Tuesday, July 31, 2007
US Set to Offer Huge Arms Deal to Saudi Arabia By David S. Cloud The New York Times Saturday 28 July 2007 Washington - The Bush administration is preparing to ask Congress to approve an arms sale package for Saudi Arabia and its neighbors that is expected to eventually total $20 billion at a time when some United States officials contend that the Saudis are playing a counterproductive role in Iraq. The proposed package of advanced weaponry for Saudi Arabia, which includes advanced satellite-guided bombs, upgrades to its fighters and new naval vessels, has made Israel and some of its supporters in Congress nervous. Senior officials who described the package on Friday said they believed that the administration had resolved those concerns, in part by promising Israel $30.4 billion in military aid over the next decade, a significant increase over what Israel has received in the past 10 years. But administration officials remained concerned that the size of the package and the advanced weaponry it contains, as well as broader concerns about Saudi Arabia's role in Iraq, could prompt Saudi critics in Congress to oppose the package when Congress is formally notified about the deal this fall. In talks about the package, the administration has not sought specific assurances from Saudi Arabia that it would be more supportive of the American effort in Iraq as a condition of receiving the arms package, the officials said. The officials said the plan to bolster the militaries of Persian Gulf countries is part of an American strategy to contain the growing power of Iran in the region and to demonstrate that, no matter what happens in Iraq, Washington remains committed to its longtime Arab allies. Officials from the State Department and the Pentagon agreed to outline the terms of the deal after some details emerged from closed briefings this week on Capitol Hill. The officials said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who are to make a joint visit to Saudi Arabia next week, still intended to use the trip to press the Saudis to do more to help Iraq's Shiite-dominated government. "The role of the Sunni Arab neighbors is to send a positive, affirmative message to moderates in Iraq in government that the neighbors are with you," a senior State Department official told reporters in a conference call on Friday. More specifically, the official said, the United States wants the gulf states to make clear to Sunnis engaged in violence in Iraq that such actions are "killing your future." In addition to promising an increase in American military aid to Israel, the Pentagon is seeking to ease Israel's concerns over the proposed weapons sales to Saudi Arabia by asking the Saudis to accept restrictions on the range, size and location of the satellite-guided bombs, including a commitment not to store the weapons at air bases close to Israeli territory, the officials said. The package and the possible steps to allay Israel's concerns were described to Congress this week, in an effort by the administration to test the reaction on Capitol Hill before entering into final negotiations on the package with Saudi officials. The Saudis had requested that Congress be told about the planned sale, the officials said, in an effort to avoid the kind of bruising fight on Capitol Hill that occurred in the 1980s over proposed arms sales to the kingdom. In his visit with King Abdullah and other Saudi officials next week, Mr. Gates plans to describe "what the administration is willing to go forward with" in the arms package and "what we would recommend to the Hill and others," according to a senior Pentagon official, who conducted a background briefing on the upcoming trip with reporters on Friday. The official added that Mr. Gates would also reassure the Saudis that "regardless of what happens in the near term in Iraq that our commitment in the region remains firm, remains steadfast and that, in fact, we are looking to enhance and develop it." The $20 billion price tag on the package is more than double what officials originally estimated when details became public this spring. Even the higher figure is a rough estimate that could fluctuate depending on the final package, which would be carried out over a number of years, officials said. Worried about the impression that the United States was starting an arms race in the region, State and Defense Department officials stressed that the arms deal was being proposed largely in response to improvements in Iran's military capabilities and to counter the threat posed by its nuclear program, which the Bush administration contends is aimed at building nuclear weapons. Along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are likely to receive equipment and weaponry from the arms sales under consideration, officials said. In general, the United States is interested in upgrading the countries' air and missile defense systems, improving their navies and making modest improvements in their air forces, administration officials said, though not all the packages would be the same. Ms. Rice is expected to announce Monday that the administration will open formal discussions with each country about the proposed packages, in hopes of reaching agreements by the fall. Along with the announcement of formal talks with Persian Gulf allies on the arms package, Ms. Rice is planning to outline the new agreement to provide military aid to Israel, as well as a similar accord with Egypt. The $30.4 billion being promised to Israel is $9.1 billion more than Israel has received over the past decade, an increase of nearly 43 percent. A senior administration official said the sizable increase was a result of Israel's need to replace equipment expended in its war against Hezbollah in Lebanon last summer, as well as to maintain its advantage in advanced weaponry as other countries in the region modernize their forces. In defending the proposed sale to Saudi Arabia and other gulf states, the officials noted that the Saudis and several of the other countries were in talks with suppliers other than the United States. If the packages offered to them by the United States are blocked or come with too many conditions, the officials said, the Persian Gulf countries could turn elsewhere for similar equipment, reducing American influence in the region. The United States has made few, if any, sales of satellite-guided munitions to Arab countries in the past, though Israel has received them since the mid-1990s as part of a United States policy of ensuring that Israel has a military edge over its regional rivals. Israeli officials have made specific requests aimed at eliminating concerns that satellite-guided bombs sold to the Saudis could be used against its territory, administration officials said. Their major concern is not a full-scale Saudi attack, but the possibility that a rogue pilot armed with one of the bombs could attack on his own or that the Saudi government could one day be overthrown and the weapons could fall into the hands of a more radical regime, officials said. Side item take: Didn't the smirking chimp said if any country that harbors terrorist would be view as terrorist nation? Let's do the terrorist count check 15 of the 19 attackers on 9.11 came from Saudi Arabia and the majority of fighters flooding into Iraq are Saudi because the Saudi government don't want them to cause trouble for them so they leave the borders open for these people to go into Iraq but then I guess oil partners don't count as rouge terrorist nation.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Michael Moore says he's been served BURBANK, Calif., July 26 (UPI) -- Michael Thursday said the Bush administration has served him with a subpoena regarding his trip to Cuba during the making of his new film, "Sicko." The Oscar-winning filmmaker, who appeared Thursday on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," said he was notified about the subpoena at the network's studios in Burbank, Calif. "I haven't even told my own family yet," Moore said. "I was just informed when I was back there with Jay that the Bush administration has now issued a subpoena for me." Moore filmed the trip as part of his film comparing the U.S. healthcare system with government healthcare systems in other countries. He took three Sept. 11, 2001, emergency rescue workers to Guantanamo Bay "because I heard the al-Qaida terrorists we have in the camps there, detained, are receiving free dental, medical, eye care, the whole deal, and our own (Sept. 11) rescue workers can't get that in New York City." Moore said the film's distributor, the Weinstein Co., will donate 11 percent of "Sicko's" box-office receipts Aug. 11 to "help these workers and the other workers who need
Friday, July 27, 2007
O'Reilly continued to attack Daily Kos while ignoring objectionable comments on his own site Summary: During the July 25 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, discussing the Democratic presidential candidates' decision to attend the YearlyKos convention, host Bill O'Reilly again railed against the purportedly "objectionable" material on the Daily Kos blog, and former comedian now GOP shrill Dennis Miller agreed, saying: "There's some mean stuff on that site. ... [T]hat's a pretty fetid little orchard over there." But neither O'Reilly nor Miller discussed the content of comments on O'Reilly's own site, including one from July 13 that was flagged in a July 26 Americablog post, in which a user mused: "Maybe it's time to burn down the capitol building like Hitler did with the Reichstag building? Anyone comparing Bush to Hitler has no idea of what the real Nazis were like in the '30s. Ellison is an idiot." The poster was apparently commenting on a remark by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) comparing the Bush administration's response to the September 11 attacks with the fire at the Reichstag building orchestrated by the Nazi party. On the July 24 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, in response to the suggestion that his website also contained offensive comments, O'Reilly accused Daily Kos of having "planted someone" on his website. However, according to screenshots of the comments in question (posted by Americablog here and here), this purported "plant" would have to have posted thousands of comments to O'Reilly's website, under different aliases. The commenter posting under the name Jack Kincade, who suggested following Hitler's example and burning down the U.S. Capitol, has more than 4,100 posts on BillOReilly.com. On the July 24 edition of the program, O'Reilly also offered examples of "what Daily Kos posts about Hillary Clinton," calling them "brutal personal attacks." In response, Americablog highlighted several violent statements about Clinton posted in the comments section of BillOReilly.com (here, here, and here). One such comment on O'Reilly's website -- in which a user wrote with regard to Clinton, "If you could read my thoughts, I would be on the SS [Secret Service] watch list" -- caused Huffington Post blogger Lane Hudson to notify the Secret Service, calling the comment "a threat to her life." On the July 25 edition of the program, O'Reilly noted that someone had notified the Secret Service about content on his website, saying to Miller: "I mean, they lie all the time. They -- I don't know whether you know this or not, but they contacted the Secret Service saying that there was somebody on BillOReilly.com threatening Senator Clinton. I mean, this is how insane these people are." He did not acknowledge that the post reportedly prompting the call to the Secret Service was real. Additionally, O'Reilly again compared the Daily Kos to white supremacist David Duke, stating: "Is [former New York City Mayor Rudy] Giuliani [R] going down to the David Duke convention? I don't think so!" As Media Matters for America has documented (here, here and here), O'Reilly has repeatedly compared the Daily Kos to the Nazi party, the Ku Klux Klan and David Duke. From the July 25 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor: O'REILLY: All right. Last night you saw Howard Wolfson, Hillary Clinton's main man, adviser, come on The Factor, and I had to read him some pretty nasty stuff that was posted on the Daily Kos about Senator Clinton. Yet they're still going to the convention to hoo-hoo with them. What do you think? MILLER: Well, I think if it's possible for a shark to jump the shark, Hillary might be doing it by lemming after these people. There's some mean stuff on that site. They accuse you of cherry-picking, but that's a pretty fetid little orchard over there. And you know something? At some point when they're slagging you -- like the stuff you read to Wolfson was beautiful. Because Wolfson is -- to me I don't quite get Wolfson. He's the same guy who flinched in the [Sen.] Barack Obama [D-IL] thing and said that Barack was guilty of carpet bombing. Come on, Howard, the Clintons invented carpet bombing. They have napalm-scented AirWicks in their apartment, for God sakes. These are the people who