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Archive for the ‘Bush’ Category

Seed Newsvine

clipped from www.reuters.com
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The FBI possibly violated the law or its rules more than 1,000 times since 2002 in collecting data about phone calls, e-mails and financial records while investigating terrorism or espionage suspects, FBI officials said on Thursday.
The potential violations found by an FBI audit were far greater than the approximately two dozen previously documented violations in a U.S. Justice Department report released in March that was based on a much smaller sampling, they said.
The vast majority of newly discovered violations were instances in which companies, such as telephone and Internet providers, gave more information than the FBI sought, the officials said.
They said the FBI has drafted new guidelines in an effort to prevent future abuses, but civil liberties groups and Democrats in Congress expressed doubt that they would be sufficient to protect the privacy of Americans.

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When I was growing up in the 1950’s we were forced to watch propaganda films telling us all about the evils of the Soviet Union, especially the danger from the Secret Police. We were briefed on the potential abuse in such a system, one which went so far as to encourage children to spy on their parents, workers on their bosses and colleagues, and friend on friend. Awards, we were told, were given to those who reported to the secret police crimes real or imagined.I wonder just what the difference might be if the FBI takes upon itself the role of secret police. Of course, there is a great difference here. The FBI investigated itself and slapped its own hand. What would an external investigation, one that is independent of the Justice Department under the questionable leadership of Alberto Gonzales, might find?

Sad fact is that I am not surprised by any of this. Just another potential scandal for George II’s administration.

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Seed Newsvine

Reuters reports this afternoon that:

The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday responded to the deadliest shooting rampage in modern American history by passing legislation to help keep guns out of hands of the mentally ill.On a voice vote, the House sent the measure — which would be the first major gun control bill enacted since 1994 and bolster background checks for gun buyers — to the Democratic-led Senate for needed concurrence.

The bill was drafted in consultation with the 4 million-member National Rifle Association, the nation’s biggest gun-rights group, after a deranged gunman killed himself and 32 others in April at Virginia Tech university.

“I think the chances are very strong that we can get this passed in the Senate,” said Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, provided the legislation is not laden with amendments that gun rights backers find objectionable.

It is a start. Interestingly the NRA apparently participated in the drafting of this bill–has the leadership of the NRA finally come to their senses. Gun control does not mean depriving Americans of the right to own weapons. It does not mean that Americans cannot hunt or participate in the infantile sport of shooting at paper targets. Gun control doesn’t even mean that one is deprived of the right to join the militia. As I have blogged many times before, making it more difficult to place weapons in the hands of those that are likely to to harm to themselves and others reduces the probability that another Virginia Tech is imminent. Hooray for the courage of the House. Now will the Senate follow suit? Will the lame duck sign legislation that limits placing guns in the hands of the mentally incompetent? All I know is that it is a beginning. I for one will be watching for the outcome.

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Seed Newsvine

Education Week reported on June 8th:

House Democrats want to put their own stamp on federal education spending by increasing Title I and other programs they favor and slashing Reading First and other priorities set by President Bush.

In the $56 billion fiscal 2008 spending bill for the Department of Education unveiled by the Democrats, No Child Left Behind Act programs would receive a $2 billion increase, with the Title I program for disadvantaged students receiving $1.5 billion of that.

But the $1.03 billion Reading First program—which the Bush administration points to as one of its biggest accomplishments under the NCLB law—would take a cut of $630 million, or 61 percent. What’s more, the administration’s latest proposals for private school vouchers and new mathematics programs would not be funded at all.

“This [Reading First] cut will not be restored until we have a full appreciation of the shenanigans that have been going on,” said Rep. David R. Obey, D-Wis., the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Reports by the Department of Education’s inspector general and congressional investigators have outlined management and ethical questions involving the program.

Republicans voiced no objections to the Reading First cuts or other spending levels during the June 7 session of the appropriations panel’s Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee. The subcommittee approved the Democratic plan in a unanimous voice vote.

