Thursday, May 31, 2007

"I'm Tired of this Mother****ing Tuberculosis, on this Mother***ing Plane!"

Seems the Department of Homeland Insecurity botched several chance to stop the jet-setting-TB-carrying-man.

TB Man is the fellow with the nearly incurable form of tuberculosis who got married, hopped a crowed jet to Europe, flew around that continent on flights to six countries, then came back to the states -- leaving hundreds of people possibly exposed to his disease.

DHS Failures in the TB Man case:
    • His name was on a no-fly list -- but he was allowed to board several different planes
    • Border agents alerted to stop him -- didn't
    • He ducked Italian agents in Rome and hopped another plane when he learnedthe feds were on to him
So TB Man skirts DHS like some character Stephen King could have included in "The Stand." But try to carry that cup of joe on a flight -- and you're looking at serious time, terrorist! (Columbus Dispatch)

Iraqi Refugees Arriving in the US

The Bush administration has signed off on a plan to accept more of the 2 million refugees who've fled Iraq.

And in a sign of how little optimism some Iraqis have for the US efforts there -- the first batch of 59 refugees are all US employees in Iraq. The 59 are part of a group of 700 refugees the US government considers vunerable -- potential targets of insurgents.

A total of 7,000 refugees are expected to arrive in the US by September. That's roughly nine times the total of 800 Iraqi refugees the US has allowed in the country since the 2003 war began.

Part of the delay: the Department of Homeland Security has been working on screening procedures for allowing Iraqi refugees into the country. (Boston Globe)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Making the "No Job List"

That immigration bill working its way through the Senate is supposed to keep illegal immigrants from working in this county. But the ACLU warns it could keep American citizens from getting jobs.

They argue it'll require every American to get approval from the Deparment of Homeland Security before applying for a new job.

"Under this already flawed program no one would be able to work in the U.S. without DHS approval - creating a ‘No Work List’ similar to the government’s ‘No Fly List.’ We need immigration reform, but not at this cost." -- Timothy Sparapani, ACLU Legislative Counsel
Under the bill, the DHS would have to approve workers' eligibility through the Department's Employment Eligibility Verification System. (ACLU)

Boating -- The New Terrorist Threat

If you water ski -- the terrorists have already won. Or something like that.

Seems the latest terrorist threat getting eyeballed by our dauntless Department of Homeland Security -- is Bubba's bass boat. Actually, all recreational boats.

"Just the sheer numbers and ability to hide among recreational traffic is something that makes it difficult for me to find the threat and address it." -- Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant, US Coast Guard, quoted by

Uncle Sam's solution: red tape and regulations. Washington's idea so far include: a license for every boater in every state and radio transponders installed on every boat so DHS can track you whenever you're on the water. (

Fueling the Tequila Shortage

The boom time in bio fuels could turn Margaritaville into a ghost town. MSNBC reports Mexican farmers are burning fields of blue agave -- the plant used to make tequila -- so they can grow corn.

Ag analysts estimate blue agave crops could shrink by as much as 35% in coming years as farmers cash in on more profitable corn used to make ethanol.

It can take eight years for an agave plant to reach maturity. (MSNBC)

Hot Times in Alaska

Global climate change could cost Alaska $10 billion in road, bridge, and pipeline repairs in the next few decades.

Alaska's average temperature has risen by about three degrees in the last 50 years. If the trend continues, Alaska will see the warmest temperatures in 400 years.

Problem is, so much of Alaska's infrastructure is built on permafrost. As the higher temperatures cause it to melt, roads and bridges could buckle, pipelines collapse, buildings sink into the ground.

Temperatures in the Arctic are rising twice as fast as other parts of the world.

An analysis from the University of Alaska found 20 different kinds of public works -- from schools to city halls -- were threatened by flooding and damage.

And whole coastal villages like Shishmaref are sinking -- forcing a $100 million relocation. (Reuters)

Nearly Six Years After 9/11 -- No National Disaster Response Plan

The top man at the Coast Guard says America's better prepared to deal with another Hurricane Katrina -- but he says we still don't have a formal, national response plan for a national disaster.

Adm Thad Allen was appointed to oversee the federal response to Katrina a week into the disaster. He's created a special Coast Guard unit based on his experiences. But it can only respond in localized emergencies. He says the feds need something like it at the national level. (Reuters)

Plame Declared "Covert" in Court Documents

One of the most hotly disputed loose ends in the Valerie Plame case surfaces in Scooter Libby's sentencing. Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald says she was indeed covert. From Newsweek:

In new court filings, special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has finally resolved one of the most disputed issues at the core of the long-running CIA leak controversy: Valerie Plame Wilson, he asserts, was a “covert” CIA officer who repeatedly traveled overseas using a “cover identity” in order to disguise her relationship with the agency.

