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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 04/24/2005 - 05/01/2005
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Be afraid... Be very afraid...

here is precisely what i have been pounding on for ever... this is the REAL karl rove... make no mistake... THIS MAN IS DANGEROUS...
Inside, Rove was talking to an aide about some political stratagem in some state that had gone awry and a political operative who had displeased him. I paid it no mind and reviewed a jotted list of questions I hoped to ask. But after a moment, it was like ignoring a tornado flinging parked cars. "We will fuck him. Do you hear me? We will fuck him. We will ruin him. Like no one has ever fucked him!" As a reporter, you get around—curse words, anger, passionate intensity are not notable events—but the ferocity, the bellicosity, the violent imputations were, well, shocking. This went on without a break for a minute or two. Then the aide slipped out looking a bit ashen, and Rove, his face ruddy from the exertions of the past few moments, looked at me and smiled a gentle, Clarence-the-Angel smile. "Come on in." And I did. And we had the most amiable chat for a half hour.

i strongly recommend you read the whole thing... the guy is pathological... and, as you're reading it, remember it was written in january, 2003... the dark lord has been busy since then continuing to consolidate his power in the land of mordor...

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Very sick stuff

Celebrate Diversity

this literally makes my stomach turn... and from what cesspool, you might ask, did i dredge up this little gem...? why, from powerline, of course, where educated, refined, keen minds hold forth...

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More Blair bad news...

dontcha wish some of our current or former top military officers would come out and say something like this...?
The man who led Britain's armed forces into Iraq says Tony Blair will join British soldiers in the dock if the military is ever prosecuted for war crimes. [...] Sir Michael [former Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Sir Michael Boyce] said he did not have full legal cover from prosecution at the International Criminal Court (ICC). He told the newspaper: "If my soldiers went to jail and I did, some other people would go with me." [...] The former defence chief added that he had never been shown the crucial March 7 advice by Attorney General Lord Goldsmith that questioned whether the war was legal. He had only been given a later assurance of legality which contained none of the caveats.

not good...

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Blair Update - This story has legs.

(cartoon thanks to steve bell at the guardian)

Tony Blair
Tony Blair

A SECRET document from the heart of government reveals today that Tony Blair privately committed Britain to war with Iraq and then set out to lure Saddam Hussein into providing the legal justification.

the pile around tony is getting deeper - fast...


Chaired by the prime minister and attended by his inner circle, the document reveals Blair supported “regime change” by force from the outset, despite warnings from Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, that such action could be illegal.

The minutes, published by The Sunday Times today, begin with the warning: “This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know.”

They record a meeting in July 2002, attended by military and intelligence chiefs, at which Blair discussed military options having already committed himself to supporting President George Bush’s plans for ousting Saddam.

ruh-ro... look out, george... this story has legs...

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Yep, it's "Pound on Karl Day"

Rove, a longtime Bush adviser and confidant, is much more than a political guru, he is also the single most powerful -- and ambitious -- policy adviser in the White House.

very scarey man... good profile... watch it here online before pbs gets sanitized... (thx to sooner on kos...)

PBS Frontline
Karl Rove -- The Architect

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Pinky and the Brain


Bush and Cheney

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A (former) insider's view on Powell, Bolton and Rice

blumenthal, as always, writes cogently and insightfully...
From the redoubt of his retirement, former secretary of state Colin Powell is beginning to exact revenge.

Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice's first true test has not arrived from abroad. Caught by Powell's flanking movement, she is trapped in a crisis of credibility, which she herself is deepening.


Staff members on the committee believe that Bolton was probably spying on Powell, his senior advisers and other officials reporting to him on diplomatic initiatives that Bolton opposed. If so, it is also possible that Bolton was sharing this top-secret information with his neoconservative allies within the Pentagon and the vice-president's office, with whom he was in daily contact and who were known to be working in league against Powell.


Rice's rise has been dependent on her unwavering devotion to the president; in the Bolton case, she is again elevating loyalty to her leader above all else. Will Powell lose once more? But this episode points beyond the general's revenge, Rice's fealty, Bolton's contempt or even presidential prerogative, to a gathering storm over constitutional government.

there's gonna be a lotta you-know-what hittin' the fan if bolton gets nixed...

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Manufacturing intelligence

hat tip to john at americablog...
The soap opera hearings over the president's nomination of John Bolton as U.N. ambassador have had an unintended effect, bolstering what half a dozen investigations of pre-9/11 intelligence failures couldn't prove: an atmosphere in the White House that pushed spies to bend their conclusions to political ends...

like it needed bolstering... the editorial goes on to point out that the strong support for bolton from the white house is prima facie evidence that the manufacture of intelliegence that supports foregone conclusions is behavior that is rewarded...

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Rove is the man with the plan

Bush Plan Aids Poor, Squeezes the Rest

the la times smells something but they're quite sure if they wanna call it shit... raw story's headline doesn't hesitate...

Bush's plan: Getting U.S. off the dole

(btw, when exactly did social security become a welfare program anyway...?)

As the full dimensions of President Bush's Social Security plan come into view, so too does a broader vision . . . [H]is approach also corresponds to a long-held conservative goal of reducing Washington's influence in the lives of ordinary Americans and to the aim of his chief political strategist Karl Rove to realign the nation along Republican principles.

the la times goes on to quote michael tanner of the cato institute, a washington think tank that advocates small government...
"We're going to tell non-poor Americans that they are going to have to save more on their own and not depend on a transfer from government," he said.

i don't know how long it's gonna take people to wake up... first of all, rove's principles aren't representative of the majority of republican principles... they are shaped and driven by an extreme faction of the republican party... (although you could argue about who's being driven by who, my gut tells me that the disciplined, tightly coordinated, massive frontal assault we're experiencing leaped directly from the forehead of boy genius...) the agenda, from the time bush was just a gleam in rove's eye, has been clear...

  • destroy any real or implied social contract between government and its citizens
  • reduce or eliminate u.s. involvement in the u.n.
  • insure that the u.s. is the sole arbiter in geopolitics and the global economy
  • implicitly confirm social darwinism as the prime directive for society and the economy
  • install fundamentalist christianity as the prime directive for values and behavior
how the above will be/is being accomplished:

  • drastically cut taxes with benefits going primarily to businesses and the already well-to-do
  • refuse to bolster the dollar against other world currencies
  • fully fund the neo-con ideology of world dominance
  • propose federal budgets that seriously cut social programs and justify them as 1) responding to the deficit, 2) creating an "ownership" society and 3) reducing or eliminating dependency on the government
  • identify and support everything aligned with fundamentalist christian beliefs: political candidates; cabinet, judicial and other executive appointments; legislation; executive orders
  • insure that all members of the republican party only speak in line with officially approved party messages under threat of sanction up to and including dirty tricks
  • undermine the credibility of the u.n. and other transnational organizations both from within through u.s. appointees and from without by refusal to participate and unilateral actions
this is obviously not an exhaustive list but it captures the essence... meanwhile, those of us who see the handwriting on the wall flail around with people like tom delay, jamesjeffgannonguckert, bill frist, james dobson, and the rest of the squalid gang... folks, i'm here to tell ya... the dangerous man is KARL ROVE...

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Shell's taking in $3M AN HOUR - OBSCENE

The oil giant, which reported the biggest annual profits in UK corporate history in February, said its income had risen by 42% to $6.7bn (£3.5bn) in the period. [...] The income figure meant Shell made profits of about £1.6m an hour during the quarter.

at today's exchange rate, £1.6m an hour looks like this in u.s. dollars...

1,600,000.000 GBP = 3,053,609.893 USD

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Slovenia - the envy of the former Yugoslav countries

Crossing the border from Italy or Austria into Slovenia, there is little to indicate that this country was once part of Tito's Socialist Yugoslavia.

there's a huge difference between slovenia and its former bedfellows, serbia, macedonia, bosnia-herzegovina, montenegro, croatia, and the as-yet-unresolved kosovo...

From the new highways leading to Ljubljana, the capital, to the factories and businesses lining them, Slovenia looks clean, organized, prosperous - indeed, like a part of Western Europe.


When it entered the [European] Union last May 1, it did so with the highest standard of living of the 10 new member states.


Not content to stay at No. 16 among the 25 members of the expanded Union, Slovenia's government has set an ambitious target: to reach the EU's average standard of living within eight years.

you usually can't pass a day in macedonia without hearing how slovenia is the model to be emulated, how slovenia lucked out because of its proximity to western Europe, how dismal the macedonian situation is, and how much better things were under tito...

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Breaking news on Bolton

Steve Clemons at Washington Note has just posted this.
The National Security Agency has now recommended that the intercept material and the names of U.S. officials requested by John Bolton be released to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Clemons believes that these intercepts may provide the material necessary to either move Bolton's nomination forward or to kill it entirely. He promises to write more over the weekend.

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Rueful chuckle

"I KNOW SOME of these leftist groups would love to isolate members of Congress so that we don't talk to Americans." That was House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) at his weekly news conference Wednesday, defending the usefulness of privately financed congressional travel. [bold & italics mine] Good point. Imagine how out of touch Mr. DeLay would have been if he hadn't been able to stay in a $790-a-night "conservatory" room at the Four Seasons Hotel in London on a trip paid for by gambling interests.

tom is a never-ending source of memorable quotes...

