Red text is the "real" headline in these stories and articles.
Blue text is my own personal commentary.
BLOG QUOTE OF THE DAY (From CHS at Firedoglake)
"The laws of this nation are not meant to be enforced for political expediency and to win elections. The courts do not exist to serve "Rove's shop" and "the math," and yet that is exactly how the Bush Administration has seen them from the time they entered office. A commitment to the "Rule of Bush, And Bush Alone" is not the same as advancing the interests of justice and honoring the rule of law...."
THIS just in from TPM'S Muckraker pages, on VOTER FRAUD
Straight from the horse's mouth.
Joseph D. Rich was chief of the voting section in the Justice Department's civil right division from 1999 to 2005. Today he penned an Op-Ed in The Los Angeles Times, and he didnt' mince words:
"Over the last six years, this Justice Department has ignored the advice of its staff and skewed aspects of law enforcement in ways that clearly were intended to influence the outcome of elections. It has notably shirked its legal responsibility to protect voting rights. From 2001 to 2006, no voting discrimination cases were brought on behalf of African American or Native American voters. U.S. attorneys were told instead to give priority to voter fraud cases, which, when coupled with the strong support for voter ID laws, indicated an intent to depress voter turnout in minority and poor communities. Missouri had one of the closest Senate races in the country last November, and a week before the election, Schlozman brought four voter fraud indictments against members of an organization representing poor and minority people. This blatantly contradicted the department's long-standing policy to wait until after an election to bring such indictments because a federal criminal investigation might affect the outcome of the vote. The timing of the Missouri indictments could not have made the administration's aims more transparent. "
ANY POLITICAL PARTY THAT ABUSES IT'S TIME IN POWER TO SUPRESS THE POPULAR VOTE IS NOT A DEMOCRATIC INSTITUION!
(his frogmarch is the one dance we really want to see)
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sought more information yesterday about a presentation by a White House aide given to political appointees at the General Services Administration that discussed targeting 20 Democratic congressional candidates in the next election. In a letter to White House political affairs director Karl Rove, the committee chairman, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), asked about the Jan. 26 videoconference by Rove deputy J. Scott Jennings, which was directed to the chief of the GSA and as many as 40 agency officials stationed around the country.
Waxman Reveals White House Political E-mail (you can see Karl's fingerprints are all over that blackberry) U.S. News reported recently that several White House aides “said that they stopped using the White House system except for purely professional correspondence. … ‘We knew E-mails could be subpoenaed,’” said one aide. http://thinkprogress.org/2007/03/29/white-house-email-archives/
Rove + New Hampshire = Voter Fraud
Rove + New Hampshire = "enough rope to hang himself" My theory of the nature of those phone calls to and from the WH is that Rove had fake Democrats planted in NH, who had caller ID on their phone lines so they could get the phone numbers of the Democratic Party phone banks as they called to organize their GOTV drive.When one of these Rovian operatives got a call from the Dems, they would call the phone number in to Karl, who relayed it to the perpetrators in NH, who then called and jammed those lines.Rove was too arrogant to believe he would ever face scrutiny for this, his hubris is classical.But now that the Dems have a gavel or two, I suspect they will use it to hammer out a case against Karl, there has already been one FALL-GUY to go to prison for this crime, seems like the mastermind should be held responsible before its over.
...AND OTHER CROOKED POLITICIANS (Thanks once again for this scoop from TPMmuckraker)
The Wall Street Journal continues (sub. req.) to make life miserable for Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons. The paper first reported a month ago that Gibbons was under federal investigation for improper gifts (possible bribes) from a defense contractor.
Now the paper reports that Gibbons' business as a legislator was intertwined with a second defense contractor:
THE MSM, THE BLOGS, AND "THE INTERNETS"
(Did Stevens actually do something worthwhile?)
Two senators think it's time for more federal employees to be telecommuting. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) have introduced a bill that would make nearly all government employees eligible to telecommute. The bill covers employees in the executive, legislative and judicial branches. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/29/AR2007032902043.html
The Burkle-Broad proposal would give the two investors 40 percent of the company, transferring 60 percent to the employees, according to someone with knowledge of the proposal. The ownership ratio involved in Mr. Zell’s proposal is sketchy, although his plans would also make the employees the majority owners. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/30/business/media/30tribune.html
THE WAR IN IRAQ AND THE MIDDLE EAST CONFLICTS
Not all Bloggers agree that this profane war-for-profit is getting any better.
A devastating series of bombings in a crowded market in a Shiite Muslim neighborhood of Baghdad and in a predominantly Shiite town north of the capital killed more than 130 Iraqis on Thursday, the same day a new U.S. envoy asserted at his swearing-in that the American mission in Iraq was not an "impossible" one. The bombings, part of a pattern of attacks in predominantly Shiite areas, threatened to further inflame sectarian tensions that are at the boiling point across much of Iraq. U.S. officials believe the attacks are part of a systematic effort by Al Qaeda militants to foment violence by Shiite militias and scuttle the latest security effort.http://email.latimes.com/cgi-bin1/DM/y/hBL4P0RvPwf0G2B0ISxz0EB
The task of preventing or reversing the sectarian displacement is daunting. The United Nations estimates that at least 727,000 people have been displaced within Iraq since the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in February 2006 set off waves of sectarian violence. About two million people have fled the country. After the new security plan began on Feb. 14, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a conservative Shiite, said the government would crack down on sectarian evictions and help families return to their homes, but the displacement is continuing all the same. “The forced evictions started up again this month,” said Capt. Benjamin Morales, 28, a Bronx native who commands a company of the 82nd Airborne Division that oversees a swath of western Baghdad taken over by Shiite militias last year. “In my area, that’s the biggest thing that’s going on.”
