Friday, August 31, 2007
The lobby hired former Republican National Committee Chairman Clayton Yeutter and former FDA regulator Joseph Lefitt to blunt the rather blunt campaign (click on the Washington Post graphic to see just how graphic the campaign had planned to be -- and how it was softened to images of ice cream and dandilions).
Research showed a graphic campaign warning mothers of health problems breastfeeding prevented would be the most effective. The campaign was laid out by career public affairs specialists. But political appointees softened the campaign shortly after the lobbying effort started. (WaPo)
Mr Hsu has been a big donor to Democratic political campaigns -- notably Sen Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Sen Barack Obama (D-IL).
The former clothing executive has been on the lam since skipping out on sentencing for a grand theft charge in 1991.
After his name popped up in a review of campaign donations, Democrats scrambled to unload the cash they'd taken from him over the years.
Sen Clinton is dumping $23,000 from Mr Hsu collected over various campaigns. Sen Obama is dumping $7,000 given to his campaign and PAC. The Democratic Senatorial and House campaign committees are dumping a total of $45,800 they took from him.
All the money will go to charities. (CNN)
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Forget Mark Foley of Florida, who quit the House last year after exchanging sexually explicit e-mail messages with under-age male pages, or Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist whose dealings with the old Republican Congress landed him in prison. They are old news, replaced by a fresh crop of scandal-plagued Republicans, men like Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, whose phone number turned up on the list of the so-called D.C. Madam, or Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska and Representative Rick Renzi of Arizona, both caught up in F.B.I. corruption investigations.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Rep Allen had been Sen John McCain's (R-AZ) presidential campaign co-chair in Florida before his arrest.
He won a slight victory when the judge in the case banned the prosecutor from using any of Rep Allen's comments made after his arrest -- because he'd not been read his rights.
Mr Allen is accused of offering an undercover officer $20 dollars to have sex with him.l (Orlando Sentinel)
A YouTube video (below) of Sen Craig endorsing former Gov Mitt Romney's (R-MA) Presidential campaign was taken down for a while this morning -- but was reposted later in the day.
Romney Campaign pulls Video of Sen Craig Endorsing Mitt Romney for President from YouTube (Politico.com)
Paid $500 fine (NYT)
Cop: Sen Craig signaled for sex (CNN)
Police Report (TSG)
Under Media Radar for Three Months (Editor & Publisher)
Scandal Grows -- Hometown Paper Publishes Expose of past Rumors & Accounts (politico.com)
Sen Craig Made "Premptive Denial" of Involvement in 1982 Sex and Drug Page Scandal (ABC News via YouTube video below)
Monday, August 27, 2007
President Bush's Statement
Thursday, August 23, 2007
The Iraqi government will become more precarious over the next six to 12 months and its security forces have not improved enough to operate without outside help, intelligence analysts conclude in a new National Intelligence Estimate released [today].
The NIE concludes overall violence is high, secterian groups are not reconciled, and al Qaeda in Iraq is able to conduct high profile attacks. The report is based on the combined judgements of all 16 US intelligence agencies.
Virginia Sen. John Warner said Bush should "announce on the 15th (of September) that in consultation with our senior military commanders he has decided to initiate the the first step in a withdrawal of our forces."
Sen Warner says the withdrawal would force Iraq to take steps toward political reconciliation. (Reuters)
With US troops firing off around a billion rounds a year in Asia, there's an ammunition shortage here in America. Ammo prices are up 10-15% and police departments are having to wait a year for bullets they've ordered.
The Associated Press found the shortage shooting down police training all over the country. Al Tompkins summed up their findings at "Al's Morning Meeting:"
- In Oklahoma City, officers cannot qualify with AR-15 rifles because the department does not have enough .223-caliber ammunition -- a round similar to that fired by the military's M-16 and M4 rifles. Last fall, an ammunition shortage forced the department to cancel qualification courses for several different guns.
