitting Nixon status.
Detroit Free Press - www.freep.com - Meijer cites $463-million investment in state Meijer cites $463-million investment in state March 20, 2007 FREE PRESS STAFF Expressing confidence in Michigan’s economic future, Meijer stores President Mark Murray today released figures showing that the company’s investment in the state for the three years ending in 2007 will total $463 million. This year, investment in construction and land investment will be $123 million, and will include three new stores. In Wayne County, a store will be built in Allen Park as part of a redevelopment project. Built on a former landfill, the project is certified under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system. Other new stores will be built in Macomb and Clinton counties. The private company’s distribution center in Lansing will have an $18-million expansion.Besides the $123 million this year, the company said its investment in Michigan was $132 million last year and $207 million in 2005.Murray said Meijer, which is based in Walker in western Michigan, is committed to the state. “We’ve recently seen news of a few companies reducing their presence in the state,” said Murray, a former state budget director and treasurer and former president of Grand Valley State University. “We want everyone to know that Meijer will continue to invest here, confident of a solid future.” Good news for Michigan, bad news for the Detroit "News" editorial board.
White House offers interview with Rove - Yahoo! News White House offers interview with Rove By PETE YOST and LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writers 2 minutes ago The White House offered Tuesday to make political strategist Karl Rove(R-slimeball) and former counsel Harriet Miers (R-dingbat) available for interviews — but not testimony under oath — before congressional committees investigating the firing of eight federal prosecutors. Sen. Charles Schumer D-NY, said he would still press for White House aides to testify under oath, saying that White House counsel Fred Fielding "indicated he didn't want to negotiate" whether Rove and others would have to appear in a full hearing. "That doesn't mean we're not going to try," Schumer said. The White House move was announced after the Senate voted overwhelmingly to end the Bush administration's ability to unilaterally fill U.S. attorney vacancies. That had come as a backlash to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' firing of the prosecutors. Gonzales got a morale boost with an early-morning call from President Bush, their first conversation since a week ago, when the president said he was unhappy with how the Justice Department handled the firings. The White House offered to arrange interviews with Rove, Miers, deputy White House counsel William Kelley and J. Scott Jennings, a deputy to White House political director Sara Taylor, who works for Rove. "Such interviews would be private and conducted without the need for an oath, transcript, subsequent testimony, or the subsequent issuance of subpoenas," Fielding said in a letter to the chairman of the House and Senate judiciary committees. In the letter, Fielding said the more than 3,000 documents released by the Justice Department "do not reflect that any U.S. attorney was replaced to interfere with a pending or future criminal investigation or for any other improper reason." Schumer, however, had problems with it. "It's sort of giving us the opportunity to talk to them but not giving us the opportunity to figure out what really happened here," he told reporters. Meanwhile, the White House said Bush planned a statement late Tuesday afternoon upon his return from a trip to Kansas City. The fast-moving developments came as the administration sought to fend off withering Democratic attacks from Capitol Hill in connection with the dismissal of eight federal prosecutors. Democrats have asserted the U.S. attorneys were improperly ousted. Bush has said that he was not happy with the way the Justice Department explained the firings to Congress, but has said they were, indeed, appropriate. The White House offer came not long after the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill that strips from the administration its authority to unilaterally name federal prosecutors. In his letter, Fielding said the White House was willing to provide lawmakers with wide access. "These documents, together with the interviews to be provided by department officials, will provide extensive background on the decisions in question, including an account of communications between the department and senior White House officials," he wrote. "Congress, in short, is receiving a virtually unprecedented window into personnel decision-making within the executive branch." Fielding also said that in addition to interviews the White House will provide documents on communications between the White House and the Department of Justice concerning the request for resignations of the U.S. attorneys and between White House staff and members of Congress, their aides and others.