Archive for May 17th, 2007
“The federal government is spending millions of dollars on a publicity campaign that could be used to plug budget shortfalls hurricane forecasters are struggling with, the National Hurricane Center’s director said Thursday. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is spending up to $4 million to publicize a 200th anniversary celebration while the agency has cut $700,000 from hurricane research.”
Via Alert Reader, here’s a good overview of the game plan, which amounted to a completely illegitimate use of power.
It is time to stop referring to the “fired U.S attorneys scandal” by that misnomer, and call it what it is: a White House-coordinated effort to use the vast powers of the Justice Department to swing elections to Republicans.
This is no botched personnel switch. It is not even a political spat between the fired U.S. attorneys and Bush administration officials who deemed some of them insufficiently zealous in promoting the department’s law enforcement priorities. Connect the dots and you see an insidious effort to corrupt the American electoral system. It’s Watergate without the break-in or the bagmen.
The emerging picture is one in which widespread Republican claims of “voter fraud”—unsubstantiated in virtually every case examined closely by law enforcement officials, local journalists, state elections officials and academics—were used to stymie Democratic-leaning voter registration groups and create a taint around Democrats. The Justice Department’s own statistics show that only a handful of people were convicted of voting illegally since it began a “voter integrity” initiative in 2002. Its top election crimes official, a career prosecutor, has told the U.S. Election Assistance Commission that the proportion of “legitimate to illegitimate claims of fraud” hasn’t changed.
The “voter fraud” claims that White House political adviser Karl Rove promoted before last year’s congressional elections were in battleground states such as New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin with closely contested races. He also has complained about alleged fraud in hotly competitive states such as Washington, Florida and Missouri. Curiously, states where elections often are decided by wide margins—New York, for instance—don’t turn up on his lists.
And, so far as I can tell, he didn’t get the “He did wrong, but so did others” judgment he was after. But (again, so far as I can tell) he does pick up the $400,000 he was to get if he made it to 1 June. Still, he looks all pouty.
So Paul Wolfowitz maintains a proven track record of exercising spectacularly bad judgment. I imagine now that every major corporation in America will be highly recommending him to their competitors.
From the ABC report:
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz has resigned his post, effective June 30.
An internal panel tasked with investigating the lucrative pay and promotion package Wolfowitz arranged in 2005 for girlfriend Shaha Riza found him guilty of breaking bank rules.
The committee also found that he tried to hide the salary and promotion package from top ethics and legal officials within the bank. The report added that there is a “crisis in the leadership” at the World Bank.
Wolfowitz is the first World Bank president to ever leave the bank under a cloud of scandal.
Local Whole Foods had fresh morels, so of course I had to have them again. So tasty. They were $30/lb, so I got 1.75 oz ($3.30), which (since they’re light) was a nice little portion. Sautéed in butter with a little salt and pepper. Very nice. Too bad they still haven’t been cultivated.
Apparently false morels, highly poisonous if eaten raw, are quite tasty if properly prepared. Let us know if you try them (or have your survivors let us know).
Or, as one so seldom sees, the past perfect imperative: “Do not have done anything wrong.” Here’s the story:
DPA’s [the Drug Policy Alliance - LG] core principle that people should not be punished for what they put into their own bodies absent harm to others has inspired us to get involved in the case of Andrew Feldmar, a Canadian psychologist.
Feldmar has been coming to the U.S. from Vancouver for years to visit his children, both of whom live in American cities. But the last time he tried to cross the border, a guard pulled him aside and searched for his name on the internet. This turned up a journal article Feldmar wrote about his use of LSD in Canada and the U.K. almost 40 years ago.
U.S. government officials have said that because Feldmar admitted drug use, he will never be allowed in the U.S. again unless he obtains an expensive special waiver in which he certifies that he has been rehabilitated.
Speaking to The New York Times, Feldmar asked, “Rehabilitated from what?”
A government spokesperson has pointed to increased security in a post-9/11 world as a reason for using internet searches to unearth information on would-be travelers. The government has not, however, established any link between admitted past drug use and terrorism.
Current federal law allows immigration and customs officials to bar entry to anyone who has ever used an illegal drug. If fully enforced, the law would bar millions of people around the world from visiting the U.S., including David Cameron (head of the British Tory party), former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell, the current Premieres of Quebec and Ontario, actors Colin Farrell and Pierce Brosnan, British billionaire Richard Branson (Virgin Air) and, of course, numerous musicians like Paul McCartney, Keith Richards and George Michael.
DPA has been alerting the media to Dr. Feldmar’s story, with pieces being published in AlterNet and The New York Times. DPA has also begun lobbying Congressional offices to raise awareness of the case in the hopes that this federal policy will be changed.
“100 million Americans have used an illegal drug at some point in their lives, and it’s hard to find a Presidential candidate who hasn’t smoked pot; yet we’re prohibiting people from other countries who have used drugs from visiting our country. It just doesn’t make sense.” said Bill Piper, DPA’s director of national affairs. “Imagine if other countries adopted similar policies. Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, Michael Bloomberg, Bill Gates, Brad Pitt, Sam Donaldson and millions of other Americans wouldn’t be able to travel.”
The Bush administration today threatened to a veto a House defense spending bill over a 3.5 percent pay raise for U.S. soldiers and a $40/month increase in benefits for military widows, among other provisions. The legislation passed the House today 397-27.
ThinkProgress noted last night that the White House opposed the pay raise for troops:
Troops don’t need bigger pay raises, White House budget officials said Wednesday in a statement of administration policy laying out objections to the House version of the 2008 defense authorization bill. […]
The slightly bigger military raises are intended to reduce the gap between military and civilian pay that stands at about 3.9 percent today. Under the bill, HR 1585, the pay gap would be reduced to 1.4 percent after the Jan. 1, 2012, pay increase.
Bush budget officials said the administration “strongly opposes” both the 3.5 percent raise for 2008 and the follow-on increases, calling extra pay increases “unnecessary.”
The White House says it also opposes:
– a $40/month allowance for military survivors, saying the current benefits are “sufficient”
– additional benefits for surviving family members of civilian employees
– price controls for prescription drugs under TRICARE, the military’s health care plan for military personnel and their dependents
House Minority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) said today he was “shocked and disappointed in the President’s threat,” noting that Bush’s problems with the bill are over measures that benefit “the very people who sacrifice the most in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and who serve at home and overseas.”
UPDATE: VoteVets chairman and Iraq veteran Jon Soltz adds:
Believe me, even with the current benefits that get paid out by the Department of Defense and insurance that many troops buy into, those who lose spouses in Iraq aren’t sleeping in mounds of cash. The increase proposed by Democrats will mean a hell of a lot. At VoteVets.org, we’ve heard absolute horror stories on the type of cutbacks that widows and widowers have had to make because the government doesn’t provide enough to those who lose a loved one in war.