Thursday, January 04, 2007


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The New York Times

January 4, 2007
John McCain a Target for All Sides
Filed at 8:14 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Everyone, it seems, is jabbing at John McCain thesedays -- from a Republican rival for the presidential nomination to severalpotential Democratic candidates.

''When you're the perceived front-runner, your head's above the politicaltrench and everyone takes shots at you,'' said Chris Lehane, a Democraticstrategist and presidential campaign veteran.

McCain, considered by many to be the Republican to beat, has largelyremained silent about the criticism, which is somewhat uncharacteristic forthe outspoken Arizona senator. His presidential exploratory committee onWednesday declined to comment on the spate of reproaches over his stands ongay marriage and the Iraq war.


USA Today

Pelosi leads wave of women making political history
Updated 1/3/2007 11:26 PM ET
By Kathy Kiely, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON - Nancy Pelosi won't be the only woman making history when shetakes the oath Thursday as the nation's first female speaker of the House.The California Democrat is the most visible among a record number of femalestate legislators, governors and members of Congress. The cracks in the"marble ceiling," as Pelosi likes to call it, will be on display as the newCongress convenes.

An example: When Democrat Barbara Mikulski of Maryland joined the Senate in1987, she was the 16th woman ever to hold a seat in that chamber. Thursday,when Democrats Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Claire McCaskill of Missouritake their oaths as new senators, Mikulski will be among a record 16 womenserving in the Senate at the same time.


GOP girds for battle over Pelosi's agenda
Blasts decision for quick votes
By Rick Klein, Globe Staff | January 4, 2007

WASHINGTON -- As Democrats take control of Congress today with ambitiousplans for a new agenda, early signs of bipartisan cooperation have all butevaporated on Capitol Hill, shattering Democrats' hopes for a smoothtransition into power.

Even before House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi takes over as Housespeaker, Republicans have begun an assault on her leadership decisions. Theyblasted Pelosi's decision to hold votes on a series of bills in the first100 legislative hours of the new Congress, saying that her decision tocircumvent the committee process and prohibit Republican amendmentsundercuts her vows of a more open lawmaking process.

"Half of the Congress has been cut out of the process," Representative AdamH. Putnam of Florida, chairman of the House Republican Conference, saidyesterday. "The American people were promised a new way of doing business inthe United States Congress. . . . This is a missed opportunity."


The Sun-Sentinel,0,1107306.story?coll=sfla-news-opinion


Many Israeli policies fit `apartheid' label
By Johnny Barber

January 1, 2007

I take exception to the recent Sun-Sentinel editorial denouncing JimmyCarter's new book Palestine: Peace, not Apartheid. The editorial citescritics who describe the book as "dishonest and biased," yet not one exampleis given.

The editorial claims that the Israelis and Palestinians do not occupy thesame land, and this much is true. Palestine is not part of Israel, but onlyone people are occupiers. The editorial may claim that "Israel has noobligation to return it (the so-called "disputed land," in fact occupiedland) until a permanent peace is achieved," but this is not the law.

The settlements in the West Bank are not Israel, and they are not ondisputed land, they are on occupied land, and Israel has internationalobligations that it is flagrantly ignoring in continuing its expansion ofthese settlements.

The editorial found no comparison with apartheid. Perhaps I can elucidate afew.


FBI ran checks on critics of Rehnquist nomination
2 administrations tied to inquiries
By Mark Sherman and Pete Yost, Associated Press | January 4, 2007

WASHINGTON -- The FBI, replying to a Nixon administration request, rancriminal background checks on Senate witnesses critical of William H.Rehnquist's nomination to the Supreme Court in 1971, according to newlyreleased FBI files.

Fifteen years later, Justice Department officials in the Reaganadministration asked the FBI to check on witnesses who were scheduled totestify in opposition to Rehnquist's elevation from justice to chief

"Thurmond just gave these names to Bolton they will testify for theDemocrats and we want to know what they are going to say," a JusticeDepartment official, Gene Hickhock, told a counterpart at the FBI, accordingto a memo in Rehnquist's file.