invented it. But the thing that I love is that you jump into the fray, and strife is your metier. You love -- you're like the little kid in the swimming pool who everybody is running with the current, and you're the one to take it on the chest. But give the kid who runs the Daily Kos a little credit. That little guy who looks like Sal Mineo before he had water. He did come out and say that he thought some of the diarists were getting a little too profane. O'REILLY: Well, OK, but before you -- before you're too kind to the guy who runs it, I want to put a picture up that we took off there today. All right. Put that picture up. And the picture is of the president of the United States with a cow doing an illegal act. All right. Now this is on the website today. All right. Is that a cow or a sheep? It's some kind of barnyard animal. So they can say whatever they want to say on this website. And they do. I mean, they lie all the time. They -- I don't know whether you know this or not, but they contacted the Secret Service saying that there was somebody on BillOReilly.com threatening Senator Clinton. MILLER: This is - O'REILLY: I mean, this is how insane these people are. But if -- the picture that we show, as objectionable as it is, is on there today. And I'm saying to myself, how can anybody who wants to be president of the United States, you know, go to a convention sponsored by these people? How? MILLER: Well, all I can assume is Bush is going full bore for the bovine vote there. So -- O'REILLY: Do you get my point, Miller, or not? MILLER: I get your point, probably not as much as the cow, but I do get the point. O'REILLY: Oh, man. You know, all I'm saying is we'd like a little decorum here in the presidential election. Maybe some judgment calls. Is that too much to ask, Miller? Is it too much to ask? MILLER: Mooooo! O'REILLY: Is Giuliani going down to the David Duke convention? I don't think so! Sidebar commentary: I might be in the minority about feeling sorry for Bill-O he start this war against the Daily Kos out of fake outrage and once again he gets tripped up by his own hypocrisy. And the part I love about this story is that Bill is claiming someone from the Kos is some how masking as a crazy conservative poster making these wild comments to make his site look bad. Ok I play along on this one maybe two or four post but not 4,100 comments.. To this "fight" Daily Kos 3 and no one from the secret service investigation the content of the site to Bill O'Reilly 0 and secret service investigating someone on his site for threatening the life of Hillary Clinton and burning down the Capitol Building.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Anxious Republicans fear another beating By Jim Snyder July 27, 2007 Nine months after Republicans were routed in the midterm elections, campaign observers, K Street lobbyists and political experts say there is little evidence the party can rebound in 2008. The same bad news — the president’s low approval ratings, opposition to the war in Iraq, and the lingering taint of congressional scandal, from the Jack Abramoff investigation to Sen. David Vitter’s (La.) involvement with the alleged “D.C. Madam” — leave observers skeptical that the GOP can dent Democratic majorities, let alone reclaim power in the next election. “The only thing that has changed is that everything that was bad got worse,” said Bernadette Budde, political director of the Business Industry Political Action Committee. BIPAC supports business-friendly candidates of both parties, though most of the group’s donations go to Republicans.If the election were held today, “We’d be lucky to hold our own,” one House Republican said.Skepticism isn’t universal. Some see hope in Congress’s own low approval ratings. Voters, they argue, are frustrated at the Democrats’ inability to deliver on campaign promises.“I know what happened to our majority when our poll numbers were that low,” said Mike Pence (R-Ind.), a conservative who believes the road to political salvation lies in standing firm against spending and tax increases.But others say leading indicators suggest Democrats will win the White House and both the House and Senate for the first time since 1994. Most sources doubt a repeat of 2006, when Republicans dropped 30 seats in the House. But a Democratic pick-up of a few seats in the Senate, for example, when coupled with taking the White House, would have serious implications for major issues like global warming, stem cell research and judicial appointments.Polls this week are bleak for the GOP. In a Washington Post-ABC News poll, 65 percent disapproved of Bush, close to Harry Truman’s record disapproval rating in 1948.The poll found that 68 percent disapproved of the situation in Iraq. While 60 percent said they didn’t think Congress was doing its job, Republicans rated worse than Democrats. Iraq seems to be the biggest threat to the GOP, and several K Street lobbyists with ties to the party hierarchy believe members will distance themselves from the war in September. “The environment is still not good because you have this 900-pound gorilla in the room,” said Dick Armey, the former Republican House Majority Leader from Texas who runs FreedomWorks, a grassroots conservative group.Grover Norquist, director of Americans for Tax Reform, believes the conservative coalition of anti-tax, pro-gun and anti-abortion advocates can still deliver elections, but only if Iraq does not remain the central issue in voters’ minds. In the 2006 election, the administration pushed staying the course in Iraq. All Democrats had to argue was that the current course was failing, Norquist said.“Leaving beats surrendering,” Norquist said. “But changing nothing loses to, ‘I think this isn’t working.’”Can the GOP’s position be fixed in 18 months? Voters may continue to identify the party with a war that the majority thinks was a mistake.Ross Baker, a Rutgers University political science professor, said the 2008 election is likely to be a “no confidence” vote. That happened in 1952, Baker said, when voters vocalized their unhappiness with President Truman, who wasn’t running, by voting out congressional Democrats and handing the White House to Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican.“Rep. Cole has a big job on his hands,” Baker said, referring to Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who heads the National Republican Congressional Committee. “Fate has dealt him a cruel blow.”The challenge may be even steeper for Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), who took the job nobody else wanted: Chairman of the Senate GOP campaign committee. Ensign has to defend 22 Senate seats. Only 12 Democrats are up for reelection. Already, Sen. John Sununu (N.H.) is well behind his likely Democratic challenger. Republican incumbents from Minnesota, Oregon and Maine also face tough races.Money is another leading indicator, and Democratic campaign committees are beginning to distance themselves from their Republican counterparts. GOP lobbyists say it has been harder to raise money for the party without control of the congressional purse strings.The National Republican Campaign Committee reported $2 million in cash and $4.4 million in debts this month. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported $19.5 million in cash, and just over $4 million in debts.The Republican Senate campaign committee had just under $5.8 million versus the nearly $20 million that the Senate Democratic committee reported.The Republican National Committee, however, raised more cash than the Democratic National Committee.“If members aren’t taking care of themselves, they’ll find it to be a difficult election next time,” said Rep. Tom Reynolds, a New York Republican who ran the congressional GOP campaign committee in 2006 and survived his own close race.Privately, Republican leaders say it will take six to eight years to win back the majority, one top GOP lobbyist said, adding, “It’s a tough environment for Republicans.”Party optimists note that there are 60 districts that Bush won in 2004 but that Democrats now represent in Congress. Only eight Republicans represent districts won by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the Democratic nominee.Of the 60, Bush won 34 with 55 percent of the vote. Cole briefed a small group of lobbyists two weeks ago on his strategy. One source who attended said the party is concentrating on 40 members. Given money shortfalls, though, only around 15 candidates in tough races could expect any significant financial help from the committee, the source said. Democrats perceived to be the most vulnerable include Reps. Nancy Boyda (Kansas), Nick Lampson (Texas), Steve Kagen (Wis.), Jerry McNerney (Calif.), Tim Mahoney (Fla.), Jason Altmire (Pa.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.). Republicans have reason to believe that as the Democratic wave of 2006 recedes, it will carry a few weak incumbents with it. After their own devastating losses in 1994, Democrats in the next election cut into the gains Republicans had made. There were 74 new members elected in 1996. Twenty of those defeated incumbents, 18 of whom were Republicans, according to the House Historian’s office.But Republicans also have seats to defend. Democrats will again target Reps. Christopher Shays (Conn.), Heather Wilson (N.M.), who is linked with the firing of U.S. attorneys, and members in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois. “They have a lot of people who just staggered over the finish line,” BIPAC’s Budde noted.An influx of younger workers in hospitality fields is turning states like Florida and Nevada bluer. Robert Spitzer, a political science professor at State University of New York, said the environment is still challenging for Republicans in the Empire State.“The winds are blowing Democrats’ way given issues like Iraq and the environment … New York is a state where George Bush is extremely unpopular,” Spitzer said.In New York and Ohio, Democrats running for Congress will also be aided by the fact that members of their party sit in the governors’ mansions.“Having a well-known, Democratic face is certainly a plus,” said Spitzer, who is not related to New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.Some Republicans say 2006 was the nadir in the party’s popularity, and believe they survived the worst environment in a generation.“We survived in probably a tougher environment than at any time since Watergate,” said Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), who faced a strong challenge and may again in 2008. Lobbyists said party leaders seem optimistic about candidate recruitments. Leaders are also concentrating on keeping morale high to head off retirements of members unused to being in the minority. Defending incumbents takes fewer resources than defending an open seat. Illinois’s 18th congressional district hasn’t sent a Democrat to Congress in nearly 70 years. But Republican Party leaders scrambled to convince Rep. Ray LaHood to run again when word spread that the popular congressman was considering retirement. “If I run for reelection, I win,” LaHood said. LaHood said House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio), Minority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) and campaign chief Cole (Okla.) all urged him to stay. LaHood said he noted the district’s voting history to leaders, who urged him to come back anyway. He agreed.Several Republicans said Democrats are in danger of overplaying their hand. Armey believes Republicans can argue that global warming bills backed by “California liberals” would weaken the economy.A Democratic nomination of Hillary Rodham Clinton for president might activate a conservative base demoralized in 2006 and recoup independents, who voted for Democratic candidates by a 2-to-1 margin in the midterm.Not having to manage legislation, Republicans can offer a more focused message about spending and tax issues.“It’s easier to throw grenades than to catch them,” said Jade West, senior vice president for the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, a group that often supports GOP candidates.West said the business community is already planning to attack moderate Democrats who voted for the card check bill, which would make it easier to form unions.“My crystal ball says odds are not weighted heavily for Republicans to win back the majority, but not heavily against it either,” she said.Republicans are charting a strategy used by Democrats of frustrating the new majority with the filibuster in the Senate and parliamentary tactics in the House to force difficult votes for vulnerable members in hopes that a “do nothing” tag resonates. “There is a need for candidates of both parties to look over both shoulders,” Budde said. But Rutgers professor Baker said low congressional approval ratings, which he called a “constant rather than a variable,” aren’t as significant as Bush’s own dismal number. He added, “There is a lot of frustration that is focused on the president. That cuts deeply into the Republican support.”
