Wednesday, May 31, 2006

O'Reilly debates General Wesley Clark regarding the recent allegations that marines in Iraq slaughtered innocent civilians. O'Reilly chalks the alleged incidents up to stress, and attacks Congressman Murtha for "indicting" the military on national television.

Block the Vote

NY Times Editorial

In a country that spends so much time extolling the glories of democracy, it's amazing how many elected officials go out of their way to discourage voting. States are adopting rules that make it hard, and financially perilous, for nonpartisan groups to register new voters. They have adopted new rules for maintaining voter rolls that are likely to throw off many eligible voters, and they are imposing unnecessarily tough ID requirements.

Florida recently reached a new low when it actually bullied the League of Women Voters into stopping its voter registration efforts in the state. The Legislature did this by adopting a law that seems intended to scare away anyone who wants to run a voter registration drive. Since registration drives are particularly important for bringing poor people, minority groups and less educated voters into the process, the law appears to be designed to keep such people from voting. It imposes fines of $250 for every voter registration form that a group files more than 10 days after it is collected, and $5,000 for every form that is not submitted - even if it is because of events beyond anyone's control, like a hurricane. The Florida League of Women Voters, which is suing to block the new rules, has decided it cannot afford to keep registering new voters in the state as it has done for 67 years. If a volunteer lost just 16 forms in a flood, or handed in a stack of forms a day late, the group's entire annual budget could be put at risk.

In Washington, a new law prevents people from voting if the secretary of state fails to match the information on their registration form with government databases. There are many reasons that names, Social Security numbers and other data may not match, including typing mistakes. The state is supposed to contact people whose data does not match, but the process is too tilted against voters.

Congress is considering a terrible voter ID requirement as part of the immigration reform bill. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, introduced an amendment to require all voters to present a federally mandated photo ID. Even people who have been voting for years would need to get a new ID to vote in 2008. Millions of people without drivers' licenses, including many elderly people and city residents, might fail to do so, and be ineligible to vote. The amendment has been blocked so far, but voting-rights advocates worry that it could reappear.

These three techniques - discouraging registration drives, purging eligible voters and imposing unreasonable ID requirements - keep showing up. Colorado recently imposed criminal penalties on volunteers who slip up in registration drives. Georgia, one of several states to adopt harsh new voter ID laws, had its law struck down by a federal court.

Protecting the integrity of voting is important, but many of these rules seem motivated by a partisan desire to suppress the vote, and particular kinds of voters, rather than to make sure that those who are entitled to vote - and only those who are entitled - do so. The right to vote is fundamental, and Congress and state legislatures should not pass laws that put an unnecessary burden on it. If they do, courts should strike them down.

Number of Operations Iraqi Freedom & Endururing Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2507/281

Most Recent Casualties:

May 31, 2006

Army Spc. Brock L. Bucklin
, 28, of Grand Rapids, Mich.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom
Army Sgt. Benjamin E. Mejia
, 25, of Salem, Mass.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom
Army Cpl. Alexander J. Kolasa, 22, of White Lake, Mich.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Complete Casualty List

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Number of Operations Iraq Freedom & Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2503/281

Most Recent Casualties:

May 30, 2006

Marine Cpl. Richard A. Bennett
, 25, of Girard, Kan
-Operation Iraqi Freedom
Marine Capt. Nathanael J. Doring, 31, of Apple Valley, Minn
-Operation Iraqi Freedom
Army Spc. Bobby R. West
, 23, of Beebe, Ark.
-Operatioin Iraqi Freedom

Complete Casualty List

Media Memorial Day

By Normon Solomon

People who are concerned about the state of the US news media in 2006 might pause to consider those who have lost their lives in the midst of journalistic neglect, avoidance and bias.

We remember that while TV and radio news reports tell the latest about corporate fortunes, vast numbers of real people are struggling to make ends meet - and many are in a position of choosing between such necessities as medicine, adequate food and paying the rent.

We remember that many Americans have lost their limbs or their lives in on-the-job accidents that might have been prevented if overall media coverage had been anywhere near as transfixed with job safety as with, say, marital splits among Hollywood celebrities.

We remember that the national and deadly problem of widespread obesity is in part attributable to constant advertising for products with empty calories and plenty of fat.

We remember that despite public claims by tobacco companies, the ads that keep trying to glamorize smoking continue to lure millions of young people onto a long journey of addiction to cancer-causing cigarettes.

We remember that superficial news reports and commentaries, routinely describing war in flat phony antiseptic terms, are helpful to the US war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq - where the deaths of American troops, while horrific, are small in number compared to the civilian deaths as a result of daily slaughter catalyzed by US military activities.

We remember that each war death takes a precious life, and media outlets rarely convey more than surface accounts of the actual grief of loved ones left behind.

We remember that massive amounts of front-page space and unchallenged air time on television and radio are used by the president and other top administration officials, who speak glibly about patriotism and sacrifice while their long records of deception continue to underlie insistence that sacrificed lives must be honored by sacrificing more lives.

We remember that lies from the White House, widely parroted and commonly touted as credible by news media, have preceded every major US military action in the last five decades, including invasions of Vietnaam.

We remember that after the United States led the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia for 78 days in the spring of 1999, more than a few American journalists joined with Pentagon commanders to hype the fact that no American lives were lost in combat during that time - as if the killing of people on the ground was of scarcely any human consequence.

We remember that onslaughts of media spin followed by exuberant coverage of high-tech US air attacks can shift public sentiment drastically almost overnight. That's why opponents of reckless and deadly policies should draw little comfort from the Pew Research Center's mid-May report that at the moment "the American public strongly prefers non-military approaches to dealing with Iran's nuclear technology program," with just 30 percent in favor of "bombing military targets in Iran."

We remember that, no matter how much glorious rhetoric and how many chronic euphemisms are brought to bear on public opinion, most of war's victims are not - by any definition - combatants or enemies. As New York Times reporter Chris Hedges, a former war correspondent, has pointed out, "In the wars of the 1990s civilian deaths constituted between 75 and 90 percent of all war deaths."

We remember that, although it received scant and fleeting US media coverage when released by the Lancet medical journal in late October 2004, a study using sample-survey techniques found that about 100,000 Iraqi deaths had occurred over an 18-month period as a result of the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq - and, according to the study's data, more than half of those who died were women and children killed in air strikes.