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Media Matters - Fox News obsesses over anonymous "1984" anti-Clinton attack ad, prompting smears from Coulter Fox News obsesses over anonymous "1984" anti-Clinton attack ad, prompting smears from Coulter Summary: Throughout the day on March 19, Fox News devoted several segments to an anonymously produced video posted on YouTube.com that attacked Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) by altering a famous Apple Computer advertisement. Fox News aired the video in its entirety at least five times and portions of the ad at various other times throughout the day. The original Apple ad (which aired only once, during the 1984 Super Bowl, to promote the company's new Macintosh computer) was a takeoff on George Orwell's novel 1984, depicting a dystopian future in which a woman hurls a sledgehammer at a large television screen through which a "Big Brother"-like figure is speaking to the hypnotized masses. In the altered version posted on YouTube, the "Big Brother" figure is replaced by Clinton, and the woman hurling the sledgehammer sports a T-shirt bearing a campaign logo for Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and an Apple iPod. At the end of the video, viewers are directed to Obama's campaign website. Though Fox News noted that the source of the attack video is as yet unknown, that did not curb the network's enthusiasm for running it. Beneath a screen shot from the video of Clinton as "Big Brother," Internet gossip Matt Drudge posted links to the video and a March 17 San Francisco Chronicle article about it on his website, the Drudge Report, on March 19. On the March 19 edition of The Live Desk, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter called the video "amazingly powerful," and claimed: "I don't know how anyone can vote for a Democrat again after that." Coulter went on to claim that the video "distill[s]" Orwell's novel, and again attacked Democrats, saying: "I don't know how anyone can vote for a Democrat after reading Orwell's 1984." From the March 19 edition of Fox News 'The Live Desk: MARTHA MacCALLUM (host): All right, there you have it. It's very interesting. We put it up against the "1984" ad, the Apple ad. It is exactly -- it is the same ad with these video images laid over it. And neither side -- Barack Obama's not taking credit for it, he says we had nothing to do with this ad. Hillary Clinton says we don't know where it came from, obviously, either. What does this say about the power of, you know, people just creating their own campaign ads out there to get in the mix? COULTER: That is an amazingly powerful ad. I don't know how anyone can vote for a Democrat again after that. Forget Hillary versus Obama. When I wrote High Crimes and Misdemeanors [Regnery, 1998], I got an email from a fan who said, "Great book, but you need to distill it down into a 60-second MTV, you know, video." And that's basically what this ad does for Orwell's 1984. I don't know how anyone can vote for a Democrat after reading Orwell's 1984. Side note: Alright it seems every spring and summer Ann Coulter slithers out of the sewers and grace the national airwaves with her brand of hate speech either accusing the widows of 9.11 of cashing in on their husbands' deaths or calling John Edwards a "faggot". Now for me I'm not nice and I don't hold my opinions to myself regarding Mr. or Miss Coulter, he-she is the modern face of the Republican party and modern conservative thought in this country. It's no longer about advocating about small government it's about sliming those who disagree with you and lying to advance a political party. Now on the video I seen it over on "Countdown" tonight I have to admit I have a hard time guessing where it came from. Most conservative bloggers are not that bright or creative to pull it off on their own and would someone try to link Barrack Obama causing a rift between Clinton and Obama?