By LAURIE KELLMAN and LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writers The head of the FBI contradicted Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' sworn testimony and Senate Democrats requested a perjury investigation Thursday in a fresh barrage against President Bush's embattled longtime friend and aide. In a third blow to the Bush administration, the Senate Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas to compel the testimony of Karl Rove, Bush's chief political adviser, in connection with its investigation of the firings of federal prosecutors. "It has become apparent that the attorney general has provided at a minimum half-truths and misleading statements," four Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote in a letter to Solicitor General Paul Clement calling for a special counsel to investigate. "I'm convinced that he's not telling the truth," added Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. The developments marked a troubling turn for Gonzales as well as the administration, which has been on the political defensive since congressional Democrats opened an investigation seven months ago into the firings of U.S. attorneys. That probe revealed information that Democrats have sought to weave into a pattern of improper political influence over prosecutions, of stonewalling and of deceit in sworn testimony before Congress. The White House defiantly stuck by Gonzales on the perjury matter and flatly denied that FBI Director Robert S. Mueller on Thursday contradicted the attorney general's sworn testimony on internal Bush administration dissent over the president's secretive wiretapping program. Gonzales repeatedly and emphatically told the Senate Judiciary Committee this week that the program was not at issue during his dramatic hospital bedside visit with ailing Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2004. Mueller, before the House Judiciary Committee Thursday, said it was. Presidential spokesman Tony Snow said Gonzales and Mueller can make only limited comments in public about the classified program. "The FBI director didn't contradict the testimony," Snow said. "It is inappropriate and unfair to ask people to testify in public settings about highly classified programs." "The president, meanwhile, maintains full confidence in the attorney general," he added. Democrats also insisted that the White House had encouraged top aides to flout congressional subpoenas in the prosecutor firings inquiry. But Gonzales took the toughest hits Thursday, when four Senate Democrats issued a list of examples of what they said was the attorney general lying to Congress under oath — the basis for their request to Clement to appoint a special counsel to investigate. Among examples of what Democrats called Gonzales' untruthfulness was his insistence in his statement to the Judiciary Committee Tuesday that his hospital visit with Ashcroft was not related to an internal administration dispute about the president's secret warrantless eavesdropping program. Last year, Gonzales told the panel that there had been no internal administration dispute about the program, but former Deputy Attorney General James Comey told the panel that he, Ashcroft and Mueller were among the top Justice Department officials who believed the program was illegal and were prepared to resign over it. In his own sworn testimony Thursday, Mueller contradicted Gonzales, saying under questioning that the terrorist surveillance program, or TSP, was the topic of the hospital room dispute between top Bush administration officials. Mueller was not in the hospital room at the time of the March 10, 2004, confrontation between Ashcroft and presidential advisers Andy Card and Gonzales, who was then serving as White House counsel. Mueller told the House Judiciary Committee he arrived shortly after they left, and then spoke with the ailing Ashcroft. "Did you have an understanding that the discussion was on TSP?" asked Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, in a round of questioning that may have sounded to listeners like bureaucratic alphabet soup. "I had an understanding the discussion was on a NSA program, yes," Mueller answered. Jackson Lee sought to clarify: "We use 'TSP,' we use 'warrantless wiretapping,' so would I be comfortable in saying that those were the items that were part of the discussion?" "The discussion was on a national NSA program that has been much discussed, yes," Mueller responded. The NSA, or National Security Agency, runs the program that eavesdropped on terror suspects in the United States, without court approval, until last January, when the program was put under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. In a statement late Thursday, Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse maintained Gonzales was referring during his testimony to a separate intelligence operation that has not yet been revealed. "The disagreement that occurred in March 2004 concerned the legal basis for intelligence activities that have not been publicly disclosed and that remain highly classified," Roehrkasse said. Roehrkasse also suggested the newly revealed intelligence operation was discussed with lawmakers at a March 10, 2004, briefing in the White House Situation Room, along with a discussion of the terrorist surveillance program. Democrats said there were other examples of Gonzales "lying" that merited a probe by a special prosecutor. They included the attorney general's sworn testimony that he had not spoken about the firings with other witnesses because the matter was under investigation. His former White House liaison, Monica Goodling, testified under a grant of immunity that Gonzales had privately recounted his recollections of the firings and asked for her opinion on his version. "There's no wiggle room," Schumer said. "Those are not misleading. Those are deceiving. Those are lying." Not signing the letter to Clement was Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who instead sent a letter to Gonzales Thursday giving him a week to resolve any inconsistencies in his testimony. "The burden is on him to clear up the contradictions," Leahy said. Ranking Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania agreed, calling the call for a special counsel premature, and he took particular aim at Schumer, who has led the probe into the firing. "Senator Schumer's not interested in looking at the record, he's interested in throwing down the gauntlet and making a story in tomorrow's newspapers," Specter said. Meanwhile, Leahy subpoenaed Rove, the architect of Bush's rise to the White House and his top political adviser, to provide testimony and documents related to the firings by Aug. 2. Also subpoenaed is a White House political aide, J. Scott Jennings. The Justice Department included both men on e-mails about the firings and the administration's response to the congressional investigation. White House Counsel Fred Fielding has consistently said that top presidential aides — present and past — are immune from subpoenas and has declared the documents sought off-limits under executive privilege. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee approved a contempt citation against two other Bush confidants, Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers. The full House is expected to vote on the citation in the fall, but the Justice Department has said it won't prosecute the two.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
The Conyers Legacy By David SwansonAbout 47 of us spent 8 or 9 hours yesterday in jail for protesting a man who, at least when he woke up yesterday morning, only thought of himself as on the side of those who protest power. While hundreds of us lined the hallways outside Chairman John Conyers' office, one of his staffers approached the door to his office but was unable to enter. The place was wall-to-wall media inside, with Cindy Sheehan, Ray McGovern, and Rev. Lennox Yearwood giving a press conference in Conyers' office in his absence. They'd gone in to speak with Conyers, but it would take him quite a while to show up. The staffer was annoyed and complained to his colleague "It's bad enough they shut the office down with phone calls." Another staffer, this one rather pleased about it (the police, too, were on our side and three of them quietly accepted Impeach Bush and Cheney shirts), told me they were getting a pro-impeachment phone call every 30 seconds. They were also flooded with Emails and with thousands of faxes yesterday. But the message was not getting through to the Congressman.He and several staffers met with Sheehan, McGovern, and Yearwood. It was a heated discussion. Conyers began by proposing to discuss impeachment sometime in August at a town hall meeting. We've been doing those for years. We held a huge one in Detroit in May that Conyers agreed to speak at. He showed up and left before it started. Yearwood, Sheehan, and McGovern told Conyers his time was up.What was Conyers' objection to moving forward on impeachment now? Well, he said, if he were to do that Fox News would go after him and accuse him of being partisan. I kid you not. The Democratic Chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee is basing his decisions on whether a Republican cable TV station would approve. As Cindy Sheehan told me outside the jail last night: "If I based my decisions on Fox, I would never do anything." As long as Conyers is working for Fox, maybe our next sit-in needs to be in their studios.But Conyers expressed another concern as well. He's concerned about his legacy. I wish there were a kind way to tell him that he is about to flush it down the toilet. Conyers' judiciary committee staffers, who were in the meeting yesterday, including Ted Kalo, Perry Appelbaum, and Jonathan Godfrey, produced a year and a half ago one of the best reports summarizing and documenting the crimes of Bush and Cheney. Conyers is aware that Bush and Cheney are killing people every day that he refrains from fulfilling his oath of office. He knows that nearly a million Iraqis and 4,000 U.S. troops lie dead already. He knows that this president and vice president kidnap, torture, and murder human beings. But when pressed to act with the urgency appropriate to saving lives, Conyers replied that our nation has always killed people and that he wasn't "going to play politics."At other times, Conyers told our delegation that they needed to wise up and move from working on justice to doing politics. But politics has become a bad word because of the way Conyers uses it. He places elections highest in the order of priorities and refuses to do his job in between elections because that would be "politics." We elected Democrats in 2006 so that Conyers would have the committee chairmanship and move on impeachment. If he fails to act, he will quickly discover that yesterday was just a warm-up. This Thursday and Friday, members of ImpeachForPeace.org, World Can't Wait, and After Downing Street will meet to discuss impeachment with Congress Members Maxine Waters and Keith Ellison, and with the offices of Jerrold Nadler, Adam Schiff, Robert Wexler, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz. We'll be delivering petitions for impeachment from all over the country. Now is the moment for every member of Congress to take a stand for justice. Which side are you on, John?Your legacy, Chairman Conyers, is about to be remade by the American people, and all the good and noble things you have done will be overshadowed by your grand finale: the enabling of fascism in our country. Sidebar comment: Normally I don't go after people on my side of the political fence but attacking John Conyers have pushed me into this, one John Conyers have been a champion of the average American for 30 years... I held my tongue regarding the few things but screw it John Conyers done more for civil rights and for the American people in one life time than you Mr.Swason or Cindy Sheehan would do in five lifetimes combine and still wouldn't accomplished half the things Conyers have done. Because he doesn't do one of your demands you people are trying to tell us in Detroit who to vote for? Because he didn't do one of your demands the hell you people. And I challenge any of you douche bags hiding out on Democratic underground to a debate.
