Filtered News 12/5

Coming home for the holidays. I read last week that 92 percent of all frequent flier miles aren’t ever redeemed. So here's a good idea: go to the . There you can donate your frequent flier miles to help soldiers wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan fly home after their treatment...or help their loved ones fly to them. I hardly ever fly, but if it's any help I'll be happy to donate all 30,000 of my frequent-crawl-home-after-last-call miles.

The last straw remembered. On December 1, 1955, black seamstress Rosa Parks refused to to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. Her arrest---and the ensuing boycott of the bus system---became a rallying point for the civil rights movement. No punchline from us, just a big `thumbs up' for the ol’ gal, may she .

Obama-mania continues? The O-man with New York (i.e. Hillary) donors in NYC.

This ain't how it's supposed to work not “because women are making great strides but because , data show.” Remember, in Bush world: Wealth matters, work does not.

Cutting the deadwood Steve Clemons, who probably had more to do with the slo-mo tanking of John Bolton's nomination than anyone else, on the moustache's resignation.

Lunatic fringe watch Use it while ya got it: Inhofe to hold on how the media hypes climate change.

Homeland insecurity and corruption A filed by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general “highlights a litany of staff misconduct: immigration officials demanding sex in exchange for visas, airport screeners stealing money from tourists’ luggage, federal air marshals smuggling drugs, and employees from various DHS agencies committing sex crimes.”

Another big break for Big Oil Although companies are supposed to pay royalties every time they drill for oil or gas on federal property, the Interior Department has audited just 20 percent of companies. “The rest of the time, the payments are made on the honor system. But the government agency ‘‘ its own oil and gas audits.”

Wankery in the Sunshine State. Let me get this straight: After testing some electronic voting machines in Sarasota County to find out why up to 18,000 votes in the Christine Jennings (D)/Vern Buchanan (R) congressional election mysteriously disappeared, election officials were stymied to find that . So now they have to do a test on the test, which we assume, given the track record of these machines, will soon be followed by a test of the test of the test. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, folks...this could take awhile.

An old-new way to vote? In today's must-read Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury makes a mighty persuasive argument for :

The system has proven to be fraud-free. Oregon is one of only two states in the nation to verify every single voter signature against the signature on that voter's registration card. Our process is transparent and open to observation. Finally, the returned paper ballots, which are the official record of the election, can be recounted by hand.

With voting by mail, Oregon's turnout is consistently among the highest of any state without same-day voter registration. We don't suffer with long lines at polling places, with voter harassment or intimidation, with fears about malfunctioning or easily hacked voting machines, or from lack of a paper trail. ...Voting by mail is also a cost-effective way to run elections, costing taxpayers about 30 percent less than polling-place elections.

Election days were originally scheduled on Tuesdays because that was when farmers brought their crops into town to sell. Today on an average Tuesday people balance multiple jobs, soccer practice and child care. Voting by mail gives them ample opportunity to stay engaged in our most crucial democratic process.

And if you get nostalgic for the old voting-booth milieu, no problem. Just fill out the ballot behind your shower curtain.

Big Brother Airways. So now we learn---after the fact, of course---that the gub’ment has been assigning gaggles of American travelers with their own which, of course, you are not allowed to see or challenge (plus they stay on file for 40 years, not that anyone’s counting). Hey, let’s plug in my name and see what comes up. Clackity Clackity...

Name: Russ in Wisconsin
Profile: Loud-mouthed jerk. Likes beer, opera, scaring children. BBQs sacred GOP cows. Dangerous political blogger.
Terror score: 72---Significant risk of influencing passengers with invisible liberal conversion rays. Restrict access to crate in cargo area with sock in mouth. Lighters OK.

That’s bull. I hate opera.

Ed - Hmm - it must have been MY records you looked at then

The worst of the worst. Columbia University professor Eric Foner says President Bush is our Worst President Ever for : He's "stubborn, narrow-minded, unwilling to listen to criticism or to consider alternatives to disastrous mistakes" like Pierce, Buchanan, and Andrew Johnson. He's "channeling money and favors to big business" like Harding and Coolidge. He displays "disdain for the Constitution and abuse of presidential power" like Nixon. And toss in Polk's "unprovoked attack" on Mexico for good measure. So, to summarize: Last in war. Last in peace. And last in the hearts of his countrymen. Heckuva job.

Yuletide brewhahas. As if they have nothing else to worry about, the Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement says no sale to . The label, which shows the jolly old elf , could corrupt children, you see. And we have enough Republicans running around already.