Mr Fitzgerald is seeking three to five years in prison for Mr Libby. He was convicted last year on four of five counts of lying to federal agents and a grand jury. (Newsweek)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Mayor Wolfowitz

Rep Walter Jones (R-NC) suggests making outgoing World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz "mayor of Iraq."

Mr Wolfowitz was one of the architects of the Iraq War.

Rep Jones is the Congressman who pushed through the bill renaming "french fries" as "freedom fries" in Capitol eateries back at the start of the Iraq War. The Congressman has had a change of heart about the Iraq War. (ABC News)

Your Share of $59 Trillion

Some of the most creative minds in government are accountants. A USA Today review of federal spending found the books cooked to the tune of more than a trillion dollars.

Officially, the federal government says there was a $248 billion deficit last year. That's using those "creative" accounting ideas your government has cooked up to cook the books.

USA Today applied modern accounting principles -- and found the red ink was a lot deeper -- about $1.3 trillion. USA Today points out:

"Modern accounting requires that corporations, state governments and local governments count expenses immediately when a transaction occurs, even if the payment will be made later.

The federal government does not follow the rule, so promises for Social Security and Medicare don't show up when the government reports its financial condition."

Add up all the deficits over all the years and taxpayers owe around $59.1 trillion bucks.

You're share -- $516,348. Compare that to the $112,043 the average household owes for mortgages, car loans, and all other debt combined -- and you'll see you're a more frugal spender than your Uncle Sam. (USA Today)

Oddly, "DamnYankees" was Left OFF the List

Alabama's Department of Homeland Security has taken down a website page that listed just about every imaginable group betweent he Boy Scouts and AARP as potential terrorists.

Alabama's DHS headquarters were swamped with angry phone calls and e-mails after posting the warning. The list of groups to suspect of terrorism were included under the heading of "single issue terrorists." Making the list:
  • Gay rights groups
  • Anti-war organizations
  • Environmentalists
  • Animal rights advocates
  • Abortion opponents

In other news, Alabama has a Department of Homeland Security! (AP)

Hey, Maybe Osama even got a Refund!

The IRS has no idea what it's looking for when it looks for terrorist funding.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration audited the IRS's anti-terrorism efforts. Since 9/11, the IRS has shut down only a half dozen or so suspect charities believed to be funneling money to terrorists. There are more than 200,000 on the IRS's watch list. But the audit shows the tax agency isn't looking too closely at them.

"The IRS provides only minimal assurance that tax-exempt organizations potentially involved in terrorist activities are being identified." -- Treasury IG Audit, quoted in USA Today
Part of the problem is technology. When the crackdown started after 9/11, the IRS was buried under a flood of paperwork from 300,000 domestic charities. Practically none of it was digital -- just old, fashioned paper that required people to review each page by hand.

The audit warns, the system could let terrorists slip through the cracks. (USA Today)

Waste & Red Tape Favored over a Break for Taxpayers

Come up with a plan to save Uncle Sam million millions of dollars and months of backlogs -- and the government will shoot it down.

Prakash Khatri works for the US Immigration Service. He cooked up a plan that'd save taxpayers $350 million. It'd also cut the time one million legal immigrants would have to spend in waiting lines from 45 hours to just about 15.

Can't have all that thrift and red tape cutting now, can we?

Apparently not. US Citizenship and Immigration Services killed the time and money saving plan. Seems it'd cut into their application renewal fees -- about 20% of the agency's $1.8 billion budget.

They don't want to give up that steady cash flow. But have no problem letting taxpayers pick up the slack for them. (Boston Globe)

Frist Cashes Out of the World Bank Replacement Running

Former Sen Bill Frist (R-TN) has taken his name out of the running to be the new World Bank President. Paul Wolfowitz announced earlier this month he was resigning over the ethics scandal surrounding his pay raises and perks for former girlfriend Shaha Ali Riza. From the AP:

"Frist told administration officials Monday that he did not want to be considered for the top job at the bank, citing his desire to take a break from government work, said the source who asked not to be identified because he had not been authorized to speak publicly about the decision."
Sen Frist had said he planned a "sabbatical from public life" when he quit the Senate last year. (AP via Yahoo)

Secret Service Stretched Thin

The US Secret Service is stretched so thin, they're borrowing agents from other outfits.

About 2,000 immigration officers and airport screeners will join about 250 of it's own agents who'll be shifted from investigations to security details.

