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Archive for May, 2007

Seed Newsvine

I have written about this before but it bears repeating. Bush is high on accountability when it comes to the weakest, most helpless, least powerful members of our society–school children–but refuses to accept measures of accountability for his own actions.It is important to put this into perspective. My personal metaphor for Bush’s actions is that of playground bully. Push around those who cannot or will not fight back and then refuse to accept responsibility when one actually does by claiming that the other guy started the whole thing.

Bush, in refusing to compromise, thumbs his nose at the American PEOPLE. Ours is not a government of the president or of the Congress. Lincoln reminded us that ours is a government “of the PEOPLE, by the PEOPLE, and for the PEOPLE.”

Speaker Pelosi stands as a voice of the PEOPLE when it comes to the Iraq war. She, along with Senate Majority Leader Reed, are responding to the will of the PEOPLE who decided that 12 years of Republican domination in the Congress was quite enough. Bush stands alone as a voice of global capitalism, religious fanaticism, and war mongering hate.

This war must end. It must end sooner than later. Americans must not die for nothing. Stand with the Speaker of the House and bring our men and women home.

clipped from electioncentral.tpmcafe.com
A partial transcript of Nancy Pelosi’s post-meeting remarks on the broken-down talks between Congressional Dem leaders and the White House:
“The domestic initiatives on the bill in the original we sent to the President are emergencies. Katrina, hurricane disaster assistance, health care for America’s children, all of those issues are emergencies. But because the President made it an issue that they were not appropriate on the war funding bill, we said, ‘Okay, take those off. And then accept the bill that we sent that includes everything you have asked for our troops and more.’
“But it has accountability in it. The President’s representatives said no. Then we said, ‘Okay, you have a problem with timelines, we’ll give you a waiver on that.’ They said no.
“So it is clear that the difference between the Democrats and the President is the issue of accountability. He will not accept any accountability or responsibility for what has happened there.”

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Seed Newsvine

Okay, so I support Barak Obama. That being said, my bias out in the open, I believe he is the only viable candidate that makes sense on ending the Iraq War. With a White House out of control, refusing compromise with the loyal opposition on matters of the war, and with the death toll of American soldiers ever rising, a voice of reason is needed. Obama’s tack is to garner enough votes to override any presidential veto since compromise on a bill is not likely.The power shift in Congress came as a result of the American voter’s disenchantment with the war. The time has come to put an end to this mismanaged fiasco. But this White House looks and acts more and more like the Nixon White House in its efforts to “end” the war by waging even more war. Enough is enough. Support Obama’s “16 vote” campaign and help us get out of Iraq.

clipped from www.chicagotribune.com
MANCHESTER, N.H. — The volunteers were wearing Barack Obama buttons and handing out literature about the Democratic candidate for president, but the explicit message the canvassers were peddling Saturday as they went door-to-door here was about ending the war in Iraq.
First, they asked that voters sign a petition to end the war, specifically calling on their U.S. senators to part ways with the president and move for the withdrawal of troops.
Only after that did they hand out fliers promoting Obama, whom some volunteers went on to describe as the strongest anti-war candidate in the Democratic field—a mantle the other candidates aren’t ready to concede.
Obama has taken his war opposition to a new level in recent days, launching what some are calling his “16 votes” campaign urging that number of senators to vote to override President Bush’s recent veto of a bill to re-deploy troops.
Obama’s anti-war message fused so much with his presidential campaign that it was hard to differentiate

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Seed Newsvine

Idaho and guns seem not to mix well. I don’t think my next vacation will be planned for Idaho. Need I say more?

clipped from www.reuters.com
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – At least four people were shot by a sniper in the town of Moscow, Idaho, CNN and local media reported on Sunday.
Moscow police confirmed there had been a shooting but declined to give any details on the phone.
CNN said two officers and two civilians were shot at around 1 a.m. PDT (0800 GMT) but their condition was not known.
At least 75 shots were fired and up to seven blocks were cordoned off, it added.
Local radio station KXLY said the shots, believed to be from a high-powered rifle, were shot from a Presbyterian church and targeted the town’s courthouse. It said on its Web site no more shots had been heard since 1 a.m.

