Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Blue Light Specials

  • Taking on Energy Regulation
  • Take that Uganda
  • Taking on Cuba in Baseball
  • Carville takes a job in the sports booth


Do You Guys Know There's a War On?

What's Washington thinking? They free one of bin Laden's top men and do nothing to stop terrorists' cash flow.

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What Did the President Know, and When Did He Know It?

A 2003 memo suggests the Bush administration knew then that its warrantless wiretap program was illegal.

The Center for Public Integrity cites the public firestorm that came up after the Bush administration proposed "Partriot II" -- a planned expansion of the Patriot Act.

Patriot II died -- but many of it's elements were passed in some other form.

However, the warrantless wiretap plan never passed. From the CPI website:

"One 'Patriot II' provision, which never passed, would have sought expanded wartime powers for the Attorney General. Under the heading, 'Section 103. Strengthening Wartime Authorities Under FISA,' the memo explains that current law authorizes surveillance for 15 days without court approval, once Congress has declared war.

But as formally declared wars are rare, the most recent being World War II, the Justice Department memo concludes, 'this wartime exception is unnecessarily narrow.' The proposed law sought to broaden powers 'by allowing the wartime exception to be invoked after Congress authorizes the use of military force, or after the United States has suffered an attack creating a national emergency.' "
The Justice Department appears to have determined in the memo that the domestic spying program would require a change in the law. But the law -- FISA -- was never changed. (Center for Public Integrity)

Fox Gets Spun

Media Matters for America reports that Fox News has adopted the White House buzz phrase when talking about warrantless wiretaps.

President Bush referred to the domestic spying program which skirts the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act as the "terrorist surveillance program." Even though no terrorists have apparently ever been caught, killed, or stopped.

MMA has this video showing the spin in action at Fox.

The Cost of a Free Press

State of the Union Ad

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running an internet ad linking President Bush's past State of the Union requests and how the GOP majority gave him what he wanted. (DCCC)

FactCheck.org critiques the ad. (DNC/FactCheck.org)

Senate confirms Alito

Judge Sam Alito has become the 110th Justice of the US Supreme Court. He was approved by a 58-42 vote shortly after 11:00 EST this morning. (CNN)

Monday, January 30, 2006

You Give Love a Bad Name

A skybox at a Bon Jovi concert is a great way for a lobbyist to show his love to a Congressman. Just one of three examples today.


Offers Ignored

FEMA ignored offers of help from other federal agencies after Hurricane Katrina.

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Patriot Act Ad

The Coalition for Security, Liberty and the Law will run a commercial tonight during "24' -- calling for renewing the Patriot Act.

Political Ad:

Hotline on Call points out:

"One small irony: the 'President' on '24' is portrayed as a vacillating reed of a man who ought not be trusted with extraordinary powers. And a key aide is working with the enemy." (Hotline On Call)

Exxon Mobil Posts Largest Annual Profit for U.S. Company - New York Times

Exxon/Mobil has posted the largest ever annual profit in corporate history: $36.13 billion.

That's 42% more than last year.

Pat yourself on the back for buying all that $3.00 a gallon gasoline.

And again when your home heating bill comes in the mail.

Watching Washington Flashback:


Suit Up

Fewer than 70 Service members who bought their own body armor have asked for reimbursement -- even though there's money for that.

The Army has only repaid $22,000 to the 30 soldiers who asked for reimbursement.

The Navy, about $5,000 for the 34 Sailors who asked for their money.

The Pentagon had originally opposed the reimbursement plan as a strain on their budget. (NYT)

Rice Admits U.S. Underestimated Hamas Strength - New York Times

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says now the US had failed to grasp just how much Palestinians disliked their longterm leaders. That led to Hamas winning elections this week and undermining administration peace efforts in the region.

"I've asked why nobody saw it coming." -- Secretary of State Rice on the Hamas landslide last week

The administration has something of a record of being blindsided:

"I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." -- President Bush
talking about Hurricane Katrina, September 1, 2005

"I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center." -- Condolezza Rice, White House News Conference, May 16, 2002

Hindsight is 20/20. (NYT)

Money Flows to Terrorists

Washington is freezing fewer and fewer terrorist assets each year.

Jimmy Gurule (right) is a former Treasury Department Undersecretary for Enforcement.

He sees a "lack of urgency" in attacking terrorist cash flows and calls the trend "very, very disturbing."

Just last month, the Government Accountability Office issued a report warning that the administration still had no plan in place for cutting off terrorism's cash flow.