This just in: Bush is a cold-hearted ass At a recent White House reception, President Bush asked Sen.-elect Jim Webb (D-VA), “?” referring to Webb’s son Jimmy, who is serving in Iraq. Webb answered, “I’d like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President,” to which Bush responded, “That’s not what I asked you.” Webb then replied, “, Mr. President.”

The right wing has been attacking Webb for his reaction to Bush’s question. Last night, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly said Webb was “rude,” “inappropriate,” and “disrespectful,” because Bush was merely trying to extend a “nice gesture.” The National Review’s Corner called him “” and conservative columnist George Will labeled him “.”

But according to Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), Bush was told that Webb’s son had a and was when talking to the Sen.-elect. ThinkProgress yesterday spoke with Moran’s office and confirmed the congressman’s statement, first reported by :

Not only did Bush know about it, he was specifically briefed on the incident before meeting with Webb, and was cautioned to be extra sensitive in speaking with Webb about his son.

After such a briefing, Bush perhaps shouldn’t have been so surprised about Webb’s unwillingness to chit-chat about his son.

The Carcinogenic Haze of Haley Barbour When Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, Mississippi Governor and former RNC chair, Haley Barbour, claimed to be surprised. But he can't be surprised at what's killing the people of his state this time: .

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former tobacco industry lobbyist, won a long battle in court to withdraw all funding for Mississippi's highly successful anti-smoking program, and last week the last dollar ran out.

Barbour's lobbying firm made millions lobbying on behalf of the tobacco industry. , Fortune Magazine named his group the most powerful lobbying firm in the country, because of Barbour's close ties to the Republican congress and the Bush administration. Mississippi's program was funded by a settlement with tobacco companies, and was noted as one of the best in steering kids clear of a lifetime of tobacco use. So how did Barbour manage to destroy an effective program that wasn't costing taxpayers a dime?

Barbour complained that the program received its funding directly from the courts and that it needed legislative approval, according to Myers. When the legislature passed a bill to continue the funding, Barbour vetoed it and went back to the courts to withdraw all remaining monies from the program.

There's sleight of hand you won't see on any stage in Las Vegas.

When the 110th congress is looking into lobbyist reform, they should keep a picture of Haley Barbour posted high on the walls. Here's a man who has been mentioned as a potential GOP presidential candidate for 2008, but he's willing to sacrifice the children of his state to the clients who paid him millions. That's a level of callous indifference that money can't buy. Oh, wait. I guess it can.

Corruption watch A number of readers have sent in tips to help the folks at Powerline, who to having trouble remembering administration officials (beyond ) who had been accused of corruption or resigned in the face of scandal.

How could you foresake us! cry our old pals Claude Allen, David Safavian, Brian Doyle. Who could forget former FDA commissioner, Lester Crawford? After the jump, you'll find our partial (but fast-growing) list. If we're missing a name, please send it along!

Indicted / Convicted/ Pled Guilty

* Scooter Libby - Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff - resigned after being indicted for Obstruction of Justice, Perjury, and Making False Statements in connection with the investigation stemming from the leak of a CIA operative's identity.

* Lester Crawford - Commissioner, FDA - resigned after only two months on the job. Pled guilty to conflict of interest and making false statements.

* Brian Doyle - Deputy Press Secretary, DHS - Resigned in wake of . Pled no contest to 32 criminal counts.

* Claude Allen - Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy- resigned, to shoplifting from Target stores.

* David Safavian - former head of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget - convicted of lying to ethics officials and Senate investigators about to lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

* Larry Franklin - intelligence officer, Defense - resigned, to passing secrets to Israel.

* Roger Stillwell - desk officer, Interior Department - to failing to report Redskins tickets and free dinners from Jack Abramoff.

* Frank Figueroa - senior DHS official, former head of anti-sex-crime Operation Predator - to exposing himself to 16-year-old girl in Florida mall. Girl says he fondled himself for ten minutes. Figueroa forfeited his badge, gun, and access to databases; employment status pending internal DHS review.

* Darleen Druyun - senior contracting official, U.S. Air Force - and sentenced to nine months in prison for her role in the Boeing tanker lease scandal.

Resigned Due to Investigation

* Carl Truscott - Director, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau - resigned. A report by the Justice Department's Inspector General that Truscott wasted tens of thousands of dollars on luxuries, wasted millions on whimsical management decisions and violated ethics rules by ordering employees to help his nephew with a high school video project.

* Joseph Schmitz - Inspector General, Defense - Resigned amid charges he personally intervened to protect top political appointees.