- In Milwaukee, supplies of .40-caliber handgun bullets and .223-caliber rifle rounds have gotten so low that the department has repeatedly dipped into its ammunition reserves. Some weapons training has already been cut by 30 percent, and lessons on rifles have been altered to conserve bullets.
- In Trenton, NJ, a lack of available ammunition led the city to give up plans to convert its force to .45-caliber handguns.
- The sheriff's department in Bergen County, NJ, had to borrow 26,000 rounds of .40-caliber ammunition to complete twice-a-year training for officers.
- In Phoenix, an order for .38-caliber rounds placed a year ago has yet to arrive, meaning no officer can currently qualify with a .38 Special revolver.
- In Wyoming, the state leaned on its ammunition suppler earlier this year so every state trooper could qualify on the standard-issue AR-15 rifle,. Rifle rounds scheduled to arrive in January did not show up until May, leading to a rush of troopers trying to qualify by the deadline.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
The report was completed in June, 2005. It's executive summary was just de-classified today.
It found no "silver bullet" that would have stopped the 9/11 attacks. But it says intel leaders failed to do their job to create an umbrella strategy to deal with al Qaeda.
Congress gets an 18% approval rating. It appears to be entirely from Democrats and independents upset over Congress' failure to change US policies toward Iraq. From Gallup:
"Americans elected the Democrats as the majority party in Congress in November 2006's midterm election in large part due to frustration with the Iraq war and an ineffective and scandal-plagued Republican-led Congress. But any hopes that the elections would lead to change have not been realized as Democrats' repeated attempts to force a change in Iraq war policy have been largely unsuccessful due to presidential vetoes, disagreements within their own party, and the inability to attract Republican support for their policy proposals. "
Rep Filner says he simply pushed aside a United Airlines employee's outstretched arm when she tried to stop him from entering and "employees only" area near the baggage claim. (WaPo)
Gov Romney has released a radio ad critical of illegal immigration -- attacking "sanctuary cities" where illegals find jobs and little local efforts to send them home.
"Sanctuary cities become magnets that encourage illegal immigration and undermine secure borders." -- announcer, Mitt Romney radio ad
As mayor of New York City, Mr Giuliani inherited a city policy from his predecessors under which city employees did not notify federal authorities of an immigrant's legal status. Mr Giuliani never changed the policy.
The ad strikes on radio -- as videos of Mr Giuliani praising immigrants while he was mayore are getting lots of hits on sites like YouTube.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Mr Giuliani made the comment that he spent enough time at Ground Zero in the months after 9/11 to be considered a recovery worker. From ABC News:
"I was at ground zero as often, if not more, than most of the workers. ... I was there working with them. I was exposed to exactly the same things they were exposed to. So in that sense, I'm one of them." -- Rudy Giuliani, 8/9/2007
Now, Salon has gone through those records and found Mr Giuliani spent roughly 59 hours attending Yankees games or traveling to them during the same period.
Mr Giuliani doesn't seem to be suffering from any of the ill health effects posed by toxic air present during the Ground Zero recovery.
But he does have $200,000 worth of World Series Rings given to him by Yankees management -- which may be a breach of New York Ethics Laws. (Salon)
A new order from the Department of Homeland Security could classify chicken houses as prime terrorist targets -- requiring expensive security measures.
The rule says any place with more than 7,500 pounds of propane gas -- about 1,785 gallons -- stored on the premises is a potential target for terrorists. Chicken houses are usually built in pairs -- each house equipped with at least a 1,000 gallon propane tank to heat it.
So about 50,000 chicken houses meet the standard to make them tighten security. From the Delmarva Daily Times:
U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Tom Carper, D-Del., have co-authored a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff demanding answers for what they describe as a waste of government time and money.
Filling out the paperwork alone requires 25-30 hours -- longer if your chicken farm doesn't have high speed Internet. There's a $25,000 per day fine for delays in getting your chicken scratchings on Uncle Sam's forms back to Washington.
Propane is used to heat large facilities in rural parts of the country where there are no natural gas lines. So the rule could end up affecting campgrounds, grain elevators, and nursing homes among it's unintended consequences. (delmarvanow.com)
Red Mascara has been lobbying since 1960 to get his song, "I'm from New Jersey" adopted.