Los Angeles Times,1,3095464.story?coll=la-news-comment

Make the CIA talk
Congressional Democrats are right to demand more information aboutinterrogation tactics.

January 4, 2007

HOWEVER ELSE it might modify its behavior in dealing with a new,Democratic-controlled Congress, the Bush administration is stillstonewalling when it comes to sharing information about its tactics in the"war on terror." That's a mistake.

This week, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the incoming chairman of theSenate Judiciary Committee, disclosed that the Justice Department hadspurned his request for two documents. One is a presidential directiveregarding Central Intelligence Agency interrogation methods and detentionfacilities outside the United States. The other is a 2002 Justice Departmentmemo on the subject to the CIA's top lawyer.

Leahy, who raised the possibility of issuing subpoenas to obtain thedocuments, lamented that the rebuff from the Justice Department "is not theconstructive step toward bipartisanship that I had hoped for, givenPresident Bush's promise to work with us." In this case Leahy's complaint isjustified.


CBS News

Bush The Believer

Jan. 3, 2007
(Weekly Standard)
This column was written by Joseph Epstein

When George W. Bush addresses the nation with his Iraq proposals in earlyJanuary, a great many people will be disappointed. They will be so becausethe president is unlikely to change the position he has held all along: thatin Iraq victory, or something that looks to the world like victory, is stillessential, crucial even.

How could it be otherwise? George W. Bush is not, strictly speaking, apolitician; he came, after all, to politics late. He is instead a believer.It may well be in his nature to believe, as witness his midlife conversionto earnest Christianity. But there can be very little doubt that, on themorning of September 11, 2001, he also acquired political religion. Hebelieves American security is being challenged; he believes this challengemust be met directly and with force; and he believes that he knows what isbest for the country which he has been chosen to lead. The question of therightness of his belief may be debated; but about the sincerity of hisbelief there can't be much question.


The New York Times

January 4, 2007
U.S. Bars Lab From Testing Electronic Voting

A laboratory that has tested most of the nation's electronic voting systemshas been temporarily barred from approving new machines after federalofficials found that it was not following its quality-control procedures andcould not document that it was conducting all the required tests.

The company, Ciber Inc. of Greenwood Village, Colo., has also come underfire from analysts hired by New York State over its plans to test new votingmachines for the state. New York could eventually spend $200 million toreplace its aging lever devices.

Experts on voting systems say the Ciber problems underscore longstandingworries about lax inspections in the secretive world of voting-machinetesting. The action by the federal Election Assistance Commission seemscertain to fan growing concerns about the reliability and security of thedevices.

The commission acted last summer, but the problem was not disclosed then.Officials at the commission and Ciber confirmed the action in recentinterviews.


The Washington Post

A Chance To Change The Game

By Barack Obama
Thursday, January 4, 2007; A17

This past Election Day, the American people sent a clear message toWashington: Clean up your act.

After a year in which too many scandals revealed the influence specialinterests wield over Washington, it's no surprise that so many incumbentswere defeated and that polls said "corruption" was the grievance cited mostfrequently by the voters.

It would be a mistake, however, to conclude that this message was intendedfor only one party or politician. The votes hadn't even been counted inNovember before we heard reports that corporations were already recruitinglobbyists with Democratic connections to carry their water in the nextCongress.


The Washington Post

Christian Political Fast?

By Ryan Messmore
Special to's Think Tank Town
Thursday, January 4, 2007; 12:00 AM

How much political involvement can Christians stomach and still remain trueto their faith? A cadre of religious believers in America is considering amal-nourishing proposal: that followers of Jesus should "fast" from politicsfor two years.

David Kuo, an evangelical Christian who once worked for the Bushadministration in the White House Office of Faith-Based and CommunityInitiatives, has advocated this suggestion in The New York Times. Such afast, he explains, would entail giving up "intense political activism" suchas sending letters to Congress, volunteering for campaigns, and "engaging inpolitical arguments with friends." The only political activity Christianswould engage in is voting. With all of the free time and saved energyresulting from not "making political arguments" or watching "crazy politicalnews," Kuo argues, followers of Jesus could spend more time hanging out withtheir families and helping the poor.


