A full year after the House passed legislation that would loosen President Bush's restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research, the Senate is coming under intense pressure to tackle the controversial bill -- in the awkward new context of an election year.
The legislation, which Bush has repeatedly threatened to veto, would allow the National Institutes of Health to fund research on human embryos slated for destruction at fertility clinics. It is backed by science and patient-advocacy groups, and was endorsed by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) last summer, when momentum behind the research was at a peak.
But the political calculus around stem cells has changed in unexpected ways since then, raising questions about how Frist can fulfill his promises to bring the bill to a vote without weakening his appeal to conservatives as he considers a 2008 presidential run.
Opponents of the research note that its most promising advances, reported last year from South Korea, were recently found to have been faked -- a revelation that has stoked critics' claims that the medical potential of embryonic cells has long been hyped.
Also unexpected a year ago was the recent blossoming of independently funded embryonic stem cell research programs at universities.
"We're seeing private funding come up, and, of course, states have stepped up in various ways," said David Prentice, a senior fellow with the conservative Family Research Council, which opposes the House bill. "I don't know that there is a big need for a huge infusion of NIH money."
But proponents -- including several congressional leaders and ailing patients who plan a news event this morning to mark the first anniversary of the House bill's passage -- are expressing impatience with Frist's repeated delays.
Bush has turned his attention to the campaign. Six months before the election, he has made 36 fundraising appearances, more than at this point in 2002. He spoke at a party gala last week that broke off-year records for hard-money fundraising and later attended events in Virginia and Kentucky. Vice President Cheney has been even more active, making 62 fundraising appearances, including one in Nashville on Saturday, and he plans three more in California in the next couple of days.
With Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove reassigned from day-to-day policy management to concentrate on the fall campaign, the White House has begun setting an agenda. Bush focused on stopping illegal immigration with his National Guard plan announced in an Oval Office address last week, followed a few days later by a visit to the border. In between, he signed legislation extending $70 billion in tax cuts that he has made a signature issue on the campaign trail.
To address conservatives, who have been key to his election victories but have grown disenchanted with the administration, Bush and Senate Republicans are reviving their fight with Democrats over judicial nominations, and senators last week voted out of committee a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to set up a floor vote next month.
The White House also appears eager for a battle over the nomination of Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden as CIA director. With a committee vote expected this week and a floor vote by next week, the White House hopes voters will see the warrantless surveillance program Hayden started as head of the National Security Agency as tough on terrorism rather than a violation of civil liberties.
"There are some statutes on the book which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that that is a possibility," Gonzales said told ABC's "This Week," when asked if the government could prosecute journalists for publishing classified information.
The domestic spying program allows the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on the international phone calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens without first obtaining a warrant, while pursuing al Qaeda suspects.
Critics say the program raises constitutional concerns and violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a 1978 law requiring court warrants for all intelligence-related eavesdropping inside the United States.
"I will say that I understand very much the role that the press plays in our society, the protection under the First Amendment we want to promote and respect, the right of the press. But it can't be the case that that right trumps over the right that Americans would like to see, the ability of the federal government to go after criminal activity," he said.
In today's Washington, where are the serious efforts by Republicans to protect unborn children from abortion? Where is the campaign for a constitutional amendment to prevent liberal judges from allowing same-sex marriage?
Instead of conservative action on social issues, the Republican-controlled House has approved more taxpayers' money for an embryo-killing type of stem cell research. And it passed a "hate crimes" measure that could lead to the classification as "hate" of criticism of homosexual activity. And in the Senate, Republicans have let key judicial nominees languish, even when Bush has nominated conservatives for lower courts. Would a strong Senate leader such as LBJ have let his party's nominees fail for lack of a floor vote?
Don’t get me wrong, this article is well written and really shows that the Conservative side of the Republican Party is pissed, but still, I think that the mindset of Conservatives is quite strange. Yes, you voted in people that you thought would turn the country into a Christian Utopia, yes you got lied to, yes you’re most likely going to stay home this November, but I really believe that your concept of reality is a bit skewed.
The Republican Party will never be the complete puppet of the Conservative movement. Conservatives are strange and really want some scary shit to be made into law. Republicans know that if they give in to these demands, they will lose the moderate vote, which will cost them elections. Face it, Conservatives; you are the creepy child kept in a locked pantry, out of sight. You are Harry Potter, just not as popular.
Some veterans of the 1994 GOP takeover of Congress see worrisome parallels between then and now, in the way once-safe districts are turning into potential problems. Incumbents' poll numbers have softened. Margins against their Democratic opponents have narrowed. Republican voters appear disenchanted. The Bush effect now amounts to a drag of five percentage points or more in many districts.