U.S. Attorney Touted Work For Bush Campaign To Get Nominated Greg White is currently serving as the U.S. attorney in Cleveland. New documents reveal that in 2002, White campaigned heavily for the position, touting his loyalty to the Bush campaign in 2000. From an 8/21/02 e-mail White wrote to Brian K. Hicks, chief of staff to then-Gov. Bob Taft (R-OH): Brian, I talked to the governor at the Lorain County Fair today. I am concerned that we have not heard anything regarding the U.S. attorney position. … This is very frustrating for me. I believe that my record speaks for itself and I doubt there too many county chairs for the Bush campaign that worked harder. Do you think that the governor would be willing to call the president on this issue? I doubt that anyone has the broad-based support that I do. White acknowledged that the U.S. attorney selection process is “a little like making sausage” — you don’t want to see the dirty work get done. Joseph DiGenova, a former U.S. attorney in Washington, DC, said that the White-Hicks e-mails “are relatively mild compared to conversations I have been privy to.” White is not the only U.S. attorney who touted his right-wing credentials to become a U.S. attorney. Tim Griffin, the former U.S. attorney in Arkansas who recently resigned, was a former protege of Karl Rove and research director at the Republican National Committee. Not surprisingly, his appointment was “important to Harriet [Miers], Karl [Rove], etc.” Additionally, Rachel Paulose, the U.S. attorney in Minnesota, was handpicked by the Justice Department because of her personal connections, rather than her professional qualifications. She “was a special assistant to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, worked as a senior counsel for deputy attorney general Paul McNulty and is best buds with Monica Goodling.”
S.C. treasurer resigns from office following drug indictment By SEANNA ADCOX Associated Press Writer COLUMBIA, S.C. --South Carolina Treasurer Thomas Ravenel resigned from office Tuesday, more than a month after he was indicted on a federal cocaine charge. "I'm deeply disappointed in myself for the circumstances surrounding my presence here today due to the personal mistakes I've made in my life," Ravenel, 44, said outside a courthouse where he appeared for the first time to face a charge of possession with intent to distribute less than 500 grams of cocaine. His voice shaking, Ravenel apologized to South Carolinians. "To the people of South Carolina and to my family, I am deeply sorry," he said. "Now in the best interest of our state, I believe I must resign." He did not answer questions from reporters and left with his sisters supporting him on each arm. His attorneys entered a not guilty plea on his behalf earlier this month. Prosecutors have said Ravenel shared the cocaine with his friends and did not sell the drug. He spent 30 days in a rehabilitation program in Arizona before returning to South Carolina on Sunday. The millionaire developer's resignation was effective Tuesday. Ravenel, a Republican, had been considered a rising political star before his indictment was announced June 19. Ravenel was suspended by Gov. Mark Sanford immediately after his indictment was announced. Three days later, he entered the Sierra Tucson Center, a psychiatric hospital in Catalina, Ariz., that specializes in addiction and behavioral disorder treatment. Before walking into the courtroom, Ravenel chatted with family members and his attorney, smiling and laughing. He answered routine questions from U.S. Magistrate Joseph McCrorey and the judge said he can attend another treatment program in Sante Fe, N.M. McCrorey ordered Ravenel to meet with federal probation officers Wednesday. He will leave the next day for more treatment at the Life Treatment Center, said his attorney Gedney Howe. He declined to specify what kind of treatment Ravenel is to receive. Ravenel's next court appearance was scheduled for Aug. 21. Jury selection is set for Sept. 5. If convicted, Ravenel would face up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. He remains free on a $100,000 unsecured bond. Prosecutor William Witherspoon said it's not unheard of for defendants to be allowed to leave the state for treatment programs. He said he was preparing for trial. Ravenel also has stepped down as state campaign chairman for Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. The son of Arthur Ravenel, a former congressman and longtime state senator, the younger Ravenel started his political career in 2004 by funding his own campaign for U.S. Senate. He lost in the Republican primary. Ravenel won the treasurer's office in November, easily beating a longtime Democrat incumbent. The General Assembly must elect a permanent replacement for Ravenel. The House and Senate, which adjourned for the year in June, adopted a resolution a day after the indictment that allows lawmakers to come back to Columbia to elect a replacement if Ravenel resigned or was convicted. Columbia attorney Ken Wingate was been appointed interim state treasurer by Sanford.
Swift Boat 2004 vs. 'Swift Boat' 2008 Summary: When a prominent group of New York City firefighters attacked Rudy Giuliani's handling of the September 11 terrorist attacks, and when they posted a video online puncturing what they called the "urban legend of America's Mayor," the political press knew what to do -- it anointed the first responders as this election cycle's Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Newsweek, Time, MSNBC, the New York Daily News, and scores more all agreed that the firefighters were just like the Vietnam veterans who targeted the military service of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) during the 2004 presidential run. But that's the king of phony comparisons. And by making it, the press, once again, is letting the lying Swift Boat Vets off easy. The media coverage is important because journalists will play a key role in establishing the legacy of the Swift Boat Vets. On the extreme, hyper-partisans such as Rush Limbaugh, along with factually challenged bloggers like Power Line's John Hinderaker, loudly claim the Swift Boat vets were vindicated, that "What the swift boat guys were saying was true!" (Limbaugh) and that, "Most of what the Vets said in their ads has never been disputed, let alone discredited" (Hinderaker). That spin is pure fantasy, which is why it was so easy for me to demolish it here and here. There's little danger the mainstream press would adopt that kind of Swift-Boat-Vets-were-vindicated narrative. But the press does seem to be meeting conservatives halfway by now drastically watering down the implications of the Swift Boat attackers and using the Swift Boat phrase in a loose, lazy, and imprecise manner. For the Beltway press, Swift Boat has simply become a catch-all phrase to describe coordinated, negative campaign attacks that try to take a candidate's perceived strength and turn it into a weakness. News consumers are told that's what the Swift Boat Vets did to Kerry's Vietnam record, and that's what the International Association of Fire Fighters is trying to do with Giuliani's much-touted 9-11 resumé. The problem with that analogy is that it completely ignores what set the Swift Boat Vets apart: They manufactured nearly every claim they made about Kerry. They lied about documents; they lied about eyewitnesses. And they lied about their partisan leanings and connections. And they also played the press for fools. At every turn in 2004, military records proved the Swift Boat veterans to be fakes. At every turn, each new inconsistency proved the Swift Boat veterans to be charlatans. But Beltway reporters and pundits for the most part remained hesitant, too timid to speak up, as they propped up the veterans as serious men. Now the press is airbrushing the episode again by suggesting Giuliani's substantive critics are just like the Swift Boat vets. In truth, as The Carpetbagger Report noted, "The comparison is ridiculous. The Swiftboat attackers were lying; the International Association of Fire Fighters aren't. It's really that simple." Giuliani aides claim the first-responders are partisan and cannot be trusted to speak for their rank-and-file members. But as far as most of the specific allegations, the Giuliani camp is mostly arguing around the margins. For instance, firefighters claimed that eight years after FDNY radios failed during the response to the World Trade Center terrorist attack of 1993, the same ineffective radios failed again on the morning of September 11 and that the mayor, despite years of FDNY requests, did not do enough to fix the radio problem. Giuliani supporters concede there was a communication breakdown on September 11, but that a high-rise signal transmission system failure was to blame, not the radios. Either way, lots of firefighters inside the Twin Towers were not able to properly communicate with their commanders on the morning of September 11. In other words the two sides are battling over spin and interpretation. There's just no way to liken that with the Swift Boat Vets and their wholesale manufacturing of dates, quotes, events, and documentation. Yet here's how an MSNBC.com report from July 11, under the headline "Giuliani's 'swift boaters,' " tied the firefighters and the Swift Boat Vets together: In the summer of 2004, John Kerry let a slowly-building media campaign against his Vietnam War experience explode into a debacle. From that campaign a new phrase entered the political lexicon -- "swift boating." Now it appears Republican presidential candidate, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, may have his own "swift boaters." Set aside the erroneous conventional wisdom that Kerry's campaign did nothing to combat the Swift Boat allegations (it's simply not true), and note that MSNBC failed to point out the most glaring and obvious Swift Boat trait; that the Vets peddled lies. This has become something of a cardinal rule for journalists when referencing the group today: Do not spell out the fact that the Swift Boat Vets were lying. (Time magazine recently, and oh so gently, described the Swift Boat attacks of 2004 by suggesting Kerry's Vietnam record had simply been "turned against him.") Instead, it's preferable to paint the group more generically, as aggressive, partisan, but above all, successful. The casual, inaccurate Swift Boat references were pervasive throughout the firefighter coverage. The New York Post reported that "some of Rudy Giuliani's fiercest city critics are set to launch "swift boat"-type strikes to inform voters around the nation about the former mayor's behavior before 9/11." Note that "swift boat" appeared in quotes despite the fact nobody in the article was quoted as mentioning the phrase. The same was true with a report from the Beltway trade magazine The Hill. Here's the lede: "Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign moved quickly yesterday to blunt what it sees as a sensationalist Swift Boat-style attack by a firefighters' union." Again, nowhere in the article did anybody ever mention the Swift Boat veterans or compare the firefighters' video with the Swift Boat's 2004 attack ads. And nobody called the firefighter's video "sensationalist." All that commentary all came courtesy of The Hill. Meanwhile, a Josh Greenman column in the New York Daily News announced, "The 'swift boating' begins, as the firefighters union releases a video claiming Rudy botched emergency radios and Ground Zero cleanup." Referencing the disgruntled firefighters, a Newsweek