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Kick Assiest Blog
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Economic Activity Expands on Retail Sales ~ and Home Sales Still Rising to Records
Mood:  cheeky
Topic: News

Economic Activity Expands on Retail Sales

WASHINGTON - The economy flashed fresh signals of strength in the last two months, with factories buzzing and cash registers ka-chinging despite high gas prices.

The latest snapshot emerging from the Federal Reserve's survey of the business climate around the country, released Wednesday, suggested the economy has bounced back nicely from a springtime soft patch. The job market showed some improvements and inflation was fairly contained, the survey also found.

The picture was consistent with the assessment Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan offered last week when he delivered the central bank's midyear economic outlook to Congress.

At that time, Greenspan signaled that short-term interest rates will continue to move higher in the months ahead in an effort to keep the economy and inflation on an even keel. Economists widely expect Fed policymakers will boost rates by another quarter-percentage point at their next meeting, Aug. 9. The Fed's survey appears to support such a move.

Over the last year, the Fed has pushed a key interest rate to 3.25 percent in nine modest, quarter-point moves. Before the Fed embarked on its credit tightening, that key rate stood at 1 percent, a 46-year low.

Some analysts believe this key rate could climb as high as 4.25 percent by the end of this year.

In the survey, most of the Fed's 12 regional districts reported "moderate to solid expansions in manufacturing activity and expectations for future factory activity were generally upbeat." The survey also noted that "activity in a wide variety of manufacturing industries was characterized as strong."

Boston and San Francisco, for instance, reported strength in aircraft and high-tech manufacturing; Atlanta and Dallas said refineries were doing quite well. Several districts reported that producers of construction materials, especially cement, and industrial equipment also were busy. But makers of metals and textiles saw some weakness.

The Fed's survey is based on information collected before July 18.

Consumer spending, a key force behind economic activity, also was holding up well despite high energy prices, the survey suggested.

"Most districts reported increases in retail sales and reports on retailers' expectations were generally positive," the survey said.

Boston, however, reported sales were flat or down from a year ago, and New York said sales softened in early July, following solid growth in June.

Meanwhile, car sales in nearly all of the Fed's regions were boosted by a new round of price discounting. And, tourism continued to show strength throughout much of the country, the report said.

The housing market remained hot, but showed a "few signs of cooling" in some districts, the survey said. House activity and home price appreciation in Massachusetts moved from "hot" to "normal." In the Richmond, Atlanta and San Francisco districts housing activity stayed strong but "eased in a few markets that had been especially hot - Washington, D.C., several Florida markets and parts of southern California."

Oil prices surged to a new closing high of $61.28 a barrel in early July. Gasoline prices earlier this month set a record of $2.33 a gallon nationwide, the Energy Department reported.

Yet, inflation was contained in most Fed districts, the survey suggested.

"Overall price pressures either eased slightly or remained unchanged in most districts despite substantial increases in the cost of energy and some building materials," the report said.

Transportation firms in the Chicago, Cleveland and Dallas areas were able to pass much of their increased fuel costs to customers, the report said. "However, in a number of districts, firms outside the transportation sector were reported as having only limited success passing on cost increases."

On the employment front, demand for workers increased in most Fed districts, but New York said labor markets were a bit softer overall despite a pickup in hiring at financial services. Several districts reported stronger demand for temporary workers. Skilled workers were in shorter supply in some areas, truck drivers were reported as scarce in Cleveland, Richmond and Atlanta.

The nation's unemployment rate dropped to 5 percent in June, the lowest level in nearly four years.

Even with the labor market improvements, wage pressures - a barometer of inflation - remained moderate, the Fed said.

My Way News ~ Associated Press - Jeannine Aversa ** Economic Activity Expands on Retail Sales

Home Sales Still Rising to Records

The nation's roaring housing market set its second record in three months as sales of existing homes climbed 2.7 percent in June, to 7.33 million, according to a report released yesterday.

Low mortgage rates and strong demand drove the frenetic sales activity, which defied expectations that the market was starting to cool, at least in some of the hottest regions. The median price - half the homes sold were more expensive, half were less expensive - rose at nearly its highest annual pace in almost 25 years, 14.7 percent, to a record $219,000. It was just short of the April year-over-year advance of 15.1 percent.

The average sales price climbed 9.4 percent, to $268,000.

The report, from the National Association of Realtors, provides yet another sign that the housing market remains vibrant and is playing a big part in the nation's economic expansion. But it added to fears among some economists and policy makers that the boom might eventually turn into a bust in some locations.

The locations showing the greatest gains in prices were in the West, where the median price for the region was up 17.4 percent, and in the Northeast, where the median price rose 13.6 percent. The median price gains in the Midwest and the South were smaller, but still healthy: 12.7 percent for the Midwest and 9 percent in the South.

