Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Foley Back From Rehab


Is he cured from seeking out under-age interns?

"Foley Back From Rehab; Florida Considering Charges
March 28, 2007 5:00 AM

Brian Ross and Vic Walter Report:

Florida law enforcement officials are building a possible criminal case against disgraced former Congressman Mark Foley, R-Fla., based on sexually explicit instant messages that were sent from Pensacola, Fla., to an underage high school student, thereby falling under the state's tough law on Internet sexual predators, ABC News has learned.

"It's a broad statute, and it encompasses a lot of activity," said Maureen Horkan, the director of the Child Predator CyberCrime Unit in the Florida Attorney General's office.

Foley has begun to re-emerge publicly in Palm Beach, Fla., after spending weeks at an Arizona rehabilitation center for what his lawyer described as issues involving substance and his own alleged sexual abuse as a minor.

He was seen last week bicycling along South Ocean Boulevard wearing a helmet and bike racing outfit.

Unlike federal law, the Florida statute makes it a crime simply to use lewd or explicit language "that is harmful to minors."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Rep. Vern Buchanan on Iraq


I recently expressed my desire to end the War in Iraq to Florida District 13 Rep. Vern Buchanan. Below is his response.

March 19, 2007


"Dear Mr. Brooks,

Thank you for contacting me in opposition to President Bush's plan to send more U.S. troops to Iraq . I have serious concerns over whether this increase will lead to a successful outcome.

The President's plan includes $5.6 billion for the troop increase and more than $1 billion in new economic aid for Iraq . It also calls for better performance by the Iraqi government to control its own security.

There is no question that Iraq needs to take responsibility for the protection of its own people. And that's not happening. At this moment, there are 27 trained and equipped Iraqi battalions sitting outside of Baghdad in peaceful areas of the country. These Iraqi forces need to be moved immediately into the fight in Baghdad .

In the meantime, I will carefully weigh the President's plan to determine whether it will lead to a stable Iraq and the swift and safe return of our troops. There are legitimate questions as to whether an infusion of American troops will help stabilize Iraq . I want to know if our military commanders and veterans think an increase in troops will help Iraq resolve its internal conflict.

Thanks again for contacting me. Your opinions help me to better serve you and all the people of southwest Florida . Should you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office.



Sincerely,

Vern Buchanan

Member of Congress"

Tillman's mom: 'They were lying to us'




CNN) -- The mother of Cpl. Pat Tillman, the former NFL player killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in April 2004, on Tuesday rejected the latest explanation from the U.S. military about her son's death.

"It became very obvious early on that they were lying to us," Mary Tillman said on ESPN Radio's "Dan Patrick Show." "They were only telling one side of the story. They weren't telling the other side."

The military reported Monday that nine military officers, including four generals, will face "corrective action" for making critical mistakes in the aftermath of the Army Ranger's death.

An investigation by the Army's inspector general and Criminal Investigation Command concluded officers in Tillman's chain of command knew almost immediately after his death that he had been killed by fire from his own platoon, but that information was withheld from his family for more than a month, in violation of Army regulations.

The investigation also concluded that inadequate initial investigations "contributed to the inaccuracies, misunderstandings and perceptions of concealment."

Tillman's mother was not convinced.

Everyone involved in the shooting knew almost immediately that her son had been shot three times in the head by his own troops, she said.

Yet, at the memorial service for her son in May 2004, the military said Pat Tillman had been killed by enemy fire, she said.

"That was not a misstep, that was not an error," she said. "This was an attempt to dupe the public and to promote this war and to get recruitments up, and that is immoral."

Mary Tillman called for a congressional hearing "to have it all aired out."

She added, "I really don't know what happened. We've been told so many different things."

Shot intentionally?
Mary Tillman said she was not excluding the possibility that her son was shot intentionally.

"Pat was used," she said. "Once he was killed, I think they saw this as an opportunity." She noted that April 2004 was the worst month up to that time in the year-old Iraq war, and the shooting occurred right after the Abu Ghraib scandal broke.

The latest investigation "only presented the points of view of the soldiers in the vehicle" who fatally shot her son and an Afghan soldier and wounded two others, she said.

"They never brought into play what the other witnesses said," Mary Tillman said.

She described as "shocking" the military's claim that no rules of engagement were broken.

The platoon members "fired at soldiers who weren't firing at them in areas where hands were waving and at a building," she said. "All of those things are breaking rules of engagement."

The soldier believed to have shot her son three times in the head was asked whether he had made a positive identification of the target before firing, she said. "This soldier said, 'No, I wanted to be in a firefight,' " she said. "That was a definite breaking of the rules of engagement."

She said the military is still spinning the story for its own gain.

"The first investigative officer, in his statement to the third investigative officer, said in his opinion, there was evidence of criminal intent, and he also used the term 'criminal negligence,' " Tillman said.

"Yet his report has been devalued because it doesn't go along with what they want out in the public eye."

In 2002, Pat Tillman, a safety with the Arizona Cardinals, turned down a multimillion-dollar contract offer and instead joined the Army, a decision he said was a response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

He was shot April 22, 2004, in a remote area near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Britain grapples with past on slavery


"Charge of the Buffalo Soldiers, 1863
In 1863, the Union Army began using emancipated slaves and other free black men as soldiers. This was a very controversial move, and one that did not enjoy much support in the North, or among the white troops. Thomas Nast, a visionary of his day, saw beyond the biases of the day, and saw that integration of blacks into the Union Army was a good thing. He created the illustration to your right to show that Negro Buffalo Soldiers could fight bravely alongside white troops. The image appeared in an 1863 edition of Harper's Weekly. "


Political
Britain grapples with past on slavery anniversary
Source: Agence France Presse 03/23/2007
LONDON, March 23, 2007 (AFP) -

Britain marks the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery this weekend with the government proposing an annual commemoration day -- but still refusing to make a full apology.
In contrast the Anglican church has made an unreserved mea culpa, and on Saturday Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will lead hundreds of people on a "Walk of Witness" marking the bicentenary.

"Some have said they see no need for the apology made last year by the General Synod for the role the Church played in the slave trade," said Williams.

"But when we acknowledge historic injustices inflicted in the name of the Church, this is a vital part of our life as members of the body of Christ," he wrote in a foreword to the programme for the walk.
The walk includes the culmination of the March of the Abolitionists -- a group of walkers who have worn yokes and chains during a 250-mile journey beginning in the northeastern city of Hull.
British merchants are believed to have transported nearly three million black Africans across the Atlantic between 1700 and the early 19th century.

Overall, some 21 million black Africans were transported by Europeans in the Atlantic slave trade from 1450 until 1850, according to historians. British merchants were the biggest participants, followed by the French and Dutch.

The 1833 Slavery Abolition Act outlawed slavery itself throughout the British Empire. However, slaves did not gain their final freedom until 1838.
But despite voicing its regret, the British government has never made a full, formal apology for its role in the trade.

Earlier this month British Prime Minister Tony Blair reiterated that he was sorry for Britain's role in the slave trade Wednesday, labelling it "entirely unacceptable."
On the eve of the anniversary, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said Britain is to hold an annual commemoration day to remember its role in the slave trade, as well as the fight to end it.
He told The Guardian daily that he expected the day would be sometime in June and said it could provide an opportunity for the country to consider how it could help modern day Africa.
Events are being planned to mark the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act here. It was passed on March 25, 1807, imposing a 100-pound fine for every slave found aboard a British ship.
"Like the Holocaust, we are learning to talk about the slave trade more openly and more honestly," Prescott told the daily.

"There is a sense of shock and horror at what went on in our history, and the sheer brutality of it ... We need to get the proper history told, including the good, the bad and the dreadful ...
"The legacy of this 200th anniversary should be a permanent date when we ask whether there is more we could do, so that every year, like (the) Holocaust, we remind people of the horrors."

Business Closing Shop in Iran?



"GE Winding Down Activity in Iran

GE in the NewsSource

27 March 2007


An article in today's Wall Street Journal concerning companies that do business in Iran is misleading and inaccurate in its references to GE.


In December 2004, GE's senior leadership team in consultation with our Board of Directors decided that GE's foreign subsidiaries would no longer accept any new [orders is what the policy says] business in Iran after Feb. 1, 2005 because of growing uncertainty in that country, including the ability to meet customer commitments. GE's foreign subsidiaries determined to fulfill customer obligations in place before Feb. 1, 2005, but not to seek any new orders.


GE has fully lived up to this commitment and strictly enforced this policy -- we have not sought nor accepted any new business in Iran and are winding down our pre-existing customer commitments. When these previous obligations are complete, GE will not have any business activity in Iran."

