The Charleston Gazette
December 20, 2005
Jay expressed concerns in 2003
By Paul J. NydenStaff writer
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., released a letter Monday that he wrote to Vice President Dick Cheney in the summer of 2003, expressing concern over the domestic eavesdropping program conducted by the National Security Agency at the behest of the Bush administration.
In a press release accompanying the letter, Rockefeller said, “For the last few days, I have witnessed the president, the vice president, the secretary of state and the attorney general repeatedly misrepresent the facts.
“The record needs to be set clear that the [Bush] administration never afforded members briefed on the program an opportunity to either approve or disapprove the NSA program.”
In the two-page handwritten letter, dated July 17, 2003, Rockefeller told Cheney he was writing “to reiterate my concerns regarding the sensitive intelligence issues,” which he had first learned about earlier that day.
During a private briefing with a handful of top Senate and House intelligence committee members, Bush administration officials had revealed the National Security Agency was spying on American citizens without asking for, or obtaining, court-ordered warrants.
The program was revealed last week in a New York Times story, which identified Rockefeller as one of the people who expressed reservations about the program. Rockefeller is the vice chairman and ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. He had declined to comment on the program before Monday.
“Clearly, the activities we discussed raise profound oversight issues,” Rockefeller wrote in the letter to Cheney.
“Given the security restrictions associated with this information, and my inability to consult staff or counsel on my own, I feel unable to fully evaluate, much less endorse these activities,” Rockefeller wrote.
“Without more information and the ability to draw on any legal, independent legal or technical expertise, I simply cannot satisfy lingering concerns raised by the briefing we received.”
In the letter, Rockefeller also told the vice president he was keeping a copy of the letter in a sealed envelope in the “secure spaces of the Senate Intelligence Committee,” to keep a safe record of the correspondence.
Rockefeller said in the press release Monday that the few members of Congress who were briefed on the program were prohibited from talking about it with anyone else, including other members of the Senate or House intelligence committees.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
The Charleston Gazette
Monday, December 19, 2005
On the floor of the Senate today.Americans have been stunned at the recent news of the abuses of power by an overzealous President. It has become apparent that this Administration has engaged in a consistent and unrelenting pattern of abuse against our Country’s law-abiding citizens, and against our Constitution.
We have been stunned to hear reports about the Pentagon gathering information and creating databases to spy on ordinary Americans whose only sin is choose to exercise their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble. Those Americans who choose to question the Administration’s flawed policy in Iraq are labeled by this Administration as “domestic terrorists.”
We now know that the F.B.I.’s use of National Security Letters on American citizens has increased one hundred fold, requiring tens of thousands of individuals to turn over personal information and records. These letters are issued without prior judicial review, and provide no real means for an individual to challenge a permanent gag order.
Through news reports, we have been shocked to learn of the CIA’s practice of rendition, and the so-called “black sites,” secret locations in foreign countries, where abuse and interrogation have been exported, to escape the reach of U.S. laws protecting against human rights abuses.
We know that Vice President Dick Cheney has asked for exemptions for the CIA from the language contained in the McCain torture amendment banning cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment. Thank God his pleas have been rejected by this Congress.
Read the rest here: http://byrd.senate.gov/newsroom/news_dec/law_for_all.html
Thursday, November 24, 2005
A federal appeals court Wednesday reinstated a streamlined Army Corps of Engineers process for granting permits for mountaintop-removal coal mining in West Virginia.
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously overruled a lower-court judge, finding that the corps complied with the Clean Water Act.
In mountaintop mining, hilltops are blasted away to uncover coal seams, and the leftover rock and dirt are dumped into adjacent valleys, burying streams.
Last year, in a victory for environmental groups, U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin last year revoked 11 permits issued by the Corps. Among other things, he said the Corps had not followed the proper procedures under environmental protection laws.
Judges responsible for this decision are:
Paul V Niemeyer *Bush 41
J Michael Luttig *Bush 41
Robert J Conrad Jr *Bush 43
Paul V Niemeyer attended five-day seminars on property rights and the environment at resorts in Montana, sessions underwritten by conservative foundations that are also funding a wave of litigation on those issues in the federal courts.
Funding for the seminars, run by a group called the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE), also comes from foundations run by companies with a significant interest in property rights and environmental law issues, Internal Revenue Service records show.
J Michael Luttig assisted Bush Admin in gaining Senate confirmation of Souter and Thomas. Luttig, a Scalia protege, is admired by many conservatives in and out of the legal profession and is considered by many liberals to be a potential threat to such causes as abortion rights.
"I think there is no question that he is the most conservative judge on the most conservative court of appeals in the country," said John H. Blume, a professor at the Cornell University School of Law who has represented condemned inmates before the 4th Circuit.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Yesterday Jay Rockefeller delivered a powerful speech on the US Senate floor. Here are excerpts:
"At its core, this is about accountability -- Congressional accountability and White House accountability.
"Congress has a fundamental, constitutional responsibility to conduct oversight -- that's what checks and balances are all about – and we have utterly failed.
"My colleagues and I have tried for two years to do our oversight work, and for two years we have been undermined, avoided, put off, and vilified by the other side. Any line of questioning that has brought us too close to the White House has been thwarted.
"At some point the majority needs to understand that we are willing to bring the Senate to a halt until they will join us in conducting the kind of investigation this situation demands.
"The American people still want to know -- now more than ever -- why the United States went to war, whether they were misled, and whether our intelligence was misused.
"Whether these actions amount to crimes is not the litmus test for congressional oversight. Mr. Fitzgerald is investigating possible criminal activity by senior White House officials, and we won't and shouldn't get in the way of his work.
"But the American people deserve to know not just whether this Administration committed crimes, but whether this Administration told the truth -- the full truth, the straight story.
"And if they didn't -- if they misled about the war and if they misused intelligence, then the American people need to know that the Congress will do everything in its power the make sure that it never happens again."
For more than two years, Senate Democrats have pressed Republicans to address the misuse of intelligence. At every turn, Republicans have blocked efforts to investigate how intelligence was used in the run-up to the war in Iraq. Below details the long record established by Democrats to investigatethis matter.
March 14, 2003 Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Director Mueller requesting an investigation into the origin of the Niger documents.
May 23, 2003 Senators Roberts and Rockefeller sent a letter to the CIA and State Department Inspectors General to review issues related to the Niger documents.
June 2, 2003 Senator Rockefeller issued a press release endorsing a statement made of the previous weekend by Senator Warner calling for a joint SSCI/SASC investigation.
June 4, 2003 Senator Rockefeller issued a press release saying he would push for an investigation. Senator Roberts issued a press release saying calls for an investigation are premature.
June 10, 2003 Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Senator Roberts asking for an investigation.
June 11, 2003 All Committee Democrats signed a letter to Senator Roberts asking for a meeting of the Committee to discuss the question of authorizing an inquiry into the intelligence that formed the basis for going to war.
June 11, 2003 Senator Roberts issued a press release saying this is routine committee oversight, and that criticism of the intelligence community is unwarranted. Senator Rockefeller issued a press release calling the ongoing review inadequate.
June 20, 2003 Senators Roberts and Rockefeller issued a joint press release laying out the scope of the inquiry.
August 13, 2003 Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Senator Roberts making 14 points about the investigation, asking to expand the inquiry to address the "use of intelligence by policy makers" and asking for several other actions.
September 9, 2003 After press reports quoting Senator Roberts as saying the investigation was almost over, Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Senator Roberts urging him not to rush to complete the investigation prematurely.
October 29, 2003 Senators Roberts and Rockefeller sent a letter to Director Tenet expressing in strong terms that he should provide documents that have been requested and make individuals available.
October 30, 2003 Senators Roberts and Rockefeller sent letters to Secretaries Rumsfeld and Powell, and National Security Advisor Rice expressing in strong terms that they should provide documents that have been requested and make individuals available.
October 31, 2003 Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Director Tenet asking for documents related to the interaction between intelligence and policy makers, including the documents from the Vice President's officerelated to the Powell speech.
November 2, 2003 Senator Roberts made statements during a joint television appearance with Senator Rockefeller claiming that the White house would provide all documents they jointly requested.
December 5, 2003 Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to National Security Advisor Rice asking for her help getting documents and access to individuals.
January 22, 2004 Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Director Tenet asking for compliance with the Oct. 31 request for documents.
February 12, 2004 Senators Roberts and Rockefeller issued a joint press release announcing the Committee's unanimous approval of the expansion of the Iraq review, to include use of intelligence in the form of public statements, and listing other aspects of what became Phase II.
March 23, 2004 Senator Rockefeller sent yet another letter to Director Tenet asking for compliance with the Oct. 31 request for documents.