headline asked, "Rudy: 'Swift Boat-able' on 9/11?" Yet in making the comparison between the partisan Vietnam vets and the firefighters, Newsweek never acknowledged that the vets fabricated most of their allegations. The lazy, inaccurate use of the Swift Boat tag actually predated the firefighters' video. In April, New York magazine insulted VoteVets.org, which includes a PAC and advocacy organization devoted to advancing the interests of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. An article labeled the organization "a left-leaning version of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth." A June 22 MSNBC report compared Vote Hope, a newly launched 527 organization formed to promote the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), with the Swift Boat Vets. That, despite the fact Vote Hope had made no campaign advertisements at the time, nor had it lobbed any hardball allegations against any candidate. Or go back and read this Slate article, from 2005, headlined, "Kerry Swift Boats Bush," and try not to laugh out loud at the premise behind the "Swift Boat" headline. Spoiler alert: It's because Kerry claimed President George Bush was in denial about Iraq. That was Kerry's alleged smear campaign. The press says Swift Boat Vets = MoveOn.org Even at the height of the Swift Boat attacks, media outlets seemed to go out of their way, via false comparisons, to gloss over the radical nature of the smear campaign. On August 19, 2004, The New York Times published an unsigned editorial critical of the Swift Boat attackers. But it was also quick to spread the blame to 527 independent groups that aired attacks ads. "One of the more prominent of these groups," the Times wrote, "the leftist Moveon.org, is running ads attacking President Bush's Air National Guard service." Yep, the mighty, "liberal" New York Times editorial page compared the libelous, phony, and multi-million-dollar Swift Boat smear campaign with a single MoveOn.org ad that raised factually accurate questions about Bush's dubious National Guard service. The editorial brought this sharp-edged response from a Times reader: To the Editor: It's both sad and infuriating that you equate the group MoveOn with the disreputable smear tactics of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. It's time that we stop pretending that both sides are ''equally responsible'' for the degraded state of our politics. The Republicans have been engaging in personal destruction for years, which included an attempted coup of Bill Clinton's presidency. The reason groups like MoveOn exist at all is for defense against such tactics. Rick ReilNew York, Aug. 19, 2004 Precisely. There is absolutely no way that a factual comparison can be made between the Swift Boat Vets and MoveOn.org, yet the press loves to do that with its patented, a-pox-on-both-your-houses cop-out. ("Politics As Usual," read the Times' editorial headline.) For instance, following the 2006 midterm elections, Andrew Sullivan, writing for Time, bemoaned the polarized state of today's political discourse, which he claimed, was abetted by the likes of Michael Moore, MoveOn.org, and the Swift Boat Vets -- i.e., an Academy Award-winning director, one of the largest progressive grassroots organization in America, and an ad hoc group of liars. More recently, on April 12, 2007, the Associated Press, addressing campaign finance laws, reported that "[t]wo of the more prominent 527s that have tried to sway recent elections are the liberal group Moveon.org Voter Fund, which targets Republicans, and the conservative Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which bought ads against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004." According to the AP, the Swift Boat Vets merely "bought ads against" a Democratic candidate. The fact that the ads were filled with lies was of no interest. The New York Times adjusts its coverage But back to the firefighters and how the press has dealt with them and the Swift Boat Vets. By way of comparison, let's examine how The New York Times first reported on the firefighters' attack video in July and how the Times first reported on the Swift Boat Vets' first attack ad in 2004. The differences are subtle, but telling. In terms of placement and size, the articles were quite similar: "Video by Firefighters' Union Urges Opposition to Giuliani," July 12, 2007. The article appeared on Page 18 and was 778 words long. "Vietnam Veterans Buy Ads to Attack Kerry," August 5, 2004. The article appeared on Page 16 and was 864 words long. The differences were found inside the articles. For instance, the firefighter piece, in the very first sentence, stressed that the anti-Giuliani video might not be accurate: In a video that is by turns emotional, scathing and at times factually questionable, the nation's largest union of firefighters is appealing to its members across the country not to support the Republican presidential candidacy of former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. [Emphasis added.] Two things. First, did you notice how it was the Times itself that made the assertion that the firefighter video might not be true, rather than the Times quoting a Giuliani aide making that claim? To me that's very unusual because the 2004 article about the first Swift Boat ad detailed what the allegations being made against the candidate were, and then quoted representatives from the candidate's camp who explained why they thought the allegations were false. But with its firefighter coverage, the Times stepped in and immediately informed readers that the attack video was "factually questionable." Second, and worse, the Times' firefighter article could not back up its own claim that the firefighter video was "factually questionable." The Times simply reported "some of the conclusions in the 13-minute video can be debated" and that "some of the video's assertions are at the very least subject to debate." But c'mon, isn't that true of every political attack video or ad? And if that's the best the Times could do, why did the article's lede stress that the video was "factually questionable." Plus, nowhere in the article did the Giuliani camp claim the video was factually inaccurate. The Times came to that conclusion on its own. The other telltale difference between how the newspaper handled the unveiling of the Swift Boat ad, as compared to the firefighter video, was that in 2004 the Times included eight direct, and damning, quotes from the Kerry accuser ad, three of which appear in the first three paragraphs (i.e. "'When the chips were down, you could not count on John Kerry''). In its firefighter report though, the Times included one lonely accuser quote and it did not appear until the seventh paragraph. The take-away from the two articles was quite clear: The Swift Boat veterans were making serious, damning allegations against Kerry, while the NYC firefighters' allegations against Giuliani might not be legit. When it came to covering two sets the campaign accusers, the Times, like most of the press, got both stories exactly wrong. — Eric Boehlert
Monday, July 23, 2007
Cindy Sheehan announces she'll run against Nancy Pelosi Nick Juliano and Michael RostonPublished: Monday July 23, 2007 Anti-Iraq War activist Cindy Sheehan announced in Washington on Monday afternoon that she would challenge Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the 2008 Congressional election. "The Democrats will not hold this administration accountable so we have to hold them accountable, and I for one will step up to the plate and run against Nancy Pelosi," Sheehan told a cheering crowd outside Rep. John Conyers' office on Capitol Hill. Sheehan brought a petition calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Pro-impeachment organizers gathered more than 1 million signatures for the petition, Sheehan said. Sheehan and other activists meet with Conyers in his office for nearly two hours. Conyers told them there were not enough votes to impeach the President or Vice President, and so he did not intend to hold hearings on the impeachment resolution introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, Sheehan said, eliciting loud boos from the hundreds of people gathered outside. Kucinich's Articles target the Vice President. "We expressed what we feel is the urgency of removing George Bush and Dick Cheney from office," Sheehan told the crowd. She said their impeachment was "the only thing that can save our country and our soldiers" by brining the war in Iraq to an end. A spokesperson for the Congressman would not confirm the details of the meeting with RAW STORY, but agreed that Rep. Conyers said the resolution would not advance. The anti-war activist, who became prominent after initiating peace vigils near President Bush's Crawford, Texas ranch, then conducted a sit-in at Conyers' congressional office, where she was later arrested by Capitol police. Between 20 and 30 people were carted off by Capitol police after they refused to clear Conyers' office and the hallway outside. "Everybody, this is a police action now," a Capitol police officer told the protesters. The officer told RAW STORY that the protesters would be charged with unlawful assembly or similar charges. Sheehan and a group of 300 or so supporters marched to Capitol Hill from the Arlington National Cemetery. Sheehan is the mother of Casey Sheehan, an Army Specialist who was killed in the Iraq War. The activists came to Washington from across the country to make their voices heard in favor of impeachment. Even if the protest doesn't change many minds, it is important to speak up for one's beliefs, some of the activists told RAW STORY. "I felt strongly about what Vietnam was doing to this country, and this time around, I want to be a little more involved than last time," Ken Jones, a 58-year-old protester, told RAW STORY. Jones traveled to Washington from Pennsylvania to participate in what was his first pro-impeachment demonstration. Daily Kos diarist Bob Fertik offered further details of the Conyers-Sheehan. While Sheehan has considerably greater national prominence, she would not be the first progressive candidate to challenge Pelosi. In the 2006 Congressional election, Pelosi faced Green Party candidate Krissy Keefer, who received 8% of the vote in Pelosi's San Francisco district. The Speaker received 80% of the vote. Sheehan and her supporters hope her decision to challenge Pelosi inspires other progressive citizens to challenge their elected representatives in the 2008 elections. "We need citizens that aren't beholden to corporations," Tina Richards, CEO of Grassroots America and a Sheehan supporter, told RAW STORY, "people that won't allow their government to have preemptive wars." sidebar: I've been screaming for impeachment since 2001 but when will people understand thanks to the 2002 mid term(which many progressive sat out of) election Bush still has enough allies in congress that rather see the US go into world war three than impeach him. If the Republicans can slow down the senate regarding minimum wage you're telling me the Republicans will allow a impeachment trail to happen without interference from them? As for Cindy Sheehan running against Pelosi what's does Cindy Sheehan has to gain? Because as I see it she wouldn't get farther than Pelosi if she had kept impeachment on the table because the Repulicans rather let the country sink into the sixth level of hell before they hold Bush accountable. Can Mrs. Sheehan or her supporters name me at least three Republicans that would go along with Bush impeachement?