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Our man Bolton

"I don't know if he's incapable of negotiation, but he's unwilling," Ms. Jones said in an interview. [A. Elizabeth Jones ... stepped down in February as assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia.]

hey, john... can you spell d-i-p-l-o-m-a-c-y...?

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A "real" democracy...

President Vicente Fox of Mexico made one of the most important speeches of his presidency this week when he promised that Mexico City's mayor, the front-runner in the presidential elections to be held next year, would not be barred from the race by a dubious legal move. By showing that a fair process is more important than his party's advantage, Mr. Fox acted like the leader of a real democracy.

damn...! now there's a concept...! way back when, dubya used to buddy-buddy up to vicente... guess he must have decided that both of them owning ranches and wearing boots just wasn't enough in common to carry the friendship...

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Friday, April 29, 2005

"Liberate" ourselves, Chavez urges

Saying that U.S. citizens are oppressed by their own government, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez promised Friday that he would not visit the United States again until Americans "liberate" their nation.

i can't make up my mind about this guy... some of the things he says i really like... when i find myself torn like this i always have to ask how much am i a victim of the u.s. media and the intense propaganda that we bathe in daily... more in the full post...

Chavez considers Cuban President Fidel Castro a political ally and close personal friend, and Washington has grown increasingly alarmed by their deepening political and economic alliance.

During Chavez's current visit, the two countries have signed a host of economic and other accords, including a deal for Cuba to buy $412 million in goods from the South American nation, with Cuba waiving all import duties.

Venezuela's state oil company also has opened an office in Havana this week, agreeing to help explore for and refine any crude deposits discovered off the island's coast. It also announced that the 53,000 barrels it has been sending to Cuba since 2000 at preferential terms was recently increased to up to 90,000 barrels daily.

Chavez also criticized the current Latin American tour by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, referring to her as an "imperial lady" who is trying to divide and conquer the hemisphere's developing nations.

Despite Chavez's anti-U.S. comments, his country is the world's fifth largest oil exporter and a top crude supplier to the United States.

in my book, anybody who takes that view of condi can't be all bad...

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this yayhoo manages two rare-coin funds that have received $50M as "investments" from the ohio bureau of workers compensation... he made a cool $1M off of the state last year alone and is under investigation by the ohio inspector general for it... ya, right... what in the hell is a state fund doing investing in rare coins...? wednesday night, the fbi came calling - on another matter...

The federal probe into whether local Republican fund-raiser Tom Noe was illegally funneling money to the Bush campaign had been ongoing for months.


FBI agents swept into Mr. Noe’s Maumee condo about 7:30 p.m., spending three hours scouring the home of one of the most prominent Republicans in northwest Ohio. They were looking for evidence of violations of federal campaign contribution laws.

The federal probe is studying Mr. Noe’s campaign contributions to the President, and specifically contributions made by others who may have received money from Mr. Noe, possibly allowing him to exceed the $2,000 spending cap.


“It’s becoming clear that Tom Noe has given large contributions to Republicans, while also obtaining state contracts in which he made millions of dollars investing in risky rare coins,” Mr. Dann said.

“Tom Noe has given thousands and thousands of dollars to Republican candidates. Now he’s at the center of a federal probe.

We deserve to know if Noe laundered state party, candidate, and caucus campaign monies to statewide Republicans.”


At issue is whether Mr. Noe gave people money in order for them to give to the Bush campaign, allowing Mr. Noe to exceed federal spending limits, law-enforcement sources said.

as if that wasn't juicy enough, here's the beauty part...
[Noe] worked hard to get President Bush re-elected last year; as chairman of the Bush team's efforts in northwest Ohio, he frequently talked with Karl Rove, one of the President's top advisers.

we're watching you, karl... REAL CLOSE...!

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"And the biggest ass-kisser of all is Dick Cheney."

"I think the Republicans basically resent the poor and they figure if we can get the poor investing in the stock market, maybe they’ll start thinking like Republicans," [Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA] said. "God help us."

fascinating... it's so rare to hear comments made passionately and without spin...

(thanks raw story...)

"I think the Republicans basically resent the poor and they figure if we can get the poor investing in the stock market, maybe they’ll start thinking like Republicans," Moran said. "God help us."

The Virginian said he believes that the Republican base has used Bush to push Social Security reform, a project that he says is essentially one to axe Social Security.

"I think they realized that they’re never going to find anybody who is as willing to carry out the agenda of these Republican right wing nuts and reverse the course of American progress," he remarked. "This is their chance. This is their chance to cut taxes down to the bone. This is their chance to repeal Social Security and to bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid."


"I don’t think he has much experience with regular people that haven’t been prescreened," he said.

"He doesn’t read any books, and he doesn’t talk with people that don’t already agree with him," he added. "He’s surrounded himself with ideological sycophants. And the biggest ass-kisser of all is Dick Cheney."

i don't know if the r's actually "resent" the poor as much as they despise them... the generally-held, socially-darwinian belief seems to be that the poor deserve to be poor because if they were any damn good in the first place, they'd be rich...

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"Apparently, the print media still has some balls."

oh, YEAH...! georgia10 on kos 'splains it all for you... cool...!!

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Johnny Appleseed he ain't

Bush plants a tree
at the White House today,
Arbor Day

come with me, george...let's go sit at an outdoor cafe in denver during an inversion... or la... or reno... how about mexico city...? skopje, macedonia...? or maybe we could go welcome the robins back to pt. barrow... or go wilderness camping in the anwr... what's that you say...? let's take an atv up above timberline and go 4-wheelin'...? hey...! NOW we're talkin...!

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Condi's rational U.N. agenda...?

i remember reading not long ago about condi appointing her own advisor on the u.n. hard on the heels of bolton's nomination... here's some interesting background that suggests condi's agenda may not be the same as bolton's... so why are bush and cheney pushing so hard to get somebody as spectacularly ill-suited as bolton confirmed...? suzanne nossel has some thoughts...

[W]hile the brouhaha over Bolton unfolds, Condi has her woman [Shirin Tahir-Kheli, whom Rice appointed her Senior Adviser on UN Reform within days of Bolton's nomination] quietly advocating a reasoned reform agenda. But what's virtually missing from Tahir-Kehli's speech is any concept of a reform agenda that goes beyond what Annan advocates. [...]

For all their criticism of Annan and their outraged calls for wide reform, the Administration's vision for change dovetails very closely with the Secretary-General's. It's also worth noting that despite the White House's sense of urgency to get Bolton to NYC to start reforming, Tahir-Kheli made clear that Bush rejects Annan's proposal to try to agree on a package this September, and thinks the reform process should not be subject to "artificial deadlines." If reform can wait, why the pressure last week to ram through Bolton?

it seems that tahir-kheli hit the ground running... if bolton does end up getting the nod, i wonder what kind of fireworks will ensue...

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White Europeans only

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who outraged some Mexican-American groups last week by calling for a closed border, praised the civilian volunteer Minuteman Project for its patrols to spot illegal immigrants.

oh, great... add fuel to their fire, you who want the constitution amended so YOU (as a naturalized citizen/immigrant) can run for president... how disgustingly hypocritical...

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

“We concluded as a group that the National Security Council was dysfunctional.”

Cheney has . . . the largest national security staff of any vice president in U.S. history.

whoa, nellie... foreign policy has an immensely insightful article (Inside the Committee that Runs the World) on bush's national security council, particularly timely now, given cheney's support for bolton, the stonewalling on delivering the nsa intercepts to the senate foreign relations committee, condi's "guidance" to state department staff to not discuss bolton, etc...

The inner circles of the U.S. national security community—members of the National Security Council (NSC), a select number of their deputies, and a few close advisors to the president—represent what is probably the most powerful committee in the history of the world, one with more resources, more power, more license to act, and more ability to project force further and swifter than any other convened by king, emperor, or president.

At the same time, the political party controlling that committee has a grip on power in Washington unprecedented in recent history. For the first time in nearly eight decades, the Republican Party has won control of the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives in two consecutive elections. Yet, despite this political monopoly, the elites who exert the most influence on this little-understood, shadowy committee are being buffeted and pulled apart by forces from within.

if that's enough of a teaser for you, go read the whole thing... it's 7 pages of extremely well-written and documented insider info... (free, registration required...)

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Gangs online...?

yet another perspective on globalization...
Street gangs are proliferating around the world. The United States has unwittingly spurred this phenomenon by deporting tens of thousands of immigrants with criminal records each year. But that only partly explains how gangs went global. Credit also goes to the Internet, where gangs are staking out turf and spreading their culture online. Gang members may have never heard of globalization, but it is making them stronger.

it's true... you can see nearly identical varieties of gang graffiti in la, chicago, buenos aires, skopje, macedonia, and thessaloniki, greece...
[W]hen people move, they take their culture with them. For example, Trey, a member of Chicago’s massive Gangster Disciples, moved to a small town in Arkansas where his brother, who is not a gang member, had found a job. Although Trey tried to “go legit,” he soon found that his status as a Gangster Disciple from the housing projects of Chicago gave him a formidable reputation in small-town Arkansas. Within nine months, he started a new Gangster Disciples “chapter” with 15 members. But this new gang had no formal connection with the group in Chicago.