June 17, 2004 Senators Roberts and Rockefeller joint press release announcing the unanimous approval of the report.
July 16, 2004 Committee Democrats sent a letter to Bush asking for the one page summary of the NIE prepared for Bush. The Committee staff had been allowed to review it but could not take notes and the Committee was never given a copy.
February 3, 2005 Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Senator Roberts outlining Committee priorities for the coming year and encouraging completion of Phase II.
August 5, 2005 Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Senator Roberts expressing concern over the lack of progress on Phase II and calling for a draft to be presented to the Committee at a business meeting in September.
September 29, 2005 All Committee Democrats joined in additional views to the annual Intelligence Authorization Bill criticizing the lack of progress on Phase II.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Alito's record shows backing of business interests
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
By Jess Bravin and Jeanne Cummings, The Wall Street Journal
In 15 years on the federal bench, Judge Samuel Alito often has sided with positions backed by business leaders -- and shown himself a strict interpreter of contracts -- in cases ranging from employment discrimination and commercial speech to shareholder suits.
Indeed, legal experts said that, while the immediate focus of supporters and critics Monday was on social issues like abortion, Judge Alito's extensive track record on business and regulatory issues at the Philadelphia-based court is likely to play a large role in his nomination process.
Judge Alito's Third Circuit is one of the smaller federal jurisdictions, but it hears a disproportionate share of business-related cases because its three-state territory includes Delaware, where many companies are incorporated, and the heavily industrial New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
For those assessing Judge Alito, there are dozens of business cases to sift, some of which are widely known and many which are more technical. One of the best-known is a 1997 dissent in which Judge Alito argued against a racial-discrimination claim made by a black housekeeping manager who was denied promotion to a job at a Marriott International Inc. hotel. The position, at a hotel in Park Ridge, N.J., went to a white woman. While the court ruled the woman could take the case to a jury, Judge Alito argued that, although she might be able to claim she had been treated unfairly, that wasn't enough to let her sue.
"What we end up doing then is ... allowing disgruntled employees to impose the cost of trial on employers who, although they have not acted with the intent to discriminate, may have treated their employees unfairly," he wrote. "This represents an unwarranted extension of the anti-discrimination laws."
Last year, Judge Alito wrote an opinion striking down a Pennsylvania law that barred alcoholic-beverage advertising in college newspapers. The law violated advertisers' First Amendment rights, he found, while doing little to prevent underage drinkers from seeing liquor ads, since they were prevalent in many other media to which students had access.
And in 1997, Judge Alito affirmed the dismissal of a shareholder class action filed against Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corp., of Burlington, N.J., after its earnings fell far short of its projections and its stock fell 30 percent in one day. He ruled that shareholder plaintiffs had failed to specify how the company's performance amounted to fraud, in a close reading of applicable statutes.
Judge Alito has insisted on enforcement of contract terms challenged as unfair or otherwise as void, such as provisions that require consumers to use arbitration rather than lawsuits to pursue complaints, said Larry E. Ribstein, a law professor at the University of Illinois. Such contract terms can be "a very useful technique that business has today in avoiding excessive litigation," said Mr. Ribstein, who specializes in business legal issues and has served as editor of the University of Chicago's Supreme Court Economic Review.
Major business groups, which have pressed the White House for business-friendly judges, Monday said they had yet to fully scrutinize Judge Alito's docket sufficiently to reach their own conclusions. Robin Conrad, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Litigation Center, said her lawyers are beginning a review of more than 700 opinions written by Judge Alito, including dozens on labor and employment cases and race and sex discrimination.
"There is a lot of stuff to look at," she said. "We're looking to see if there is a demonstrated understanding of business and economic issues."
Some critics, however, said they already saw warning flags. "Judge Alito's record on the bench demonstrates that he would go to great lengths to restrict the authority of Congress to enact legislation to protect civil rights and the rights of workers, consumers and women," said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the Judiciary Committee's ranking Democrat.
Wow, a very "conservative" Republican nominated to the Supreme Court who just happens to love big business very much. I doubt Bushy had any idea that the ol' man had it in him. I am sure it was his moral values that allowed him to follow Miers.
Hey Republicans, tell me if you think any harmful information to Alito's nomination will arise and if you think he will be approved.
And all criticism aside, if Alito does prove to be a decent pick, i'd probably approve. I do not want to see this void in the court drag out in critical times.
More infor here and here
Senate Democrats Force Closed Session, Igniting Partisan Battle
Democrats are fed up with the corruption that the Republicans bring to the honorable halls of congress and are now fighting back. It has been a really horrible year for 'Corruptlicans' and today Minority leader Harry Reid forced the Senate to go into closed session to take up what the Democratic leader complained was the GOP-controlled Senate's failure to complete an investigation into intelligence used by the Bush administration to justify the war in Iraq.
For far too long this quagmire has been ignored and covered up by the Republicans, and what a better way to tear into the truth than by applying pressure to an already unstable leadership. The people want the truth and they want it now. Bush and Co. may have been able to cover up the horrible response to Katrina by nominating Roberts, they may have been able to cover up the Libby indictment by nominating Alito, and he may have been able to cover up many other things with anti-democratic propaganda, but no longer. We won't stand for it.
Senator Reid spoke boldly today to CNN which gave me the impression that Democrats are now finally giving these Republican rats a taste of good old fashion Democratic muscle. And with the self-inflicted wounds Republicans have, it shouldn't be much longer til the American people remember why the greatest Presidents and leaders this nation has seen were Democrats or would have been.
Let's take a glance at some of what was said.
"It is clear now that the American people were not informed properly before the invasion of Iraq. Intelligence information was distorted, was misused, and we have seen as late as last week the lengths which this administration has gone to try to silence and discredit their critics of the misuse of this intelligence information," Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., told reporters.
So, if the WMD claim was in fact BS, then ofcourse the American people want to know the truth. And even after President Bush admitted that there were no WMDs in Iraq, the uninformed Fox News viewers and Republicans across the globe still believe there was. It is up to the people in our federal government to do their jobs and investigate this predicament, not cover it up in the name of political bias and greed.
When Reid spoke the truth, Frist had the gall to say it was "an affront to me personally" and labeled it a political "stunt." Sheesh, what an idiot.. or lying sack of crap. So what would you have done Frist? An investigation on the war in Iraq dies down and no answers have been given. What do you want, to just drop it? Leave it unanswered and pretend this ridiculous incident never happened?
I think now is the perfect time to hit Republicans with everything we've got and do not let up. They are at a weak point in their reign and the world would be better of it they were taken out quickly. Slaughtergate gate is coming.
Monday, October 31, 2005
LAMB: So what have you learned from Senator Byrd about being a senator for the last eight terms?
MOORE CAPITO: Well, I think that being in the Senate looks like a pretty cool job.
MOORE CAPITO: Well, I think you get a lot more influence. Certainly he represents the entire state, and that presents a lot of huge opportunities. The Senate does things differently. IÂm not sure I agree with it, but if I ever got over there I would probably think it was great.
Notice the key statements here: "looks like a pretty cool job", "I think you get a lot more influence", if I ever got over there I would probably think it was great".
This is definitely the mark of a rookie and she has no place being a senator any time soon. Why take the egg when you have the golden goose?
I am going to repost Mr. Brewster's article enlightening those dimwitted Repubs on the meaning of Modern America. Recently it seems we have slid from our orgininal intentions in hopes of obtaining some other goal. Maybe we were trying to become a proxy for news, but that is over with now. Our orgininal meaning was to provide our brutal commentary and stay firm on criticizing the corrupted Republican Party.
Friday, July 22, 2005
What is Modern America?
Apparently some of you GOPers are confused. This blog isn't about intellectual topics on how to improve the life of everyday Americans and West Virginians. This blog is nothing more than a counter-punch to the Right-Wing attack machine that has brewed on a national and state level. We will occasionally talk about certain issues on this blog, however, don't make comments that ask where our substance is, we let our party leaders do the policy work.
Our substance is simple: We are Blood Thirsty Democrats, ready to attack any Republican that we put our crosshairs on.
It's a simple formula. Remember what happened to Barry Goldwater? It's kinda like that.
Now, remember that.
One thing that is great about government of the people, for the people and by the people is that we can be very critical of our leadership without the fear of being harmed. Or can we? Does Valerie Plame sound familiar? Or what about Nixon's Enemy List? Should we use caution when criticizing those in command? Of course we should, but that should not hinder us from speaking our mind.
A moment this morning, I took a couple of minutes to say that Alito is a "yes man" [for Bush], and William Stewart was all over that comment like Vic Sprouse on a wad of bills. Did I go too far? Was my statement unjust and false? If so, should I apologize or just get a primetime tv show on Fox?