By JOHN PORRETTO, AP Business Writer Monday, July 23, 2007 Halliburton Co. said Monday second-quarter net income more than doubled to $1.5 billion, lifted largely by a $933 million gain from the separation of its former subsidiary, KBR Inc. The result for the April-June period, which amounted to $1.62 per share, compared with income of $591 million, or 55 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Revenue in the quarter rose 20 percent to $3.7 billion from $3.1 billion a year ago. The oilfield services conglomerate said sales rose worldwide, particularly in the Eastern Hemisphere. Excluding the gain from the KBR split, Halliburton said income from continuing operations in the quarter was $595 million, or 63 cents a share, up from $498 million, or 47 cents a share, in the second quarter of 2006. Wall Street analysts polled by Thomson Financial had forecast earnings of 56 cents a share on revenue of $3.5 billion. The Thomson forecast typically excludes one-time items. Shares jumped $1.34, or 3.66 percent, to $37.91 at the open of trading Monday. Last week, Halliburton's larger competitor, Schlumberger Ltd., said its second-quarter profit jumped 47 percent because of an active world market for oil and gas, despite weakness in Canada. Halliburton, once led by Vice President Dick Cheney, split from KBR, the military contractor and engineering company, in April. Halliburton has said the separation allows it to focus solely on providing expertise, services and equipment to companies working in the global oilfield. Halliburton chairman and chief executive Dave Lesar said revenue rose 14 percent in the Eastern Hemisphere in the quarter, and income margins rose to nearly 22 percent. The company announced in March it would split its corporate headquarters between Houston and Dubai, where Lesar will work, placing him nearer to important markets in the Middle East and Asia. "Our commitment to invest in high-growth Eastern Hemisphere markets is evident in our results," Lesar said in a statement. Halliburton continues to grow its portfolio of work in that part of the world. Last week the company said it's been awarded a five-year, $200 million contract to provide completion products and services to a group of energy companies operating in Malaysia. Like Schlumberger, Halliburton said its second-quarter results were hurt by a significant decline in Canadian business. The company said operating income for its drilling and formation evaluation division was $235 million in the quarter, up 21 percent from a year ago. For the first six months of the year, Halliburton said its net income amounted to $2.1 billion, or $2.12 a share, up from $1.1 billion, or $1.01 a share. Revenue rose to $7.2 billion from $6 billion.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Bush Is al-Qaeda's Strategic Ally By Robert Parry July 19, 2007 U.S. officials have finally admitted what has long been obvious: that George W. Bush’s “global war on terror” has been an expensive failure, costing hundreds of billions of dollars and claiming possibly hundreds of thousands of lives, but making the world no safer and quite likely more dangerous. Bush’s top counterterrorism advisers acknowledged as much on July 17 in releasing a summary of a National Intelligence Estimate that represented the consensus view of the U.S. intelligence community. The report, entitled “The Terrorist Threat to the U.S. Homeland,” described a resurgent al-Qaeda that has regrouped in remote sections of Pakistan while exploiting Muslim anger over the war in Iraq to increase its operational strength internationally and to take aim at American targets, again. “We assess that al-Qaeda will continue to enhance its capabilities to attack the [U.S.] homeland through greater cooperation with regional terrorist groups,” the NIE said. “Of note, we assess that al-Qaeda will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qaeda in Iraq [AQI], its most visible and capable affiliate and only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the [U.S.] homeland. “In addition, we assess that its association with AQI helps al-Qaeda to energize the broader Sunni extremist community, raise resources, and to recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for [U.S.] homeland attacks.” In other words, Bush’s repeated warnings that the United States must fight Islamic extremists in Iraq so “we don’t have to fight them here” or so "they won't follow us home" turn out to be the opposite of the truth: because U.S. forces are occupying Iraq, al-Qaeda has more resources and more recruits determined to bring the war to the United States. The underlying reality is that Bush remains the perfect foil for al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremists. The surging anti-Americanism, which derives from a widespread hatred of Bush, represents a recruitment boon for al-Qaeda, so much so that Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders understand that Bush and his stubbornness are indispensable assets to their cause. Almost six years into the “war on terror,” Bush has overseen a strategy that has simultaneously alienated world public opinion – with torture scandals over Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and secret CIA prisons – while fueling Islamic extremism and giving new life to the 9/11 masterminds. Unilateralist Arrogance Much of the current dilemma can be traced to Bush’s special mix of arrogance and rashness. In 2001, even before the 9/11 attacks, Bush adopted a “unilateralist” approach to the world, asserting U.S. global hegemony under a strategy laid out by the neoconservative Project for the New American Century. At the center of this grandiose scheme was the belief that the oil-rich Middle East could be remade through violent “regime change” in hostile Arab countries like Iraq. Bush later broadened his target list to the “axis of evil,” tossing in Iran and North Korea and making clear that other lesser enemies included the likes of Syria, Cuba and Venezuela. While this neoconservative plan wrapped itself in the noble language of “democracy,” the concept was always less about respecting the will of indigenous populations than in restructuring their economies along “free market” lines and ensuring compliant leaders. Bush also grew enamored with his “gut” instincts about war, especially after U.S.-backed forces ousted Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders more quickly than many expected. Even though he let top al-Qaeda leaders slip away from Tora Bora in late 2001, Bush ignored warnings that he needed to finish the job there before turning America’s attention elsewhere. Bush redirected the U.S. military toward Iraq, a country that wasn’t involved in 9/11 and actually had served as a bulwark against Islamic fundamentalism, both the strains from Shiite-ruled Iran and Sunni-dominated al-Qaeda. But Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was something of a Bush family obsession since he angered President George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91. In March 2003, Bush launched an invasion of Iraq and toppled Hussein’s government in three weeks. After basking again in public adulation as the victorious “war president,” Bush stubbornly refused to acknowledge the growing seriousness of an Iraqi insurgency that rose up to challenge U.S. forces. The U.S. occupation of Iraq – combined with the abuse scandals at U.S.-run prisons – fed popular anger across the Middle East. Thousands of young jihadists rallied to the cause of ousting the Americans from Muslim lands. As the body count in Iraq grew, Bush dug in his heels even deeper. When Iraq slid into chaos and then civil war, Bush again refused to acknowledge the facts in a timely fashion. Meanwhile, over the past six years, the wily and ruthless leaders of al-Qaeda came to understand that Bush was an invaluable poster boy. The more he was viewed as the “big crusader,” the more they could present themselves as the “defenders of Islam.” The al-Qaeda murderers moved from the fringes of Muslim society closer to the mainstream. So, in fall 2004, with Bush fighting for his political life against Democrat John Kerry, bin Laden took the risk of breaking nearly a year of silence to release a videotape denouncing Bush on the Friday before the U.S. election. Bush’s supporters immediately spun bin Laden’s tirade as an “endorsement” of Kerry and pollsters recorded a jump of several percentage points for Bush, from nearly a dead heat to a five- or six-point lead. Four days later, Bush hung on to win a second term by an official margin of less than three percentage points. [For details, see our new book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush.] Boomerang Effect The last-minute intervention by bin Laden – essentially urging Americans to reject Bush – had the predictable effect of driving voters to the President. After the videotape appeared, senior CIA analysts concluded that ensuring a second term for Bush was precisely what bin Laden intended. “Bin Laden certainly did a nice favor today for the President,” said deputy CIA director John McLaughlin in opening a meeting to review secret “strategic analysis” after the videotape had dominated the day’s news, according to Ron Suskind’s The One Percent Doctrine, which draws heavily from CIA insiders. Suskind wrote that CIA analysts had spent years “parsing each expressed word of the al-Qaeda leader and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri. What they’d learned over nearly a decade is that bin Laden speaks only for strategic reasons. … Today’s conclusion: bin Laden’s message was clearly designed to assist the President’s reelection.” Jami Miscik, CIA deputy associate director for intelligence, expressed the consensus view that bin Laden recognized how Bush’s heavy-handed policies were serving al-Qaeda’s strategic goals for recruiting a new generation of jihadists. “Certainly,” Miscik said, “he would want Bush to keep doing what he’s doing for a few more years.” As their internal assessment sank in, the CIA analysts were troubled by the implications of their own conclusions. “An ocean of hard truths before them – such as what did it say about U.S. policies that bin Laden would want Bush reelected – remained untouched,” Suskind wrote. Even Bush recognized that his struggling campaign had been helped by bin Laden. “I thought it was going to help,” Bush said in a post-election interview about the videotape. “I thought it would help remind people that if bin Laden doesn’t want Bush to be the President, something must be right with Bush.” Bin Laden, a well-educated Saudi and a keen observer of U.S. politics, appears to have recognized the same point in cleverly tipping the election to Bush. Prolonging the War Al-Qaeda’s leaders understood that a U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq might mean a renewed assault on them as well as the loss of their cause celebre for recruiting new jihadists. With Bush ensconced for a second term, that concern lessened but didn’t entirely go away. According to a captured July 9, 2005, letter, attributed to al-Qaeda’s second-in-command Zawahiri, al-Qaeda leaders still fretted over the possibility that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq could touch off the disintegration of their operations, as jihadists who had flocked to Iraq to battle the Americans might simply give up the fight and go home. “The mujahedeen must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq, and then lay down their weapons, and silence the fighting zeal,” said the “Zawahiri letter,” according to a text released by the office of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence. In another captured letter, dated Dec. 11, 2005, a senior al-Qaeda operative known as “Atiyah” wrote that “prolonging the war [in Iraq] is in our interest.” [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Al-Qaeda’s Fragile Foothold.”] Now, as the new NIE makes clear, al-Qaeda’s “Bush-second-term” strategy continues to pay big dividends. As U.S. forces remain bogged down in Iraq and Bush rebuffs urgent appeals from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress for a reversal of course, al-Qaeda expands its base and takes aim again at the American homeland. In that sense, Bush remains al-Qaeda’s most important strategic ally. Arguably, too, al-Qaeda serves a symbiotic role for Bush, helping to keep the American public forever afraid and thus unwilling to challenge the president's leadership.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
