Friday, December 02, 2005

Texas redistricting viewed as illegal in secret memo

Yet another of Bush's political cronies suppressing and overruling the work of staffers who are trying to their jobs and to do the right and legal thing:

The memo, unanimously endorsed by six lawyers and two analysts in the department's voting section, said the redistricting plan illegally diluted black and Hispanic voting power in two congressional districts. It also said the plan eliminated several other districts in which minorities had a substantial, though not necessarily decisive, influence in elections....

The memo also found that Republican lawmakers and state officials who helped craft the proposal were aware it posed a high risk of being ruled discriminatory compared with other options....

The 73-page memo, dated Dec. 12, 2003, has been kept under tight wraps for two years. Lawyers who worked on the case were subjected to an unusual gag rule. The memo was provided to The Post by a person connected to the case who is critical of the adopted redistricting map. Such recommendation memos, while not binding, historically carry great weight within the Justice Department....

Mark Posner, a longtime Justice Department lawyer who now teaches law at American University, said it was "highly unusual" for political appointees to overrule a unanimous finding such as the one in the Texas case.
The Justice Department's approval of the redistricting plan was signed by Sheldon T. Bradshaw, principal deputy assistant attorney general. Another crony shaft job.

Ralph Reed got $4 million from Abramoff

Ralph Reed apparently forgot to register as a Texas lobbyist in 2001 and 2002 when he received $4 million from Abramoff and Scanlon. Watchdog groups in Texas have filed complaints in Austin.

The groups said Mr. Reed failed to register as a Texas lobbyist in 2001 and 2002, when he received more than $4 million from Mr. Abramoff and his partner Michael Scanlon. The Abramoff-Scanlon team was then pushing for a shutdown of casinos operated by the Tigua tribe of El Paso and the Alabama-Coushatta tribe of Livingston in East Texas. The casinos were ultimately closed.

Ah-nold rejects right-wing extremism

The LA Times has a story about Gov. Schwarnzenegger's appointment of a Democrat as his new chief-of-staff:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger picked a former Democratic Party activist as his new chief of staff after concluding that his current team was trying to push him in the directions they wanted to go, rather than embracing his more centrist ideas, sources familiar with the governor's thinking said Wednesday.

Damn right, they were.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Can You Prove Touch-screen Voting Machines Accurately Record Votes?

Seeing the Forest makes a good argument for why we need paper-trail voting machines.

I'm supposed to touch a screen and then just trust that the machine correctly records my vote. Right.

Suppose that every computer expert in the world decided that the machines were beyond any possibility whatsoever of being tampered with. (Set aside for a minute that it is the computer experts - the people who understand computers - who are sounding the warnings about the possibility of fraud from these machines.) And suppose that every politician, every authority figure, every credible organization declared that these machines are beyond question. Suppose that even every "fringe conspiracy nut" in the world issued forth with assurances that the machines accurately recorded votes.

There is still a problem. You still can not prove that the voting machine correctly recorded the way I voted.

Take a look. The entire thing is worth a read.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Mundell declines to challenge Feinstein

Republican Bill Mundell has decided not to challenge Diane Feinstein in next year's California race.

The move by Mundell, an education software executive, reflects the difficulty Republicans face in finding a strong candidate to challenge the popular Democratic incumbent.

Supremes release abortion case audio

The Supreme Court has released the audio tape of today's arguments in the New Hampshire abortion case on parental consent notification. The audio (Realmedia) can be directly downloaded here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"Absolute truth was not essential"

Espousing the principles of democracy, Rumsfeld's boys give secret payments to Iraqi newspapers to print US propaganda:

As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq. ...

Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents, and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.

While the articles are basically truthful, they present only one side of events and omit information that might reflect poorly on the U.S. or Iraqi governments, officials said. Records and interviews indicate that the U.S. has paid Iraqi newspapers to run dozens of such articles -- with headlines such as "Iraqis Insist on Living Despite Terrorism" -- since the effort began this year.

The operation is designed to mask any connection with the U.S. military. ...

The military's information operations campaign has sparked a backlash among some senior military officers in Iraq and at the Pentagon who argue that attempts to subvert the news media could destroy the U.S. military's credibility both in foreign nations and with the American public.