We remember that it's easy for hot-dogging pundits to sit in TV studios or in newsrooms to cheer on the use of cutting-edge technology by the Pentagon. Those pundits leave it to others to bury the dead and to deal with the anguish of losing relatives and friends.

We remember that standard journalism fails to do much to put us in touch with human realities of war.

Watch Baghdad ER

"You can learn about war by walking through this facility...the horrors of what man can do to man are visualized right here. But we do our best, our level best, to make sure our people survive and make it back to their homes."
-- Col. Casper P. Jones III, Commander, 86th Combat Support Hospital

12-time Emmy® Award winner producer/director Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill capture the humanity, hardships and heroism of the US Military and medical personnel of the 86th Combat Support Hospital, the Army's premier medical facility in Iraq. Sometimes graphic in its depiction of combat-related wounds, BAGHDAD ER offers an unflinching and honest account of the realities of war. Premieres Sunday, May 21 at 8pm ET/PT, with a special encore presentation on Memorial Day. Click here to see preview.

BAGHDAD ER allows viewers to experience the physical and emotional toll of war by capturing soldiers and care providers in personal moments amidst intense crises inside the 86th Combat Support Hospital. Located in Baghdad's Green Zone, the facility was formerly the site of an elite medical center for Saddam Hussein's supporters. Thanks in part to the skill and dedication of trauma center teams like the one depicted in the film, wounded troops in Iraq have a 90 percent chance of survival - the highest rate of war survivors in U.S. history. The selflessness and dedication of those caring for wounded Americans and Iraqis stands in sharp contrast with the chaos of war.

"This is hard-core, raw, uncut trauma. Day after day, every day," says Specialist Saidet Lanier, an operating room nurse. "Even if you're lucky enough not to go home with war wounds on the outside, if you're not equipped with coping skills, you'll definitely have them on the inside."

The documentary offers a taste of daily life in the thick of war, including exclusive frontline rescue footage of the 54th Medical Company Air Ambulance Team, and dangerous missions of soldiers patrolling "IED Alley," also known as "Route Irish," the most dangerous road in the world. IEDs (improvised explosive devices) are homemade bombs, which are the leading cause of injuries and death in Iraq. Sometimes graphic in its depiction of combat-related wounds, BAGHDAD ER is an emotional, devastating and honest account of modern-day war.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Number of Operations Iraqi Freedom & Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2503/281

Most Recent Casualties:

May 29, 2006

Army Spc. Jeremy M. Loveless
, 25, of Estacada, Ore.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom
Army Capt. James A. Funkhouser
, 35, of Katy, Texas
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Complete Casualty List

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Number of Operations Iraqi Freedom & Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2501/281

Most Recent Casualties:

May 27, 2006

Army Spc. J. Adan Garcia, 20, of Irving, Texas
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Complete Casualty List

If men use their liberty in such a way as to surrender their liberty, are they thereafter any the less slaves? If people by a plebiscite elect a man despot over them, do they remain free because the despotism was of their own making?
- Herbert Spencer

Friday, May 26, 2006

Dixie Chicks on Letterman, 5/22/06

Number of Operations Iraqi Freedom & Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2500/281

Most Recent Casualties:

May 26, 2006

Marine Lance Cpl. Kevin A. Lucas
, 20, of Greensboro, N.C.
-Operation Iraq Freedom

Complete Casualty List

A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself.
- Joseph Pulitzer

News That's Not News to the Rest of The World............

....Prom Pics! My son, Phillip and his date, Tianna. I adore tatoos, no piercings, no weird colored hair, scant make-up, conservative dress, beautiful smile...I LOVE HER! :) Gorgeous girl. He ain't half bad either.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

You Gotta Love This Woman!

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz(D-FL) has reached the conclusion that Republicans don't have the joints that they need on the side of their neck to say no. Apparently they only know how to say, yes, Mr. Speaker, yes, Mr. President, yes, CEO of oil company, I'm happy to do your bidding and whatever it is that you like.

Jack Cafferty takes members of Congress to task for being concerned about their own rights but not ours.

Video: Hastert 'bribery' report

Justice Department Probe Foiled

An internal Justice Department inquiry into whether department officials -- including Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft -- acted properly in approving and overseeing the Bush administration's domestic eavesdropping program was stymied because investigators were denied security clearances to do their work. The investigators, however, were only seeking information and documents relating to the National Security Agency's surveillance program that were already in the Justice Department's possession, two senior government officials said in interviews.

The investigation was launched in January by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility -- a small ethics watchdog set up in 1975 after department officials were implicated in the Watergate scandal. The OPR investigates allegations of official misconduct by department attorneys, not crimes per se, but it does issue reports and recommend disciplinary action. The current Justice Department inspector general has determined that OPR is the office responsible for investigating the professional actions of the attorney general involving the NSA program.


Rove-Novak Call Was Concern To Leak Investigators

On September 29, 2003, three days after it became known that the CIA had asked the Justice Department to investigate who leaked the name of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, columnist Robert Novak telephoned White House senior adviser Karl Rove to assure Rove that he would protect him from being harmed by the investigation, according to people with firsthand knowledge of the federal grand jury testimony of both men.

Suspicious that Rove and Novak might have devised a cover story during that conversation to protect Rove, federal investigators briefed then-Attorney General John Ashcroft on the matter in the early stages of the investigation in fall 2003, according to officials with direct knowledge of those briefings.


Lay, Skilling convicted in Enron collapse

Former Enron Corp. chiefs Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were convicted Thursday of conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud in one of the biggest business scandals in U.S. history.


Fragile Senate Coalition Set To Pass Bill on Immigration

The Senate moved to the verge of passing landmark immigration legislation yesterday, scheduling a final vote for today on a bill that would tighten the borders while allowing millions of illegal immigrants to stay in the country and permitting new guest workers to come and go.

But the very mixture of get-tough and be-kind measures that have made Senate approval possible could prove the biggest obstacle to reaching an accord with the House, where conservatives are determined to secure the borders before tackling other matters. Senate leaders said their coalition is fragile, and it may be hard pressed to survive changes that House members signal they will demand this summer.