Heroin Trafficking in Africa & Middle East

Political

Heroin Traffickers Target Schools
Source: All Africa 03/26/2007
Kampala, Mar 26, 2007 (New Vision/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) --


HASSAN Mbogo, a Tanzanian carrying a Ugandan passport, was arrested on December 1 at Entebbe Airport. He came aboard Emirates Airlines, from Tehran and through Dubai to Uganda.

Mbogo matched the profile of a drug trafficker, so when he arrived, he was taken into an observation hall and given some food. Sure enough, he passed out 64 pellets (640g) of heroin. He pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and got away with a sh1m fine.

Two weeks later, Ally Abdul Mohamed, also Tanzanian, also arrived on an Emirates aircraft from Tehran, was arrested and subjected to the same treatment. He passed out 107 pellets of heroin, weighing 1.7 kg. He confessed and was fined sh1m.

These are only two of an increasing number of drug traffickers arrested at Entebbe Airport in possession of heroin. In the last week of December alone, five people were found with the drugs in their bodies. Most traffickers were freed after paying a fine of sh1m or less. Only a few were imprisoned, with the longest jail term being 14 months. Abbab Munir Ahmed, a Pakistani national, was jailed for one year in February for smuggling 3kg of heroin in his stomach.
Drug traffickers usually come from Tehran via Dubai, aboard Emirates or Ethiopian Airlines. Several have Ugandan passports. Light penalties and easy access to Ugandan passports make the country an attractive place for drug traffickers.

The traffickers, largely foreign nationals, use the country mainly as a transit route between Asian suppliers and Western consumers. However, they are also increasingly targeting the children of the rich in Kampala.

"Because of the weak laws we have in Uganda, traffickers find it convenient to transit through Uganda," said Okoth Ochola, the Deputy Director of the Department of Criminal Investigations.
"The current law - the National Drug Policy and Authority Act - is too lenient. If you are convicted under that Act, you are either sent to prison for one year or you pay a fine of not more than sh1m. Drug traffickers, who make millions of dollars, would rather risk being convicted in Uganda than in countries like Iran or Malaysia, where it is a capital offence, carrying the death penalty."
Attempts to revise the law seem to have hit a dead end.
"A draft Bill has been pending for over five years but it has never been tabled before Parliament," Ochola added.

According to Police statistics, a total of 17.7kg of heroin with a total street value of sh479m in addition to 182.8kg of cannabis, worth sh250m, was recovered in 2006.
But a source involved in the drug investigations told Sunday Vision that the figures may not be representative of the situation on the ground.

"The seizures may not represent the reality of the trafficking activities in Uganda. Our Police do not have adequate capacity to detect drugs," the source said.

Efforts to curb drug trafficking in Uganda have been limited to profiling possible traffickers and observing passengers at the airport, which has an international success rate of only about 20%.
Despite the presence of two sniffer dogs at the airport, neither the passengers nor the cargo are checked.

"We don't check cargo in the planes. Only when we have information that there could be something concealed do we use the sniffer dogs," said Robert Ojaba, the acting officer in charge of narcotics.
Part of the profiling is done in the country from which the passenger comes.

"When passengers come from countries like Pakistan and Iran, we put them under surveillance and then look at their travel documents to see how long they have stayed in those countries," Ojaba said.
He said the most common method of concealment was by swallowing pellets made of hard polythene bags, which cannot dissolve in the stomach. Each pellet contains about 10g of heroin.
"The traffickers are usually not comfortable and walk with a lot of difficulty. They are also under strict instructions not to eat on the plane as the moment they eat, the drugs will come out. They, therefore, look dizzy and exhausted."

Swallowing heroin pellets is not without risk. John Mwanjabala was arrested at Entebbe Airport on December 4.

He passed out 95 pellets of heroin. However, while relieving himself, something went wrong. One pellet burst. He was rushed to Entebbe Hospital where he died three days later.

Though most of the drugs entering Uganda are destined for Western markets, some are meant for the Ugandan market. "The consumption of these expensive drugs has extended to children from powerful families in some of the upper-class schools and universities," a source in the Police said.
Some of the victims are being counselled in drug rehabilitation centres in the city.

"Nowadays you see many youth using drugs," said David Amanya, the director of the National Care Centre in Bweyogerere, Kampala. "Our centre, which is supposed to take only 15 people, is overwhelmed. The number of those coming here to seek treatment as a result of drug abuse is on the rise."

Though the Police claim they have no knowledge of heroin being sold on the streets of Kampala, Amanya said there are shops selling drugs all over the city. "The drugs are being sold openly. One gramme of heroin goes for as little as sh30,000," he said. Witnesses say heroin is in circulation at a popular shopping mall in central Kampala as well as busy hang-outs in the city's suburbs.
"Shops in expensive malls selling goods that have low demand are usually fronts for drug dealers," the source said. Parents and head teachers are not willing to talk about the problem, for fear of stigma or negative publicity. However, teachers privately admit that heroin and cocaine are a problem in their schools.

"Last year we discovered that six foreign pupils in Standard Six were involved in taking heroin," said a teacher in one of the international schools. "When we talked to one of them, he told us he had learned the habit at home. We are trying to control it by engaging counsellors."
The drug traffickers reportedly have agents in the schools, usually drug addicts who receive a commission each time they get a new client. Affected parents, who want to remain anonymous, complain that their children steal at home in order to buy the drugs.

A former drug addict told Sunday Vision that heroin was being sold in Kampala in different forms.
"There is one which comes in solid form, is melted on a coin and one can snort it through the nose using a straw. A second type comes in the form of an injection. The third type is mixed with food," he said.

Fighting the drug mafia has proven an extremely difficult task all over the world, not just in Uganda.
"Dismantling the syndicates and arresting the kingpins is complicated given the level of secrecy, strengthened by a sworn code of silence. There is little or no contact between the kingpins and the couriers," said a Police source.

Investigations reveal that many of those arrested are lured into the trade after promises of a better life. "We have arrested some students who had been promised tuition fees, money, lucrative businesses and cars in return for carrying the drugs," Ojaba said.

Investigations have also shown that elements within the Police were in the past involved in the drug business. The commission of inquiry chaired by Justice Julia Sebutinde that probed the Police revealed that some senior police officers were protecting drug dealers.
Another source told Sunday Vision that the Inspector General of Police has ordered an inventory of the drug section, following allegations that seized drugs could have found their way back onto the market.

Lack of a harmonised legislature in the region makes it difficult to curb the illegal trade. Neighbouring Kenya took a drastic step in the war on drugs in 1993, when penalties for drug trafficking were increased to life imprisonment, as well as fines of Kenyan sh1m, equivalent to Ugandan sh25m.

A recent report by the United Nations warns of serious consequences if the present trend is not checked. "As a spill-over effect of the ongoing transit trafficking in heroin in the sub-region, the abuse of heroin has become a problem in East Africa. It is feared that if left unchecked, the problem of drug trafficking in Africa might further exacerbate existing social, economic and political problems."

Clinton promises universal health care



Political
Clinton promises universal health care if elected
Source: Associated Press Newswires 03/26/2007


DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton vowed Monday to create a universal health care system if elected, saying she "learned a lot" during the failed health care effort of her husband's presidency.


"We're going to have universal health care when I'm president -- there's no doubt about that. We're going to get it done," the New York senator and front-runner for the 2008 nomination said.
Clinton focused on health care issues during an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America" broadcast from the state where precinct caucuses will launch the presidential nominating season.
Asked how she could improve on her failed effort to reform health care during her husband's presidency, Clinton said pressure for change has built in the last decade and that would make tackling the issue easier.


"I believe the American people are going to make this an issue," said Clinton. "I believe we're in a better position today to do that than we were in '93 and '94. ... It's one of the reasons I'm running for president."


After the televised meeting, Clinton headed to a Des Moines elementary school to receive the endorsement of former Gov. Tom Vilsack and his wife, Christie.


"Hillary Clinton has been tried and tested like no other candidate for president," Tom Vilsack said.
His wife added, "To me, this is not just an endorsement but a commitment."
Clinton said her relationship with the Vilsacks dates to her work in the 1970s with Christie Vilsack's late brother, lawyer Tom Bell.


"We will be crisscrossing Iowa and crisscrossing America," Clinton said.
In her earlier appearance, Clinton argued that health coverage has deteriorated over the last decade, and that's increased public pressure to act.


"The number of uninsured has grown," said Clinton. "It's hard to ignore the fact that nearly 47 million people don't have health insurance, but also because so many people with insurance have found it's difficult to get health care because the insurance companies deny you what you need."
Clinton opened her latest campaign swing with a live broadcast from the Science Center of Iowa, where she spoke to more than 200 activists at a town meeting about health care issues. It's an issue with which she is very familiar. After her husband won the White House in 1992, she headed an effort to put a universal health care system in place. That effort eventually collapsed under pressure in part from the insurance industry.


