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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

    Name:
    Location: The mouth of being

    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Tuesday, January 31, 2006

    57% Americans support military action in Iran

    Same Bunch of Idiots who Wanted to Invade Iraq, betcha.

    Kucinich: The Truth About The State Of Our Union

    Juan Cole on the Top Ten Things Bush won't Tell you in His Misstatement of the Union

    Pharmacists sue Walgreen over contraceptives

    Four Illinois pharmacists have sued U.S. drugstore chain Walgreen Co., saying they were wrongly fired for refusing to dispense the “morning-after” emergency contraceptive pill.

    The four are represented by the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative legal group founded by Christian evangelist Pat Robertson.

    The suit, filed Friday in Madison County, Illinois, charges that the company violated the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which allows health care providers to opt out of procedures they object to on moral grounds.
    “It couldn’t be any clearer,” ACLJ attorney Francis Manion said in a statement. “In punishing these pharmacists for asserting a right protected by the Conscience Act, Walgreens broke the law.”

    The contraceptive prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, but opponents equate it to abortion.

    Walgreen spokesman Michael Polzin said the four were not fired but placed on unpaid leave in November and offered jobs in other states.

    Groups challenge governor's decree
    Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich last April ordered pharmacists to make the morning-after pill, known as Plan B, available to customers “without delay.” The ACLJ along with several pharmacists have challenged the measure.

    Polzin said Walgreen had all of its Illinois pharmacists file an electronic, online statement saying they would follow Illinois pharmacy regulations including Plan B. The four pharmacists refused to agree by a set deadline, he said.

    “We have to follow the law. We don’t have a choice in this matter,” Polzin said.

    Walgreen’s policy allows pharmacists to decline to fill a prescription if they have a moral objection. However, they must refer the prescription to another employee who can arrange to fill the order swiftly.

    Polzin said the four pharmacists worked the overnight shift at 24-hour facilities, and as the only ones on duty, they could not have the prescriptions filled without delay, as state law requires.

    He said Walgreen, which operates more than 5,000 stores, offered to transfer them to stores in Missouri or elsewhere where they would not be subject to Illinois law, and to keep them on the payroll while they applied for new state licenses.

    Democracy now on Bush Health Care Plans which will be about as Good for the Country as Invading Iraq

    I'll post the direct link once DN puts it up. Around 11 central time usually.
    The analysis is detailed and excellent.

    Bush's health care agenda

    Feingold says Gonzales misled the Senate during his confirmation hearing

    US not to give in to Carroll's captors

    defense contractor's manufacturing plant Explosion Exposes 73 to radiation

    China's hydroelectric power capacity rising

    Iraq "Reconstruction" slowed by violence and Corruption

    This is just weird

    Berlusconi Vows No Sex Until April 9 Vote, His Brother's Paper Reports

    Frist Lying to Russert

    And Russert actually doing his job!

    Frist, Another Repiglikkkan Crook

    Political experts said both the size of charity's big donations and its consulting fees raise questions about whether the tax-exempt group benefited Frist's political ambitions.

    Patriot Act Provision to Criminalize Protest

    A provision in the "Patriot Act" creates a new federal police force with power to violate the Bill of Rights. You might think that this cannot be true, as you have not read about it in newspapers or heard it discussed by talking heads on TV.

    Go to House Report 109-333 - USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005, and check it out for yourself. Sec. 605 reads:

    "There is hereby created and established a permanent police force, to be known as the 'United States Secret Service Uniformed Division.' "

    This new federal police force is "subject to the supervision of the secretary of homeland security."

    The new police are empowered to "make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence, or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony."

    The new police are assigned a variety of jurisdictions, including "an event designated under Section 3056(e) of Title 18 as a special event of national significance" (SENS).

    "A special event of national significance" is neither defined nor does it require the presence of a "protected person" such as the president in order to trigger it. Thus, the administration, and perhaps the police themselves, can place the SENS designation on any event. Once a SENS designation is placed on an event, the new federal police are empowered to keep out and to arrest people at their discretion.

    The language conveys enormous discretionary and arbitrary powers. What is "an offense against the United States"? What are "reasonable grounds"?
    [...]

    Al-Zawahri Threatens New U.S. Attacks

    [...]
    Al-Zawahri mocked Bush as a "failure" in the war on terror, called him a "butcher" for killing innocent Pakistanis in the miscarried airstrike and chastised his administration for rejecting a truce offered by bin Laden in a Jan. 19 audiotape — the al-Qaida leader's first tape in more than a year.
    [...]

    Critics question record of Bush nominee

    Coretta Scott King Dies in her Sleep

    Sorry, heard it on Air America. No source yet.

    Monday, January 30, 2006

    Your Tax Dollars Disbursed to Hate Filled Fanatics

    Stewards of the Earth. Just ask your Local Calvinist Cavalry

    Alone in the nest, the starving seabird chick looked a little woozy. Then it collapsed.

    Hours passed before the desperate mother bird returned, a fish tail sticking out of her beak. Again and again she offered the fresh morsel. But it was too late -- the baby bird was dying.

    "It's an ugly, gut-wrenching thing to watch," said University of Washington researcher Julia Parrish, who witnessed such a scene repeatedly last summer, hidden amid the cacophony of 6,000 nesting murres on Tatoosh Island off the Olympic Peninsula.

    The murres' unusual mass starvation became a clue in a mystery unfolding along the West Coast.

    Weather, scientists know, is the key to the puzzle. For some reason, winds and currents crucial to the marine food web just didn't happen on schedule last year.

    Seabird breeding failures in the summer were preceded by tens of thousands of birds washing up dead on beaches in Washington, Oregon and California.

    And Washington's largest colony of glaucous-winged gulls also sputtered: Where 8,000 chicks normally fledge, 88 did last year.

    "The whole process broke down," Parrish said. "We don't know what happened."
    [...]

    Click the link for the rest. This story is essential reading.

    Rising concentrations of greenhouse gases may have more serious impacts than previously believed, a major scientific report has said.



    But Bush says once all that dad-burn snow melts, Arbusto can drill and extract trillions of barrels of oil from the arctic. Then we can teach them thar camel jockeys who's boss. (Uncle Dick and Uncle Lee Reymond are boss)

    But will it note Judy Miller's?

    Dowd: 'NY Times' Bestseller List Will Note James Frey's Fantasies.
    How about withholding information on the NSA wiretapping of American citizens? Does that count as a fabrication?

    Frey's lies do not matter nearly so much to me as the ceaseless, ongoing lying, distorting and manipulating of public opinion by major media, all right wing, about everything Bush has and hasn't done.

    Exxon Mobil posts record profit of $10.7 billion

    Oh yeah, that 40% increase in pump price is due to production capacity damage from Katrina, yeah sure. More like it's due to BushCo Policy in which oil companies slowly gorge themselves on the middle class until it ceases to exist.

    [...]
    Quarterly revenue ballooned to $99.66 billion from $83.37 billion a year ago but came in shy of the $100.72 billion Exxon posted in the third quarter, which was the first time a U.S. public company generated more than $100 billion in sales in a single quarter.

    By segment, exploration and production earnings rose sharply to $7.04 billion, up $2.15 billion from the 2004 quarter, reflecting higher crude oil and natural gas prices. Production decreased by 1 percent due to the lingering effects of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which battered the Gulf Coast in August and September.

    The company's refining and marketing segment reported $2.39 billion in earnings, as higher refining and marketing margins helped offset the residual effects of the hurricanes.

    Exxon's chemicals business saw earnings, excluding special items, decline by $413 million to $835 million, as higher materials costs squeezed margins.

    For the full year, net income surged 43 percent to $36.13 billion, or $5.71 per share, from $25.33 billion, or $3.89 per share, in 2004. Annual revenue grew to $371 billion from $298.04 billion.

    Venezuela raises specter of production cut at OPEC meeting

    Oil oversupplied? Interesting.

    So Much for Democracy


    Why not cut off aid to terrorist led Israel?
    Rice Urges Nations to Cut Off Hamas Aid

    Disease hits Australia's 'dinosaur' trees

    Sunday, January 29, 2006

    Cindy Sheehan is considering running for Senate

    New York Times Editorial on Domestic Spying Casually Mentions Fact BushCo let 9/11 attacks Happen Because They Weren't Doing Their Jobs

    [...]
    Sept. 11 could have been prevented. This is breathtakingly cynical. The nation's guardians did not miss the 9/11 plot because it takes a few hours to get a warrant to eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mail messages. They missed the plot because they were not looking. The same officials who now say 9/11 could have been prevented said at the time that no one could possibly have foreseen the attacks. We keep hoping that Mr. Bush will finally lay down the bloody banner of 9/11, but Karl Rove, who emerged from hiding recently to talk about domestic spying, made it clear that will not happen because the White House thinks it can make Democrats look as though they do not want to defend America. "President Bush believes if Al Qaeda is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they're calling and why," he told Republican officials. "Some important Democrats clearly disagree."
    [...]

    This is a fine editorial. If they keep it up I may have to pay attention to them again. I had started to think they were part of Bush/Cheny 04 what with their Judy Stenographer Miller and their sitting on the NSA story, but this little piece certainly calls into question the blinking, bumbling boy king. Too bad they couldn't have said this 4 years ago, though the editorial is well worth reading.

    NASA climate expert says US tried to silence him

    A little silence from this moron would be nice.

    North Korea warns of nuclear war, vows to strengthen forces

    Ah, this must make Rummy's balled black fist of a heart go boom, boom, boom, exactly like it pulses when he sips iced blood of virgins with Absolut Peppar, which is what he drinks for Sunday brunch.

    He wants a nuclear war. He want an excuse. You know he does.

    Iran, Russia Agree to Include More Countries in Fuel Enrichment Plan

    Tehran and Moscow have agreed to expand the number of countries participating in the plan to enrich Iranian uranium in Russia, Iran said Saturday, describing a compromise that could satisfy U.S. concerns about the nuclear program.