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Seed Newsvine

Just a little tidbit I found on YouTube. If it weren’t so sad it might actually be funny. As the anti-evolutionists seek to introduce biblical mythology, call it what you will–creation science, intelligent design–into the classroom, they seem willing to turn back the clock to a time more reminiscent of the dark ages and the Inquisition than bring it to the light of the 21st century. Just because the human mind cannot conceive of the possibility of evolution does not mean that evolution is not true. It is all about evidence. The scientific FACTS based on evolutionary theory point to the validity of the theory. Other than a few scribbles in some sacred texts written 3000 years ago, and other than personal revelation (which is not rigorous evidence) there simply is no evidence to support what Richard Dawkins calls the God delusion. I think I’ll put my faith and trust in FACTS and not in the mythology of creation. If I wanted to put my faith in the mythology I would then be forced to choose from among thousands of FACTUALLY unsupported creation myths–what if I pick the wrong one? What then…

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Seed Newsvine

No wonder Bush stands so steadfastly behind his AG. The guy just can’t say no to his boss.

Paul Rothstein, a professor at Georgetown Law School said:This intertwining of the political with the running of the Justice Department has gone on in other administrations, both Republican and Democrat. But I think it’s being carried to a fine art by this president. They leave no stone unturned to politicize where they think the law will permit it. And they push the line very far.

The Bush administration, under the political influence of Karl Rove (the man who understands ethical behavior much in the same way that Chuck Colson, special counsel to Richard Nixon during the Watergate years, did; If you must run over your grandmother to get what you want, then go ahead and leave her for dead) will stoop to any depths to get what it wants. Having an old friend, one that is likely not to challenge the legality of anything you intend to do is, it seems to me, important, even necessary, in order to accomplish your goals.
The hubris of this White House is stunning. There has never been, and with any degree of luck, there will never be again, a president as arrogant and as stupid as this one is. Arrogance and ignorance is a potent mixture for evil.

The Yahoo.com article said:Former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, too, had obvious close ties to President John F. Kennedy, his brother. But critics say Gonzales’ relationship with Bush rivals that between former Attorney General John Mitchell and his former law partner, President Nixon.

Mitchell left the Justice Department in 1972 to run Nixon’s re-election campaign. He served 19 months in prison after conviction on conspiracy, perjury and obstruction of justice charges for his role in the Watergate break-in of Democratic headquarters.

Reacting to Watergate abuses, Carter administration Attorney General Griffin Bell instituted reforms to help maintain the department’s independence. Among the changes: a ban on lawmakers and the White House directly contacting prosecutors about specific investigations.

That ban was violated last year when New Mexico GOP Sen. Pete Domenici (news, bio, voting record) and Rep. Heather Wilson (news, bio, voting record) called former U.S. attorney David Iglesias in Albuquerque to ask about the status of public corruption cases. Iglesias later said they wanted to know whether he was going to indict Democrats before the looming election. The incident is cited by Democrats who argue the U.S. attorney firings were politically motivated.

No one has accused Gonzales, personally, of breaking the law to put Bush’s stamp on the Justice Department. The attorney general maintains he is working to not only fix mistakes that his aides made in hiring and firing prosecutors, but also to secure the public’s confidence in the beleaguered department.

Whether he can salvage his own reputation remains to be seen.

Philip Heymann, a Harvard law professor who worked at the Justice Department under several Democratic presidents, said the White House is using the law “almost exclusively as a form of protection and a form of armor, if you can get the Justice Department to say it’s fine.”

“I think they wanted a loyal attorney general, not somebody who would say ‘no’ when they very badly wanted them to say ‘yes,'” Heymann said. “And now they’ve got that.”

clipped from news.yahoo.com
WASHINGTON – Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says his long friendship with
President Bush
makes it easier to say “no” to him on sticky legal issues. His critics, however, say Gonzales is far more likely to say “yes” — leaving the Justice Department vulnerable to a politically determined White House.
Probably not since Watergate has an attorney general been so closely bound to the White House’s bidding. In pushing counterterror programs that courts found unconstitutional and in stacking the ranks of federal prosecutors with Republican loyalists, Gonzales has put Bush’s stamp on an institution that is supposed to operate largely free of the White House and beyond the reach of politics.
Gonzales, facing a no-confidence vote in the Senate, is resisting lawmakers’ demands to resign and says he will remain as attorney general until he no longer has the president’s support. The White House is steadfastly backing its man.