However, while Clinton said the issue continues to be a high priority for her, she has not offered up a specific plan. One questioner at the town hall meeting held up a copy of a DVD containing a detailed description of Democratic rival John Edwards' plan for universal health care, asking Clinton if she will also offer specifics.


The reason she hasn't "set out a plan and said here's exactly what I will do," Clinton said, is that she wants to hear from voters what kind of plan they would favor.
"I want the ideas that people have," said Clinton. She said any health care plan must deal with the reality that there's a unique climate in the country.


"We are bigger and more diverse and people like their choice," said Clinton.
Edwards, a former North Carolina senator and 2004 Democratic runningmate, has said it's inevitable that taxes would have to go up to finance an expensive health care plan. Clinton disagreed.
"We've got to get the costs under control," said Clinton. "Why would we put more money into a dysfunctional system?"


Clinton sidestepped a question on whether she'd consider Vilsack as a potential runningmate should she win the nomination.


"I am a very big fan of Governor Vilsack," Clinton said, adding that he has "the kind of practical but visionary leadership we need in our country."


Vilsack was the first Democrat to formally enter the 2008 presidential race in November, but he dropped out last month citing the difficulty in raising the tens of millions of dollars necessary to mount a credible bid.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Jennifer Hudson - And I Am Telling You

Damn this girl can sing! (Last music clip for the night - back to politics).

American Idol: Jennifer Hudson

Beyonce Threatens To Kill Jennifer Hudson

Just a little humor on Beyonce. Dream Girls 10 Stars

Beyon'ce

Gotta give it to Beyon'ce for trying. She still has nothing on vocals versus Jennifer Hudson.

JENNIFER HOLIDAY sings

To get off the political beat. For you music lovers Dream Girls is an awsome movie. 10 starts. Back flash Jennifer Holiday sings "I Am Telling You".

State by State 2008 Presidential Update




2008 Presidential Update - State by State



Checks and Balances Blog is predicting these states electoral votes will most likely go to these candidates bearing no “Dean” incidents. This is a non-partisan analysis.

Clinton: Arkansas, California, Iowa, Nevada, Wisconsin, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Louisiana


Obama: Illinois


Giuliani: New Jersey


McCain: Arizona


Edwards: (none)

Mitt Romney: (none)

From my research, candidates showing a likely hood of winning 40% + of the vote were awarded that state. States where no candidates currently polling at 40 % or above were not included. I do believe there is a possible Gore factor that could entirely flip these predictions. New York and Connecticut are a toss up between Clinton and Giuliani. I predict the Republican Party would however never nominate R. Giuliani. Their nominee will be a strict conservative or even though a "maverick" a loyal Republican like John McCain. Therefore, predictions for the GOP nominee are less accurate.


-A.T. Brooks


Who Is Hillary Clinton?



U.S. HOUSE MOVES TO END WAR

WILL THE U.S. SENATE RESPOND IN KIND?

President G.W. Bush said "These Democrats believe that the longer they can delay funding for our troops, the more likely they are to force me to accept restrictions on our commanders, an artificial timetable for withdrawal, and their pet spending projects," he said. "This is not going to happen."

I say "Its time for President G.W. Bush to listen to the American people".


Political

US House ties Iraq war funding to withdrawal timeline
Source: Agence France Presse 03/23/2007 WASHINGTON, March 23, 2007 (AFP) -


The US House of Representatives Friday voted to impose an August 31, 2008 deadline to pull combat troops out of Iraq, prompting a veto threat and a furious rebuke from President George W. Bush.
In the boldest challenge yet to Bush's war powers, lawmakers voted 218 to 212 to link a 124-billion-dollar war budget to a timeline for withdrawal, significantly raising the stakes in an escalating feud with the president.

"This war is a grotesque mistake," House speaker Nancy Pelosi said, closing a passionate and often acrimonious debate.

"The American people will not support a war without end, and neither should this Congress."
But an infuriated Bush quickly vowed to veto the bill if it reaches his desk, accusing Democratic leaders of second guessing the generals running the war and of abdicating their responsibilities to the US armed forces.

"Democrats in the House, in an act of political theater, voted to substitute their judgment for that of our military commanders on the ground in Iraq."

Bush said the bill had no chance of becoming law: "I will veto it if it comes to my desk."
White House spokesman Tony Snow said the bill would put "handcuffs on generals, colonels, lieutenant colonels, majors, captains, lieutenants, sergeants, corporals, privates and everybody else."
Two Republicans broke with their leaders and voted in favor of the bill. Fourteen Democrats voted against their own party's bid to end the war and Bush's surge of more than 21,500 more troops into Iraq.

The legislation funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan presented Republican lawmakers with a dilemma: if they opposed the timetable plan, they risked being portrayed as voting against a bill providing funding for American troops locked in fierce combat.

Democratic Representative John Murtha, a passionate advocate of a US withdrawal from Iraq, said: "We are going to bring those troops home, we are going to start changing the direction of this great country.

"The American people in the last election sent a message, they said we want the Iraqis to solve their own problems in Iraq," he said, in a speech on the House floor greeted by applause and a standing ovation by Democrats.

But Republican Minority leader John Boehner said the bill would send a damning message about the US commitment to fighting global terrorism.

"We are in the midst of a fight with an enemy that is not just in Iraq, that's all over the world," he said.

The 124-billion-dollar emergency supplemental spending package for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would tie the deployment of combat forces to strict standards for rest, equipment and training of troops.

It also would create benchmarks that would hold the Iraqi government accountable for progress toward self-governance and security.

If the Iraqis fail to meet the objectives, a withdrawal of troops would have to begin within months.
No matter how the Iraqi government performs, the bill calls for the withdrawals to begin in March 2008 and for most US combat forces to be out of Iraq by August 31, 2008.

The package passed after the Democrats overcame divisions within their own ranks from lawmakers who had been demanding an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.

Despite Bush's stand, Democrats saw the bill as part of a concerted political campaign to force the end of US involvement in Iraq and pressure the president's Republican backers.
Separately, a Senate committee on Thursday approved its own draft emergency war funding measure, setting a March 2008 deadline to withdraw most US combat troops from Iraq.
The House and Senate versions must be reconciled, then the president must sign the measure for it to become law. To override a presidential veto, each chamber would have to secure a two-thirds majority.

The Democratic-controlled Senate last week rejected a bid to pass a separate binding resolution that would have called for US troops to be pulled out of Iraq by the end of March 2008.


NPR Report:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9121027

Commentary: Every Senator (Democrat, Independent & Republican) who sponsors or votes for a non-binding resolution specifically in regards to the War in Iraq, in my opinion, should not be re-elected. I believe this because a non-binding resolution has no authority, it is a waist of paper.

U.S. political landscape tilting to Democrats



Political

U.S. political landscape tilts to Democrats; A new poll shows that more Americans are rejecting both the Republican Party and many of its broad conservative ideals. PUBLIC OPINION

Source: The Miami Herald 03/23/2007 WASHINGTON

President Bush's dream of leaving an enduring Republican majority as his political legacy is slipping from his grasp.

A new poll released Thursday confirms that the country's underlying political landscape has turned sharply against Bush's party and toward the Democrats on bellwether issues such as the use of military force, religion, affirmative action and homosexuality.

''It's going in the other direction,'' said Andrew Kohut, the director of the Pew Research Center, which released the survey.

It's not going toward a Democratic majority. But there's no more progress toward a Republican majority.''

''But Democrats shouldn't start popping the champagne yet,'' said Steve Schier, a political scientist at Minnesota's Carleton College. ``This group . . . is still very much up for grabs.''

The idea of a durable political majority -- like the one the Republicans enjoyed for decades after the Civil War or that Franklin D. Roosevelt built for the Democrats in the 1930s and '40s -- might be a quaint notion in an era in which a third of the voters refuse to align with either major party for more than one election.

CONSERVATIVE HOPES
But Bush and his political advisor, Karl Rove, thought they had found the keys to securing what began as the so-called Reagan Revolution and seemed to gain strength with the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994.

They called it ''compassionate conservatism,'' a blend of appeals to religious and economic conservatives coupled with a pitch to moderate, suburban independents for education revisions, tax cuts, Medicare expansion.

A solid Republican majority seemed within reach, especially after the country rallied behind Bush after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Bush's Republicans defied history by gaining seats in the 2002 midterm congressional elections, which usually tilt against the president's party.