Existing home sales for June broke a record set in April, when 7.18 million homes traded hands. Sales fell slightly in May, to 7.14 million. Analysts had been expecting 7.15 million sales in June.

"It's fairly astounding what is going on and with rates not moving up there is no sign of it ending anytime soon," said Joshua Shapiro, chief United States economist for MFR Inc., an economic research firm in New York.

Low mortgage rates have been driving the market for the last few years, prompting some economists to suggest the nation is experiencing a housing bubble that will eventually burst and deal the economy a significant setback.

Nationally, median prices are 40.2 percent higher than they were in 2002. In the West and the Northeast - the regions with the greatest growth - they are up 49.9 percent and 56 percent, respectively. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage had a 5.73 percent rate last week, down from 5.98 percent a year ago, according to Freddie Mac.

The National Association of Realtors, which represents real estate agents, contends that low mortgage rates are one of several factors driving home sales. The others are an improving economy, strong housing demand and a supply shortage.

"Eventually, appreciation rates will slow and come down to normal levels when the shortage of homes on the market improves and comes closer into balance, hopefully, by the second half of next year," Al Mansell, the group's president, said in a statement.

But economists who subscribe to the bubble view say that gradual easing may be wishful thinking.

"Those are hopes and it may be exactly what happens, but what we know is that the longer bubbles are allowed to go unchecked the more painful they are," said Stephen S. Roach, chief economist at Morgan Stanley.

The Federal Reserve has been raising short-term interest rates - now at 3.25 percent - to try to restrain economic growth and inflation. But those increases have had little impact on the long-term interest rates that drive the housing markets.

Long-term rates have been kept low in part by demand for United States Treasury notes from Asian buyers, particularly the central banks of China, Japan and Korea, Mr. Roach said. Those countries are buying dollars to help keep their currencies relatively low compared to the dollar.

China's decision last week to let its currency, the yuan, deviate from a fixed rate with the American dollar could eventually lead to higher long-term rates here, Mr. Roach said.

But for now, Asia's demand remains unchecked. "That's playing a huge role in keeping this housing bubble going," Mr. Roach added.

(Origional story requires registration)
NY Times ~ Vikas Bajaj ** Home Sales Still Rising to Records

Posted by uhyw at 4:17 AM EDT
50,000 Iraqi insurgents dead, caught 50,000 Iraqi insurgents dead, caught
Mood:  celebratory
Topic: News

Iraqi Special Forces perform training exercises yesterday for Iraq's Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Iraqi Minister of Defense Saadon al-Dulaimi. >>>>>

50,000 Iraqi insurgents dead, caught

U.S. and Iraqi forces have killed or arrested more than 50,000 Iraqi insurgents in the past seven months, a former top general who has headed repeated Pentagon assessment missions to Iraq said yesterday.

Gen. Jack Keane, a former deputy chief of staff for the Army, also said the United States has a good picture of the leadership of the vicious insurgency but less of an idea about its mid- and lower-level ranks.

"We know who they are," he told a lunch gathering sponsored by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He said the eight to 10 leaders "occasionally meet -- we've recorded that -- not just in Iraq, but in Jordan and Syria."

Gen. Keane's remarks provided a rare insight into the extent of U.S.-led operations against an insurgency that has been responsible for hundreds of deaths in the past few weeks alone.

Pentagon officials previously had been quoted as saying 15,000 to 16,000 Iraqis were in custody in Iraq, but spokesman Lawrence DiRita was unable to comment last night on the 50,000 figure offered by the general.

"I would highly doubt that anyone has a good handle on the numbers," he said. "I'm not aware of what General Keane has been told, but I know of no number that has been provided to the secretary, briefed by the commanders, or is being tracked by anyone."

Gen. Keane, noting that the numbers probably were higher now, said, "In the past six to seven months, we have killed or captured 50,000 insurgents."

The retired general has traveled to Iraq twice in uniform and twice as a civilian to assess progress there for the U.S. military. He did not explain how the number had been obtained.

A Defense Department consultant, retired Army Col. Robert Killebrew, said Gen. Keane's figure likely includes some Iraqis who were swept up in military operations and subsequently released.

"Does that mean all of them are terrorists or still being held? Probably not. It means we are making inroads, but not that we captured 50,000 terrorists," he said.

Many Iraqis feel that a number of innocent people have been caught up in military raids. A slow-moving judicial system and constant intimidation of judges means that a majority of those behind bars have not been tried, Gen. Keane said.

"There are thousands of people in jail who have a body of evidence against them -- some should be receiving death sentences, some should be in jail for life sentences," Gen. Keane said.

He noted that he did not know how large the insurgency was, but said that, in spite of the number of people imprisoned or killed, "we are still dealing with a rather formidable force out there."

He also said American commanders have found it difficult to penetrate the insurgency. Despite painstaking work undertaken to sift through thousands of interrogations and field reports, a clear picture of the midlevel structure of the insurgency was hard to see.

