Saturday, July 22, 2006


It will seem apologist, this dedication to soldiers.
Nonetheless, to those fulfilling contracts, boots on the ground, some earning a living by their only option, placed in harms way by the scheming and greedy, their bravery asked by the cowardly, drawn by love of one's country and trained to hate another's, minds dulled by duty to superiors and comrades, changed by propaganda and noise and heat and dust and disease and grief and shame and worry and danger and consuming fear, flesh and bone now so vulnerable, base instincts freed and rewarded, souls pounded down until good is smashed, until awareness is lost that the suffering and destruction and death surrounding them results from their own hands. Until the only true feeling they may have is a longing for home.
To all soldiers trapped in evil by evil, this:

Robert Cray, Twenty



WASHINGTON, July 21 — The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Labanon, American officials said Friday.
The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran’s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.
full story



Image courtesy of

A picture is worth a thousand words...



Bush/Cheney Security

Image courtesy of

'WrongAgain', frequent commentor over at AMERICAblog posted this a while ago. Funny, yet sad... and most certainly fitting. Stripping us of our rights for the lie of security.




Poverty pledge ends Mercosur meet

The South American trade pact Mercosur has ended its summit with 10 presidents agreeing to work together to boost trade, create jobs and cut poverty.

BBC News-Five of the heads represented Mercosur members while others such as Bolivia's Evo Morales and Cuba's Fidel Castro attended to show their support.

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez hailed his country's formal entry into Mercosur with a call to tackle social ills.

Thousands of activists descended on the summit venue, Cordoba in Argentina.

They gathered after the summit in the grounds of Cordoba's university to hear Mr Chavez speak.

Capitalism is perverse, he told the summit - if you are rich, you get looked after but if you are poor, you die.

The BBC's correspondent, Daniel Schweimler, says the promises announced at the summit - to increase trade and employment and bolster democracy - are the kind always made at such meetings.

But, he says, this year was different in that the presidents in their suits and the banner-wielding demonstrators on the streets wanted much the same thing.

'World power'

Venezuela formally joined the 15-year old customs union at the summit.

Mr Chavez said that Mercosur, which has been undermined by internal disputes for much of its history, was entering a "new stage".

He urged it to stand firm against US free-market policies in South America, which he argues have weakened the continent's economic clout.

He called for greater emphasis to be given to reducing poverty and creating jobs, saying the organisation had much to learn from social programmes pursued by Fidel Castro in Cuba.

"Latin America has all it needs to become a great world power," he said.

"Let's not put any limits on our dreams. Let's make them reality."

Cuban leader Fidel Castro, attending the summit for the first time in three years, said: "This kind of integration has centuries-old enemies."

The summit is primarily about forging economic links across the continent, although Mercosur's members did discuss trade deals with the European Union and other countries such as Pakistan.

'Political alliance'

Argentina's President Nestor Kirchner said he believed Bolivia and Mexico should be allowed to join the organisation, which he stressed must be a tool for both economic and social development.

But critics of Mercosur claim that it is in danger of losing its free trade focus and becoming more concerned with securing political influence.

"It is hard to see the geographical logic behind Mercosur anymore," said Michael Shifter, from think tank Inter-American Dialogue.

"It is an effort to try to build and consolidate an alternative alliance to US-backed free trade policies."

Story Link



They're Back: A New, Vicious Taliban Take Shape in Afghanistan

Opium Drug Trade Funding New Type of Taliban Army

Gretchen Peters
ABC News

KABUL, Afghanistan June 27, 2006 — Coalition forces battling the Taliban across southern Afghanistan aren't fighting the same bearded extremists they toppled in October 2001.

It's as if the sequel to a horror film is being replayed across southern Afghanistan this summer.

Call it "Taliban II." They're back, reloaded, and more ruthless than ever.

They're Back

Suicide attacks and roadside bombs — once unheard of in this country — are now almost a daily occurrence.

The Taliban seem unconcerned if they hit civilian or military targets. On Tuesday, a suicide bomber in northern Kunduz killed two and injured eight. A suicide attack near the Bagram Airbase on Monday wounded two children.

Soldiers with the U.S.-led coalition are currently battling the Taliban across four southern provinces: Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul and Uruzgan.

More than 1,100 — most of them Taliban — have died in the vicious fighting.

Reports vary but all involve violence such as Taliban soldiers gouging the eyes out of prisoners they capture in the South or burning down schools that offer co-ed classes.

Last week ABC News received a grisly video release. It pictured the Taliban's ruthless one-legged commander Mullah Dadullah beheading alleged spies for America.

Ahmed Rashid, author of the "Taliban," said the movement had gone through "many morphings," and argued that so-called moderates had defected or been purged by the current leadership now loyal to Osama bin Laden.

"They are particularly brutal," Rashid said, "and they are doing al Qaeda's bidding."

Read more HERE



Conn. GOP looks to change bets in new chaos of Lieberman race

Helen Kennedy
July 22, 06

The dramas keep piling up in Connecticut's much-watched Senate race: Sen. Joseph Lieberman's GOP opponent was forced to admit yesterday that he was sued by two Atlantic City casinos for welching on $28,000 in gambling debts.

Republican Alan Schlesinger was already under party pressure to quit the race amid revelations he was kicked out of Foxwoods casino - where he had gambled under a phony name - for counting blackjack cards.

"I have never done anything illegal. I did absolutely nothing wrong," Schlesinger told The Hartford Courant.

The Courant reported he paid Caesars Palace $10,211 and Trump's Castle $18,016 in the early '90s to settle suits over his unpaid markers.

Schlesinger, a lawyer and former Derby mayor, initially denied all, saying he forgot about the payments because it was "not that much money to me."

Connecticut Republicans are scrambling to find a candidate to replace Schlesinger, who already has weak poll numbers.

When Lieberman looked unbeatable, no major Republican wanted to challenge him.

But things have changed, with Lieberman battling for his political life against anti-war Democrat Ned Lamont.

Former President Bill Clinton is due in the state Monday to try to rescue Lieberman's reelection bid.

Story Link



Lamont's wealth confirmed in 2005 tax documents

Ken Dixon
The Connecticut Post

MERIDEN — Democratic challenger Ned Lamont allowed reporters to check his 2005 tax returns Friday as his campaign manager said his opponent, U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, is playing "gotcha politics" to avoid substantive campaign issues.

Lamont was nowhere to be seen at his campaign headquarters here as about a dozen reporters pored over the hefty returns after news cameras were removed from a meeting room. Tom Swan, the campaign manager who charged that Lieberman was using Lamont's finances to avoid issues like health care, high gas prices and the war in Iraq, also prohibited reporters from leaving with copies of the state and federal tax documents.

The Greenwich millionaire earned a gross income of nearly $4.3 million and claimed an adjusted gross income of about $2.9 million for the year. His net federal taxes were more than $621,000 and his state taxes were more than $209,000.

He claimed $546,000 in salary last year; he aspires to replace Lieberman in the Senate, a post that pays $165,200 annually. The primary is Aug. 8.

Charitable contributions through the Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund totaled $213,750, including $10,000 to Yale University, $50,000 to Stanford University's scholarship program, $100,000 to the Brookings Institution think tank and $10,000 to the Greenwich Country Day School.

Amid the many big numbers spread across more than 80 pages of filings, Lamont paid $64,311 in Connecticut use taxes on more than $1 million in purchases of art. Connecticut's per-capita income, the highest in the nation, is $47,819.

"What you're going to find here today is that Ned Lamont has been able to make a good living," Swan said. "As a result of having had that opportunity, he is now willing to commit himself to public service and to put his resources behind that to change the direction of this country."

Swan continued to decline, however, as Lamont has himself, to specify the candidate's total worth, maintaining an estimate of between $90 million and $300 million.

"I think that it's a fairly fluid number," Swan said. "He doesn't know the exact details and I don't know the exact details. You know the big news of this? He's a wealthy guy."

Swan also declined to release the tax documents of the candidate's wife, Ann H. Lamont, because she is in partnerships with others who do not wish to have their incomes revealed.

"Let's get real people, after you look at this; let's start talking about the real issues and the issues people care about, instead of this gotcha politics and calling for the misinformation that is coming out of the other side's campaign," Swan said.

He declined to release tax returns dating before last year because Lamont was not then a candidate for the Senate.