AP Poll: GOP pick is 'none of the above' By LIZ SIDOTI - Associated Press WriterPublished 4:54 pm PDT Tuesday, July 17, 2007 And the leading Republican presidential candidate is ... none of the above. The latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that nearly a quarter of Republicans are unwilling to back top-tier hopefuls Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, John McCain or Mitt Romney, and no one candidate has emerged as the clear front-runner among Christian evangelicals. Such dissatisfaction underscores the volatility of the 2008 GOP nomination fight. In sharp contrast, the Democratic race remains static, with Hillary Rodham Clinton holding a sizable lead over Barack Obama. The New York senator, who is white, also outpaces her Illinois counterpart, who is black, among black and Hispanic Democrats, according to a combined sample of two months of polls. A half year before voting begins, the survey shows the White House race is far more wide open on the Republican side than on the Democratic. The uneven enthusiasm about the fields also is reflected in fundraising in which Democrats outraised Republicans $80 million to $50 million from April through June, continuing a trend from the year's first three months. "Democrats are reasonably comfortable with the range of choices. The Democratic attitude is that three or four of these guys would be fine," said David Redlawsk, a University of Iowa political scientist. "The Republicans don't have that; particularly among the conservatives there's a real split. They just don't see candidates who reflect their interests and who they also view as viable." More Republicans have become apathetic about their top options over the past month. A hefty 23 percent can't or won't say which candidate they would back, a jump from the 14 percent who took a pass in June. Giuliani's popularity continued to decline steadily as he faced a spate of headline headaches, came under increased scrutiny and saw the potential entry of Thompson in the mix; his support is at 21 percent compared with 27 percent in June and 35 percent in March. The former New York mayor is running virtually even with Thompson, who has become a threat without even officially entering the race. The actor and former Tennessee senator has essentially stayed steady at 19 percent. McCain, the Arizona senator who is revamping his nearly broke campaign, clocked in a bit lower at 15 percent, while Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, remained at 11 percent. None of the top candidates has a clear lead among Christian evangelicals, a critical part of the GOP base that has had considerable sway in past Republican primaries. Giuliani, a thrice-married backer of abortion rights and gay rights, had 20 percent support - roughly even with Thompson and McCain who have one divorce each in their pasts. Romney, a Mormon who has been married for three decades, was in the single digits. Nine Republicans and one all-but-declared hopeful, Thompson, make up the crowded GOP field. It shrunk in recent days when former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, an underfunded long shot, dropped out. Such discontent with the top-tier could lead Republicans to reconsider lesser-knowns such as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee or Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback. Among the legions of undecided Republicans is Barbara Skogman, 72, a retired legal assistant from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She isn't at all excited about any of the prospects. At one point, she favored McCain. At another, she was open to Giuliani. Now, she's leaning slightly toward Romney but says she's far from sold on him. "I'm looking for a strong, honest person. Do you know of any?" she joked. She had an easy time detailing why she was queasy about each of the most serious contenders. "Isn't that sad?" Then she reached a conclusion: "I just don't know." Andrew E. Smith, a polling expert at the University of New Hampshire, said the number of voters in flux is no surprise, given that the primaries aren't for another six months. "People really don't decide who to vote for until the last couple months or days," he said. On the Democratic side, 13 percent declined to back a candidate, and of those who picked a candidate, some may be willing to change their minds. Barbara Hicks, 29, an English tutor in Arlington, Va., said her friends got her to lean toward former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards but she said, "It's not set in stone. ... I don't favor him very, very strongly." The only other sign that Democrats are at all agitated about their choices is the continued support for Al Gore, the former vice president and 2000 Democratic presidential nominee who says he's not running. His popularity has slid some to 15 percent. Otherwise, Clinton kept her strong advantage over Obama; her backers accounted for 36 percent of Democrats to his 20 percent, while support for Edwards remained essentially unchanged at 11 percent. While neither Obama nor Edwards has threatened Clinton in national polls, both are giving her a chase in other areas. Obama leads her in fundraising for the primary and Edwards is running stronger in Iowa. Nationally, the combined sample found Clinton has the edge among black Democrats, with 46 percent of their support to Obama's 33 percent. Her advantage is even wider among Hispanics; she has the support of 45 percent to Obama's 17 percent. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, whose mother was Mexican, had the backing of just 5 percent of Hispanics and virtually no support among blacks. The AP-Ipsos poll was conducted by telephone July 9-11 with 1,004 adults, including 346 Republicans and 477 Democrats. The margin of sampling error for the full sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points, plus or minus 5.5 percentage points for Republicans and 4.5 percentage points for Democrats. For the combined June and July samples, the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for Republicans and plus or minus 3 percentage points for Democrats. About the writer: Associated Press Manager of News Surveys Trevor Tompson, AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius, and AP Writer Natasha Metzler contributed to this report.
Top 'Attorneygate' investigator: No 'blind faith' for the White House 07/19/2007 @ 1:07 pmFiled by Michael Roston On a 7-3 ruling, House Democrats moved rapidly Thursday afternoon to rule that the White House had asserted executive privilege in a manner that was 'not legally valid.' During the proceedings, a top House Democratic investigator of the firing of nine US Attorneys said that the White House's latest moves were not consistent with the current system of government in the United States. Another top Democrat accused the White House of turning over 'inaccurate' information about Karl Rove's role in the attorney firings. The chair of the subcommittee that has authorized subpoenas in the investigation said that the White House was not deserving of 'blind faith.' "The White House is asking Congress and the American people to simply trust on blind faith that the documents are appropriately being kept secret," said Rep. Linda Sбnchez, Chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, during an approximately 20 minute hearing. She added, "Our system of government does not allow the White House to demand this kind of blind faith and secrecy." Rep. Sбnchez then issued a ruling declaring that the White House's assertion of executive privilege over documents sought in subpoenas issued to former White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and the Republican National Committee was not legally valid. The grounds for the ruling largely echoed a similar ruling delivered last week after former White House Counsel Harriet Miers refused to appear before the committee. Judiciary Committee John Conyers (D-MI), in a prepared opening statement, outlined some of the wrongdoing he saw that required House investigators to continue to pursue subpoenas and other steps. "We have learned, for example, that the White House was involved in the politicization of the Justice Department," Conyers stated. "New Mexico Republican officials complained repeatedly to Karl Rove and his aides about a voter fraud case that they wanted former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias to pursue. Mr. Iglesias was fired soon after some of these complaints, and one of the complaining Republican officials was suggested as his replacement." He went on to warn that "the White House participated in false statements to Congress." "Chris Oprison in the Counsel's office signed off on an inaccurate letter that the Justice Department sent to Congress claiming that Karl Rove did not play a role in the appointment of Tim Griffin to replace Bud Cummins," he explained. The committee's chairman also implied an effort was being taken to obstruct the investigation of the Attorneys' firings. "We also have evidence of a concerted effort both by the Justice Department and the White House to hide or downplay the role of White House personnel in this process," he argued. In a Tuesday letter sent to Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan, Conyers warned that the party organization may face contempt proceedings if it fails to abide by Rep. Sбnchez's ruling today. "If the RNC...engages in 'unilateral action' by simply refusing to comply with a House subpoena absent a court order, the refusal to produce the documents called for could subject Mr. Duncan to contempt proceedings," Rep. Conyers wrote. A similar warning was issued regarding Bolten. The subcommittee's Democrats did not raise the specter of contempt in Thursday's hearing, but that didn't stop committee Republicans from speaking out against taking such a step in the future. "These games may be strangely entertaining to lawyers, press hounds, and academics, but they are not parlor games, and they promise no productive ends," said Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT), the ranking Republican on the subcommittee. "On the contrary, they pointlessly threaten to land in jail people who are asserting understandable claims to executive privilege." However, Cannon also suggested that any contempt threat would have no power because it would not be upheld by the courts, and would in fact damage Congress's ability to conduct future investigations. "We anticipate a court battle which I very much fear we will lose," he said. "By we, I mean Congress...we will perpetually undermine Congress's prerogatives in overseeing future administrations." Harriet Miers also suggested in a Tuesday letter to Rep. Conyers via her attorney that she had little to fear from the threat of being held in contempt of Congress. Her attorney argued that the contempt of Congress statute would not apply to her.