Fox in talks to host presidential debate - Yahoo! News Fox in talks to host presidential debate By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 57 minutes ago Fox News could be back in the debate business. Just days after Democrats canceled a Nevada debate co-sponsored by the cable news network, Fox is negotiating with the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute to broadcast up to two face-offs by presidential candidates. Officials for News Corp., Fox News' parent company, and for the institute said discussions over co-hosting a Republican and a Democratic debate were still under way Monday. The CBC Institute, a nonprofit group whose directors include members of the Congressional Black Caucus, has already sealed an agreement with CNN to broadcast a Democratic presidential primary debate in South Carolina and another Republican debate at a site to be determined. Online activists, who were instrumental in forcing the cancellation of the Nevada debate, are mobilizing to pressure the Congressional Black Caucus and the institute against entering into an agreement with Fox News. "Should they go forward, what we will see is largely what we saw happen in Nevada," said James Rucker, head of colorofchange.org, a coalition of black online activists. "They can expect a massive grass-roots backlash." Rucker noted that Fox News President Roger Ailes recently joked about the similarity of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record)'s name to Osama Bin Laden. "And it is true that Barack Obama is on the move. I don't know if it's true that President Bush called (Pakistan President Gen. Pervez) Musharraf and said, 'Why can't we catch this guy?" Ailes said at a Radio & Television News Directors Association Foundation event in Washington. The institute and Fox News teamed up to host a 2004 Democratic debate. And News Corp. has been a longtime supporter of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, another nonprofit group affiliated to the black caucus. The foundation's annual reports since 2002 list News Corp. as one of scores of corporate donors, with contributions ranging from $5,000 to $30,000. Though the black caucus is regarded as a Democratic organization in Congress, the institute cannot act in a partisan fashion under federal tax laws. "We make (debate) decisions based on the capacity of the organization to reach the greatest number of viewers," said Candice Tolliver, a media consultant for the institute. "None of our decisions are made on a political basis."
Media Matters - Media largely ignore "straight talker" McCain's "stumble" on HIV prevention Media largely ignore "straight talker" McCain's "stumble" on HIV prevention Summary: As New York Times reporter Adam Nagourney noted in a March 16 entry to the Times' weblog The Caucus, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) "stumble[d]" when asked by a reporter aboard McCain's campaign bus, the "Straight Talk Express," whether he supports "the distribution of taxpayer-subsidized condoms in Africa to fight the transmission of H.I.V." and whether he believes "contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV." According to Nagourney, McCain, whose self-styled reputation as a "straight talker" has been embraced by the media, admitted that he was "stumped" by the questions, and told the reporter: "You know, I'm sure I've taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was." This exchange, however, has gone unreported by several news outlets that have recently praised McCain as a "straight talker." Nagourney wrote: The unthinkable has happened. Senator John McCain met a question, while sitting with reporters on his bus as it rumbled through Iowa today, that he couldn't -- or perhaps wouldn't -- answer. Did he support the distribution of taxpayer-subsidized condoms in Africa to fight the transmission of H.I.V.? What followed was a long series of awkward pauses, glances up to the ceiling and the image of one of Mr. McCain's aides, standing off to the back, urgently motioning his press secretary to come to Mr. McCain's side. Avoiding a question was not, of course, "unthinkable" for McCain, as Nagourney himself had reported earlier that day. Still, Nagourney was one of very few reporters to take note of it. A March 16 entry to WashingtonPost.com's On the Campaign Trail weblog similarly noted: Sensing a vulnerable moment, reporters kept the questions coming. What about sex education in the schools? Should it mention contraceptives? Or only abstinence, like President Bush wants? "I think I support the president's present policy," he said, tentatively. More questions: Do condoms stop sexually transmitted disease? A long pause. A stern look. "I've never gotten into these issues or thought much about them," he said, almost crying uncle. "Obviously, we all want to stop the spread of AIDS. Everybody wants to do that. What's the most viable way of doing that?" Well? The reporters asked? In a last ditch attempt to rescue himself, McCain told an aide to go get a briefing paper prepared by Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, a doctor, who he said has been advising him on "these issues." But the aide couldn't find the briefing paper. "We've lost it," McCain mumbled. However, a Nexis search of "All News" revealed that only one media outlet reported on the exchange -- Jill Zuckerman of the Chicago Tribune on March 18: En route to Cedar Falls, McCain hesitates and then demurs when asked if he would support taxpayer funding for condoms to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases in Africa. He praises Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a family physician, for his work promoting abstinence. And he won't say whether he thinks condoms stop the spread of disease, blushing at the question. The day before, McCain refused to answer questions about whether he believes homosexual acts are immoral, as Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently said. "I just don't think it's a purview of public policy," he said, declining to speculate how he would react if one of his children told him he or she is gay. McCain's "stumble" was not reported in the pages of The New York Times or The Washington Post, despite the March 16 entries in each paper's weblog. Nor was it reported on ABC or NBC, even though ABC senior national correspondent Jake Tapper had praised McCain on the March 15 broadcast of World News with Charles Gibson for his "willingness to entertain any question" and NBC News congressional correspondent Chip Reid reported on March 15 that McCain was offering "straight talk about Iraq and his support for the war." McCain's HIV prevention "stumble" has drawn only scant attention from The Politico -- senior political writer Ben Smith linked to Nagourney's Caucus entry in a March 16 entry to his own blog on Politico.com, writing: "And Nagourney's going to get himself tossed off the Straight Talk Express if he keeps, like, demanding answers to stuff." Politico senior writer Jonathan Martin, who was traveling with the McCain campaign on March 16 and whose Politico.com blog purports to focus on the 2008 Republican presidential candidates, linked to the On the Campaign Trail entry, writing simply: "The Bus giveth and The Bus taketh away." Martin has, however, posted several blog entries on McCain and the "Straight Talk Express" since March 16, one of which was titled "The Well-Oiled McCain Machine."