Swan said the personal finances of Lamont are being used by Lieberman to avoid a discussion on the 47 million people throughout the country without health care, for whom the candidate unveiled a universal insurance plan Thursday.

"We are releasing it and getting it over with right now, because there's nothing more after today," Swan said, stressing that he would not let reporters take the documents "because I'm not going to get these up and out on the Internet."

Story Link





Friday, July 21, 2006

Winning the Hearts and Minds of the Lebanese

Chalk another country up who hate Americans....thank you so much George!!

Question Girl


This doesn't surprise me. Have you heard anything about this on the news??? I haven't.
I've wondered since this conflict started....where do you think those Israeli soldiers were? Do you think they were in Israel or Lebanon when they were captured? I'm guessing they were in Lebanon.

07-21) 04:00 PDT Jerusalem -- Israel's military response by air, land and sea to what it considered a provocation last week by Hezbollah militants is unfolding according to a plan finalized more than a year ago.

In the six years since Israel ended its military occupation of southern Lebanon, it watched warily as Hezbollah built up its military presence in the region. When Hezbollah militants kidnapped two Israeli soldiers last week, the Israeli military was ready to react almost instantly.

Read full article here

Question Girl


Ex-Lobbyist In Abramoff Case Loses Georgia Race
Atlanta - Ralph Reed, the former director of the Christian Coalition and a former Republican lobbyist involved in the Jack Abramoff scandal, suffered an embarrassing defeat in his effort to win the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor on Tuesday.
story here

Rolling Stone has a good background on this slimy skunk:
The Reed Connection

Another good source for news of Israel's occupation of the
Palestinian Territories:
The Israeli Information Center For Human Rights In The Occupied Territories.

An interview Robert F. Kennedy Jr. gave to Brad Blog:
Democracy In Crisis

Voter Action is a link to a non-profit organization that provides legal, research and organizing support of election integrity. Their current focus is against the acquisition and use of privatized, electronic voting systems.


H.R. 4752

Has anyone ever heard mention of this bill? It's still in subcommitee, and probably has no chance of every passing into law, but something we should watch.

Universal National Service Act of 2006 (Introduced in House)

HR 4752 IH


2d Session

H. R. 4752
To provide for the common defense by requiring all persons in the United States, including women, between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes.


February 14, 2006
Mr. RANGEL introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Armed Services

Question Girl

Countdown: Bush Heckled & Violence Soars in Iraq

40% increase in violence in Iraq, 6,000 dead Iraqis in May and June alone. Is it any wonder Republicans are distancing themselves from Bush's stance on Iraq??? While they've been thinking all along this "war on terror" will win them elections, it just may be it will lose them.

Question Girl


Recently I read a sweet tidbit of early
American history and it made me think of
Patrick J. Buchanan.

When Indians first came in contact with the English, they had been, by all accounts, awed and amazed by all the things the Europeans had brought with them. "They do much extol and wonder at the English for their strange inventions," William Wood wrote. Whether it was an iron plow, a musket, or a windmill, the Indians ascribed to these "strange inventions" a spiritual power known as manit. [T]here is a general custom amongst them, Roger Williams wrote, at the apprehension of any excellency in man, woman, birds, fish, etc,. to cry out 'manitoo,' that is, 'It is a God'...[W]hen they talk amongst themselves of the English ships, and great buildings, of the plowing of their fields, and especially of books and letters, they will end thus: 'Mannitowock: They are Gods.' "
Mayflower, Nathaniel Philbrick

Of course I'm not thinking ol' Pat is a God, and I am not recognizing any excellence in him, but I am awed and amazed by an article he wrote for WorldNetDaily titled "No, this is not our war" which is his response to a Weekly Standard editorial "This is our war" written by William Kristol.

So to Mr. Buchanan, Manitoo!

I was also energized to read:

Conservative Anger Grows Over Bush's Foreign Policy
Micheal Abramowitz

GOP Lawmakers Edge Away From Optimism On Iraq
Jonathan Weisman and Anushka Asthana

Bush's Vision, And The Region, Appear To Be Near Collapse
Marc Sandalow


'Why is there not a murmur of protest from Washington?'

Kim Sengupta
The Independent
July 21, 2006

Outside the cavernous US government-run holding centre in Nicosia, Mohammed Shami shook his head. "I feel embarrassed to be an American. They have given Israel the green light to destroy Lebanon. What they are doing is wrong; it is immoral."

Mr Shami, who is of Lebanese-American descent, arrived here with 1,000 fellow Americans early yesterday, part of the exodus to Cyprus expected to reach more than 80,000 people fleeing the ferocity of the conflict in Lebanon.

For Mr Shami and others from the successful and settled Lebanese community in the US the relief at escaping the violence is mixed with deep feelings of anger and guilt at the actions of their government.

"My father is of Lebanese birth and my mother is American", said Mr Shami, a 21-year-old student from Michigan. " I am very proud of my mother and the American people. All I can say is that most American people are not like Condoleezza Rice, they are not like George Bush; they have a sense of decency."

There are 25,000 US nationals in Lebanon and they will arrive in Cyprus at 2,000 a day. The 2,300-strong 24th Marine Expeditionary Force is offshore with assault ships and destroyers. The purported reason for such a heavy military presence is to "help the civic powers" in the evacuation. But US diplomats privately acknowledge fear of an attack by Hizbollah. The first batch of Americans who came, on chartered ferry, the Orient Queen, are staying at the International State Fair complex in Nicosia, two huge halls with 1,152 orange camp-beds.

For many, the 10-hour journey out was fraught. More than 100 had forced their way out of the ship at the port of Larnaca after waiting more than an hour in stifling heat. Some objected to the barrack-like accommodation and the basic facilities. "I was hungry and when I tried to get food at four in the morning they stopped me," said a tearful woman. "Now I am told I am not on the list to go out tonight. We have to put up with more of this."

Mona al-Makki, 48, from Chicago, holding her three-year-old niece, Samira, on her knees, added: "I know they are having to look after a huge number of people, but this is not a place you want to spend any amount of time.

"I guess our attitudes are coloured because while we are sitting here, good homes belonging to our relations in Beirut have been destroyed by the Israelis without a murmur of protest from our President. I was asking, 'Why the hell is no one in Washington doing anything about this?' "

Gabriel Mansouraty left Beirut in 1981 during fierce fighting that led to an Israeli invasion. He settled in El Paso, Texas, as a manager of a plastics company, and took his American wife and two sons to Lebanon to show how the land of his birth had made a success of itself after years of strife.

"None of my family had seen Lebanon and I have not been back for 25 years," said 53-year-old Mr Mansouraty. "I was amazed by what has been achieved, the new buildings, the restaurants, the roads the great lifestyle. One only really appreciates that if one knew how devastated the place was. And now this.

"The Israelis have destroyed the buildings, the roads and that lifestyle. They have put the country back 30 years. I cannot believe this all happened because of the capture of two soldiers. This must have been months in planning.

Story Link



Bolton Will Get A New Chance In the Senate

The New York Sun
July 21, 2006

UNITED NATIONS — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold hearings Thursday on the renomination of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations.

The hearing was made possible yesterday after the main holdout in last year's bruising nomination fight, Senator Voinovich, a Republican of Ohio, announced his intention to support Mr. Bolton's nomination.

After a Senate impasse last year that resulted in a vacant Turtle Bay ambassador's seat, President Bush named Mr. Bolton ambassador in a recess appointment last summer. The ambassador's term, which began August 1, 2005, ends December 31.

The president could reappoint Mr. Bolton during the congressional recess, but that would entail no funding, and the ambassador would have to work without a salary. If it does not find a new candidate to replace Mr. Bolton, the administration must send him for reconfirmation.

Next week's hearing at the 18-member Senate committee will begin the process. If the committee recommends it, Mr. Bolton's nomination will be presented for a vote on the Senate floor.Last year, the committee sent the nomination to the floor without such a recommendation, after a 10–8 vote that split along party lines.

The administration decided to bypass the rest of the lengthy process and appointed Mr. Bolton without congressional support.

Mr. Voinovich was the lone Republican on the committee who said he would oppose Mr. Bolton's appointment. "Should the president send his renomination to the Senate I will vote to confirm him," Mr. Voinovich wrote in the Washington Post's op-ed page yesterday. "And I call on my Democratic colleagues to keep in mind the current situation in the Middle East and the rest of the world should the Senate have an opportunity to vote."