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Seed Newsvine

With the reputation of the United States at stake, President Bush readies himself to pick a successor to Paul Wolfowitz. Traditionally, the US has chosen the President of the World Bank while Europeans have chosen the head of the International Monetary Fund. Now, given the scandal at the World Bank, Europeans are suggesting that this practice cease and that Wolfowitz’ successor be chosen on merit and not nationality (a code for crony of Mr. Bush).Given the falling reputation of the United States across Europe due in part to the mishandled war in Iraq and the bungling choices made at the World Bank, perhaps the White House should listen for a change. Consultation is not, however, the strong suit of the Bush White House as an administration that has grown used to having its own way on just about everything until recently.

Paul Wolfowitz

Photo: © Simone D. McCourtie /World Bank

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has said he would help Bush identify a nominee after consulting with other countries. But he made clear it would be an American.

“I see no reason why this should change and I see every reason why it’s important that the World Bank should continue to be run by an American,” Paulson said.

Dutch Development Minister Bert Koenders said the stature of the candidate was more important than nationality.

“The quality of a new candidate is the most important thing. Whatever nationality, American or from another continent, the bank needs a president of the highest quality,” he said.

Henry Paulson makes it absolutely clear that the Bush Administration is not listening to the rest of the world. The fact that he sees no reason to change past policy is an arrogant response in the light of the need for the last Bush choice to resign in disgrace.

I wish I had confidence that Bush will do the right thing in this matter. The fact is that I do not.

clipped from www.reuters.com
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A day after Paul Wolfowitz resigned as World Bank president under an ethics cloud, the United States faced the tough task of healing rifts with Europeans and satisfying calls that his successor be picked on merit, not just nationality.
Wolfowitz’s resignation on Thursday followed pressure by European opponents who said his handling of a high-paying promotion for his companion damaged the institution’s credibility. Bank staff complained the crisis had undermined their mission of fighting poverty in developing countries.
“It is a very delicate issue but we will make clear to the United States that we need someone credible and this time they need to consult more broadly,” said one senior European bank board official. “That was not the case with Mr. Wolfowitz.”
The United States, the bank’s largest shareholder, has named the World Bank chief since the bank’s inception more than 60 years ago.
Many critics have said that practice should be revamped

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Seed Newsvine

In Illinois it takes 12 jurors to unanimously recommend the death penalty in order for that sentence to be imposed. One juror chose to spare the life of Juan Luna, convicted of multiple murder at a Brown’s Chicken store in the Chicagoland area.While we may never know the motives of the holdout, unless she decided to come forward, I want to applaud her conscious choice in withholding her vote to put this convicted killer to death.

Luna proclaims his innocence. He was convicted on circumstantial physical evidence. If there is one chance in 10,000 that the conviction is in error and Luna’s claims are, in fact, true then it is clear that life in prison is the proper course of punishment.

Every life, including that of the convicted, is sacred and worthy of being saved. To do otherwise, to sanction state murder, is not justice. It is vengeance. The death of the convicted murderer will not bring back the lives he took. It will not fill the hole left in the heart of the families of the victim. And, then there is the ever so slight possibility that we were wrong in convicting Juan Luna.

No, the proper punishment is to spend the rest of his life in prison, eating cardboard food, fearing for his safety around each and every corner, sleeping with lights on and guards staring at his every movement. He is 33 years old. He has a long time to think about what he did.

The families of the victims were split. The daughters of the slain owners of the Brown’s Chicken store took a strong stand against the imposition of death for Luna.

The Ehlenfeldt sisters, whose parents were both killed that night, had earlier taken a stand against the death penalty.

“We respect the decision,” said Jennifer Shilling, one of three daughters of restaurant owners Richard Ehlenfeldt, 50, and his wife, Lynn, 49. “At 33, Luna will spend the rest of his natural life in a maximum-security correctional facility where he will only know the sterile routine of a convicted felon.”

clipped from www.chicagotribune.com
Eleven of the jurors who convicted Juan Luna of the 1993 Brown’s Chicken massacre voted to sentence him to death Thursday, but his life was spared because of a lone holdout.
The 12-member jury spent just two hours deliberating, then voted overwhelmingly for the death penalty, according to Cook County prosecutors, defense attorneys and jurors who spoke to reporters after the sentencing.
Jurors said the holdout was the same woman who initially balked before the panel voted unanimously last week to convict Luna of murdering seven workers at the Palatine fast-food restaurant during a robbery. They declined to identify her.
“We didn’t gang up on her because that’s not right,” said juror Tim Beltran, 22, of Westchester. “You don’t want to force her into anything.”
Under Illinois law, a death sentence can be imposed only by a unanimous jury vote. The split vote left the jury to recommend a life sentence for Luna, 33.

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