Saturday, March 03, 2007


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Forwarded from Ron Mills

I wanted to tell you about something pretty outrageous.

Fox News convinced the Democratic Party to let Fox host anationally-televised Democratic presidential primary debate this summer inNevada!

But Fox isn't even a legitimate news channel!

It's a right-wing mouthpiece like Rush Limbaugh—dedicated to smearingDemocrats. (Recently, Fox falsely claimed Sen. Barack Obama attended aterrorist school!)

There's a growing backlash of people demanding that Democrats drop Fox. Canyou help out by signing this petition to the Democratic Party of Nevada?It's really easy—just click this link:

Ron Mills


The New York Times

March 3, 2007
U.S. Predicting Steady Increase for Emissions

The Bush administration estimates that emissions by the United States ofgases that contribute to global warming will grow nearly as fast through thenext decade as they did the previous decade, according to a long-delayedreport being completed for the United Nations.

The document, the United States Climate Action Report, emphasizes that theprojections show progress toward a goal Mr. Bush laid out in a 2002 speech:that emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases grow at a slowerrate than the economy. Since that speech, he has repeated his commitment tolessening “greenhouse gas intensity” without imposing formal limits on thegases.

Kristen A. Hellmer, a spokeswoman for the White House on environmentalmatters, said on Friday, “The Climate Action Report will show that thepresident’s portfolio of actions addressing climate change and hisunparalleled financial commitments are working.”

But when shown the report, an assortment of experts on climate trends andpolicy described the projected emissions as unacceptable given the risingevidence of risks from unabated global warming.

“As governor of Texas and as a candidate, the president supported mandatorylimits on carbon dioxide emissions,” said David W. Conover, who directed theadministration’s Climate Change Technology Program until February 2006 andis now counsel to the National Commission on Energy Policy, a nonpartisanresearch group that supports limits on gases. “When he announced hisvoluntary greenhouse-gas intensity reduction goal in 2002, he said it wouldbe re-evaluated in light of scientific developments. The science now clearlycalls for a mandatory program that establishes a price for greenhouse-gasemissions.”


The New York Times

March 3, 2007
No More Denials, Please

It is time for the Justice Department to stop issuing rote denials that arebecoming increasingly hard to believe about the suspicious firing of eightUnited States attorneys. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should appoint animpartial investigator to get to the bottom of this unfolding scandal.

Just this week, David Iglesias, one of the eight fired United Statesattorneys, charged that he was dismissed for resisting pressure to begin apolitically charged prosecution before the 2006 election. His allegationcame shortly after performance evaluations came to light that throwconsiderable doubt on the Justice Department’s claim that the United Statesattorneys were fired for poor performance.

United States attorneys, the highest federal prosecutors at the state level,must be insulated from politics. Their decisions about whether to indict canruin lives, and change the outcome of elections. To ensure theirindependence, United States attorneys are almost never removed during theterm of the president who appointed them.

The Bush administration ignored this tradition, and trampled onprosecutorial independence, by firing eight United States attorneys in rapidsuccession, including one, Carol Lam of San Diego, who had put a powerfulRepublican congressman in jail. Mr. Iglesias, who was the U.S. attorney inNew Mexico, says two members of Congress called him last October and urgedhim to pursue corruption charges against a prominent Democrat before theNovember election. He did not. He was dismissed.

Most of the fired United States attorneys’ performance evaluations praisethem for the quality of their work, and for following the priorities set inWashington. These do not appear to be the evaluations of people who werefired for poor performance.


The New York Times

March 3, 2007

A famous hunter and outdoorsman recently voiced misgivings about people whouse assault rifles to kill prairie dogs.

Everyone knows what a prairie dog is: a chubby North American rodent thatlives in a communal burrow and grows to be about a foot long. “Assault rifle” is a much touchier term. It is generally understood to be the kindof gun that soldiers use in wars and terrorists use on the evening news. Butthe gun lobby despises “assault rifle,” considering it a false, scary labeltacked onto perfectly legitimate weapons by people who want to take awayothers’ rights.