That year, the Republicans moved into a tie with the Democrats in terms of voters' self-proclaimed party identification, with 43 percent picking each party.

Now that's all gone.

NEW REALITY
Today, 50 percent of Americans call themselves Democrats or lean that way, while 35 percent favor the Republican Party.

''Over the past five years, the political landscape of the nation has shifted from one of partisan parity to a sizable Democratic advantage,'' the Pew analysis said. ``But the change reflects Republican losses more than Democratic gains.''

''That's due to dissatisfaction with the White House,'' Kohut added in an interview.
That dissatisfaction has grown as Americans have turned against the war in Iraq.

At the same time, the country is becoming more amenable to the Democratic view of such divisive issues as God, war and welfare, the Pew survey found:
The ranks of those who completely agree that prayer is an important part of their daily lives dropped from 55 percent in 1999 to 45 percent.

Those who think military strength is the best way to preserve peace dropped from 62 percent in 2002 to 49 percent.More people support affirmative action, up from 58 percent in 1995 to 70 percent today. The percentage of Americans who think the government should help needy people even if it increases the national debt rose from 41 percent in 1994 to 54 percent today.
Commentary: Promising changes for the Democratic Party. This report however lacks data on what parts of the country these shifts are occuring. Larger numbers nationally do not equate to a certainity of control of Congress or the White House.

BUSH DIGGS HEELS ON TESTIMONY

Political

BUSH DIGGING IN HIS HEELS ON TESTIMONY BY TOP AIDES
Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel 03/23/2007 WASHINGTON


"Ever since Republicans lost control of Congress, President Bush has known a fight like this could come.

The battle over the congressional inquiry into the firing of federal prosecutors is not one of Bush's choosing. But now that it has been thrust upon him, Bush is defiantly refusing to allow Karl Rove and other top aides to testify publicly in an inquiry into the firing of federal prosecutors, and standing by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

In doing so, the president is sending a message to Democrats on Capitol Hill. He may be a lame duck and his poll numbers may be down, but he will protect those closest to him, defend his presidential powers and run his White House the way he sees fit in his remaining 22 months in office.

"George W. Bush will rue the day if he lets Al Gonzales go," said Ari Fleischer, Bush's former press secretary, "because that will be the first scalp that the Democrats on the Hill will gather and collect, and then the door will then be opened to show that if you can put enough pressure on President Bush, anybody can go. This is a crucial first test."

Bush is also waging what he views as an even bigger war over presidential prerogatives. He has moved aggressively to expand presidential powers -- asserting authority to eavesdrop on Americans without court warrants and try suspected terrorists before military tribunals. To avoid divulging the membership of Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force, the administration even went to the Supreme Court. One Republican friend of Bush's said the president is trying to "take back control," adding, "he's pretty angry."

That was evident Tuesday evening in a news conference. It was held in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, but there was little diplomacy about it. A defiant Bush made clear that he was not going to allow Democrats on Capitol Hill to spend the rest of his term "dragging White House members up there to score political points, or put the klieg lights on."

Bush has offered to let Rove and three other officials, including Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, be interviewed by lawmakers, but only in private, without transcripts, and not under oath -- conditions that are not acceptable to Democrats. A Senate committee on Thursday approved three subpoenas to top administration officials, including Rove.

Bush says he's willing to go to court. Fleischer said Bush is convinced that presidential powers have eroded since Watergate, and that it is his duty to restore them for his successors.

"This is the White House that, under his leadership, didn't give up the energy records and took a beating for it," he said. "He's willing to lose the politics of these things, because he does have a longer view of the powers of the presidency and what it takes to protect them."

The president is all the more passionate about this particular fight because of the men at the center of it: Rove and Gonzales. Both have been part of the president's inner circle since his days as the governor of Texas. When Bush recently had a rare dinner out, he went to Rove's house, where the man who has been dubbed "Bush's Brain" served game from a recent hunting trip. "

Friday, March 23, 2007

Attorney fired to make room for Rove protege

New documents show officials prepared for Bush approval before Griffin took job
Dan Eggen, Amy Goldstein, Washington Post
Friday, March 23, 2007


(03-23) 04:00 PDT Washington -- Two months before Bud Cummins was fired as U.S. attorney in Little Rock, a protege of presidential adviser Karl Rove was maneuvering with the Justice Department to take his place.

Last April, Tim Griffin, a Rove aide and longtime GOP operative, sent the attorney general's chief of staff a flattering letter about himself written by Cummins, the prosecutor he was trying to replace, internal e-mails released this week show. Rove and Harriet Miers, then the White House counsel, were keenly interested in putting him in the position, the e-mails reveal.

New documents also show that Justice and White House officials were preparing for President Bush's approval of the appointment as early as last summer, five months before Griffin took the job.

The unusual appointment of Griffin, now serving as the interim U.S. attorney in Little Rock, has been one of the central issues in the Justice Department's firing of eight U.S. attorneys, which led to this week's constitutional showdown between Congress and the White House. The Senate Judiciary Committee's decision Thursday to approve subpoenas to force Rove, Miers and deputy White House Counsel William Kelley to testify about the firings follows similar action by a House panel. The committees' chairmen, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., so far appear in no rush to issue the subpoenas, and private negotiations with the White House continue.

Some of the thousands of pages of e-mails released this week underscore the extraordinary planning and effort, at the highest levels of the Justice Department and White House, to secure Griffin a job running one of the smaller U.S. attorney's offices in the country.

The e-mails show how Kyle Sampson, then the attorney general's chief of staff, and other Justice officials prepared to use a change in federal law to bypass input from Arkansas' two Democratic senators, who had expressed doubts about placing a former Republican National Committee operative in charge of a U.S. attorney's office. The evidence runs contrary to assurances from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that no such move had been planned.

"This was a very loyal soldier to the Republicans and the Bush administration, and they wanted to reward him," said Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark. "They had every right to do this, but it's the way they handled it, and the way they tried to cover their tracks and mislead Congress, that has turned this into a fiasco for them."

Griffin declined to comment Thursday but said in a previous interview that he was being unfairly maligned by Democrats. He has announced that he will not seek Senate confirmation to become Little Rock's chief federal prosecutor but will remain until a replacement is found.

In political circles, Griffin is widely considered an aggressive and accomplished Republican political operative. He was research director at the Republican National Committee during Bush's 2004 campaign, and he went to work for Rove at the White House in 2005.

Administration officials and many Republicans say that regardless of politics, Griffin has the credentials to be U.S. attorney.

"He's more qualified to hold that position than most of the people who came to that job in the first term," said Mark Corallo, who worked as the Justice Department's communication director when John Ashcroft was attorney general. Cummins' dismissal differs from the firings of the seven other ousted federal prosecutors in several respects. Cummins was told he was being removed last June, and the rest were told on Dec. 7. Justice Department officials also have not publicly said Cummins' departure was related to his performance in office, as they have with the others. They acknowledged last month that he was fired simply to make room for Griffin.

But documents show that Cummins was clearly a target of Sampson's two-year effort to fire a group of U.S. attorneys who did not qualify as what he called "loyal Bushies." He was recommended for removal as early as March 2005.

Cummins said he had no idea of those plans until he was notified of his firing last June. Sometime in the next couple of months, he said, it became clear that Griffin was going to get the job, and Cummins stepped aside in December.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/03/23/MNGE3OQI1N1.DTL

Thursday, March 22, 2007

DEMS stand ground on sacked prosecutors


Nothing, Nothing, Nothing is what the American public will get if G.W. Bush's proposal is accepted.



Political


US Democrats throw down gauntlet over sacked prosecutors
Source: Agence France Presse 03/22/2007


WASHINGTON, March 22, 2007 (AFP) -


Pressure mounted on US President George W. Bush Thursday as for the second time in two days US lawmakers authorized subpoenas of White House aides in a controversy over purged prosecutors.


The Senate Judiciary Affairs Committee allowed its chairman, Patrick Leahy, to issue the subpoenas in its probe into whether the eight attorneys were dismissed for political reasons late last year.


The vote came after a House of Representatives panel on Wednesday agreed that five senior administration officials including President George W. Bush's top political advisor, Karl Rove, should be summoned for questioning.


Bush, whose ties with the Democratic-controlled Congress have been strained over the war in Iraq, has vowed to fight any subpoenas, accusing the Democrats of a "partisan fishing expedition."
He did agree on Tuesday that White House officials could be interviewed privately by legislators, but not under oath, and without written transcripts.


But Democratic lawmakers say that is not enough, and the issue may now have to go before the Supreme Court if the White House refuses to bend.


"We have the right of inquiry and this is a very important inquiry. I think there could be much more to it than meets the eye right now and we need to persevere," Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein told Fow News.