"There are plenty of things wrong with this bill, but there are plenty of things right with it," Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said yesterday, acknowledging the hodgepodge of compromises built into the Senate measure that leave virtually no one enthusiastic about it without reservation.

The Senate voted 73 to 25 to prevent endless debate on the legislation, setting up a final vote for today. Proponents called yesterday's "cloture" vote a bipartisan victory and a momentum-builder that virtually ensures passage of the bill today. But some of the measure's harshest critics voted for cloture, suggesting the final margin may be closer.


Number of Operations Iraqi Freedom & Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2497/281

Most Recent Casualties:

May 25, 2006

Army Capt. Douglas A. Dicenzo, 30, of Plymouth, N.H.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Army Spc. Robert E. Blair, 22, of Ocala, Fla
-Operation Iraqi Freedom
Army Pfc. Caleb A. Lufkin, 24, of Knoxville, Ill
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Complete Casualty List

It's not a matter of what is true that counts but a matter of what is perceived to be true.
--Henry Kissinger

BREAKING NEWS: Cheney May Be Called to Testify

Vice President Dick Cheney could be called to testify in the perjury case against his former chief of staff, a special prosecutor said in a court filing Wednesday.

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald suggested Cheney would be a logical government witness because he could authenticate notes he jotted on a July 6, 2003, New York Times opinion piece by a former U.S. ambassador critical of the Iraq war.

Fitzgerald said Cheney’s “state of mind” is “directly relevant” to whether I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the vice president’s former top aide, lied to FBI agents and a federal grand jury about how he learned about CIA officer Valerie Plame’s identity and what he subsequently told reporters.


Prosecutors Say Silence in Leak Case May Signal Indictment Coming

MSNBC's coverage of the CIA leak case continued Wednesday with new suggestions that presidential adviser Karl Rove may yet be indicted. The indictment of 'Bush's Brain' seemed imminent after reports from MSNBC and the Washington Post indicating that the Rove camp expected a decision earlier this month -- but it has now been 28 days since Rove testified for a fifth time before the grand jury investigating the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame.

MSNBC's David Shuster says former federal prosecutors believe the silence from Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald doesn't bode well for Rove.

"Fitzgerald's office refuses to comment," Shuster said. "But former federal prosecutors describe the following procedure when considering an indictment: First, a prosecution team would review the evidence. Then, they would examine case law on the relevant criminal statutes. And finally, the prosecutors would decide whether a reasonable jury would convict at trial."


Officials: Hastert "In the Mix" of Congressional Bribery Investigation

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, is under investigation by the FBI, which is seeking to determine his role in an ongoing public corruption probe into members of Congress, ABC News has learned from senior U.S. law enforcement officials.

Federal officials say the information implicating Hastert was developed from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government.

Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago, urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with other tribes.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Possible Human-to-Human Transmission of Bird Flu

All seven people infected with bird flu in a cluster of Indonesian cases can be linked to other patients, according to disease trackers investigating possible human-to-human transmission of the H5N1 virus.

A team of international experts has been unable to find animals that might have infected the people, the World Health Organization said in a statement today. In one case, a 10-year- old boy who caught the virus from his aunt may have passed it to his father, the first time officials have seen evidence of a three-person chain of infection, an agency spokeswoman said. Six of the seven people have died.

Almost all of the 218 cases of H5N1 infections confirmed by the WHO since late 2003 can be traced to direct contact with sick or dead birds. Strong evidence of human-to-human transmission may prompt the global health agency to convene a panel of experts and consider raising the pandemic alert level, said Maria Cheng, an agency spokeswoman.

``Considering the evidence and the size of the cluster, it's a possibility,'' Cheng said in a telephone interview. ``It depends on what we're dealing with in Indonesia. It's an evolving situation.''


Intelligence Czar Can Waive SEC Rules

President George W. Bush has bestowed on his intelligence czar, John Negroponte, broad authority, in the name of national security, to excuse publicly traded companies from their usual accounting and securities-disclosure obligations. Notice of the development came in a brief entry in the Federal Register, dated May 5, 2006, that was opaque to the untrained eye.

Unbeknownst to almost all of Washington and the financial world, Bush and every other President since Jimmy Carter have had the authority to exempt companies working on certain top-secret defense projects from portions of the 1934 Securities Exchange Act. Administration officials told BusinessWeek that they believe this is the first time a President has ever delegated the authority to someone outside the Oval Office. It couldn't be immediately determined whether any company has received a waiver under this provision.

The timing of Bush's move is intriguing. On the same day the President signed the memo, Porter Goss resigned as director of the Central Intelligence Agency amid criticism of ineffectiveness and poor morale at the agency. Only six days later, on May 11, USA Today reported that the National Security Agency had obtained millions of calling records of ordinary citizens provided by three major U.S. phone companies. Negroponte oversees both the CIA and NSA in his role as the administration's top intelligence official.

The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing.
- John Adams

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Zogby Poll: Over 70 Million American Adults Support New 9/11 Investigation

Although the Bush administration continues to exploit September 11 to justify domestic spying, unprecedented spending and a permanent state of war, a new Zogby poll reveals that less than half of the American public trusts the official 9/11 story or believes the attacks were adequately investigated.

The poll is the first scientific survey of Americans' belief in a 9/11 cover up or the need to investigate possible U.S. government complicity, and was commissioned to inform deliberations at the June 2~4 "9/11: Revealing the Truth, Reclaiming our Future" conference in Chicago. Poll results indicate 42% believe there has indeed been a cover up (with 10% unsure) and 45% think "Congress or an International Tribunal should re-investigate the attacks, including whether any US government officials consciously allowed or helped facilitate their success" (with 8% unsure). The poll of American residents was conducted from Friday, May 12 through Tuesday, May 16, 2006. Overall results have a margin of sampling error of +/- 2.9. All inquiries about questions, responses and demographics should be directed to Zogby International.