They're hit with a wide field of Presidential candidates -- and an early start to providing them with security. The Secret Service has a record $110 million budget for guarding candidates next year -- but they didn't expect to have to guard anyone until January.

Early protection for Sen Barack Obama (D-IL) tossed that plan out the window.

The shifts mean the Secret Service has already cut back on it's efforts against counterfieters and cybercriminals. Brace for spam attacks of phoney money! (WaPo)

Homeland Security Not Focused on Terrorists

Terrorism represented less than 0.01% of Department of Homeland Security prosecutions over the past few years.

Bush administration claims of success fighting terrorism has been boosted by lumping a tiny number of terror cases in with routine immigration cases. A case of padding the books?

The Transactional Records Action Clearinghouse tallied the numbers. They found of the more than 814,000 people DHS charged with crimes in the last three years, only 12 faced terrorism counts. And only 114 were charged with any "national security violation."

The Bush administration has claimed that the purpose of DHS is to fight terrorism. But the charges that appear to beef up DHS's terror fighting numbers are actually old-fashioned immigration cases. (CNN)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Sissy Slap Fight & Lone Wolfowitz

Presidents get in a sissy slap fight, Democrats become Congressional Columbos, and the Lone Wolf is back on the prowl.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Tonight on FOX: "Beatdown" with Bob Beckel

Confronted on a Bethesda parking lot, Democratic consultand and talking head Bob Beckel debated a couple of Bush-backers with reason and logic. His right fist is "Reason." His left fist, "Logic."

Mr Beckel's sporting a shiner after the spirited political discussion.

He says he was sitting in his Jeep Cheerokee waiting for his kids when a couple of young guys started peeling off his anti-Bush bumper stickers (see the Washington Post photo).

He asked them to stop. They said he didn't respect the presidency. Yada yada. One of the guys went back to peeling a sticker and Mr Beckel pushed his hand away. That's when Mr Beckel says one of the fellows "sucker punched" him.

Who knows. Maybe the Bush fan thought Mr Beckel would welcome him as a liberator for the move. He certainly didn't take into account Mr Beckel's 6-foot-one, 235 pound frame and the pounding Mr Sucker Punch was about to recieve. He probably also didn't count on his buddy deciding to cut and run -- which is exactly what happened.

Mr Sucker-Punch was pounded like the GOP in the last election, before conceding defeat with an eloquent curled-up-in-the-fetal-position-on-the-asphalt speech. (WaPo)

Damn, Liberal Birds

The President's suit is off to the dry cleaners after Thursday's news conference. Bird poop. From ABC News:

"[A] sparrow flew overhead and left a splash on the President's sleeve, which Bush tried several times to wipe off. "
Neither al Qaeda nor the Audubon Society have claimed responsibility.

See the video here. (ABC)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The GOP Summed up in 45 Seconds

Why sit through a whole, long, boring debate. Here's the whole GOP Presidential debate summed up in 45 seconds.

Dirty Laundry

They used to call it "immunizing" a candidate -- getting the dirt out up front, early in the campaign, so it won't hurt you come election day. Saturday Night Live touches on how it's going overboard in the 2008 Presidential campaign.

"I'm New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, and I should be dead."

Yeah, like that line won't come back to haunt him at election time.

Remember how Gov Jon Corzine (D-NY) was seriously injured in an SUV roll-over? His State Police driver was hauling the governor to a "talk show emergency" -- doing 90 miles per hour -- and the Governor was breaking the law by failing to wear his seatbelt.

Amazing what umpteen broken bones, a coma and six months of recovery will do to convince people to buckle up.

Apparently, there's no Betty Ford program for failing to wear seatbelts, so the Governor was unable to do pennance by checking into rehab. He's instead opted to star in a series of public service announcements telling people to wear their seatbelts.

Gov Corzine also voluntarily paid the $46 fine for failing to wear his seatbelt. Hard to argue your case in court with a broken leg. And 11 broken ribs. And a broken sternum. And on a ventilator. (

Duck & Cover: Connecticut

President Bush was a big draw in his birth-state of Connecticut this week.

War opponents turned out to protest, Bush-backers turned out to counter protest. Coast Guard Cadets saluted their Commander in Chief as he delivered their commencement address -- billed for days as a major policy speech. Turns out, he rehashed the connection between Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The later died of a bad case of smart bomb last June.

But guess who wasn't there.

The state's Republican Governor -- Jodi Rell (pictured).

She says she just couldn't get out of a meeting with Massachusetts Gov Defal Patrick (D-MA).