The changes don't guarantee a Democratic takeover by any means, but they are creating an increasingly asymmetrical battlefield for the fall elections: The number of vulnerable Democratic districts has remained relatively constant while the number of potentially competitive Republican districts continues to climb.
Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of a political newsletter, now has 42 Republican districts, including Drake's, on his list of competitive races. Last September, he had 26 competitive GOP districts, and Drake's wasn't on the list. "That's a pretty significant increase," he said. "The national atmospherics are making long shots suddenly less long."
Articles like these really do nothing to support Democrats. We are aware that the Republican Party is, like, the suxors, but that alone will not get us anywhere. I really hope that articles, which opine about Republican troubles ad nauseam, don’t give the voters the wrong idea. Republicans have their troubles, but all Democrats need to get out and vote, donate, and work to the best of their ability, or else we won’t be getting Congress this year.
Firedog Lake has another article up, highlighting some key Democratic races. The writers at FDL really seem to understand where Democrats need the most help, and I have yet to see them be wrong in any of their candidate backings.
RAN'S only Jewish MP strongly denied reports in a Canadian newspaper overnight that Iran may force non-Muslims to wear coloured badges in public so they can be identified.
"This report is a complete fabrication and is totally false," Maurice Motammed said in Tehran. "It is a lie, and the people who invented it wanted to make political gain" by doing so.
The National Post newspaper quoted human rights groups as saying that Iran's parliament passed a law this week setting a public dress code and requiring non-Muslims to wear special insignia.
Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear a yellow, red or blue strip of cloth, respectively, on the front of their clothes, it said.
Mr Motammed said he had been present in parliament when a bill to promote "an Iranian and Islamic style of dress for women" was voted. "In the law, there is no mention of religious minorities," he added.
I believe that Iran could very well be a risk, but no one is going to ever support any action against Iran when false reports are given to the MSM, which paint Iran in a bad light. If so many lies are put out there, no one is ever going to believe the truths.
WASHINGTON -- Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, law enforcement efforts to secure corporate information about clients and suppliers have reached such levels that some companies have had to create special units that do nothing but deal with these demands, a process often called "subpoena management."
Banks, Internet-service providers and other companies that possess large amounts of data on their customers say that police and intelligence agencies have been increasingly coming to them looking for tidbits of information that could help them stop everything from money launderers to pedophiles and terrorists.
"Corporate counsel that used to see law-enforcement-related requests five times a year are now getting them sometimes dozens of times a day," says Susan Hackett, a senior vice president and top attorney for the Association of Corporate Counsel, which represents the legal departments of leading U.S. companies.
I really hope that more companies grow big “googley” balls and stand up against the government, though we all know that that will never happen.
When IRD was formed in 1981, its attention was focused on the Cold War and opposition to the National Council of Church’s protests against U.S. policies in Central America.
Following the end of the Cold War in the mid 1990s, IRD’s literature switched its focus to the “culture wars” and the place of women in the church.
The IRD criticized a 1995 Platform for Action presentation at the World Conference on Women in China that demanded equality for women in political and economic life.
In a fundraising letter dated Oct. 7, 1996, IRD’s past president Diane Knippers wrote: “Some radical feminists are rejecting traditional Christianity for experimentation with forms of paganism. Lesbian advocacy. Witchcraft. Worship of earth goddesses.”
Is it really that difficult to see why Americans are becoming wary of the religious-right?
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Prisoners wielding improvised weapons clashed with guards trying to stop a detainee from committing suicide at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the military said Friday.
The fight occurred Thursday in a medium-security section of the camp as guards were responding to the fourth attempted suicide that day at the detention center on the U.S. Navy base, said Cmdr. Robert Durand.
this, now we have detainees going nuts, trying to off themselves. Apparently, Gitmo is having a bad day.
Human rights groups are raising alarms over a new law passed by the Iranian parliament that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims.
"This is reminiscent of the Holocaust," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. "Iran is moving closer and closer to the ideology of the Nazis."
But independent reporter Meir Javedanfar, an Israeli Middle East expert who was born and raised in Tehran, says the report is false.
“It's absolutely factually incorrect," he told The New 940 Montreal.
"Nowhere in the law is there any talk of Jews and Christians having to wear different colours. I've checked it with sources both inside Iran and outside."
Screw Iraq, this is a much funnier war.