Leahy agreed, saying: "After a while, you begin to wonder, do we have an independent judicial system, do we have an independent prosecutorial system?


"And a lot of Republicans and Democrats have questioned what's going on. And I think we ought to -- all I want to do is know what the truth is."


The White House however has accused the Democrats of wanting to turn the investigation into a primetime spectacle.


"What he (Leahy) is talking about is a show trial. That's not designed to get at the truth, it's designed to sort of scold White House officials," said White House spokesman Tony Snow early Thursday.
The White House has already released some 3,000 pages of documents concerning the December sackings, which it says show there was no wrong-doing.


And it has stood by the country's top legal officer, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, facing a clamor of calls for his resignation.


The dispute began when some of the fired attorneys told Congress they were sacked because they resisted pressure from Republican lawmakers over sensitive cases.


While the White House and Justice Department have the right to appoint and remove all 93 US attorneys -- who investigate and prosecute court cases for the government -- replacements are usually only carried out at the beginning of a president's administration.


The issue has managed to divert the focus away from the Democrats' faltering attempts to agree a common congressional stand on the Iraq war and push a timetable to bring the troops home.
And is also providing succor for hardline Republicans, as Bush's ratings plummet to their lowest ever in the opinion polls.


"Why not go to war with Congress?" asked the rightwing New York Post on Thursday.


"Sure, Bush's approval rating is just 35 percent in the latest Gallup poll. But Congress' rating is even worse - 28 percent. Why shouldn't Bush move to take advantage of that?


"Apart from the survival of his own administration, Bush has a duty to fight to preserve the prerogatives of the executive as an institution for future presidents - Republican or Democrat."

Democrats reject Bush's plea


Political


Dems reject Bush's plea for patience on Iraq plan
Source: Orlando Sentinel 03/20/2007


WASHINGTON -- On the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war, President Bush and Congress' Democratic leaders clashed over whether lawmakers should move to bring U.S. troops home -- and whether they can.


With the House set to vote this week on a war-spending bill that would effectively withdraw U.S. combat troops by fall 2008, Bush made clear that he doesn't think it is lawmakers' place to challenge his battle plan.


"They have a responsibility to ensure that this bill provides the funds and the flexibility that our troops need to accomplish their mission," Bush said in remarks televised from the White House. "They have a responsibility to pass a clean bill that does not use funding for our troops as leverage to get special-interest spending for their districts. And they have a responsibility to get this bill to my desk without strings and without delay."


Democrats countered that voters had put them in control of Congress to challenge Bush.
"The American people have lost confidence in President Bush's plan for a war without end in Iraq," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "That failed approach has been rejected by the voters in our nation, and it will be rejected by the Congress."


With the war lumbering into its fifth year, it has claimed the lives of more than 3,200 members of the U.S. military. Predictions about the cost and length of the war have been far surpassed. The public overwhelmingly opposes the war, and Bush's approval rating stands near his all-time low. Trying to halt spiraling sectarian bloodshed, Bush has ordered nearly 30,000 additional combat and support troops to Iraq, mostly to stabilize Baghdad.


The president pleaded for patience to give his strategy more time to work.
"The new strategy will need more time to take effect," he said. "Until Baghdad's citizens feel secure in their own homes and neighborhoods, it will be difficult for Iraqis to make further progress toward political reconciliation or economic rebuilding, steps necessary for Iraq to build a democratic society."
From Capitol Hill, Democrats said patience has run out.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn said Democrats were intent on "ending the blank check for the president's war and setting a timeline for the phased redeployment of our U.S. military."
Added Clyburn, D-S.C., "By August 2008 at the latest, U.S. combat troops will be redeployed from Iraq."


Poll of Iraqis
A new poll reflected the stress and hopelessness that are the result of the unrelenting violence and uncertain political situation. The poll, by ABC News, USA Today, the British Broadcasting Corp. and ARD German TV, found only 18 percent of Iraqis have confidence in U.S. and coalition troops; 86 percent are concerned that someone in their household will be a victim of violence; and 51 percent say violence against American forces is acceptable.


The joint security crackdown by an influx of U.S. and Iraqi forces to Baghdad and the troubled Al Anbar province began Feb. 14.


"Success will take months, not days or weeks" -- in part because less than half of the U.S. troop reinforcements have yet arrived in the capital, Bush said.
"There will be good days, and there will be bad days ahead as the security plan unfolds," he said.
Some positive signs


Still, he reported positive news, some that had been delivered during a briefing on the war with his National Security Council and a later videoconference call with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki from Baghdad.


Bush credited Iraqis with deploying 10 army brigades and nine national-police brigades to the capital, and al-Maliki's Shiite-led government for allowing U.S. troops to go after Shiite militias as well as Sunni insurgents. He said the security push has already uncovered large caches of weapons and destroyed two major car-bomb factories on the outskirts of Baghdad.


He also praised al-Maliki's government for making progress on a law establishing how oil revenue would be shared among the Iraqi people and on a promise of $10 billion in Iraqi money spent on reconstruction.


What he didn't mention was that Iraq missed the Dec. 31 target dates to enact the oil law, as well as laws establishing provincial elections and reversing measures that have excluded many Sunnis from jobs and government positions because they belonged to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. The U.S. is also pushing for constitutional amendments to remove articles that the Sunnis think discriminate in favor of the Shiites and Kurds.


Democrats challenged Bush's strategy.
"By diverting attention from al-Qaeda and stretching our troops to the breaking point, the Iraq war has made America less safe, not more," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said. "The war can only be won politically and by forcing Iraq's political factions to resolve their differences."


To this end, Democrats are pushing a war-spending bill that includes a troop-withdrawal deadline of Sept. 1, 2008. That timeline would speed up if Bush cannot certify that the Iraqi government is meeting its own benchmarks for providing security, allocating the oil revenues and making the constitutional amendments.


The House spending bill has little chance of getting to Bush's desk, where he has promised a veto, because Democrats have a much slimmer majority in the Senate. But the White House has worked aggressively anyway against the House bill, fearing it could create momentum in the Senate and send an unwanted message globally.

Africa: Racism and American Foreign Policy

Political

Race, Racism, and American Foreign Policy toward Africa
Source: All Africa 03/21/2007


Mar 21, 2007 (H-Net/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) --

"Of the many manifestations of racism in the United States, one that is particularly insidious, because it is difficult to identify as such, is the idea that Whiteness signifies normality and that non-Whites are a deviation from the norm. If in given situations and accounts of events the racial backgrounds of the persons concerned are not stated, they are to be presumed White. According to the theory of Whiteness underlying such an assumption, all manifestations of "American-ness," unless they are given a specific ethnic/racial designation, partake of that one unstated designation. The same assumption regarding Whiteness is also applied to "European-ness," particularly in regard to the peoples and civilizations of western and northern Europe. With this conception of Whiteness in mind, George W. White, a Harvard Law School graduate turned historian, has undertaken an analysis of Eisenhower-era (1953-1961) American foreign policy towards the emerging states of Black Africa. The backdrop for this analysis is, on one hand, the exigencies of American leadership of the West in the Cold War, and on the other, the growing struggle at home for African American integration and civil rights.

Professor White begins his study by laying out a typology of presumed racism towards Blacks at all levels of the Eisenhower administration. He gives this typology historical roots by evoking the painful history of American relations with Haiti. He then links it to the domestic situation of the United States through an analysis of the reaction of the Eisenhower administration to the Brown decision of May 1954. Moving on, the author offers four African case studies to illustrate the workings of his Whiteness typology. These focus on U.S. relations with Ethiopia during the Eisenhower administration; Ghana, as it emerged from British rule in 1957; South Africa, particularly after the March 1960 Sharpeville Massacre led to a tightening of apartheid; and Congo-Kinshasa, as it went into crisis following its independence from Belgium at the end of June 1960. It seems that in each situation American policymakers, swayed by questions of race, made wrong decisions.

Altogether, Professor White's verdict is harsh. Because "White [American] elites could not imagine a world in which Blacks competently governed their own affairs" (p. 136), the United States pursed policies intended to encourage and enable the former colonial powers to retain some control over their former colonies so as to guarantee, on one hand, their continued allegiance to the so-called Free World, and on the other hand, continued access to the natural resources of the new nations. Therefore, American policy "undermined the economic viability of African nations" and "was consistently antidemocratic" (p. 135) in that it sought out potential anticommunist strongmen to rule these nations and, in general, manipulated "Cold War Decolonization" such that the "Free World [might] ... continue to demand non-White obedience to a world order primarily dictated by race" (p. 145).