Back during the 2006 campaign, we kept you posted on all the Republican politicians who ducked any appearance with Mr Bush -- fearful of a photo of the two together showing up in an opponent's campaign ad.

Looks like President Bush still has the "Duck and Cover" touch -- a year and a half before the next election. (The Day)

Outlawing Price Gouging at the Pump

Fifty-four Republicans crossed the aisle to join House Democrats in making gasoline price gouging illegal.

President Bush promises to veto the bill.

It'd allow the President to declare a gas price emergency and fine oil companies -- even arrest their executives -- for gouging. The power to look for and declare price-gouging would rest with the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC found 15 cases of potential price gouging in the wake of Hurricane Katrina -- but lacked the authority to investigate further.

At least 29 states already have some kind of price gouging laws on the books -- but enforcement varies from state to state. (HeraldNet)

America's Gas (Price) Cap


That's how high gasoline prices will have to go before Americans finally say enough is enough.

And you thought road rage would kick in so much sooner.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that we're fed up with high gas prices, they're causing household budget crunches, and canceling our vacations.

But Americans are slow to anger.

It seems -- on average -- we'll have to hit $4.16 a gallon before we demand action. So that's when -- about this time next week? (Philly Inquirer)

Care & Feeding of Former Presidents

The care and feeding of ex-Presidents is pretty pricey.

And Bill Clinton is the most expensive of the three living former chief executives. At $1.16 million a year -- his expenses are almost as much as those of Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush combined.

For the record, Mr Carter billed Uncle Sam $518,000 for expenses -- Mr Bush, $786,000.

Mr Clinton has raked in $40 million in speaking fees since leaving office. But he still gets a $191,000 pension from taxpayers -- just as Mr Carter and Mr Bush. But Mr Clinton has requested an extra $10,000 on his pension next year -- to pay for health insurance. (WaPo)

Navy Sank Millions in Waste into Boat Barriers

After al Qaeda blew a hole in USS Cole -- killing 17 Sailors back in 2000 -- the Navy wanted a plan to prevent it from ever happening again.

The job fell to NCIS -- the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. But their solution has cost taxpayers millions in waste.

They cooked up the idea of giant, floating rubber barriers -- each the size of an 18-wheeler.

The Washington Post got hold of government documents that show millions going to companies that never did any work -- barriers that leaked, deflated, and simply didn't work --

The Post details an elaborate plan to avoid competitive bidding that involved contractors hiring subcontractors and driving prices for each barrier from $31,000 -- to nearly $43,000 each.

NCIS wanted the barriers quickly. That's why they didn't want to deal with complex competitive bidding rules. In the end, auditors found the plan drove up prices by as much as 40% for some support equipment like radar systems. (WaPo)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Payback's a Bitch calls the 110th congress -- "The Oversight Congress." Since Democrats siezed majorities in last year's election and took office in January -- they've been busy with investigations. From Politico:

Aided by a new investigative team including a former mob prosecutor and a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, Democrats have launched more than three dozen probes of the administration ranging from the White House to obscure aency heads. The House Oversight Committee alone has conducted 20 investigations.

This is troubling news for the Bush White House and Republicans. No fewer than six administration officials have resigned already amid the congressional probes -- and many more are in Democratic sights.

Voters named "corruption" as the most important issue to them in the 2006 elections. Rare that you see politicians actually do what voters want. Probably helps that the politicians are getting some payback in the process. (The Politico)

Lone Wolf Back on the Prowl

Poor Paul Wolfowitz -- lost his job, lost his girl. Mr Wolfowitz -- an architect of the Iraq War, immortalized in "Farhenhiet 9/11" as the guy who licked his comb on a live TV news feed (see picture) -- announced last week he'd resign as World Bank President amid an ethics scandal.
Apparently, without all the power and prestige of being World Bank President masking his ragged good looks - and Brylcreem breath -- Shaha Ali Riza actually got a good look at her boyfriend. Ms Riza is the woman who got a cushy promotion and pay raises at the urging of her boss/boyfriend after he took the reigns at the World Bank.
Now, the New York Post reports the power-couple have split after Mr Wolfowitz's power failure:

[Post Investigative reporter Wayne Madsen] spotted Ali Riza by herself, walking up 19th Street in Washington from World Bank offices after Wolfowitz appeared in a closed-door meeting before the bank's executive board. "I thought to myself . . . it's strange she'd be alone right now," Madsen said.
Hey, ladies! The lone Wolfowitz is back on the prowl! Ahhhhh-ooooooooooo! (NYPost)

Did US Play into Al Qaeda Hands in Iraq?