"We have not been able to put the mosaic together to anybody's satisfaction," Gen. Keane said.

He added that the insurgents think they could keep up the current level of violence for about 10 years, waiting out the American forces, whom they feel will eventually leave Iraq.

Jeffrey White, former head of the Regional Military Assessments Group at the Defense Intelligence Agency, said Syria was a serving as a crucial conduit and safe haven for the insurgent forces.

"Syria is critical to the insurgency -- it's the closest thing they have to a foreign base," he said.

Mr. White, who now works at the Washington Institute, said the insurgency stretches from Syria through a wide swath of central Iraq, into seven of Iraq's 18 provinces. He added that the level of attacks was not likely to go down anytime soon.

"There are some 60 to 65 incidents a day; [you] can expect it to continue for six months to a year, and expect further peaks as key political events unfold," he said.

"The insurgents are a learning opponent," he added. "These people actually know what they are doing. They do not attack randomly, and they can shift across lines of operations as they deem necessary."

Washington Times ~ Sharon Behn ** 50,000 Iraqi insurgents dead, caught

Posted by uhyw at 4:01 AM EDT
Schumer Confesses to Not Understanding Constitution
Mood:  silly
Topic: Lib Loser Stories

Schumer Confesses to Not Understanding Constitution
By Henry Mark Holzer

United States Senator "Chuck" Schumer's broke his own stupidity record the other day following President Bush's announcement of John Roberts nomination to the Supreme Court.

In a tag-team appearance with Senator Pat Leahy (D. Vt.), ranking minority member of the Judiciary Committee, Schumer confessed to the Nation that neither he, Leahy, nor the Democrat party for whom he spoke, understands a fundamental principle of American constitutionalism: separation of powers. Indeed, ever since Schumer confessed, his echo has been heard as Democrat functionaries (e.g., Kennedy, Biden, Durbin, Pelosi) have made the same confession that they, too, do not understand one of the three basic pillars upon which our Republic stands.

All of them, and for that matter most of the media, have been demanding that judicial nominee Roberts "answer questions." That Roberts explain his position on abortion, that he reveal where he stands on affirmative action, that he disclose how he would rule on capital punishment, that he divulge his stand on eminent domain—that, in effect, he make known the platform on which he is running for a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States.

From the perspective of the Democrats, this is entirely understandable, even defensible—because they do not understand Separation of Powers, and thus the Constitution's mandated role for a judge in the American system of government, believing instead that the judiciary is simply another political branch. The Democrats see judges—Warren, Brennan, Douglas, Blackmun, Stevens, Ginsburg—as legislators, promulgating from the bench their own social, economic, and even moral, programs, not interpreting the Constitution and laws passed by the politically accountable actual legislature, i.e., Congress.

John Roberts is not a candidate for the Nowhereville Town Council, where the voters would want to know (and would have a right to know) where he stands on building a new senior citizen center, or whether Walmart can open a superstore. He is not even running for a senate seat in Vermont, where voters have questions about dairy subsidies, or in New York, where Long Islanders want to know about shore erosion.

He is a nominee to a judgeship where his task is not to legislate (Article I of the Constitution), but rather to serve under Article III: "The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court . . . ." That "judicial power" is the power to interpret and apply the Constitution and laws promulgated not by judges, but by legislators.

It is bad enough that the Democrats don't—or won't—understand this, but apparently they've succeeded in selling their bogus view of American constitutionalism to the American people. Last Friday, the Associated Press reported that "Just over half of all Americans—and a solid majority of women—want to know John Roberts' position on abortion . . . ." Not just the "pro-choice" side, but also those who oppose abortion.

The fact is that no one is entitled to know what John Roberts thinks about abortion—or gay marriage, capital punishment, gun control, self-incrimination, free speech, warrantless searches, compulsory process, the commerce clause—or the price of tea in China.

The Judiciary Committee and the full Senate are entitled to know from President Bush's nominee for an Associate Justiceship on the Supreme Court of the United States basically one thing: what does John Roberts believe is the constitutional function of courts in general, and the Supreme Court in particular—and of the judges who sit on those courts.

Until the Republicans extricate themselves from the judges-as-legislators mindset the Democrats have engineered—and in the process educate the American people about Separation of Powers, as the doctrine applies to John Roberts—they are playing the Democrats' game, and perhaps holding a losing hand.

Front Page ~ Henry Mark Holzer ** Schumer Confesses to Not Understanding Constitution

Posted by uhyw at 3:54 AM EDT
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Youth funds diverted to libtard radio station Air America... as a loan
Mood:  surprised
Topic: Lib Loser Stories

Youth funds diverted to liberal radio station

The Bronx News has learned, through informed sources, that the diversion of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club in Co-op City to the liberal Air America Radio is at the center of the city’s probe of corruption at the local club.