Salon.com News The Army is ordering injured troops to go to Iraq The Army is ordering injured troops to go to IraqAt Fort Benning, soldiers who were classified as medically unfit to fight are now being sent to war. Is this an isolated incident or a trend? By Mark Benjamin Mar. 11, 2007 "This is not right," said Master Sgt. Ronald Jenkins, who has been ordered to Iraq even though he has a spine problem that doctors say would be damaged further by heavy Army protective gear. "This whole thing is about taking care of soldiers," he said angrily. "If you are fit to fight you are fit to fight. If you are not fit to fight, then you are not fit to fight." As the military scrambles to pour more soldiers into Iraq, a unit of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Ga., is deploying troops with serious injuries and other medical problems, including GIs who doctors have said are medically unfit for battle. Some are too injured to wear their body armor, according to medical records. On Feb. 15, Master Sgt. Jenkins and 74 other soldiers with medical conditions from the 3rd Division's 3rd Brigade were summoned to a meeting with the division surgeon and brigade surgeon. These are the men responsible for handling each soldier's "physical profile," an Army document that lists for commanders an injured soldier's physical limitations because of medical problems -- from being unable to fire a weapon to the inability to move and dive in three-to-five-second increments to avoid enemy fire. Jenkins and other soldiers claim that the division and brigade surgeons summarily downgraded soldiers' profiles, without even a medical exam, in order to deploy them to Iraq. It is a claim division officials deny. The 3,900-strong 3rd Brigade is now leaving for Iraq for a third time in a steady stream. In fact, some of the troops with medical conditions interviewed by Salon last week are already gone. Others are slated to fly out within a week, but are fighting against their chain of command, holding out hope that because of their ills they will ultimately not be forced to go. Jenkins, who is still in Georgia, thinks doctors are helping to send hurt soldiers like him to Iraq to make units going there appear to be at full strength. "This is about the numbers," he said flatly. That is what worries Steve Robinson, director of veterans affairs at Veterans for America, who has long been concerned that the military was pressing injured troops into Iraq. "Did they send anybody down range that cannot wear a helmet, that cannot wear body armor?" Robinson asked rhetorically. "Well that is wrong. It is a war zone." Robinson thinks that the possibility that physical profiles may have been altered improperly has the makings of a scandal. "My concerns are that this needs serious investigation. You cannot just look at somebody and tell that they were fit," he said. "It smacks of an overstretched military that is in crisis mode to get people onto the battlefield." Eight soldiers who were at the Feb. 15 meeting say they were summoned to the troop medical clinic at 6:30 in the morning and lined up to meet with division surgeon Lt. Col. George Appenzeller, who had arrived from Fort Stewart, Ga., and Capt. Aaron K. Starbuck, brigade surgeon at Fort Benning. The soldiers described having a cursory discussion of their profiles, with no physical exam or extensive review of medical files. They say Appenzeller and Starbuck seemed focused on downplaying their physical problems. "This guy was changing people's profiles left and right," said a captain who injured his back during his last tour in Iraq and was ordered to Iraq after the Feb. 15 review. Appenzeller said the review of 75 soldiers with profiles was an effort to make sure they were as accurate as possible prior to deployment. "As the division surgeon and the senior medical officer in the division, I wanted to ensure that all the patients with profiles were fully evaluated with clear limitations that commanders could use to make the decision whether they could deploy, and if they did deploy, what their limitations would be while there," he said in a telephone