According to Janice Matthews, executive director of, "To those of us who have followed the mounting evidence for US government involvement in 9/11, these results are both heartening and frankly quite amazing, given the mainstream media's ongoing refusal to cover the most critical questions of that day. Our August 2004 Zogby poll of New Yorkers showed nearly half believe certain U.S. officials 'consciously' allowed the attacks to happen and 66% want a fresh investigation, but these were people closest to the tragedy and most familiar with facts refuting the official account. This revelation that so many millions nationwide now also recognize a 9/11 cover up and the need for a new inquiry should be a wake up call for all 2006 political candidates hoping to turn this country around. We think it also indicates Americans are awakening to the larger pattern of deceit that led us into Constitutional twilight and endless war, and that our independent media may have finally come of age."


MSNBC's David Shuster declared Monday evening that Karl Rove's legal team expects Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to announce a decision "at any time" in the ongoing CIA leak investigation and that new documents put Cheney's former chief of staff in the hot seat.

Number of Operations Iraqi Freedom & Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2497/280

Most Recent Casualties:
May 23, 2006

Army Spc. Michael L. Hermanson, 21, of Fargo, N.D.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Marine Lance Cpl. Robert G. Posivio III, 22, of Sherburn, Minn.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Marine Pfc. Steven W. Freund, 20, of Pittsburgh, PA
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Complete Casualty List

There are some whose only reason for inciting war is to use it as a means to exercise their tyranny over their subjects more easily. For in times of peace the authority of the assembly, the dignity of the magistrates, the force of the laws stand in the way to some extent of the ruler doing what he likes. But once war is declared then the whole business of state is subject to the will of a few ... They demand as much money as they like. Why say more?
-Erasmus of Rotterdam 1469-1536, Adages IV.i.1

Information Sharing on the Fitzgerald Investigation

From the executive editor at Truthout:

Sun May 21st, 2006 at 11:58:26 AM EDT :: Fitzgerald Investigation

I'd like to break this posting into two categories: What we know, and what we believe. They will be clearly marked.

We know that we have now three independent sources confirming that attorneys for Karl Rove were handed an indictment either late in the night of May 12 or early in the morning of May 13. We know that each source was in a position to know what they were talking about. We know that the office of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald will not confirm, will not deny, will not comment on its investigation or on our report. We know that both Rove's attorney Robert Luskin and Rove's spokesman Mark Corallo have categorically denied all key facts we have set forth. We know we have information that directly contradicts Luskin and Corallo's denials. We know that there were two network news crews outside of the building in Washington, DC that houses the offices of Patton Boggs, the law firm that represents Karl Rove. We know that the 4th floor of that building (where the Patton Boggs offices are located) was locked down all day Friday and into Saturday night. We know that we have not received a request for a retraction from anyone. And we know that White House spokesman Tony Snow now refuses to discuss Karl Rove - at all.

Further, we know - and we want our readers to know - that we are dependent on confidential sources. We know that a report based solely on information obtained from confidential sources bears some inherent risks. We know that this is - by far - the biggest story we have ever covered, and that we are learning some things as we go along. Finally, we know that we have the support of those who have always supported us, and that must now earn the support of those who have joined us as of late.

We now move on to what we believe. (If you are looking for any guarantees, please turn back now.)

We believe that we hit a nerve with our report. When I get calls on my cell phone from Karl Rove's attorney and spokesman, I have to wonder what's up. "I" believe - but cannot confirm - that Mark Corallo, Karl Rove's spokesman gave Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post my phone number. I believe Howard Kurtz contacted me with the intention of writing a piece critical of our organization. I know that Anne Marie Squeo of the Wall Street Journal attacked us and independent journalism as a whole in her piece titled, "Rove's Camp Takes Center of Web Storm / Bloggers Underscore How Net's Reporting, Dynamics Provide Grist for the Rumor Mill." We believe that rolling out that much conservative journalistic muscle to rebut this story is telling. And we believe that Rove's camp is making a concerted effort to discredit our story and our organization.

Further - and again this is "What We Believe" - Rove may be turning state's evidence. We suspect that the scope of Fitzgerald's investigation may have broadened - clearly to Cheney - and according to one "off the record source" to individuals and events not directly related to the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. We believe that the indictment which does exist against Karl Rove is sealed. Finally, we believe that there is currently a great deal of activity in the Plame investigation.

We know that this story is of vital interest to the community, and that providing as much information as we can is very important to our readers. We want you to know that this is challenging territory and that we are proceeding with as much speed as the terrain will allow.

Marc Ash, Executive Director - t r u t h o u t

Monday, May 22, 2006

Mary Cheney with David Letterman. She is her fathers daughter.

One in Every 136 U.S. Residents in Jail

Prisons and jails added more than 1,000 inmates each week for a year, putting almost 2.2 million people, or one in every 136 U.S. residents, behind bars by last summer.

The total on June 30, 2005, was 56,428 more than at the same time in 2004, the government reported Sunday. That 2.6 percent increase from mid-2004 to mid-2005 translates into a weekly rise of 1,085 inmates.

Of particular note was the gain of 33,539 inmates in jails, the largest increase since 1997, researcher Allen J. Beck said. That was a 4.7 percent growth rate, compared with a 1.6 percent increase in people held in state and federal prisons.


Thieves Steal Personal Data of 26.5M Vets

Thieves took sensitive personal information on 26.5 million U.S. veterans, including Social Security numbers and birth dates, after a Veterans Affairs employee improperly brought the material home, the government said Monday.

The information involved mainly those veterans who served and have been discharged since 1975, said VA Secretary Jim Nicholson. Data of veterans discharged before 1975 who submitted claims to the agency may have been included.

Nicholson said there was no evidence the thieves had used the data for identity theft, and an investigation was continuing.

"It's highly probable that they do not know what they have," he said in a briefing with reporters. "We have decided that we must exercise an abundance of caution and make sure our veterans are aware of this incident."

Veterans advocates expressed alarm.


Presidential Outtakes. Hilarious bit using real audio from the Bush administration and cartoons.

Number of Operations Iraqi Freedom & Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2497/275

Most Recent Casualties:

May 22, 2006

Marine Sgt. David R. Christoff, 25, of Rossford, Ohio
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Marine Lance Cpl. William J. Leusink, 21, of Maurice, Iowa
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Complete Casualty List

The current moguls understand that true media power lies not in firing up our outrage, as Hearst did, but in befuddling it or tranquilizing it with new toys. The idea is to render us passive so that they can exercise their power to sell us a bunch of stuff we mostly don't need and mostly don't want. : Richard Schickel - Brill's Content, July/August 2000

Religious Liberals Gain New Visibility

The religious left is back.