A search for particular gang slogans or phrases on any major search engine uncovers Web sites with gang manifestos, bylaws, pictures, symbols, and, yes, even turf. The Internet provides a new platform for gang warfare, and cyberspace is serving as an outlet for activities that could lead to violence if attempted on the street, such as “disrespecting” rival gangs, making claims of superiority, or disclosing gang secrets.

gang wannabes...
Still, few gang members ever discuss or mention the Internet. Many don’t possess the hardware, software, or technical skills (not to mention the necessary telephone lines) to manage the Web. Most gang-related Web activity appears to come from gang members who have moved beyond their neighborhood, perhaps to attend college, or gang members and wannabes in suburbs or smaller towns. On the Internet, it’s easy to co-opt the identity of well-known, mythic gangs.

A now defunct Web site of a gang calling itself “The Black Gangster Disciples,” after the notorious Chicago gang, contained several pages of gang prayers, oaths, and other sensitive organizational materials. The Web page’s guest book was a virtual street corner where surfers gave shout-outs (salutations or greetings) or disses (slanderous remarks) toward the group. Ironically, the site also contained a picture of the gang—a group of white, adolescent males flashing gang signs (the wrong ones, I might add), in someone’s well-furnished basement.

it won't be long, i predict, before trey in arkansas or his former associates in chicago are wired and online... one only has to see the packed "cibers" (storefront businesses offering internet access) throughout latin america to appreciate how rapidly the internet is catching on in all socio-economic levels... when trey gets his wireless-enabled laptop and can chat online in real time with ricky in durango, look out...

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Bolton: rude, crude and socially unacceptable

Bolton traveled overseas widely during his tenure but often ignored a requirement that he seek "country clearance" from the U.S. Embassy involved, the officials said.

as one who has traveled to other countries on behalf of the u.s. government, coming in to a country as an official representative of the u.s. without notifying the appropriate u.s. embassy (which is essentially what "country clearance" amounts to) is a MAJOR no-no... the last thing an ambassador appreciates is hearing first from some official of the local government that somebody he didn't know about is kicking around town... to say that it makes the ambassador look like a fool is putting it mildly...

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Bye-bye ElBaradei...? Let's hope not...

every time you think it's safe to take a short breath, the friggin' sob's dump ANOTHER one on ya... well, i guess i'm not surprised... it wasn't a matter of IF, only WHEN...
The United States opposed the reappointment of the U.N.'s top nuclear inspector Wednesday because of his views on Iran and prewar Iraq, prompting the atomic watchdog agency to delay its decision to avoid a confrontation with Washington and other members. [...] Thirty-four of the 35 IAEA board member countries supported a third term for ElBaradei.

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Dear Congressman Hoyer,

April 28, 2005

Congressman Steny Hoyer
1705 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone - (202) 225-4131
Fax - (202) 225-4300

Dear Congressman Hoyer,

As an active Democrat for many years, and even though I do not reside in your Congressional District, I definitely feel that, in your position as House Democratic Whip, you are there to represent my interests and concerns.

I am horrified that you chose to vote for and, adding insult to injury, vocally supported the bankruptcy bill. Moreover, the fact that you sided with my seriously nutcase Congressman, Jim Gibbons, on that bill, to me, renders you unfit for your post.

Of all the times in our country's history, it is now that the spirit of the Democratic Party must rise and shine and it is that very spirit that is under attack from every quarter. I have worked hard all of my life, Congressman Hoyer. I have struggled to support my family. As a last resort, we were forced to declare bankruptcy in the early 80's due to massive health care expenses that were completely beyond our ability to pay. Had this bill been in effect at that time, we would still be paying.

Congressman, I've spent a great deal of time in corporate America and I know first-hand that the credit card companies DO NOT have my best interests at heart. It is clear as day that those companies bought and paid for the bankruptcy bill. There is simply no other way to frame it and your fingerprints are all over it. You should be ashamed.

As a last comment, I would suggest that you crawl on your hands and knees to Representative Nancy Pelosi, apologize for spurning her leadership and humbly ask what you can to to make things right.


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"Neither were they specifically banned."

Quoting atrios,


The new [new interrogations] manual, the first revision in 13 years, will specifically prohibit practices like stripping prisoners [*], keeping them in stressful positions [*] for a long time, imposing dietary restrictions [*], employing police dogs [*] to intimidate prisoners and using sleep deprivation [*] as a tool to get them to talk, the officials said.

Those practices were not included in the manual in use when the bulk of the abuses occurred at Abu Ghraib in Iraq in the fall of 2003, but neither were they specifically banned.

[* see below]

Bullshit! How friggin' disingenuous can you get? They were not only not "specifically banned," they were specifically AUTHORIZED. C'mon, NYT, for god's sake. STOP turning a blind eye to the facts. Saying that they "were not incuded in the manual" is only covering your ass. General Sanchez wrote out those practices in cold black and white on September 14, 2003, and they were definitely in force "at Abu Ghraib in Iraq in the fall of 2003.". They were quite clear and specific and addressed each one of the practices mentioned in your article. And, when asked in sworn testimony in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee whether or not he HAD written them. General Sanchez LIED UNDER OATH.

* B. Incentive/Removal of Incentive: Providing a reward or removing a privilege above and beyond those that are required by the Geneva Convention from detainees. [Caution: Other nations that believe detainees are entitled to EPW protections may consider that provision and retention of religious items (e.g. the Koran) are protected under international law (see Geneva III, Article 34).]

* T. Dietary Manipulation: Changing the diet of a detainee; no intended deprivation of food or water; no adverse medical or cultural effect and without intent to deprive subject of food or water, e.g., hot rations to MREs.

* Y. Presence of Military Working Dog: Exploits Arab fear of dogs while maintaining security during interrogations. Dogs will be muzzled and under control of MWD handler at all times to prevent contact with detainee.

* Z. Sleep Management: Detainee provided minimum 4 hours of sleep per 24 hour period not to exceed 72 continuous hours.

* CC. Stress Positions: Use of physical postures (sitting, standing, kneeling, prone, etc.) for no more than 1 hour per use. Use of technique(s) will not exceed 4 hours and adequate rest between use of each position will be provided.

It's time the real actors in this abomination get the spotlight. Starting with Dubya, down through Rummy, CENTCOM, and on to Ricardo Sanchez, the message was loud and clear. GENEVA DOES NOT APPLY SO YOU BETTER FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO NOW! Goddamit! GODDAMIT!! Of all the things you SHOULDN'T be pussy-footing around on, it's this!

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The walls are closing in

Tom DeLay is in serious danger of being declared in violation of House ethics rules, legal experts say.

tough cookies, bud... you do the crime, etc...

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bob herbert, thank god, won't let it go...
There was a time, not so long ago, when commanders were expected to be accountable for the behavior of their subordinates.

That's changed. Under Commander in Chief George W. Bush, the notion of command accountability has been discarded. In Mr. Bush's world of war, it's the grunts who take the heat. Punishment is reserved for the people at the bottom. The people who foul up at the top are promoted.


We learned last week that after a high-level investigation, the Army had cleared four of the five top officers who were responsible for prison policies and operations in Iraq. The fifth officer, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski of the Army Reserve, had already been relieved of her command of the military police unit at Abu Ghraib. (She has complained, and not without reason, that she was a scapegoat for the failures of higher-ranking officers.)


This is the way atrocities are dealt with in Mr. Bush's world of war. The higher-ups responsible for training, supervising and disciplining the troops - in other words, the big shots who presided over a system that ran shamefully amok - escaped virtually unscathed.

totally unacceptable... and as long as bushco's calling the shots, it's not likely to change...

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Vicente blinks

Mexican President Vicente Fox has dismissed the country's attorney general in an apparent effort to end a legal row over the capital's mayor.

Rafael Macedo had headed attempts to bring Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to trial, a move which could bar him from a presidential bid next year.


"My administration will not stop anyone from running in the next federal election," said Mr Fox, after he had dismissed the Mr Macedo.

ah, yes... the old lyric comes to mind... "you don't have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind's blowing..." vicente's never been a bad sort... let's face it... when luis donaldo colosio was making populist noises back in the mid-90's, even though he was a member of the ruling pri, he oh-so-mysteriously got popped... at least things are a little more temperate these days...

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Is W worried...? Nah...

President Bush will hold a prime time press conference on Thursday night, his first in over a year, to offer more details about his plans to overhaul Social Security, the White House announced.

What, me WORRY?

it's BOY GENIUS who's worried...

Karl "Ve Haf Our Vays" Rove

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Outstanding work on Rove's Dirty Tricks

sherlock google over at kos has been a very busy boy tracking karl and co's trail of dirt all the way back to 1972-73 and bringing it right up to today... i've said repeatedly that i think rove is diabolical and i hope that it all of this comes to full public view sooner or later, preferably thing's for sure... it's this kind of spade-work that'll make it happen...