interview from Fort Stewart. He said he changed less than one-third of those profiles -- even making some more restrictive -- in order to "bring them into accordance with regulations." In direct contradiction to the account given by the soldiers, Appenzeller said physical examinations were conducted and that he had a robust medical team there working with him, which is how they managed to complete 75 reviews in one day. Appenzeller denied that the plan was to find more warm bodies for the surge into Baghdad, as did Col. Wayne W. Grigsby Jr., the brigade commander. Grigsby said he is under "no pressure" to find soldiers, regardless of health, to make his unit look fit. The health and welfare of his soldiers are a top priority, said Grigsby, because [the soldiers] are "our most important resource, perhaps the most important resource we have in this country." Grigsby said he does not know how many injured soldiers are in his ranks. But he insisted that it is not unusual to deploy troops with physical limitations so long as he can place them in safe jobs when they get there. "They can be productive and safe in Iraq," Grigsby said. The injured soldiers interviewed by Salon, however, expressed considerable worry about going to Iraq with physical deficits because it could endanger them or their fellow soldiers. Some were injured on previous combat tours. Some of their ills are painful conditions from training accidents or, among relatively older troops, degenerative problems like back injuries or blown-out knees. Some of the soldiers have been in the Army for decades. And while Grigsby, the brigade commander, says he is under no pressure to find troops, it is hard to imagine there is not some desperation behind the decision to deploy some of the sick soldiers. Master Sgt. Jenkins, 42, has a degenerative spine problem and a long scar down the back of his neck where three of his vertebrae were fused during surgery. He takes a cornucopia of potent pain pills. His medical records say he is "at significantly increased risk of re-injury during deployment where he will be wearing Kevlar, body armor and traveling through rough terrain." Late last year, those medical records show, a doctor recommended that Jenkins be referred to an Army board that handles retirements when injuries are permanent and severe. A copy of Jenkins' profile written after that Feb. 15 meeting and signed by Capt. Starbuck, the brigade surgeon, shows a healthier soldier than the profile of Jenkins written by another doctor just late last year, though Jenkins says his condition is unchanged. Other soldiers' documents show the same pattern. One female soldier with psychiatric issues and a spine problem has been in the Army for nearly 20 years. "My [health] is deteriorating," she said over dinner at a restaurant near Fort Benning. "My spine is separating. I can't carry gear." Her medical records include the note "unable to deploy overseas." Her status was also reviewed on Feb. 15. And she has been ordered to Iraq this week. The captain interviewed by Salon also requested anonymity because he fears retribution. He suffered a back injury during a previous deployment to Iraq as an infantry platoon leader. A Humvee accident "corkscrewed my spine," he explained. Like the female soldier, he is unable to wear his protective gear, and like her he too was ordered to Iraq after his meeting with the division surgeon and brigade surgeon on Feb. 15. He is still at Fort Benning and is fighting the decision to send him to Baghdad. "It is a numbers issue with this whole troop surge," he claimed. "They are just trying to get those numbers." Another soldier contacted Salon by telephone last week expressed considerable anxiety, in a frightened tone, about deploying to Iraq in her current condition. (She also wanted to remain anonymous, fearing retribution.) An incident during training several years ago injured her back, forcing doctors to remove part of her fractured coccyx. She suffers from degenerative disk disease and has two ruptured disks and a bulging disk in her back. While she said she loves the Army and would like to deploy