Mr.Voinovich, who is not up for re-election in this fall's election, added, "For the good of our country, the United Nations and the free world, we must end any ambiguity about whether John Bolton speaks for the United States so that he can work to support our interests at the United Nations during this critical time."

With Mr. Voinovich's about-face, last year's balance of power has now tipped. But even some of Mr. Bolton's most adamant supporters are not sure the renomination, which will allow Mr. Bolton to serve at the United Nations at least until the end of the Bush presidency, will sail through as the political season heats up. Democrats yesterday signaled they would fight hard.

"Mr. Bolton did not get a vote last year because the Administration refused, with no justification, to allow the Senate to review documents highly relevant to his nomination," Senator Biden, a Democrat of Delaware who led last year's fight against the nomination, said yesterday in a statement.

His reservations have intensified since then, Mr. Biden added. "Mr. Bolton's performance at the U.N. also confirms my conviction that he is the wrong person for this job." Indicating that the nomination will be hardfought, Mr. Biden said, "Instead of wasting time and playing politics, the Administration should nominate someone else to take Mr. Bolton's place when his recess appointment expires this fall."

Story Link



$5 million to fund stem cell research

Governor bypasses lawmakers again

Crystal Yednak
Chicago Tribune
July 21, 2006

For a second straight year, Gov. Rod Blagojevich used his executive powers Thursday to order millions of dollars in state funds to be used for stem cell research, bypassing a state legislature conflicted on the controversial issue.

Acting just a day after President Bush issued his first-ever veto in rejecting an expansion of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, the Democratic governor ordered $5 million be available for grants on top of $10 million he announced last July.

Illinois Senate Republicans accused Blagojevich of again subverting the will of the legislature, which has been sharply divided on the issue--particularly embryonic stem cell research. Lawmakers objected to Blagojevich's efforts to specifically earmark stem cell research funding in the state budget they approved in May.

As he did last July, Blagojevich justified his move as an effort to help advance medical progress. He has used populist health-related initiatives, such as expanded children's insurance coverage, as a cornerstone of his re-election campaign.

Blagojevich said Bush's actions made it clear that "stem cell research will get no support from Washington as long as he occupies the White House" while state lawmakers "had yet to back a plan" for providing research support.

"It would be wrong to ask sick and injured people and their loved ones to wait for the tides in Springfield and Washington to change before research into potentially life-saving cures can move forward," he said.

Blagojevich aides said they could not determine how much of the $5 million would go to grants involving embryonic stem cells--the most politically controversial aspect of stem cell research--until the recipients were selected. Some conservatives, including Bush, oppose embryonic stem cell studies because they involve the destruction of human embryos.

Senate Republicans said the Illinois legislature has answered the governor on this issue.

"The General Assembly has on at least two occasions debated this issue and rejected it," said Patty Schuh, spokeswoman for Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson (R-Greenville).

Last July, after failed legislative attempts to set aside money for stem cell research, Blagojevich announced that he would fund such grants using $10 million that had been tucked into the state's budget under the generic heading of "scientific research." The line item did not mention the words stem cell, which angered opponents who said Blagojevich was trying to circumvent the legislature.

After that experience, Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) said he asked directly this year on the Senate floor whether this year's budget would include any funding for stem cell research.

Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), the top budget negotiator for Senate Democrats, said he told Righter that the budget didn't contain money for stem cell research because there was no specific line item for it.

Trotter said the governor was able to find $5 million in the administrative budget of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services for stem cell research, partly because the cost of implementing All Kids, the governor's health-insurance plan for children, and other health programs was lower than projected.

"This wasn't our original intention during the budget process," said Blagojevich spokesman Abby Ottenhoff. "But in light of the president's veto yesterday, it's really the only option to make sure that stem cell research continues."

Story Link



Daily Show: Stem Cells & The War On Terror(ble) Diseases

Question Girl

Thursday, July 20, 2006


There really are two sides of Hezbollah. Not only are they militant, but they are political. They have won government seats. They are credited with ending the Israeli occupation of Lebanon. They fund social services and help many in Lebanon. But all I've heard on the news is that they are strickly a terrorist organization. I guess you just have to read read read and form your own opinion in matters of war.

The west calls them terrorists, but in Lebanon they are poised to become major political players.
By Kevin Sites, Thu Dec 29, 6:37 PM ETEmail Story IM Story
BEIRUT, Lebanon - Lebanon's militant political group Hezbollah (Party of God) has become a global brand name. But for Hezbollah -- and those who must deal with the group -- the overarching question is, "What's the brand?"

The United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and the parliament of the European Union all designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, and not without some evidence.

More here

Read more about Hezbollah hereand here

Question Girl


A bit of good news.....

A federal judge Thursday rejected a government request that he dismiss a lawsuit challenging the Bush administration's domestic spying program.

The lawsuit, brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, challenges President Bush's assertion that he can use his wartime powers to eavesdrop on Americans without a warrant.

The government had argued that the lawsuit should be thrown out because it threatens to reveal state secrets and jeopardize the war on terror.

Question Girl

President Bush Gets Heckled at NAACP Convention

Question Girl


I have a brother. It is a contradiction that he is intelligent and informed and yet he still believes the Bush administration is protecting us from terrorists. During a recent visit he gave me blahblahblah that amounted to "get 'em there before they get us here" and he couldn't be persuaded from his views. His mind is slammed shut on this issue.
The point of me telling you about him is that I believe this will be the Republican central theme during the elections, both for congressional seats and the battle for the presidency. Above all else, conservative America has bought the fallacy, the idiocy, that BushCo is keeping America safe.
So John, this one is for you:

The Terrorism Index

Here is thoughtful analysis of the growing potential for a US attack against Iran:

Mideast Conflict Boosts Chances Of Iran-US Showdown

Where are the protests? Why aren't we in the streets?
With events of this past year, hopes are high for some serious excitement when Cindy Sheehan moves her protest back to Crawford next month. There is plenty of time for plans to join her and other patriots there. If attending is impossible, your dollars will help support her efforts to speak for all of us.
Basic information can be found here:

Gold Star Families For Peace



The violence in Iraq is flying under the radar. It sounds like the situation in Iraq is worsening by the day, but you don't hear about that on the news channels. Rove must be dancing the jig......

By Ahmed Rasheed and Alastair Macdonald

BAGHDAD, July 20 (Reuters) - Tens of thousands more Iraqis have fled their homes as sectarian violence looks ever more like civil war two months after a U.S.-backed national unity government was formed, official data showed on Thursday.

Iraq's most powerful religious authority, Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, joined the United Nations and U.S. officials in raising the alarm that a spike in bloodshed and "campaigns of displacement" threaten Iraq's very future.

The U.S. military admitted violence in Baghdad was little changed by a month-long clampdown and the city morgue said it had seen 1,000 bodies so far in July, a slight increase on June.

Continue reading here

Question Girl


This doesn't surprise me. I've been given wrong medications on two ocassions at the drug store. My daughter got the wrong meds once at a drug store. Fortunately, we knew what the drugs looked like and caught it. As much as we pay for drugs, you'd think they could get it right.
Remember the drug addict pharmacist on that comedy show that was on Friday nights....Take Another Pilllll....what show was that???? Way back when.

(07-20) 08:18 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) --

More than 1.5 million Americans are injured every year by drug errors in hospitals, nursing homes and doctor's offices, a count that doesn't even estimate patients' own medication mix-ups, says a report that calls for major steps to increase patient safety.

Topping that list: All prescriptions should be written electronically by 2010, the Institute of Medicine said. At least a quarter of all medication-related injuries are preventable, the institute concluded in the report it released Thursday.

Perhaps the most stunning finding of the report was that, on average, a hospitalized patient is subject to at least one medication error per day, despite intense efforts to improve hospital care in the six years since the institute began focusing attention on medical mistakes of all kinds.

Continue reading here

Question Girl


Democrats Enlist
Let's for a moment speak the unspeakable. I can give myself license because I am a Jew.

Fact is, the Democrats' policy on Israel mirrors the Republican policy on Cuba. They both derive from primarily domestic political considerations and not from any measured analysis of foreign policy nor any deliberation on where our true national interests reside.

Republicans want to keep the Cuban-American voting base -- in Florida and New Jersey primarily-- inside the tent. So to hell with any notion of revising a policy toward Castro that has only, in effect, helped maintain his now 47 year long monopoly on power. (Happy 80th, Comandante).