* Steven Griles - Deputy Secretary at the Interior Department - resigned, currently under investigation by the Justice Department for .

* Susan Ralston - assistant, White House - amidst revelations that she had accepted thousands of dollars in gifts from Abramoff without compensating him, counter to White House ethics rules.

* Dusty Foggo - Executive Director, CIA - following accusations of corruption in connection to the Duke Cunningham scandal. Under investigation.

* Janet Rehnquist - Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services - in the face of allegations she blocked a politically dangerous probe on behalf of the Bush family.

* Ken Tomlinson, Board Chairman, Corporation for Public Broadcasting; member, Broadcasting Board of Governors - at the release of an inspector general report concluding he had broken laws in spending CPB money to hire politically connected consultants to search for "bias" without consulting the board. At BBG, a separate investigation he was running a "horse racing operation" out of his office, and continuing to hire politically-wired individuals to do "consulting" work for him. He's still there.

* George Deutsch - press aide, NASA - amid allegations he prevented the agency's top climate scientist from speaking publicly about global warming.

* Richard Perle - Chairman, Defense Policy Board - from Pentagon advisory panel amid conflict-of-interest charges.

* James Roche - secretary, U.S. Air Force - in the wake of the Boeing tanker lease scandal, after it was revealed he had rather crudely for Boeing to win a $23 billion contract.

* Marvin Sambur - top contracting executive, U.S. Air Force - Druyun's boss, Sambur in the wake of the scandal. Investigations cleared him of wrongdoing.

* Philip Cooney - chief of staff, White House Council on Environmental Quality - a former oil industry lawyer with no scientific expertise, Cooney after it was revealed he had watered down reports on global warming.

* Thomas Scully - Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - shortly after Scully resigned in 2003, an investigation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General found that Scully had pressured the agency's actuary to underestimate the full cost of the Medicare reform bill by approximately $100 billion until after Congress passed the bill into law. Scully was also charged wtih conflict of interest allegations by the U.S. attorney's office for billing CMS for expenses incurred during a job search while he still headed the agency. He settled those charges by paying $9,782.

Nomination Failed Due to Corruption

* Bernard Kerik - nominated, Secretary, Department of Homeland Security - withdrew his nomination amidst of corruption allegations. Eventually pled guilty to a misdemeanor relating to having accepted improper gifts totaling tens of thousands of dollars while he was a New York City official in the late 1990's.

* Timothy Flanigan - nominated, Deputy Attorney General - withdrew his nomination amidst revelations that he'd with lobbyist Jack Abramoff when he was General Counsel for Corporate and International Law at Tyco, which was a client of Abramoff's.

* Linda Chavez - nominated, Secretary of Labor - withdrew her nomination amidst that an illegal immigrant lived in her home and worked for her.

To cheer you up on CNN...

On stem cell research: "It's unbelievable, that frozen embryo thing. Now, how can you say that’s religious? You can't! It's not a religious issue. In what book of the Bible was anything frozen? ... Is there any mention in the Bible of refrigeration? No! So you can't possibly at any time say, 'Oh, y'know, God says...' No, God doesn't say. God, in the Old Testament...he didn't even see freezers coming!

And you know what I did? Since the president thinks they're alive, I've adopted three frozen embryos and I put them in my freezer. And every time when I open it up I go, "You kids stop it!" Because I want to be a good father, but I'm actually going to take them as a tax write-off. And if it works---if I can get it by the Feds the first time---I'm going to adopt hundreds of them. You remember the old Amana freezer where you could buy a cow and dump it in? Well, I'm going to have a billion of 'em in there!"

On airport security: "This is a true story... I watched this [elderly] woman who was literally in a wheelchair... She's totally immobile, totally. They're going to have to pull her out of the chair and place her in the plane. So, why would you even stop her, y’know? I mean, just get her on the plane...she's immobile! You know when they dog your briefcase to see if you’ve got a bomb in it? They're dogging her to test her to see if she's a bomb!

So I actually went up to them which, as you know, is a big mistake. And I said, 'Excuse me, she is not a bomb. I know you don't have to trust me on this. You don't know me, but she is not a bomb. And I know that you believe that the al Qaeda are masters of disguise, but if she's actually a bomb, this is not terrorism, it's a work of art.'"

Full transcript . He's also hosting . Goody goody.