That is a debate for another day. The question for now is whether thehunter, Jim Zumbo, deserved what he got after he wrote on his blog thathunters should shun what he called assault rifles — semiautomatics like theAR-15, a cousin of the M-16, and civilian knockoffs of the AK-47. “Excuseme, maybe I’m a traditionalist,” he wrote, “but I see no place for theseweapons among our hunting fraternity.” He added: “To most of the public, anassault rifle is a terrifying thing. Let’s divorce ourselves from them. Isay game departments should ban them from the prairies and woods.”

Until he wrote that, Mr. Zumbo was one of the most admired hunters inAmerica, a widely read magazine writer with his own cable TV program andlots of lecture appearances and corporate sponsorships. He of all peopleshould have known that “ban” is the mother of all fighting words to gunzealots. His 250-word posting caused a huge eruption on gun blogs, and Mr.Zumbo instantly became their second-most-hated man, after the gun-controladvocate James Brady. Even though Mr. Zumbo quickly disavowed his words andapologized, he lost his blog, was dumped by Outdoor Life magazine and wasdisowned by the National Rifle Association, after 40 years of membership.His corporate sponsors, including the gunmaker Remington, ditched him. Hiscable show was canceled. The N.R.A. issued a chilling statement warningCongress to take heed of Mr. Zumbo’s fate. By the time Blaine Harden toldhis story in The Washington Post, Mr. Zumbo was professionally dead.


The New York Times

March 3, 2007
Locking Up the Ghost of Congress Past

Congress’s quid-pro-quo corruption scandal continues to haunt the Capitol asBob Ney, the once-unbeatable lawmaker, slips off to his prison sentence oftwo and a half years for peddling influence to Jack Abramoff, thebribe-dishing lobbyist already doing six years in a Florida case.

As the House’s special task force considers whether Congress needs anoutside monitoring panel to help enforce stronger integrity standards, wesuggest that it start with an in-depth briefing on the Abramoff-Neydownfall — complete with cash-flow charts and poll data on how the scandalhas tainted the public’s view of lawmakers.

It shouldn’t take more than that to persuade the task force of what isneeded.

The House ethics committee sat mute and petrified for a year while the newsmedia and prosecutors peeled back the Abramoff scandal. An independentintegrity office to investigate allegations of ethics violations is exactlythe restorative needed by the ethics committee. Unfortunately, no one knowswhat is on the task force’s agenda because the bipartisan group has decidedto start its work with private meetings. Public hearings may or may not comelater as the lawmakers face a May 1 deadline for making recommendations.There may be some virtue in eliciting candor in private, but sooner or laterthe House very much needs to hear from a galvanized public that sent a cleardemand for ethical reform when it voted the Republicans out of power lastyear.

The Democratic Senate has already run away from a proposed integrity office.The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, deserves credit for ordering considerationof the sensitive subject of an outside watchdog. But the study group mustnot be shrouded in secrecy nor its work be allowed to drag on beyond May 1.For all the tenderness of the task, lawmakers should focus on where and howMr. Ney went wrong and try to ensure that it does not happen again.


The New York Times

March 3, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Where’s His Right Hook?


As I sit across from Barack Obama in his Senate office, I feel like IngridBergman in “The Bells of St. Mary’s,” when she plays a nun who teaches aschoolboy who’s being bullied how to box.

I’m just not certain, having watched the fresh-faced senator shy away fromfighting with the feral Hillary over her Hollywood turf, that he understandsthat a campaign is inherently a conflict.

The Democrats lost the last two excruciatingly close elections because AlGore and John Kerry did not fight fiercely and cleverly enough.

After David Geffen made critical comments about Hillary, she seized thechance to play Godzilla stomping on Obambi.

As a woman, she clearly feels she must be aggressive in showing she can“deck” opponents, as she put it — whether it’s Saddam with her warresolution vote or Senator Obama when he encroaches on areas that she andBill had presumed were wrapped up, like Hollywood and now the black vote.


The New York Times

March 3, 2007
Guest Columnist

A Word Too Far

Recently, the law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski had to grovel after one ofits recruiters used a racist epithet in an interview exercise at DukeUniversity Law School.