The Washington Post

Suggester in Chief

By David S. Broder
Thursday, January 4, 2007; A17

An element of unreality has infected the speculation about President Bush'sdecision on a new strategy for Iraq. In the weeks since the Iraq Study Groupissued its report and the president said he was going to canvass a varietyof other sources before making up his mind, the assumption has grown that hewill declare the next steps himself.

In reality, Bush's ability to act on his own is severely limited. His handsare tied both at home and abroad. At most, he can suggest what he would liketo do, but he is dependent on others to actually do it.

The overseas constraints begin in Iraq, where any policy depends on thecooperation and dubious capacity of the struggling government in Baghdad.That government is consumed by factional fighting and has yet to find thewill to deal with its own thuggish Shiite elements or to reach any kind ofaccommodation with the rebellious Sunni minority.


The Washington Post

Pelosi Walks Tightrope Enforcing Rules
New Speaker Must Come to Terms With Her Party's Own Troubles

By Michael Grunwald and Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, January 4, 2007; A01

First in a series of occasional articles on the new Democratic-controlledCongress.

On June 15, beneath the crystal chandeliers and Corinthian pilasters of theCannon Caucus Room, House Democrats had to decide how they really felt aboutthe "culture of corruption." After months of expressing outrage overRepublican scandals, what would they do about the $90,000 the FBI had foundin the freezer of one of their own?

To House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the answer was obvious:Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.) had to give up his coveted spot on theWays and Means Committee. But at the closed-door caucus meeting, severalblack Democrats complained that Pelosi was not their emperor or queen, whileJefferson implored his colleagues to keep him on Ways and Means for the sakeof Hurricane Katrina's victims. No one spoke up for Pelosi -- except Pelosi.

She began by praising Jefferson's wife and five daughters: Jamila, Jalila,Jelani, Nailah and Akilah. But she quickly made it clear that Jefferson'slegal problems had become her political problem: "I am not an emperor or aqueen. But neither am I a fool."


The Washington Post

The Right Minimum Wage

By George F. Will
Thursday, January 4, 2007; A17

A federal minimum wage is an idea whose time came in 1938, when publicconfidence in markets was at a nadir and the federal government's confidencein itself was at an apogee. This, in spite of the fact that with 19 percentunemployment and the economy contracting by 6.2 percent in 1938, the NewDeal's frenetic attempts had failed to end, and perhaps had prolonged, theDepression.

Today, raising the federal minimum wage is a bad idea whose time has come,for two reasons, the first of which is that some Democrats have an evidentlyincurable disease -- New Deal Nostalgia. Witness Nancy Pelosi's "100 hours"agenda, a genuflection to FDR's 100 Days. Perhaps this nostalgia resonateswith the 5 percent of Americans who remember the 1930s.

Second, President Bush has endorsed raising the hourly minimum from $5.15 to$7.25 by the spring of 2009. The Democratic Congress will favor that, and hemay reason that vetoing this minor episode of moral grandstanding would notbe worth the predictable uproar -- Washington uproar often is inverselyproportional to the importance of the occasion for it. Besides, there wouldbe something disproportionate about the president vetoing this feel-good bitof legislative fluff after not vetoing the absurdly expensive 2002 farmbill, or the 2005 highway bill larded with 6,371 earmarks or theanti-constitutional McCain-Feingold speech-rationing bill.


The Washington Post

Litmus Test for Pro-Life Democrats

By Robert D. Novak
Thursday, January 4, 2007; A17

Near the top of the new Democratic congressional majority's agenda ispassage of stem cell research legislation vetoed last year by PresidentBush, a measure that will answer a major question. There is no doubt the newbill will pass both houses of Congress. What remains in doubt are the votesto be cast by newly elected Democrats who campaigned as pro-life advocates,particularly Pennsylvania Sen.-elect Bob Casey Jr.

Outside the boundaries of his state, Casey is best known as the son of theDemocrat most revered in the pro-life movement: the late Gov. Robert Casey.Denied the podium at the 1992 Democratic National Convention because of hisantiabortion views, the elder Casey planned a serious independent campaignfor president before being stopped by poor health. But will the son, lessardent a pro-lifer than the father, vote against the embryonic stem cellresearch bill as he promised during the campaign? Will seven self-describedpro-life Democrats newly elected to the House do the same?