Videocast: We Got Your Domestic Spyin' Right Here!

What's good for the goose, stews the gander. A call to spy on politicians' calls.



Jesus was Flying!

In case you've missed it, a satire of the State of the Union that's been making the rounds on the Internets.

(YouTube, HT: AV)

Bin Laden Loyalist Let Go

US authorities have freed one of Osama bin Laden's top people.

Abdallah Tabarak was captured in December, 2001 -- after engineering bin Laden's escape from that battle. He volunteered to be a decoy, using bin Laden's satelitte phone to lure US forces away as bin Laden slipped out.

Mr Tabarak was captured and locked up at Guantanamo for three years -- listed as a high-value prisoner.

But he was turned over to Morocco in 2004. Today he walks the streets of Casablanca a free man. (WashPost)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Who Took Jack's Jack

The non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics has a list up of who took money from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff -- and how much they took. (CPR)

"Was it Over When the Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor?"

Al Kamen in the Washington Post compares Rep John Boener (R-OH) to John Belushi's history-challenged character in Animal House. That after Rep Boener's recent take on history:

"For example, Boehner says, ' President Reagan left the White House with America much as he hoped it would be in that first inaugural address. The Nazis were defeated. And in August 1989, Poland became free.'"

Don't stop him, he's on a roll. (WashPost)

Making the World Safe for Honeybaked Ham

Osama bin Laden may still be on the loose, but the DeKalb County, Georgia Honeybaked Ham store is safe from attack -- all thanks to your tax dollars.

The picture at the left is an actual government photo of a vegan protesting the eating of meat. A controversial idea, perhaps, but certainly not pro-terrorist.

The FBI and county Homeland Security agents apparently considered the vegan rally a threat to national security. They spied on the rally. From WXIA, Atlanta:

"For example, more than two dozen government surveillance photographs show 22-year-old Caitlin Childs of Atlanta, a strict vegetarian, and other vegans picketing against meat eating, in December 2003. They staged their protest outside a HoneyBaked Ham store on Buford Highway in DeKalb County."

Ms Childs was arrested at the rally. For writing down the license number of a suspicious car.

The car turned out to be that of the detective taking pictures of the event. She'd become suspicious when the stranger was taking all those pictures. (WXIA/The Raw Story)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Godspeed, Challenger

Remembering the Challenger Seven 20 years later.

Quicktime Movie


Remember that Village We Destroyed? Well, that Saved It!

"The program's legal, it's designed to protect civil liberties...."
-- President Bush, 1/26/2006, on the warrantless wiretapping program criticized as an assault on civil liberties
Democratic strategist Bob Fertik has ticked off Republicans with his own domestic spying program.

There's been a ton of talk lately about how easy it is to buy someone's cell phone records from companies found on the Internet.

Mr Fertik suggests Democrats start buying the cell phone records of Republicans and start digging up the dirt on them.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Hello. I'm the House Majority Leader. What are You Wearing?

Washington has something of a sex scandal on its hands.

The likely next House Majority Leader took money from a phone-sex millionaire.


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Rep Roy Blunt (R-MO) (left) is on his way to winning the coveted post of House Majority Leader -- replacing Rep Tom DeLay (R-TX) who's been indicted and is awaiting trial in Texas.

Rep Blunt has a political action committee -- or PAC -- that's contributed money to other Congressmen to buy -- make that "earn" their loyalty in these kind of races for House Leadership posts.

And it turns out that the biggest contributor to Mr Blunt's PAC made his fortune in the 90s with a phone-sex business.

Jeffery and Dawn Prosser chipped in a total of $10,000 for Mr Blunt's PAC -- which by the way is called the "Rely on Your Beliefs" fund.

Lessee. Republicans have taken a ton of cash from Jack Abramoff's casino connections. The likely next Republican Leader took a ton of 1-900 cash.

Gambling and phone-sex.

So tell me how those "Values Voters" came to vote for the GOP? (Roll Call via The Raw Story)

White House Tries Riding out the Storm

After we find out the White House was alerted to possible levee failures before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans -- we hear the White House refusing to cooperate with the Congressional investigation into problems with the hurricane response.

The administration cites "confidentiality" of it's communications.

Should have had the NSA listening in on them, I guess.

The administration also says it won't make top White House leaders available to testify under oath before the two Congressional committees investigating the post disaster disaster.

President Bush has promised publicly in speeches and appearances throughout the Gulf Coast to help rebuild the region.