Ballots? We don' need no stinkin' ballots! "A federal advisory panel on Monday rejected a recommendation that states use only voting machines that produced results that could be independently verified. "The panel drafting voting guidelines for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission voted 6-6 not to adopt a proposal that would have required electronic machines used by millions of voters to produce a paper record or other independent means of checking election results. Eight votes were needed to pass it. "The failed resolution, proposed by Ronald Rivest, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer scientist and panel member, closely mirrored a report released last week warning that paperless electronic voting machines are vulnerable to errors and fraud and cannot be made secure." (AP)

Lunatic fringe watch, part II For six years, Congress has done nothing to address the climate crisis, thanks in no small part to the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, “Smokey” Joe Barton (R-TX). The 110th Congress will have new leadership, but Barton has pledged to continue fighting against legislation intended to address the problem. Energy and Environment Daily (sub. only) has the story:

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) said yesterday he intends to block Democrats from passing a mandatory federal cap on heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions. “I will be an active part of any leadership effort to prevent it passing in the House,” the outgoing chairman of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee told reporters after speaking at an event hosted by the American Petroleum Institute and the Energy Department.

Barton says his action is justified because global warming science is “pretty weak stuff.” Barton added, “But for us to try to step in and say we have got to do all these global things to prevent the Earth from getting any warmer in my opinion is absolute nonsense. It’s not going to happen.”

John Murtha, 1 year later During yesterday's White House , the subject of the recently released Rumsfeld led to the following exchange:

Q Isn't it striking that this administration was accusing the likes of John Murtha and other Democrats who suggested course correction, including phased withdrawal, of cutting and running --

MR. SNOW: No, let me --

Q -- at the same time that the Defense Secretary was suggesting just the same option?

MR. SNOW: No.

Q You don't see hypocrisy there?

MR. SNOW: No, because you're talking about apples and oranges. If you take a look at -

As my eyes glazed over reading Snow's rambling answer about developments on the ground, election seasons and victory, I thought about what Rep. John Murtha had said over a year ago about the situation in Iraq. Let's look at Murtha's November 20, 2005 interview on . Russert began with a video clip of Murtha saying:

Our military has done everything that has been asked of them. The U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It's time to bring the troops home.

For this opinion, Murtha was of surrendering to the terrorists, and of making shameful, politically motivated statements. But what is being said ?

Military victory is no longer possible in Iraq, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said in a television interview broadcast Sunday.

Regarding the training of Iraqi forces, Murtha said:

Tim, I'm absolutely convinced that we're making no progress at all, and I've been complaining for two years that there's an overly optimistic--an illusionary process going on here.

And this , the Iraqi army's 9th Division took the lead for the first time:

Teams of U.S. advisers remained close, but planned to leave the fighting to the Iraqis.

"It started out that way. But about five minutes into it, we had to take over," Staff Sgt. Michael Baxter, 35, said.

"I'm just thinking to myself, oh God, get me out of this because these guys are going to get me killed if we stay here," Baxter said.

Last year, Murtha said:

And since we're the target, we've increased instability in the Middle East.

And last :

Abdullah, one of America's steadiest friends in the region, warned that the Mideast faced the threat of three simultaneous civil wars — in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. And he made clear that the burden of dealing with it rested largely with the United States.

Murtha finished by saying that it was time to:

...redeploy our forces outside and let the Iraqis handle this themselves.

It's been more than a year since John Murtha said those words. For that, he was a coward on the floor of the House, he was accused of not only losing his by the Vice President, but of to the terrorists by the White House. But of course, Murtha's words were all true.

The American people overwhelmingly favor withdrawing our troops from Iraq. The Iraq Study Group's report that will be released tomorrow will recommend that the United States begin a phased withdrawal. And George Bush? This week he that he wasn't looking for, "some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq." Perhaps when Mr. Bush receives the ISG recommendations tomorrow, he should remember something else that John Murtha said last year:

I like guys who got five deferments and [have] never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done.

Global warming will empty US bread basket Last summer, National Review editor James Robbins touted the “” of climate change:

Consider the large landmasses in the northern hemisphere, say north of 55 degrees. These are very extreme climates for human habitation. A population distribution map of Canada shows most people live in a belt running along the southern border with the United States. But add global warming and vast regions would become comfortably habitable. As well, there would be more land available for cultivation.

Yesterday, the BBC published a showing the impact that climate change will have on crop production. The graphic shows the areas in which wheat grows now (yellow) compared to where it will grow in 2050 (blue). It demonstrates the would have on America’s wheat crop:

“True, there might be some dislocations as ?” Robbins asked. “Economies change all the time.” Tell that to every wheat farmer in the United States.

Published

December 5, 2006 - 2:04pm

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