Central to Professor White's thesis is the idea of the transformation of Whiteness from a paradigm of open oppression of non-Whites to a more seemingly benign (but just as harmful) form of hidden control. This transformation, according to him, has occurred and manifests itself in five ways: as "White innocence" reflected in contemporary commitments voiced by the White establishment in favor of democracy, civil rights for all, and claimed generosity that is expected to cancel out the very long history of White-imposed racial oppression; "White entitlement," meaning that because of the self-proclaimed good qualities of White people they are entitled to a "disproportionate share of power, resources, and esteem"; "Black erasure," which refers to the unwillingness of Whites to recognize the accomplishments of Black people and the legitimacy of their aspirations; "Black self-abnegation," meaning that Blacks must willingly agree with White assumptions of Black erasure; and "Black insatiability," referring to the belief that Black expectations are unreasonable even when they are the quintessence of reasonableness.

Bearing in mind these five manifestations of Whiteness and the aggression against Black people that they imply, Professor White offers the reader, as a trial run, two analyses of how they have operated in the United States and abroad. The first of these refers to the generally troubled American relationship with Haiti going back to the late eighteenth-century slave rebellion that brought that nation into existence. In particular, Professor White stresses the transformation of Haiti into an informal American protectorate following its occupation in 1915 by units of the United States Marine Corps. The second example refers to the go-slow responses of the Eisenhower administration to the condemnation of public school segregation resulting from the May 1954 outcome of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case. Regarding school desegregation, the fact that the plaintiffs in the five cases that led to the Brown decision received support early on through a favorable amicus brief prepared by the Truman Justice Department could be construed as illustrating the first manifestation of Whiteness, White innocence. Whereas the fact that the Eisenhower Justice Department called for a gradualist approach to the application of the May 1954 decision illustrates support for White entitlement in that the demands for redress of the plaintiffs and the potential inconvenience to the defendants are treated as moral equivalents. The fact that the Court made no mention of the violently racist origins of segregation in the United States, that it did not demand immediate compliance with its May 1954 decision, and that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) legal team headed by Thurgood Marshall ultimately accepted the idea of gradualism, illustrate the operation of Black erasure and Black self-abnegation. And that many Black leaders had hoped for and wished to press on for the immediate desegregation of schools following May 1954 appears as an example of Black insatiability.

The application of these manifestations of Whiteness by the Eisenhower administration to the international arena of the mid- to late 1950s enabled the United States government to posit the Cold War "as the international racial sanctuary," with "global Communism as an evil force bent on enslaving the world," and the United States and the colonial powers "as the font of liberty, opportunity, and individual freedom," a "discourse [that] erased the history and legacy of Europe as the scourge of the globe" (p. 22).

The approach embodied in this book and the method of analysis are very clever if not ingenious and do seem to yield novel conclusions as to the racist nature of White American attitudes towards Black Africans. However, some important caveats loom. To begin with, Professor White's view of Whiteness should more correctly be labeled WASP-ness, for the attitudes and behaviors underlying his perceptions of Whiteness particularly reflect the White, Protestant upper middle-class attitudes of the American leadership of the 1950s. Also, how can one be certain that what appear to be American doubts as to the political orientation and competence of African leaders, like Kwame Nkrumah and Patrice Lumumba, or an unwillingness to provide state-of-the-art armaments to the Ethiopian army, or to invest as heavily in the Volta River Project in Ghana as the respective governments wished is a manifestation of Black insatiability (and racism) as the author charges? Might not the less than enthusiastic responses of the Eisenhower administration to such African wishes be the mundane reflection of how best to prioritize American global commitments given the reality (even then) of limited resources and the fact that Africa was peripheral to the main concerns of American foreign policy? And one must certainly not forget the extreme anticommunism of the American people and leadership during a period when the most serious threat to American security was perceived as the Soviet Union, the only other thermonuclear power. Yet the roots of this anticommunism were long, going back to the Palmer Raids of 1919. While one can legitimately argue that the United States did support the marginalization of Nkrumah and the elimination of Lumumba because, as Black African leaders, they were too independent-minded, not to mention leftist (by American standards), American opposition to these leaders hinged more on the fear that they were pro-communist than on the fact of their Blackness. One should note that the Eisenhower administration went to some pains to discredit or destroy non-Black leaders perceived as leftist in other parts of the world: Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran and Jacobo Arbenz Guzman in Guatemala, for instance. Of course, these leaders were not White in the WASP sense (and clearly Professor White's conception of Whiteness is in fact WASP-ness), but they were not Black Africans either. By chance, the Eisenhower administration was confronted with massive decolonization in Africa. But in a sense, this decolonization was a continuation, on another continent, of the decolonization in Asia that the Truman administration had faced. Here too the American government, while sympathetic to the idea of decolonization, worried that the independence movements might be captured by communists. We note, for instance, that the American government only fully committed itself to Indonesian independence after Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta appeared to be repudiating their communist links. At that point, just as would be the case with the Eisenhower administration and certain colonies in Africa, the Truman administration attempted, in the guise of peacemaking, to push Indonesia into retaining close links with its former metropole, the Netherlands. In the case of Indochina, where, it is true, the United States had less local influence than in Indonesia, Ho Chi Minh refused to repudiate his communist ties, thus stimulating the American authorities to encourage the French to destroy him and his communist movement and eventually to open a second path to independence. In both cases, American policy attempted to promote close relations between the former colonies and the former metropoles. Was the Eisenhower approach to decolonization in Africa really much different from the Truman approach to decolonization in Asia?

Professor White's analysis comes closest to hitting the mark in the case of South Africa. His analogies stand up because both countries were founded by European settlers who imposed themselves on conquered native peoples and eventually formed independent governments. Although Whites in South Africa, unlike in the United States, were a minority, the political class in South Africa during the Eisenhower era was totally White and mostly Protestant. Both societies went through a period of legalized enslavement of non-Whites. Legal segregation followed, and apartheid became an extreme form of Jim Crow. In short, the White elites of both countries could identify with each other. Very importantly, however, "South Africa became the United States' fourth-largest foreign market" (p. 95), a fact which suggests that money linked to anticommunism, rather than race per se, pushed American policymakers into muting their critique of apartheid. Nevertheless, members of the Eisenhower administration, like Julius Holmes, were indeed critical of apartheid (White innocence) while calling for its gradual elimination in ways that would protect the interests of the White South African population (White entitlement) as well as American (White) access to South African resources, while suspecting the African National Congress (ANC) of communist leanings (Black erasure) (p. 98). One notices, however, that as the communist threat receded and the Cold War wound down, successive American administrations took increasingly hard lines towards the apartheid regime, suggesting that the real American fear all along had been communism. For American policymakers, communism was worse than apartheid, but once the communist threat began to dissipate, the American government was willing to tackle apartheid. What is disappointing about this book is that the author has based so much on so few case studies (Ethiopia, Ghana, South Africa, and Congo-Kinshasa). Conspicuously absent is any analysis of Eisenhower administration reactions to French decolonization. If the Eisenhower era policymakers were concerned about Nkrumah's apparent Pan Africanism and allegedly socialist tendencies, how must they have reacted to the emergence of the labor union leader, Sekou Toure of Guinea, on the African and international scene after his party, the Parti Democratique de la Guinee (PDG), had obtained a "non" vote in de Gaulle's referendum at the end of September 1958? Professor White makes no mention of the matter. Nobody in the Eisenhower administration had anticipated the sudden independence of Guinea; indeed, the administration was slow to extend diplomatic recognition to the new state for fear of offending the French. Nevertheless, John H. Morrow, an African American academic with Republican Party links was sent to Conakry as U.S. Ambassador, and before long, the Eisenhower administration began making efforts to woo Sekou Toure away from his Marxist-"CGTiste" political and intellectual roots, an effort aided by the fortuitous ineptitude of Soviet policymakers and diplomats in their dealings with Guinea.

Although silent with regard to American relations with Guinea and other Francophone African states, Professor White does mention Cameroon but from a negative perspective, referring to the American preference for Ahmadou Adhidjo, the president of the country at independence, and American support for the French design to end the UN Trusteeship of Cameroon and cede independence without a final UN-supervised general election (pp. 35-36). Professor White seems to assume that Felix Moumie, leader of the Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC), that had been engaged in a guerilla insurgency against the French authorities and Cameroonian moderates since 1956, might have won such an election. Like so many American liberal academics, White is critical of Ahidjo and American (as well as French) support for him, never mind the fact that once the UPC insurrection (that only affected a small part of the country but caused more fatalities than the Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya) had been suppressed, within five years of Cameroonian accession to independence, the country, for the next fifteen years at least, became an island of peace surrounded by degrees of turbulence in every country bordering it.