Rove/Stone/Gannon TANG Forgeries Timeline

or "Lucy Ramirez, You Got A Lot Of Splainin' To Do!"

* Denotes updated entry

* 1972 - 1973 - Col. Killian has Mrs. Knox type numerous memos for his personal file on the problem of George W. Bush and James Bath skipping their medical exam, not showing up for duty and trying to get special favors. The memos are typed on an old Olympia manual, which had an early "th" superscript--one unlike the forged CBS Killian memos. Mrs. Knox the typist herself says she typed those memos but the TANG Forgeries were not correct in some details. THAT MEANS THE 1972-3 KILLIAN ARE REAL. Try not to forget that--somewhere there are the actual manual typewriter memos that Marian Knox swears she typed.

1972 - Roger Stone and Chuck Colson work together in the Dirty Tricks Department of the Nixon White House. "Stone first made news in the Nixon Watergate scandal, when it was revealed that the 19-year-old apprentice McCarthyite had infiltrated George McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign as part of CREEP's sabotage plan."

1986 - Rove allegedly bugs his own office to smear Democrat Mark White in Texas Governor race. FBI Agent Rampton investigates but no charges are ever brought. The bug's battery use indicated it had operated for ONLY 15 MINUTES before it was discovered.

1990 - Rove destroys Jim Hightower in TX by having FBI Agent Rampton investigate all TX Democrat elected officials.

1992 - Phony Buchanan baby story hurts Pat in 1992 and in 2000, when he thought about the Reform Party. Mattie Lovlar betrays Stone and says they worked on it together. Stone denies it with his typical statement: "If there was a flyer, it wasn't from Roger Stone.",barrett,53586,6.html

1994 - Rove apparently starts whispering campaign about TX Governor Ann Richards being a coke-snorting lesbian. George W. Bush wins.

1996 - Stone's sex ad story in Enquirer and Star. Also reported that the Stones frequented DC sex club called The Capitol Couple. Stones deny the allegation, blaming a sick and disgruntled individual, but admits reveal that his own credit card paid for the ad.

1996 - New Republic: Dana Milbank: "There were photos of her in a black negligee and him bare-chested, and there was an enumeration of her personal measurements. Stone said he had been set up, but he was forced to step down as an adviser to the Dole campaign." Stone goes on Today Show to deny it all.

1996 - According to someone who worked with him, in 1996 Karl Rove created flyers viciously attacking his own candidate, Harold See, running for Alabama State Supreme Court. The resulting backlash against the Democrat allowed See to win the race.

2000 - According to James Moore, after losing NH primary, Rove apparently resorts to push-polling on McCain in the SC primary, intimating that McCain was mentally unstable, his wife was a drug addict and he had a black love-child from a prostitute. Bush campaign denies responsibility.

2000 - According to Jeffrey Toobin, Miami riot led by Stone, MacDougald also summoned by Baker. Nydia and her mother Olga help recruit Cubans for the Courthouse Riot and march advertised on Radio Mambi. From Dec. 4, 2000, Time Magazine: The organizers in the RV outside, who G.O.P. protesters have told Time were led by hardball Washington strategist Roger Stone, had phone banks churning out calls to Miami Republicans, urging them to storm downtown, while Stone directed the action with a walkie-talkie. (Stone could not be reached for comment.) - Jeffrey Toobin, Too Close to Call,barrett,50745,1.html

Nov. 13, 2000 - Stone starts campaign to recall Democratic FL State Supreme Court Justices hearing the Gore vs. Bush case. Illegal campaign contributions eventually draw the attention of the FEC.

2001 - According to Toobin, Cheney calls Roger Stone to thank him for Miami Courthouse Riot, asks him what he would like as compensation (Jeffrey Toobin, Too Close to Call).,barrett,50745,1.html

Feb 13, 2001 - Enquirer article on The Vault sex club in NYC says Roger and Nydia Stone used to be frequent customers.

2002 - Stone given lucrative Indian casino political consulting contracts. Stone allegedly does political dirty trick hit on BIA official standing in way of his casino clients.

2002 - According to James Moore, Rove said to be behind GA Senate race ad associating Max Cleland with Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

* Summer 2003 -Gannon publishes series of political hit pieces on Tom Daschle and a reporter friend Kranz, who Gannon accuses of being on the Daschle campaign payroll. Conservative bloggers trumpet the false charge. S. Dakota's major paper, the Argus Leader, later admits the charges affected their coverage of the race.

* 2003 - Following rumors Al Sharpton may drop out of Presidential race and endorse Wesley Clark, Roger Stone calls up Sharpton and offers to manage his campaign and help him fundraise.,barrett,50745,1.html

January 17, 2004 - Michael Moore "Deserter" charge, Wesley Clark supports Moore's right to say it 5 days later.

End of January 2004 - Kerry says Bush's TANG records not important. Terry McAuliffe says Bush was AWOL.

February 10, 2004 - White House does document dump and says it is the full release of Bush's TANG records--but later on many more real docs show up.

February 12, 2004 - Bill Burkett appears on Hardball and with James Moore tells the story of how in 1997 he heard Joe Albaugh from Bush's office talk to Adjutant General David James on speaker phone, to tell him that Dan Bartlett and Karen Hughes will be down to "clean up" then-Governor Bush's TANG files. This trip was ostensibly to write a book but really to prepare for his 1998 and 2000 runs and make sure nothing embarrassing was in the records. Chris Matthews asks Burkett to swear that he is telling the truth, as if he were in court. Burkett does.

After February 12, 2004 - [MY SPECULATION:] Rove and Bartlett, certainly alarmed at Burkett's appearance on Hardball, presumably hatch phony TANG documents plot and create forgeries with slight mistakes on the wrong typewriter, an electric typewriter. If it was them, they would have used the Olympia Manual memos Mrs. Knox said she originally typed for Killian in 1972 and 1973. They would then have called Stone and asked him to get them to Burkett, the perfect patsy for their scheme.

After February 12, 2004 - Bill Burkett says he starts receiving calls from a lady with a Latin accent named "Lucy Ramirez", who could be Nydia Stone, the Cuban wife of GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone [REGEN MAN'S SPECULATION]. "Lucy" tells Burkett she has previously unknown memos from Col. Killian and that he Burkett should get them and give them to the Kerry campaign. She also convinces him to burn the originals so she can never be identified. Burkett thinks she is trying to keep an old sexual affair with Killian secret. Burkett arranges with "Lucy" to meet her at the huge Houston Livestock Show..

March 3, 2004 - According to Burkett's second story, the Unknown Man asks for him at Livestock Show, finds him and hands him envelope containing the CBS TANG forgeries without saying a word (source: Bill Burkett USA TODAY) USA TODAY confirms that ANOTHER person, an unnamed woman, said Burkett gave her papers that day which she held for him until the event was over in a box. Burkett and USA Today know who this woman is. So the likelihood is that Burkett is telling the truth when he said he was given the envelope by the Unknown Man. Burkett has never been given a photo of Stone to ID.

March to August, 2004 - For whatever reason, Burkett sits on the memos for five months until the Swift Boat ads enrage him and he calls up Max Cleland. Cleland tells him he'll talk to Kerry but no one calls Burkett back on the documents.

* August 2004 - Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad smears John Kerry. Bobby Eberle, owner of Talon News and employer of Jeff Gannon, contributes heavily to SBVT 527 group.

August 2004 - Mary Mapes, CBS Producer following up on TANG/AWOL, asks Burkett if there is anything new on the TANG story. He tells her of the Killian memos, thinking them real and that CBS News would have them checked by experts.

August 2004 - Roger and Nydia Stone miss first Republican Convention since 1968, taking a vacation in Spain. Stone says "It's pathetic that we are fighting over John Kerry's war record in Vietnam and George W. Bush's service in the National Guard given that there are a bunch of Islamic maniacs who want to wipe us off the face of the earth. I'll be on a beach in Barcelona." ispWho=Article%5El1391&enZone=Articles&enVersion=0

* Sept 6-7, 2004 CBS Producer Mary Mapes, working on authenticity of Killian memos receives communications from document experts warning her the docs cannot be confirmed and that in fact look suspicious. Rather set to interview Bartlett on authenticity of docs on Sept. 8 but weather forces John Roberts to fill in.

* Sept. 8, 2004 - CBS reports that on the Killian memos Dan Bartlett told John Roberts in the morning that "I have no reason to doubt their authenticity" so many times in the same way Roberts notes it in his book. Presumably this was the comment decided upon by he and Rove to make that day. Bartlett also says, "The memorandum in your possession shows that he spoke to the commander who made that order to talk about his personal situation and the fact that he is going to Alabama. So at every step of the way, President Bush was meeting his requirement. Granted permission to meet his requirement. And that's why President Bush was honorably discharged." Because Bartlett had used the forged copies to say that Bush fulfilled his TANG requirements, Roberts told his superiors, the memos are authenticated. Had Roberts been "played"? The trap, whoever forged the documents, was ready to close on Rather and destroy the potency of the TANG/AWOL issue. From the WaPo on CBS exec Josh Howard, trying to decide whether to run the story or not: "Howard was struck by the fact that Bartlett, in his interview, kept referring to the Killian memos to support his argument that the president had fulfilled his military obligations. `This gave us such a sense of security at that moment that we had the story,' Howard said. `We gave the documents to the White House to say, 'Wave us off this if we're wrong.' ` But Bartlett said CBS never asked him to verify the memos and that he had neither the time nor the resources to do so."