Democrats, likewise, want to retain the majority of the Jewish-American vote and prefer , for the most part, to keep their mouths closed and their eyes shut when it comes to Israel. Cuban-Americans and Jewish-Americans are also important funding sources for both parties (Bill Clinton was actually able to raise tons from both communities, Hilary's borther-in-law being a major muckety-much within the right-wing exile milieu) and neither party wants to offend those who pay their bills.
Here's "Speaker" Nancy Pelosi, a liberal darling, enthusiastically enlisting in the ranks of those pledging "unwavering support and committment" to Israel, urging the Bush administration to tighten the screws on Syria and Iran. How's that for an opposition leader?

Continue reading the article here

Question Girl

Immigration issue takes flight

Kathy Kiely

MONROEVILLE, Pa. — In the debate now raging over the USA's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants, this Pittsburgh suburb of aging strip malls and tidy brick homes seems anything but ground zero.

It has been decades since waves of foreigners came to western Pennsylvania to man the region's mills and factories. In fact, local officials are worried about the lack of newcomers from other countries.

"One of the reasons Pittsburgh isn't growing is that we don't do a good enough job welcoming legal immigrants," says Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., whose father came from Italy as a child.

The Pew Hispanic Center estimates Pennsylvania's illegal immigrant population at no more than 175,000, or 1.4% of the population. The impact is felt less on the state's western side, where jobs are harder to find.

Buzz word: 'Border security'

That hasn't stopped illegal immigration from becoming a campaign issue, not only here but in places such as Omaha, Nashville and Salt Lake City. Santorum, running behind Democrat Bob Casey in his race for re-election to a third term, made border security the theme of his first campaign commercials, which began airing last month. At a local fire hall recently, he hosted a community forum under a banner touting "Border Security First."

Regardless of the size of the local illegal immigrant population or a region's proximity to the U.S.-Mexican border, in this election year "every state is a border state," says Lance Frizzell, spokesman for Republican Jim Bryson, who is running for governor of Tennessee.

People on both sides of the immigration debate agree it could help decide this fall's elections. "After the Iraq war, it is the issue that is paramount on everybody's mind," says House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., agrees: "It's obviously the No. 2 issue in the country."

McCain, President Bush and Democrats such as Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., believe it is important to bring illegal immigrants out of the shadows. The bill McCain helped write includes a plan to offer millions of illegal immigrants a chance at citizenship. The Senate passed it in May.

Boehner, Santorum and other conservatives back the approach taken in a competing bill passed by the House in December. It would not offer citizenship to people in the country illegally and would crack down on employers who hire them. There will be no need to deport illegal immigrants, supporters argue; they'll leave because they won't get jobs.

"We can solve this problem without even dealing with the issue of what you do with all the people who are here," Santorum said.

Casey supports the Senate bill, spokesman Doug Anderson says.

The battle for control of Congress is complicating efforts to reach a legislative compromise. "The closer we get to the election, the harder it is," says Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla. Some accuse politicians of pandering to elements that Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, says are "absolutely, clearly racist."

'Playing to primal fear'

Cannon successfully fended off a challenge in Utah's June 27 primary because of his support for an immigration bill similar to the Senate's. He says much of the rhetoric on illegal immigration is "playing to primal fear" and keeping lawmakers from compromise.

Many of his colleagues "don't want to be associated with a solution," Cannon says. "There are races where losing 4%, 5% or 7% of the Republican vote to a guy who claims to be tougher on immigration could make a difference."

Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Calif., won a June 6 special election in suburban San Diego by campaigning against illegal immigration: "I bet the farm on it."

Bilbray makes no apologies. "The American people are sick and tired of political correctness standing in the way of not only common sense but common decency," he says.




Iran promises response to nuclear incentive package on Aug. 22

Mainichi Daily News
July 20, 2006

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran on Thursday promised to formally respond on Aug. 22 to a Western package of incentives aimed at resolving the international standoff over its nuclear program.

The Supreme National Security Council, Iran's top security decision-making body, also threatened that the Islamic republic will reconsider its nuclear policies if sanctions are imposed.

The council didn't elaborate, but Iranian officials repeatedly have suggested that Tehran may withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and stop cooperation with the U.N. inspectors.

"The package of incentives requires a logical time to study it... August 22 has been set for declaring (our) views," the council said in a statement read on state-run television.

"In case the path of confrontation is chosen instead of the path of dialogue... and Iran's definite rights are threatened, then there will be no option for Iran but to reconsider its nuclear policies," it added.

The statement came a day after Russia said the U.N. Security Council is in no rush to pressure Iran over its nuclear program, striking a more conciliatory tone than the United States as diplomats began discussing a resolution to put legal muscle behind demands that Tehran suspend uranium enrichment.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the council wants an answer sometime soon to a June 5 package of incentives that six world powers offered to Iran if it stopped enrichment. But he stressed the council is not trying to push Tehran. (AP)

Story Link



NAACP 'storms' Capitol Hill for Voting Rights Act

Bus caravan pushes Senate panel to vote for law's renewal

Leslie Fulbright
Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, July 20, 2006

The NAACP flexed its muscle Wednesday on Capitol Hill, persuading legislators in a matter of hours to act on renewing portions of the Voting Rights Act, a measure that had been stalled for months.

Motivated by fiery speeches from three Democratic allies, more than 1,000 NAACP delegates boarded buses Wednesday and headed to Capitol Hill to advocate for the preservation of three provisions of the voting act, as well as other civil rights legislation.

Just over two hours later, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed the legislation for the act's renewal, and Majority Leader Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., joined NAACP President Bruce Gordon and Chairman Julian Bond to announce the Senate could take a full vote on the measure as early as today.

The sections of the 1965 act that ban literacy tests and other discriminatory practices are permanent. Set to expire next year are requirements that certain states and counties with a history of voter discrimination, primarily in the South, obtain federal approval for any changes in voting laws; that federal observers be present if there is evidence of voter intimidation; and that any county with a significant non-English speaking population provide bilingual ballots.

Introduced in May, the legislation was expected to pass quickly in both houses with bipartisan support. But conservative Republicans in some of the affected states raised objections, saying the act was no longer needed.

The House last week overwhelmingly passed legislation renewing the three provisions. "The House heard the NAACP was coming on Friday; on Thursday the House passed the VRA of 1965," said Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia delegate to the House.

Throughout its 97th national convention, themed "Voting our Values: Valuing our Vote," the NAACP has focused on pressuring the Senate and President Bush to support the provisions.

In a morning session, Gordon urged attendees, seated in sections according to their home states, to "storm" Capitol Hill.

"This is our day. We are going to the Hill today," the NAACP president said before boarding a bus. "They are going to know the NAACP is in the house."

And they did. After police escorted a long line of buses to the offices of Congress, attendees fanned out to visit the offices of their representatives. Tony Grimes, president of the NAACP chapter in Irving, Texas, met with a representative of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, to talk about the Voting Rights Act, Medicare and the minimum wage. He said he didn't get any straight answers, so he planned to hang around and wait to speak to the senator in person.

"I've got plenty of time," he said.

California residents visited Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, who supported the renewal, in her office, and then thanked House members who voted to renew the provisions last week.

Earlier in the day, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., appeared on an NAACP panel and expressed support for the legislation. But they all cautioned that the work does not stop with its passage.

"We need a Justice Department that takes seriously its enforcement responsibility," Clinton said. "There are a lot of violations going on, discrimination and intimidation."

Kennedy, called a staunch ally by NAACP leaders and an original supporter of the act, told the crowd not to elect judges who are hostile to civil rights.

Obama, the only African American member of the Senate, agreed.

"Ultimately, laws are only as good as the people who are enforcing them," he said. "The Voting Rights Act is a critical tool, but it is not the only tool that needs to be deployed. There are a lot of tricks out there. We have electronic voting machines that don't have paper trails."

Obama said he introduced the "Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act" last year because of misconduct in Ohio during the 2004 presidential election.

"You had political operatives calling folks and saying the vote was on Wednesday instead of Tuesday," or that they couldn't vote because of parking tickets or an old felony, he said.

"They've got to be prosecuted. They've got to go to jail. Right now people think they can get away with some of these blatant strategies to suppress the vote."