President Bush will tell graduates of the Coast Guard Academy that Osama bin Laden planned to use Iraq as a base of operations back in 2005, to attack the US.

The information is from a report the President just declassified. From ABC News:
He will say that in 2005 Osama bin Laden tasked Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to go to Iraq to set up terror cells that would plan and plot attacks against the U.S. and other countries. Suspected terrorists captured or killed in the last 18 months have provided this intelligence but a White House official would not say if they were all captured or killed in Iraq.
Three US investigations since Baghdad fell -- from the US Senate, the Pentagon Inspector General, and the White House itself -- have discounted any connection between Iraq and al Qaeda before the war. This announcement raises the question of whether the invasion played into al Qaeda's plans for Iraq.

There have also been reports since the invasion that the administration fell victim to an al Qaeda disinformation campaign to encourage the US to invade Iraq.

The announcement's timing comes as the President struggles with Congress to get more money for the Iraq War. He'll argue that the plan shows the need for US troops remaining in Iraq.

But if al Qaeda's plan after 9/11 was to use the US military to destabilize Iraq -- making it ripe for al Qaeda operations, the President's announcement may only highlight more poor planning on the administration's part leading to the invasion -- and playing into al Qaeda's hands. (ABC)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Edwards' Memorial Day Campaigning

Former Sen John Edwards (D-NC) wants Americans to spend Memorial Day weekend calling on Washington to end the Iraq War.

His campaign launched a website last weekend outlining his 10-point plan. He asks voters to greet veterans, send enlisted troops care packages and volunteer at local Veterans Administration hospitals. It's not sitting well with some veterans' groups:
"[Sen Edwards' idea is] as inappropriate as a political bumper sticker on an Arlington headstone." -- Statement from the American Legion
Senator Edwards argues the Iraq War has weakened America's status in the world. (Tulsa World)

Dadburn Varmits! Getcher Gun, Mitt!

"[Mitt Romney's immigration policy is] to get out his small varmint gun and drive those Guatemalans off his lawn." -- Sen John McCain (R-AZ)
Hear the actual soundbite at CNN. (CNN)

Clinton: The FEMA Disaster

With the clean up coming up on two years after the Katrina disaster -- Sen Hillary Clinton (D-NY) wants the US to guard against another disaster like the response and recovery.

The Democratic Presidential candidate wants a national insurance backup fund.

"We have to rebuild an effective, functioning, qualified emergency system. I think we've got to get it out of the Department of Homeland Security, where it's mired in a dysfunctional bureaucracy." Sen Hillary Clinton (D-NY), in an interview with The Associated Press.
President Bush moved FEMA to the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11. Critics say that's left the US unprepared to handle natural disasters.
(Baker City Herald)

Rudy's Iowa Stumbles

Rudy Giuliani may be slipping in Iowa and skipping the country's lead off caucuses.

The Associated Press points to a series of problems in the Giuliani campaign in Iowa:
    • A sluggish campaign start
    • Indecision over participating in a key straw poll
    • A poor poll showing
The August straq poll is a key part of the Iowa race. Candidates spend millions to rally support. Many of the 2000 candidates quit the race all together after poor showings there.

"The bigger question is, from a man basing his candidacy on decisiveness and leadership, waffling on the straw poll is a real question." Bob Haus, Republican Consultant
And the Giuliani campaign sounds overconfident about Iowa. Staffers brush aside the straw poll saying it's only important to other candidates and are counting on Mr Giuliani's fundraising prowess and name recognition to save the day at the actual caucuses.

And a new poll from the Des Moines Sunday Register shows Mr Giuliani running third in Iowa's GOP race:
    • Romney: 30%
    • McCain: 18%
    • Giuliani: 17%
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) says he hasn't seen anything to convince him that Mr Giuliani is as far along with organizing a campaign in Iowa as he should be. (TCPalm: News)

Democrats: Strategic Withdrawal on Timelines

Congressional Democrats -- on the verge of passing a war funding bill without timelines -- have to come up with their own battle plan for selling it to the party faithful.

Democrats in Congress had insisted on timelines for withdrawing troops from Iraq -- even having their first bill vetoed. Democratic voters -- in poll after poll -- overwhelmingly support some kind of withdrawal plan from Iraq.

But with time running out -- and Memorial Day approaching -- Democrats in Congress are hustling to get something out of Congress the President will sign. The idea of a political speech blasting Democrats, delivered from Arlington Cemetary would be a PR nightmare for the Democrats.