Sept. 8, 2004 - First CBS report on Killian memos. To protect a lady's honor, Southern Gentleman Burkett intimates that a fellow National Guard officer gave him the TANG memos.

September 8, 2004 - Within 18 minutes of the end of the TANG report, posts from "Buckhead" appear on, saying he thinks something is phony. Within a few hours, Buckhead is putting forth forensic analyses of fonts and proportional spacing, claiming the memos are forged and actually word-processed.;name=Buckhead;name=Buckhead;name=Buckhead

* September 9, 2004 - Winger Bloggers, including MacDougald's own wife Liz, plus the media, develops and trumpets forgery claim, discrediting Rather and whole TANG issue.

* September, 10 2004 - Jeff Gannon enters White House at 11:19 and leaves at 12:55 on a day there was no briefing. Gannon talked to someone, likely Bartlett or Rove and not McClellan (to provide deniability for the Press Secretary). He clearly received a "scoop" from this unknown person that Mapes was the CBS producer responsible. BEFORE writing his own scoop, Gannon tells Sean Hannity about Mapes, effectively giving up the scoop to score the bigger political hit of letting Hannity have it -and enrage all his listeners. Hannity: HANNITY: "Now, Jeff Gannon, who is a terrific Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent for Talon News, actually shot me an e-mail today, and he's about to break a story in an exclusive about these CBS documents." HANNITY: "And apparently they're also, according to Jeff Gannon, the -- Talon News -- this woman, Mary Mapes, this Dallas producer, is under pressure for the [CBS] network, and now there's doubts about their authenticity has taken place." [The Sean Hannity Show, 9/10/04]

Sept. 11, 2004 - Rather interviews Mrs. Knox, who tells him she typed memos like the docs but those are not them. She had an Olympia manual with only a primitive superscript "th", not an electric typewriter. Total corporatist media uproar over Rather not backing down. Burkett now admits the hint Conn gave him the memos was a ruse, that he was still trying to protect the honor of Lucy Ramirez. Press uses this change in story to discredit him. (help me find transcript link)

Sept. 11, 2004 - Dallas Morning News reveals inclusion of Staudt in 1973 Killian is incorrect and proves it to be a forgery. This was one of the main tip-offs inserted presumably by Bartlett and Rove to expose the forgery. 17c8.html

Sept. 15, 2004 - Marian Knox, Killian's secretary, recounts errors in TANG forgeries for the Dallas Morning News, including the inclusion of the Staudt name in the forged "sugar-coat" memo of 1973 and the word "billets" instead of "barracks".

Sept. 17, 2004 - Another Gannon story on Mapes with supposed inside source at CBS: "Sooner of (sic) later something like this was going to happen. When you see how hard they've been working this National Guard story, you know they weren't going to come up empty-handed one way or another."

Sept. 20, 2004 - Kerry starts attacking Bush heavily on Iraq War, gives 4-point plan for Iraq. Memo coverage dies down, as all pundits echo desire to get to issues of the present rather than dwelling on the past.

Sept. 20, 2004 - CBS News retracts claim of authenticity for Killian memos. Burkett admits a fellow Guard officer did not give him documents and tells of Lucy and the Unknown Man giving him the memos.

Sept. 21, 2004 - NY Post reports rumors that Roger Stone got the forgeries to Burkett. He has no comment. MacCauliffe repeats the Stone charge and asks the White House and RNC what they know about Stone and the documents. Stone later denies allegation but never provides an alibi for where he was on March 3, 2004, the day the Unknown Man gave Bill Burkett the envelope with the TANG Forgeries inside.

Sept. 21, 2004 - USA Today article on both parties accusing the other of forging the memos.

Sept. 22, 2004 - Former New York Times columnist William Safire, quoting "U.S. Criminal Code, Chapter 63, Section 1343," wrote that a federal offense might actually have been committed when Rather and Mapes tried to hide their deception. "Whoever, having devised any scheme or artifice to defraud transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. At the root of what is today treated as an embarrassing blunder by duped CBS journalists," Safire wrote, "may turn out to be a felony by its faithless sources." (This was no doubt written by Safire a few days before the NY Post article on Roger Stone being the rumored source of the forgeries)

* Sept. 22, 2004 - Gannon enters White House on a No Briefing Day at 11:57 and leaves at 12:34. The next day he comes out with another political hit piece on Mapes.

Sept. 23, 2004 - Gannon goes after Mapes in this 9/23 Talon News story--now scrubbed:

Sept. 24 2004 - After lawsuit, White House releases 1971 document showing the TANG Killian memos could have had superscript type in 1972. Republicans had been attacking TANG forgeries because they had superscript "th" and by withholding this document they had let Rather twist in the wind. Lost in the whole uproar is the fact that Mrs. Knox verified that there were original memos that she typed (on a manual with only a primitive superscript capability) and someone must have forged the CBS copies.

Sept. 2004 - GOP House members, maybe getting call from White House, or seeing Stone rumor reports, DROP calls for a Wire Fraud investigation, as does the retiring William Safire. (could use a link on original story of GOP calling for Wire Fraud investigation)

Sept. 2004 - Media ignores Roger Stone angle and trumpets the Fall of Dan Rather. No further mention of Stone at all. White House never asks for an inquiry into who forged phony military documents in Killian memo case.

* Sept. 29, 2004 - Dick Wadham, a Rove pal, had put winger bloggers John Lauck and Jason Van Beek on the payroll of the Thune campaign. From somewhere, perhaps his Sept. 22 time in the White House, Gannon writes a "scoop" on how Democratic leader Tom Daschle claims a special tax exemption for his house in DC by saying he is a D.C. resident. Senate opponent Thune runs ad with Daschle saying "I'm a DC resident", almost immediately thereafter. This ad/political hit piece had an impact which hurt Daschle, because you must be a resident of the state you are representing. The winger bloggers trumpet the charge against Daschle. Roll Call: "Daschle aides told Roll Call, "This guy (Gannon) became the dumping ground for opposition research."

February 2005 - Bill Burkett still stands by his story of Lucy Ramirez and the Unknown Man.

* April 2005 - FOIA Secret Service logs on Gannon released.

Other Diaries:

Gannon scoop shows White House Forged TANG/CBS memos?!?! by Regeneration Man

White House vs. CBS by Anonymous Army

Gannon/Guckert Timeline by Silence

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They have neither scruples nor shame

not that we didn't already know that... now they're trying to blame the mess with the house ethics committee on democrats... how pathetic...

(thanks to raw story for the talking points)

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Just in time for the ethics panel

house ethics comittee r's + $$ = delay... aw, more bad news for tommy...

All five Republicans on the House ethics committee have financial links to Tom DeLay that could raise conflict-of-interest issues should the panel investigate the GOP majority leader.

Public records show DeLay's leadership political action committee (PAC) gave $15,000 to the campaign of Rep. Melissa Hart, R-Pa. — $10,000 in 2000 and $5,000 in 2002. Hart would chair a panel to investigate DeLay if the committee moves forward with a probe.

The same political committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, also has donated to the campaigns of ethics Chairman Doc Hastings of Washington, Judy Biggert of Illinois and Tom Cole of Oklahoma. They are among scores of Republicans DeLay has contributed to. Cole and the remaining committee Republican, Lamar Smith of Texas, contributed to DeLay's legal defense fund.

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House R's re-write Dem amendments

absolutely intolerable... rep. louise slaughter is hopping mad and has posted on kos... raw story has details of the falsifications...

(from raw story)
Democrats in the House are furious over what they see as a deliberate attempt by Republicans to rewrite Democratic amendments to make the Democrats amendments look preposterous.

DEMS: a Nadler amendment allows an adult who could be prosecuted under the bill to go to a Federal district court and seek a waiver to the state’s parental notice laws if this remedy is not available in the state court. (no 11-16)
GOP REWRITE: Mr. Nadler offered an amendment that would have created an additional layer of Federal court review that could be used by sexual predators to escape conviction under the bill. By a roll call vote of 11 yeas to 16 nays, the amendment was defeated.

DEMS: a Nadler amendment to exempt a grandparent or adult sibling from the criminal and civil provisions in the bill (no 12-19)
GOP REWRITE: Mr. Nadler offered an amendment that would have exempted sexual predators from prosecution under the bill if they were grandparents or adult siblings of a minor. By a roll call vote of 12 yeas to 19 nays, the amendment was defeated.

DEMS: a Scott amendment to exempt cab drivers, bus drivers and others in the business transportation profession from the criminal provisions in the bill (no 13-17):
GOP REWRITE: Mr. Scott offered an amendment that would have exempted sexual predators from prosecution if they are taxicab drivers, bus drivers, or others in the business of professional transport. By a roll call vote of 13 yeas to 17 nays, the amendment was defeated.