Likewise, Professor White says nothing about how the Eisenhower administration reacted to the ongoing Algerian War of Independence, the most important liberation struggle occurring in Africa during the period concerned--particularly after 1956 when Algeria became an oil-producer. (Of course, Algeria is not a Black African country even though Algerians, under colonial rule, had to contend with as much racisme, if not more, than Africans in other parts of the French Empire.) Certainly the Eisenhower administration worried about the alleged communist and Nasserist leanings of the Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN) and, in the case of Algeria too, attempted to encourage a rapprochement between Algerian nationalists and the French government so as to keep the oil and gas resources of Algeria out of communist hands.

Altogether, what can one say about this book? Certainly Professor White's elaboration of the five manifestations of Whiteness and their use as analytical tools is intriguing, but this typology does not always hit home. It gives its best results when used to explain the domestic racial situation in the United States as efforts to desegregate and to achieve Black civil rights took off. It is less effective when applied to African situations where other issues, that he de-emphasizes or overlooks, come into play. He underestimates the irrational and blinding force of American anticommunism during the Eisenhower era. Yet he suggests as much by mentioning that President Eisenhower, who really did have pronounced racist tendencies, nevertheless had fond memories of Sylvanus Olympio, the first President of independent Togo (p. 20), probably because of this leader's expressed anticommunism. Professor White is also forced to admit, in regard to the racial attitudes of the White male leadership whose members surrounded President Eisenhower, that "[w]ith regard to people of African descent in the United States, there were few direct statements or observations" (p. 18), but he would like the reader to assume that whatever remarks were made were probably negative and racist.

Professor White considers that today the United States "faces its greatest international security threats from people responding to the collapse, or corruption of sovereign authority" (p. 146). He blames this situation of failed states, particularly in Africa, on the American privileging of Whiteness as described in this book. It is an interesting theory but one that should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. "

Australia: Opposition Wants Iraq Pull Out

Political

Staged pullout from Iraq a priority - Rudd
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald 03/20/2007
THE NATION

KEVIN RUDD has nominated the withdrawal of Australian troops from Iraq as a priority should Labor win this year's election.

"My first responsibility will be to then speak with the President of the United States and to speak with the Government of Iraq," the Opposition Leader said yesterday, the fourth anniversary of the US-led invasion.

"I would then commence a process of negotiations with the end point of a staged, negotiated withdrawal of that combat force."

The Prime Minister, John Howard, who will today make a speech arguing the need to stay in Iraq to give the violence-ravaged nation a chance of success, berated Mr Rudd in Parliament yesterday.
Mr Howard said it was inconsistent for Labor to support the war in Afghanistan but oppose the Iraqi war.

"While it's good to defeat terrorists in Afghanistan, it's not good to defeat terrorists in Iraq," Mr Howard goaded. "I find that a puzzling disconnect."

Mr Howard visited Iraq and Afghanistan last week.
With the Iraq war now in its fifth year, Mr Rudd listed statistics showing the secular and terrorist violence and civilian deaths had escalated dramatically over the past 12 months.

Mr Rudd challenged Mr Howard to admit the original strategy had "demonstrably failed".
At one stage, Mr Howard appeared to mishear a question from Labor's foreign affairs spokesman, Robert McClelland.

Mr McClelland asked if Mr Howard was aware of the US plan to withdraw should its current strategy of a surge in troops fail. He further asked whether Australia had a similar contingency plan.
Mr Howard replied: "Yes, it is normal for the contingency to be made."

Labor then asked Mr Howard to outline the strategy but he claimed to have been misrepresented, saying he was aware only of the US plan.

"Perhaps the Prime Minister has accidentally revealed that the Government's contingency plans for a withdrawal of our combat troops in Iraq is whatever the Bush Administration tells them," Mr McClelland said later.

"But such an important national security task should never be delegated to the administration of another country, however friendly."

Mr Howard agreed with Mr Rudd that overall violence in Iraq had worsened over the past 12 months. But he said he had left Iraq last week in a more optimistic frame of mind than when he arrived.

As well as visiting Australian troops, Mr Howard met the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and the new commander of US forces in the country, General David Petraeus.

Mr Howard said he was impressed by both men, especially Mr Maliki and his commitment to govern for all Iraqis and not just the Shiites.

He said the new surge strategy must be given a chance to work.

"I don't want to read too much into just a few weeks - and what I'm about to say is tinged with the utmost caution - but the early indications are promising," he said.

"There has been some decline in sectarian violence."

Great Britain Leads in Saving the Earth

Political

battle for the planet Voters be warned: Britain is going to save the Earth Locked in a struggle for control of the environmental agenda, Britain's political leaders have committed the nation, and its taxpayers, to stringent new carbon-cutting policies. But, reveals Richard Gray, they are facing tough questions over how much gain there will be for the pain

Source: The Daily Telegraph 03/19/2007

As David Cameron planted a tree in north London last weekend, it was his funky trainers as much as his handy spadework that caught the attention of onlookers.

Cameron was officially marking the Conservative Party's "Green Action Day'', but there was also a message in his green-laced, camouflage-soled footwear. Central Office was happy to let it be known that they were, in fact, recycled from old firemen's trousers and car seats, part of a limited edition of 400 pairs produced to mark last year's 15th anniversary of The Big Issue.

As a symbol, it was true to form from a politician who, since taking over his party's leadership, has rarely missed an opportunity to advertise his green credentials, whether by cycling to work or putting a windmill on his house.

Cameron's intention has been to rebrand the Tories as a party in tune with the concerns of the modern-day voter. And, as the polls show, it has been working. But last week, the gameplan went awry. The Tory leader unveiled concrete proposals to tackle climate change, harsh new taxes on air travel, including a strict personal flight "allowance'' which would penalise anyone who took more than one flight a year. He drew stinging criticism from the aviation industry, tourist groups and business leaders.

Gordon Brown and his supporters were cock-a-hoop. A day later, as the Government unveiled its own climate-change action plan, the Chancellor lost no time in declaring himself on the side of "incentives'', rather than "penalties'', to encourage voters to behave in an environmentally friendly fashion.

The Government's proposals locked five-year targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions into legislation, legally binding future governments to cut carbon emissions by 60 per cent before 2050. Mr Brown opted for a light touch on details, urging, for example, people to change the type of lightbulb they use.

As one ally said: "Cameron got it wrong. He misread the public mood and made big mistakes in the presentation of his proposals. Gordon was more in tune with what people want - practical proposals and incentives not penalties.''

Whoever are the short-term winners and losers at Westminster, it is clear that an environmental "arms race'' has begun. For the foreseeable future, our politics will no longer be simply blue, red and yellow, but made up of different shades of green. Voters be warned: Britain is going to save the planet.

It is, to put it mildly, an ambitious goal. And this weekend, a number of searching questions are being asked. For example, can a country that contributes just 2 per cent of the world's carbon emissions really make much of a difference to the planet? And, if not, are politicians justified in asking the voters to dramatically change their lifestyles and, inevitably, pay more tax?

Similarly prohibitive measures are not being undertaken by China, India and America, the world's largest polluters. In fact, with the science around global warming still evolving, some ask whether now is the right time to fix on specific policy commitments at all.

And then there is the basic question: has it been definitively proved that human behaviour is causing the planet to warm? Even scientists who believe this to be the case have begun to warn of the dangers of "eco-hype'' - of exaggerating the nature and speed of climate change.

It is now generally agreed in the scientific community that the Earth is getting hotter, with environmentalists insisting the temperature rise is due to carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere by human activities. Over the past 50 years, global temperatures have risen by about half a degree, which they link to a rise in carbon dioxide levels of 25 per cent since the industrial revolution. The prediction is that global temperatures are likely to rise by between 1.8C to 4C over the next 100 years.
Such rises would send British summer temperatures soaring, making it normal to experience the kind of weather seen during the 2003 heatwave, when temperatures climbed to 37C. More than 2,000 people died as a result.

The predictions for the effects elsewhere in the world are more catastrophic: widespread extinctions, swathes of farmland turned to desert and entire swathes of coastland drowning under rising seas.
The sceptics accept that the earth is heating up. But they think the warming is due to its natural cycles, and so doubt that humans are the cause. Therefore there is little humans can do to stop it.
Prof Bob Carter, a marine geophysicist at James Cook University, in Queensland, Australia, argues: "Public utterances by prominent persons are marked by an ignorance of the important facts and uncertainties of climate science.

"The evidence for dangerous human-caused global-warming forced by human carbon-dioxide emissions is extremely weak. That the satellite temperature record shows no substantial warming since 1978, and that even the ground-based thermometer statistic records no warming since 1998, indicates that a key line of circumstantial evidence for human-caused change ... is now negated.''
The debate is far from over. The arguments of doubters suffered a significant blow when Channel 4's recent high-profile programme, The Great Climate Change Swindle, which presented the sceptical view, was accused of inaccuracy. One contributor claims he was misled over the programme's content.