    At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, U.S. and British leaders vowed to exhaust all diplomatic options before turning to sanctions or military action, AP reported.

    The nuclear standoff and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent calls for Israel to be wiped off the map have deepened Iran’s isolation and reawakened hostilities between Iran and the West.

    Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki declined to say which other countries would be included. However, a top Iranian nuclear official was recently in Beijing to discuss the Russian plan, which is designed to ensure that Tehran does not attempt to produce material for nuclear weapons.
    [...]

    Bush's State of the Union will likely be aimed at conservative base

    Well then, that ought to be mighty entertaining for those of us who can make it to then end without running to the bathroom to puke copiously.

    However, I feel I need to point out since no one else will, that his "base" is not conservative at all.

    What is conservative about big government, big deficit spending, big intrusion and interference, here and abroad, big spying and eavesdropping and kidnapping and rendering and legislating their own kill or be killed "morality"?

    I fail to understand how are hand puppet of a media can refer to delusional Calvinist control freaks who would delight in telling you how to wipe your ass if only they can find out exactly when you're in the bathroom as conservative.

    Iran warns of missile strikes

    They think they have a right to defend themselves. Imagine that.

    Walker's World: Turning out EU's lights

    Hmm. I guess the intellectual center of "Old Europe" as Donald "death star" Rummy likes to call it, grasps that globalization sucks.
    BushCo. will be bombing them next.

    Bush's Katrina Effort Called Into Question

    Attack on Iran an option: Bush

    This is exactly the same line of nonsense propaganda Bushco used to get us into our illegal and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq. Exactly. The same operatives around the same increasingly hot hot hot, oil depleted, soon to be thirsty globe are decrying Iran's nuclear weapons. However, this is a weapon Iran doesn't have and says it is not developing. It says it wants nuclear power and has as much right to nuclear power as does any other nation state.
    And I agree.

    And I still think Ahmadinejad is a whack - Job, though he's no wackier than anyone in Washington, less than several.

    BushCo also said it was exhausting all diplomatic process against Iraq before he attacked and occupied that county. And, of course, he didn't do that at all. Roves brain must be addled from the stress of worrying about being outted as the closet homosexual to be playing this same old song again. It reminds me of a scratched 45 of Bobby Goldsboro's Little Green Apples.

    Saturday, January 28, 2006

    Survivor of mine explosion leaves hospital

    Judge lets accident team enter Sago mine

    CALLS FOR SAFETY OVERHAUL AFTER MINE DEATHS

    These coal mining stories illustrate much of what is wrong with repiglikkkans.

    VIDEO: Bush Mine Safety Administrator Walks Out of Senate Hearing

    Lunch with the FT: Old master

    We had arranged to meet in his friend’s shoe shop in the opulent Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel in downtown Mumbai - which was somewhat ironic since M.F. Husain never wears shoes. But in a concession to convention, or the Mumbai winter, he is sporting black socks as he ambles to our restaurant upstairs, a sprightly 90-year-old, unmistakable with his white hair and beard and an 18-inch paint brush in his hand.

    The socks and the brush, he says, are partly for effect - small symbols of a marketing instinct that, along with a prolific talent and boundless energy, has kept Husain in the vanguard of contemporary Indian art for the past half century.

    Clinton aims to boost alternative fuels

    Frozen Tsunamis

    Santorum meeting Grover Norquist

    Saudis: U.S. paved way for Hamas victory

    Yeah. And now Israel has another excuse to blow Palestinians to bits. Not that they need an excuse since they act by divine right.

    Democrats' deep divide shows in threat to filibuster over Alito

    Press ignores Ex-NSA chief's ignorance of Constitution

    Offense Contracts

    Venezuela says U.S. spying

    CARACAS, Venezuela, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Venezuela has said it would throw in jail any U.S. official caught spying on its military.

    President Hugo Chavez issued the warning Friday at the World Social Forum in Caracas, the BBC reports.

    Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said Thursday that some U.S. officers were detained for passing information to the Pentagon and had since left Venezuela.

    The U.S. Embassy has denied any wrongdoing and called the issue an "internal matter" for Venezuela.

    Poll- Most Americans want Bush to reveal lobbyist ties

    This might be termed some sort of progress, but since most Americans do not even know who Abramoff is, maybe not.

    New Orleans May Lose 80 Percent of Blacks

    Terrorist Kidnappings

    The U.S. Army in Iraq has at least twice seized and jailed the wives of suspected insurgents in hopes of "leveraging" their husbands into surrender, U.S. military documents show.

    In one case, a secretive task force locked up the young mother of a nursing baby, a U.S. intelligence officer reported. In the case of a second detainee, one American colonel suggested to another that they catch her husband by tacking a note to the family's door telling him "to come get his wife."

    Israel to Restrict Hamas Movements

    Friday, January 27, 2006

    Campaign for America's Future



    Banks Escalate Lobbying to Destroy What's Left of Employer Sponsored Health Insurance

    [...]
    Bank of America, J. P. Morgan Chase, Fidelity Investments and other such entities are offering or preparing to offer 401(k)-type accounts to cover medical expenses, The New York Times said Friday.

    Industry groups expect the number of U.S. residents with high-deductible insurance policies required for such accounts to rise from the current 3 million to 15 million by 2010.

    That means an estimated $75 billion in new money to manage will soon be at stake. Banks and others are drawn by the promise of lucrative fees they can generate by offering consumers mutual funds and other investment vehicles as their account balances grow.
    [...]

    The Plague of Bush Apologists

    The Delicious but Poisonous Irony

    Europe Marks Auschwitz Anniversary.

    Camps are back in style, but that isn't what I meant by irony. I meant Israel's unlawful, US backed militarism and its' ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and the continued bomb threats against Iran, all so soon after horrors such as Auschwitz were perpetrated against European Jews and other victims of Hitler (gays, Poles, dissenters, etc.), and for purposes similar to those that drive men like Ariel Sharon and George Bush.

    World Honors Mozart on 250th Birthday!

    Hamas: We won't relinquish Jerusalem or right of return

    Sex calms nerves before public speaking - study

    I've been told I'm a good performer and no one ever sees my considerable stage fright, but how I wish I had found out about this decades ago:-)

    Johnson joins fellow Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska as the only members of their party to announce Senate support for the Right Wing Extremist Judge

    They're laughing about how easy it will be to get away with their assorted crimes once judicial activist legislator Sam -so right it hurts and dresses in a brown shirt - Alito is installed on the court by the Bush regime with the treacherous, anti American assistance of both self intoxicated, beholden to lobbyist parties
    South Dakota and Nebraska need to get their senators under control. Impeachment might be a good place to start. You can bet their dirty. They a;; are.

    Rising Islamist tide redefines Middle East's political canvas

    How the Right Stole the 2004 Election

    Molly Ivins

    [...]
    I genuinely appreciate the response by real conservatives on this issue -- the libertarians, the true heirs of Barry Goldwater, the all-government-is-bad grumps. It's called principle. But I am confounded by the authoritarian streak in the Republican Party backing Bush on this. To me it seems so simple: Would you think this was a good idea if Hillary Clinton were president? Would you be defending the clear and unnecessary violation of the law? Do you have complete confidence that she would never misuse this "inherent power" for any partisan reason?

    The warrantless wiretaps reportedly covered thousands of calls, and the information obtained was widely circulated among federal agencies. I know one guy who is now on the federal no-fly list. His sin? Co-authoring an unflattering book about Karl Rove. What a menace to national security he is.
    [...]

    As one with considerable faith in the common sense of Americans , it occurs to me we may yet rescue ourselves from this bootless skunk match over morality by using plain sense, instead. Many of Carter's points center on the fact that our war on terrorism is not working. Iraq is not working (hard to even count the ways). Major terrorist attacks themselves more than tripled from 2003, to 655 attacks in 2004. Our support in the Middle East sinks lower and lower. The region is not becoming more democratic.
    [...]

    Why the West must reOrient

    Thursday, January 26, 2006

    Al Gore brings down the Sundance house

    John McCain, Man of the People and Other Lies

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., tests the declining real estate market as he tries to sell his recently price-reduced $3.75 million Phoenix mansion.

    The 11,000 square foot estate, with its nine bedrooms and eight bathrooms -- and eight surveillance cameras -- has been on the market for three months.

    Only six prospective buyers have checked it out, the Arizona Republic says. That led to a half-million-dollar price cut.

    A year ago, there were 145 homes priced at $500,000 or more for sale in Phoenix. Now, there are 1,341. Houses were selling in days last year, but now, it's taking an average of six weeks.

    McCain and his wife, Cindy, who grew up in the house, want to downsize.

    Anti-Bush veterans PAC announced

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- A group of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan announced Thursday that they have formed a PAC to back candidates who want the United States to change course.

    The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America hope to raise $10 million this year for the political action committee, The Los Angeles Times reported.

    "These are people we want to send to Washington to articulate a better understanding of the war," said Jon Soltz, IAVA's executive director, served as an Army captain in Iraq. "We need credible knowledge inside Washington to change the course of this war."

    While the group is non-partisan, its platform is critical of President George Bush's handling of the war, calling on the administration to set benchmarks for success and accusing officials of shortchanging troops on equipment. Soltz campaigned for Democratic candidate John Kerry in 2004, coordinating veterans outreach in Pennsylvania.

    Ten veterans have entered congressional races so far, with eight running for the House as Democrats and one as a Republican. In Ohio, Paul Hackett, a Marine reservist who lost a special election for a House seat last year, is challenging Republican Sen. Mike DeWine.

    Halliburton top Army contractor of 2005

    Bush was denied wiretaps, bypassed them

    Attorney general urged to name outside counsel to investigate Abramoff scandal

    Wednesday, January 25, 2006

    Pentagon Fired 244 Gay Doctors, Nurses, Medical Specialists, New Data Show; Shortage in Medical Personnel Prompts Experts to Question Policy

    Abbas: We'll talk to Israel, even with Hamas in gov't

    A Palestinian man casting his ballot at a polling station in the West Bank village of Halhul on Wednesday.