Long overshadowed by the Christian right, religious liberals across a wide swath of denominations are engaged today in their most intensive bout of political organizing and alliance-building since the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements of the 1960s, according to scholars, politicians and clergy members.

In large part, the revival of the religious left is a reaction against conservatives' success in the 2004 elections in equating moral values with opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

Religious liberals say their faith compels them to emphasize such issues as poverty, affordable health care and global warming. Disillusionment with the war in Iraq and opposition to Bush administration policies on secret prisons and torture have also fueled the movement.

"The wind is changing. Folks -- not just leaders -- are fed up with what is being portrayed as Christian values," said the Rev. Tim Ahrens, senior minister of First Congregational Church of Columbus, Ohio, and a founder of We Believe Ohio, a statewide clergy group established to ensure that the religious right is "not the only one holding a megaphone" in the public square.

"As religious people we're offended by the idea that if you're not with the religious right, you're not moral, you're not religious," said Linda Gustitus, who attends Bethesda's River Road Unitarian Church and is a founder of the new Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture. "I mean there's a whole universe out there [with views] different from the religious right. . . . People closer to the middle of the political spectrum who are religious want their voices heard."


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Edwards: "Bush worst president of our lifetime."

Can I get an AMEN??!!!!!

Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., says George W. Bush is the "worst president of our lifetime," and "absolutely" worse than Watergate-tainted President Richard M. Nixon.

In an exclusive appearance on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," the former presidential and vice presidential contender said of Bush, "He's done a variety of things — things which are going to take us forever to recover from.

"You have to give Bush and Cheney and gang credit for being good at politics — you know, good at political campaigns," Edwards added. "They're very good at dividing the country and taking advantage of it. What they're not good at is governing, and it shows every single day in this administration. And the country is paying a huge price for that."


Attorney Gen.: Reporters Can Be Prosecuted

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Sunday he believes journalists can be prosecuted for publishing classified information, citing an obligation to national security.

The nation's top law enforcer also said the government will not hesitate to track telephone calls made by reporters as part of a criminal leak investigation, but officials would not do so routinely and randomly.

"There are some statutes on the book which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that that is a possibility," Gonzales said, referring to prosecutions. "We have an obligation to enforce those laws. We have an obligation to ensure that our national security is protected."

In recent months, journalists have been called into court to testify as part of investigations into leaks, including the unauthorized disclosure of a CIA operative's name as well as the National Security Agency's warrantless eavesdropping program.

Gonzales said he would not comment specifically on whether The New York Times should be prosecuted for disclosing the NSA program last year based on classified information.

He also denied that authorities would randomly check journalists' records on domestic-to-domestic phone calls in an effort to find journalists' confidential sources.

"We don't engage in domestic-to-domestic surveillance without a court order," Gonzales said, under a "probable cause" legal standard.

But he added that the First Amendment right of a free press should not be absolute when it comes to national security. If the government's probe into the NSA leak turns up criminal activity, prosecutors have an "obligation to enforce the law."

"It can't be the case that that right trumps over the right that Americans would like to see, the ability of the federal government to go after criminal activity," Gonzales told ABC's "This Week."

Mayor Nagin Re-Elected in New Orleans

Voters re-elected Mayor Ray Nagin, whose blunt style endeared him to some but outraged others after Hurricane Katrina, giving him four more years to oversee one of the largest rebuilding projects in U.S. history.

"This is a great day for the city of New Orleans. This election is over, and it's time for this community to start the healing process," Nagin said Saturday in a joyful victory speech.

"It's time for us to stop the bickering," he said. "It's time for us to stop measuring things in black and white and yellow and Asian. It's time for us to be one New Orleans."

Nagin won with 52.3 percent, or 59,460 votes, to Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu's 47.7 percent, or 54,131 votes. While the vote was split largely along racial lines, Nagin got enough of a crossover in predominantly white districts to make the difference. He also won a slim majority of absentee and fax votes cast by evacuees scattered across the country.


Despite Pledge, Taxes Increase for Teenagers

They may as well get used to it since they are going to pay the price for this administrations wreckless management of the budget. They'll be working to pay off the deficit their entire lives.

The $69 billion tax cut bill that President Bush signed this week tripled tax rates for teenagers with college savings funds, despite Mr. Bush's 1999 pledge to veto any tax increase.

Under the new law, teenagers age 14 to 17 with investment income will now be taxed at the same rate as their parents, not at their own rates. Long-term capital gains and dividends that had been taxed at 5 percent will now be taxed at 15 percent. Interest that had been taxed at 10 percent will now be taxed at as much as 35 percent.

The increases, which are retroactive to the first day of the year, are expected to generate nearly $2.2 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, which issues the official estimates.


Polls Show Bush Losing Hispanics' Support

Hispanic voters, many of whom responded favorably to President Bush's campaign appeals emphasizing patriotism, family and religious values in Spanish-language media in 2004, are turning away from the administration on immigration and a host of other issues, according to a new survey.

At the same time, separate polls show that conservative white Republicans are the voting group most hostile to the administration's support for policies that would move toward the legalization of many undocumented immigrants.

Cumulatively, the data underscore the perils for Bush and his party in the immigration debate churning on Capitol Hill, one that threatens to bleed away support simultaneously from the Republican base and from Hispanic swing voters, whom Bush strategists had hoped to make an important new part of the GOP coalition.

A survey of 800 registered Hispanic voters conducted May 11-15 by the nonpartisan Latino Coalition showed that Democrats were viewed as better able to handle immigration issues than Republicans, by nearly 3 to 1: 50 percent to 17 percent. Pitting the Democrats against Bush on immigration issues produced a 2 to 1 Democratic advantage, 45 percent to 22 percent.


Jack Cafferty discusses the Senate debate on amending constitution banning gay marriage.

Number of Operations Iraqi Freedom & Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2490/277

Most recent casualties:

May 21, 2006

Marine Lance Cpl. Benito A. Ramirez, 21, of Edinburg, Texas
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Complete Casualty List

Bush's Base Betrayal

As a candidate in 2000, George W. Bush was a Rorschach test. Country Club Republicans saw him as another George H.W. Bush; some conservatives, thinking wishfully, saw him as another Ronald Reagan. He called himself a "compassionate conservative," which meant whatever one wanted it to mean. Experts from across the party's spectrum were flown to Austin to brief Bush and reported back: "He's one of us."