But there is also flak heading the way of Al Gore, the former US vice-president, who won an Academy Award for his film on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth. At the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America, Prof Don Easterbrook, a geologist from Western Washington University, told hundreds of experts of his concerns at "inaccuracies'' in Mr Gore's arguments: "The real danger of the IPCC report and Al Gore's film is they suggest that, by diminishing carbon dioxide levels, it will solve the global-warming problem and we won't have to worry about the catastrophe they are predicting.''

For the public, the science of global warming remains baffling. Advocates on both sides of the argument can produce reams of statistics to support their opposing views. A poll by ICM, published yesterday in the Guardian, revealed that voters are less engaged with green issues, and more doubtful of the ability of politicians to tackle climate change, than either Gordon Brown or David Cameron might have thought. More than a third said they did not believe MPs could tackle climate change at all. Between them, the Tories and Labour attracted only 30 per cent support for their green strategies.
This growing public disaffection may be behind a sudden move by some prominent climate-change scientists to warn against sensationalist predictions on the part of the environmental lobby.
"It is dangerous for politicians to say the science of climate change is now complete,'' said Dr Piers Forster, an earth and environment researcher at the University of Leeds and a lead author on the UN's influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Dr Forster believes human activities are without doubt causing the climate to warm, but insists that it is impossible to make clear policy decisions at local or even on continental-wide levels at this stage.
"We really don't know how it is going to effect our day-to-day lives over the next 100 years,'' he states. "People are making decisions about exactly what to do without making sure they are based on the best scientific evidence we have.''

Fears about this "eco-hype'' were echoed yesterday by two senior members of the Royal Meteorological Society at a conference in Oxford. Profs Paul Hardaker and Chris Collier hit out at researchers who, they say, are "overplaying'' the global warming message. Some of their peers, they warn, are making claims about future impacts that cannot be justified by the science. Regardless of the ongoing debate, Britain's political parties have chosen to fight among themselves for the privilege of saving the planet. Last week, it was the Government's draft Climate Change Bill that won most praise - although it also attracted criticism. It aims to use the law to bind future governments to cutting carbon emmissions by 60 per cent.

Environmental groups claimed this did not go far enough towards addressing the problem. The latest report from the IPCC, published in January, said that an 80 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions was needed to prevent concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere from rising further.
Under the draft Bill, businesses could see "caps'' being placed on the amount of carbon dioxide they are allowed to emit. Those wishing to use more energy would be forced to buy low-carbon technology or purchase carbon credits.

Julian Morris, the executive director of the think tank International Policy Network (IPN), believes this could harm Britain by making it more expensive for companies to operate here. "Companies that are able to will simply move their production to countries where they don't have such penalties. While we will see greenhouse gas emissions going down locally, we may end up shifting those emissions elsewhere.''

The Government estimates that meeting the 60 per cent reduction target will cost about one per cent of the country's gross domestic product. But experts fear that Britain is still ill-equipped to switch to a low-carbon lifestyle.

"It is not obvious we have all the infrastructure and institutional tools in place to do this properly just yet,'' warned Dr Dave Frame, of Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute. "The clean technology needed to reduce emissions is not in place.''

Unlike the Tories, the Government excluded the aviation and shipping industries from its Bill. As well as calling for new taxes on air travel, Mr Cameron's consultation paper included levying VAT or fuel duty on domestic flights for the first time.

While there were a few noises of approval from environmental groups, the policy was branded a "tax on fun'' by the travel industry and consumer groups. Business leaders warned that it would harm the economy by stifling commercial travel. Critics point out that aviation accounts for just 10 per cent of the carbon emissions from transportation and about 2 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions. And, despite concern about the rapid growth of the aviation industry, less than half of the UK's population flies each year.

"There is little point in Britain going heavily after the aviation industry, unless it is part of a wider approach internationally to cut carbon emissions,'' said Mr Frame. "Trying to lead behaviour change through taxation works only if people have something to change to. At this stage, we run the risk of green taxes becoming a way of raising revenue rather than changing behaviour.''

Despite their embrace of radical environmental policies, neither party has a convincing answer as to why Britain should take the global lead on climate change, other than as a "moral obligation''.
In worldwide terms, Britain contributes just a fraction of total carbon emissions - about 544 million tons. By comparison, America pumps out more than 5,844 million tons. China and India, two of the fastest-growing economies, emit 3,263 million tons and 1,220 million tons respectively. China alone has more than 2,000 coal-fired power stations in operation and a new one opens every four days. If the UK stopped all of its emissions today, China would have replaced the lot within a year.

In such developing countries, climate-change issues receive little attention. What concerns the people and politicians is how to drag themselves out of poverty. Almost 300 million Indians still live on less than 50p a day: convincing them that development must be balanced with care for the environment is not easy, even though they are most at risk from climate change.

"The climate debate has been captured by people who have at heart an interest in exerting control over people's lives rather than letting them live better lives,'' said Julian Morris, from IPN. "It is extremely sad to see Britain's political parties trying to capitalise on this.''

Executive Privilege

Protecting candid advice or unethical and possibly illegal discussion?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

President Bush Must Fire Gonzalez






If the Justice Department cannot maintain the highest standards of ethics in addition to engaging in a mission of cutting off partisanship before it enters the work of the department, then may God help the United States of America.



The President’s refusal to allow his staff to testify under subpoena has exacerbated this issue. There is that nothing that should be occurring in the White House that should not be public knowledge with the exception of matters of national security, intelligence or that violates individual rights to privacy. White House staffers are not obliged to tell the truth if they are not under oath. The public has the right to know the truth of this matter, which I question if it is constitutionally protected under executive privileged. This Administration is coming to a point where the President will be forced to pardon himself.

Monday, March 19, 2007

We Will Remember

The truth of the GOP.

Featured News!!!: Halliburton Moves Abroad


Commentary: How can we as American citizens tolerate this private company, Halliburton, that besides the military has received the largest bulk of taxpayer dollars in this War on Terror to move its corporate head quarters and its jobs to the Middle East? I do not support such a move and encourage Congress to draft legislation restricting this move and all future companies whom are the recipients of millions of American dollars from setting up shop outside the United States. My analysis is that Halliburton is moving in order to avoid investigation of its billing, cost, fees, salaries and accounting practices here in the U.S.


By SONYA CRAWFORD


March 11, 2007 — The much-maligned defense contractor Halliburton is moving its corporate headquarters from Houston to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.




"The Eastern hemisphere is a market that is more heavily weighted toward oil exploration and production opportunities," said CEO Dave Lesar at an energy conference in nearby Bahrain. "And growing our business here will bring more balance to Halliburton's overall portfolio."
The draw is obvious. Dubai's friendly tax laws will add to Halliburton's bottom line. Last year, it earned $2.3 billion in profits.




Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-N.H., called the company's move "corporate greed at its worst." He added, "This is an insult to the U.S. soldiers and taxpayers who paid the tab for their no-bid contracts and endured their overcharges for all these years. At the same time they'll be avoiding U.S. taxes, I'm sure they won't stop insisting on taking their profits in cold hard U.S. cash."




Fellow Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has investigated contractor fraud, is planning to hold a hearing.
"This is a surprising development," he said. "I want to understand the ramifications for U.S. taxpayers and national security."




Waxman's committee estimates that Halliburton, once headed by Vice President Cheney, has received contracts valued at an estimated $25.7 billion for its work in Iraq.



Among the company's low points are said to be serving troops spoiled food, exposing troops to contaminated water from the Euphrates River and failing to adequately protect its contractors.
Last month, the government's special inspector general for Iraq found Halliburton overcharged the U.S. government $2.7 billion, a finding the company is still contesting.



"This is part and parcel of the way they do business," said Robert Greenwald, the man behind the film, "Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers," which documented Halliburton's excesses. "I hope it increases the number of investigations and subpoenas that they will be subjected to."



Halliburton will maintain a corporate office in Houston.Among the company's low points are said to be serving troops spoiled food, exposing troops to contaminated water from the Euphrates River and failing to adequately protect its contractors.



Last month, the government's special inspector general for Iraq found Halliburton overcharged the U.S. government $2.7 billion, a finding the company is still contesting.



"This is part and parcel of the way they do business," said Robert Greenwald, the man behind the film, "Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers," which documented Halliburton's excesses. "I hope it increases the number of investigations and subpoenas that they will be subjected to."
Halliburton will maintain a corporate office in Houston.





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