    Privatizing The Militarization of Space

    US warns India

    Al-Qaida on massive recruiting drive

    They don't need to have a massive recruiting drive. They have George bush and his subhuman pals to do the recruiting for them.
    This has the odor of DISINFORMATION, coughed and belched upon the dough brained public to distract them from the paying attention to the advancement of the Bush agenda, the class war.

    Gonzales says surveillance entirely legal

    Members of the audience stand up and turn their backs on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, rear, as he speaks at Georgetown University Law School Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2006. Answering the Bush administration's critics, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Tuesday that warrantless surveillance is critical to prevent another terrorist attack within the United States.

    World Social Forum begins in Venezuela

    W. House accused of failing to cooperate and trying to run out the clock on the congressional probe of Katrina

    President Gore

    Tuesday, January 24, 2006

    The Osama Connection

    Photos of Bush With Abramoff Are Withheld

    a gun that can fire 240,000 rounds per minute.

    Former NSA Head Gen. Hayden Grilled by Journalists on NSA Eavesdropping on U.S. Citizens

    You can stream it on the site

    [...]
    GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN: The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.

    JONATHAN LANDAY: The legal standard is probable cause, General. You used the terms just a few minutes ago, “We reasonably believe.” And a FISA court, my understanding is, would not give you a warrant if you went before them and say “We reasonably believe.” You have to go to the FISA court or the Attorney General has to go to the FISA court and say, “We have probable cause.” And so what many people believe, and I would like you to respond to this, is that what you have actually done is crafted a detour around the FISA court by creating a new standard of “reasonably believe” in place of “probable cause,” because the FISA court will not give you a warrant based on reasonable belief. You have to show a probable cause. Can you respond to that, please?

    GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN: Sure. I didn't craft the authorization. I am responding to a lawful order, alright? The Attorney General has averred to the lawfulness of the order. Just to be very clear, okay -- and believe me, if there's any amendment to the Constitution that employees at the National Security Agency is familiar with, it's the fourth, alright? And it is a reasonableness standard in the Fourth Amendment. So, what you've raised to me -- and I'm not a lawyer and don't want to become one -- but what you’ve raised to me is, in terms of quoting the Fourth Amendment, is an issue of the Constitution. The constitutional standard is reasonable. And we believe -- I am convinced that we're lawful because what it is we're doing is reasonable.
    [...]

    Episcopalians Propose Thurgood Marshall For Sainthood

    2005 warmest year on record, data indicates

    ‘Notable’ that temperatures high even without El Niño, NASA analysis says
    The Arctic region has seen rapid and early melting of sea ice -- a trend tied to warmer temperatures there.

    Impeach GUNzales, then Disbar

    White House Told About Katrina's Danger

    Levee problems predicted, documents show

    Maybe 2000 when Adolph the 2nd was installed by daddy's friends

    Despite media hailing McCain as "untainted" reformer, like many Dems he took money from Abramoff clients

    Rice says time for talking with Iran is over


    BANG BANG!

    Sympathy for al-Qaida Surges in Pakistan

    US military issues new execution regulations

    [...]
    "This regulation establishes responsibilities and updates policy and procedures for carrying out a sentence of death as imposed by general courts-martial or military tribunals," the document said.
    [...]

    In interview with Ridge, CNN's Meserve ignored his 2005 admission that Bush administration pressured him to raise threat levels

    CNN: The New FOKKKs News

    Capitalism Creates Poverty?

    teen rehab industry has scarred thousands of kids for life

    Witch Hunt at UCLA

    Knight Ridder May Cut Benefits, Jobs, Size of Papers

    Corporatism Unbound

    House and Senate GOP negotiators, meeting behind closed doors last month to complete a major budget-cutting bill, agreed on a change to Senate-passed Medicare legislation that would save the health insurance industry $22 billion over the next decade, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

    The Senate version would have targeted private HMOs participating in Medicare by changing the formula that governs their reimbursement, lowering payments $26 billion over the next decade. But after lobbying by the health insurance industry, the final version made a critical change that had the effect of eliminating all but $4 billion of the projected savings, according to CBO and other health policy experts.
    That change was made in mid-December during private negotiations involving House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and the staffs of those committees as well as the House Energy and Commerce Committee. House and Senate Democrats were excluded from the meeting. The Senate gave final approval to the budget-cutting measure on Dec. 21, but the House must give it final consideration early next month.

    The change in the Medicare provision underscores a practice that growing numbers of lawmakers from both parties want addressed. More than ever, Republican congressional lawmakers and leaders are making vital decisions, involving far-reaching policies and billions of dollars, without the public -- or even congressional Democrats -- present.

    The corruption scandal involving Republican former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the bribery plea of former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) have prompted calls for a restructuring of lobbying rules and congressional practices that make lobbying easier.

    A prime target for changes are the closed-door negotiations known as conference committees, where members of the House and Senate hash out their differences over competing versions of legislation. House and Senate Democrats last week proposed that all such conference committees meet in the open and that any changes be made by a vote of all conferees.
    [...]

    Impeachment hearings: The White House prepares for the worst

    Monday, January 23, 2006

    ALL Launches Full-Scale National Campaign to Stop Planned Parenthood Tax Funding

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 /U.S. Newswire/ -- "Millions of Americans are sick and tired of their tax dollars being used to underwrite Planned Parenthood -- the largest abortion chain and most aggressive promoter of sexual immorality in our nation," said David Bereit, executive director of American Life League. "On the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision that forced abortion upon all 50 states, American Life League is launching an aggressive nationwide campaign to stop every dollar of Planned Parenthood taxpayer funding at the local, state, and national levels."

    Not me. What I'm sick and tired of is my tax dollars going to subsidize "religious institutions", none of which I give a damn for and many of which have proven to be bastions of dangerous anti-American, freedom hating extremists.

    Why should such organizations be tax exempt? They shouldn't, but they are. And they never stop interfering with secular concerns.

    "People of faith and concerns," as this screeching weenie puts it, ought to be worrying about a lot more than their usual narrow minded roster of who is fucking who and who is using birth control and who is having an abortion, which is certainly not murder but is certainly the right of a woman over her own body, and I'm damn sure almost never undertaken lightly or with ease.

    People of faith and concerns ought to get their beady, bloodshot eyeballs on getting their war mongering boy king out of the white house and getting a toe or two into reality.

    The phallus worshipping religious right, be they of the Christian variety or the Muslim, and they are the same thing, dispute all women's rights as a matter of course, because what they hold to be sacred is the right of a man to control women as property and the right of the state, as the church or the secular-or-not nation state or the multinational corporation, to control both.

    So it is written, so they say, and even if the direct opposite is written, if it is written it will be done by some book thumping extremist hollering high about the word and the lord and the rapture. After all, if it is written down or broadcast on FOKKKs news it is true.

    Women who go along with this are extremely damaged women such as She swine, who live only to submit to male authority.

    The religious right is so preoccupied with all aspects of sex you can't help but notice it. They talk about it constantly. Very unhealthy, very perverse. But they are invariably the epicenter of nearly every sex scandal the media, which doesn't report real news, only sex scandals and other nonsense, reports.

    Let's face it - the connection lovers feel to each other is a hell of a lot more immediate, spiritual and sacred than all that la la walk the little woman behind you bullshit the religious right sings. No wodner the religious looonies want ot shut it down.

    You have to be pretty aggressive to convince people their own sense and experience of the divine should be subsumed to the male cult warrior Yaweh Allah, bearer of the sacred sword and prick, and pretty mentally ill to want to.

    Narcissism, thought distortion, self sustaining delusions, enshrinement of inequality and incessant political activity. Wow. That's the religious right. Why are we tax exempting that? If they want to play politics then let them pay taxes.

    Nothing Free About Free Markets

    A term that actually means heavily armed government henchmen supported by corporations who support them

    Ordinary Iraqis feel pinch of free-market reforms
    Grocery prices jump as cost of gasoline soars threefold

    AN ALTERNATIVE TO INCARCERATION

    Behavioral Health Court offers counseling to criminal defendants with psychological problems. Cheaper than jail, it's changing lives.

    Detained after Sept. 11, six return seeking justice

    Morales 'to end 500 years of injustice'

    Evo Morales has been sworn in as the first indigenous leader of Bolivia, South America's poorest nation, and promised to end 500 years of injustice and inequality.
    Morales has pledged to redistribute wealth to the poor.

    Russia accuses British diplomats of spying

    King to sign Saudi-China oil deals

    If the Chinese Were Running America....

    [...]

    "Corruptions, which emerged in personnel adjustment, may shake and undermine the CPC's ruling foundation and capacity," said Wu Jiang, president of the Chinese Academy of Personnel Science in an interview with Xinhua, adding that the corruption is easier to occur when local Party committees are engaged in the re-election.

    Liu Xirong, deputy secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC said at the press conference that the re-elections of the local Party Committees has come to a crucial moment, and the CPC will strengthen the supervision over and inspection on the re-elections of local Party committees and strictly enforce discipline, so as to resolutely prevent the corruption and adjust the wrongdoing in official promotion and election.

    He said the officials who are found acquiring official posts through illegitimate means will be criticized and punished and will no longer be promoted. Those who have already obtained higher official posts by briberies will be demoted. The officials who took charge in discipline supervision but failed to spot the wrongdoing in official promotion will also be dealt with for their breach of duty.
    [...]

    If your suntan oil can change the sex of fish, what can do it to you?