It may be too late for Red. State Senator Raymond Lesniak has proposed Bon Jovi's "Who Says You Can't Go Home" for the official song. (CBS3)
Saturday, August 18, 2007
From the New York Times:
Mr. Deaver was widely known for creating photo ops that showed Reagan atop the Great Wall of China, at the cliffs of Normandy (see image) and filling sandbags to show concern after a Louisiana flood. And he played a central role in planning Reagan’s funeral in 2004; the last visual was burial as the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.
Friday, August 17, 2007
The 29 hours Mr. Giuliani spent at ground zero involved 41 appearances, mostly to give tours to other officials and foreign dignitaries. Many entries include meetings away from the site before the tour. For instance, the schedule included 30 minutes on Nov. 15, 2001, for President Vladimir Putin of Russia, but Mr. Putin’s tour of ground zero was widely reported to have lasted 13 minutes.
In the roll-out campaign to sell Americans on having their government spy on them -- the top spook at the Department of Homeland Security (yes, they have spies apparently) says the satellites can be useful in natural disasters.
Charles Allen says spy satellites were used during Hurricane Katrina.
Well, that sells me! We all know what a smashing success the federal government was with Katrina! (CNN)
Nicole and Jeffery Rank of Corpus Christi showed up at a July 4, 2004 Bush campaign stop at the West Virginia state capitol. From the Star Telegram:
"The front of the Ranks' T-shirts bore the international symbol for 'no' superimposed over the word 'Bush.' The back of Nicole Rank's T-shirt said 'Love America, Hate Bush.' On the back of Jeffery Rank's T-shirt was the message 'Regime Change Starts at Home.'"
The couple were hauled off in handcuffs and detained for one to two hours.
Their lawsuit turned up the existence of a "presidential advance manual" exposing a policy of keeping dissenters away from appearances by the President. The manual -- put together by the federal government -- also suggested using Young Republicans as "rally squads" to suppress protestors at Presidential appearances.
But there was no medal. Just a certificate and a form stating that the medal was "out of stock."
"I can imagine, of course, with what's going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, there's a big shortage," Reed said. "At least, I would imagine so."
The Navy told him he could wait 90-days and resubmit his paperwork or he could buy his own from a private supplier. Mr Reed paid $42 for his medal -- plus state sales tax.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Zinc replaced copper as the metal for pennies years ago when copper got too expensive.
The overpriced coins are the target of penny pinching politicians.
Bills in both the House and Senate would make it easier to switch to cheaper metals to pound out pennies. But the main supplier of the expensive zinc is spending a pretty penny lobbying Congress to keep things the way they are. (azcentral.com)
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
The Associated Press got it's hands on the letter after repeated Freedom of Information Act requests.
Guess which two words never appear: "Iraq" and "war." The Iraq War is alluded to with ephimisms such as "challenging time for our country."
The delay has got people wondering why the delay in announcing the resignation.
"[Mr Bush wanted to avoid] the appearance of trying to make this a political decision." -- White House spokesman Dana Perino
A stamp on the letter shows Mr Bush read the resignation letter as voters were going to the polls. A massive anti-war vote swept Democrats into majorities in both houses of Congress. Political observers question whether the administration tried to cut GOP losses by holding off on the news. (ABC)
"And I never thought I would see that our soldiers who serve in Iraq and Afghanistan would be treated as though they were invisible as well. " -- Sen Hillary Clinton (D-NY), in her new TV ad, "Invisible"The White House was quick to attack the ad as "outrageous."