But the White House has formally notified Rep Richard Baker (R-LA) it won't support his bill to have the federal government bail out homeowners and mortgage lenders. That's something state and local leaders say is crucial to any rebuilding plan.
"Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." -- President Bush, September 2, 2005

Oh, well. Guess President Bush will have to find some other place to sit. (NYT)

Hotline's Download Directory

Hotline on Call has a great mini-directory of news and politics shows from the networks in podcast form.

Quick links to all the pertinent pages.

Don't forget, we here at Watching Washington also offer podcasts and are gearing up for the launch of our vodcasts starting Monday, January 30.

You can subscribe to Watching Washington Podcasts & Vodcasts by downloading iTunes (at www.iTunes.com) and clicking on the links at the top of the right hand column. (The Hotline)

Al Qaeda -- Back in Business

ABC News has disturbing video of al Qaeda and the Taliban. The video shows large, outdoor rallies and recruiting drives in Pakistan. The terrorists are unchallenged as villagers cheer them on.

The tapes suggest a revitalized al Qaeda -- forced out of Afghanistan, only to find refuge in tribal areas of Pakistan. American forces aren't allowed to cross the border to go after them -- Pakistani troops don't dare cross into the tribal areas where they're not welcome. (ABC)

The Thin Green Line

A Pentagon study calls the US Army a "thin green line" that's near the breaking point.

The report concludes the Army can't keep up it's pace long enough to defeat the insurgency in Iraq. It also suggests the Pentagon's top brass is aware of the problem -- and that it led to their push to start withdrawing troops. (AP)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Court Conflict

Did a high ranking federal judge repeatedly break the law? Enter Exhibit "A" into evidence.


MP3 File

The Center for Investigative Reporting suggests a judge President Bush nominated to one of the highest courts in the nation has repeatedly broken federal law repeatedly since arriving on the bench.

The Center's Will Evans examined court records and other documents in his report for Salon.com.

He found Judge James Payne took action and issued more than 100 orders in at least 20 cases that involved companies in which he or his wife owned stock.

He serves a as chief judge in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.

Federal law and the official Code of Conduct for U.S. judges forbids judges from sitting on cases involving companies in which they own stock.

That's the law — no matter how small their holdings.

Some plaintiffs in Payne's cases were told of his conflicts.

They judged the judge had been swayed by his stock holdings. (Salon.com/IRE)

Impeachment Talk from the Republicans

Sources tell Insight magazine that the Bush administration is bracing for impeachment hearings in Congress.

The article says next month's hearings into domestic spying could trigger the impeachment process. Insight's source -- a Republican -- also tells them right now, it appears the majority of the committee would vote to impeach. ( Taegan Goddard's Political Wire )

Stuck in the 17th Century -- and the 20th

"So, now there's another new audiotape from Osama bin Laden, and that just shows how backwards these Islamists are in that they still haven't moved onto CDs. Why can't he publish his threats on iTunes?" -- Frank J. at IMAO.us

White House Refuses to Release Bush/Abramoff Pictures

The White House has found photographs -- in their collections -- of President Bush with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. But the Bush administration refuses to release them.

The White House says the pictures are not relevant to the ongoing corruption investigation swirling around Mr Abramoff and his connections since he pleaded guilty to corruption charges.

TIME magazine reported over the weekend that their reporters had seen five photos of Mr Bush with Mr Abramoff -- but their source would not allow their publication.

Meanwhile, ThinkProgress suggests TIME's source could be none other than Mr Abramoff himself. They suggest he's shopping the photos around to the highest bidder in the publishing world. (WashPost)

Katrina: What did the President Know, and When did He Know It?

"I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." -- President Bush talking about Hurricane Katrina, September 1, 2005

Looks like he was warned three days earlier of the threat. From the New York Times:

"The White House was told in the hours before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans that the city would probably soon be inundated with floodwater, forcing the long-term relocation of hundreds of thousands of people, documents to be released Tuesday by Senate investigators show."

Documents show that a Homeland Security Department report landed at the White House shortly before 2:00 am, August 29. It read in part:

"Any storm rated Category 4 or greater will likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching."

The Times reports other documents scheduled for release today show DHS leaders warned the huricane's impact would be worse than "a doomsday-like emergency planning exercise conducted in Louisiana in July 2004."

Monday, January 23, 2006

It's a Gas

Oil companies have record profits. But taxpayers aren't getting many added benefits from the $60 billion in oil and gas pumped out of publicly owned lands.