    Photo

    An Iranian athlete makes her way past a picture of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as she helps make a human chain around the Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) to support Iran's nuclear program just outside the city of Isfahan, 410 kilometers (255 miles) south of Tehran, Iran, Sunday, January 22, 2006. (UPI Photo/Mohammad Kheirkhah)

    Election Day in Canada

    Plant Closings, Job Cuts Loom at Ford

    Ford has given us such gas guzzling behemoths as the Expedition, the Explorer and the Excursion. It has given us cars with exploding tires and god knows what else. It has played a part with other auto manufacturers and the repiglican -lite Clinton administration, of accelerating emissions and accelerating fossil fuel use.

    But, by god, if they won't stay in business and invest to retool their own factories, because their friends in the energy industry are pushing the price per gallon up so fast they can't sell their giant tonka toys anymore, and because they see their responsibility as being to their stockholders rather than to their workers and the communities in which they do business, corporate ass licking government officials will happily pay them, by reducing their taxes even further, to stay in business and exploit Americans even further.

    Anyone who can't see the plutocracy is an unmitigated idiot.

    Fuck Ford.
    If they don't want to employ people here then they shouldn't be selling their junk here.
    It is really that easy.

    Steady Climb in Gasoline Prices

    Spying on Political Opponents and Legal Dissent

    Halliburton Cited in Iraq Contamination

    Bush Nominee Broke the Law! Wow. Tell me something new.

    Sunday, January 22, 2006

    Sent to me by Elaine S.

    This is a letter from the International Solidarity Movement sent to me from one of the people in the group of Jewish doctors who went to Palestine. It shows, unfortunately, that Barak Obama, has fallen in line with all the other passive democrats who cannot think of a single bad thing to say about Israel. He has been a disappointment in other ways, but for me, this clinches it. He is in the same category of totally useless democrat as Hillary Clinton.



    3. An Invitation for Barak Obama
    January 15th, 2006
    by Katie

    The morning of Thursday, January 12, myself, and other Palestinian and international activists were invited to the branch of Jerusalem University in Ramallah for a conference that Barak Obama, the US senator from Illinois, was holding with students. The others were skeptical about him, but I assured them that he is a very progressive politician and he would be supportive of the Palestinian cause. Barak Obama began the conference by saying how surprised he was that it was cold and raining in Ramallah, that it went against his preconceived notions about the climate in the Middle East. He spoke about his background and how he was the underdog in his race for the Senate. He explained to us that even though the US has made many foreign policy mistakes, that he believed in our system of checks and balances. He then offered to start a dialog with the audience. One student asked how Arab governments can create a paradigm shift and improve relations with the US. When he answered the question, I tried not to give in to frustrated laughter because, I shit you not, this is what he said (I am paraphrasing and my comments are in parenthesis): The Arab governments need to embrace democracy, not theocracy. When you allow the will of God to influence the laws of your country, you will not win the support of the US. (what about Israel claiming they have the God given right to rule this land ?) The Arab governments need to renounce violence against civilians. (What about 100,000 dead Iraqis, were all of those people terrorists, Baathists, foreign fighters or were some of them civilians ?) The US is opposed to theocracy and terrorism and if the Arab governments want to create a paradigm shift, they need to address these concerns of ours. So then I asked him, "You say the US is opposed to theocracy and terrorism, how can you explain to the Palestinian people how the US can be opposed to these things but still supports a state that has racist, oppressive, unjust and apartheid policies. And do you see how this paints an inconsistent picture to the people of the Middle East?" He began his answer by saying he would not accept the assumptions I made and therefor was not going to address that part of my question. He said he could understand the Palestinian view that the policies of the US were one sided but he said the relationship with Israel was not going to change. My high hopes for Barak Obama's foreign policy ideas were shot down ! Obama said this was his first trip to the Middle East, that he had just come from Qatar and Jordan. I imagine he stayed in some pretty fancy hotels. I'm not sure that if you are a powerful American politician on your first ever trip to the middle east that you can really get a good idea of what things are like here. So Barak Obama, I would like to send you an invitation. I invite you to consider that maybe your preconceived notions about the weather in the Middle East are not the only notions that were incorrect. Barak Obama, I would like to invite you to stand in line at Qalandia checkpoint, I would like you to witness the humiliation Palestinians face there, I'd like to invite you to take part in a peaceful demonstration like Mohammad Mansour was doing when his friend was shot and killed, or Roni, who was shot in the neck and who is now paralysed from the waist down. I'd like to invite you to acknowledge that there are families on the Palestinian side of the wall who cannot travel 5 minutes away to the next village to see their familes on the Israeli side of the wall. I would invite you to meet Ahmad, a five year old boy I met on the way back from Jenin whose father was killed by Israeli soldiers. I would like you to consider that if a Palestinian wants to leave the country by plane , he or she cannot leave via Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, he or she must travel by land to Jordan and leave via the airport in Amman. This is the Middle East's only democracy, Mr. Obama ! I would invite you to consider how the unconditional support for Israel with US tax dollars affects 4 million Palestinian people who just want to live their lives and be free from oppression.
    >
    >

    Molly Ivins

    All newspaper editors want to know what their readers like. If you would like to read this feature in your local newspaper, please do not hesitate to share your enthusiasm with your local newspaper editor.

    MOLLY IVINS RELEASE: FRIDAY, JANUARY 20, 2006, AND THEREAFTER AUSTIN, Texas ---

    I'd like to make it clear to the people who run the Democratic Party that I will not support Hillary Clinton for president. Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever straddling, enough not offending anyone This is not a Dick Morris election. Sen. Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out on Terri Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are just contemptible little dodges. The recent death of Gene McCarthy reminded me of a lesson I spent a long, long time unlearning, so now I have to re-learn it. It's about political courage and heroes, and when a country is desperate for leadership. There are times when regular politics will not do, and this is one of those times. There are times a country is so tired of bull that only the truth can provide relief. If no one in conventional-wisdom politics has the courage to speak up and say what needs to be said, then you go out and find some obscure junior senator from Minnesota with the guts to do it. In 1968, Gene McCarthy was the little boy who said out loud, "Look, the emperor isn't wearing any clothes." Bobby Kennedy -- rough, tough Bobby Kennedy -- didn't do it. Just this quiet man trained by Benedictines who liked to quote poetry. What kind of courage does it take, for mercy's sake? The majority of the American people (55 percent) think the war in Iraq is a mistake and that we should get out. The majority (65 percent) of the American people want single-payer health care and are willing to pay more taxes to get it. The majority (86 percent) of the American people favor raising the minimum wage. The majority of the American people (60 percent) favor repealing Bush's tax cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. The majority (66 percent) wants to reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes. The majority (77 percent) thinks we should do "whatever it takes" to protect the environment. The majority (87 percent) thinks big oil companies are gouging consumers and would support a windfall profits tax. That is the center, you fools. WHO ARE YOU AFRAID OF? I listen to people like Rahm Emanuel superciliously explaining elementary politics to us clueless naifs outside the Beltway ("First, you have to win elections"). Can't you even read the damn polls? Here's a prize example by someone named Barry Casselman, who writes, "There is an invisible civil war in the Democratic Party, and it is between those who are attempting to satisfy the defeatist and pacifist left base of the party and those who are attempting to prepare the party for successful elections in 2006 and 2008." This supposedly pits Howard Dean, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, emboldened by "a string of bad new from the Middle East ... into calling for premature retreat from Iraq," versus those pragmatic folk like Steny Hoyer, Rahm Emmanuel, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Joe Lieberman. Oh come on, people -- get a grip on the concept of leadership. Look at this war -- from the lies that led us into it, to the lies they continue to dump on us daily. You sit there in Washington so frightened of the big, bad Republican machine you have no idea what people are thinking. I'm telling you right now, Tom DeLay is going to lose in his district. If Democrats in Washington haven't got enough sense to OWN the issue of political reform, I give up on them entirely. Do it all, go long, go for public campaign financing for Congress. I'm serious as a stroke about this -- that is the only reform that will work, and you know it, as well as everyone else who's ever studied this. Do all the goo-goo stuff everybody has made fun of all these years: embrace redistricting reform, electoral reform, House rules changes, the whole package. Put up, or shut up. Own this issue, or let Jack Abramoff politics continue to run your town. Bush, Cheney and Co. will continue to play the patriotic bully card just as long as you let them. I've said it before: War brings out the patriotic bullies. In World War I, they went around kicking dachshunds on the grounds that dachshunds were "German dogs." They did not, however, go around kicking German shepherds. The MINUTE someone impugns your patriotism for opposing this war, turn on them like a snarling dog and explain what loving your country really means. That, or you could just piss on them elegantly, as Rep. John Murtha did. Or eviscerate them with wit (look up Mark Twain on the war in the Philippines). Or point out the latest in the endless "string of bad news." Do not sit there cowering and pretending the only way to win is as Republican-lite. If the Washington-based party can't get up and fight, we'll find someone who can.

    To find out more about Molly Ivins and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2006 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.

    I'm just wild about Harry

    Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Biggest Terrorist Of All?

    McCain Says U.S. Energy Can't Be Dependent On 'Wackos' In Venezuela

    Well OF COURSE he'd say that!

    McCain is a repiglikkkan. Don't be fooled by his moderate act. Just because he has pink ears and a little curly tail doesn't mean he isn't as right wing-fascist as all the rest of his party of amoral sociopathic con artists who'll do anything for a buck.

    Naturally he thinks using oil profits to benefit the people of a country is wacko.

    You don't hear him saying Pat Robertson is a hypocrite and wacko.
    You don't hear him speaking out against Bush undermining the supposed torture ban either.
    And you never hear him taking any kind of stand against injustice and inequality because he believes those are fact and facet of the natural order.

    In fact all you hear McCain doing is positioning himself for a run for the presidency.

    If he wins, maybe I'll move to Venezuela.