The recruiter was quoting a Waco, Tex., prosecutor in a 1920s murder case inwhich Leon Jaworski, one of the firm’s founding partners, represented ablack defendant.

But never mind. One student heard an upsetting word and lodged a complaint.

Without explaining the context of the partner’s use of that horrible word,the law school’s dean, Katharine Bartlett, sent e-mail to students, saying:“I appreciate the strong feelings this incident has raised.” And beforelong, Steven Pfeiffer, the chairman of the firm’s executive committee, wastraveling to Durham, N.C., to apologize.

As reported in the Texas Lawyer, Pfeiffer said, “There is no excuse for whathappened on this campus. There is no context for which that is permissibleconduct.”

Closer to home, a perplexing event took place at the University of WisconsinLaw School, where I teach.


The New York Times

March 3, 2007
U.S. and Brazil Seek to Promote Ethanol in West

WASHINGTON, March 2 — President Bush, hoping to reduce demand for oil in theWestern Hemisphere, is preparing to finish an agreement with Brazil nextweek to promote the production and use of ethanol throughout Latin Americaand the Caribbean, according to administration officials.

The agreement could lead to substantial growth in the ethanol industry inBrazil as technology and manufacturing equipment developed there is exportedto other countries in the region.

Much of the ethanol produced there is made from sugar cane and is farcheaper to produce than the corn-based ethanol that has been nurtured byprotective tariffs and government mandates in the United States.

But the agreement has already begun to prompt complaints from politiciansfrom corn-producing regions of the United States. They fear that the planwould lead to an increase in imports of cheap foreign ethanol and undercutAmerican producers.

By increasing ethanol production and consumption, particularly in countriesthat produce sugar, officials of the Bush administration hope to reduce theregion’s overall dependence on foreign oil and to take some of the pressureoff oil prices.


S. Korea Refuses North's Request for Restored Aid

Associated Press
Saturday, March 3, 2007; A12

SEOUL, March 2 -- South Korea on Friday added pressure on North Korea tocomply with an international disarmament agreement, refusing theimpoverished nation's demand to restore full aid shipments until after itsmain nuclear reactor is shut down.

At the first high-level talks between the two Koreas since the North'sunderground nuclear test in October, the communist nation "agreed to makejoint efforts for a smooth implementation" of its pledge last month to takeinitial steps toward dismantling its atomic program, according to a finalstatement.

The North and South also agreed to resume family reunions of relatives splitby their border and planned test runs of railway lines between thecountries.

North Korea and the International Atomic Energy Agency have agreed on March13 as the starting date for a two-day visit by the agency's chief, MohamedElBaradei, U.N. officials said Friday. The officials asked for anonymitybecause they were not authorized to reveal specifics of the trip, which isexpected to help alleviate some misgivings that the unpredictable regimemight renege on its agreement to shut down its nuclear facilities.

This week's meetings in Pyongyang were part of the historic reconciliationlaunched between the Koreas since their leaders met in their first and onlysummit in 2000. The countries remain technically at war because thecease-fire that ended the 1950-53 Korean War has never been replaced by apeace treaty.


Posted on Sat, Mar. 03, 2007
The face of slavery among us

If you think about it, there should be nothing particularly surprising aboutthe discovery that one of Strom Thurmond's relatives once owned the Rev. AlSharpton's great-grandfather. That's how slavery worked -- human beingsowning other human beings, buying them and selling them, often passing themdown to the next generation like sentient family heirlooms. Haven't wealready hashed and rehashed that whole sad story?

Actually, no.

What makes the story that broke over the weekend so compelling is that weknow the charismatic activist Sharpton, and we knew the one-timesegregationist Thurmond. The ancestors of such public figures can't bedismissed as mere historical abstractions. They were real, flesh-and-bloodmen and women who played their roles, voluntarily or not, in the horrificinstitution that so indelibly stained this nation.

Great-grandfather a slave

Because we know so little about slavery at the individual level, we reallydon't know slavery at all.

''I almost fell off the chair,'' Sharpton told me by phone Monday,describing the moment when a team of expert genealogists, working with theNew York Daily News for a Black History Month project, met him at the studiowhere he does his radio talk show and told him of his link with Thurmond.


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