Bush is scheduled to speak to the national convention today for the first time in his six years in office. In doing so, he would avoid becoming the first president since Warren Harding, who died while in office in 1923, to refuse to speak to the nation's oldest civil rights group.

In a speech at the beginning of the day, the Rev. Jesse Jackson asked NAACP members to raise their hands if they supported same-sex marriage, decent housing, a protected vote, refugees returning to New Orleans, leaving Iraq and funding for AIDS research.

There was a roar of approval for each.

"Well, this is not his crowd," Jackson said, referring to Bush.

Story Link



( Jon Stewart proves Sam Brownback is nuts

Brownback splains it all to us!


Question Girl

( Colbert jokes about Bush swearing on tv


Question Girl

Bush 'out of touch' on stem cells

BBC News
Thursday, 20 July 2006

Scientists have reacted with anger to US President George W Bush's decision to veto a bill allowing federal funding for new embryonic stem cell research.

They argue it will damage a promising field of medical research.

Leading researchers labelled Mr Bush "hypocritical", "out of touch" and "selfish" over his decision not to sign into law a bill approved by Congress.

Mr Bush argued that the law "crossed a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect".

Polls suggest most Americans back the research, which scientists hope will lead to cures for serious illnesses such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes.

The vetoed bill, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, would have scrapped limits on federal funding imposed by Mr Bush in 2001. It was the first time in his presidency that Mr Bush refused to sign into law a bill approved by Congress.

The bill failed to reach the two-thirds majority in its Senate vote which would have overturned the presidential veto.




Wednesday, July 19, 2006


"All governments are run by liars and nothing they say should be believed"
I.F. Stone

Learn more about this journalist and founder of I. F. Stone's Weekly here.




If you've never been to's a great aquarium!






Question Girl


Bush Uses Veto On Stem Cell Bill

US President George W Bush has vetoed a controversial bill which would have lifted a ban on federal funding for new embryonic stem cell research.

read more....BBC News



As requested, here is a link to the awesome documentary that explains how AIPAC has influenced US news coverage of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

I urge everyone to watch this video.



Nam et ipsa scientia potesta est - - Knowledge Is Power
Francis Bacon

It is naive to believe that our elections reflect the will of the citizens of the United States. Whether ill-informed or wrongly-informed or subverted, our votes have little meaning. Neither is it true that our government acts at our direction or in our best interests. The words of President Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address - "...government of the people, by the people, for the people..." - are no longer fundamental.

The Declaration Of Independence
The Constitution Of The United States

We are not blameless. Bombarded by misinformation and the stresses of our individual lives, citizens have largely capitulated our responsibilities. We have become "sheeple." But neither are we completely at fault.

Nearly every aspect of our lives, including the news that we are fed, is corporate controlled and self-serving. The Internet provides a broad spectrum of information, yes, but computers and ISPs are expensive and the technology is confusing to many and the mere abundance of Net news can be overwhelming. In spite of this, the fact that people are flocking to blogs demonstrates a desire to know.

As example of misinformation insofar as Israel in particular and the Mideast in general are concerned, our most readily available news media are hugely influenced by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The reach of AIPAC's public relations on behalf of Israel into European news outlets is less prevalent than it is in America. Worse for us, to speak against what is presented can get one labeled anti-Semitic...a good tactic to stop questions and end debate.

Here is a list of the major Jewish organizations in the United States.
The Conference Of Presidents Of Major American Jewish Organizations is described as the "central coordinating body representing 52 national Jewish organizations on issues of national and international concern." Since 1986 the president of this central body is Malcolm Hoenlein. An interview he recently gave to Haaretz can be read here.

AIPAC does not represent the views of many Jewish Americans. A very good article (Tikkun, a Jewish publication) that mentions Mr. Hoenlein, but speaks more about the opinions of individual American Jews regarding Israel can be found here.

Israel Spurns UN Call For
Israel Frees Aljazeera Bureau



I actually have a funny story about Buffett. A friend had his boat down in the Keys, and he goes to get back on the boat, and there's a guy drunk in the fighting chair. He says what the hell are you doing on my boat....get off. The guy you know who I am???? My friend said, I don't give a fuck who you are...get off my boat. It was Jimmy Buffett.