The New York Times calculates if royalty payments rose in line with oil prices -- it should have meant $700 million dollars more in the national treasury last year.

In fact, energy companies paid less in royalties for natural gas pumped out of your land last year than they did in 2001. (NYT)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Dateline: Bin Laden

Interesting date for the release of the bin Laden tape: 1/19. That's the reverse of 9/11. (National Terror Alert)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Is that Loan Kosher?

The Raw Story reports Rep Chris Cannon (R-UT) (right) loaned nearly $100,000 to the president of a Nebraska bank.

A year later, the bank president extended between $250,000 and $500,000 in credit to Rep Cannon's kosher beef-packing plant -- Premium Beef -- in the Cornhusker state. (The Raw Story)

Vote for Pedro

Gov Frank Murkowski (R-AK) (right)has been borrowing a catch phrase from Napoleon Dynamite.

In at least two speeches in a week, the Associated Press has quoted the Governor saying "Flippin' sweet!"

Meanwhile, state Rep Eric Croft (D-Anchorage) described the Governor's 80-minute budget speech as "Flippin' long." (KTVA)

Friends in High Places

Three Congressmen helped a political contributor beat an investigation -- and cost taxpayers $300 million.


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A trio of Republican Congressmen used their clout to stop an investigation of a political contributor.

California Representatives John Doolittle and Richard Pombo hooked up with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas in their effort.

They opposed a federal banking investigation into Houston millionaire Charles Hurwitz.

Holdover from the S&L Crisis

Mr Hurwitz once owned a controlling interest in the United Savings Association of Texas.

That Savings and loans' failure was one of the worst of the S&L disasters back in the 80s.

Mr Hurwitz's stood to lose 300 million dollars.

That's what the FDIC wanted back from the Mr Hurwitz's S&L collapse that cost taxpayers one-point-six billion.

But his lawyers -- with the help of Congressmen Dolittle, Pombo, and DeLay -- beat the bank investigators.

Congressmen to the Rescue

The lawmakers inserted regulatory agency investigation files into the Congressional Record.

That let Mr Hurwitz’s lawyers see what the investigators were up to -- including confidential testimony and all the evidence the FDIC had gathered.

The move effectively destroyed the government's case -- and the FDIC dropped the case.

Mr Hurwitz has been a loyal Republican political contributor -- raising $30,000 for Rep DeLay since 2000 -- including $5,000 for Mr DeLay's legal defense.

Election records show he and his political action committee have given Reps Pombo and Dolittle a total of $8,000 since 1996.

Mr Hurwitz cost taxpayers one point-six billion dollars.

He gives politicians $38,000.

And he gets to keep $300 million.

Mr Hurwitz gets an "A" in Washington math. (LAT)


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hillary Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and Plantation Politics

The House "has been run like a plantation, and you know what I'm talking about," said Clinton, D-N.Y. "It has been run in a way so that nobody with a contrary view has had a chance to present legislation, to make an argument, to be heard." [AP, 1/16/06]

"I clearly fascinate them," Gingrich said of the Democrats. "I'm much more intense, much more persistent, much more willing to take risks to get it done. Since they think it is their job to run the plantation, it shocks them that I'm actually willing to lead the slave rebellion." [Washington Post, 10/20/94]

Thomas Nast's Legacy

"An editorial cartoonist is a sort of Rush Limbaugh with brains, or a Bill O'Reilly with a sense of humor. Or, to extend the metaphor further, a Sean Hannity with brains and a sense of humor." -- Media professor Chris Lamb (Baltimore Sun via Romenesko)

No Terrorists -- But the School Teacher Ordered Another Pepperoni

The warrantless wiretaps flooded US intel and law enforcement agencies with useless information -- tying up hundreds of counter terrorism agents to spy on innocent Americans and run down dead ends.

FBI investigators complained repeatedly about being swamped with information from the wiretaps.

And FBI Director Robert Mueller even raised concerns about the wiretapping's legality.

"We'd chase a number, find it's a schoolteacher with no indication they've ever been involved in international terrorism - case closed." -- A former FBI official quoted in the New York Times
Sources tell the New York Times the program has failed to uncover any terrorist plot or al Qaeda cell operating in the United States.

Agents in FBI field offices joked about the intercepts from the NSA as "more calls to Pizza Hut" every time they were told to run down new leads from the NSA. (NYT)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Dear George Clooney, You Are Sooooooooo Dreamy! Luv 4-Evr, George H.W. Bush

What makes a former President write a fan letter to a movie star?