The money, which was reportedly paid to Air America as a loan, was supposed to be paid back with interest, two unidentified informed sources told the News. One source added that Air America officials, led by an official of the Gloria Wise Club, agreed to help the local club by publicizing its activities.

To date, no indictments have been handed down in the New York City Department of Investigation’s ongoing probe of the Gloria Wise Club’s reported transfer of funds to Air America.

Most of the Gloria Wise Club’s programs are for the Co-op City community, but the club also runs after-school programs in the Baychester/Edenwald and Soundview areas.

At the center of the investigation, in addition to Charles Rosen, the charismatic leader of the local club for the last 15 years, is Evan Cohen, who resigned, under fire, as chairman of Air America Radio shortly after its start as an alternative to conservative talk radio.

Cohen, at the time the alleged transfers of funds from the Gloria Wise Club to Air America took place, was also the director of Development for the local boys’ and girls’ club, the News has learned.

One source told the News that $480,000 in funds from the Gloria Wise Club is involved in the city’s investigation of illegal transfer of funds from the local club.

A second unidentified source stressed that Rosen never sought to profit personally from the reported loan that the Gloria Wise Club gave to Air America. The source emphasized that Rosen’s sole motive, even if it was a bit na?ve, was to benefit the Gloria Wise Club with the interest that Air America would pay for its loan from the local club.

The city’s DOI is pursuing the probe because the Gloria Wise Club depends heavily on city funding for its operations. These funds are subject to extensive audits, as are funds received through the state and federal governments.

The Co-op City-based club, which Rosen has built into an empire in the Co-op City community, reportedly has 19 contracts and at least one grant with the city, worth a total of $9.7 million.

Over the last year, Rep. Joseph Crowley has secured two major federal grants for the Gloria Wise Club, one for a day-care program for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers and the other for the community’s NORC program for senior citizens. The grant for the program for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers was for $250,000, while the grant for the NORC program was for $99,410.

In 2003, Crowley secured a $218,500 grant for a mentoring program that the Gloria Wise Club runs.

Cohen, who is reportedly at the center of the Gloria Wise probe, is a Guam-based investors who was reportedly a key principal in the start-up of Air America, which has been billed as the liberals’ answer to conservative talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Shaun Hannity, Bob Grant, Michael Savage, and G. Gordon Liddy.

Bronx News - Gotham Community Gazette ~ Michael Horowitz ** Youth funds diverted to liberal radio station

Hat tip to Michelle Malkin, who has links to other information about the story...

Front Page ~ Michelle Malkin ** AIR AMERICA: STEALING FROM POOR KIDS?!

Posted by uhyw at 9:07 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 27, 2005 9:17 AM EDT
Clinton Pardoned National Security Leaker
Mood:  chatty
Topic: Lib Loser Stories

Bill Clinton Pardoned Nat'l. Security Leaker

No wonder 2008 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has been silent as a churchmouse about Karl Rove while her Democratic colleagues call for his prosecution for leaking classified information about CIA employee Valerie Plame.

Turns out - in the only case in U.S. history of a person successfully prosecuted for leaking classified information to the press - Hillary's husband pardoned the guilty party.

On January 20, 2001, President Clinton pardoned Samuel Loring Morison, a civilian analyst with the Office of Naval Intelligence. In 1984, Morison had been convicted of providing classified satellite photos of an under-construction Soviet nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to Britain's Jane's Defence Weekly.

He received a two-year jail sentence.

In pardoning Morison, Clinton dismissed the advice of the CIA.

"We said we were obviously opposed - it was a vigorous 'Hell, no,'" one senior intelligence official told the Washington Post at the time. "We think ... giving pardons to people who are convicted of doing that sends the wrong signal to people who are currently entrusted with classified information."

Morison is the only person ever successfully prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act, the law invoked by Democrats who want to nail Rove after it became clear that he didn't violate the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

But it's going to be difficult for Dems to feign national security outrage over Plame's outing when the husband of their party's presidential front-runner let an actual convicted leaker off the hook.

Last week, when Sen. John Kerry called for Mr. Rove to be fired, with Hillary standing by his side, she nodded silently. When reporters asked her what she thought of the alleged Rove outrage, she offered only, "I'm nodding."

No doubt while remembering her husband's pardon of Mr. Morison.

News ~ Carl Limbacher ** Bill Clinton Pardoned Nat'l. Security Leaker

Posted by uhyw at 6:28 AM EDT
Hillary Clintax wants cease-fire in Dem ideology war
Mood:  chillin'
Topic: Lib Loser Stories

To show how bad the internal divisions have grown in the continuously splintering Dem Party, Hillary Clinton publicly acknowledged a rift and asked for a “cease-fire” in the interest of beating the GOP. Hillary has it wrong, unity between the centrists and liberals is an impossible dream and will not produce something with wide enough appeals to win back the Senate, House, Presidency or most of the Governor’s mansions. The party needs to run the liberals out on a rail or they will never be a dominant party again.