The Post-ABC News poll released this week found the president with a 33 percent approval rating and suffering losses in esteem almost everywhere. Conservatives are by no means his biggest problem.
In January 2005 Republicans who described themselves as conservative gave Bush an astonishing 94 percent approval rating. The new Post-ABC survey, conducted May 11 to May 15, put Bush's approval rating among conservative Republicans at 76 percent, down 18 points.
But the poll found that among moderate Republicans, the president's approval rating had declined 31 points, from 88 percent in January 2005 to 57 percent now. Recent surveys by Gallup and the Pew Research Center also point to losses among moderates.
While it’s all nice and dandy that the rightwing base wants to be heard, much like the leftwing base wants to be heard by Democrats, the Republican Party needs to appeal to the moderate voters, who, most likely will not be jumping for joy about Republican nutter-pandering attempts, like the Federal Marriage Amendment or state bans on abortion (cough, loonyfuckinSouthDakota, cough). Many moderates are really rather indifferent to such things as gay-marriage and abortion. They have an opinion, but it isn’t anything that really motivates them to the levels of activism that we on the left and those on the right exhibit. Most moderates are big issue voters, swayed by things like Iraq, the economy, and immigration, and really wants to see performance on those key issues; something that the Republican midterm plan can’t even focus on.
The whole moderate population is looking for someone to lead on their issues, which is something that Democrats need to realize and embrace. Providing convincing leadership to the moderates will always win you elections… much more than “rallying either base”.
A couple months ago, I covered a story about accusations that US Marines went on a killing rampage in Iraq, supposedly slaughtering many innocent citizens. I really didn’t want to believe the story -you know, because, well, American soldiers shouldn’t be heartless murderers-, but it seems that the story is picking up steam… and may be worse than originally reported.
Military officials Thursday said a criminal investigation into a firefight in western Iraq that left at least 15 civilians dead is not complete, but they did not dispute a congressman's charges that the attack by Marines was far worse than originally reported.
Officials in the Pentagon and at U.S. Central Command declined to say whether Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., was correct in saying that Marines killed innocent women and children "in cold blood" during the attacks last November. Murtha said U.S. troops overreacted and that nearly twice as many people were killed than first reported.
Time magazine reported in March that an Iraqi civil rights group said Marines barged into houses near a bomb strike in Haditha, Iraq, throwing grenades and shooting civilians.
Murtha told reporters Wednesday, "It’s much worse than was reported in Time magazine," according to the Army Times newspaper.
"There was no firefight. There was no [bomb] that killed those innocent people," Murtha said in the Army Times report.
WASHINGTON - The House rejected an attempt late Thursday to end a quarter-century ban on oil and natural gas drilling in 85 percent of the country's coastal waters despite arguments that the new supplies are needed to lower energy costs.
Lawmakers from Florida and California led the fight to maintain the long-standing drilling moratorium, contending that energy development as close as three miles from shore would jeopardize multibillion-tourism industries.
"It's a grievous assault on Florida and other (coastal) states," declared Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Fla., of attempts to end the drilling prohibitions that Congress first imposed in 1981 and has reaffirmed every year since.
The loonies over at Redstate have been crushing on Senator Nelson for weeks, complaining about his refusal to allow drilling off the Florida coast. Now that their own even realize it’s a bad idea, I wonder what the loonies will do. It must seriously hurt to be a Conservative these days, seeing as their own party won’t even touch them, afraid to catch their radical cooties.
WASHINGTON — The widow of a Wiccan soldier killed in Afghanistan last year says after months of waiting, she is ready to take the Department of Veterans Affairs to court to get a pentacle engraved on her husband’s memorial plaque.
“I’m getting sick from the stress of all of this,” said Roberta Stewart, whose husband, Patrick, served in the Nevada National Guard. “I’m spending six hours a day on this. I just want to put it to an end.”
Currently the National Cemetery Administration has 38 permitted religious symbols for headstones and plaques, but none for pagans or Wiccans.
After Patrick was killed in a helicopter attack last September, his wife asked for the encircled five-pointed star to be put on his plaque on the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Wall in Fernley. But since the pentacle is not currently approved by the department, his space on the wall has remained blank.
I feel for this woman. It’s amazing to me that the DVA is so slow to honor this man with a symbol of his religion. Hopefully this woman will be successful in court, as I see this as a real test for religious freedom.
"I don't need to be lectured by you. You are no more a protector of the Constitution than am I," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., shouted after Sen. Russ Feingold declared his opposition to the amendment, his affinity for the Constitution and his intention to leave the meeting.
"If you want to leave, good riddance," Specter finished.