DEMS: a Scott amendment that would have limited criminal liability to the person committing the offense in the first degree (no 12-18)
GOP REWRITE: Mr. Scott offered an amendment that would have exempted from prosecution under the bill those who aid and abet criminals who could be prosecuted under the bill. By a roll call vote of 12 yeas to 18 nays, the amendment was defeated

DEMS: a Jackson-Lee amendment to exempt clergy, godparents, aunts, uncles or first cousins from the penalties in the bill (no 13-20)
GOP REWRITE: Ms. Jackson-Lee offered an amendment that would have exempted sexual predators from prosecution under the bill if they were clergy, godparents, aunts, uncles, or first cousins of a minor, and would require a study by the Government Accounting Office. By a roll call vote of 13 yeas to 20 nays, the amendment was defeated.

rep. slaughter, mad as hell, responds in a speech before the full house:
(from kos)
The Rules Committee discovered yesterday that the Judiciary Committee Report on this very bill, which was authored by the Majority Staff, contained amendment summaries which had been re-written by committee staff for the sole purpose of distorting the original intent of the authors.

This Committee Report took liberty to mischaracterize and even falsify the intent of several amendments offered in Committee by Democratic Members of this body.

At least five amendments to this bill, which were designed to protect the rights of family members and innocent bystanders from prosecution under this bill, were rewritten as amendments designed to protect sexual predators from prosecution and were then included in the committee report as if that was the original intent of the authors. The thing is, sexual predators were not mentioned anywhere in any of these amendments.

These amendments were no more about sexual predators then they were about terrorists or arsonists or any other criminal class in our society.

These amendments were about the rights of grandmothers and siblings and clergy and innocent bystanders.

I asked the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee about this deception yesterday afternoon at the Rules Committee hearing.

And instead of decrying what I certainly expected would be revealed as a mistake by an overzealous staffer...The Chairman stood by those altered amendment descriptions.

He made very clear to the Rules Committee that the alterations to these members’ amendments were deliberate.

When pressed as to why his committee staff took such an unprecedented action, the Chairman immediately offered up his own anger over the manner in which Democrats had chosen to debate and oppose this unfortunate piece of legislation we have before us today.

In fact…He said, and I quote... "You don’t like what we wrote about your amendments, and we don’t like what you said about our bill."

To falsely rewrite the intent of an amendment submitted by another member, to intentionally distort its description as being designed to protect sexual predators, is no different than accusing a fellow member of Congress as being an apologist for sexual predators themselves.

That is in effect what the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee has done here, with all deliberation.

And he has ensured that these amendment descriptions will be encapsulated in the record for all time by including those unfair and incorrect amendment summaries in the Committee report.

This is a new low for this chamber M. Speaker.

This is a clearly dishonest, unethical attack on the credibility and character of another member. And sadly, it is just the latest in a pattern of unethical and abusive tactics employed by this Majority.

How incredibly arrogant is this majority...that they believe they have the right to tamper with official congressional documents for their own political purposes?

How unbelievably arrogant is the leadership of this Congress…that they would force their own politicized interpretation of another members work upon this body, and upon the American people, in an official committee report?

The Majority’s actions are not only an affront to all members of this house, but they are also an affront to the American people.

There is no question that we can debate and disagree over the impact a bill will have.

We can argue over how well it has been written or what language it should include to be more effective. But regardless of how that debate turns out, the caption on the top of that bill or amendment serves to instruct the American people as to what original intent of that legislation was.

It serves as an unbiased reading on what that amendment aims to accomplish.

To falsify and rewrite that description as a political attack, is not only unprecedented, it is fundamentally dishonest and it is an abuse of the power given to the Majority by the American people.

And I have no doubts Mr. Speaker, no doubts, that unless the congressional record is amended to reflect the true captions of these amendments, then we will surely see these erroneous captions again in the form of campaign attack mail pieces.

In fact, when we pressed last night in the Rules Committee to have the record amended to reflect the honest and accurate captions that belong on those amendments, we were defeated on a party line vote.

So now, these honorable and hardworking Members of Congress will be forever branded in the official record as having offered amendments which were designed to protect sexual predators, when nothing, nothing could be further from the truth.

M Speaker, I have often heard the Chairman of the Rules Committee as well as other Republicans talk about the loss of civility in this chamber.

But perhaps they will be the last to realize, that in order to regain some of that lost civility, they need look no further than their own abusive, unethical and arrogant administration of this House of Representatives.

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It ain't lookin' good, Karl

Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) seemed to signal intractable opposition to converting part of the defined Social Security benefit to variable returns from stock and bond investments. [...] "Social Security became the bedrock of support for seniors in my state precisely because it's defined and guaranteed," she said. "What cost and what risk is it worth to erode the guaranteed benefit?"

and in galveston yesterday...

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An agent for change...?

Dan Bartlett, a senior adviser to Bush, said the president is eager for a floor fight over the United Nations and the need to shake it up. "A vote for John Bolton will be a vote for change at the United Nations," he said. "A vote against will be for the status quo. The president believes the status quo is unacceptable and wants a person . . . who will be an agent for change."

let's get real... the prez (karl) is scared to death that there might be a few li'l dogies straying from the corral and he (karl) is gonna pull out all the stops to keep them critters in line... change at the u.n. is secondary to maintaining party loyalty...

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Bob Dole speaks

But let's be honest: By creating a new threshold for the confirmation of judicial nominees, the Democratic minority has abandoned the tradition of mutual self-restraint that has long allowed the Senate to function as an institution.

go away, bob... if you want to talk about abandoning "mutual self-restraint," talk to the hammer or karl... abandoning mutual self-restraint... puhleeeze...

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Friedman pushes Bush 41

friedman thinks that bush 41 would be infinitely preferable to john bolton... and if not george h.w., he says, how about bill...
Why shouldn't George H. W. Bush take another spin around the diplomatic dance floor he loved so much and where he left his biggest mark? [...] And if 41 isn't available, well, then maybe he should try his sidekick, 42.

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Follow-up to Khodorkovsky

Charged with tax evasion and fraud, Khodorkovsky faces eight to 10 years in prison if convicted, as his attorneys predict he will be. In their view and the view of many Russians, the prosecution was a successful warning from President Vladimir Putin that political challenges from the super-rich will not be tolerated.

[A notice posted at a Moscow courthouse Wednesday said the verdict, which had been expected on Wednesday, had been postponed until May 16, the Associated Press reported. No reason was given and there was no signature on the printed notice, which was posted inside the glass door of the courthouse.]

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Leniency for Khodorkovsky

Vladimir Putin’s state of the nation address could affect the sentence to be passed in the case of former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the president’s economic adviser Andrei Illarionov said Tuesday.

for a while now, i've been wanting to post a few comments about the misunderstood and underappreciated subject of oligarchies in russia and the former soviet bloc countries and the khodorkovsky situation presents a good opportunity...

first, we need to hear from the "wealth is good, government is bad" camp, so well represented by the financial times...
The president's commitment to those values [foreign investment and protection for private property] face an immediate test with judgment due on Wednesday in the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, formerly Russia's richest man, on fraud and tax evasion charges. The case against Mr Khodorkovsky, and the Yukos oil company he founded hit with a $28 billion back tax claim are widely seen as politically-motivated punishment for his attempts to use his wealth to gain political influence.

Concerns provoked by the case have slowed investment and growth in Russia. Mr Putin tried to draw a line under the affair last month, telling Russia's “oligarchs” he would rein in the tax authorities and make impossible further legal challenges to the murky 1990s' privatisations in which they built their empires.

But his move to improve confidence among foreign and domestic investors was undermined when TNK-BP, the oil joint venture and Russia's biggest foreign investment, was hit by a $1bn back tax claim two weeks ago."

some background is called for...

in the rush to install market economies after the berlin wall fell and capitalism "triumphed," many of the former soviet bloc countries took imf advice* and leaped into privatization... many of the former state-run enterprises were converted into stockholder companies... ok so far...? well, how did that actually take place...? different countries approached it differently but, generally speaking, some sort of formula was devised which awarded stock based on position within the company... senior managers got more and the frontline workers got less and often nothing at all... not necessarily equitable but, given how our own market economy works, understandable... this is where it starts to get interesting...

how did the senior managers in a company in a command economy, again, generally speaking, acquire their positions...? ok, to some extent, it was talent and skill but there was also a sine qua non... they had to be solid party members... so, what you had after the transition was, in effect, a different circus with the same clowns... a lot of these guys (and they were virtually all guys), when they suddenly found themselves sitting on a pile of assets that they could essentially do with as they pleased, went, to put it crudely, batshit...

the former soviet bloc countries are rife with stories of the "newly rich" (in capitalistic terms) stripping companies of physical assets, selling them and/or the stock for cash and then shifting the cash out of the country, usually to swiss bank accounts... you can spot these oligarchs in macedonia, the ukraine, georgia, kazakhstan, and many other countries, living in (very) luxurious homes, driving (very) expensive cars, opening posh new restaurants, and basically living the live of a fat cat in a country where their foreign stash will last them, their children, and their children's children for a long, long time...