What do we know about Samuel Alito?
He has served on the federal appeals court for 15 years since President George H.W. Bush nominated him in 1990. He was the deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration from 1985 to 1987 and assistant to the solicitor general from 1981 to 1985.
Among his noteworthy opinions was his lone dissent in the 1991 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which the 3rd Circuit struck down a Pennsylvania law that included a provision requiring women seeking abortions to notify their spouses.
Former appellate judge Timothy Lewis, who served with Alito, has ideological differences with him but believes he would be a good Supreme Court justice.
"There is nobody that I believe would give my case a more fair and balanced treatment," Lewis said. "He has no agenda. He's open-minded, he's fair and he's balanced."
There is much more information on ol' Alito making its way to the public as we speak, and I would imagine that it will be more information helpful to his Supreme Court bid. But when was the last time you seen an open-minded, self thinking, fair and honest individual working with the Bush administration? They all seem to get fired or their families get harmed in one way or another.
Despite any evidence that shows Alito may be an honest man whom determines law fairly, it is very much fair to suspect that the most corrupt administration in America's history has nominated yet another man who will say "yes" to the executive branch for years to come. If not, his family may be harmed.
If Mr. Stewart wants to discuss distortion he needs to contact Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, Carlson, Robertson and countless of other Republicans who distort data in the name of money. And if Alito has made one mistake, one unwise decision, he is going down in the name of Democratic Domination.
President Bush will today nominate Samuel Alito, a yes man, to the Supreme Court today according to reports.
Also this headline in the Gazette caught my eye: "Manchin not the only Democrat to buck party on abortion". I am just curious if people have forgotten that they have been 'pro-life' for the length of their careers. This is not something new, and Byrd's base can vouche for it.
And one by one the most notable WV Republicans are stepping down from the option of running against Byrd. Ireland and Capito know better, but their Junior Conservative Hiram "Bucky" Lewis needs some help understanding this. Does this piss off the Republicans? That their most beloved politicians are too scared to run against Byrd? You bet it does, as WVConservative has pointed out.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Through his West Virginia Coal Conversion Initiative, Gov. Joe Manchin is promoting development of coal liquefaction processes that convert coal to motor fuel. He promises streamlined permitting for companies that want to build coal conversion plants in West Virginia that can produce highly desirable motor fuels.
But West Virginia's energy opportunity extends far beyond coal-to-motor fuel opportunities.
The American power grid is a thirsty beast that demands more and more energy, and coal is the nation's most affordable energy source for the foreseeable future. Coal's critics object loudly to the burning of fossil fuels, but the doomsday crowd offers few alternatives that can satisfy the nation's energy needs.
Along with Senator Byrd and the rest of West Virginia's leadership (besides Capito), I am confident that more opportunities will present themselves to West Virginia in the form of jobs. And not just any jobs, but coal/energy related jobs that will benefit WV and demonstrate how our roots in Coal is long standing and bright. As more inventions and innovations revise the life of the coal industry, we can again smile and welcome the chance for a better WV... but we gotta keep an eye on that Blankenship guy.
Governor manchin has been appointed to the Medicaid commission.
The national panel will advise U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt on how to modernize the state-and-federal insurance program.
Florida Governor Jeb Bush also was named to the commission.
Other members include health policy leaders, state health department officials, public policy organizations and people with disabilities.
Medicaid provides health care for more than 300-thousand needy, aged, blind, disabled and low-income West Virginians.
The state department of health and human resources said earlier this year that it needs to cut nearly 116 million dollars out of West Virginia's medicaid program because it faces a 156 million-dollar deficit.
I am curious as to where this will take ol' Manchin. I see more fame nationally being gathered, that's for sure.
Blankenship Avows His Role in West Virginia
Posted 10/27/2005 06:00 AM
Blankenship insisted he has no political motives in his dabbling in the Mountain State's political landscape. Instead, Blankenship explained, his motivation is good citizenship.
Story by Steve Novotney
WHEELING -- Who is Don Blankenship?
It's a question, not a campaign slogan.
Not like "Who Is Brent Benjamin?" The Republican candidate's campaign used common curiosity last November, and Benjamin dethroned former West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals justice Warren McGraw.
But who is Don Blankenship? Now that's a question posed in West Virginia's Northern Panhandle as often as residents above the Mason-Dixon hear, "Paid for by Don Blankenship" on television.
Those are the political ads, the TV spots broadcast in the state's largest markets promoting whatever Blankenship believes in or denouncing what he doesn't. For instance, it was Blankenship who supported Benjamin's victory, and it was Blankenship who spent six figures opposing Gov. Joe Manchin's failed pension bond amendment in June.
His day job, however, means little to citizens of the state's northern counties because "Massey Energy" is not a household name here. Blankenship serves as president, chairman and CEO for Massey, the fourth largest coal producer in the United States with 19 mining complexes in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia.
Blankenship insisted he has no political motives in his dabbling in the Mountain State's political landscape. He said he possesses zero political aspirations or premeditated, revenge-driven agendas against the Manchin administration.
Instead, Blankenship explained, his motivation is good citizenship.
Rest of the article.
Good citizenship aye? Sorry if I seem too skeptical, but I am. When was the last time a Republican did something out of the kindness of his heart? Well, I can tell you that I wasn't even born. Blankenship wants to see all of his buddies run the state of WV so he can make more money. SImple as that.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Washington, DC (HNN) – . U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-WV., met with the head of American Electric Power (AEP), in hopes of strengthening West Virginia’s case for a new advanced coal-based electric power plant.
“West Virginia has the workforce, the coal, and the desire to be home to a new AEP power plant,” Byrd said. “AEP has a strong presence in West Virginia. We have proved to be a good partner with AEP in the past, and I believe that our partnership will continue to grow.”
“If West Virginia is selected for this new power plant, it would mean an infusion of new jobs, construction of a 21st century facility, and a continued commitment to West Virginia coal. This new plant would be a mainstay of West Virginia for many years to come,” Byrd said.
One man who has the ability to bring jobs and opportunity to West Virginia is Robert C. Byrd. And if the AEP decides to build the power plant in WV, then Byrd's billion dollar industry plan will be well on its way. This is something Capito, or any other Republican in West Virginia, is not capable of doing.
Byrd is the word and shall remain in 2006.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Republicans controlling Congress and the White House are pushing to cut BILLIONS from essential services. At the same time, the Republican leadership is seriously considering extending even greater tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and still spending $6 BILLION a month in Iraq. If they really want to cut the record deficits that they have caused they should clean up their own mess before forcing America’s neediest to sacrifice.
Here is a list of the programs they want to cut:
- Medicaid and Medicare—the primary health insurance provider for America's poor and elderly.
- Federal student loans—which make higher education possible for millions of American students.
- Child Nutrition Programs (school lunch and breakfast, summer meals, day care meals)—which provide basic nutrition to underprivileged children in every state.
- Food Stamps—the highly successful federal program that keeps millions of Americans from facing hunger and even starvation.
- Earned Income & Child Tax Credits—vital tax relief for low-income working families.
- Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation—the federal guarantor of private pension programs, needed more than ever in this era of major bankruptcies.
- State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and TANF—which provide basic cost of living support to millions of extremely low income and disabled Americans.
- Unemployment Insurance.
Like Social Security and the National Guard each of these public interest programs successfully serve the public good.
Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito is trying to justify voting with her Republican benefactors by spinning these cuts as a "shared sacrifice". We call it "mismanaging the public trust" and further proof that Republicans have no intention of leading us in the right direction.
These programs are important to preserve and you can help. Tell Congresswoman Capito to take a stand, for a change, by calling:
Congresswoman Shelley Moore CapitoPhone: 925-5964 Charleston, 264-8810 Martinsburg
We need to make absolutely sure that Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito has the benefit of our opinions on this issue before she votes on this draconian measure!
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
In the attention focused on the potential Byrd-Capito match-up, few have noticed Capito's vulnerability in WV HR2. Despite having the wind at her back, a massive in-district GOP GOTV effort targeting the DC exurb Eastern Panhandle counties which supply her margin, and facing a massively underfunded token challenger, she actually dropped two point from 2002 to 2004.
In 2006, she will lose her seat to the credible challenge of Mike Callaghan, a former AUSA, WV Department of Environmental Protection Director, and state Democratic chair. His campaign site is mikewv.com.
Capito continues to pull her Hamlet act on the Byrd challenge, pointedly keeping her options open. She has deftly used the Byrd float to raise her statewide profile for her ultimate goal of winning the govenor's mansion. She has used the leverage she has with the Bush Administration in their frenzied desire to take a shot at Byrd to get a free pass on the CAFTA vote.