"I've enjoyed your lecture, too, Mr. Chairman," replied Feingold, D-Wis., who is considering a run for president in 2008. "See ya."
Not only is Feingold more of a protector of the Constitution, he also seems to be more for states’ rights. It must be a total slap in the face to Republicans to realize that they have become the party of Federalization, and the Democrats have become the party of states’ rights. I wonder how long it will take them to realize that pandering to the fringe Right has caused them to lose their basic platform.
An aggressively annoying new phrase in America's political lexicon is "values voters." It is used proudly by social conservatives, and carelessly by the media to denote such conservatives.
This phrase diminishes our understanding of politics. It also is arrogant on the part of social conservatives and insulting to everyone else because it implies that only social conservatives vote to advance their values and everyone else votes to . . . well, it is unclear what they supposedly think they are doing with their ballots.
I will admit that the Religious Right is great with rhetoric. I mean, who wants to be against life, family, or values? But, in the end, anyone who really follows politics knows that this is simply a game played by the Religious Right… a game played well, but a game nonetheless.
INDIANAPOLIS — Attorney General Steve Carter will ask the Indiana Supreme Court to decide whether unmarried couples — including those who are gay or lesbian — can adopt a child through a joint petition that gives both people equal custody.
Carter's office planned to file the petition last night, challenging an Indiana Court of Appeals ruling that would allow a Morgan County lesbian couple to adopt a 20-month-old girl for whom they had been foster parents.
Kim Brennan, one of the women, said yesterday that she was disappointed in Carter's decision and that removing the child now "would be devastating."
"We're going to fight it to the end," Brennan said. "We feel it's in her best interest to be with us."
The Morgan County trial court judge had ruled that state law prohibited the adoption, saying it limits adoption to married couples and individuals. Indiana law prohibits same-sex marriage.
But the appeals court said last month that while state law requires married couples seeking adoption to do so jointly, it doesn't prohibit unmarried couples from doing so as well.
Steve Carter, in his attempts to make sure that Indiana is a glorious tower of bigotry, has shown that someone can be anti-family. He has no problem breaking up a family, removing a poor little girl from the only people that she has ever known, and dragging parents through an endless court battle so that he may force the population of his state to only live in the way that he sees fit.
Steve Carter is anti-family, and it is disgusting.
"It's amazing how tone-deaf this man is. This is the No. 1 issue that will lead to the takeover of Congress by Democrats," said longtime conservative activist Richard Viguerie. "The White House doesn't seem to have receivers. They only have transmitters."
A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources.
"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.
ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.
Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.
This is truly disturbing. The Bush administration will do everything in its power to control all information. They do not want their dirty little secrets to be available to anyone, and they are quite willing to break the law to make sure that that never happens.
Those who think that this is okay really really need to wake the hell up.
Some funny parts--
The event highlighted his strength as a politician, a good-ol'-boy likability that may wear well in places such as Iowa where retail politics still matters. It took place beneath a pavilion filled with GOP donors and the aroma of beef and manure.
"This is my kinda place!" Allen shouted. He picked thin slices of beef from the buffet tray, tilted his head back and dangled the meat above his mouth before dropping it in.
"My kinda place!"
Pinching his lower lip between two fingers, Allen yanks it down to his chin and smears a gooey dab of smokeless tobacco along his gums. He is answering questions about an article in The New Republic magazine that details his past affinity with symbols of the bygone South.
Allen used to keep a Confederate flag in his living room, a noose in his law office and a picture of Confederate troops in his governor's office.
In his high school yearbook photo, Allen is wearing a Confederate flag pin. He said he cannot remember why, but suspects the pin was part of a nonconformist phase. He said a pal wore one, too.
"We probably did it for some sort of — I don't know what you call it — for the fun of it," Allen said, spitting tobacco juice between his cowboy boots. "It wasn't any major statement."
In the magazine article, classmates recalled Allen driving California's streets in a red Mustang with a Confederate plate. Some spoke of a graffiti-spraying incident and said it was racially tinged. Allen said he was suspended for the prank aimed at an opposing basketball team but denied writing anything racial.
In college, he embraced his new Southern life — playing country music, wearing cowboy boots, backing Richard Nixon and once shooting a squirrel on campus. He skinned it, ate it and hung the pelt on his wall, according to The New Republic.
Then there is his relationship with his sister, Jennifer Allen Richard, who wrote a book, "Fifth Quarter," about growing up the daughter of a football coach. Her eldest brother comes across as a bully who, among other things, cracked her boyfriend on the head with a pool cue.