after back surgery, her current injuries would limit her ability to wear her full protective gear. She deployed to Iraq last week, the day after calling Salon. Her husband, who has served three combat tours in the infantry in Afghanistan and Iraq, said he is worried sick because his wife's protective vest alone exceeds the maximum amount she is allowed to lift. "I have been over there three times. I know what it is like," he told me during lunch at a restaurant here. He predicted that by deploying people like his wife, the brigade leaders are "going to get somebody killed over there." He said there is "no way" Grigsby is going to keep all of the injured soldiers in safe jobs. "All of these people that deploy with these profiles, they are scared," he said. He railed at the command: "They are saying they don't care about your health. This is pathetic. It is bad." His wife's physical profile was among those reevaluated on Feb. 15. A copy of her profile from late last year showed her health problems were so severe they "prevent deployment" and recommended she be medically retired from the Army. Her profile at that time showed she was unable to wear a protective mask and chemical defense equipment, and had limitations on doing pushups, walking, biking and swimming. It said she can only carry 15 pounds. Though she says that her condition has not changed since then, almost all of those findings were reversed in a copy of her physical profile dated Feb. 15. The new profile says nothing about a medical retirement, but suggests that she limit wearing a helmet to "one hour at a time." Spc. Lincoln Smith, meanwhile, developed sleep apnea after he returned from his first deployment to Iraq. The condition is so severe that he now suffers from narcolepsy because of a lack of sleep. He almost nodded off mid-conversation while talking to Salon as he sat in a T-shirt on a sofa in his girlfriend's apartment near Fort Benning. Smith is trained by the Army to be a truck driver. But since he is in constant danger of falling asleep, military doctors have listed "No driving of military vehicles" on his physical profile. Smith was supposed to fly to Iraq March 9. But he told me on March 8 that he won't go. Nobody has retrained Smith to do anything else besides drive trucks. Plus, because of his condition he was unable to train properly with the unit when the brigade rehearsed for Iraq in January, so he does not feel ready. Smith needs to sleep with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine pumping air into his mouth and nose. "Otherwise," he says, "I could die." But based on his last tour, he is not convinced he will be able to be in places with constant electricity or will be able to fix or replace his CPAP machine should it fail. He told me last week he would refuse to deploy to Iraq, unsure of what he will be asked to do there and afraid that he will not be taken care of. Since he won't be a truck driver, "I would be going basically as a number," says Smith, who is 32. "They don't have enough people," he says. But he is not going to be one of those numbers until they train him to do something else. "I'm going to go to the airport, and I'm going to tell them I'm not going to go. They are going to give me a weapon. I am going to say, 'It is not a good idea for you to give me a weapon right now.'" The Pentagon was notified of the reclassification of the Fort Benning soldiers as soon as it happened, according to Master Sgt. Jenkins. He showed Salon an e-mail describing the situation that he says he sent to Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley. Jenkins agreed to speak to Salon because he hopes public attention will help other soldiers, particularly younger ones in a similar predicament. "I can't sit back and let this happen to me or other soldiers in my position." But he expects reprisals from the Army. Other soldiers slated to leave for Iraq with injuries said they wonder whether the same thing is happening in other units in the Army. "You have to ask where else this might be happening and who is dictating it," one female soldier told me. "How high does it go?"
