General Politics

Tonight, George Bush will deliver the State of the Union address to the nation. Is there really anything that he could say that will be viewed positively by the media? Not a chance. He could propose all of the same programs previously championed by Democrats (and no doubt he probably *will* do some of that tonight), and he will still be vilified. We will still hear in the morning that the latest opinion poll shows that Americans disapprove of Bush.

Neal Boortz summarizes it well today:

I believe that 9/11 transformed George Bush. I believe that since that date he has been completely dedicated to the purpose of protecting this country from further terrorist attacks.

How can he be blamed for acting against Saddam Hussein? Have we all forgotten that the official U.S. policy of removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq was adopted during the Clinton administration? Have we forgotten Saddam’s cat and mouse games with U.N. weapons inspectors? Have we forgotten that American intelligence officials have recovered documents and materials that constitute proof positive that Saddam was proceeding with a program to develop nuclear weapons? Hussein defied the U.N. He defied the international community. The proof is there … he had contacts with Al Qaeda. No, I’m not saying that Saddam was behind 9/11, but there were agents in Saddam’s government who had contact with those who did plan 9/11. Add the rape rooms, the mass graves, the use of WMDs to kill tens of thousands of Iranians and his own countrymen .. .and you come up with a despot that should have been left in power — in power to continue with his weapons programs?

Come on, folks. Either you’re glad Saddam is gone, or you wish he was still in power. Which is it? You can’t just wallow in your hatred of George Bush … you have to make a decision. Saddam or no Saddam.

And what of Bush’s goals for Iraq. What did he want. He wanted to create a country in the heart of the Islamic middle east with an elected government and a rule of law that protected the rights of each and every citizen .. no matter what Islamic sect that citizen belonged to. He wanted Iraq to be a demonstration project to show the rest of the Middle East what could be accomplished through freedom and representative governments. Was this such a bad goal? Do you think that Bush should have just gone into Iraq, destroyed Saddam Hussein, and then left? That has never been the way America operated. But that’s the way you wanted it to be this time? Or are we back to leaving Saddam in power.


Damn right he made mistakes. They’re easy to chronicle. But how do Bush’s mistakes compare to the Democrat Party plan to demonize George Bush? What do you think had a greater affect on the situation in the Middle East — the mistakes Bush made in the pursuit of a better way of life for the citizens of Iraq, or the Democrat’s determination to sabotage Bush’s efforts?

From where do you think the Islamic fascists have received their most encouragement? From the tactical mistakes made by George Bush, or from the weakness in the American spirit that has been fostered by the whining Democrats?

Even in the face of these depressing approval polls, Bush remains determined to protect this country from Islamic terrorism. Someday perhaps the American people will appreciate him for his determination, however flawed, to protect this nation, and will come to recognize the damage that has been done by the actions of the not-so-loyal opposition, actions that have convinced them that America is becoming weak in the face of the ongoing Islamic jihad.

Meanwhile, the posturing for the next Presidential race is in full swing, as evidenced in the announcements made over the weekend, so you can be sure to get plenty of sound bites from the various candidates pushed out into the press. And the various members of Congress all seem to be trying to craft some position in order to oppose a troop surge in Iraq.

Iraq=Vietnam. At first it was just a silly comparison. After being repeated over & over for six years, it just permeates the discussion today. Where will we as a country get the will to finish the work? Or else the terrorists are right – we talk a good game, but when push comes to shove, we are weak. of the Union digg:State of the Union spurl:State of the Union wists:State of the Union simpy:State of the Union newsvine:State of the Union blinklist:State of the Union furl:State of the Union reddit:State of the Union fark:State of the Union blogmarks:State of the Union Y!:State of the Union smarking:State of the Union magnolia:State of the Union segnalo:State of the Union

As part of the much bally-hooed “first 100 hours” (which appears to be measured on a broken clock), we found out that one of the first bills to be pushed through the new Democratic-controlled Congress would be to increase the minimum wage, from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour.

The Washington Times first reported that while other U.S. territories such as the Northern Mariana Islands would be included in the proposed legislation, American Samoa would be exempted from the minimum wage increase. It was first noted in that paper that one of the biggest opponents of increasing the minimum wage is Samoa is StarKist Tuna, employer to 75% of the island’s residents. It was also noted that StarKist’s parent company, Del Monte, is headquartered in San Francisco, which is coincidentally Ms. Pelosi’s district.