Question Girl


From 2004 numbers:
Nevada S Reid, Harry* D I 47,999 career total 301,801

Pro-Israel PAC Contributions to 2006 Congressional Candidates
State Office District Candidate Party Status Contributions Career Total Committees
S Sessions, Jeff R I 2,000 196,825 AS, B
H 2
Everett, Terry R I 6,500 22,500 AS, I
H 7
Davis, Artur D I 2,000 80,067 B
S Stevens, Ted R I 4,000 73,200 A(D)
S Kyl, Jon* R I 84,500 163,025
S McCain, John R I 1,000 162,500 AS, C
H 3 Delay, Robert R C 5,000 10,000
S Feinstein, Dianne* D I 31,500 146,342 A(D), I
H 5 Matsui, Doris D I 3,000 6,050
H 5 Matsui, Robert D N 1,550 10,700
H 8 Pelosi, Nancy D I 0 63,450 I
H 12 Lantos, Tom D I 2,500 112,750 IR
H 24 Gallegly, Elton R I 1,500 45,250 I, IR
H 25 McKeon, Howard R I 2,500 4,500 AS
H 27 Sherman, Brad D I 5,500 48,830 IR
H 28 Berman, Howard D I 3,500 67,050 IR(NE)
H 29 Schiff, Adam D I 6,500 35,417 IR(NE)
H 30 Waxman, Henry D I 1,000 36,832
H 36 Harman, Jane D I 6,500 93,771 I
H 39 De La Torre, Hector D N 1,000 1,000
H 44 Calvert, Ken R I 2,000 2,000 AS
H 47 Sanchez, Loretta D I 5,500 45,700 AS
H 50 Busby, Francine P. D 0 1,000 1,000
H 51 Filner, Bob D I 3,000 85,014
H 3 Salazar, John D I 6,600 14,600
S Lieberman, Joseph* D I 49,500 286,258 AS
H 2 Simmons, Robert R I 1,000 19,500 AS
H 4 Shays, Christopher R I 2,000 12,850
Delaware S Carper, Thomas* D I 14,000 30,500
S Biden, Joseph, Jr. D I 0 101,007 FR
Florida S
Nelson, Bill* R I 53,500 90,860 AS, B, FR
S Martinez, Mel R I 10,000 43,500 FR
H 6 Stearns, Clifford R I 6,000 9,500
H 9 Bilirakis, Michael R I 10 20,116
H 17 Meek, Kendrick D I 6,500 13,500 AS
H 18 Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana R I 9,500 93,990 IR
H 19 Wexler, Robert D I 1,000 12,500 IR
H 20 Wasserman Schultz, Debbie D I 2,500 6,500
H 22 Shaw, E. Clay, Jr. R I 21,005 72,505 W
H 2 Bishop, Sanford D. Jr. D I 500 500 A
H 5 Lewis, John D I 1,000 71,250 W
H 6 Price, Thomas R I 500 1,000
H 7 Linder, John R I 500 20,150 W
H 8 Marshall, Jim D I 5,000 7,000 AS
H 12 Barrow, John D I 8,100 16,600
S Durbin, Richard D I 1,500 329,171 A(D, FO)
H 2 Jackson, Jesse, Jr. D I 4,500 10,500 A(FO)
H 5 Emanuel, Rahm D I 8,500 22,000 W
H 6 Roskam, Peter R O 4,000 4,000
H 8 Bean, Melissa D I 19,680 29,680
H 10 Kirk, Mark R I 66,064 119,382 A(FO)
H 11 Weller, Jerry R I 2,500 33,900 IR, W
H 14 Hastert, J. Dennis R I 16,200 97,050 House Speaker
H 15 Johnson, Timothy R I -1,000 7,000
S Lugar, Richard* R I 32,250 75,450
H 5 Burton, Dan R I 1,000 73,000 IR
H 6 Pence, Mike R I 11,000 22,250 IR(NE)
H 8 Ellsworth, Brad D C 6,000 6,000
H 3 Boswell, Leonard D I 3,100 23,675 I
H 3 Moore, Dennis D I 3,600 42,776 B
S McConnell, Mitch R I 9,010 377,685 A(FO)
H 4 Davis, Geoffrey R I 1,000 9,500 AS
S Vitter, David R I 2,000 33,000
H 1 Jindal, Bobby R I 2,000 8,500
H 3 Melancon, Charles D I 100 18,100
H 4 McCrery, James, III R I 2,000 39,500 W
H 6 Baker, Richard R I 1,000 36,350
H 7 Mount, Willie Landry D N -5,000 13,000
S Snowe, Olympia J.* R I 2,000 73,000 I
S Collins, Susan M. R I 1,000 54,500 AS
H 2 Michaud, Michael D I 500 6,750
S Cardin, Benjamin L.#* D O 17,500 43,950 W
S Steele, Michael* R O 5,000 5,000
H 5 Hoyer, Steny D I 28,500 120,775 A
S Kennedy, Edward* D I 12,000 79,120 AS
S Stabenow, Debbie* D I 55,296 96,106 B
H 12 Levin, Sander D I 3,000 119,227 W
S Kennedy, Mark*# R O 1,000 3,250
S Klobuchar, Amy* D O 1,000 1,000
S Coleman, Norm R I 3,000 38,980 FR
H 2 Kline, John P. R I 10,000 10,000 AS
H 7 Peterson, Collin C. DFL I 100 100
H 8 Oberstar, James L. DFL I 2,000 2,000
S Lott, Trent* R I 13,000 80,200 I
S Talent, James* R I 36,010 53,510 AS
S McCaskill, Claire* D C 1,000 1,000
H 3 Carnahan, Russ D I 2,500 8,000
H 4 Skelton, Ike D I 1,000 69,450 AS
S Burns, Conrad* R I 29,500 194,510 A(D)
S Baucus, Max D I 2,000 319,348
S Nelson, E. Benjamin* D I 46,500 77,260 AS
S Ensign, John* R I 9,500 21,700 AS, B
H 1 Berkley, Shelley D I 36,750 243,705 IR(NE)
New Jersey
S Menendez, Robert*# D I 24,500 68,983 B
H 1 Andrews, Robert D I 3,000 41,750 AS
H 3 Saxton, H. James R I 1,000 72,900 AS
H 5 Garrett, E. Scott R I 5,000 19,700 B
H 6 Pallone, Frank, Jr. D I 5,000 60,550
H 7 Ferguson, Mike R I 500 10,000
H 9 Rothman, Steven D I 9,000 56,503 A(FO)
H 11 Frelinghuysen, Rodney R I 4,100 10,350 A(D)
New Mexico
S Bingaman, Jeff* D I 1,000 262,425
New York
S Clinton, Hillary Rodham* D I 37,118 56,118 AS
H 2 Israel, Steve D I 5,100 28,100 AS
H 7 Crowley, Joseph D I 10,500 62,657 IR(NE)
H 8 Nadler, Jerrold D I 1,000 21,000
H 9 Weiner, Anthony D I 2,000 17,000
H 14 Maloney, Carolyn D I 2,000 24,000
H 17 Engel, Eliot D I 22,000 163,918 IR
H 18 Lowey, Nita D I 1,000 112,238 A(FO)
H 25 Maffei, Daniel D C 5,000 5,000
H 26 Reynolds, Thomas R I 2,000 4,000 W
H 27 Higgins, Brian D I 4,600 9,600
North Carolina
H 10 McHenry, Patrick R I 9,000 9.500 B
H 11 Shuler, Joseph Heath D C 1,000 1,000
North Dakota S Conrad, Kent* D I 52,600 254,539 B
Ohio S
DeWine, Mike* R I 31,000 54,500 A(FO), I
S Brown, Sherrod*# D C 2,000 32,750 IR
H 7 Hobson, David R I 3,500 11,000 A(D)
S Inhofe, James M. R I 2,000 89,800 AS
H 2 Boren, David D I 6,500 7,500 AS
H 5 Bode, Denise R O 1,500 1,500
S Santorum, Rick* R I 46,950 94,700
S Casey, Bob* D C 10,000 10,000
H 6 Gerlach, Jim R I 5,500 8,450
H 6 Murphy, Lois D C 1,000 9,000
H 8 Fitzpatrick, Michael R I 2,000 8,000
H 13 Schwartz, Allyson D I 2,500 23,650 B
Rhode Island
S Chafee, Lincoln* R I 1,500 16,500 FR(NE)
Rhode Island S Laffey, Stephen* R C 5,000 5,000
Rhode Island S Reed, Jack D I 1,000 107,350 AS
South Carolina
H 5 Spratt, John M. Jr. D I 2,500 17,400 AS, B
H 6 Clyburn, James E. D I 500 4,600 A
South Dakota
S Johnson, Tim D I 5,000 166,837 A(FO), B
H At-L. Herseth, StephanieÝ D I 2,100 28,500
S Ford, Harold, Jr.*# D O 4,500 14,500 B
H 3 Wamp, Zach R I 2,000 4,000 A
H 6 Gordon, Barton D I 1,000 57,900
H 2 Poe, Ted R I 5,000 5,000 FR
H 10 McCaul, Michael R I 2,000 2,000 FR
H 17 Edwards, Chet D I 5,100 40,700 A, B
H 22 DeLay, Tom R N 26,000 112,050
H 22 Lampson, Nicholas D C 3,000 30,506
H 28 Cuellar, Henry D I 500 2,500 B
H 32 Frost, Martin D N 1,000 190,014
H 32 Sessions, Pete R I 1,000 4,750 B
S Hatch, Orrin G.* R I 1,000 51,700 I
H 1 Bishop, Robert R I 1,000 4,500 AS
H 2 Matheson, James D I 2,100 37,100
H 3 Cannon, Christopher B. R I 500 1,500
S Allen, George* R I 19,000 29,400 FR
H 1 Davis, Jo Ann R I 1,000 3,750 AS, FR, I
H 7 Cantor, Eric R I 26,500 112,230 W
S Cantwell, Maria* D I 2,844 2,844
H 2 Larsen, Richard D I 3,000 15,000 AS
H 7 Obey, David R. D I 1,000 150,100 A(FO), B
S Thomas, Craig* R I 11,000 24,500

PRESIDENT Lieberman, Joseph D C $7,000 286,258


TOTAL for 2005-2006 Election Cycle

TOTAL 1978-2004 Funds to Congressional Candidates

TOTAL No. of Recipient Candidates, 1978-2004
$ 1,358,537



KEY: The “Career Total” column represents the total amount of pro-Israel PAC money received from Jan. 1, 1978 through Dec. 31, 2005. S=Senate, H=House of Representatives. Party affiliation: D=Democrat, R=Republican, Ref=Reform, DFL=Democratic Farmers Labor, Ind=Independent, Lib=Libertarian. Status: C=Challenger, I=Incumbent, N=Not Running, O=Open Seat (no incumbent). *=Senate election year, #=House member running for Senate seat, †=Special Election. Committees: A=Appropriations (D=Defense subcommittee, FO=Foreign Operations subcommittee, NS=National Security subcommittee), AS=Armed Services, B=Budget, C=Commerce, FR=Foreign Relations (NE=Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs subcommittee), I=Intelligence, IR=International Relations, NS=National Security, W=Ways and Means. “–” indicates money returned by candidate, “0” that all money received was returned, “[]” = independent expenditures on behalf of candidate (not included in candidate totals).

Question Girl

Congress Is Giving Israel Vote of Confidence

Both Parties Back Ally, Court Jewish Support

Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Democratic and Republican congressional leaders are rushing to offer unalloyed support for Israel's offensive against Hezbollah fighters, reflecting a bipartisan desire to not only defend a key U.S. ally but also solidify long-term backing of Jewish voters and political donors in the United States, according to officials and strategists in both parties.

With Israel intensifying its air and artillery attacks on Lebanon and warning of a protracted war, the Senate yesterday unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution endorsing Israel's military campaign and condemning Hezbollah and its two backers, Iran and Syria. A few hours earlier, Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) delivered his most strident defense of Israel since the conflict erupted a week ago. The House is expected to pass a similarly pro-Israel resolution today.


But some U.S. officials worry that the political calculation is undermining efforts to find a peaceful solution to the latest conflict. "There is no danger for the candidates," said Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), adding that those politicians "will get rewarded politically and financially for being out front in their support."

(emphasis mine)

It's all about the money.












Question Girl

Bush Eats

What a pig....

Question Girl


Here's some pictures from Islamorada. All we caught were mangrove snappers and bonnethead sharks. More sharks than snapper.