Republicans were desperate to retake the White House, conservatives were desperate to get the Clinton liberals out and there was no direct heir to Reagan running for president. So most conservatives supported Bush as the strongest candidate -- some enthusiastically and some, like me, reluctantly. After the disastrous presidency of his father, our support for the son was a triumph of hope over experience.

Once he took office, conservatives were willing to grant this Bush a honeymoon. We were happy when he proposed tax cuts (small, but tax cuts nonetheless) and when he pushed for a missile defense system. Then came the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and conservatives came to see support for the president as an act of patriotism.

Conservatives tolerated the No Child Left Behind Act, an extensive intrusion into state and local education, and the budget-busting Medicare prescription drug benefit. They tolerated the greatest increase in spending since Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society. They tolerated Bush's failure to veto a single bill, and his refusal to enforce immigration laws. They even tolerated his signing of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance overhaul, even though Bush's opposition to that measure was a key reason they backed him over Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) in the 2000 primaries.

In 2004, Republican leaders pleaded with conservatives -- particularly religious conservatives -- to register people to vote and help them turn out on Election Day. Those efforts strengthened Republicans in Congress and probably saved the Bush presidency. We were told: Just wait till the second term. Then, the president, freed of concern over reelection and backed by a Republican Congress, would take off the gloves and fight for the conservative agenda. Just wait.

We're still waiting.

Sixty-five months into Bush's presidency, conservatives feel betrayed. After the "Bridge to Nowhere" transportation bill, the Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination and the Dubai Ports World deal, the immigration crisis was the tipping point for us. Indeed, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found last week that Republican disapproval of Bush's presidency had increased from 16 percent to 30 percent in one month. It is largely the defection of conservatives that is driving the president's poll numbers to new lows.

Emboldened and interconnected as never before by alternative media, such as talk radio and Internet blogs, many conservatives have concluded that the benefits of unwavering support for the GOP simply do not, and will not, outweigh the costs.

The main cause of conservatives' anger with Bush is this: He talked like a conservative to win our votes but never governed like a conservative.


Do not hold the delusion that your advancement is accomplished by crushing others.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero - (106-43 B.C.) Roman Statesman, Philosopher and Orator

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Growing Number of GOP Seats in Doubt

When some of the country's top political handicappers drew up their charts of vulnerable House incumbents at the beginning of this year, Rep. Thelma D. Drake (R-Va.) was not among them. Now she is.

President Bush carried her district with 58 percent of the vote in 2004, but strategists say his travails are part of the reason the freshman lawmaker now has a fight on her hands. He swooped into town briefly Friday for a closed-door fundraiser for Drake but made no public appearances.

Drake, who won with ease two years ago, is not alone. With approval ratings for Bush and congressional Republicans at a low ebb, GOP strategists see signs of weakness where they least expected it -- including a conservative, military-dominated suburb such as Virginia Beach -- and fear that their problems could grow worse unless the national mood brightens.


Democtatic Challenger to Lieberman Forces Primary

U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman was nominated for a fourth term by state Democrats Friday night, but his anti-war challenger garnered enough delegates to force a primary in August.

Backers of Ned Lamont, a Greenwich businessman who has sharply criticized the moderate senator for his support of the war in Iraq, shouted with delight after learning their candidate will be the first to challenge Lieberman to a primary.


McCain Heckled at Graduation

The jeers, boos and insults flew, as caustic as any that angry New Yorkers have hurled inside Madison Square Garden. The objects of derision yesterday, however, were not the hapless New York Knicks, but Senator John McCain, the keynote speaker at the New School graduation, and his host, Bob Kerrey, the university president.

No sooner had Mr. Kerrey welcomed the audience to the university's 70th commencement than the hoots began to rise through the Theater at Madison Square Garden. Several graduates held up a banner aimed at Mr. McCain, an Arizona Republican and likely 2008 presidential candidate, declaring: "Our commencement is not your platform." Other students and faculty members waved orange fliers with the same message.

Mr. Kerrey, a former Democratic senator from Nebraska, was unapologetic yesterday about inviting Mr. McCain, his friend and fellow Vietnam War veteran, to speak. He noted early in his welcoming remarks that there had been intense media coverage of Mr. McCain's graduation speech last week at Liberty University, headed by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, in which Mr. McCain strongly defended the Iraq war.

"Many predicted that his speech today would not receive as friendly a reception," Mr. Kerrey said. "The expectation is that — and that expectation has already been realized — that some of you in this audience will act up to protest the senator's appearance."

The first student speaker, Jean Sara Rohe, 21, said she had discarded her original remarks to talk about Mr. McCain.

"The senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded," she said, to a roaring ovation. "This invitation was a top-down decision that did not take into account the desires and interests of the student body on an occasion that is supposed to honor us above all."


When the government violates the people's rights, insurrection is, for the people and for each portion of the people, the most sacred of the rights and the most indispensible of duties.
-Marquis de Lafayette

Friday, May 19, 2006

Stephen Colbert on Immigration

Clinton vs Bush

Clinton out performs Bush on every topic that is discussed.

U.N. Urges Closure of Guantanamo Detention Facility

A U.N. anti-torture panel today issued a rebuke of Bush administration counter-terrorism policies today, calling for the closing of the Guantanamo detention facility in Cuba and a halt to the transfer of suspected terrorists to countries where they may face torture.

The committee, charged with monitoring the 1984 Convention Against Torture that the United States has ratified, also stated that the imprisonment of suspects in secret detention facilities constitutes a clear violation of the treaty.

The 11-page report released today marked the culmination of the most exhaustive international public review of U.S. anti-terror tactics since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon.


Sunday on Meet The Press


Secretary of State

R - South Carolina

R - Georgia

Senate Backs Role of English

English would be declared the "national language" of the United States under a measure the Senate approved Thursday, a largely symbolic move that supporters said would promote unity and encourage assimilation by immigrants.