Expect the Democrats to focus their attention on what battles they did win in the war with the President over a spending plan. They focused attention on public support for withdrawal, painted the President as stubborn, and got him to agree to accepting benchmarks in Iraq -- or cutting off foreign aid to the Iraqi government. (TCPalm News)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Keeping America Safe from PB&J

Homeland Security has kept our skies safe from Rep Tim Ryan's (D-OH) peanut and butter sandwiches. The whole incident also resulted in some of the more bizarre writing from a sitting Congressman -- posted on Mr Ryan's blog:

"[TSA] took my bag and walked towards the gate thinking about the 4 or maybe 5 meals that she had taken from me. What am I going to do now? It’s not like I can just go to Safeway and grab another jar. I have .33 cents and a bag of cornmeal to last today and tomorrow."

OK, to explain -- the Congressman hasn't been cut off from lucrative lobbyist contributions. He's just trying to live on a food stamp budget -- to see how difficult it is. (Rep Tim Ryan Blog)

GOP, Stuck in the Tubes

Republicans admit to playing "catch-up" on the Internet. What do you expect, when their President refers to it as "the Internets," talks about "the Google," and their last Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee described the Internet as "a series of tubes."

The Washington Post reports on how even top Republican strategists say their party is stuck in Y2K when it comes to using the Internet for politics.

Underlining that problem, Nielsen/NetRatings shows that former Senator John Edwards' (D-NC) had 690,000 unique visitors to his campaign website in March -- more than all of former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), Sen John McCain (R-AZ), and former Gov Mitt Romney's (R-MA) unique visitors combined.

Maybe they're just behind the times. Waiting for this silly computer fad to fade. You know, repeating the mantra: "If politicians were supposed to use the web, they'd be spiders -- not snakes." (WaPo)

McConnell on Hagel on the War

From the Hotline:

"Many of the predictions that Chuck made about how the war might go have come true." -- Senate Min. Leader Mitch McConnell on Chuck Hagel, Omaha World-Herald, 5/20

Stretch, Stretch, Stretch....

Hey, the cable networks have a lot of time to fill before the election. They're already doing stories on candidates' spouses. CNN's Mary Snow takes one of the first looks here.

Florida Gets a Jump

Florida's getting a jump on screwing up the next election. Governor Charlie Crist (R-FL) has signed legislation moving the Sunshine State's Presidential primaries to January 29.

That's the same day as the South Carolina primary. There are only three states with earlier nominating contests. (CNN)

Jimmy Carter Makes "L" with Thumb & Forefinger, Holds to Head -- Bush Goes "Nuh-uh"

In what future historians may call the greatest sissy slap fight of all time between fifth tier Presidents, the Bush administration is tangling with Fromer President Jimmy Carter.

Mr Carter started the shouting match in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:

"I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history." -- President Jimmy Carter on George W Bush
The White House fired back with an official, "I know you are, what am I:"

"[Mr Carter] is proving to be increasingly irrelevant with these kinds of comments." -- Tony Frattto, White House spokesman
Mr Carter says the Bush administration has reversed progress on "America's basic values." The White House calls his comments "reckless personal criticism." (AP vis Detroit News)

Hillary Wants Pre-Kindergarten

Sen Hillary Clinton (D-NY) wants all 4-year-olds in pre-kindergarten classes.

She says she can pay for the $10 billion plan by closing tax loopholes and killing Bush administration programs she dislikes.

Her campaign says state efforts to do the same thing only reach about one-in-five kids. Her federal play would distribute money through state governors who'd have to decide where to best spend it. (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Never Let the Facts Get in the Way

Never let facts get in the way of a good story.

Former Gov Bill Richardson (D-NM) (left) has a great story he tells on the stump as he campaigns for President. It's about how he attended the funeral of Marine Lance Corporal Aaron Austin (right) back in 2004. He tells crowds that after the funeral, LCpl Austin's mother came up to him, thanked him for the federal death benefits she recieved and showed him the check.

Just a few problems with that tale. From the Associated Press:

In speeches in New Hampshire, Richardson has gotten Austin's name wrong at least once and age wrong at least twice. He also has called Austin the first New Mexico soldier killed in Iraq - instead of the third.

But that's not what bothers the Marine's mother, De'on Miller, of Lovington, N.M., who says the conversation about money never took place.

Gov Richardson sticks to his story. He says the meeting inspired his plan making New Mexico the first state to underwrite $250,000 in life insurance for National Guard members. That amount is up to $400,000 now. (AP via Washington Times)

McCain Takes on the "Culture of Corruption"

Sen John McCain (R-AZ) is pushing his party to champion government reform. You know, the party all tangled up right now in scandals with the World Bank and Justice Department.

