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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

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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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

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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