Question Girl

Jeff Gannon's visit to the Log Cabin Republicans

Pearls of wisdom uttered by our man Gannon at the gathering...

Some sample wisdom on Madonna: "The slut, not the blessed mother of Christ."

On former Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey: "By day he's doing photo-ops with his wife and kids, and by night he's on his knees at a truck stop in New Jersey."

On the fact that a certain homophobic Pennsylvania senator has a gay press secretary: "I think it's a tribute to Rick Santorum. I think it says a lot about the man."

On G.O.P.-turned-Democrat provocateur David Brock: "At 35, he decided that he loved shoving dollar bills down the pants of the twinks down at [D.C. gay strip club] Wet."

Finally, on allegations of his own hooker past: "Responsible people see it my way, that it doesn't matter."

It's Jeff Gannon's moral universe, folks. We're just living in it.

(Thanks, GateCrasher)



Beryl expected to stay offshore of N.C.

Associated Press Writer

RALEIGH, N.C. — The forecast indicated that Tropical Storm Beryl wouldn't develop into a hurricane and that its worst wind and rain would remain offshore. But that was of little comfort to restaurant manager Beth Barb.

"If I know something's going to be bad, I'll leave," said Barb, 51, the night manager at Bob's Grill in Kill Devil Hills.

Barb, an Outer Banks resident for 25 years, knows from experience tropical storms can be rough, bringing strong winds and even tornadoes. As of Tuesday night, she was still deciding whether to leave her Collington Harbor house that sits on stilts.

At 5 a.m. EDT, Beryl, the second named storm of the season, was centered about 110 miles east southeast of Cape Hatteras. It was moving north at 7 mph with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and some higher gusts.

Some strengthening was possible over the next 24 hours, the National Hurricane Center said.

The storm appeared unlikely to build into a hurricane and likely to move parallel to the East Coast instead of heading ashore, said Richard Pasch, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

"There will be some increase in wind and surf," he said. "But we're not seeing this to be a major event."

Despite that, forecasters left a tropical storm watch in effect until the storm takes a more northward turn, which could be as soon as early Wednesday.

For all these reasons, Dare County officials weren't taking precautions.

"We'll see some rain and wind, certainly, on Wednesday but we're not expecting problems, certainly not anything that would concern our visitors or residents," Dare County spokeswoman Dorothy Toolan said. "Thursday looks like it will be a good day to remain indoors."

Story Link



Panel Finds Homeland Security Waste

The Hartford Courant

The Coast Guard wanted a way to make people relax, to bring together cadets and top officials. So it spent $227 for a beer-brewing kit so the academy could make its own "quality product for official parties."

Congressional investigators didn't buy that explanation, saying the agency "wasted government resources by brewing alcohol while on duty" -- one of several examples of waste, misuse and possible fraud in the spending of federal homeland security money that will be laid out for a Senate committee today.

Among the other examples: The Federal Emergency Management Agency spent $68,000 on dog booties that have not been used. The Secret Service bought 54 iPods for more than $7,000. The government's customs and immigration agencies spent nearly $5,000 to take employees to training seminars and "leadership conferences" at golf and tennis resorts.

Then there was the $208,000 -- twice the retail price -- emergency officials paid for 20 flat-bottom boats for operations in New Orleans. The agency is still unable to locate 12 of the boats, and "the vendor walked away with over $150,000," government investigators found.

The congressional investigators, in a 33-page statement to the Senate Governmental Affairs and Homeland Security Committee, say that these and other examples illustrate instances where some Department of Homeland Security officials engaged in "potentially fraudulent activity related to items acquired with DHS purchase cards."

The Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm, looked at spending from June to October 2005, before and after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, and found a system that let questionable expenses flourish.

Clearly, the department "has inadequate procedures for keeping track of goods purchased with these cards and has no formal guidance in place to instruct employees on proper card use. This is hard to believe," said Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn., top committee Democrat.

DHS spokesman Russ Knocke said Tuesday the agency is working hard to fix the system and should have strict guidelines in place in a few weeks.

He also insisted the agency is being run smoothly. "Last year there were 1.1 million purchase card transactions," Knocke said. "We are talking about a couple of handfuls of instances where there ought to be some questions."

The cards are given to government officials so they can buy items, particularly emergency material, quickly. To expedite the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, Congress in September increased the amount that could be bought with a card from $2,500 to $250,000. Lieberman had fought against raising the limit, which was sharply cut back in November.

Knocke said the department is reviewing each transaction cited by the GAO. DHS has taken administrative or disciplinary action in 70 cases so far.

The GAO found few controls in DHS' purchasing card system. The agency's Purchase Card Manual, which was supposed to guide spending with the cards, was not finished because top officials could not resolve disagreements over how to implement procedures.

When people did get cards, the investigators found "inadequate staffing, insufficient training and ineffective monitoring."

Knocke said a new system has been developed slowly because the department is only about 3 years old and "we are a very large department, a very young department." A collection of agencies spread across the government, the department has had to standardize an array of purchasing systems.

The GAO found that some 45 percent of all DHS purchase card transactions were not properly authorized in the period studied last year, and in 63 percent there was no evidence that goods and services were even received.

Even when it could account for items bought, the GAO had serious questions.

Besides the dog booties and the Secret Service iPods, for example, the investigators wondered about a Samsung 63-inch plasma screen television set FEMA bought for $8,000, "lacking a government need." They found that six months after it was purchased, the set was still in a box, unused.

One of the golf and tennis resort trips was to the Sea Palms Resort and Conference Center in St. Simons Island in Georgia, whose website boasts "a perfect blend of Southern hospitality with … unspoiled natural beauty," to train 32 newly hired attorneys, even though there was a Federal Law Enforcement Training Center nearby.

The investigators also took a long look at the beer-brewing equipment, bought by a Coast Guard cardholder. The Coast Guard explained that its beer, with "custom Coast Guard themed labels," was "an icebreaker for discussion at these official parties."

Not only that, the Coast Guard said, but the do-it-yourself project saved the service money. In fact, the GAO calculated, each six-pack of the home brew cost $13.

"The purchase of the kit and the brewing activity fall short of prudent use of taxpayer dollars and represent abusive use of a purchase card," the GAO said. Coast Guard Academy officials had no further comment Tuesday. Knocke said the DHS is working with authorities and "we're going to go and take a look at it."

Among the biggest possible frauds the GAO detected was the incident with the boats. The Federal Emergency Management Agency paid a vendor $208,000, or 100 percent above retail price, for 20 flat-bottom boats for operations in New Orleans. GAO found the vendor, who did not have the boats, used the FEMA purchase card to pay for the boats, billed FEMA for all 20 boats and then "failed to pay one retailer who provided 11 of the 20 boats."

FEMA now has eight boats, and "could not provide the location for the other 12 boats."

The investigators estimate the vendor, who is not named in the report, "walked away with over $150,000, including the profit he made on the 11 boats that the vendor obtained without payment," and they are continuing to probe the matter along with local law enforcement and FBI officials.

Also questioned by the GAO was the purchase of 107 laptops, 22 printers and two GPS units, all missing and presumed stolen from FEMA, with a total value of about $170,000.

To find some of the equipment, investigators in March went to New Orleans, and were told the laptops were in a conference room at a French Quarter hotel that was serving as a joint command post.

But when they went to the conference room, "it was vacant and the laptops and printers were missing," the report said. Investigators were able to account for some of the equipment, but not all, because FEMA "failed to accurately record who was in possession of the laptops." The GAO called the absence of effective controls "potential fraud."

Story Link




Israeli Ground Troops Enter Lebanon

Israel declared Tuesday it was ready to fight Hezbollah guerrillas for several more weeks, raising doubts about international efforts to broker an immediate cease-fire in the fighting that has killed more than 260 people and displaced 500,000. The military said early Wednesday it sent some troops into southern Lebanon in search of tunnels and weapons.
Despite the diplomatic activity, Israel is in no hurry to end its offensive, which it sees as a unique opportunity to crush Hezbollah. The Islamic militants appear to have steadily built up their military strength after Israel pulled its troops out of southern Lebanon in 2000.