Sen. Clinton Calls for Party Truce, United Front

Prospective '08 Candidates Say Democrats Must Do More Than Oppose Bush Policies

COLUMBUS, Ohio, - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) called Monday for a cease-fire among warring factions of the Democratic Party, arguing that a united front is needed to reverse the party's recent electoral defeats and halt the advance of conservative Republican ideology.

Clinton was the marquee attraction among a procession of prospective 2008 Democratic presidential candidates who spoke at the annual summer meeting of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) -- a group that was a springboard for Bill Clinton's first White House bid 13 years ago. She announced that she had taken a new position with the group aimed at winning back heartland voters.

All the prospective candidates emphasized that opposition to President Bush's policies alone will not put the Democrats back in the White House, but it was Clinton who forcefully argued that the Democrats no longer can afford internal strife and must bridge long-standing divisions to regain power.

"We Democrats have not yet succeeded in isolating and defeating the far right, in part because we have allowed ourselves to be split between left, right and center," she said. Noting that the DLC had often been in the forefront of those intraparty battles, she said all Democrats should agree to a truce and unite around shared values, "values violated every day in Washington by the ideologues of the Republican right."

Bill Clinton used his chairmanship of the DLC in the early 1990s to engage in some of those intraparty fights, urging a break from traditional liberalism and emphasizing "New Democrat" themes that foreshadowed his 1992 campaign. But in taking on a central role with the DLC, the New York senator suggested she would use her position less to create intellectual friction in the party than to serve as a voice around whom all Democrats can rally. "It is vital that we bring everyone's positive Democratic progressive ideas to the table," she said.

Although the next presidential campaign is three years away, Monday's session had clear overtones of that coming race. Three other Democrats actively considering running in 2008 -- Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, the newly named DLC chairman; Sen. Evan Bayh (Ind.), the outgoing DLC chairman; and Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner, who just concluded a year as chairman of the National Governors Association -- competed with Clinton for attention.

Warner, Vilsack and Bayh -- all current or former governors -- used the meeting to introduce themselves to the delegates as potential national candidates, each testing new themes in carefully crafted speeches. Implicit in all three speeches was the suggestion that they have records demonstrating how to win and govern in places, such as the South and the rural Midwest, where Democrats have faltered in recent presidential elections -- a boast that Hillary Clinton cannot make for herself.

Virginia Gov. Mark Warner told the Democratic Leadership Council in Columbus that the "solutions we offered in the 1990s aren't enough." >>>>>

Attendees gave all four prospective candidates good reviews, but the mob scene that surrounded Clinton afterward showed she retains a special position within the party, one that for now seems to transcend the party's ideological camps.

In her speech, Clinton accused Republicans of reversing the course established by Democrats in the 1990s. "They turned our bridge to the 21st century into a tunnel back to the 19th century," she said. Then, with a time-machine metaphor, she offered an idealized vision of America in 2020 after other, presumably Democratic, policies had been put in place.

That America included a more protected homeland, a better-equipped and trained military, and diplomatic reengagement abroad as well as refocused attention on domestic problems such as health care, the budget deficit and strains on families.

Clinton drew a rebuke from the Republican National Committee, where a spokeswoman said her new DLC role could not hide the fact that she has a liberal record in the Senate and before.

Bayh said Democrats should put aside the doubt and denial that has plagued the party since Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) lost to Bush last November. He also said internal party debates about the semantics and framing of messages is largely irrelevant to the real challenge of adapting party principles to the 21st century.

Democrats, he argued, must win public trust on security issues. While there is a right time and a wrong time to use military force, Bayh lamented: "We don't even get to have that discussion because too many of our fellow countrymen out here in the heartland have concluded -- inappropriately, but they've concluded nonetheless -- that we don't have the spine or the backbone to use force even in the face of the most compelling circumstances. And that must change."

Vilsack criticized Bush for misleading the nation before going to war in Iraq and for failing, after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to promote a shared sacrifice among all Americans. Noting the sacrifice paid by those who have lost their lives in battle, and their families, he asked: "Is it right, is it fair, is it the American way, to ask a small sliver of our society to bear full responsibility? Is that really affording a sense of community? I think not, and I think it's time for change."

Warner accused Republicans in Washington of being out of touch with the priorities of the rest of the country. "In today's Washington," he said, "politicians work deep into the night to write laws to interfere with the family of Terri Schiavo, but ignore the fact that 45 million Americans have no health care."

He said those kinds of actions have alienated independent and moderate Republican voters, and argued that these voters could be won by Democrats if they back the right policies. Warner, who made a fortune before politics as a telecommunications entrepreneur, said Democrats must show voters they understand the realities of the global economy and how technology has affected America's competitive position in the world.