"George hoped someday to become a dentist," she writes. "George said he saw dentistry as a perfect profession — getting paid to make people suffer."
What a charming man!
In addition to being an evangelizing moment, this is a big-business moment. At least 45 books have come out to rebut points in Dan Brown's novel, as well as more than a dozen CDs and DVDs tied to the film's release that explore the book, church history and the New Testament.
Without even getting into the fact that some churches feel the need to ban fiction --after all, it’s almost like their job is to ban things-- I must say that I can’t believe people view a novel as some sort of historical fact. I’ve read the book. It was okay, but I did not think for one minute that there was any reality to it. I mean, it is freakin’ fiction, after all. The fact that some people read Da Vinci Code and think that it is true really scares me.
But, in the end, I guess it’s okay, because some of these Christian groups will be right there to sweep these people into their folds. I mean, if a person is gullible enough to think that fiction is true, imagine what they’ll think about the Bible when told that it is the ultimate truth.
Yeah, so if anyone was wondering, no, this novel is not true, hence it being labeled as fiction.
The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.
The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.
First of all, this is frightening. There is no reason that the government should be paying any attention to innocent Americans. Once again, the GOP is showing that it hates everything that America stands for, continuing to piss on the Constitution and wipe their collective asses with our freedoms.
The three carriers control vast networks with the latest communications technologies. They provide an array of services: local and long-distance calling, wireless and high-speed broadband, including video. Their direct access to millions of homes and businesses has them uniquely positioned to help the government keep tabs on the calling habits of Americans.
Among the big telecommunications companies, only Qwest has refused to help the NSA, the sources said. According to multiple sources, Qwest declined to participate because it was uneasy about the legal implications of handing over customer information to the government without warrants.
Qwest's refusal to participate has left the NSA with a hole in its database. Based in Denver, Qwest provides local phone service to 14 million customers in 14 states in the West and Northwest. But AT&T and Verizon also provide some services — primarily long-distance and wireless — to people who live in Qwest's region. Therefore, they can provide the NSA with at least some access in that area.
It’s important to add that these companies are doing this voluntarily. If ever there was a reason to change phone companies, it would definitely be this. When a company voluntarily gives my call information to the government, it’s time to tell them to hit the door. My personal privacy is much, much too important.
It’s obvious that this NSA program is nothing like Bush has promised that it is. These are calls that take place within the US only, between people who aren’t suspected of anything. This administration has shut down any investigation into this program, so I don’t expect anything to come of this. With Republicans in complete control, our government is allowed to get away with these anti-American atrocities, leaving every American helpless against the growingly intrusive and illegal body that governs our country.
It’s time for people to wake up.
Update 1: Arlen Specter is calling for hearings to look into this.
AlterNet has an article up that perfectly describes what this whole Colbert incident means.
The only thing that annoys me more than censorship, is censorship of an entire idea, while allowing the clashing idea to be viewed.
Millions of Web sites are off limits to Palm Beach County students because they promote violence, racism and pornography, but some are criticizing the district for taking censoring too far.
The district has blocked access to gay and lesbian advocacy Web sites, including one belonging to a local group that serves gay youth, while allowing students to surf sites for the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, Traditional Values Coalition, the American Family Association and Focus on the Family — organizations that oppose gay rights.
So, Palm Beach County school officials have no problem blocking out sites that say positive things about homosexuals --including sites that may help gay children with the pressures of realizing who they are, as well as saving their lives--, but allows them to see gay hate groups like FoF and the AFA. Something needs to be done about this quick, as it is obvious that the anti-gay agenda has plowed into this school district.
ORLANDO, Fla. - President Bush suggested Wednesday that he'd like to see his family's White House legacy continue, perhaps with his younger brother Jeb as the chief executive.
Not that I think America would ever be dumb enough to vote in another Bush, but still, the thought of it is scary as hell.
The emerging Republican game plan for 2006 is, at bottom, a tautology: If the Democrats retake Congress it will mean, well, that the Democrats retake Congress. (Cue lightning bolt and ominous clap of thunder.) Karl Rove and his minions have plumb run out of issues to campaign on. They can't run on the war. They can't run on the economy, where the positive numbers on growth are offset by the largely stagnant numbers on median incomes and the public's growing dread of outsourcing. Immigration may play in various congressional districts, but it's too dicey an issue to nationalize. Even social conservatives may be growing weary of outlawing gay marriage every other November. Nobody's buying the ownership society. Competence? Ethics? You kidding?