“If I were chairman,” said Rep. James T. Walsh, R-N.Y., the subcommittee’s senior Republican, “I don’t know that I would have made the bill a whole lot different.”

This should come as no surprise given the recent questions about how the DoED administered the Reading First program. Surrounded by questions of improper ethics and outright fraud when it came to forcing DIBLES on school districts large and small, draining much needed funds away from the classroom, the bipartisan support of this spending cut makes a great deal of sense.

The DoED, like other embattled Bush administration departments, is keeping a stiff upper lip claiming no ethical violations and that the Democrats are undermining the ability of the urban poor to learn. What they forget is that this legislation will most likely leave the committee with full bipartisan support. Republicans as well as Democrats have simply had enough of this scandal ridden White House. Of course, it is easy to take a stand when those directly effected by that stand are not voters.

Where is this kind of bipartisanship when it comes to the blatantly political Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales? But that is for another post…

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Seed Newsvine

clipped from www.boston.com
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration is writing a new plan to maintain governmental control in the wake of an apocalyptic terrorist attack or overwhelming natural disaster, moving such doomsday planning for the first time from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to officials inside the White House.
The policy replaces a Clinton-era “continuity in government” post-disaster plan. The old plan is classified;
the new policy centralizes control of such planning in the White House and puts a greater emphasis on terrorism spurring the catastrophe.
The policy requires all government agencies to have clear lines of succession if top officials are killed and be prepared to operate from a new headquarters within 12 hours of a catastrophe. They must be prepared “to lead and sustain the nation during a crisis” — a charge ranging from “providing leadership visible to the nation and the world” to “bringing to justice perpetrators of crimes or attacks.”

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Kind of makes one wonder. In the face of a massive, apocalyptic disaster, why it is so important to put a face on national unity? If the disaster is so great that new a HQ must be formed within 12 hours–apparently somewhere away from the White House–then I wonder who might be left to really care about the face of America in the world or “bringing to justice” any perpetrators of attacks.

Boston.com further said:The new policy focuses on a worst-case scenario in which a terrorist nuclear bomb explodes without warning and wipes out much of the nation’s top leadership. Older plans were instead premised on a Cold War-era long-range missile attack, presuming it would be detected in enough time to evacuate the president and other top government officials.

I suppose those in power need to feel like they are doing something but this sounds like something scripted out of a Hollywood disaster film. What is it they say–Life imitates art?

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Seed Newsvine

Clipped from Atlantic Online, this story references Alberto Gonzales’ sinister involvement in the March 2004 warrantless eavesdropping program even after the program was declared unlawful by then AG John Ashcroft, himself no constitutional bargain.The whole article is worth the time to read as it outlines the hubris of the Bush administration as they flaunt the law and the constitution for their own gain.

The bonus is that this administration has a mere 606 days left to spread its brand of authority. Of course, what I fear most, given the recent saber rattling at Iran, including sending a large Navy task force to the Persian Gulf to intimidate the Iranians into giving up their nuclear program. As Bush readies for one more military incursion in the Middle East we must ask how much more war can we take before we lose all that makes America the envy of the world? We are rapidly sliding down the path to isolation from the rest of the world, and to what purpose? The mythical enemy is not Osama Bin Laden, although I have no doubts that he is a really bad guy, rather, the enemy, as Pogo (the comic strip character central to the old Walt Kelly daily strip) once remarked “is us!”

clipped from www.theatlantic.com

E very day that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is allowed to remain in office is corrosive to constitutional governance and an invitation to further politicization of the Justice Department.

That is the main lesson of former Deputy Attorney General James Comey’s astonishing revelations on May 15 about Gonzales’s sinister involvement in a March 2004 effort to continue a then-secret warrantless eavesdropping program after it had been declared unlawful by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft and his subordinates.
Meanwhile, the May 14 resignation of Paul McNulty, Comey’s successor as deputy attorney general, further depleted the ranks of principled professionals in the demoralized department, which Gonzales has been filling with inexperienced political hacks. In the words of Arlen Specter, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s senior Republican, as long as Gonzales is in charge, “it’s embarrassing for a professional to work for the Department of Justice.”