not all of the oligarchs took the fast cash route... a number of them stayed on to help their companies transition to the new, competitive economy... some managed to make the shift... a lot didn't... to no one's surprise, the skills required of a manager in a command economy where the products, the customers, the quantities, and the sources of supply were all dictated, differ dramatically from the skills required in a competitive, free market environment... to make matters worse, the skills required of a manager in the old command, party-driven economy frequently had little to do with actually being able to effectively operate the business and a great deal more to do with staying in the party's good graces...

so, what do you have now, in 2005, a good sixteen years after the break-up...? well, it's not pretty... if you divvy up the former soviet countries into northern tier countries (estonia, slovakia, czechoslovakia, hungary, lithuania, poland, slovenia, and latvia), the southern tier countries (bulgaria, romania, serbia, macedonia, albania, croatia, and bosnia), and the eurasian countries (tajikistan, kyrgyzstan, armenia, moldova, kazakhstan, belarus, turkmenistan, uzbekistan, azerbaijan, georgia, ukraine, and russia) and start comparing where they are now economically with where they were in 1989, it's positively ugly... using the very significant index of real gdp as a % of 1989 gdp, of the three country categories, only the northern tier has surpassed the level they held at the time of the break-up and that only since 1997... as of 2003, the northern tier countries, as an aggregate, were climbing in excess of 120%...(See EBRD Transition Report 2003, 2004, and 2005...) of the remaining 26 countries, croatia is currently leading the pack at 90% of 1989 gdp and the rest are hovering somewhere slightly south of 80%... the northern tier fell to a little over 80% in 1992 before rebounding, the southern tier tanked in 1993 at between 60 and 70%, and eurasia hit a ghastly low of 55% in 1996, didn't climb above 60% until almost 2000 and is now pushing 75%... ah, the miracle of capitalism...!

in case it slipped by you earlier, russia falls in the eurasia group of countries, the laggards in the economic transition... in % of 1989 gdp, russia is near the top of the eurasia category but they trail kyrgyzstan and are roughly even with tajikistan and southern tier macedonia... now we can turn to mikhail khodorkovsky and sketch the portrait of an oligarch...

As of 2004, Khodorkovsky was the wealthiest man in Russia, and was the 16th wealthiest man in the world, although much of his wealth evaporated due to the collapse in the value of his holding in the Russian petroleum company YUKOS. Until he was jailed, he was considered one of most powerful of the Russian business oligarchs.

Khodorkovsky grew up in a typical Soviet environment in Moscow in a two-room communal apartment. The young Khodorkovsky worked hard, received excellent grades and was deputy head of Komsomol (the Communist Youth League) at his university, the Mendeleev Institute of Chemical Technology.

With partners from Komsomol, and technically operating under its authority, Khodorkovsky opened his first business in 1986, a private café; an enterprise made possible by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's programme of perestroika and glasnost. Successful, they also imported computers, other technology, brandy and a wide range of goods to sell at a profit.

He proved himself a capable entrepreneur by building an import-export business with a turnover of 80 million rubles a year (about $10 million USD) by 1988.

Armed with cash from his business operations, Khodorkovsky and his partners bought a banking licence to create Bank Menatep in 1989. As one of Russia's first privately owned banks, Menatep expanded quickly, by using most of the deposits raised to finance Khodorkovsky's successful import-export operations.

Bank Menatap also got government business, awarded the right to manage funds allocated for the victims of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. By 1990, critics suggest the bank was active in facilitating the large-scale theft of Soviet Treasury funds that went on at the time prior to and following the collapse of the USSR in 1991.

Boris Yeltsin's elevation to power in 1991 meant an acceleration of the market reforms under Gorbachev and created a dynamic business environment in Russia for entrepreneurs like Khodorkovsky. By then Bank Menatep was by Russian standards a well-developed financial institution and became the first Russian business to issue stock to the public since the Russian Revolution in 1917.

The bank grew quickly, winning more and more valuable Government clients such as the Ministry of Finance, the State Taxation Service, the Moscow municipal government and the Russian arms export agency, all of whom deposited their funds with Menatep, which Khodorkovsky mostly used to expand his burgeoning trading empire.

Bank Menatep provided the foundation for Khodorkovsky's bidding for Yukos in 1995. Yukos says that approximately $1.5 billion USD has been spent purchasing the assets that now make up Yukos, with a market capitalisation of $31 billion USD.

In 1995, the Yeltsin Government decided to privatise sclerotic state industries, including the state owned oil company Yukos. They appointed Khodorkovsky's bank Menatep to conduct a public auction process.

A higher bid from a group of rivals was ruled out of the process by Menatep on a technicality. Menatep paid $350 million USD for 78% of the company, which inferred a value of $450 million. When the company was listed two years later, it was valued at $9 billion. That transaction—and dozens like it—has fed the envy and suspicion of many Russians, some of whom believe the oligarchs like Khodorkovsky have stolen their fortunes from the state.

watching the rise of the oligarchs has produced envy and suspicion, much of it warranted, in citizens throughout the former soviet bloc countries... they've watched as their national resources and wealth have been plundered by those only interested in their own gain while the common folk find themselves worse off in most every index of quality of life than under the former communist regime... i've been party to many a conversation where people yearn for the days of the former yugoslavia when there was a reasonably decent standard of living and they had some self-respect... yes, everybody acknowledges tito's failings but they still credit him with building a solid and functioning country...

enter vladimir putin, heir to the anything-goes, russian mafia days of yeltsin... very legitimately, i believe, he's trying to rein in the excesses and to send a message loud and clear that the days of the russian wild west are over... from the russia journal...

So many companies and their advisers had based their strategies on blatant defiance and absolute disrespect for the law, sponsoring corruption and funding political opposition, that the new Russia with enforceable laws under President Vladimir Putin seems an alien place they will have to get used to fast. Russian corporate public-relations agencies and executives who took on the role that the electorate deprived the Yeltsin power elite of by voting it out of parliament in 2003 will have to assume lesser roles of being corporate executives with commercial aims only. Anything more - any political games, meddling with sovereign affairs and fuelling anti-Russia fires - will put their businesses at immeasurable risks.

putin definitely is facing a real challenge... on the one hand, he has the west, particularly the united states (and condoleezza rice), hammering at him about putting constraints on democracy (read: unfettered free markets) and on the other, the very real ire of russian citizens tired of being taken to the cleaners by the oligarchs... here's an snippet from an article condi probably hasn't read...
In the West, hostility toward Russian President Vladimir Putin stems from two beliefs: that Russia should move quickly toward Western-style democracy and that there is a strong, popular, liberal opposition ready to lead such a transformation. The first is mistaken, the second, pure fantasy. It will take at least a generation for Russia to build the foundation for a modern market economy and democracy. It’s an uncomfortable reality, but, for the foreseeable future, only a semiauthoritarian government such as Putin’s can keep Russia moving in the right direction. If Putin weren’t there, we’d soon miss him.

meanwhile, khodorkovsky is busy spinning a new image...
from the washington post...

Khodorkovsky is aware of the public's resentment. When the 40-year-old businessman spoke at the conclusion of his trial earlier this month, he sought to distinguish himself from other so-called oligarchs and to align himself with Putin. [...] Khodorkovsky stressed that he lived in a modest home and said the prosecutors had proven only that he had pursued, "normal, stable business activities with the purpose to produce goods, provide services, earning legal revenue."

the verdict is set to be delivered tomorrow...

* Note: IMF policy and loan conditions have been creating economic distress in countries around the world for years. I am not anywhere close to being an expert, even an aspiring one, so I won't attempt to get wonkish here. Perhaps the best analysis and most illuminating insights have been set forth by Joseph Stiglitz in his book, Globalization and Its Discontents. The publisher's comment sums up the book rather well.
This powerful, unsettling book gives us a rare glimpse behind the closed doors of global financial institutions by the winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics. Renowned academic economist Joseph E. Stiglitz served seven years in Washington, as chairman of President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers and as chief economist at the World Bank. In this book, Stiglitz recounts his experiences in such places as Ethiopia, Thailand, and Russia. He finds repeatedly that the International Monetary Fund puts the interests of its "largest shareholder," the United States, above those of the poorer nations it was designed to serve.

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Humor is often the best antidote

just click the link...

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Reading this is an education in itself

o-h, m-y w-o-r-d...! if you can stomach it, read through this transcript of members of the media talking with scott mcclellan aboard air force one this morning en route to galveston, texas... (warning: those with high blood pressure should not proceed without seeking medical consultation first...)

Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan

Aboard Air Force One
En route Galveston, Texas

* President's Schedule
* Congressman DeLay
o Reference B
* Social Security
o Reference B
* Judicial Nominees
* Putin Speech

10:23 A.M. CDT

MR. McCLELLAN: Good morning everybody. A couple of things to begin with. The President had his usual briefing out at the ranch this morning. We will be going to Galveston, where the President will be participating in a roundtable with a Social Security expert and some Galveston County officials to highlight their alternate plan that they have for employees in the county. There are a couple of neighboring counties -- I believe Matagorda and Brazoria Counties -- as well that offer alternate plans for -- retirement plans for their employees. And this is a way to highlight the benefit of personal accounts, as well as finding a permanent solution to make Social Security sound for our children and grandchildren, and these are models that can guide us as we move forward on the legislative efforts to make Social Security permanently sound and make it a better deal for younger workers. And we appreciate that Senator Grassley is moving forward in his committee today on efforts to strengthen Social Security.

Let's see, we return to D.C. after this event. I think that's really all I have to begin with, so I'm here for whatever questions you all might have.

Q Scott, why -- Tom DeLay is not from Galveston, why is he riding back with the President today? And what's the signal that the President is trying to send by inviting him on Air Force One?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he is from the area. Galveston is near his district and we typically invite members of Congress to events in their area, and we're glad to have Leader DeLay flying back to D.C. with us. I know the President looks forward to seeing him and visiting with him on the way back.

Q Is this a way to, you know, express further commitment to their relationship, you know, further backing DeLay?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think we've already made that pretty clear. I'm sure it will be an opportunity for them to continue to visit about how we can move forward in Congress on the important priorities facing the American people. He is someone that the President has worked closely with, along with other congressional leaders, to get things done for the American people.

That's the way I would describe it.

Q Does DeLay's district touch on Galveston at all?


Q Okay.

Q Does this have something to do with his ethics problems?

MR. McCLELLAN: What's that?

Q Is it helping him with his ethics problem?

MR. McCLELLAN: This has to do with an event that is occurring in his area and the fact that the President appreciates his leadership in the House and that we work very closely with him, as well as other congressional leaders, on the agenda for the American people.

Q But how strongly is the President supporting him at this time in which he's embattled in this ethics dispute?

MR. McCLELLAN: As strongly as he ever has, which is strongly.

Q He wasn't deterred by the latest revelations about the lobbyists paying for his plane tickets? That didn't give pause to the President?

MR. McCLELLAN: No. Look, those will be issues that Leader DeLay has said he's more than happy to address before the Ethics Committee and those matters will be addressed by congressional leaders and by Congressman DeLay.

Q Scott, what does the President think of polls that show two-thirds of people disapprove of his handling of Social Security?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think you have to keep in mind what we're in. One, we are still in the early phase of our efforts to strengthen Social Security and get something done this week [sic]. And the goal of the initial phase has been to educate the American people about the problems facing Social Security. And the American people now recognize that there are serious problems facing Social Security. Survey after survey shows that a majority of Americans believe there are serious problems facing Social Security. And that, in turn, is helpful to get the American people to urge Congress to act. In the Gallop poll just the other day, more than 60 percent said they believe Congress is moving too slowly. And Congress is now beginning to move forward in committee on legislative efforts, and we appreciate that effort.

But the goal has been to make sure that the American people understand the problems facing Social Security. There are significant problems and the American people want to see Congress act to make Social Security -- to make sure that Social Security is around for our children and grandchildren. There is a big hole in that safety net right now: it's fine for today's generation, but we've got to fix it for our children and grandchildren and the American people recognize that. So I think that that has been important progress and that is exactly what we set out to do in this initial phase. This is not an issue that we have ever viewed was going to easy to get done right away. If that was the case, it would have been done long ago.

Q But, Scott, just the mere fact that Tom DeLay will be at today's event is distracting from what the President is trying to accomplish. Does --

MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, I disagree. Like I said, Leader DeLay, along with other leaders in the House and the Senate, is someone who is committed to getting things done on our shared priorities. And I think that's evident by the way he worked to move energy -- comprehensive energy legislation through the House last week. And he's someone who has participated in meetings with the President, along with other members of Congress, to talk about ways to strengthen Social Security and get it done this year.

Q What does the President think of this offer by Harry Reid and by Senator Biden for a deal on judges, that if the President were to maybe relent on some of the most, in their minds, most conservative judges, that they'd be willing to work out a compromise and approve some of the President's nominees that have been either deadlocked or filibustered?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think our view is that Senate Democrats need to stop playing politics and give all judicial nominees an up or down vote. It is unprecedented the steps they have gone to, to prevent highly qualified judges from receiving simply an up or down vote on the floor of the United States Senate. In terms of senatorial procedures, those are matters for the Senate to address. You know, I'm sure that the leaders in the Senate will discuss those matters, but our view has been and continues to be that all judicial nominees should receive an up or down vote. The President has a responsibility to appoint individuals to the bench, and the Senate should move forward in a timely way to make sure that each and every nominee has an up or down vote. These are nominees that we believe have a majority of the support of the United States Senate and it is the constitutional responsibility of the Senate to fulfill their responsibility to vote on those nominees.

Q Should the Republicans entertain the compromise?

MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said, those are discussions that will be held between the leaders in the Senate. Our belief is that all nominees deserve an up or down vote and it's time to stop playing politics with the judiciary. Some of these are judicial emergencies and these are individuals that have received high marks for their qualifications and their judicial temperament.

Q Did you think the Republicans were playing politics when nominees when the Clinton folks had problems getting their nominees through?

MR. McCLELLAN: What has happened in this Senate is unprecedented. There has not been a situation like this, where members of one party have blocked nominees from even receiving an up or down vote on the floor.

Q What did the President do this morning, anything fun?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think he was going on a bike ride. I'll double check that when he gets on. That was before his briefing this morning

Q As the 60 days winds down, what's his role going to be? Is he going to continue to travel the country like he is, like he has been?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, like I said, the 60-day push was our effort to go out and really define the problems facing Social Security for the American people. And we've accomplished that goal. But this is still an early phase in our efforts to strengthen Social Security and the President is going to continue reaching out to the American people as we move forward to get something done this year. The American people want to see Congress act and solve this problem.

Q How many states has he visited now?

MR. McCLELLAN: This is 23.

Q And you said we've accomplished that goal, what was laid out to do in the first 60 days and now that this 60 days is coming to a close, do we see the President laying out a new goal for the next 60 days?

MR. McCLELLAN: We've continued to consult with members of Congress about how we move forward to advance a solution. The President believes it's important that we have a bipartisan solution. Our door is open. We would hope the Democrat leaders would start coming to the table with ideas for solving the problem, instead of simply standing in the way of solutions.

Q Does the President pivot, or do we -- I mean, does the President stop traveling after these 60 days? I mean, what does he do now?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, as I said, he will continue reaching out to the American people and continue going across the country talking about this important priority. This is a high priority for the American people that affects everyone and the President is going to continue talking about the importance of acting this year. Congress is -- you know, we're also entering a new phase in Congress, where they're starting to move forward on legislative efforts and we appreciate the leadership of Senator Grassley and leaders in the House, like Congressman Thomas. And we'll continue to work closely with them as we move forward to advance a solution. And the President will continue to work in a way and make his views known in a way that helps advance a solution.

Q Is he open to a final solution that doesn't include private accounts?

MR. McCLELLAN: I appreciate the opportunity to sit here and negotiate with the pool this morning. (Laughter.) I think the President has made his views very clear, that all ideas are n the table as far as he's concerned, with the exception of increasing the payroll tax rate. This is a time when we should be welcoming ideas, not getting into ruling things out. And the President believes that we must address the hole in the safety net, we must make Social Security permanently sound. And he believes we also need to strengthen it for our children and grandchildren by giving them the opportunity to realize a greater rate of return on their retirement savings -- that's why personal accounts are so important and that's one of the things that he'll be highlighting today. I think there are examples in Galveston County, some where people have realized a rate of return that's almost twice as much as what they would have realized under the current Social Security system.

Q But, Scott, at some point all these ideas have got to come together and the President has to make it known which ones he's in favor of. He brought this idea to the American public. If he's taking this forward, why don't we see a plan from the administration?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President will be focusing more on solutions as we move forward. But the President I think made it clear that this is an issue that we should work together on to advance a bipartisan solution. And that's why he's been reaching out members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, alike, and he will continue to do so. He wants to continue to consult with leaders about how to move forward to advance that bipartisan solution.

But he has I think made it very clear that he will -- I mean, one, he is leading on this issue and going out across the country and talking about the need for action. And he's been very open to welcoming ideas from others. Unfortunately, Senate Democratic leaders -- I mean, some Democratic leaders continue to simply stand in the way of a solution, instead of coming to the table with ideas. We would hope that that would change.

But another aspect of this debate, keep in mind, just a couple of months ago there was discussion about whether or not there were serious problems facing Social Security. Today, people are now focused on solutions and talking about solutions. But this is not a time for people to be trying to block ways to advance a solution. This is a time for people to come to the table with ideas to advance a solution. And that's the way the President has been approaching it.

Q Any reaction to Putin's speech yesterday on democracy in Russia?

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me see if there is any more to add. I mean, I saw where he talked about the importance of democratic reforms and those are issues we continue to talk about with Russia. We have good relations and we'll continue to have discussions on those issues, but let me see if there is any more from the President's standpoint to add to it.

Okay, thanks.

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