In a speech in Oklahoma City Monday, the Republican Presidential candidate will wax nostalgic about the "Republican Revolution" of 1994, when the GOP took majorities in the House and Senate on a platform of cleaning up Washington.

Sen McCain says his administration would routinely review ethical standards and practices of his Cabinet. And he says Cabinet Secretaries would be held accountable for unethical behavior of their Departments. He'd also provide Inspectors General direct access to top bureaucrats in their agencies -- up to and including the Cabinet Secretaries. (WBTW-TV)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Romney Ad: "Secure Our Borders"

Former Gov Mitt Romney launched a new ad in New Hampshire and Iowa this weekend where he speaks out against an "amnesty" plan for illegal immigrants.

It went on the air a day after the Senate cut a bipartisan deal on a new immigration plan. From CNN:
Though the ad does not refer to the measure specifically, Romney says, "Legal immigration is great. But illegal immigration that we've got to end -- and amnesty is not the way to do it."

Mr Romney's comments in the ad were taken from a border security question raised at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire back in April. (CNN/Romney Campaign/You Tube)

Where the Candidates Got their Cash

Hillary Clinton made her political debut designing Arkansas education reforms in the 1980s that have been copied by other states ever since. But she trails Democratic rival Sen Barack Obama (D-IL) in campaign donations from education interests.

The Washington Post adds up contributions form key industries to see where the candidates are getting their cash.
  • Education: Barack Obama -- $696,076
  • Insurance: Christopher Dodd -- $405,550
  • Telecom: John McCain -- $123,600
  • Gambling: Rudy Giuliani -- $118,200
  • Lobbyists: Hillary Clinton -- $234,550
The Center for Responsive Politics has analysis of lots of other industries.

Where the Candidates Are

Wouldn't you love to have the aviation fuel concession at the Des Moines airport? The Washington Post's added up all the campaign events in the early primary states:
  • Iowa: 230
  • New Hampshire: 203
  • South Carolina: 125

Friday, May 18, 2007

Fore! Score a bogey for Big Dig - The Boston Globe

Billions overbudget, years behind schedule, and a chunk of it fell on top of a car killing a person. And you thought the Big Dig couldn't get any worse. From the Boston Globe:

"Now authorities are investigating how the Big Dig -- or, more precisely, a structure built for the project -- became something else: the site of an unauthorized indoor driving range for state troopers who love golf."

The chairman of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority had never heard of the golf range until a local TV station did a story on it.

The state police started their own investigation this week after a reporter started asking questions.

The golf range is in one of seven buildings built to suck dirty air out of the tunnels -- similar to the one pictured here. The driving range takes advantage of a 25 foot ceiling. (Boston Globe)

Mrs Giuliani got $125G as a Speechwriter

GOP Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani is keeping his wife on the payroll. From the New York Daily News:

"A day after the former mayor disclosed in federal filings that he considers his third wife, Judith, a salaried employee, sources said he has paid her about $125,000 a year for speechwriting help - since before they were married."
Mind you, Mr Giuliani has made nearly $1 million a month from speaking fees over the last 16 months. But that's still a lot higher than the going rate for a copy editor. Not that she has any experience at that sort of thing. She's been a sales executive for a drug company and managing director at a consulting firm. (NYDN)

Banning Names of War Dead in War Protests

Despite serious constitutional questions, states are beginning to ban anti-war items featuring the names of dead troops. Oklahoma and Louisiana have passed laws. Texas and Florida are waiting for Governors to sign or veto their versions. And Arizona's legislature is working on their own bill. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

"In many cases, the target of their ire is Dan Frazier, a Flagstaff, Ariz., man who sells T-shirts online that list the names of 3,155 U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq. The shirts bear slogans such as 'Bush Lied -- They Died' and 'Support Our Remaining Troops -- Bring the Rest Home Alive.'"

Mr Frazier says the laws ban his free speech rights to speak out against the Iraq War. (Seattle P-I)

Dead Man on Campus

You'll never miss any college reunions. Not if you're buried at your alma mater. From the New York Times:

For a few thousand dollars, the University of Richmond and a half-dozen other universities are giving alumni and faculty the opportunity to have their ashes maintained on campus in perpetuity.

Three more universities — Notre Dame, the Citadel and Hendrix College — are building similar memorials, known as columbaria.

And since you "can't take it with you," schools see the final resting place as a final time to hit you up for a big donation. (NYT)

Flunking Disaster Preps

America's schools are flunking emergency preparedness. It's a sign a lot of kids could be left behind if disaster strikes.