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Seed Newsvine

Coming from the lips of Jimmy Carter this is a real mouthful. My personal respect for Carter has never been high and it went into the toilet after he published his latest anti-semitic diatribe, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid. But, that being said, Carter’s conclusions here may be partially right.He comes down hard on George II for his policy of pre-emptive war in the case of Iraq. The disastrous results in Iraq after causing the collapse of the Saddam government were predicted during his father’s Gulf War in the early 90’s. George I stopped short of going straight to Baghdad when he clearly could have done so so as not to destabilize the country. George I’s son just wasn’t that smart.

Carter’s view of the Middle East, however, is generally tainted by his latent, though certainly not vocal until recently, anti-semitic Baptist foundations. Baptists tolerate Jews so long as they need Jews to gather again in Israel to hasten the second coming of the Messiah. Carter, actively sought peace in Israel, I would argue to hasten this ingathering of the Jews, where George II seems to be more willing to let the Israelis address the issue of war and peace on their own.

As Iraq proves, one cannot interfere in essentially local disputes by forcing compliance from afar. We tried this in Iraq and found that it simply didn’t work. Carter tried this in Israel and found that it didn’t work either.

Israel and the Palestinians must solve their own problems. I do not believe that will happen so long as either side has not had enough of war, death and destruction. No amount of outside interference or help will move the process forward until both sides have simply had enough. That is not yet the case. But we also know that it is possible in that one need only look at the recent developments in Northern Ireland to witness the results of exhaustion.

clipped from www.iht.com
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas: Former President Jimmy Carter says President George W. Bush’s administration is “the worst in history” in international relations, taking aim at the White House’s policy of pre-emptive war and its Middle East diplomacy.
The criticism, which a biographer says is unprecedented for the 39th president, also took aim at Bush’s environmental policies and the administration’s “quite disturbing” faith-based initiative funding.
“I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history,” the Nobel Peace Prize winner told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in a story that appeared in the newspaper’s Saturday editions. “The overt reversal of America’s basic values as expressed by previous administrations, including those of George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me.”
Carter also lashed out Saturday at British prime minister Tony Blair.

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Seed Newsvine

Wolfowitz resigns, can Gonzales be far behind? While the White House continues to stand solidly behind Bush’s friend, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the storm swells that surround the AG continue to deepen.Since the White House position of backing Gonzales in the face of the fully developed scandal surrounding the procedures that led to the firing of eight federal prosecutors is politically untenable, the White House resorts to ad homenim attacks on Senator Charles Schumer (D. NY),

White House spokesperson, Tony Fratto said:

I think the attorney general is not affected by it. I think the media seems to be focused on it, which I think for some of the members who are instigating these kinds of questions, like Senator Schumer, (this) is exactly what they want,

Ad homenim attacks generally are used when there is little of substance one can argue. Substance is replaced by an all out attack on an individual or individuals rather than argue from specifics; in this case, focusing attention on Schumer and the media (whatever that might be). Tony Fratto, speaking for the president, demonstrates the desperation of the White House as it struggles to regain whatever confidence it has lost.

Desperate measures signify desperate times. What bothers me the most is that the nation is left to drift in roiling seas while Bush and his administration must pay far too much attention to self-protection and survival.

clipped from www.reuters.com
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee predicted on Sunday Attorney General Alberto Gonzales might step down in the face of a substantial Senate “no-confidence” vote on his performance.
The White House said it was unclear whether there would be such a vote and criticized those Democrats pushing for it, singling out New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer in particular.
“As for no-confidence votes, maybe senators need a refresher course on American civics,” said White House spokesman Tony Fratto, with President George W. Bush in Crawford, Texas. “What I mean is I think you find no-confidence votes in parliamentary systems, not the American system of government.”
Asked on CBS’ “Face the Nation” whether many Republicans would join the majority Democrats in voting against Gonzales possibly as early as this week, Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania said, “I think so.”
“You already have six Republicans calling for his resignation,” he said.

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