Her critics on her left and right notwithstanding, Pelosi is one of the smartest pols on the political landscape -- as is attested by her ability to unify her fractious colleagues and designate John Murtha to attack the administration on the war. Now she's begun to outline the Democrats' own Contract With America. It ain't bad -- and for Republicans, that ain't good.
Stung by their failure in 2004 to stop ballot measures banning same-sex marriage, gay rights activists are moving to elect more of their own to legislatures where social policies often incubate.
The push isn't confined to places such as Massachusetts, where the state Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2003. Gays and lesbians are running for legislatures in Alabama, Arkansas and Oklahoma and for re-election in Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Utah — all states whose residents voted predominantly for President Bush in 2004.
"There's a more concerted and integrated effort" in states, says Chuck Wolfe of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Leadership Institute, which trains and funds candidates. The group plans to give $4.3 million to openly gay candidates this year.
Very interesting. The article goes on to highlight a few successes that GLBT members of government have had, in fighting for civil rights.
If you’d like to support any of these candidates, check out the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Leadership Institute to donate.
"We must get out of our political foxholes and be willing to clearly and specifically point out what a strategic error the Iraq invasion has been," Feingold, D-Wis., told a National Press Club audience.
Some people in the Democratic Party probably just had a slight heart attack. The Democrats haven’t taken leadership seriously on the issue of Iraq, and for one of them to come right out and say that we need to leave Iraq… well, that is surely scary for them. The important point here is that Feingold isn’t afraid to lead, to be outspoken, and to take the Republicans head on. Horrible Repub policy has put this country in a sorry state, leaving all of its citizens with a bad taste in our mouths. America needs to know that a vote for Democrat is a vote for change, and Feingold is getting that message out loud and clear.
From The Patriot Ledger:
BOSTON - Lawmakers and the state Supreme Judicial Court are once again playing hot potato with gay marriage.
On Wednesday, the Legislature is scheduled to take up a proposed ballot question seeking to ban same-sex marriages. The measure needs a total of just 50 votes in both houses of the 200-member body to clear its first hurdle.
Meanwhile, the SJC - the same body that legalized gay marriage in a November 2003 ruling - is expected to issue an opinion on the constitutionality of the proposed ballot question. The court heard oral arguments in the case Thursday.
Gay marriage supporters hope that lawmakers postpone their decision until the high court issues its decision, which could take months. Opponents, however, are pressing lawmakers to vote as scheduled on the ballot question, which needs approval this year and again in the 2007-2008 legislative session to be placed on the 2008 ballot.
Lawmakers are usually loath to take a position on a controversial issue that may be moot. Should the Supreme Judicial Court throw out the proposed ballot question, lawmakers would be off the hook.
Senate President Robert Travaglini has hinted, through his spokeswoman, that he will postpone Wednesday’s debate.
‘‘It’s premature to make any kind of comment on the gay marriage amendment until we hear from the SJC,’’ said Ann Dufresne, Travaglini’s spokeswoman. ‘‘We don’t even know if there will be an amendment. It all hinges upon the SJC.’’
It seems to be standard practice for the Legislature to wait until a court has ruled on an issue, so perhaps they will not give in to the right-wingers on this and change the way they do things.
To be quite honest, I get the impression that this is an open and shut case for the court. Reading this article, it seems that a law cannot reverse a court decision, which is what originally allowed same-sex marriage in the state. If this is the law on the books, I do not see how the court can rule that this amendment can be allowed to go forward.
Civil rights supporters in the state need to keep up on this. If, for some reason, the court allows the legislation to go through, people that care about civil rights need to contact members of the Legislature and inform them that they are against the amendment. If the Legislature votes to put this on the ballot, they must get out and vote. Just because Massachusetts is at the forefront of gay rights, doesn’t mean that the wingnuts are going to give up on their attempts. They will continue to fight, and we must make sure that we are there at every step, doing our American duty and defending the rights of our citizens.
Hillary Clinton has a few problems if she wants to secure the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. She is a leader who fails to lead. She does not appear "electable." But most of all, Hillary has a Bill Clinton problem. (And no, it's not about that. )
Moving into 2008, Republicans will be fighting to shake off the legacy of the Bush years: the jobless recovery, the foreign misadventures, the nightmarish fiscal mismanagement, the Katrina mess, unimaginable corruption and an imperial presidency with little regard for the Constitution or the rule of law. Every Democratic contender will be offering change, but activists will be demanding the sort of change that can come only from outside the Beltway.
I would really check out the entire thing, as it really shows the problems with the Democratic establishment and how Hillary Clinton really exemplifies these problems.
WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W. Bush said the September 11 revolt of passengers against their hijackers on board Flight 93 had struck the first blow of "World War III."
In an interview with the financial news network CNBC, Bush said he had yet to see the recently released film of the uprising, a dramatic portrayal of events on the United Airlines plane before it crashed in a Pennsylvania field.
But he said he agreed with the description of David Beamer, whose son Todd died in the crash, who in a Wall Street Journal commentary last month called it "our first successful counter-attack in our homeland in this new global war -- World War III".
Bush said: "I believe that. I believe that it was the first counter-attack to World War III.
Well all know that WWIII represents an end of world scenario. I can’t tell if Bush doesn’t realize this, or if he really thinks that he is some warrior of God, snuffing out the heathens and carving his name into history.
The Senate Armed Services Committee voted Thursday to require the administration to provide a legal opinion on how it is complying with — and thus interprets — a ban on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners.
The administration has been fiercely protective of its policies governing the treatment of detainees in the war on terrorism. The Republican-run Congress approved the ban last year on prisoner mistreatment, despite months of White House opposition.
One thing struck me odd about this article:
Congressional aides say the provision also reflects a bipartisan concern that U.S. troops still don't have clear guidelines about what they can and cannot do when trying to extract information from captured enemies.
The release of an updated version of the Army Field Manual, by which service members must abide under the 2005 law, has been delayed for months.
The Pentagon and the Army have been reviewing a draft of it — including a classified annex — for more than a year.
Several senators privately cautioned the Pentagon last week that keeping parts of the manual secret could raise suspicions that the United States was violating international and U.S. laws and rules governing detainee treatment.
That has touched off a fresh debate over what parts, if any, should be kept secret.
In a time when the U.S. military is being accused of prisoner abuse and torture, I would think that they wouldn’t want to keep these aspects secret. We need to take every step possible to show the world that these allegations are not true, and that we are not a country of abuse and torture.
Christian activists are planning a boycott of the soon-to-be-released Da Vinci Code movie, which one influential pro-family group is calling “blasphemous.”
Dr. Ted Baehr, founder and publisher of Movieguide.org and chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission, is asking Christians to sign a petition condemning the movie. The petition accuses Sony Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, director Ron Howard and actor Tom Hanks of supporting a film that is offensive to Christians.
The movie, according to Baehr, is “fraught with misconceptions and blatantly false claims about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the history of Christianity, and the Catholic Church.”
When there is such controversy surrounding something, such as a movie, its numbers go way up. People want to know why these Christians are getting their crosses in a bunch, and will go see the movie for this exact reason. Sometimes… sometimes I honestly believe that these activist groups are actually marketing firms, which people pay to run an advertising campaign. Certainly they know that all this publicity is going to blow this movie up, big time.
Oh, and by the way, the movie and book are fiction. Glad people need to combat the “misconceptions” of fiction. What is this world coming to?
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A bill prohibiting discrimination against gays in school curriculum passed a key Senate committee Wednesday despite arguments that it would intrude on a parent's right to teach morals to their children.
Written by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, and sponsored by Equality California, Senate Bill 1437 attempts to create bias-free social science curriculum by requiring schools to recognize the contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
The bill is one of two making their way through the Legislature that's drawn fire from some religious and conservative groups opposed to teaching such lifestyles in the classroom. The other, Assembly Bill 606 by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, requires school districts ensure compliance with the California Student Safety and Violence Act of 2000, which seeks to keep harassment and discrimination out of schools.
In recent weeks, student demonstrations on both sides have become a flashpoint in the debate on how homosexuality should be treated in school. When students nationwide participated in a Day of Silence to support gay and lesbian peers, others organized a National Day of Truth to oppose homosexuality.
It’s hilarious that opponents of this bill somehow believe that this has something to do with morality. Schools teaching that John Doe, a gay inventor, made contributions to society and history, teaches nothing about the morality of homosexuality. Showing the contributions of homosexuals doesn’t mean that children are going to go into a corner and participate in a gay orgy. It’s really simple: showing the contributions to history by gays simply shows the contributions to history by gays.
I think it’s a good sign that these weird far-righters’ arguments are becoming more and more stupid. It shows that they are losing this fight, and that they need to scratch and claw --most of the time with nonsensical statements and misrepresentations-- to keep their visions as reality for the whole country. They need to realize that their bigotry isn’t the norm anymore, and that America is evolving away from them, leaving them behind.
PHOENIX -- State legislatures around the nation are considering hundreds of proposals dealing with illegal immigration, reflecting the exasperation of many local officials with Congress's failure to contend with the millions of undocumented workers who have entered the nation in recent years.