And as to whether or not our troops are invisible to this president, I think that that is absurd, and that is unconscionable that a member of Congress would say such a thing. -- Dan Perino, White House SpokesmanThe White House quotes catapulted the Hillary ad to national media attention -- meaning free airplay on news programs, newspaper coverage, and YouTube. From the Caucus:
The Clinton campaign likes few things more than taunting a rival into attacking Mrs. Clinton — allowing her advisers, in turn, to say that Mrs. Clinton is under assault by this opponent or that one (in this case, the “right wing attack machine”). The Clinton camp cites these episodes in fund-raising letters and other literature to try to energize Democrats to support her fighting spirit.The Clinton campaign loved the criticism so much, they flagged it and alerted the media to the Bush administration attacks on the ad.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
A 2002 Transportation Department report warns 167,566 bridges around the country could collapse like the I-35W. But instead of fixing them -- the administration's priority is repairing the one that already fell -- and doing it within a year.
Was it just a case of "barn door politics" -- closing the door after the horse is out -- taking priority over preventative maintenance? Or was it smart planning against a Democratic photo-op during the 2008 Republican National Convention?
The GOP Convention is in Minneapolis-St Paul next year.
It'll come just a week or two after the Democratic National Convention. A Hillary Clinton nomination would certainly remind Americans of the Bill Clinton promise of a "Bridge to the 21st Century." And rubble at the GOP Convention city could certainly suggest the kind of bridge America has gotten under the Bush administration.
Smart move on the President's part. Perhaps it was one of Karl Rove's last, bright moves on the way out of town -- dealing with that photo-op now, instead of waiting to cross that bridge when the RNC came to it. (LAT)
Federal Highway Administrator Richard Capka oversaw the Boston boondoggle from 2000 to 2001. He caught flack for severance packages he worked out with three lawyers on the project's payroll.
He left with his own severance package of $82,000. Mr Capka returned to the Big Dig in 2006.
As Federal Highway Administrator, he was part of the investigation into a falling chunk of concrete that killed a woman in a tunnel. (Star Tribune)
Monday, August 13, 2007
He'd dreamed of creating a "permanent Republican majority" only to wake up from a political nightmare last fall when voters elected a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress. Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich placed the blame for Republican losses last year squarely on Mr Rove.
Mr Rove told the Wall Street Journal he wants to spend more time with his family -- a political cliche. Speculation has already emerged that his resignation is aimed at avoiding a raft of Congressional investigations. (WSJ)
"It always seemed there was a better time to leave, somewhere out there in the future. But now is the time." -- Karl Rove at the White House, August 13, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
He's at 418 with his current August vacation. Ronald Reagan took 438 days off work. With another year in office, Mr Bush is within striking distance of the all time record.
Some highlights of past Bush presidential vacations:
2001: While vacationing on the ranch in Crawford, Texas, President Bush recieves the infamous Presidential Daily Briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US." CIA analysts traveled to the ranch to brief Mr Bush personally, after which he is reported to have said, “All right, you’ve covered your ass now.”
2005: Hurricane Katrina barrells down on the Gulf Coast. Louisiana state and local officials reach President Bush on vacation and request federal assistance before the storm makes landfall. It would take the Bush administration four days to deliver water to the Superdome.
"I was at Ground Zero as often, if not more, than most of the workers. I was there working with them. I was exposed to exactly the same things they were exposed to. So in that sense, I'm one of them." -- Rudy Giuliani, campaigning in Cincinnati, Aug 9, 2007
The International Association of Firefighters has already been circulating a 13-minute DVD critical of Mr Giuliani's actions toward first responders following 9/11. (NYDN)
His statement rang false to Queens paramedic Marvin Bethea, who said he suffered a stroke, posttraumatic stress disorder and breathing problems after responding to the attacks.... "Standing there doing a photo-op and telling the men, 'You're doing a good job,' I don't consider that to be working," said Bethea, 47.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
But the Bush administration doesn't want terrorists -- or state governments -- finding out about it.
So, the Bush administration worked out their plan in secret. And state leaders also report their input has been largely ignored.
"In my 19 years in emergency management, I have never experienced a more polarized environment between state and federal government." -- Albert Ashwood, Oklahoma's emergency management chief and president of a national association of state emergency managers quoted in the Washington Post
"To see the type of person who still backs him, President Bush need only look in the mirror. The president fits the composite of today's Bush supporter: a conservative, white, Republican man, an evangelical Christian who goes to church regularly."