The measure would not reverse government practices of providing some materials and services — including voting ballots and emergency advisories — in other languages. But it would establish that people have no right or entitlement to ask government officials to provide services or materials in other languages, unless authorized by law.


One Step Closer to a Police State

President Bush's plan to deploy 6,000 National Guard troops to the Mexican border, widely seen as a political gambit, is coming under fire from both left and right.

It's likely that the move is a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, a law established after the Civil War that prohibits the use of U.S. troops for domestic law enforcement. Passed in 1878 to prohibit federal troops from running elections in the former confederate states, it is considered a bulwark against the development of a police state.

A central issue of Bush's plan is that the troops would be under federal authority. One of the exceptions built into the Posse Comitatus Act is that troops may be deployed to support law enforcement agencies, but with the exception of insurrections and riots, nuclear attack or interdiction of drug smuggling (when working directly with law enforcement agencies), they must be under the authority of a state governor.


Number of Operations Iraqi Freedom & Enduring Freedom casualties are reported by U.S. Central Command: 2490/277

Most Recent Casualties:

May 19, 2006

Army Staff Sgt. Christian Longsworth, 26, of Newark, N.J.
-Operation Enduring Freedom

Complete Casualty List

Scalia Tells Congress to Mind Its Own Business

Justice Antonin Scalia rebuked fellow conservatives on Capitol Hill yesterday, saying they have gone too far in trying to prevent the Supreme Court from using foreign law in its constitutional rulings.

Scalia dissented vigorously from the court's recent decisions that invoked foreign law to help strike down the death penalty for juveniles and laws against consensual homosexual conduct. In Congress, conservative Republicans responded angrily to the rulings and introduced bills that would either condemn or ban the court's use of foreign legal authorities.

But in his speech to a National Italian American Foundation luncheon attended by several House members, Scalia said, in effect, that he does not need any help.

"It's none of your business," he said, referring to Congress. "No one is more opposed to the use of foreign law than I am, but I'm darned if I think it's up to Congress to direct the court how to make its decisions."

The proposed legislation "is like telling us not to use certain principles of logic," he said, adding: "Let us make our mistakes just as we let you make yours."


Insidious Bias

THE GREEK press has its origins in the party system and continues to work hand in hand with it to produce overt media bias. Formative national experiences - the 1946-49 Civil War, the 1967-74 Junta and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus - have added a further, collective bias against virulent capitalism, military opportunism and globalisation. These biases stand in sharp contrast to the Anglo-Saxon tradition of balance.

Yet that tradition failed to challenge the Bush administration in March 2003 on the grounds then stipulated for the invasion of Iraq - that Saddam Hussein had the means and will to unleash weapons of mass destruction against the West through terrorist organisations.

US media commentator Norman Solomon says that subtle forms of bias prevented scrutiny. Editorial influence of a few outlets over others; corporate consolidation over advertising markets; the perception on the part of powerful editors that they do not want to bring down a presidency; the recourse of journalists to an acceptable pool of sources; and the habit of editors to stay within a consensus - all these factors, he says, blunted the will and ability of American journalists to challenge official government policy, and of viewers and readers to be open to reporting outside an unspoken canon.

Why were the American media not more keen to scrutinise the war rationale?

People talk about Fox News and it is a Rupert Murdoch-owned conduit for rightwing propaganda, but really the New York Times, an ostensibly liberal newspaper, will deserve more credit, if you will, for helping to drag the US into war. When they discovered that the WMD (weapons of mass destruction) story was a complete fantasy perpetuated by the Rove-Cheney-Bush administration, you had this belated mea culpa. They said, 'we fell for it. ' Well, they didn't fall for it, they jumped for it. There was an eagerness on the front page to make this case of WMD under Saddam Hussein's control. And also, why would the New York Times' top editors put themselves in the same category as the government? I thought that was very revealing. They view themselves as integral to the national security state and so their capacity and inclination to scrutinise what is coming out of the White House are very hobbled.

We had, a year after the November 2004 election, the New York Times break the story of the NSA (National Security Agency) spying on people in the US, including on US citizens. The New York Times had that story before the 2004 election, and sat on it, we are told, in part because the election was so imminent that they didn't want to seem partisan. It's like saying, 'we don't want to give the public timely information when that might make a difference, we'll wait until later. ' Which is reminiscent of what Napoleon said: It's not necessary to censor the news, it's sufficient to delay it until it no longer matters.


It's odd how those who dismiss the peace movement as utopian, don't hesitate to proffer the most absurdly dreamy reasons for going to war: to stamp out terrorism, install democracy, eliminate fascism, and most entertainingly, to "rid the world of evil-doers"
- Arundhati Roy

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Black Jack, Mo., To Evict Unmarried Couples With Children From Homes

Think you didn't have a stake in gay rights issues? Think again. The right is now going after unmarried hetrosexuals who don't fit their definition of 'family'. There needs to be an immediate boycott of this city and the state of Missouri if need be. This is unbelievable. This is the same as the old laws forbidding interracial marriages. Brings to mind this little ditty by Martin Nieomoller, " In Germany they came first for the Communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me--and by that time no one was left to speak up."

The city council in Black Jack, Mo., has rejected a measure allowing unmarried couples with multiple children to live together. The mayor said those who fall into that category could soon face eviction.

Olivia Shelltrack and Fondrey Loving were denied an occupancy permit after moving into a home in this St. Louis suburb because they have three children and are not married.

The town's planning and zoning commission proposed a change in the law, but the measure was rejected Tuesday by the city council in a 5-3 vote.

"I'm just shocked," Shelltrack said. "I really thought this would all be over, and we could go on with our lives."

Mayor Norman McCourt said starting Wednesday the city will begin trying to evict groups who do not fit into Black Jack’s definition of family, reports CBS affiliate KMOV-TV in St. Louis.


DO YOU EARN $40,000 A YEAR? According to Speaker Hastert, You Don’t Pay Taxes

James E. Clyburn, Chairman of the Democratic Caucus today responded to stunning remarks delivered by Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert. Summing up Republican budget and tax priorities around midnight on May 18, 2006, Hastert made clear just how out of touch he is with working Americans by stating that people who earn $40,000 a year don’t pay taxes. His statement, "Well, folks, if you earn $40,000 a year and have a family of two, you don't pay any taxes. So you probably, if you don't pay any taxes, you are not going to get a big tax cut."