These realities mean that the "solutions we offered in the 1990s aren't enough," he said. "Sometimes defending the same programs, thinking they're going to get us new results, makes no sense. We need leaders who can see a bit farther down the road."

Washington Post ~ Dan Balz ** Sen. Clinton Calls for Party Truce, United Front

Posted by uhyw at 3:09 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 27, 2005 3:26 AM EDT
The libtard anti-war, funeral crashing, PA lieutenant governor (D-bitch) Catherine Baker Knoll story
Mood:  irritated
Topic: Lib Loser Stories

With friends like these....

What, besides an excessive fondness for groceries, do Catherine Baker Knoll, Pennsylvania's lieutenant governor, and ultra-left wing film maker Michael Moore have in common?

Air Force Major Gregory Stone, an air liaison officer with the 101st Airborne Division, was killed in Kuwait in March, 2003, when Sgt. Hasan Akbar rolled a grenade into the tent where he was quartered.

Moore used footage of Maj. Stone's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery in his antiwar propaganda film, Fahrenheit 9/11. He did so without the permission of Maj. Stone's family.

The family was not pleased. Maj. Stone's mother called Moore a "maggot that eats off the dead."

Catherine Baker Knoll has done Moore one better (or worse).

On July 19th, a funeral service was held at St. John Lutheran Church in Carnegie for Staff Sergeant Joseph Goodrich, 32. Goodrich and fellow Marine reservist Lance Corporal Ryan Kovacicek, 22, were killed by mortar fire July 10th while conducting combat operations in Hit, in western Iraq.

Goodrich, a Marine reservist since 1993, also had been a police officer, and the church was filled to overflowing with Marines and cops who came to say farewell to their fallen comrade.

Goodrich was remembered as a principled, good natured person who always had time to help other people with their problems.

"He was always upbeat, always smiling, never had a bad thing to say about anyone," recalled HM1 Mike Debich, a Navy corpsman in Goodrich's unit, Kilo Company of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, based in Moundsville, W. Va.

Brian Armstrong, a police officer for the borough of Forest Hills, had served with Goodrich as a cop at the Kennywood amusement park, and was inspired by Goodrich's example to join the Marine reserve.

"When bad things would happen, he would handle it with a take charge attitude," said Armstrong, who served in Iraq with Military Police Co. Bravo, a reserve unit based in North Versailles. "That's when the Marine came out of him."

After his wife, Amy, being a Marine was the most important thing in Goodrich's life, Armstrong said. Goodrich's father, James, had been a Marine in World War II.

"He wouldn't have wanted to die. He loved life too much. But if he had to die, he would have wanted to die as a Marine, defending his country," Armstrong said.

Catherine Baker Knoll, who lives in nearby McKees Rocks, crashed the funeral, plopping herself down in the pew next to Linda Kubiak, Goodrich's aunt. During the communion service, Knoll told Kubiak she attends 90 percent of these "functions" across the state.

"This was not a function," fumed Rhonda Goodrich, Joseph's sister in law. "A function is a dinner or an awards ceremony. This was my brother-in-law's funeral."

Then Knoll handed Kubiak her business card and confided: "I want you to know our (state) government is against this war."

"When my sister in law related that to us, everyone just gasped," said Goodrich's mother, Patricia. "We didn't feel it was appropriate at all." "I am amazed and disgusted Knoll finds a Marine funeral a prime place to campaign," Rhonda Goodrich said.

Rhonda Goodrich was by no means alone in her amazement and disgust. "As a Marine Corps officer, it is unethical for me to express political opinions, but my opinion of this sorry excuse for a human being has nothing to do with politics," an officer in Goodrich's battalion in Iraq emailed the web log "Rhymes with Right."

"After seeing dozens of my fellow Marines from my battalion get killed these last few months, I always felt that at the very least that these men were being honorably brought back to their families and being laid to rest with as much dignity as our nation could afford to provide.

"This woman has misrepresented our government, and poorly represents the state of Pennsylvania," the officer said. "If Pennsylvanians have any self respect at all, they will take whatever legal methods are available and toss her out of office immediately."

Gov. Ed Rendell faces a stiff re-election fight next year. If he wants to get re-elected, he'd better think about getting a new running mate. "Maggots who eat off the dead" tend not to attract many votes.

Jewish World ~ Jack Kelly ** With friends like these....