She has played her hand well. She just has played it too long. There is growing impatience among West Virginia Republicans over her coy approach. Democrats are livid over the indecency of circling like a vulture waiting for Byrd to pass away.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
From Think Progress:
October 7, 2005
Emotions erupted on the floor of the House of Representatives this afternoon as the right-wing-led Congress held open yet another vote to twist arms and pass a bill that would line the pockets of energy company executives. The House leadership held the five-minute vote open for almost 50 minutes until they could convince three lawmakers — Reps. Wayne Gilcrest (R-MD), C.W. Bill Young (R-FL) and Jim Gerlach (R-PA) — to change their minds. The bill passed 212-210. As the vote concluded, opponents of the bill chanted in unity: "Shame, Shame, Shame!"
The vote was held on the “Gasoline for America’s Security Act of 2005,” a provision sponsored by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) to nominally “expedite the construction of new refining capacity.” But the bill is essentially a giveback to the oil industry — Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) called it a “leave-no-oilman-behind bill.”
How could legislation be passed to subsidize the oil industry when these companies are aready enjoying uncontrolled windfall profits from rising gasoline prices? The answer is, the vote was rigged, as detailed by Marie26 at Democratic Underground.
"Is this the House of a Banana Republic?" Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., shouted at one point, expressing his frustration about the GOP holdup of the final tally.
"Using Hurricane Katrina as their excuses the Republicans are again pushing their special interest agenda," said Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California, including "all the special favors to the industry that were too extreme" for Congress last summer when it passed energy legislation.
"The bill weakens state and federal environmental standards ... and gives a break to wealthy oil companies while doing little or nothing to affect oil prices," complained Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y., one of 13 Republicans who voted against the measure.
With prices soaring, "oil companies now have all the profits and incentives they need to build new refineries" without government help, he maintained.
West Virginia's two Democratic Representatives voted against this outrage. Republican Shelly Moore Capito, however, supported the measure.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
The Charleston Gazette
October 5, 2005
Three Republican members of Congress have announced they will return campaign donations they received from Americans for a Republican Majority, a national political action committee run by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said Tuesday that she has no immediate plans to return $48,500 she has received from DeLay's ARMPAC.
Bill Burton, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said, "West Virginia families deserve to know why it is that ... Capito refuses to return money from indicted Congressman Tom DeLay. ...
"DeLay's indictment was only one part of a system of pay-to-play and lobbyist-driven legislating that he put into place. Unfortunately, Capito has supported and benefited this same culture which puts the special interests at the expense of middle-class families and our country," Burton said.
Charleston Gazette article
Monday, October 03, 2005
Friday, September 30, 2005
Republicans just keep placing their heads on the chopping block.
"Former education czar William Bennett was accused of feeding the fires of racism after he claimed that the U.S. crime rate could be reduced by aborting "every black baby in this country."
Bennett, education secretary in the Reagan administration, made the astounding claim Wednesday on his morning drive-time show on the conservative Salem Radio Network. The show is heard on 115 stations but not in New York.
Addressing a caller's suggestion that lost revenue from the people who have been aborted in the last 30 years would be enough to preserve Social Security, Bennett..."
The list of Republican scandal continues to grow. Reed, Rove, Frist, DeLay, Bush...
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Well, It's about time!
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, forcing the House majority leader to temporarily relinquish his post.
DeLay, 58, was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee.
"I have notified the speaker that I will temporarily step aside from my position as majority leader pursuant to rules of the House Republican Conference and the actions of the Travis County district attorney today," DeLay said.
Criminal conspiracy is a state felony punishable by six months to two years in a state jail and a fine of up to $10,000. The potential two-year sentence forces DeLay to step down under House Republican rules.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Today, Our great senator, Robert C. Byrd, spoke from the Capitol Rotunda saying he was "ready to go for another round." Byrd has 47 years in the Senate and will become the longest-serving member in Senate history in June.
While Republicans are lining up to knock down this great man, chances are that this wise, tactful Senator still has a few tricks up his sleeve to even derail the misdeeds of Rove.
God bless Senator Byrd and may he represent the people of WV as he is willing.
Here is a transcript of Senator Byrd's speech available on his campaign site Byrd2006
Senator Byrd's Announcement Speech
Surrounded by family, friends, and hundreds of supporters, United States Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., made it official on Tuesday -- he will seek re-election to the Senate in 2006. Senator Byrd's remarks are below.
"I have given most of my life to serving the people of West Virginia, and today I stand before you ready to go another round. Today, I am here to announce my decision to run once again for the United States Senate and represent each of you, the people of our great State of West Virginia.
I have the best job in America because I represent you, the people of West Virginia. I want to keep this job. And I have called hundreds of West Virginians, and asked them, and they all said, "Go for it!" Here among our hills are the finest people on earth. Why do I say that? Because it's true. West Virginians believe in humility, hard work, patriotism, and we have an unshakeable faith in God.
We know that humility ennobles the spirit. We understand the dignity in hard work. We love our state, our country, and our flag. We share the faith of our fathers. Their faith in God is our faith. It is rooted in the marrow of our bones.
What a privilege to represent people like you! That is why I want to run again.
West Virginians deserve the best. As for me, it is an honor to work for all of you every day in the United States Senate.
It is not easy work, but I enjoy doing all that I can for West Virginia. I know how to deliver. I have been practicing my craft for years and, with your support, I will keep on giving you all I've got. I want to help build West Virginia's future. Together, we are making great progress, But there is more to do, and our best is yet to come.
We are a state rich in natural resources, natural beauty, and creative people who know how to work for what they want. We have a new, dynamic Governor. We have a hard working State Legislature. We have a strong Congressional Delegation. And we have lessons for America in the way we live our lives.
With a modern transportation system, a skilled workforce, and a friendly climate for small businesses and entrepreneurs, opportunity abounds. West Virginia is ready to reach new heights and new horizons. We are on the way to better days, and I will keep pushing to help build a better future for West Virginia.
There is much more to do. West Virginia's health care needs must be addressed. West Virginia's education opportunities must be improved. West Virginia's senior citizens must have the dignity and the security that they deserve. Our young people need good jobs so they can stay home in West Virginia and help us to build West Virginia's future.
I pledge my best efforts on those tough problems and more. And I also promise you this. I will never pull my punches. I will never duck a challenge. I will never close my ears to your concerns. And I will never, never, never fail to speak my mind on your behalf.
My beautiful wife, Erma, cannot be with me here today, but she is a West Virginian through and through, and she wants me to continue to work for the state we both so dearly love. With God's blessing, I look forward to the days ahead. With your support, and Erma's love, I look forward to working with all of you. We have mountains to climb together, so let's get going!
May God continue to bless our great country, and may God continue to bless the great State of West Virginia and her mountain people!"
Monday, September 26, 2005
An investigation is underway that may have Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist in an "Alderson Prison" of his own. Senator Frist seems to have pulled a "Martha Stewart" by getting inside information and selling his stock shares before its value plummeted. Senator Frist says he will comply with the authorities on this situation, but ofcourse, what else would he say?
Today in his first public comments on the issue, Frist said he "acted properly" in the transaction. Federal prosecutors last week said they would look into Frist's sale of HCA shares just before the hospital chain warned in July of weak numbers, driving the stock lower.
Today's comments came as the new chief of one of the agencies investigating the sales, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Christopher Cox, recused himself from the investigation. Cox, a former California representative and onetime contributor to a Frist election campaign, cited the need to avert what he called "any appearance of impropriety."
With Cheney having more medical complications, Bush's approval ratings plummeting, the "War On Terror" entering a seemingly infinite loop, U.S. economy taking a beating from the executive screw-ups and natural disasters, this is the last thing the Republican leadership needs. But as many have stated before, a mountain pile of screw-ups will open the eyes of the people... eventually.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Senator Byrd has rescheduled his 2006 announcement to next Tuesday, September 27 at 12 noon.
Here are some excerpts from the announcement:
September 20, 2005 Byrd re-schedules 2006 announcement
Friends of Robert C. Byrd
On Tuesday, September 27, 2005, U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., will announce his 2006 re-election plans at an event in the Lower Rotunda of the State Capitol in Charleston.
Byrd had previously been scheduled to announce his re-election plans on September 7, but postponed the event because of the state's massive efforts to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Supporters are welcome to attend Senator Byrd's announcement.
More information can be obtained at:
Direct Link and Byrd2006 News
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
By Rick Maze
Army Times staff writer
The Senate's senior Democrat called Tuesday for the Bush administration to withdraw the military from Iraq to focus on domestic needs such as hurricane relief.