Fresh from passing the first timelines to bring home U.S. troops from Iraq, congressional Democrats now face the daunting task of reconciling critical differences between a Senate withdrawal plan passed Thursday and one approved by the House last week. The Senate's timeline — part of the $123-billion war spending bill that passed 51 to 47, largely along party lines — would require President Bush to begin withdrawing troops within 120 days of enactment and would set March 31, 2008, as a nonbinding "goal" to have most combat forces out of Iraq.
Arab leaders urged Israel to accept a 5-year-old peace plan that they say could end the decades-old Middle East conflict, calling for negotiations with the Jewish state as the annual Arab League summit drew to a close here Thursday. But key elements of the plan raise doubts about its chances for success. It calls for the creation of a Palestinian state and for Israel to relinquish lands captured in the 1967 Middle East War, a point Israel flatly rejected when the proposal was unveiled by Saudi Arabia in 2002.
Hicks' passage through this sham process affords us all an opportunity to demand the closure of Guantanamo and an end to such heinous policies. Conditions may soon exist to shutter the prison, with George W. Bush's lame-duck status, the Democratic takeover of Congress, the possible departure of Guantanamo's archdefender and architect, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and, if recent reports are true, a desire to close the prison on the part of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The bogus military commission trials amplify global contempt for the Guantanamo prison. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/309583_amy30.html
DOJ ATTORNEY FIRINGS
(more proof of high crimes and misdemeanors from BushCo)
The witness fessed up to an expanding list of sins. He admitted that the Justice Department was trying to circumvent the Senate confirmation process. He confessed that he proposed firing Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor in the Valerie Plame leak case. "I regretted it," he explained. "I knew that it was the wrong thing to do." But the self-sacrificing witness still managed -- inadvertently, perhaps -- to implicate Gonzales and Bush's chief political strategist, Karl Rove. Sampson, who resigned from the Justice Department earlier this month, admitted that Gonzales "had received a complaint from Karl Rove about U.S. attorneys in three jurisdictions." Asked about the accuracy of Gonzales's claim of non-involvement, Sampson confessed: "I don't think it's entirely accurate what he said."
The Wages of Spin:
Part of a generation of young religious conservatives who swept into the federal government after the election of President Bush in 2000, Goodling displayed unblinking devotion to the administration and expected others to do the same. When she started at Justice, "no job was too small for her," and as she moved rapidly up the ranks, none "was too large," Corallo said. "She was the embodiment of a hardworking young conservative who believed strongly in the president and his mission," said David Ayres, former chief of staff to Bush's first attorney general, John D. Ashcroft. This week, Goodling, 33, became the most prominent federal official to invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying before Congress since Lt. Col. Oliver L. North refused to answer questions -- until he received immunity -- during the 1986 Iran-contra hearings
In his Senate testimony yesterday, Kyle Sampson, the former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, tried to be a “loyal Bushie,” a term Mr. Sampson used in his infamous e-mail message to describe what he was looking for in United States attorneys. But if Mr. Sampson was trying to fall on his sword, he had horrible aim. In testimony that got so embarrassing for the White House that the Republicans tried to cut it off, Mr. Sampson simply ended up making it clearer than ever that the eight prosecutors were fired for political reasons. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/30/opinion/30fri1.html
HEALTHCARE AND INSURANCE ISSUES
Every American with health insurance faces this question at some point in any odyssey through the healthcare system. When it comes to contraception, the question has special relevance for women. Many health plans do cover prescription contraceptives for women. Earlier this month, however, a federal appeals court ruled that if they don't, it's not discrimination. The decision flies in the face of both the law and logic, and it should give Congress added incentive to pass a bill that would ensure that health insurers provide the same level of coverage for prescription drugs and services for men and women.The decision, issued by the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, relied on an odd interpretation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. An amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the law prohibits discrimination "on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions." The court ruled that contraception was not a "related medical condition" to pregnancy and that no discrimination existed if an employer denied contraception coverage to men as well as women.
Some analysts are scratching their heads at the move Merck & Co. is planning : The drug maker wants to sell a new painkiller that is just like Vioxx , the blockbuster drug it pulled from the market in 2004 because the treatment doubled heart risks. http://www.boston.com/business/globe/articles/2007/03/30/analysts_puzzle_over_plan_to_sell_a_vioxx_like_drug/
In a second round of bidding earlier this year, monthly premiums for the four low-cost health insurance plans to be offered in the Boston area were cut by an average of 8 percent, according to records the Globe obtained from the Connector in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. The new insurance plans, called Commonwealth Choice, go on sale May 1, and become effective July 1. Residents are expected to buy insurance starting July 1, or potentially face penalties.
The Interior Department is trying to weaken the Endangered Species Act, a law that protects plants and animals nearing extinction. It's a hassle, it seems, to continue to protect areas historically inhabited by an endangered species, and the new proposal pushes protecting only areas where the endangered species are actually found. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/309586_esaed.html
Global warming will redraw Earth's climate map by the end of the century, causing some of today's climates to disappear and creating other climates unlike anything known today, according to a new study. Specifically, brand-new climates will appear in the tropical and subtropical regions, while some climates of the tropical mountains and the regions around the Poles will be entirely replaced by 2100. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/03/070327-climate-maps.htmlraphic.com/news/2007/03/070327-climate-maps.html
TODAY'S MOST OUTRAGEOUS STORY
Everyone knows Saturn's rings, but what about the planet's hexagon? A new image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft offers the first direct view of a six-sided feature that encircles Saturn's north pole. The 15,000-mile-wide (25,000-kilometer-wide) cloud formation was initially spied during the Voyager missions in the 1980s. But scientists remain baffled by the atmospheric forces driving the unusual feature.