For the elder George Bush, it'd be a screening of Good Night and Good Luck. That's George Clooney's take on how Edward R. Murrow took on Sen Eugene McCarthy in the 1950s. Mr Clooney wrote and directed the movie.

Few people may remember but George H.W. Bush's father -- that'd be President George W Bush's grandfather -- also took on Sen McCarthy for his red-baiting tactics. Sen Prescott Sheldon Bush (R-CT) served in the US Senate from 1952-63.

The former President fired off a letter to George Clooney saying he enjoyed the film. (ClooneyStudio.com)

Band of Brothers

Band of Brothers 2006 is an outfit highlighting and supporting the 30+ veterans running as Democrats for Congress.

It's a fundraising and pro-Democrat website. But it has bios and information on the candidates. (Band of Brothers 2006)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Throwing his Weight Around

Rep Tom DeLay was able to get a Texas TV station to pull an ad critical of the Congressman. It's here if you want to see it.

The ad is from a left-leaning outfit called Public Campaign Action Fund.

The Houston Chronicle reports:

"A day before a television ad linking Rep. Tom DeLay to disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff was set to hit the airwaves in the Houston area, lawyers for his campaign told local stations Tuesday that the ad contained falsehoods and hinted that it could lead to court action. At least one station, KTRK (Channel 13), quickly decided against broadcasting the commercial...."

Threatening TV and radio stations with lawsuits -- or with having the FCC yank their license -- is a frequent tactic of incumbent candidates running for re-election. Under the law, a broadcast outlet is required to air any ad by a Congressional candidate -- regardless of how honest they are.

But ads from third parties -- such as this one -- do not enjoy that protection.

PCAF is also running this radio ad in Ohio, critical of Rep Bob Ney's (R-OH) (right) ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Rep Ney is the only Congress member mentioned in Mr Abramoff's plea deal and is expected to face indictment soon.

Hotline on Call reports that House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) has asked him to resign as Chairman of the House Administration Committee -- just a week after Speaker Hastert and other top Republicans called on Rep DeLay to permanently resign as House Majority Leader.
(Houston Chronicle)

Friday, January 13, 2006

Joe Biden Borrowed My Idea -- Like That's the First Time Anyone Ever Said THAT!

Just brought to my attention.

Did Sen Joe Biden (D-DE) plagiarize me? Here's what he said on "Meet the Press" on November 28, 2005:
"Look, you had phrases like 'mushroom cloud,' 'much graver threat than grave threat,' 'mortal threat,' 'the threat is urgent,' 'grave and gathering danger,' 'urgent threat,' 'immediate threat,' 'serious and growing threat,' 'real threat,' 'significant threat.' These are all phrases these guys used. "
This sounds suspiciously like a passage from a Watching Washington post from a month earlier, October 28, 2005, called FBI Looking for Sources of Forged Uranium Documents:
October-November, 2002: Citing Iraq's purported weapons of mass destruction (WMD), President Bush or senior members of his administration refer to the WMD threat from Iraq as: "significant," "real," "real and dangerous," "serious and growing," "of unique urgency," "unique and urgent," "grave," "much graver," "terrible," "immediate," and "imminent."
Think Sen Biden's people stumbled onto my little ole site? Borrowed the long list of desperate words?

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And to have Sen Biden borrow your words -- hey, that'd make me a Labor Party leader in the UK! (Watching Washington)

President Bush and his GRAVE Concerns

"Iran, armed with a nuclear weapon, poses a grave threat to the security of the world." -- President Bush, January 13, 2006

"There's a grave threat in Iraq." -- President Bush, October 2, 2002

Iraq - Iran. More proof the last three years were a typographical error. (The White House)

Worker Safety, Employer Cash

North Dakota employers are pocketing credits on their workers' compensation insurance premiums totaling $46 million.

Business groups like the idea. That $46 million will go into the bank accounts of businesses. They can use it to invest in expansion -- or pocket it for themselves.

Critics -- like the state's AFL-CIO -- point out North Dakota's workers comp system gets low ratings compared to the rest of the nation. They want the mone to go back as vouchers that would only be good if employers used them to buy safety equipment or upgrade existing equipment. They say it would prevent worker injuries in the future. (The Forum)

Disposable Phones Skirting Wiretaps

Terrorists could be behind a sudden upsurge in the sale of disposable cell phones. The phones are cheap and difficult to track. You can use them once, then throw them away.