Posted by uhyw at 2:57 AM EDT
White House Signals Recess Appointment For Bolton - Friday Night?
Mood:  energetic
Topic: Yahoo Chat Stuff

The White House signaled on Monday that President Bush may bypass the Senate and appoint John Bolton, his embattled nominee for U.N. ambassador, to the post temporarily as hope faded for a Senate vote on the nomination. A recess appointment could be announced as early as Friday night, immediately after the Senate is scheduled to adjourn for the monthlong August recess, congressional aides said. Bolton adjusts his glasses as he testifies at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination in Washington April 11, 2005. ^

Bush may bypass Senate and appoint Bolton to UN

WASHINGTON - The White House signaled on Monday that President Bush may bypass the Senate and appoint John Bolton, his embattled nominee for U.N. ambassador, to the post temporarily as hope faded for a Senate vote on the nomination.

Congressional aides said a recess appointment could be announced as early as Friday night, immediately after the Senate is scheduled to adjourn for the monthlong August break. A recess appointment would allow Bolton to take up the U.N. post but he would serve only until January 2007.

The nomination of the blunt-spoken conservative has been held up by accusations he tried to manipulate intelligence and intimidated intelligence analysts to support his hawkish views in his post as the top U.S. diplomat for arms control.

Some critics have also seized on reports he may have been involved in leaking the identity of a CIA operative, Valerie Plame, but a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Bolton had neither testified nor been asked to do so before the grand jury investigating the leak.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush has used recess appointments in instances where "there are important priorities we're working to advance and it's important to have people in certain positions."

McClellan declined to say whether Bolton would receive a recess appointment.

But when asked in general about possible recess appointments, McClellan said, "If the Senate fails to act and move forward on those nominees, then sometimes there comes a point where the president has needed to fill that in a timely manner by recessing those nominees."

Asked if his U.N. nominee fit into that category, McClellan said: "There's nothing that's changed, in terms of what we said previously on that at this point."

When asked earlier this month about the prospects of a recess appointment for Bolton, McClellan would only say that the White House was seeking an "up or down vote" in the Senate.

Senate Democratic leaders have removed a possible hurdle by signaling that they would not use a recess appointment of Bolton to hold up Bush's nomination of John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"It's unlikely that one would be used against the other," said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

There had been questions about whether Bolton would accept a recess appointment, which lawmakers said would send him to the United Nations in a weakened political position.

But Republicans say Bolton has signaled his willingness to accept a recess appointment if another vote by the Senate is unlikely to occur.

McClellan said it was premature to speculate on what "may or may not occur" until the Senate adjourns.

But congressional aides said there were no immediate plans to bring Bolton's nomination back to the floor of the Senate for another vote. "I don't see any appetite for that," one senior Democratic aide said.

In procedural votes in May and June, Democrats denied Republicans the 60 votes needed from the 100-member chamber to bring debate on Bolton to a close and move to a confirmation vote, which would require a simple majority.

A number of Democrats and Ohio Republican Sen. George Voinovich (news, bio, voting record) have urged Bush to give up on Bolton and offer another nominee.

(Additional reporting by Vicki Allen and Paul Eckert)
Yahoo News ~ Adam Entous - Reuters ** Bush may bypass Senate and appoint Bolton to UN

Posted by uhyw at 2:27 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 27, 2005 2:40 AM EDT
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
FL Dems deciding which GOP gov. candidate to support
Mood:  chatty
Topic: Lib Loser Stories

The author is hardly pro-GOP. But she says that Dems in Florida have basically written off any hopes of winning the Governor’s mansion next year.

Pick your person; ax the party

Much more than a year away, the election of Florida's next governor is already great cocktail party talk in the capital city where many Democrats are deciding which Republican they'll support.

It's a matter of practicality to not be too fussy about parties, though it is still good to have some discrimination regarding personnel within the party.

There is, in effect, just the one party despite an almost even split in party registration in Florida. That would be the party with the bank vaults full of money and, I'm visualizing here, Swiss bank accounts holding elusive contributions to the Grand Old Party that will be handed out as party favors in lesser races.

For nearly a decade, a loophole in Florida's campaign-finance laws has allowed candidates to receive money and aid directly from political parties. This loophole means parties simply don't have to be as scrupulously detailed in their give-and-take as individual candidates do. It's wrong and the law should be changed.

Not that the Democratic Party would get a pass on decadent and indiscriminate party spending. It's just that it doesn't have much money to squander on dirty tricks.

I predict, though, that as the primary nears the Republican dirty tricks in the governor's race will be mostly intraparty - the top guns trying to bring down each other, not Democrats. It will get ugly and the test will be of who can respond to adversity best.

By all accounts, it's going to be the most expensive gubernatorial race in Florida history. I can't imagine why since it's also going to be the most politically lopsided race in decades.

I give you as evidence the contribution totals from the last quarterly reports: Attorney General Charlie Crist has raised $3.8 million; Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, $3 million.

By comparison, Democrat Sen. Rod Smith of Alachua had raised $397,000, and U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, (D-Tampa) had raised $390,000. Former Tallahassee Mayor Scott Maddox's campaign may be resurrected, because miracles do happen, but even if he should win the primary, so what?