    Panama: Wave of Protests

    FTA - US Infringes Guatemalan Identity

    Liberals haven't failed to capture Bin Laden

    Great Summary

    Durbin to vote against Alito, says filibuster possible

    R.I.P. America

    All it took was 18 guys with box cutters and America was no more. Not "defeated," of course, because we are still the most powerful nation on the planet -- if one measures "power" on such things as size of nuclear arsenal, numbers of conventional killing machines, consumption of goods, corporate wealth, stock holdings, private educational opportunities, etc. But the horror of Sept. 11, 2001 -- events that, we've since learned, might have been prevented if the President had fulfilled the responsibilities of his office or might have been used to bring people together to fight terrorism rather than turn us into the most reviled nation on earth -- sent America into a tailspin, one that we've yet to pull out of. Rather than becoming a stronger, more confident and ennobled nation, we've become exactly what our forefathers warned us against: a tyranny. With almost comical irony, the new tyrant, like the old one, is called George.

    Let's start with something on which we, so-called righties, lefties and moderates, should be able to agree: In the name of fighting terror we have ourselves become terrorized by our government. The recent reports of the President's warrant-less spying on American citizens seem lifted from Josef Stalin's daily to-do list. Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency operative forced out of his job for whistleblowing last year, recently told reporters that the spying was not, as Bush insists (and when do people simply stop believing anything said by this pathological liar?), limited in scope. Indeed, Tice says the number of Americans illegally probed "could be in the millions."

    Further, the FBI has been given carte blanche by attorney generals Ashcroft and Gonzalez to monitor "groups with suspected ties to foreign terrorists." And who might some of these terrorist groups be? They include environmentalists, animal rights activists and poverty relief proponents. In other words, there's a good chance that if you've ever said anything against the president, expressed antiwar sentiments on the phone, joined an environmental group, gone to a rally for the poor or protested the treatment of research lab animals, you have been tapped, probed and otherwise breached -- and you will never know what they have in their little files. While it would be, in a bragging-rights sort of way, an honor to be on Bush's enemies list, it can and will ruin your life somewhere down the line. As Philip K. Dick put it, "Once they notice you, they never completely close the file."

    The most heinous act done since 9/11 in the name of "fighting terror" may be the least noticed, largely because it was passed with bipartisan support and very little discussion: The Real ID Act, which became law on May 10, 2005. This anti-American legislation, the very embodiment of Bush Era paranoia, is the exact opposite of FDR's famous speech: The only thing we have is Fear Itself. As reader Mike Agranoff told me, "Not only will privacy be destroyed, but your life can be ruined by inaccurate data that you cannot correct. And Government will be immune from liability. Any dishonest bureaucrat can finish you."

    Details to follow in a future column.

    Brief note: Bloggers like Daily Kos, Atrios, Steve Gilliard and My DD, as well as progressive news sites like Liberal Oasis (now based in Northampton!) and American Politics Journal rose to the occasion for the Alito hearings. This is good for many reasons but mostly because the so-called mainstream media (MSM) failed miserably in its coverage. This vitally important story was largely framed by the MSM as a quiz show or a celebrity roast. Will Alito crack? Will his wife crack up? Why are senators so mean? Will Biden ask a freaking question?! Theirs was meaningless drivel masquerading as journalism and they treated the confirmation of Alito -- as extreme as Scalia, Thomas and Bork -- as a fait accompli.

    These unsung, and for the most part unpaid, bloggers dug deep into the minutiae of the hearings, provided expert analysis, and fact-checked testimony, finding numerous whopping lies and dissembles that dribbled from Alito's mushy mouth. In short, they did the job the MSM used to do. In the process, they exposed the MSM's dirty secret. That is, via CSPAN, bloggers -- let's call them informed, concerned citizens -- saw the same events unfold as the "legitimate" reporters. The difference between the two camps' coverage, however, could not have been more stark -- simpering on the one hand, serious on the other. This invaluable public service spat directly into the wind of our burgeoning tyranny. Sam Adams would be proud.


    We want your feedback.
    Email editor@hartfordadvocate.com

    Americablog on Rove

    [...]
    Actually, it was George Bush's pre-9/11 worldview -- his August 6th 2001 worldview to be specific -- that got us in to this mess. Bush was told on August 6th, 2001 that Bin Laden was going to attack the U.S., but stayed on vacation. Now, four and a half years later, despite Bush's promise and threats to the contrary, Bin Laden is still free to taunt the U.S.
    [...]
    Not that Americablog does, but I'm extremely annoyed by people who refer to effeminate, chubby opportunist Karl Rove as a brilliant strategist. He is far from brilliant. He is a manipulative con artist who respects no rule at all. If you don't play by the rules, well, how hard is it?
    In fact , his willingness to jeopardize national security to gain more political power for a clear incompetent suggests lack of normal intelligence and a complete lack of morals.

    Dean on Rove

    Ancient skeletons reveal first baby boom

    We’re hard-wired for geometry

    Sheikh Osama Bin Laden: "There Is No Shame In This Solution"

    Alternate translation of Bin Laden tape

    GOP to Use Terror As Campaign Issue

    Frist calls Alito Democrats' "nightmare"

    Federal Grants Bring Surveillance Cameras to Small Towns

    Village in Vermont Has Almost as Many as D.C.

    Judge Strikes Down Md. Ban on Gay Marriage

    The End of Oil

    Soaring fuel prices, rumours of winter power cuts, panic over the gas supply from Russia, abrupt changes to forecasts of crude output... Is something sinister going on? Yes, says former oil man Jeremy Leggett, and it's time to face the fact that the supplies we so depend on are going to run out

    Slavery Beneath the Golden Arches?

    Saudi King Expanding Trade Ties With China

    Saturday, January 21, 2006

    Judges Love Junkets as Much as Tom DeLay Does

    Top Judiciary Democrat To Oppose Alito

    While I am concerned about what role Alito might play in further damaging Roe v Wade, I am far more concerned with the role I'm certain he'll play in destroying the increasingly delicate check and balances in our system of government. He believes the executive is king. No one has to ask him a question for us to know that. There is a huge paper trail.

    Mike Malloy to CPAC: Get Lost!

    "Um . . . you're kidding, right? Why would I have any desire whatsoever to attend or participate in a convocation of neo-Nazis????? I had two uncles fight against you [expletive] in WW2. And, now, surprise! surprise! here you all are on US soil. Kindly get the [expletive] off my email. Thanks."

    Insider Trading by Delay and Frist as told by the Daily Kos

    Google Rebuffs Feds on Search Requests

    [...]
    The government wants a list all requests entered into Google's search engine during an unspecified single week — a breakdown that could conceivably span tens of millions of queries. In addition, it seeks 1 million randomly selected Web addresses from various Google databases.
    [...]
    Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - news) and Microsoft Corp., which operate the next most-used search engines behind Google, confirmed that they had complied with similar government subpoenas. America Online said it didn't fully comply with the subpoena but did provide a list of search requests already publicly available from other sources.

    A radical plan to Abramoff-proof politics.

    Denouncing Sen. Clinton, Coulter ignored her own "plantation" remarks

    Slew of Republicans refer to Democratic party as "plantation" - when are they apologizing?

    Men Enjoy Seeing People Suffer

    Right Agenda Promoting AP Actually Reports Facts

    Dems Should Forget Ethics "Reform" - It's Time for a Second American Revolution!

    Group Bashes U.S. For Prisoner Abuse

    US to expand uniformed Public Health Corps

    Yeah, all fine and good,but I don't want an increased domestic role for the military. How about putting the money into public health?

    Lend me your — gills?

    Two paleontologists in Sweden reported in the journal Nature that they've found evidence that the middle ear found in humans and other species may have originated as gills of ancient fish.

    First, Do More Harm

    Wednesday, January 18, 2006

    Feds Had 9/11 Hijackers Under Surveillance. They Let it Happen. They Really Did.

    {...}
    The press has recently been reporting on the issue of surveillance pertaining to four "key" 9/11 hijackers. Specifically, Congressman Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) has gone public with accusations that the Pentagon had four of the 9/11 hijackers under its surveillance in December of 2000.
    Initial press accounts detailed that four of the 9/11 hijackers -- al Mihdhar, al Hazmi, al Shehi, and Atta -- were identified by a data mining operation (Project Able Danger) run out of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

    The revelation of this new information is astounding for two reasons. First, if true, this would mean that four of the key hijackers in the 9/11 plot were in the cross-hairs of our Pentagon one year prior to the attacks during the summer of 2000. Second, it raises credibility issues surrounding the 9/11 Commission since the Commission's Final Report does not mention let alone report upon the Able Danger operation.
    {...}
    This is long. Please click the link and read every word.

    Africa News

    Kenya food shortage 'turning into crisis'
    Oil rises on Nigeria, Iran supply risk

    Bill Moyers: Take Back America

    This is something I saw on Link TV last night. It is excellent. Moyers always is. See it if you can.
    It includes a fine section on some of Delay's felonious, sell America to the highest bidder, sociopathic activities.

    Global warming: Is it too late to save our planet?

    More James Lovelock

    Synthetic Shock Syndrome

    Majority supports impeaching Bush for wiretapping

    Analysis: China's Africa exansion

    Sell-off shuts Tokyo exchange early

    Powell: Iran is going down Iraq's path

    Notice Who Finds on the State's Rights Side

    WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked the Bush administration's attempt to punish doctors who help terminally ill patients die, protecting Oregon's one-of-a-kind assisted-suicide law.

    US Refuses to Hand Over Marines Charged With Rape in Philippines

    Army hopes higher bonuses will attract recruits


    Active duty soldiers could receive up to $90,000 for re-enlisting. Yeah, don't hold your breath. It isn't like the military has honored its contractual obligations up until now.

    Children can’t “opt out” of Pentagon recruitment database

    More Drug Company News

    Don't You Have to Have Them First?

    Republicans propose Congress ethics reforms

    Tuesday, January 17, 2006

    Delay in 88

    Retraining The Brain

    Al-Jazeera Hires Lawyers to Get Transcript

    Gore Responds to Administration's Reaction to His King Day Speech

    1/17/2006 4:58:00 PM

    To: National Desk

    Contact: Trevor Fitzgibbon, 212-584-5000 ext. 210; or Jessica Smith, 202-822-5200 ext. 234

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following is a statement by former Vice President Al Gore:

    "The Administration's response to my speech illustrates perfectly the need for a special counsel to review the legality of the NSA wiretapping program. The Attorney General is making a political defense of the President without even addressing the substantive legal questions that have so troubled millions of Americans in both political parties.