via Democratic Underground.com http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/03/18/poll.wars Poll: Confidence in Iraq war down sharplyPOSTED: 2:12 p.m. EDT, March 18, 2007 Story Highlights• Percentage who say they're confident, proud of Iraq war drops by more than half• In 2003, 83 percent of Americans said they were confident, 65 percent proud• 61 percent of those polled now say it was not worth invading Iraq, poll says• Support for Afghanistan war drops from 88 percent in 2001 to 53 percent today WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Americans are starkly less confident and proud of their country's involvement in Iraq, according to poll results released Sunday.- snip -The CNN poll of 1,027 adults was conducted March 9-11 by Opinion Research Corp. The sampling error for the poll is plus or minus 3 percentage points. According to the results, 35 percent of Americans are confident about the war, the poll said. When the war began, 83 percent of Americans expressed confidence in the campaign. - snip -The poll also showed that 33 percent of Americans are afraid of the war and 55 percent are worried by it. Those percentages are roughly the same as they were four years ago.- snip -Also, according to the poll, about 55 percent of Americans feel the war in Afghanistan is "going badly," according to the poll.MORE
Detroit Free Press - www.freep.com - Granholm calls senate majority leader a no-show Granholm calls senate majority leader a no-show March 19, 2007 By CHRIS CHRISTOFF FREE PRESS LANSING BUREAU Gov. Jennifer Granholm called Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, a no-show for a meeting today to resolve the state’s budget crisis. She said Bishop agreed to a meeting Tuesday. But a peeved Granholm criticized Senate Republicans for dragging their feet and threatening the state with State Police layoffs and budget cuts to schools. Granholm has called for a budget agreement by April 1 in order to avoid state aid cuts to schools. Granholm has proposed a new, 2% tax on services as a key part of her budget-balancing plan, which Republicans have labeled a job-killing tax hike they’ll reject.Granholm said Bishop told her his schedule was too busy Monday to meet. In a letter to him Friday, she called for a meeting with legislative leaders for 10 a.m. today. Granholm was in her Capitol office, along with Senate Democratic leaders, Lt. Gov. John Cherry and state Budget Director Bob Emerson. Democratic House Speaker Andy Dillon was on his way to Lansing, Granholm said.But no Bishop.“We cleared our calendars because this is so important to the state of Michigan,” Granholm told reporters. “I told" Bishop "to clear his calendar after March 15. I thought I had a meeting with him. He said he has a full schedule today.”Granholm, who returned Thursday from a trade mission to Germany, said that if Bishop can’t meet with her, he should empower a representative to meet. “I am extremely frustrated,” Granholm said. “Not only do I not have anyone to negotiate with, but I have no plan to negotiated against.”Granholm said she did not have a firm commitment from Bishop on a Monday meeting, but added, “We expected there’s be someone from their side here.”Bishop’s spokesman had not returned phone calls during the hour after the proposed meeting time.The state faces a deficit of $900 million this fiscal year, and one of as much as $3 billion next year unless Granholm and lawmakers agree to steps to avert massive cuts. Last month, Senate Republicans rejected a budget-balancing order from Granholm. Granholm has complained that GOP lawmakers won’t publicly disclose their own plans for budget cuts.
The Iraq War in Polls Over 4 Years By Marjorie Connelly In the four years since the start of the war in Iraq, the American public has grown more and more critical, and now they describe the war as going badly and believe the United States should have stayed out of Iraq in the first place. In a nationwide New York Times/CBS News poll conducted about two months after the start of the war, 72 percent of those surveyed described the United States’ efforts to bring stability and order to Iraq as going well. At that time, only 24 percent said things were going badly. Since then, attitudes have become more negative, and are now almost reversed. In the latest Times/CBS News poll, taken earlier this month, 69 percent of the public said things were going badly for the United States in Iraq, and only 29 percent said things were going well. About nine months after the start of the war, 64 percent told The Times and CBS News that the United States did the right thing in taking military action against Iraq while 28 percent said the United States should have stayed out. In the latest poll, only 39 percent said it was the right thing and 56 percent said the United States should have stayed out. Twenty-eight percent would like to see the number of troops in Iraq decreased and another 28 percent would prefer the troops be withdrawn altogether. An increase in troop strength is favored by 22 percent, while 17 percent are inclined to keep the number of troops in Iraq the same. Fifty-two percent want the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal, while 43 percent said there should not be a timetable. In July 2005, more than two years after the start of the war, 62 percent said the United States was at least somewhat likely to succeed in Iraq, while 35 percent were less confident. That optimism for the outcome has deteriorated, and now 45 percent expect the war to end in success and 53 percent consider that unlikely. The latest Times/CBS News poll was conducted March 7 to 11 by telephone with 1,362 adults nationwide and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Complete results are available at www.nytimes.com/polls.