"Sometimes, it takes a catastrophe to put events into perspective, to shake us and sharpen our clarity of vision," said Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.
"We cannot continue to commit billions in Iraq when our own people are so much in need, not only now, in New Orleans, but all across America for everything from education to health care to homeland security to securing our own borders," Byrd said in a speech on the Senate floor
"We need to stop making excuses, stop spinning facts and come to grips with the unpleasant truth. The government of the United States is failing the American people."
Link to the complete story
Also of interest:
Senator Byrd's 02/12/03 Speech to the Senate of the US
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Public poll numbers released in Charleston today show Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., with a 75 percent job approval rating and a 16 point lead over a potential match-up versus Representative Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va..
According to the poll, about 55 percent of registered voters in West Virginia said they would support Byrd in the election. Only 39 percent said they would support Capito. Poll respondents also had a higher opinion of Byrd than Capito and gave the senior senator higher job approval ratings than the congresswoman. According to the poll, 72 percent of residents have a favorable opinion of Byrd.
Ned Rose, chairman of the Friends of Robert C. Byrd Committee, said about the new poll numbers, "This poll reflects what West Virginians already know -- that our state has no better champion than Robert C. Byrd. Senator Byrd stands up for West Virginia. He puts the people first. Senator Byrd does right by West Virginia.
"There is a long way to go before the election, and poll numbers change. But this is certainly good news. And I expect that the poll would have been even stronger if it were taken after Senator Byrd came through to save the West Virginia National Guard's 130th Airlift Wing in Charleston. Senator Byrd always uses his power, clout, and experience to fight for West Virginia."
The poll, commissioned by The State Journal, was conducted by RMS Strategies during the week of Aug. 8. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
by Greg Palast
September 2, 2005
The National Public Radio news anchor was so excited I thought she'd piss on herself: the President of the United had flown his plane down to 1700 feet to get a better look at the flood damage! And there was a photo of our Commander-in-Chief taken looking out the window. He looked very serious and concerned.
That was yesterday. Today he played golf. No kidding
There is nothing new under the sun. In 1927, a Republican President had his photo taken as the Mississippi rolled over New Orleans. Calvin Coolidge promised to rebuild the state. He didn't. Instead, he left to play golf with Ken Lay or the Ken Lay railroad baron equivalent of his day.
Then, as the waters rose, one politician finally said, roughly, "Screw this! They're lying! The President's lying! The rich fat cats that are drowning you will do it again and again and again. They lead you into imperialist wars for profit, they take away your schools and your hope and when you complain, they blame Blacks and Jews and immigrants. Then they push your kids under. I say, Kick'm in the ass and take your rightful share!"
Link to the rest of the story
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Poll Shows Bush Approval RatingsSink to Lowest Point in Presidency
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
August 24, 2005
President Bush's job approval ratings are at their lowest point of his presidency as only 40% of U.S. adults have a favorable opinion of his job performance and 58% have a negative opinion, according to a Harris Interactive poll.
This is a decline from two months ago, when the president's ratings were 45% positive and 55% negative. The war in Iraq and the economy climbed to the top of a list of issues Americans say are most important for the U.S. to address. Social Security declined sharply.
At the same time, Vice President Dick Cheney's approval ratings slipped to 35% from 38% in June, while Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's approval ratings dropped to 40% from 42%.
Link to the rest of the story
Thursday, August 18, 2005
The New York Times
By ADAM NAGOURNEYand DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
Published: August 18, 2005
WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 - A stream of bad news out of Iraq, echoed at home by polls that show growing impatience with the war and rising disapproval of President Bush's Iraq policies, is stirring political concern in Republican circles, party officials said Wednesday.
Some said that the perception that the war was faltering was providing a rallying point for dispirited Democrats and could pose problems for Republicans in the Congressional elections next year.
Republicans said a convergence of events - including the protests inspired by the mother of a slain American soldier outside Mr. Bush's ranch in Texas, the missed deadline to draft an Iraqi Constitution and the spike in casualties among reservists - was creating what they said could be a significant and lasting shift in public attitude against the war.
The Republicans described that shift as particularly worrisome, occurring 14 months before the midterm elections. As further evidence, they pointed to a special election in Ohio two weeks ago, where a Democratic marine veteran from Iraq who criticized the invasion decision came close to winning in a district that should have easily produced a Republican victory.
"There is just no enthusiasm for this war," said Representative John J. Duncan Jr., a Tennessee Republican who opposes the war. "Nobody is happy about it. It certainly is not going to help Republican candidates, I can tell you that much."
Link to the rest of the article
Saturday, August 13, 2005
New Hampshire Union Leader
Saturday, August 13, 2005
President Bush has earned his plunging poll numbers
By ROGER SIMON
GEORGE BUSH'S poll numbers are in decline because the Iraq war hangs around his neck like a two-ton albatross.
The latest AP-Ipsos poll puts approval for Bush's handling of the war at only 38 percent and his overall job approval at only 42 percent. (In addition, 50 percent of the country says he is a dishonest and only 48 percent says he is honest.)
The latest Newsweek poll puts Bush's war approval at only 34 percent and his overall approval at 42 percent, his lowest ranking ever.
Since Bush doesn't have to run for office again, you might wonder why this matters. There are at least two reasons:
Republicans in Congress have to run for re-election next year, and these figures terrify them. The numbers are getting so bad - as is the war in Iraq - that some are already wondering whether a campaign visit by the President would be a plus or a minus in their districts.
The rest of the story here.
Friday, August 05, 2005
"SINCE the 2004 election, there has been much soul-searching and hand-wringing, especially among Democrats, about how to "frame" political messages. The loss to George W. Bush was painful enough, but the Republicans' post-election claims of mandate, and their triumphal promises to relegate the Democrats to permanent minority status, left political liberals in a state of panic.
So the minority party has been searching, some would say desperately, for the right "narrative": the best story line, metaphors, even magic words to bring back electoral success. The operative term among Democratic politicians and strategists has become "framing." How to tell the story has become more important than the story itself. And that could be a bigger mistake for the Democrats than the ones they made during the election.
Language is clearly important in politics, but the message remains more important than the messaging. In the interests of full disclosure, let me note that I have been talking to the Democrats about both. But I believe that first, you must get your message straight. What are your best ideas, and what are you for-as opposed to what you're against in the other party's message? Only when you answer those questions can you figure out how to present your message to the American people.
Because the Republicans, with the help of the religious right, have captured the language of values and religion (narrowly conceived as only abortion and gay marriage), the Democrats have also been asking how to "take back the faith." But that means far more than throwing a few Bible verses into policy discussions, offering candidates some good lines from famous hymns, or teaching them how to clap at the right times in black churches. Democrats need to focus on the content of religious convictions and the values that underlie them."
"Abortion is one such case. Democrats need to think past catchphrases, like "a woman's right to choose," or the alternative, "safe, legal and rare." More than 1 million abortions are performed every year in this country. The Democrats should set forth proposals that aim to reduce that number by at least half."
Jim Wallis is editor and founder of the liberal evangelical magazine Sojourners, the author of The Soul of Politics and God's Politics, and the head of "Call to Renewal," a faith-based anti-poverty organization.
It is a little bit too late for that now, but I dedicate the repost of Wallis' article to all of you Libs in "Candy Land". I ask you to seriously take a second look at politics and strategy. This will be useful for the future.
Senator Byrd will not have to worry about staying consistent with that message, nor will he have to worry about the Klu Klux Klan vomit spewing from the opposition. The only thing Byrd has to worry about is the downfall of Hechler. But then again, what does 6 years difference make? Byrd triumphs in everything he takes on due to his intellect and ability. I can tell everyone right now that if Byrd officially announces his run, he will CRUSH the opposition. Hands down, not even close. Byrd will win by 20+ percentage points. Oh wait, what's that I say, only twenty? Nah, notice the plus. I'll give his opposition a little credit.
But in the meantime we should have some fun with the Republicans. I agree with what Wayne has stated: "...I think it would be a lot more fun to go on the offense with an ad that's critical of Smelly Moore Crapito, and let her see if she can defend herself." If the Democrats have half a brain here in WV they will take this opportunity to play with the Republicans. Swat them around like a cat would a mouse. Kick them up and down and show them who is boss. Republicans are starting to buck their chests out and stare 2 seconds too long in our eyes. We have to set them in their place. Do they seriously think they have a chance here in WV? Yes they do think so.