Court OKs photo ID for voting In 5-2 vote, justices rule Mich. law doesn't violate rights; NAACP vows to appeal. Charlie Cain / Detroit News Lansing Bureau LANSING -- Michigan voters will be asked to present photo identification at the polling place, after a divided Michigan Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that such a requirement is constitutional. At issue was a decade-old state law requiring voters to show photo identification before voting. The 1996 law never went into effect because then-Attorney General Frank Kelley, a Democrat, ruled it violated the 14th Amendment, which guarantees the right to vote. The Legislature renewed the law in 2005, subject to an advisory court opinion. Calling Michigan "the Mississippi of the north," the Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit branch of the NAACP, said Wednesday evening that his organization plans to appeal the state decision to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. "There is no demonstrable evidence nor any documentation of voter fraud that dictates today's ruling," Anthony said. "They have indicated a flimsy rationale for this law. This ruling does not address the real effects of voting integrity. The Voting Rights Act is still the law of the land." The debate over photo ID has been highly partisan: Democrats say it will suppress the vote of the poor, elderly and minorities who may not already have driver's licenses or other identification with photos. Republicans say it will discourage election fraud. "This ensures the integrity of the election process by making sure that each registered voter is given one vote," said state GOP chairman Saul Anuzis. "Michigan residents can now cast their ballot knowing that it will not be canceled out by a fraudulent vote. "Photo IDs are required to cash a check, board an airplane, and rent videos; it only makes sense that our most valued civil right be protected in the same manner." Ruling along party lines The ruling came on a 5-2 vote with Republican justices in favor and Democrats opposed. Writing for the majority, Justice Robert Young, a Republican, said the photo identification requirement is "a reasonable, nondiscriminatory restriction designed to preserve the purity of elections and to prevent abuses of the electoral franchise ..." In a strongly worded dissent, Democratic Justice Michael Cavanagh said: "Today's decision ... endorses misguided legislation that significantly impairs the fundamental right of thousands of our citizens to vote. The (requirement) will have a disparate impact on racial and ethnic populations, as well as poor voters, elderly voters and disabled voters." The Secretary of State estimates that 370,000 of Michigan's 7.2 million registered voters do not have photo IDs. Citizens who don't have driver's licenses can get state-issued identification cards, with photos, for $10 -- free to those 65 or older, the blind and those who have lost their licenses or been denied because of physical or mental disability. Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer called the ruling "simply wrong." "These photo identification laws are nothing more than a poll tax and are part of an ongoing strategy by Michigan Republicans to disenfranchise minority and older voters," Brewer said in a written statement. "There is no problem with voter fraud or voter misrepresentation in Michigan which could justify this disenfranchisement of voters. We will be reviewing the decision and consulting with our allies to determine how to best protect the rights of these voters." Questions raised A Detroit News investigation in 2005 raised serious questions about the integrity of Detroit voting: ballots cast by people registered to vote at abandoned and long-demolished buildings, a master voter list with 380,000 incorrect names, and people who were dead or no longer living in the city. Many of those problems have been resolved since Janice Winfrey was elected city clerk in late 2005. State Rep. Craig DeRoche, R-Novi, who requested the opinion from the court, applauded its decision. "If grocery stores can require a photo ID when accepting a check, and sandwich shops can require a photo ID when a customer uses a debit card to buy their lunch. Our state elections officials must be able to ask for a photo ID when protecting the integrity of Michigan elections," DeRoche said. Ken Silfven, a spokesman for Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, said it's unclear whether the photo ID provision will take effect for this year's elections. And he said his office will have to determine which photo IDs will be acceptable. "But it's important to note that you can still vote without a photo ID if you fill out an affidavit swearing to your identity," he said. "The sacred right to vote won't be hampered in the least." The Associated Press reports that several states have faced legal battles over laws requiring voters to show photo IDs. Judges have upheld voter ID laws in Arizona and Indiana but struck down Missouri's. Last month, the Georgia Supreme Court threw out a challenge to that state's voter ID law but sidestepped a decision on whether the requirement was constitutional. Sidebar comment: I can see it now bus loads of punk ass college Republicans and Republican lawyers filling voting places in Detroit harassing voters about their ID in 2008.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama challenged John Edwards' claim as the anti-poverty candidate on Wednesday, reminding voters of his experience working with the inner-city poor as his rival bemoaned the plight of the downtrodden in rural Appalachia. The two hit strikingly familiar themes in competing speeches on an issue that doesn't usually get much attention in modern presidential politics but Democrats have pushed to the forefront. Obama spoke in the Washington neighborhood of Anacostia while Edwards wrapped up an eight-state poverty tour in Wise, Va., and Prestonburg, Ky. Both invoked a Democratic icon — Robert F. Kennedy, who drew attention to the country's poor some four decades ago. Speaking at the Floyd County courthouse — the same site where Kennedy ended his poverty tour in 1968, Edwards said he wants "America to remember what he did decades ago. I want you to join us to end the work Bobby Kennedy started." Obama alluded to Kennedy's tour and repeated a question that Kennedy uttered throughout his address: "How can a country like this allow it?" The first-term Illinois senator argued that he has had a long-standing interest in helping the poor, dating to his first job after college as a community organizer in Chicago. The remark was a veiled jab at Edwards. "This kind of poverty is not an issue I just discovered for the purposes of a campaign, it's the cause that led me to a life of public service almost twenty-five years ago," Obama said. Edwards, the 2004 vice presidential nominee, said his interest in poverty was not born out of politics. He said his background was so humble that his father had to borrow $50 to bring him home from the hospital and although he eventually became a successful trial lawyer, he continued to fight for the less fortunate in his legal career and as a North Carolina senator and beyond. "Poverty is the cause of my life," he said in his prepared remarks. "I worked on it before I got into politics." Obama's first job was working for a coalition of churches on Chicago's South Side, seeking to help rescue a troubled neighborhood. He has been a state legislator and has taught at a law school. Before entering politics, Edwards was on the board of Urban Ministries, a faith-based group that helped the poor in the Raleigh, N.C., area. He also established the Wade Edwards Learning Lab in honor of his late son to help disadvantage kids with their schoolwork. After losing in 2004, he helped establish a poverty center at the University of North Carolina. Obama vowed to "retire the phrase 'working poor' in our time." Edwards said he would eliminate poverty within a generation. Besides trying to one-up each other on their anti-poverty credentials, each also tried to portray himself as the Washington outsider. Both blamed Washington for failing to help the poor. "The streets here are close to our capital, but far from the people it represents," Obama said. "They suffer most from a politics that has been tipped in favor of those with the most money, and influence, and power." "Washington's response has been greed is good," Edwards said in an echo of Michael Douglas' signature line from the 1987 movie "Wall Street." Both also said the problem cannot be solved by Washington alone, but families also must be strengthened. Both candidates promised to fight the move of jobs overseas, raise the minimum wage, invest in education and create transitional jobs. Obama said the first step he would take as president to fight urban poverty would be to expand a program from New York City to 20 cities nationwide. The program, called the Harlem Children's Zone, provides training for expectant parents, early childhood education, charter schools, free medical services, meals, crime prevention and job and financial counselors to an entire neighborhood. He acknowledged that it would cost several billion dollars to expand the program, but said he would monitor the results and try something else if it doesn't work. The Obama campaign said his entire anti-poverty agenda will cost about $6 billion a year. "But we will find the money to find the things that work because we can't afford not to," he said. "Think of it this way — the Harlem Children's Zone is saving a generation of children for about $46 million a year. That's about what the war in Iraq costs American taxpayers every four hours." ___ Associated Press Writer Samira Jafari contributed to this report from Prestonburg, Ky. ___ On the Net: http://www.barackobama.com http://www.johnedwards.com