The Government Accountability Office found about half of all school districts have no plan to continue teaching kids after a hurricane, earthquake, terrorist attack or some other calamity.

Two-thirds report a lack of expertise with emergency equipment -- like two-way radios or even proper locks on the doors.

And 28% of schools have no plans for evacuating students with disabilities.

The GAO also found that for the most part, schools aren't even working with first responders on emergency plans. (WSJ)

Interest Way Up in Presidential Campaign

Coffee table meetings in a living room have given way to 3,000 people packing a town hall like it was a rock concert. The face of Iowa politicking is changing. The intimate meetings with a handful of voters are looking more like late season campaign rallies. The Associated Press says it could be because voters are a lot more interested in the 2008 campaign:
"A poll released April 12 by The Pew Research Center for People and the Press found that 55 percent of voters are paying 'very or fairly close' attention to the presidential race nine months before Iowa's lead-off caucuses. By contrast, only 38 percent were paying close attention in early 2003 and 45 percent in early 1999.

Democrats have consistently paid greater attention to the 2008 race than Republicans by an average of 12 percentage points, according to the Pew poll."

Just like in the polls, Democratic frontrunners have been drawing larger crowds in Iowa than GOP candidates. Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Barack Obama (D-IL) have both drawn crowds in the thousands. Nine Republican candidates showed up at one event drawing 1,000. (Daily Star)

Wolfowitz's Blue Ribbon Opposition

For more than a month, as scandal swirled around World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, blue ribbons pinned to lapels served as a silent protest among World Bank staffers. From the Washington Post:

"The ribbons were initially intended to show support for good governance in the World Bank and beyond. Since most staffers saw Wolfowitz's role in Iraq policy as governance gone horribly bad, the ribbons became a symbol of anger, a silent demand for the big boss's resignation."
World Bank workers would slap them together in 15-minute shifts on their coffee breaks. By the first day, 1,000 of the ribbons had been snatched up. Even Mr Wolfowitz was seen sporting one -- apparently unaware of what it represented. (WaPo)

You're On the Bus or Off the Bus -- No One Rides in the Door

All aboard the Topsy-Turvy Bus.

Ben Cohen -- the "Ben" of "Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream" is takin the bus cross country toward New Hampshire Iowa.

It's part of a campaign urging presidential candidates to move spending from defense projects to programs helping families and communities. The bus is a project of the Priorities Campaign, headed by Cohen -- wearing the green jacket in this AP photo. (AP via Yahoo)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

DOJ Had 26 US Attorneys in its Sites

Seems the Justice Department wanted to unload a lot more US Attorneys than they've reported in the past. From the Washington Post:
"Unreleased government records obtained by the Washington Post show that the Justice Dept. listed 26 U.S. attorneys as candidates for firing, including nine who were fired in 2006. The roster of prosecutors is much longer than previously acknowledged. "

Political Capital

Republican Presidential hopeful had audiences putting money where his mouth is. He earned $16.1 million over the last 16 months -- mostly in speaking fees.

The numbers are from come from financial reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Candidates are giving insight into their income. Some other candidates and income:
  • Rudy Giuliani: $16.1 million income, $13-$45 million in assets
  • Fmr Sen John Edwards (D-NC): $1.25 million income, $29.5 million in assets
  • Sen Barack Obama (D-IL): $457,000-$1.14 million in assets, $572,490 in income from book sales alone
Sen Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Fmr Gov Mitt Romney (R-MA), Sen John McCain (R-AZ) and Former Gov Tommy Thompson (R-WI) have recieved 45-day extensions. Former Gov Jim Gilmore (R-VA) asked for a 30-day grace period. (WVEC)

They did Give Us Adlai Stevenson

Want a presidential primary that reflects most of America? Might want to let Illinois go first.

Iowa and New Hampshire aren't very reflective of all of America -- very white, very rural. To win an early primary -- and lead the race for your party's nomination -- you have to appeal to what is essentially a minority of America's demographics.

The Associated Press crunched Census Bureau numbers and came up with the most representative state for an early primary. They've deemed Illinois the most average state out there!

Farms, cities, diverse population. Income, education, and age all mirror America as a whole. Right in the middle of middle America. Hey, isn't it's state flag just a rectangle of beige? Maybe not. (Commercial Appeal)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Deadeye Dick Cheney Imortalized in Gun Play

Just like our Vice President, you can shoot someone in the face, thanks to the Young Republicans of Alexandria, Virginia.

They're hosting the "First Annual Dick Cheney Paintball Tourney."

The $45 donation includes a picnic lunch, paintballs plus gear rental, and a t-shirt. (Alexandria Young Republicans)