Israeli warplanes struck an army base outside Beirut and other areas in south Lebanon on Tuesday, killing 27 people, and Hezbollah rockets battered Israeli towns, killing one Israeli. Five big explosions reverberated over Beirut early Wednesday, and missiles hit towns to the east and south of the capital.
At daybreak Wednesday, a small number of Israeli troops were operating just across the border inside southern Lebanon, looking for tunnels and weapons, the Israeli military said without providing any more details.
The incursion came a day after Israel indicated that it might send large numbers of ground troops into the southern Lebanon, but Israel's U.N. Ambassador Dan Gillerman denied Wednesday's operation was part of any such operation.
"What is going on at the moment is a number of Israeli ground troops very near to the border on the Lebanese side, trying to destroy some Hezbollah outposts," he told CNN.
"This is an operation which is very measured, very local," he said. "This is no way an invasion of Lebanon
. This is no way the beginning of any kind of occupation of Lebanon."
Israel's forecast of a lengthy campaign, coupled with President Bush's evident reluctance to bring pressure on Israel to agree to a cease- fire, seemed to quash any hopes for an early resolution of the crisis, now entering its second week.

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In case you missed the muffled (and supposedly private, hehehe) conversation between the leader of the free world and the Prime Minister of Great Britian at the G-8 Conference....

Bush and Blair unplugged


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

H.R. 810

Breakdown On Today's Embryonic Stem Cell Vote




House Approves Embryonic Stem Cell Bill,
but 4 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override Bush's promised veto.

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Blood Diamonds...aka Conflict Diamonds

It is always good when the movie industry illuminates important issues. More people are likely to see a movie than read an in-depth news article or a non-fiction book. Two recent movies that tackled serious subjects, 1950s McCarthyism and created-turmoil in the Mideast, are Goodnight And Good Luck and Syriana.

In 2007 a new movie, The Blood Diamond, will be released. It will spotlight what greed has done to the poorest of the poor in Africa, particularly in Sierra Leone, in a seemingly unending human need to display sparkle and wealth and status that has benefitted the diamond industry, DeBeers at the top of the list, and brought unimaginable suffering and death to the boys and men who dig the stones from the ground.

The film, set in 1999 when Sierra Leone was in the midst of a horrific civil war, is directed by Edward Zwick and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou, Jennifer Connelly. It tells the fictional tale of a South African mercenary and a Mende fisherman and their quest for a rare pink diamond. It is being filmed in Mozambique.

As you can imagine, the diamond industry is worried.

What is most interesting to me about this story, heart-breaking, actually, is who Debeers has hired to counter the movie's expected bad publicity:

Nelson Mandela


Taliban take two Afghan towns
Tuesday 18 July 2006, 12:10 Makka Time

Taliban insurgents entered Naway-i-Barakzayi, a Helmand town north of Garmser, and clashed briefly with police before the security officials fled, an Afghan police official said.

The official said Taliban forces were now moving freely around the town and district.

In the Helmand town of Garmser, close to the Pakistan border, scores of Taliban insurgents overran Afghan policemen holed up in a compound on Sunday, driving the security forces and a handful of government officials to flee, another Afghan official said.

Major Scott Lundy, a spokesman for the US-led coalition in Afghanistan, said: "We are in contact with lots of people to build an accurate picture of the two districts in southern Helmand which are under control of the Taliban."

WHOOPS, our hands are tied... we're in Iraq! (Now why is that again?)

Read more HERE



Perry continues to lead race in fundraising


AUSTIN - Gov. Rick Perry's fundraising continues to outstrip his challengers, with a new campaign finance report showing the incumbent Republican with more than $10 million cash on hand and $4.7 million raised since the last reporting period seven months ago.

Independent candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn, also a Republican but running as an independent, reported Monday having $8 million cash on hand and $3.1 million raised since January.

Democrat Chris Bell reported $655,000 on hand and $1.63 million in contributions; Kinky Friedman, another independent, reported $491,000 cash on hand and $1.55 million in contributions.

Some of Strayhorn's top contributors are traditional Democratic supporters -- and may have cut into Bell's fundraising base, said political analyst Harvey Kronberg.

Money playing such a big role in American politics - I'm shocked!
We need major voting reform, folks. A fight of ideologies between two parties is one thing. Now the fight appears to be between the haves and the have-nots. That's not a democracy. That's a kingdom!

Read more HERE



Do you believe the nerve...?

Chicago Tribune
Sunday, July 16

John Yoo, a former top lawyer in the Bush administration, has a simple remedy for the Supreme Court decision striking down the military tribunals created for war crimes trials at Guantanamo. Congress, he says, should pass a law overruling the Supreme Court. From a legal point of view, that is not entirely implausible, and given the breadth of the court's ruling, the administration may be tempted to try to show the court who's boss.

0% respect for our three branches of government. 0% respect for America.

Read more HERE, if you can stomach it.



Sen. Bayh challenges fellow Democrats

Associated Press Writer
Mon Jul 17, 2:14 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Sen. Evan Bayh, weighing a run for president in 2008, challenged the Democratic Party to establish an agenda aimed at middle-class voters, a critical constituency that he said the party has let slip away.

"We may consider ourselves the party of the middle class, but too many middle-class Americans no longer consider us their party," the Indiana Democrat said Monday. "They have left the Democratic Party in droves — costing us the last two presidential elections and the last six congressional elections. If we don't learn some lessons, we'll lose in 2006 and 2008 as well, and we must not let that happen."

In his speech, Bayh said the party has focused most of its attention on the needs of lower-income Americans, but it also must address issues that matter to people on the next rung up the economic ladder.

"Without an agenda that speaks directly to the middle class and all who aspire to it, we will no longer be the party of Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy and Clinton. And we will not be a majority party," Bayh said, invoking the names of former Democratic presidents.

Moreover, Bayh said: "The country's not going to fulfill it's potential."

The two-term senator and former Indiana governor delivered what his advisers called a "major address" in Washington and then in Iowa, the first caucus state in the presidential primary process.

Bayh has been a frequent visitor to Iowa as he decides whether to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in what already is considered a crowded field. A recent state poll showed him trailing far behind other potential Democratic contenders.

Bayh dismissed the results, saying polls change over time, and acknowledged that he's considering running for president. He said that should he decide to run, creating opportunities for the middle class will be a focus of his campaign.

"I'm going to make it the centerpiece, not the afterthought," Bayh said as he laid out proposals for making college more affordable, curtailing rising health care costs, strengthening retirement accounts and conserving energy — a full 18 months before the Iowa caucuses.

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End Bush's stem cell club

The Boston Globe
July 18, 2006

FIVE YEARS ago this summer, President Bush hobbled research into the disease-curing potential of embryonic stem cells by placing strict limits on the cells that scientists using federal funds could experiment with. Private and state government support has made some research possible, but the 2001 restrictions have greatly hampered the kind of basic experimentation that the National Institutes of Health have traditionally paid for.

A bill before the Senate today would end the ban on federally funded scientists using stem cells from embryos created after Bush laid down his policy. The measure enjoys broad, bipartisan support and is expected to pass. To overcome a promised veto from Bush, Senate backers are hoping to muster a veto-proof 67 votes. Such a tally would offer hope to sufferers of diabetes, Parkinson's, spinal injuries, and other conditions that scientists believe might some day be treated by embryonic stem cells, which have the potential to develop into healthy replacement cells. A veto-proof Senate majority could also persuade more members of the House, where the measure passed with less than the two-thirds support needed to override a veto, to favor the change.

Although polls show embryonic stem cell research has the approval of about 70 percent of the public, it is controversial because extracting stem cells from tiny, days-old embryos results in their destruction, which Bush and others oppose as the taking of human life.
(emphasis mine) The president's 2001 policy limited federal funding to stem cells extracted before then, to ensure that no others would be destroyed for research. Those cells have proven inadequate, however, causing members of Congress, including abortion opponents such as Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, to favor undoing the Bush restriction.

Under the bill, research with federal funds would be limited to embryos left over from fertility treatments. The couples who created the embryos would have to give permission for experimentation. It is noteworthy that, outside of the Catholic Church, few opponents of embryonic stem cell research also seek to ban in-vitro fertilization, which also results in the discarding and destruction of embryos. This practice is so widely accepted because it has allowed previously infertile couples to have children. Once stem cell research provides the medical breakthroughs that scientists believe are possible, opposition to it will also melt.

That day will come sooner if Congress lifts the Bush restriction on stem cells. Patients who could benefit from this research should not have to wait until there is a new president for the federal government to marshal its resources in this promising approach to treating disease.

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