Capito, get ready to spend your money early because your name is about to be smeared worse than your blotchy face makeup.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Potty mouth and everything! Bob sure likes to dish it out, but he can't take it. James Carville really got his goat. Maybe he's cracking under the pressure of the Traitorgate investigation. You can enjoy a video clip at this site:
Scroll down a little at the same site for an accounting of an interview with Senator Rick Santorum (R - of course) on the Brian Lehrer radio show. There's an audio clip there, for your listening enjoyment. Santorum loses it too!
Update: CNN Suspends Novak
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Check out the newest Fact Check article weighing in on the Republican/Byrd ads.
With 15 months to go before election day 2006, the National Republican Senatorial Committee unleashed an attack ad in West Virginia in an attempt to soften up Democratic Senator Robert Byrd for an eventual GOP challenger. Byrd responded immediately with a TV ad of his own.
Both ads contained shopworn distortions.
The NRSC ad accused Byrd of voting "against body armor" and "for higher taxes for the middle class" – as misleading now as when Bush used the same attacks against Kerry last year.
And Byrd responded by claiming he was being attacked by "out-of-state special interests" with an "agenda" that includes "tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas." In fact, the ad was run by a political party and not by a "special interest," and the tax breaks Byrd mentions have been in place for decades, even when Democrats had a majority in the Senate and Byrd was their leader. Few economists see those tax breaks as a serious drain on US jobs."
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
After many hours of hide and seek, I think I have fixed the errors that crammed the side bar to the bottom of the page. We at MA mostly use Mozilla Firefox or some other alternative to IE and rarely catch the errors that IE users experience.
I strongly suggest everyone use Mozilla Firefox. There are multiple things about its features that make it great, one being the built in popup blocker. Once I tested Modern America on IE, I noticed you guys experience some popup adds from bravenet, Mozilla stops that and without third party software. Another great thing about Mozilla is that it interprets code more proficiently, unlike IE that handles code sometimes like it is from another planet. Mozilla can comprehend flawed code and interpret it to what you intended...almost like a skilled living creature.
Anyway, if anyone notices anything looking a little funny, i'd appreciate an email. I'll try and stay up-to-date on how to keep MA lookin' good for your viewing pleasure. But hey, you come here for our awesome commentary and news, not the graphics and looks right?
P.S. Don Surber stays up too late.
"What West Virginia Can Learn From the Boston Red Sox
or What Manny Ramirez, Shaquille O'Neal, and Bob Byrd Have in Common...
MannyIt looks like the Red Sox have learned their lesson.
Despite rumors flying about an impending trade of Manny Ramirez, the Red Sox have decided not to trade the future Hall of Famer. It appears the Red Sox have finally learned that the best trade is often the trade you don't make.
It would not have been wise to trade their best player one year after winning the World Series. The last time they did that, the Red Sox traded Babe Ruth and ushered in almost a century of frustration before winning the World Series last October.
Unfortunately, the Los Angeles Lakers didn't heed this advice, trading their most valuable player, Shaquille O'Neal, to the Miami Heat in exchange for 3 players hardly anybody has heard of. The results, the Lakers ended up losing more games than the LA Clippers and missed the playoffs, while Miami almost won the Championship for the first-time in franchise history.
What is the lesson?
You don't trade your most valuable players, especially not for an unproven rookie. It may seem like you made a good deal at first, but a bad trade can have lasting results.
Next year, West Virginia voters will have a chance to choose between a proven star, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, who has demonstrated his value to the state time and time again, and an unproven prospect, Rep. Shelley Moore-Capito. The writers will talk about the potential of Rep. Capito, but voters should know that "trading" Senator Byrd would be no better than trading Manny for Aubrey Huff, or Shaq for those other guys.
Capito has been working in the minor leagues and has even had some success, but the US Senate is the Major Leagues. West Virginia can't afford to risk trading a perennial MVP candidate for a prospect who recently admitted,
"I'm not sure I completely understand (the federal budget process) yet myself."
That's like saying, "I can't hit a curve ball, but I'm working on it."
We can't afford to wait for someone to learn at the Major League level.
You don't have to take my word for it. Ask the fans in Los Angeles, which player do they wish they still had on their team?"
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Check out this article by Michael Sherrin! I wish everyone on the Democratic Leadership Council would be replaced by him and others just like him.
A PIECE OF ADVICE
Say what's unpopular, get to what's popular
By Michael Sherrin RAW STORY CONTRIBUTOR
Liberal government happens. Imagine 69 Democratic Senators. Imagine, at the same time, a second term Democratic President. Imagine a time when that Democratic President feared Southern Democrats more than Republican sound bites.
This was the case a short 60 years ago. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Democratic Party commanded such popularity that there was no state where they weren’t competitive. When FDR concerned himself with the social issues of the times, the conservative Southern Democrats threatened his agenda more than any Republican.
The Democrats were in power and they can be in power again. Unfortunately, the current strategy of the Democratic Party seems ineffective at combating the ever-dominant social issues. Try to explain the Democratic Party’s stance on same-sex marriage in under 30 seconds with enough time to explain how you’re going to provide health insurance for all Americans. While the Republicans have simple, conservative answers on abortion and school prayer, Democrats flounder in the center with no one to represent the left. By swinging to the left, the Democrats can deliever short, simple positions on these controversial social issues, giving them time to turn the subject to what Democrats have always won on–economics.
The rest of the story is at rawstory.com
For more on what we could do to improve the Democratic party (IMHO), visit: huffingtonpost.com
Monday, June 27, 2005
On June 6th I published a Modern America article titled, "Supply Side Economics." In it I discussed President Bush's federal income tax cuts that mostly benefited the wealthy. Now I have some things to say about the Estate Tax.
You might not even recognize it by its true name, since Republicans refer to it as the Death Tax. This is a familiar tactic, replacing the name of something with one of their misleading slogans, which they repeat endlessly. The idea you're supposed to get here is, you pay taxes on everything you earn throughout your life, and then you have to pay taxes on it again when you die and leave it to your heirs, due to The Evil Death Tax.
This is a silly distortion. You don't pay taxes after you're dead. You don't do anything in this world after you're dead. When your survivors receive an inheritance from your estate, it is they who pay the taxes, because this is income.
Still, it would seem fair if we could leave a little something tax-free for our children when we pass on - maybe the family home or farm, or some cash to help them put our grandchildren through college. That's why the Estate Tax provides for a $1 million exemption from taxation. I say that's plenty, but there are reasonable people who believe this exemption should be raised some - say, to $2 million.
But in 2001, Bush and his Republican Congress passed a bill to phase out the Estate Tax, with total elimination scheduled for 2010. The bill has a sunset clause, so the tax would revert to its pre-2001 state in 2011 (up to $1M exemption) if no more legislation is passed. But Paris Hilton needn't worry. Republicans are working right now to make Estate Tax elimination permanent, so that she and others like her can inherit vast fortunes without paying any taxes.
Thus, with yet another tax break for the rich, it will be even easier for the wealthy elite to perpetuate their dynasties. This is all part of Dubya's campaign to cut taxes for wealthy individuals and corporations, while gutting our social programs.
Soon 10,000 West Virginia veterans will face increased medical costs, because the Bush administration has not adequately funded the Veterans' Administration. Wonder what happened to the 'support our troops' slogan?
Saturday, June 25, 2005
June 25, 2005 6:42 PM
The three-point-eight billion dollar Coalfields Expressway project in southwest Virginia has effectively been halted.
That's because the Federal Highway Administration is withdrawing funding.
The agency cited delays and escalating costs in pulling the money from the 51-mile highway, a four-lane road from Wise County, Virginia, through Dickenson and Buchanan counties to link with the West Virginia Coalfields Expressway near Paynesville, West Virginia.
Highway administration officials say the project is behind schedule with no anticipated date for the start of construction of the first eight-mile section.
About 80 percent of funding for the roadway project would come from federal money.
Virginia's initial plans, developed as part of a public-private partnership under Governor Jim Gilmore, called for the expressway to be finished by 2012. The state hopes the road would be an economic godsend for a region with high unemployment and a shrinking population.
WCHS NEWS LINK
June 25, 2005 9:39 PM
Voters went to the polls today and rejected Governor Manchin's attempt to repair West Virginia's ailing retirement system by selling billions of dollars in bonds.
With 66 percent the state's 19-hundred-and-65 precincts reporting, the pension bond measure was failing 47 percent to 53 percent.
The governor had wanted voters to amend the state's constitution so up to five-and-a-half billion dollars in bonds could be sold to aid the teachers, judicial and State Police pension programs.
The teachers' system would receive more than five billion dollars of the money.
The governor's office did not have an immediate comment on the vote.
The defeat leaves in place a 40-year payment plan that relies on ballooning outlays from the state budget to aid the pension plans. This year's payment takes about 350 million dollars from general revenue: the final, 2034 payment is estimated at 742 million dollars _ about one-fourth of this year's budget.