The Washington Post

The Voices on the Gallows

By Jim Hoagland
Thursday, January 4, 2007; A17

This is a column I never expected to write.

I never expected to say that the Iraqis who put Saddam Hussein to death madethe sadistic dictator look almost noble by their own depraved standards ofbehavior in that moment.

The mishandled execution carries a larger message that President Bush mustabsorb for the decisive address he plans to give on Iraq as early as nextweek: If Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his aides cannot control agallows chamber containing 20 people, how can they hope to manage a countrythat is disintegrating under the weight of religious and ethnic hatreds?

Was Maliki's office complicit in a grisly in-your-face payback by the primeminister's Dawa Party for Hussein's atrocities against its founders andIraqis at large? Or -- and this could be worse -- did Maliki's people failto foresee the consequences of their rush to rid themselves of thistroublesome prisoner? Either way, the result is a sharp setback for astrategy that depends on national unity to underpin an orderly, secure U.S.exit from Iraq.


The Washington Post

Negroponte to Leave Job to Be State Dept. Deputy

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 4, 2007; A11

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has persuaded John D. Negroponte toleave his post as director of national intelligence and come to the StateDepartment as her deputy, government officials said last night.

Negroponte's move would fill a crucial hole on Rice's team. She has beenwithout a deputy since Robert B. Zoellick left in July for a Wall Streetfirm. It also comes as President Bush plans to announce a new Iraq strategy;as former Iraq envoy, Negroponte would be expected to play a major role inimplementing that plan in his new role.

Negroponte's decision to step down as the nation's top spy for a sub-Cabinetposition marks a sudden reversal. Rice had earlier sought to recruitNegroponte -- as well as other high-profile figures -- for the job, but lastmonth he insisted he was staying at his post.

"In my own mind at least, I visualize staying . . . through the end of thisadministration, and then I think probably that'll be about the right time topack it in," he told C-SPAN in an interview broadcast Dec. 3. "I've pulledtogether a very good team, and they've stayed with me for the past 18months," he said, "and I hope they'll stay with me as long as I'm in thejob."


The Washington Post

Romney Forms Presidential Committee, Focuses on Fundraising

By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 4, 2007; A03

Outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a successful businessman from aprominent Michigan Republican family, joined the 2008 sweepstakes yesterday,formally establishing a presidential committee and turning his attention tothe substantial fundraising and organizational demands of a nationalcampaign.

On a day he participated in a ritualistic walk from the statehouse thatsymbolically marked the end of his single term as governor of one of themost liberal states in the union, Romney set his sights on winning hisparty's presidential nomination against such nationally known opponents asSen. John McCain (Ariz.) and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Romney's filing, delayed for a day out of respect for the national day ofmourning for former president Gerald R. Ford, set up what is called apresidential exploratory committee, but the time for exploring ended forRomney some time ago. Along with McCain, Romney has been aggressivelybuilding a national network for months, particularly in Iowa, New Hampshire,South Carolina and Michigan -- all states with early caucuses or primariesnext year.


Robertson: God warns of terror attack in '07

January 3, 2007

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson said Tuesday Godhas told him that a terrorist attack on the United States would result in''mass killing'' late in 2007.

''I'm not necessarily saying it's going to be nuclear,'' he said during''The 700 Club'' on the Christian Broadcasting Network. ''The Lord didn'tsay nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that.''

Robertson said God told him major cities and possibly millions of peoplewill be affected by the attack, which should take place sometime afterSeptember.

The broadcaster predicted in January 2004 that President Bush would easilywin re-election. Bush won 51 percent of the vote that fall.

In 2005, Robertson predicted Social Security reform would be approved andBush would nominate conservative judges to federal courts.


Yahoo! News

Pentagon not pursuing Guantanamo report
By PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press Writer
Wed Jan 3, 12:13 PM ET

The Pentagon plans no action as a result of a newly released FBI report ondetainee abuse at the Guantanamo Bay military prison, a spokesman saidWednesday, asserting there is nothing new in the report.