They make wiretapping virtually useless. Since people can buy them without ID, there's no way to tell who's using the phone you're tapping.

The FBI reports 150 phones purchased in one sale, 60 in another. Police showed up at a Wal-Mart in Midland, Texas (President Bush's old home town) after six people tried to buy 60 of the disposable phones.

Even counter terrorism outfits have found the phones untracable. ABC News' Brian Ross reports:

The CIA recently used them in a kidnapping in Milan, Italy. Italian authorities were able to track the telephones. But they mostly tracked them to a dead end — the false identities in which they were purchased.
The idea of using the disposable phones to avoid wiretaps is nothing new. Investigators say terrorists used disposable cell phones to set off explosives in the Madrid train bombings.

Even an episode of the Sopranos (right) a couple of seasons back had mobsters using the phones once, then tossing them, to avoid wiretaps. (ABC)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Tax Time

The high cost of paying your taxes.

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For every dollar you spend on federal income taxes...you spend about 22-cents just following the tax law.

That's what the Tax Foundation found out in a study of tax compliance.

The study figures we spent a total of six billion hours last year to comply with the federal tax code -- looking for deductions, keeping records, filling out your 1040.

The foundation figures an average cost of around forty to forty-eight dollars an hour in complying with tax rules.

That's cheap if you've priced a tax accountant lately.

But applying that rate to individuals, businesses, and non-profit groups...that adds up to more than $265-billion we spend...just to do our taxes.

How much is that?

Try more money than Wal-Mart took in last year -- about $6 billion more.

And it'd take 2.8 million people -- more than the population of Dallas, Detroit, and Washington, DC combined -- working 40 hour weeks to put in those six billion hours.

That's more people that what work in the auto making, computer building, airplane manufacturing, and steel industries combined.

Maybe I'll see if I can use the short form this year.

Dadgum Them Dadburned Interwebs!

Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Sen Ted Kennedy (D-MA) got into a spat during Wednesday's confirmation hearing for Judge Samuel Alito (right).

Seems it was all a misunderstanding.

Sen Kennedy had requested Sen Specter to request papers from William Rusher detailing Judge Alito's involvement in Concerned Alumni of Princeton.

Sen Specter didn't remember it. Said later it was a "computer letter."

That's apparently what us young whipper-nappers call an "e-mail."

Can't trust them new-fangled computafiers. They're the devil's toy box. All them electrons and pixels racing around the Internets. Can't trust anything that ain't written on parchment with a quill, consarn it!

As Strom Thurmond would say: "Talk into the machine."

Does He Have a Prayer?

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is running as a Republican for Governor of Alabama.

He was fired from his Justice job for refusing to remove a ten commandments monument from state property.

Judge Moore will face Gov Bob Riley (R-AL) in the June 6, Republican primary. (MSNBC)

Rep Jefferson in Deep Trouble -- Again

An aide to Rep William Jefferson (D-LA) has accused his former boss of demanding bribes for pushing telecom deals in Africa.

Brett Pfeffer has pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy charges. He rolled over on his former boss.

You may remember Rep Jefferson from the days after Hurricane Katrina. He was the Congressman who took National Guardsmen, a heavy truck and a helicopter away from rescue and relief duty to get personal belongings out of his flooded house. (MSNBC)

Election Day

Hotline on Call reports that House Republicans will elect their new Majority Leader at 1:00 pm, Thursday, February 2. (Hotline)

Making Sure Quakers Sow No Wild Oats

The NSA was supposed to be watching terrorists so they couldn't launch a sneak attack. Instead, they spied on how Quakers inflated balloons for peace rallies. Feel safer yet?

MP3 File

The folks who brought you warrantless wiretaps have been hard at work measuring the size of Quakers' balloons.

The Raw Story has gotten hold of several pages of documents from the National Securiy Agency.

They show that while Osama bin Laden remains free, the nation's premier intel operation has been spying on a Baltimore-based Quaker group opposed to the Iraq War.

The outfit's called "Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore."

The documents suggest the NSA was interested in monitoring balloons the protestors carried in marches. And they apparently checked out the Quakers -- a historically pacifist Christian group -- for weapons of mass destruction.

Let's face it. Baltimore is just up the road from the NSA's offices and Quakers don't shoot back. A lot easier than tramping around in Pakistan and Afghanistan looking for real terrorists. (TRS)