    "There are two problems with the Attorney General's effort to focus attention on the past instead of the present Administration's behavior. First, as others have thoroughly documented, his charges are factually wrong. Both before and after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was amended in 1995, the Clinton/Gore Administration complied fully and completely with the terms of the law.

    "Second, the Attorney General's attempt to cite a previous administration's activity as precedent for theirs -- even though factually wrong -- ironically demonstrates another reason why we must be so vigilant about their brazen disregard for the law. If unchecked, their behavior would serve as a precedent to encourage future presidents to claim these same powers, which many legal experts in both parties believe are clearly illegal.

    "The issue, simply put, is that for more than four years, the executive branch has been wiretapping many thousands of American citizens without warrants in direct contradiction of American law. It is clearly wrong and disrespectful to the American people to allow a close political associate of the president to be in charge of reviewing serious charges against him.

    "The country needs a full and independent investigation into the facts and legality of the present Administration's program."

    More on Pension Bilking

    Overhaul in accounting rules could tighten squeeze on pensions

    Rome's Syllabus of Condemned Opinions

    The Last Blast of the Catholic Church's Medieval Trumpet
    A number of propositions condemned by Pope Pius IX

    In Martin Luther King Day address, Gore compares wiretapping of Americans to surveillance of King

    Fuck Ray Nagin. Repiglikkkan who changed Parties

    New Orleans Mayor Says God is Angry

    United Press International

    New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin says the hurricanes that devastated the city last year are a sign that God is mad at America, and at blacks in particular.

    Nagin made the remarks Monday during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, and said he might be suffering from post-Katrina stress disorder.

    Hurricane Katrina flooded the city Aug. 29, and Hurricane Rita added to the damage a month later.

    "As we think about rebuilding New Orleans, surely God is mad at America," Nagin said. "He's sending hurricane after hurricane after hurricane."

    "But surely he's upset at black America also. We're not taking care of ourselves. We're not taking care of our women. And we're not taking care of our children."

    The Class War Marches

    ALCOA dumps pension for new workers

    Alcoa says it will no longer offer pension benefits to most US salaried employees hired beginning in March. It is joining a list of companies looking to curb retiree benefit costs.

    The new employees instead will get a beefed-up 401K retirement plan.

    Under the new plan, Alcoa will contribute three percent of an employee's annual salary and bonus to the retirement account regardless of whether the employee contributes to the plan. In addition, the company will match the first six percent of salary that an employee contributes to the plan.

    Alcoa says the new policy will not affect the pension benefits of current employees or retirees.

    Based in Pittsburgh, Alcoa is the world's largest aluminum producer. It has 129,000 workers in 42 countries, including a plant in Blount County.

    The Republican Party is full of secret pro-choicers.

    Best Film I've Seen in a year

    Brokeback Mountain' wins 4 Golden Globes

    First Frump Irked By Criticism of Moron's AIDS Plan

    Saudi Arabia Says West is partly to blame Iran nuclear bid 'fault of West'

    Saudi Arabia has said the West is partly to blame for the current nuclear stand-off with Iran because it allowed Israel to develop nuclear weapons.

    Punjab Youths Hoodwinked to Serve US Army in Iraq

    Human trafficking is not a new phenomenon in Punjab. However, it is the landing of young aspirants in Iraq that has started raising hackles.

    Gonzales defends NSA, rejects call for prosecutor

    The pig grunts.

    James Lovelock

    NSWBC Lauds Al Gore's Recent Nonpartisan Speech

    RNC Response to Today's Speech by Al Gore

    FBI questioned NSA program's legality!!!

    Barking Cuckoo

    O'Reilly Threatens Vermont

    Robert Ney personally lobbied the then Secretary of State Colin Powell to relax U.S. sanctions on Iran

    Israel Likely to Bomb Iran in Spring

    Monday, January 16, 2006

    China beat Columbus to it, perhaps


    An ancient map that strongly suggests Chinese seamen were first round the world

    Space telescopes capture a cosmic jellyfish

    Got him again!

    Al Gore's speech not covered by News

    And the highlights of Gore's speech

    Long-lost Phoenician ports found

    The Modern World

    Democracy Now Broadcast King's I've Been to the Mountain Top and Beyond Viet Nam

    Emergency health care in ‘serious condition’

    System in poor capacity to deal with public health disasters, analysis finds

    WASHINGTON - The nation's emergency care system itself is ailing, warns a new health care analysis.

    The emergency health care system's in serious condition. We have a safety net for health care that is frayed, said Dr. Stephen Epstein, an emergency care physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

    Epstein was a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians task force that studied the nation's emergency care. Their report is being released Tuesday.

    These self righteous doctors think the problem with the system is malpractice insurance cost. That's some really fine analysis. Let's hope they do better when examining our bodies.

    The real problem is the health care system is FOR Profit.

    I've listened at length to SheSwine, emergency room physician, bitch and whine and rage on about how health care is a privilege, not a right, and the poor can die, die, die, punctuated with descriptions of her weekend during which she went to mass, no shit.
    I'm sure she spews flesh eating venom all over any poor people who seek care at the small town emergency room where she works, and I know she voted TWICE for fellow idiot Bush who has churned the economy to create another 5 or 6 million uninsured and still counting.

    There's only one solution. Nationalize the health care system. Unethical sociopaths like She Swine will flee the profession in droves.

    EXCLUSIVE: Abduction of American Reporter in Iraq Blacked Out By U.S. News Outlets

    Love the Way Bloomberg phrases the headline

    Wal-Mart Dealt Legal Setbacks on U.S. Workers' Rights (Update3)

    Why not 'Workers Win Legal Victories Against Medieval Walmart's anti life business practices'?

    No, nothing about a victory for workers or the small measure of justice found against Walmart's horrible business practices, though nothing near enough, will ever be reported in the corporate press. No labor point of view is allowed. People might get ideas. People might form unions. Unions might strike. (A national strike would be a darling idea IMO)

    It is strictly people against corporations here in Amerikkka.
    And corporations have complete control of the apparatus of government, through lobbying, media and campaign finance. The men that sold our government to corporations come from both parties, but the republican party has no sense of social responsibility at all. And no belief in common good.

    Corporations, and the republicans they own, including pseudo maverick john McCain, want a federal government that exists only to redistribute wealth to the owner class, and the rest be damned.

    Even a Right Wing Rag like Newsweek

    New Method for Flagging Vote Miscount Released -- Specific Type of Statistical Analysis Can Indicate Vote Count Errors in Past and Future Elections

    he National Election Data Archive (NEDA) has developed a new sophisticated statistical method for indicating whether reported vote counts in any particular election race has, or has not, been counted correctly. The new scientific method is being made publicly available for analyzing exit poll data may help restore faith in U.S. democracy. The method will be used to Analyze the 2004 Ohio Presidential Election Data.

    (PRWEB) January 16, 2006 -- After over a year of research, the National Election Data Archive (NEDA) has developed a new sophisticated statistical method for indicating whether reported vote counts in any particular election race between two candidates have, or have not, been counted correctly. The method is being made publicly available on the Internet "Vote Miscount or Exit Poll Error? New Mathematical Function for Analyzing Exit Poll Discrepancy", is publicly available. at http://electionarchive.org/ucvAnalysis/US/Exit-Poll-Analysis.pdf and will enable independent analysts to objectively evaluate the validity of any past or future election results.

    Given the continuing controversy over the large exit poll/vote count discrepancies in the 2004 presidential election, the number of computer “glitches" primarily favoring one candidate over the other, and allegations that electronic vote tampering may have been responsible, a scientific method for analyzing exit poll data appears essential for restoring faith in U.S. democracy.
    [...]

    Post ombudsman Howell twice falsely claimed Democrats received contributions from Abramoff

    US defends Mexican 'Berlin Wall'

    Sunday, January 15, 2006

    Knight Ridder's Alito Story: Factual and fair

    {...}
    he controversy erupted again this week at Alito's confirmation hearings. After Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., referred to the Knight Ridder story, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., introduced a critique of the story by the Republican staff of the Judiciary Committee into the record of the hearings. Kyl said the story, "has, to my understanding, been rather completely discredited." The first paragraph of the Republican critique, however, said the story was based on "dozens" of Alito's opinions, creating the false impression that Henderson and Mintz didn't examine the judge's entire body of published work.

    The Republican National Committee circulated a blistering personal attack on Henderson to some reporters, taking quotes out of context in an attempt to portray him as biased.

    The RNC said Henderson "admitted he was previously an editorial writer," as though that very public part of a distinguished reporter's career was a secret that he'd been trying to hide. The RNC statement then linked Henderson to editorials he didn't write.

    This hysteria over a carefully researched article that documents the obvious - that Samuel Alito is a judicial conservative - is the latest example of a disturbing trend of attacking the messenger instead of debating difficult issues.

    Fact-based reporting is the lifeblood of a democracy. It gives people shared information on which to make political choices. But as people in new democracies risk their lives to gather such information, in this country fact-based reporting is under more relentless assault than at any time in my more than 40 years in Washington.
    {...}

    Socialist doctor and former political prisoner elected as Chile's first female president

    Osama

    Happy Birthday Dr. King



    Rebuilding New Orleans: The Struggle Continues

    Prensa Latina on the JFK Assassination

    Imagine That

    Income may influence antidepressant response.

    One could conclude the existence of a relationship between socioeconomic circumstances, quality of life and "performance" in the world.