As for Toni Jennings: Where is she? Is she going to be sent is a the relief quarterback if Crist and Gallagher destroy each other? Just asking.

So that's 10-to-1 in favor of the Republicans. Proof, certainly, that the incumbency amounts to one motherlode of power and cash.

This election is a sad state of affairs if you're a classic Democrat and not a strictly theoretical one. If you've got a fond memory for when Democrats were not so rigid that they were ineffectual; when moderate Democrats won because most people are, at heart, moderate, and when the GOP just couldn't bring itself to get grubby or utter the words "Joe Six Pack."

It's not much easier for today's moderate Republicans, who are dismayed by seeing their party hijacked by either extremists or self-serving muggles.

I hear about more and more people from both parties who are considering registering as independents to at least keep some dignity when their party seems silly or tyrannical.

It is frustrating as an independent to miss out voting in the primary, but now that there is no Florida runoff, even that first vote isn't really about representative government.

Without a runoff, a candidate with as little as 15 percent of the vote can win the nomination if there are enough candidates to divide the votes. This won't happen in a gubernatorial race most likely, but it will in many others on down the ticket where factions and one-issue zealots can hijack the vote.

This campaign law, like the one allowing such loose watch over party money, isn't right and Gov. Bush was wrong to have vetoed a bill to bring back the runoff.

So what's an interested voter supposed to do?

Try to find the candidate who most closely resembles what you once thought of as a noble political warrior - whenever it was that you were at the peak of your political judgment and the least jaded.

Those would probably be pretty good values to go by and look for in a candidate regardless of labels. Decency, a person who can look you in the eye, a sense of humor, just a little indifference to winning at all costs. Beware of too much charm. And study the issues you care about so you aren't a complete fool, trusting in sound bite reasoning.

It will take discipline and a certain high-minded optimism to believe that some individuals really are more than the sum of their party affiliation; that some can accept contributions without selling their soul.

But it's up to you to ferret out what's real and what's fiction and whether you can even trust yourself to do what's best for yourself and your community.

When you reached 18, did you ever dream you'd be signing up up for this?

Tallahassee Democrat ~ Knight Ridder - Mary Ann Lindley ** Pick your person; ax the party

Posted by uhyw at 3:11 AM EDT
More Dem fundraising woes ~ Rove Protest a Windfall for GOP Lawmaker
Mood:  cheeky
Topic: Lib Loser Stories

Dem sugar daddy "Americans Coming Together" is laying off workers in the face of disappointing fundraising just as the DNC continue to trail the GOP in dollars. All of this spells trouble for the Dems mid-term hopes.

Democratic Booster Cuts Liberal Spending

America Coming Together, the liberal 527 that spent lavishly during the 2004 campaign, is sharply scaling back its operations and laying off employees in the face of lackluster fundraising. "It's been very difficult to raise the amount of money we had hoped to raise," Harold Ickes, one of the group's directors, told Roll Call.

So what has happened to all the liberal money? Ask Howard Dean.

The Democratic National Committee reported that Democrats' fundraising during the first half of this year jumped by more than 50 percent compared with the same period in 2003, the last non-election year. The Democratic National Committee, the party's Senate and House campaign committees along with its constellation of state and local parties reported taking in more than $86 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Their Republican counterparts posted a more modest 2 percent increase over the same period in 2003. But the GOP still significantly outfundraised the Democrats, receiving more than $142 million.

The DNC recorded a 66 percent increase, from $19 million in 2003 to $31 million this year. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's fundraising more than doubled to nearly $23 million. The Republican National Committee said it raised $62 million, up 11 percent from 2003. The National Republican Senatorial Committee said fundraising increased by more than 40 percent to $21 million.

Rove Protest a Windfall for GOP Lawmaker

MoveOn and another liberal activist group picketed Bush aide Karl Rove's appearance at a fundraiser Tuesday on Pennsylvania Avenue for Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.). Some of the demonstrators carried plungers to highlight the Justice Department's probe into Rove's role in the "leak" of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. But Rove, driving a Ford Escape, slipped into the garage unnoticed by the demonstrators.

But the protest -- and the previous effort to get Gerlach to dump Rove from the $1,000-a-head fundraiser -- appear to have had the reverse of the intended effect. The Wayne (Pa.) Suburban newspaper quoted organizers saying that attendance increased from the original plan for 40 people to more than 100 coming out to see what Rove had to say.

Good Politician, Lousy Journalist

Q: Did you take notes?

A: No.

Q: Did you tape it?

A: No. I don't have time to read notes. Anyhow, I was there, why would I need notes? I don't write for the New York Times.

-- Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), talking with reporters about his private meeting Wednesday with Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr.

Washington Post ~ Dana Milbank, Brian Faler ** Democratic Booster Cuts Liberal Spending

Posted by uhyw at 3:06 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, July 26, 2005 3:16 AM EDT

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