"Here we are trying to create the principles of democracy in Iraq. Every speech we give in that country is about democracy. And we're breaking all the first principles of democracy when we're doing it," said a senior Pentagon official who opposes the practice of planting stories in the Iraqi media. ...

According to several sources, the process for placing the stories begins when soldiers write "storyboards" of events in Iraq, such as a joint U.S.-Iraqi raid on a suspected insurgent hide-out, or a suicide bomb that killed Iraqi civilians.

The storyboards, several of which were obtained by The Times, read more like press releases than news stories, and often contain anonymous quotes from U.S. military officials. It is unclear whether the anonymous quotes are authentic.

"Absolute truth was not an essential element of these stories," said the senior military official who spent this year in Iraq.

Cheney: "What Law? I'm special"

From WaPo,Cheney has been refusing all along to disclose his official travel expenses:

In a report this month, the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity said Cheney and his staff have sidestepped regulations that require annual reporting of travel expenses of more than $250 received from outside groups. The center, which focuses on ethics and public service issues, said previous vice presidents routinely disclosed such payments for lodging, travel and food when the veep and his staff made appearances at colleges, think tanks and trade associations. ...

Cheney's office says nothing is amiss. ...

Yet, according to the center's research, Cheney has given 23 speeches to think tanks and trade organizations and 16 at academic institutions since 2001 -- apparently all at taxpayers' expense.

Cheney blamed Powell (!) for the Iraq screw-up

From last Wednesday's Joseph Galloway column (Knight-Ridder), Cheney's mendacity shines through:

In the end, the distortion of intelligence to support the invasion of Iraq may be the lesser of Cheney's sins. He rammed his friend Ahmad Chalabi's version of reality in Iraq down everyone's throats and made it impossible for anyone in the Pentagon to properly plan for postwar occupation and reconstruction.

Then, when it all threatened to come undone and American soldiers were dying at the rate of three or four per day in Iraq, Cheney poked his finger in Powell's chest outside a principals meeting in the White House, according to a senior administration official, and yelled: "It's all YOUR fault. If you had let us put Chalabi in charge none of this would have happened."

Cheney: "a nefarious bastard"

Larry Wilkerson, former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff, from an interview with the AP:

Cheney must have sincerely believed that Iraq could be a spawning ground for new terror assaults, because "otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard."

Wilkerson suggested his former boss may agree with him that Bush was too hands-off about Iraq.

"What he seems to be saying to me now is the president failed to discipline the process the way he should have and that the president is ultimately responsible for this whole mess," Wilkerson said.

Is it still 1984?

Rummy gets hung up trying to spin word definitions again:

Rumsfeld instead referred to the guerrillas in Iraq as "the terrorists" and "the enemies of the government." U.S. military statements also have referred to insurgents as "anti-Iraqi forces."

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines an insurgent as "a person who revolts against civil authority or an established government." ...

During the briefing, the top U.S. military officer, Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, slipped up twice and said "insurgent." With Rumsfeld standing at his side, Pace told reporters, "I have to use the word 'insurgent' because I can't think of a better word right now."
Dammit, they're insurgents!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Is Katherine Harris next?

The Republican wheel of corruption keeps spinning 'round. Today it landed on Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R, CA-50) as he agreed to plead guilty to taking millions in bribes for favors for his defense contractor buddies. However, Josh Marshall points out :

As you'll see in Duke's statements, he's agreed to cooperate in the US Attorney's on-going investigation. And a logical place to start would be with the various coconspirators listed in the charges against him. Remember, one of those was Mitchell Wade. And Duke wasn't the only one getting lots of contributions from Wade.

Katherine Harris was on the gravy train.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

New Breed of Western Democrats

Brian Schweitzer is among the new breed of Western Democrats that will steer the future direction of the Democratic Party. The New York Times today has an excellent article, Out West, Democrats Roam Free. For example, the desires of environmentalists, hunters and fishermen are remarkably similar. Schweitzer has succeeded by appealing to a common denominator, demonstrating that areas of mutual interest can be a natural fit to Democratic values.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Welcome to Kephalos!

Let's see how this blog evolves over time.