Here in Arizona, the House has passed a proposal to set fines and other penalties for companies that hire undocumented workers. The bill, which had regularly failed in previous years, is expected to win Senate approval within days and is only one of many plans under consideration.
The multistate approach, with some states at variance with others, threatens to create a maze of laws and regulations at a time when the nation as a whole is struggling with how to contend with an unprecedented wave of illegal immigration.
"We're not going to solve this problem with a patchwork approach at the state level. It's a national problem, and the need is to repair the national system," said Josh Bernstein of the National Immigration Law Center, which works to promote the rights of low-income immigrants. "We're not going to erect barriers between states."
It seems to me that the state legislatures are doing exactly what they should be doing. Apparently, we won’t be getting a new national program anytime soon, so the states need to step up. This is an important issue for American citizens, and I feel that it needs to be addressed immediately, something that only state governments seem willing to do.
WASHINGTON -- The FBI sought personal information on thousands of Americans last year from banks, Internet service providers and other companies without having to seek approval from a court, according to new data released by the Justice Department.
In a report to the top leaders of both parties in the House, the department disclosed that the FBI had issued more than 9,200 "national security letters," or NSLs, seeking detailed information about more than 3,500 U.S. citizens or legal residents in 2005.
The report, released late Friday, represents the first official count of NSL use. It was required under legislation that extended the USA Patriot Act antiterrorism law.
3500 U.S. citizens seems like a huge number when you actually look at it in black and white. That’s 3500 people that the FBI has been monitoring, without oversight and any guarantee that civil liberties have been upheld. The right is still claiming that you have nothing to worry about if you do nothing wrong, but how do we know this, seeing as there is no oversight to make sure that this is true?
I still cannot believe that we Americans have allowed this to happen.
The Catholic Church is on the brink of a historic change of approach over condoms which could bring hope to millions in Africa and other parts of the developing world devastated by Aids.
"We are conducting a very profound scientific, technical and moral study," said the head of the Vatican Council for Health Pastoral Care. The church is expected to give a guarded, provisional blessing to the use of condoms by married couples when one of them suffers from Aids, as a way of protecting the health of the other partner. It is only a technical concession, based on two ancient principles, but, against the background of the stolid refusal by church authorities to countenance even the slightest deviation for more than a generation, it amounts to a revolution.
Pope Benedict XVI, who has just completed one year in office, is an unlikely reformer. For decades he was known as his predecessor's hardline "enforcer of the faith". But some Vatican insiders believe the main obstacle to change was John Paul II. Now many believe that Benedict, as a doctrinal purist, is well placed to bring the church's approach fractionally closer to the practice of believers. And to give some very belated support to Catholic healthcare workers in regions where Aids is rampant.
Let’s be honest here. Benedict will never allow this to happen. Most likely, people got whiff of this and are conducting a media campaign to try and sway the mind of the Catholic leader. I… don’t really see anything swaying Benedict to relax on the rigid rules and interpretations of the Church, even if many lives are at stake.
If I was in Africa dealing with this situation, I would give up on the Catholic faith. Any religion that isn’t worried about the lives of people, first and foremost, is not a religion that I should be a member of. Sometimes human life is more important than anything, even your religious beliefs.
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Parts of a new state law intended to prevent protesters from disrupting funerals are unconstitutional, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a federal lawsuit filed yesterday.
The ACLU filed suit in U.S. District Court in Frankfort, challenging sections of the law that the group claims go too far in limiting freedom of speech and expression. The lawsuit puts the ACLU, which has handled discrimination cases involving gays and lesbians, on the same side as Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., which is known for its anti-gay protests.
"The public should respect their dignity in a very difficult time," Hall said. "That's why this law was passed. It's inconceivable why anyone would want to protest at a military funeral while family members are there."
In an unscientific Web survey of 36,000 people, Blogads reported that political blog readers tend to be age 41 to 50, male (72 percent), and earn $60,000 to $90,000 per year. Two in five have college degrees, while just a tad less have graduate degrees.
"These are not people who are politically idealistic and born yesterday," said Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, who runs the popular liberal site DailyKos.
I find it amazing that some people have this weird view of blogs and blog readers. They see us as something that we aren’t.
To be honest, I’m slightly surprised by these results. I didn’t think that the majority age --especially 72 percent worth-- would be so high. Perhaps this blog is a bit different, but from all the information I have about my readers, my average age is 25-35, with only a slight plurality being male. *Shrug*