The poll shows two-thirds of Americans dislike the job President Bush is doing. Only two-thirds of Republicans and just one-third of independents approve of the job he's doing.
As long as his poll numbers have dropped into negative territory -- President Bush has found it almost impossible to get his policies past Congress. (Times-Tribune)
The New York Post says the former Massachusetts Governor simply says they're showing their support for the country by "helping me get elected."
Gov Romney also avoided service in the Vietnam war by serving as a Mormon missionary in France. (NYPost)
“He was just, like, ‘Nope,’ -- Molly Schwartz, communications director for Mr Hernandez's employer, Pillsbury United Communities
He's been overwhelmed by his sudden fame. So when the President asked him to pose for a picture, he blew it off. Decided to go fishing instead. (NYT)
Glenn Murphy, Jr is the Clark County GOP Chairman in Indiana.
Mr Murphy resigned both his posts the same day a police report on the investigation appeared on a state political blog -- Taking Down Words.
The police report says a man complained that -- after a night of drinking at a Young Republican party -- he and Mr Murphy had stayed at a friend's house. The man says he was awakened the next morning by Mr Glenn performing oral sex on him.
Mr Glenn denies the charges and says his resignations are simply becasue a client at his ad agency wants him to stay out of partisan politics. (Courier-Journal)
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Monday, August 06, 2007
Now the former New York City mayor has lost his own daughter's endorsement.
Slate found the Facebook profile of 17-year-old Caroline Giuliani (pictured, click to see larger version). Seems she's supporting Sen Barack Obama (D-IL) against her old man. At least she was until Slate contacted her and she dropped out of One Million Strong for Barack.
Hey, no wonder he doesn't want the media talking to his kids! (Slate)
Friday, August 03, 2007
Republicans walked out Thursday night in protest of what they believed were Democratic moves to reverse a vote Democratic leaders didn't like.
Roll Call cited two sources in first reporting the reason for the stepped up police presence on Capitol Hill. FBI and Homeland Security both say there is no "specific threat" out there right now.
But Congressmen and their staffs received an email from House Sergeant at Arms Wilson Livingood last Friday urging them to "maintain increased vigilance."
"Based on public reports it is widely known that the Capitol complex remains a target of interest for terrorist organizations." -- Email Message to
Congressmembers from House Sergeant-at-Arms, Wilson Livingood.
The warnings come as a new al Qaeda video called "Wait for the Big Surprise" has popped up on websites -- showing President Bush and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf standing in front of the White House and surrounded by flames. (WaPo)
Thursday, August 02, 2007
But public records show state highway inspectors gave the bridge a 50% grade in 2005. A rating of 50% or below means the bridge may need replacing.
Lawmakers claim they never got the reports nor any requests for money to repair or replace the bridge. (Pioneer Press)
Security-cam video of the collapse from CNN:
Federal Help Coming Fast
President Bush has promised a $5 million grant to help with rerouting traffic around the area.
Not wanting the embarassment of another botched disaster response ala Katrina -- the White House reacted quickly to the bridge collapse -- mobilizing the Coast Guard, Transportation Department, NTSB, FEMA, FBI, EPA, and Army Corps of Engineers and getting representatives from each agency on the ground immediately.
The House Small Business Committee reviewed federal contracts awarded since the 2005 disaster. They found only about 7.4% of contracts went to small businesses. That's down from the 12.5% they found back in April. (USAToday)
"This year's bill includes some $3.5 billion for Katrina-damaged Louisiana, plus more than $2 billion for projects in California and $2 billion for Florida, mostly for restoring the Everglades. Another $1.95 billion is included for seven new locks on the upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers and $1.7 billion for repairing the region's ecology."
"Under the measure, federal courts would join 32 states and the District of Columbia in protecting reporters from being forced to reveal confidential sources, except in certain cases. "
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
"There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al-Qaida leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will." -- Sen Barack Obama (D-IL) in a speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center