Friday, June 24, 2005
Very good article by Rick Wilson
June 23, 2005
· Americans are taking economic hits from all directions
American workers got an overall pay cut last year for the first time in 14 years. Wages increased by just 2.5 percent, while prices increased by 2.7 percent. The pay cuts happened despite an economy that grew by 4 percent last year, higher than the 3 percent historical average.
Although the pie is growing, the share going to workers is getting smaller. According to the Los Angeles Times, while real wages fell, “corporate profits hit record highs as companies got more productivity out of workers while keeping pay raises down.”
The same paper reports that “For now, workers’ wallets are being pummeled by something of a perfect storm of economic forces: a weak job market, rising health insurance premiums and inflationary pressures.”
It’s a different story for CEO's of major corporations. A study by the Wall Street Journal reports that “the median salary and bonus for chief executives in office at least two years soared by 14.5 percent last year to $2,470,600.” The increase is the largest since the study began in 1989.
It’s even better if you're the CEO of a major oil company. Now that’s a shock. Who could have seen that one coming? The Center for American Progress reports that oil company CEO's as a group were the highest paid executives in 2004, with compensation packages, not including stock options, of $16.6 million. That’s an increase of 109 percent over the previous year.
Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, at this writing, average gas prices are around $2.30 per gallon, up 49 cents from last year.
Here’s something to make you feel warm and fuzzy when you pay for your next fill-up using an installment plan: we can at least take comfort in the fact that gas prices didn't go up as far and as fast as the pay of oil company CEO's.
I guess that’s the Bush administration’s version of shared sacrifice during wartime.
In the same spirit, the administration and its allies in Congress are pushing for drastic cuts in vital programs in order to pay for even more tax giveaways for the rich. This Robin Hood in reverse policy is more important to these people than education for children, training for displaced workers, or police and fire protection for communities.
Also on the chopping block is the earned income tax credit (EITC), which benefits hardworking families — including tens of thousands of military families. Every year, the EITC lifts millions of children out of poverty. In the most recent year for which we have numbers, the EITC helped more than 139,000 West Virginia families and brought almost $233 million to the state’s economy.
And after grandstanding about the tragic case of Medicaid beneficiary Terry Schiavo, the same extreme Republicans in Congress who did the posturing now have the gall to propose cutting billions from the program that can literally make the difference between life and death for millions of Americans, including over 373,883 West Virginians.
Holy hypocrisy, Batman!
This country urgently needs a new direction, one in which the common good of all is at least — or even almost — as important as the private profits of a privileged few. If that sounds a little radical, it’s pretty mild compared with the Preamble of the Constitution, which talks about things like forming a more perfect union, establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, and promoting the general welfare.
And the folks at the top might want to consider taking the advice of Shakespeare’s King Lear: “Take physic, pomp; Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel, That thou mayst shake the superflux to them And show the heavens more just.”
**Wilson, executive director of a West Virginia social action group, is a Gazette contributing columnist.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Is he serious?
Click for image 1
Dr. Zane Lawhorn, pictured above, is another no-name Republican contesting Senator Byrd's seat. But unlike Hiram "Bucky" Lewis, Dr. Lawhorn has actually put a lot of work in this, well, so far it seems so. His website consists of a multitude of pages of information and promises. He has a poll on each "issue" page for research. It looks like he is trying to scan the field to see what his chances are. But is he running because he feels Capito will not, or does he thinks he is better than her or Lewis?
A quick scan of his website will reveal that he is already using campaign slogans and gimmicks to woo voters. First example:
"I will 'get-er-done' for West Virginia because I am not concerned about building a 'political career'."
Another example of his political slogan:
Click for image 2
Yeah buddy, git-er-done! (as others say it)
Another thing to think about is the following image he links on his website:
Click for image 3
Does he not know who is opposition is? I mean seriously, someone contact his staff (or himself) and ask that question. What does he mean "it's time to elect a Senator that will obtain billions of dollars of funding for West Virginia"? Has this guy been in the dark? Did he just move here from Ohio or something? Interesing, but on to the next issue.
If you take a look at his "7 promises" page, you will notice that he has promised a "clean campaign based on the issues". Well, let us see how well this Republican can stick to his word.
And most of his promises were fullfilled by Senator Byrd. He will need something more solid to work with if he plans on being a strong contender. And bingo, he may have found it. Take a look at this tactic:
"I promise I will not accept a Senate health insurance plan for myself or my family until the 300,000 + citizens of West Virginia without health insurance has access to their own health insurance. Why should our elected officials have health insurance coverage when their citizens don’t?"
Interesting enough and it may be a clever tactic that West Virginians will listen to. But as for how it measures up against the weight of Byrd's triumphs for West Virginia? It gets squashed and suffocated.
Senator Byrd has proven himself as a trustworthy, caring man time and time again. If he decides to run in 2006 (duh), he will win his seat.
capito2006.com has been registered as of November 2004, but a closer investigation shows that it may have been registered by the opposition.
Whois information of registered domain name:
Domain Name: capito2006.com
Administrative, Technical, Billing Contact:
Record created on Nov 4 2004.
Record expires on Nov 4 2005.
Domain Service Provider:
A quick google shows that Stephen Skinner is a lawyer in WV and I think "former" lawyer with Nichols & Skinner, L.C. Other Google information provides information that he is a huge supporter of the GLBT section of the Democratic Party; and a press release issued by a Stephen Skinner in the Eastern Panhandle of Charles Town, which urges others to be aware of fraudulent calls from Republicans.
Other than that, I have not encountered a "Stephen Skinner" that works along side Capito.
Representative Mollohan confronts the slacking behavior in the Ethics Committee.
The slacking behavior of the Ethics Committee to fill these vacancies looks to be another tactic by the majority party to hault the investigations on House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. So Mollohan lays some rules down.
June 21, 2005
HOUSE RULES REQUIRING A NONPARTISAN PROFESSIONAL ETHICS COMMITTEE STAFF MUST BE COMPLIED WITH
In recent weeks a number of Members have made the point that the House of Representatives needs to have a functioning, effective Ethics Committee. As the Ranking Minority Member of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, I could not agree more. Why, then, is the Committee not proceeding to fill the many vacancies in its staff, so that the Committee can begin to address the heavy workload that it is now facing?
The reason is that an issue has arisen within the Committee that is, in essence, whether the House Rules on the staffing of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct will be complied with. My position on this matter is very straightforward -
The House Rules on committee staff are clear and unambiguous,
Those rules require that the Committee have a nonpartisan professional staff that is selected by vote of the full Committee, and
In staffing the Committee for the 109th Congress, it is critically important that the Committee comply with those rules.
The rules relating to the Ethics Committee staff are set out in clause 3(g) of House Rule XI, and their full text is set out in an attachment to this letter. Those rules provide that the Committee staff is to be "assembled and retained as a professional, nonpartisan staff," and they further provide that -
all members of the professional staff "shall be appointed by an affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the committee."
1. "each professional staff member shall be professional and demonstrably qualified for the position for which he is hired";
"the staff as a whole and each member of the staff shall perform all official duties in a nonpartisan manner," and
"no member of the staff shall engage in any partisan political activity directly affecting any congressional or presidential election." [Emphasis added.]
These rules were authored by the 1997 House Ethics Reform Task Force, and the report of the Task Force highlights the importance of these rules to the proper functioning of the House ethics process:
In order for the Standards Committee to function effectively, its professional staff must operate in a completely nonpartisan manner, and each member of the staff must have the trust and confidence of all Committee members. A nonpartisan staff is also essential to engendering confidence, both within and outside the House, in the impartiality of the Committee as a whole.
Unfortunately, the Chairman of the Committee has been insisting on implementing an entirely unprecedented proposal on Committee staffing that disregards these key rules. His proposal asserts that the Chairman has the unilateral power to appoint as "Majority Staff Director" of the Committee an individual who is a shared employee of his personal office and the Committee - an appointment that would be made without any vote of the Committee, let alone complying with the rule's requirement for a majority vote of the Committee, and without regard to the rules' clear requirements for staff of professionalism and a nonpartisan background. There could hardly be a worse time to inject partisanship into the Committee staff, in total disregard of both the terms of the rules and the consistent manner in which those rules have been implemented over the past seven years.
After you review the applicable rules, I believe you will be as impressed as I am that this is not a complicated matter, and it does not involve any question of interpretation of the rules. Instead, this is a simple matter of applying the terms of the rules according to their plain meaning. I have repeatedly made my views on this matter known to the Chairman of the Ethics Committee, but with this issue remaining unresolved after several months, I believe it is important that each Member be apprised of the basic questions that are at issue here. I would be happy to respond to any questions you may have on this matter.