Feingold, Specter Clash Over Gay Marriage

A Senate committee approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage Thursday, after a shouting match that ended when one Democrat strode out and the Republican chairman bid him "good riddance."

"I don't need to be lectured by you. You are no more a protector of the Constitution than am I," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., shouted after Sen. Russ Feingold (news, bio, voting record) declared his opposition to the amendment, his affinity for the Constitution and his intention to leave the meeting.

"If you want to leave, good riddance," Specter finished.

"I've enjoyed your lecture, too, Mr. Chairman," replied Feingold, D-Wis., who is considering a run for president in 2008. "See ya."

Amid increasing partisan tension over President Bush's judicial nominees and domestic wiretapping, the panel voted along party lines to send the constitutional amendment — which would prohibit states from recognizing same-sex marriages — to the full Senate, where it stands little chance of passing.


Number of Operations Iraq Freedom and Enduring Freedom casualties
as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2490/277

Most Recent Causalties:

May 18, 2006

Army Pfc. Nicholas R. Cournoyer, 25, of Gilmanton, N.H.
-Operation Iraq Freedom

Army Lt. Col. Daniel E. Holland, 43, of San Antonio, Tx
-Operation Iraq Freedom
Army 1st. Lt. Robert A. Seidel III, 23, of Gettysburg, Pa.
-Operation Iraq Freedom
Army Sgt. Lonnie C. Allen Jr., 26, of Bellevue, Neb.
-Operation Iraq Freedom
Marine Cpl. William B. Fulks, 23, of Culloden, W.Va.
-Operation Iraq Freedom

Complete Casualty List

Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.
- Haile Selassie

Bush Is Now A Lame Duck

>The great impulse of the punditocracy right now is to look at President Bush's swelling problems with the public and his party in the context of the elections coming up in November and then in 2008. Big mistake.

Short of another disaster on the scale of 9/11, George Bush no longer has the power, credibility or ability to effectively govern for the rest of his term in office. Contrary to what you hear on television, governing remains more important than campaigning. Government is more important than elections — to the extent the two can be differentiated anymore.

Bush's realm of efficacy will be limited to areas where he can make unilateral decisions, mostly in war and foreign policy. The tax cuts that oozed through Congress last week may well be his last "significant" piece of domestic legislation; I put quotations around significant because they are, in fact temporary. The entire menu of Bush tax tinkering is set to expire in 2010


World opinion of U.S. sinking

The United States has often irritated the rest of the world, but lately it's gotten worse -- and more dangerous.

In increasing numbers, people around the globe resent American power and wealth and reject specific actions like the occupation of Iraq and the campaign against democratically elected Palestinian leaders, in-depth international polling shows.

Analysts say America's image problem is pervasive, deep and perhaps permanent, an inevitable outcome of being the world's only superpower.

But there is worse news. In the past, while Europeans, Asians and Arabs might have disliked American policies or specific U.S. leaders, they liked and admired Americans themselves.

Polls now show an ominous turn. Majorities around the world think Americans are greedy, violent and rude, and fewer than half in countries like Poland, Spain, Canada, China and Russia think Americans are honest.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Dow Drops More Than 200 Points

Stock prices plunged Wednesday after a stronger-than-expected rise in consumer inflation intensified Wall Street's fear that interest rates will keep climbing. In mid-afternoon trading, the Dow industrials were down 204.99 to 11,214.90, the Nasdaq composite had fallen 28.57 to 2,200.56 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 19.44 at 1,272.64.


Pa. Voters Oust at Least 14 Lawmakers

Angry voters were passing out the pink slips in Pennsylvania, where state lawmakers voted themselves a huge pay raise in the dead of night last year.

More than a dozen legislative incumbents, including the state Senate's top two Republicans, lost in Tuesday's primary election. With retirements, it means at least one in every six seats in the 253-member Legislature will turn over.


Is Al Gore Running for President Again?

Al Gore is running to California, New York, Utah, Washington, France and points in between to promote "An Inconvenient Truth," a film chronicling his elaborate slide shows to educate people about global warming.

But is the former vice president running for president again?

The answer, he says, is no. Some Democrats are not so sure.

"I'm a recovering politician on about Step 9," Gore told The Associated Press. "But I'm on a different kind of campaign now — to persuade people to take action to solve the climate crisis, and it's always easier when you're focused on one thing."

For most of his adult life, Gore was focused on the presidency. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in 1988 and served as vice president under President Clinton from 1993-2001. He narrowly lost the 2000 presidential campaign to George W. Bush, despite collecting more popular votes than the Texas Republican.

He's a richer man for his loss — literally. Gore is a senior adviser to Google Inc., a member of the Apple Computer Inc., board and co-founder and chairman of an investment firm.

Gore is a longtime opponent of the Iraq war, which makes him a favorite of liberal Internet-savvy Democrats who dominate the party's emerging "netroots." And with his advocacy of climate change awareness, Gore is the leading voice on an issue that Republicans and Democrats alike say is gaining prominence among voters.


Confidence In GOP Is At New Low in Poll

Public confidence in GOP governance has plunged to the lowest levels of the Bush presidency, with Americans saying by wide margins that they now trust Democrats more than Republicans to deal with Iraq, the economy, immigration and other issues, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll that underscores the GOP's fragile grip on power six months before the midterm elections.

Dissatisfaction with the administration's policies in Iraq has overwhelmed other issues as the source of problems for President Bush and the Republicans. The survey suggests that pessimism about the direction of the country -- 69 percent said the nation is now off track -- and disaffection with Republicans have dramatically improved Democrats' chances to make gains in November.

Democrats are now favored to handle all 10 issues measured in the Post-ABC News poll. The survey shows a majority of the public, 56 percent, saying they would prefer to see Democrats in control of Congress after the elections.

The poll offers two cautions for the Democrats, however. One is a growing disaffection with incumbents generally. When asked whether they were inclined to reelect their current representative to Congress or look around for someone new, 55 percent said they were open to someone else, the highest since just before Republicans captured control of Congress in 1994. That suggests that some Democratic incumbents could feel the voters' wrath, although as the party in power Republicans have more at risk.