Monday, March 12, 2007
A Wrangle After Democrats Shun Fox as Debate Platform - New York Times A Wrangle After Democrats Shun Fox as Debate Platform By NOAM COHEN A full year and a half ahead of the presidential election, the Fox News Channel has suddenly become an issue in the campaign, even as the network tries to cover that campaign. A Democratic candidates’ debate sponsored by Fox News set for August from Reno, Nev., was abruptly canceled Friday night with a statement from the Nevada Democratic Party and Harry Reid, the majority leader in the Senate. But the reasons given for the cancellation — anger over comments about Barack Obama made the night before by Fox News chairman Roger Ailes — give short shrift to an ongoing online campaign by activists at MoveOn.org and by influential blogs like the Daily Kos to have candidates shun the Fox News Channel, which they accuse of being too conservative and too closely allied to the Republican Party. Fox News, which vehemently denies the charges of bias made by its critics, sees itself as the wounded bystander in a Democrat-versus-Democrat battle. The idea of a candidate, party or even party wing running against a news outlet is hardly novel in the United States, which began its history with party-controlled newspapers, said Mark Feldstein, who left CNN to become an associate professor at George Washington University. In fact, the notion of a news media outlet being open to candidates from across the spectrum is the relative rarity in America. With the action by the Nevada Democrats, however, the public may be witnessing the most direct sparring between a political party and a news outlet in recent years. One of the liberal antagonists to Fox, Matt Stoller, of the blog MyDD, said on Saturday, “The goal is not to get Democrats not to appear on Fox News.” Rather, he said, “the problem comes in validating Fox News as a legitimate news source.” In a statement, the Fox News Channel vice president, David Rhodes, said the Nevada Democrats appeared “to be controlled by radical fringe out-of-state interest groups.” A spokeswoman for the channel declined to add to those public comments. During a speech on Thursday night, Mr. Ailes made a joke conflating Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden. While many liberal bloggers seized on the comments as a slur, many in the audience, on the contrary, said they saw Mr. Ailes’s comments as mocking President Bush’s inability to capture Mr. bin Laden. Before the cancellation, two candidates, former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina and Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico had already dropped out of the debate, though Mr. Richardson announced his decision hours before the Nevada Democrats acted. Only two weeks ago, Tom Collins, the head of the state party, appeared on the Daily Kos to try to assuage the anger there over Fox News, saying: “Believe me, I am all too aware of the challenges associated with Fox. And this is not an endorsement of Fox.” He added, though: “Howard Dean has taught us through his 50-state strategy that it’s best to stand up and fight everywhere, even in places and among audiences whose opinions may differ from our own.” According to analysts of the cable news world, accusations of bias cut two ways for Fox. On the one hand it feeds the image of Fox News as besieged by mainstream media outlets and political enemies, which plays well to its loyal audience. Yet, these analysts said, being shut out of a debate denies the channel the ability to be above the fray and be perceived as a mainstream journalistic outlet. William G. Mayer, a professor of political science at Northeastern University who studies presidential elections and the media, said that many conservatives consider the major broadcast networks biased in a liberal direction. But it was less of a problem for those outlets, he suggested: a “news organization that has a right-wing slant sticks out more because most other organizations lean the other way.” Professor Feldstein, who is writing a book about Nixon’s relationship with the press, said that a party-wide decision to shun Fox, is “difficult to sustain — there is a cost when you sustain a boycott, you lose the audience, and it can escalate to antagonize the entire press.” Of course, the campaign season is still early, and there are reports of discussions between Fox News and other organizations to sponsor Democratic debates. And also, conservatives can play the same game. At the blog the corner, which is sponsored by The National Review, Kathryn Jean Lopez, the site’s editor, posted this comment: “If this becomes a tool of the blogosphere — calling for boycotts — the right will be making noise about an MSNBC/CNN debate any day now.” Bring it on Kathryn, I would like to know who she consider too liberal over at MSNBC/CNN do Kathryn means Joe Scarborough and Tucker Carlson on MSNBC or does she means Glenn Beck over on Headline News a sister station of CNN?