    Of course, this is a relationship ROBUSTLY DENIED by the up by the bootstraps (Dubya especially likes that, for everyone else), homo-erotic (Rove, McClellan, Limbaugh), neo-conservative, fundamentalist movement which whole heartedly embraces the notion of a dull-witted, mechanical universe in which men have beards, all is god's will, especially human pain and suffering, and if we manufacture a drug to fix depression, you better take it and be fixed, by god, or be damned.
    Or the god him holy high self will fix your broken chemistry if your surrender is abject enough.

    Besides, they can charge A LOT for these drugs. Drugs and fundie religion are both highly profitable right wing investments and political strategies.

    Big Pharma is a stockmarket wet dream. Even with bad drugs, poisonous drugs that damage children, trigger heart attacks, destroy livers, wipe out brains, even with that, this is highly profitable stuff. Just look at Donny Double Dick Head Rumsfeld and Tamiflu.
    No wonder the media is in a relentless cant about bird flu. Think of the profits! Think of the martial law!

    This finding about drugs will likely go the way of evolution and global warming, be tossed off as part of the liberal, satanic, sex worshipping, pansy ass agenda to turn Amerikkka into a land of mewling pussies.

    A very scary thing has been underway. SSRIs (and other similar drugs) have been pushed like candy hearts at valentine's day, and with very little discussion of serious side effects, which are actually drug effects because they are omnipresent, or do they call that pervasive? And no one ever seems to discuss the fact that THEY DO NOT WORK for what they are prescribed. If you're numb long enough your circumstance will likely change or you will change it, like you would without such drugs, except the meaning wouldn't be stripped from your actions like it is on the drugs, stripped because your emotional core is shut down.

    Right, as I was saying. These drugs disconnect people from many of their emotions. In fact, the main thing they appear to do is eradicate any empathy in people who take them (In other words, yes, a pill can turn you into a repiglikkkan.)
    Dangerous stuff. And they are very widely prescribed. They even give them to teen-agers for typical teen age angst, which is a normal part of adolescense. Some kids have committed suicide or murder while on them, so disconnected are they from emotional reality, so they've kinda stopped that. But they did it for years. Why? Big, big money. Showers of cash. And don't worry about lawsuits. Bush-Boy is getting those caps in place and those corporate servant judges on the high court.

    So they don't necessarily work like they are supposed to. Wow. I could have told you that years ago and never spent a dime on research. And they have tons of side effects and unknown long term effects. As to depression, they don't seem to treat it except in the very rare and exceptional circumstances when a person's body actually does have a chemical imbalance that causes depression, and even then...

    Maybe poor people struggling to make ends meet are a little more reality based than Jack Abramoff, who I'd bet anything, because of his dramatic weight gain, is on an antidepressant, so are a little harder to disconnect from reality.

    But people love to take these drugs because they don't want to experience their pain. I know TONS of people who take them. The majority of these people live unethical, self indulgent lives with little regard for the feelings of others. I always think dealing with those behaviors would alleviate depression much faster than the pill popping that blanks them out so they don't have to notice how morally impoverished they are.

    Go Hugo! Venezuela to Eradicate Poverty

    No wonder Robertson, Bush, etc., want him dead.

    Pants On Fire

    Marc Morial "A Right to Rebuild" in New Orleans

    Diebold News

    Pentagon Murders Journalists

    Alito is defending his support of police who strip-searched a ten-year-old girl

    Funny Little Walmart Video

    Pakistani People Gazing at Amerikkkan Handy Work

    Skanktorum, Ethics Manager

    Maryland House overrides GOP Gov veto on Wal-Mart bill

    It'll be interesting to note the exact extent of state's rights philosophy the federal government hating, states rights loving Gop-Krewe expresses when this lands in court as walmart versus Maryland.
    I'd predict probably about as state's rights as when they told Florida how to run their broken 2000 election, a nice "state's rights" (that's code for cracker racism) choice that resulted in President Double Dumb-Ass and the neocon effort for world domination, illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, torture, kidnapping, domestic spying, grease my palm with silver, 9/11, Katrina, accelerating problems in all sectors administration...You know, an unintrusive federal government

    Rest in Peace Shelly



    She was terrific.

    Rumsfled's Diplomacy

    Unrestrained and Fabulously Wealthy Corporate Behemoths Bilking Workers of Pensions

    Saturday, January 14, 2006

    Schwarzenegger Street

    Link found between artificial light, breast cancer

    In a major breakthrough, researchers have linked exposure to light at night to the growth in breast-cancer tumours. The tumours grew because artificial light interfered with the ability of women to create melatonin, the hormone that regulates the body's daytime and night rhythms.

    What!? The US make False Accusations!

    Pakistani villagers deny hosting al-Qaida No. 2

    EU Space Agency to sign Galileo contract on Jan. 19

    The surveilance industry is booming

    PARIS (Reuters) - The European Space Agency will sign a contract next week with Galileo Industries that will bring the EU's Galileo navigation satellite closer to challenging the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS).

    The contract, worth 950 million euros ($1.153 billion), will be formally signed in Berlin on January 19, less than a month after the EU launched its first Galileo satellite, named Giove-A (Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element), ESA said on Saturday.

    let's remember that President Bush chose him for this job to please conservatives, especially those who long for a second Antonin Scalia on the high c

    The Alito Factor

    US Law Unclear if Bush Can Invade Without Congress OK: Alito

    Sen. Russ Feingold noted that the same lawyers who created the legal justifications for Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program coached Alito about how to answer questions during the confirmation hearings:

    I’m going to say that I am still somewhat troubled by the idea that you were prepared for this hearing by some lawyers who were very much involved in promoting the purported legal justification for the NSA wiretapping program….

    Screw checks and balances. Alito is in.


    My question. Is Alito the man on whom Tony Kushner based Joe Pitt?

    Scramble for diminishing resource shapes global relationships

    As demand for oil increases, the dependent countries hesitate to antagonize those with ample supply. As a result, developing nations that are oil-rich have discovered newfound power, with oil politics often taking priority over democracy or human rights. For example, Chinese energy interests protect the Sudan from US anger over the massacre in Darfur. Likewise, some Western capitals are reluctant to bring Iran before the UN Security Council, because any sanctions including an oil embargo would damage their own economies. Over the past 70 years, the US led the way in setting ground rules for oil politics, yet now seems surprised by trends that have given developing countries more power. – YaleGlobal

    Ten Steps Behind

    Alito urged that the 1986 federal ban on machine guns be struck down

    [...]
    Taken to its logical conclusion, Alito's views could result in virtually every federal gun, ammo, and explosives law being overturned. This is because since 1938, every major gun federal gun control law has been enacted under the Commerce Clause. These include the Federal Firearms Act of 1938, which requires firearm manufacturers and dealers to obtain federal licenses before engaging in interstate commerce, and the Gun Control Act of 1968, which broadened existing restrictions on handguns to include a ban on interstate sales, banned mail-order sales of shotguns and rifles, and prohibited the importation of so-called Saturday Night Specials--inexpensive, short-barreled handguns of the type used by Sirhan Sirhan to kill Senator Robert Kennedy. The federal assault weapons ban survived two challenges arguing that Congress had exceeded its authority under the Commerce Clause in enacting the ban
    [...]

    Nigeria locates hostages, oil output recovers

    Friday, January 13, 2006

    Santorum reaps money from lobbyists

    Sen. Rick Santorum, who has been tapped by fellow Senate Republican leaders to draft legislation tightening restrictions on lobbyists, has received more money from lobbyists than any other congressional candidate so far in the 2006 election cycle.

    China And India Change The Game

    This is EXCELLENT analysis. I'm only posting a section. But I've linked it.

    Faced with a market in which politicsbe it the U.S. Congress or OPEC or Hugo Chavez have an equal if not greater influence on price as economics, the two have agreed to coordinate their efforts to secure energy resources. The plan is modeled on their recent joint deal in Syria. India and China will essentially work together to secure their energy resources without unnecessarily bidding up the price of those resources. In other words, the Indians and Chinese have agreed to a consumer's cartel representing 2.3 billion potential consumers.

    The significance of the alliance is hard to understate. India and China represent the two leading sources of increased oil demand globally. Each have enormous populations that are entering the modern economy at breakneck speed. As these populations increase their per capita income, they demand products and services that require higher and higher amounts of energy particularly oil for the new cars their citizens want to drive.

    Both the Indians and the Chinese are feeling the pressure of diminishing oil discoveries and flatlined oil production at a time when expansion of their domestic economies is rapidly increasing demand for energy. One unit of Chinese gross domestic product, for example, uses three times as much energy as a unit of American GDP. And 10 times as much as a unit of Japanese GDP.

    It is clear is that this pact escalates the global competition for oil. Yet it does so in a fairly sophisticated way. The two nations have agreed to distort the market rather than continue to compete and lose to global market imbalances (India 's concern) or nationalistic politics (China 's). Together, their combined markets and purchasing power offer an extremely attractive partner to producing states especially states like Syria, Iran and Sudan, who might otherwise feel pressure from Western concerns over human rights and democracy.

    At the same time, the deal demonstrates that neither China nor India can, or have an interest in attempting to, secure access to oil through military means, as the British did through World War II and as the United States has done since. This pact is not a military alliance. However, strategic resources have a long and bloody history of attracting military protection, and none less than energy. If this pact does not produce results and if the balance between oil production and demand continues to weaken, we may in the future see an Asian equivalent of the Carter Doctrine.

    Here in Washington, however, this news offers leading strategic advisers and their political clients a perfect moment in which to change the strategic narrative a false narrative which has been imposed on America since the attacks of 9/11.

    In Washington, the conventional storyline is still that nuclear terrorism is the single greatest threat to the United States and should therefore be the center of our national security strategy. Indeed, John Kerry and George Bush agreed on this assessment in their debates during the 2004 election. As Col. Larry Wilkerson pointed out earlier this week, that assessment is wrong. And it has been since September 12.