Alan B. Mollohan Member of Congress
Monday, June 20, 2005
This little town in McDowell County also held its municipal election Tuesday, and a slot on its board race ended up being closer than Bluefield's at-large race and Bramwell's contest for mayor.
Two siblings, Scotty A. Chapman and Theresa L. Bridgeman tied with 56 votes for the fifth seat on the board. The canvass will determine whether either brother or sister received an extra vote or two, to change the results."
Interesting enough is that voters gave 56 votes per candidate. But knowing that they are siblings is adding to the plot.
There were also elections in Bluefield and Bramwell that had "too close to call" stats.
"So Bluefield had two votes shifting the election; Bramwell had one - and who knew what would happen, or who might be mayor, after the canvass. What could be more exciting?"
"The Senate rejected the Cantwell amendment (earlier post) that proposed a 40% reduction in oil consumption by 2025 from the baseline forecast by the EIA.
The bill, co-sponsored by Senators Feinstein (D-CA), Reid (D-NV, Minority Leader) and Durbin (D-IL) went down 47–53, basically on a party-line vote with four exceptions.
One Democrat (Stabenow, MI) voted against the bill; three Republican senators (Chafee, RI; Snowe, ME; and Specter, PA) voted for it."
Back to the drawing board for the sponsors.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
Just recovered from data error in the template. Not sure what happened, but some of the newer information was lossed. Nothing that can't be fixed or readded though.
For all you diehard MA fans (yeah that's right) I will get everything back up to par tonight. So the rooster, the Byrd image, the hit counter, etc will be back shortly.
(1) Been working on getting mcydems.org up and running. Got an alternate host since the national YDA is ignoring me. I have been advised that it should be available in 24-48 hours. As you see now (at this time being anyways), the default godaddy reserved page for mcydems.org is no longer available. This is due to the servers swapping. Don't fret, all should work out well and McDowell County Wyoung Democrats [dot] org will be up and running sometime Sunday. Nice day for it to arrive, wouldn't you say?
(2) Also added Draft Mark Warner to the suggested links list. Mark Warner has been receiving national attention for quite some time now and it seems he is gathering much support. I've kept my eye on him and will continue in the coming months. I am sure most of you moderate and Traditional Democrats thought about a Warner/Manchin ticket. Who knows? If Manchin doesn't tick off any more people and happens to turn WV around for the better, a second term as governor may not happen. But let's not pump up anyone's ego here. Save West Virginia today and the nation tomorrow.
(3) Before observing the poll, I would have never imagined more than 5 Neoconservatives would dare enter the realms of traditional territory. Interesting. I wonder if they really believe Capito will win or are they just voting to keep the results from being in the 90 percentile.
Not a scientific poll
(4) Brandon has been working very hard on getting the MCYD Bluegrass Show organized. It is coming together slowly (rather quickly though in the last couple days), and should be ready sometime in August. More on that will be posted on mcydems.org by Monday (hopefully, depending on the server availability).
"Byrd still only leads Capito by a less-than-comfortable ten points in the polls. Ten points! That's nothing a good Karl Rove-sponsored $14 million television ad campaign can't handle."
( I was going to edit Capito's pic, but decided not. Maybe another day.)
Heh, $14 million dollars wasted down the drown. I love how these Neoconservatives are packing on weight to this campaign. It's like the snowball affect. It rolls and rolls, picking up more and more crap, then when it gets too big it breaks apart, but not before crashing into an obstacle. And this snowball's obstacle is Byrd. Do they think he will be an easy defeat? Well, I really don't hear Rove, Bush, Limbaugh, and the other high profile Conservatives spending their 2 cents. Most of the gibberish is the lower pundits and wannabe journalists. *cough* Surber *cough*. Ahem, gettin' a cold I think.
It is 5:06 am, lots was done tonight, more to do tomorrow.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
BRAC, Pentagon Wrong
The BRAC team concluded that the Pentagon's stats about Charleston's 130th is incorrect.
After concluding a daylong fact-finding tour, analysts from a federal panel reviewing whether the West Virginia National GuardÂs 130th Airlift Wing should be downsized admitted on Monday just what Guard supporters have been saying all along.
West Virginia National Guard Adj. Gen. Allen Tackett has contended that the base can now handle 16 C-130s and has the resources to expand to 24.
With the exception of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who had to attend to Senate business, the stateÂs full congressional delegation Â Sen. Robert Byrd and Reps. Shelley Moore Capito, Allan Mollohan and Nick Rahall Â were on hand for the BRAC analystsÂ visit Monday. Also greeting them were Gov. Joe Manchin and Charleston Mayor Danny Jones.
Mollohan said it was Byrd who had Âmarshaled together this delegationÂ in support of the base.
ÂWeÂre here to back up the unit,Â Byrd said. ÂWeÂre united in this delegation.
But we are not through yet. More chit-chat between committees must be conducted on whether or not the DOD would save money by transferring these base jobs.
Over 1000 jobs is reported to be connected to the 130th Airlift Wing.
Thank God for Senator Robert C. Byrd, who has yet again showed his compassion and willingness to fight for West Virginia.
Monday, June 13, 2005
Good or bad? You decide.
Tracking animals that get slaughtered for food and sold around the globe is very important when concerning issues like Mad Cow and other diseases and contaminations. This concept may help pinpoint and quarantine future outbreaks.
Money. How much will this cost the farmer/cattle breeders? Will it raise the cost of meat; thus costing consumers more? How much will it cost the federal and state government?
Is there a better way to deal with diseased meat?
What will this open doors for next?
Sunday, June 12, 2005
I fixed some of the code bugs in our template. One being the comment line that placed the comment option too far down (on the post below it), which made a mess and confused guests.
And members, if you have a personal blog please send me an email (the one listed in the team section) if you would like it linked on Modern America, mine is listed on the side bar.
And please feel free to email me about anything.
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
West Virginia has seen a great deal of action from the executive branch and the legislative branch of government this year and so far it seems that Governor Manchin is sticking to his words of turning West Virginia around. Many people in West Virginia have placed their faith in him, as his victory of 60+ percent proved. And his "honeymoon period" showed that the legislature of West Virginia is willing to help and try out his way of governing.
During his first few months in office he has gotten many of his proposed bills passed, including bills that deal with tort reform, toughen ethics laws, and reorganize certain state agencies. There were also many bills passed that can be considered as progressive economic legislation for West Virginia. And along with those bills, Manchin visited Japan in hopes of strengthening business relations to bring in more jobs and economic stimulants. Indeed, Manchin is doing something to change the course of West Virginia�s economic plateau. But, the current concern of West Virginia and its stability is the sale of bonds to secure pension benefits.
West Virginia has been facing the problem of $3+ billion debt for some time now and Manchin says it is time to deal with it. Voters will start going to the polls Friday to decide whether West Virginia should sell up to $5.5 billion in bonds to make up for the $3 billion+ debt. West Virginia's constitution forbids the state from taking on debt, so voters must amend it each time the state sells bonds.
Manchin wants to sell the bonds as part of his plan to erase funding gaps in pension plans for teachers, troopers and the judiciary. The bonds would replace a court-ordered repayment plan that Manchin says is costing the state budget too much. Under the current plan, the liability payments to the pension funds would increase ever year. This year the government is responsible for $350 million which equals 11.2% of the State�s budget. That payment will then increase each year until 2034 when the payment will reach $724 million.
Although many favor this action, some are opposed to it. Senator Steve Harrison, R-Kanahwa, says he does not buy the "refinancing mortgage" analogy. He says that there is no real estate for collateral to back up the loan. He and many others feel that this is too much of a gamble for the state of West Virginia and the chances of failure and the wellbeing of West Virginia are too much to risk. Another infamous name throwing his opinion, and possibly weight, around is Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy. Blankenship says that he is not sure if he will get involved in this issue, but is definitely against the selling of bonds.
Governor Manchin and his administration want to let everyone know that careful consideration has been placed into this idea. Basically, he is telling everyone that it is not as much as a gamble as others will have you believe. Of course the stock market will affect the bond rates, but everything will be handled by qualified, capable professionals who have experience in handling large bond sales and investments in West Virginia. There will be a multitude of professional consultants, finance advisors and lawyers working along side the bond counsel, underwriters, trustee and state treasurer.
So far, the lack of awareness about the proposal seems its biggest opponent. An advertising campaign aimed at promoting the proposal will not begin until mid-June, but as most polls conducted show, more are for the sale of bonds than against it, however the undecided percentage is quite large.