"The idea that this is new is misguided and misleading," said DefenseDepartment spokesman Bryan Whitman.

"These are things the department has thoroughly investigated and whereallegations have been substantiated, disciplinary action has been taken," hesaid.

Documents released Tuesday by the FBI focused on harsh interrogationtechniques used by military officials and contractors when questioningso-called enemy combatants at the facility the Pentagon set up in Cuba forterrorism suspects.


Democrats Finalize New Ethics Rules
By Jonathan E. Kaplan and Jackie Kucinich
The Hill

Wednesday 03 January 2007

House Democrats hurried yesterday to put the finishing touches on ethicsreforms that would ban lawmakers and staffers from accepting trips, giftsand meals from lobbyists and prevent the new majority from holding votesopen to change the outcome.

Democrats will adopt and then amend the House Rules package tomorrow toban all travel paid for by lobbyists or organizations that employ lobbyists,require the ethics committee to pre-approve travel paid for by outsidegroups, enact a total gift ban, and require lawmakers to pay the market costof flying on a corporate jet, said Democratic staffers and officials withgovernment watchdog groups.

And, because they feel they lost the 2003 Medicare prescription drugbenefit vote because GOP leaders held it open for three hours, during whichthey flipped opponents into the "yes" column, Democrats will include aprovision in the rules to prevent any sort of repetition, said aides toincoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).


The New York Times

January 4, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Another Thousand Lives
How long can this go on?

Saddam is dead. The weapons of mass destruction were a mirage. More than3,000 American G.I.s and scores of thousands of Iraqis have been killed.Voters in the United States have made it clear that they no longer supportAmerican involvement in this exercise in sustained barbarism. Incredibly,the U.S. military itself is turning against the war.

And yet the president, against the counsel of his commanders on the ground,apparently is ready to escalate - to send more American lives into the firehe set in Iraq.

In a devastating critique of the war, the newsweekly Army Times led itscurrent edition with the headline: "About-Face on the War - After 3 years ofsupport, troops sour on Iraq." The article detailed a Military Times Pollthat found, for the first time, that "more troops disapprove of thepresident's handling of the war than approve of it."

Only a third of the service members surveyed approved of the president'sconduct of the war, while 42 percent disapproved. Perhaps worse was thefinding that only half of the troops believed that success in Iraq waslikely.


The New York Times

January 4, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
A Snit in First Class

I have a dream, my friends. I have a dream that we are approaching the day
when a ranch-owning millionaire Republican like George Bush will make peacewit a vineyard-owning millionaire Democrat like Nancy Pelosi.

I have a dream that Pelosi, who was chauffeured to school as a child andwho, with her investor husband, owns minority shares in the Auberge duSoleil resort hotel and the CordeValle Golf Club, will look over her famousstrand of South Sea Tahitian pearls and forge bonds of understanding withthe zillionaire corporate barons in the opposing party.

Furthermore, I dream of a great harmonic convergence among the obscenelyrich - between Randian hedge fund managers on the right and helipadenvironmentalists on the left. I dream that the big-money people who seem todominate our politics will put aside their partisan fury and discover theclass solidarity that Karl Marx always said they shared, and their newfoundcivility will trickle down to the rest of us. I dream that Berkeley willmake peace with Buckhead, Streisand with DeVos, Huffington with O'Reilly.


Group: ExxonMobil paid to mislead public

Wed Jan 3, 2:15 PM ET

ExxonMobil Corp. gave $16 million to 43 ideological groups between 1998 and2005 in a coordinated effort to mislead the public by discrediting thescience behind global warming, the Union of Concerned Scientists assertedWednesday.

The report by the science-based nonprofit advocacy group mirrors similarclaims by Britain's leading scientific academy. Last September, The RoyalSociety wrote the oil company asking it to halt support for groups that"misrepresented the science of climate change."

ExxonMobil did not immediately respond to requests for comment on thescientific advocacy group's report.

Many scientists say accumulating carbon dioxide and other heat-trappinggases from tailpipes and smokestacks are warming the atmosphere like agreenhouse, melting Arctic sea ice, alpine glaciers and disturbing the livesof animals and plants.

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