    This new alliance offers message-makers the out that they have been missing. Ever since the White House starting hyping its war on terror to a scared and underinformed American public as an existential conflict comparable to the World War II or the Cold War, politicians have refused to say otherwise. Now, with the failure in Iraq palpable, the arrogation of power so obvious, and now the rise of a real strategic challenge evident, it is time to change the story.

    And yet, dangers lurk. The administration has released slides from its forthcoming Quadrennial Defense Review that place an enormous priority on preparing to deter the rise of a future "near peer" superpower. In other words, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is salivating at the prospect of a rising China (and the massive weapons budgets such a foe would require).

    O'Reilly: "It's just a matter of time ... before we have to bomb" Iran

    Ha!

    Tracks of Her Tears: The Swift Boaters and Sam Alito

    The always-alert Creative Response Concepts, a conservative public relations firm, sent this bulletin: "Former Alito clerk Gary Rubman witnessed Mrs. Alito leaving her husband's confirmation in tears and is available for interviews, along with other former Alito clerks who know her personally and are very upset about this development."

    Republican sermons about civility

    [...]
    Is it really necessary to chronicle the Republicans� grotesque rhetorical excesses over the last 15 years in order to remind people how they have turned vile character assassination into a sport and, in the process, have dragged our political dialogue into the lowest and most odorous depths of the sewer?
    [...]

    Noxious Fumes Posted by James Wolcott

    [...]
    The warbloggers profess to be outraged, sickened, and appalled by Mideast violence yet increasingly are giving vent to their own violent fantasies directed at domestic foes, whom they consider traitors, appeasers, etc. They fantasize about their least favorite bloggers being beheaded, or hanging liberal traitors from lamp posts should there be another terrorist attack. Sites like Little Green Footballs, Atlas Shrugs, and their ilk have a lynch-mob mentality that has gotten uglier as the situation in Iraq has worsened. They blame Cindy Sheehan (recently voted "Idiotarian of the Year" at LGF), Michael Moore, and liberal Democrats for how badly the war has gone because they don't have the courage and honesty to blame the real architects of failure: Rumsfeld, who went to war with too few troops to carry out an occupation; Wolfowitz and the rest of the neocon brain trust, who assured Americans that the invasion would be greeted with flowers and candy, and the war would pay for itself through oil revenues; the U.S. military, which didn't anticipate a strong insurgency and arrogantly ran roughshod over the Iraqi people early in the occupation, enflaming the insurgency even more; and Bush himself, who in a moment of almost sociopathic hubris, taunted the insurgency with the three words that should be chiseled in disgrace on the wall of his future presidential library: "Bring 'em on." According to a recent poll, 55% of Americans no longer believe the war with Iraq was worth fighting. Are the majority of Americans "defeatniks"? If so, I must be more influential than I thought.
    [...]

    Gore to deliver scathing speech Monday on 'constitutional crisis' in Washington

    Wall Street grabs $21.5 billion in bonuses

    9/11 and the Pentagon Hit




    (After you watch it visit the webiste)

    China, India agree on energy cooperation

    Big, Intrusive Repiglikkkan Governemnt

    [...]
    State motor vehicle officials nationwide who will have to carry out the Real ID Act say its authors grossly underestimated its logistical, technological and financial demands.
    [...]

    What Bolton Wants

    Iran Threatens to Block Nuke Inspections

    Lobbyists' scandal has a K Street home

    [...]
    Sixteen big lobbying firms have more lobbyists than the Senate's 100 members; this white-collar industry takes in more than $2 billion a year. No other country has anything of this magnitude.

    But now K Street is at the center of a scandal that some of those who watch Washington for a living feel could be to the lobbying business what Watergate was to campaign finance and Enron was to corporate oversight.

    "This scandal has the potential to have a huge effect on K Street for decades," said Alex Knott, who monitors lobbying for the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity. "It will not only further shape people's opinions about lobbying, but could also lead to reform."

    At the center of the scandal is Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist who pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges last week, accused of using third-party groups to pay for lavish overseas trips for Representatives Tom DeLay of Texas and Bob Ney of Ohio, as well as for senior congressional aides.

    But many other lawmakers have run afoul of requirements for reporting their private travel and a score of them may be examined by federal investigators looking for possible illegal attempts to influence legislation.

    Abramoff is a hustling Hollywood native whose charm, flamboyant deal-making and readiness to bend or break rules propelled him first to a K Street pinnacle and probably next will lead him to jail. The spreading scandal that now bears his name, and which primarily affects Republicans, yielded a new victim this week: a top lobbying firm, the Alexander Strategy Group.

    The collapse of Alexander was reported Tuesday by The Washington Post, which said that nearly half its clients were leaving because of the unfavorable publicity linking it to the Abramoff scandal.

    While Republicans note that Abramoff has Democratic entanglements, too, his far greater involvement with Republicans means that it is the majority party that sees most to fear as this drama, one of the worst congressional scandals in decades, is played out in an election year when Republicans already find themselves unexpectedly vulnerable.

    The Alexander Strategy Group was one of many lobbying firms to have thrived partly through close ties to DeLay, who has stepped down as the No. 2 Republican in the House while defending himself against charges emanating from the scandal. The home page of the group's Web site identifies a partner, Ed Buckham, as former chief of staff to DeLay.

    K Street has taken on a lopsidedly Republican cast in recent years - much of this DeLay's doing - and this has paralleled and been partly fueled by a dramatic overall growth in the lobbying industry.

    The industry has nearly doubled in the past decade, partly a simple reflection of growth in government - notably of the military and security-related branches since 2001 - and of spreading government regulation. There are more targets of concern for the businesses and interest groups that look to K Street to get their voices heard in Washington.

    Abramoff's liberal dispensation of sports and cultural tickets, his financing (often indirectly) of congressmen's campaigns and foreign travel are not entirely new to an industry once known for providing "booze, broads and beefsteaks."

    And the fact is, lobbying in Washington is a constitutionally protected activity, assured by the right of citizens to petition their government for redress of grievances.

    But Abramoff, according to his admissions as part of a plea agreement, has been linked to some particularly brazen efforts to influence opinion, which - thanks to their e-mail trail - have been damningly well-documented.

    Now 46, Abramoff was a conservative activist even when he was a student at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. He befriended a Harvard student, Grover Norquist, who went on to become an influential Republican anti-tax campaigner.

    Abramoff was national chairman of the College Republicans, a post held earlier by Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's senior adviser. After a disastrous attempt at Hollywood film-producing, Abramoff moved to Washington and met DeLay around 1994.

    He befriended DeLay's top aides and staff, providing concert and sports tickets. Prosecutors say he funneled $50,000 to the wife of a top staff member. Meanwhile, he wove a farflung network of deals and connections, including a casino boat deal in Florida that led to his indictment last year in Miami on fraud charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

    Investigators are looking at an expensive trip DeLay took to England and Scotland in 2000 and whether Abramoff arranged for two clients indirectly to donate $25,000 each to pay the expenses.

    Abramoff's clients, presumably at his behest, donated more than $1 million to a little-known advocacy group, the U.S. Family Network, which had a single full-time employee and performed scant advocacy of family values but did run campaign ads against Democrats. It also paid hundreds of thousands to the Alexander Strategy Group, The Post reported.

    In September 2004, Senate investigators concluded that Abramoff and his partner, Michael Scanlon, a former DeLay aide, had charged six Indian tribes at least $66 million for lobbying services and may have manipulated tribal elections.

    Scanlon later pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe public officials.

    DeLay, once so powerful and feared he was known as "the Hammer," now faces his own legal problems in Texas.

    Abramoff has pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials. He is said to be penniless, having gone through millions. His expensive Washington restaurant, Signatures, where he treated lawmakers and their staffs lavishly, now gathers dust.

    Perhaps 20 lawmakers may be investigated, along with staff members and possibly some executive-branch officials.

    In the scurry for political cover, the prospect for new legal limits on lobbying appears larger than in years.

    Michael McCarthy, a Vassar College philosophy professor who co-wrote "The Ethics of Lobbying," considers Abramoff "the tip of the iceberg" - merely an exaggerated example of "the systemic inequity built into the system."

    Lawmakers have to raise thousands of dollars a day for re-election campaigns. Lobbyists in recent years have taken a growing role in fund-raising, so their original role - as necessary intermediaries between citizens and their lawmakers - can yield to abuses. The system has long engendered public cynicism, a sense that may be swelling.

    Nearly 6 in 10 Americans see the Abramoff scandal as evidence of widespread corruption in Congress, a Washington Post-ABC News poll showed.

    Today "people in many important ways feel the government is for sale," McCarthy said. Whether this translates to real change is less clear. "It's very hard to sustain public outrage about something that's as far off most people's radar screens as the Abramoff scandal," he added.

    DeLay was a force in changing K Street. Until the last decade, lobbying firms tended to hire roughly equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats.

    But with the arrival of Republican control of the White House and Congress, DeLay began pressuring lobbying firms to hire or promote more Republicans in what Democrats saw as a breathtakingly aggressive takeover that became known as the K Street Project. An estimated two in three corporate dollars now go to Republican-dominated lobbying firms.

    DeLay's distractions already appear to have cost Republicans some effectiveness in the House, where the party's cohesiveness has suffered.

    The K Street Project, too, is likely to lose some effectiveness, said Dennis Thompson, a government professor at Harvard University. "People will try to distance themselves," he said. Lobbyists' fund-raising role may slip, too, he thought: "I think they'll be more careful about that, or should be."

    Thompson expects a toughening of the requirements on congressmen and their staffs to disclose gifts from lobbyists and, perhaps less likely, a slowing of the "revolving door" that brings former lawmakers and staff members into lobbying roles - "one of the deepest problems in this whole practice." Law now requires them to wait just a year before changing hats.

    In all, Knott said, 273 former members of Congress or federal agency heads are lobbyists. This, Thompson said, "makes it all too cozy and too easy, even if you think, as I do, that lobbying is an important and respectable part of the process."


    {...}