From there, many people raised much ado and made many snarky comments about the loophole, and implications that its presence was due to Del Monte lobbying which influenced Pelosi to make an exemption just for them.

Now I don’t know whether anyone at StarKist or Del Monte ever really discussed this with Ms. Pelosi (something she’s denied). And I certainly am not normally in the business of defending her. But while the Democrats can be blamed for a lot of things, I don’t think this is really a discussion over earmarks.

What prompted me to even write about this was yesterday’s article by Rich Galen. In dissecting this situation, he jumps to an interesting (but dangerous) conclusion:

That leads us to two points:

1. This is what happens when you shove major legislation through the House without proper committee hearings and minority party participation. How do we know this? Because the DEMOCRATS COMPLAINED ABOUT IT FOR 12 YEARS!

2. Unless Nancy Pelosi has hired the Oompa Loompas from Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory to write legislation, it strains credulity that the bill drafters were unaware of the effect this was going to have on a major corporation headquartered in the Speakers’ district.

Tuna packers on American Samoa are, on their own, not crucial to the health of the US economy. However, this episode shows that the Democrats are a long way from cleaning up abuses of privilege in the House.

The very issue on which they ran and won.

I’m sorry, but the exemption’s existance neither proves reckless favoritism championed by Ms. Pelosi nor amateurish legislation writing.

I personally don’t believe that the bill was crafted in order to provide an intentional loophole for a Pelosi-friendly company. Period. Maybe some evidence will surface which proves this point of view wrong, but until then, I think focusing on Del Monte’s connection with Nancy Pelosi is just misleading.

But, unfortunately, the response to the accusations is equally as silly: as the Democrats now pledge to extend federal minimum wage to all U.S. territories. Loophole closed.

But is anyone asking the real question? Why did American Samoa have a different minimum wage set in the first place?

You see, American Samoa was excluded from the legislation because it was not mentioned. The previous U.S. minimum wage law did not apply to them. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise that they would not have been included in an increase to said wage. This practice neither originated with this Congress nor with Ms. Pelosi.

But apart from these semantics, you can see the real problem that Democrats themselves do not want to admit. The reason that they are pushing through a miniimum wage increase is supposedly to “help” people. Specifically, to force an increase in pay to those who are currently earning only the minimum wage and, supposedly, provide them a better opportunity to care for themselves and their families. Sure, there are some who will see that $2.10 per hour (before taxes) in their paycheck and the Democrats want them to know who to thank.

But what does raising the minimum wage really do? American Samoa actually provides a great laboratory to see the effects. When the cost of labor goes up, some people lose their jobs. You see, contrary to the opinions of the anti-capitalist protestors, businesses don’t actually print cash and hoarde it away. Nothing is for free. So when the government forces an increase in labor costs, it requires the business to either (a) raise the prices it charges for its goods and services in order to pass on the increase, (b) reduce the amount of profit or increase the amount of loss generated by the business, or (c) reduce the number of employees in order to hold the labor costs stable.

American Samoa shows us this very well. As the wages go up, so will the unemployment, because the economy there is so reliant on these businesses. In fact, not only will some small number be affected, many more may become unemployed if the tuna packing businesses there decide to relocate. As Samoan Rep. Eni Faleomavaega states:

“The truth is the global tuna industry is so competitive that it is no longer possible for the federal government to demand mainland minimum wage rates for American Samoa without causing the collapse of our economy and making us welfare wards of the federal government.”

Instead of addressing accusations of favoritism by applying the minimum wage laws to American Samoa, we should instead be asking why in the world we are meddling with their economy this way. “Helping families” by raising the minimum wage could end up putting many more families completely out of a job. Even a low-paying job is better than none at all!

And while we’re at it… let’s ask ourselves why we in the world we’re even still tweaking the minimum wage law anywhere – including for the mainland USA? By any standards, we are not dealing with the same conditions of poverty that faced the population during the Great Depression. And any time those in government get the bright idea of mandating that private industry fund their latest vote-buying initiatives (whether it’s raising the minimum wage, requiring businesses to pay for health insurance, or the like), they must understand the consequences, since none of this comes for free.

Those are better questions for Republicans to be asking, not whether Pelosi knows that Del Monte is located in her district. Minimum Wage in American Samoa digg:The Minimum Wage in American Samoa spurl:The Minimum Wage in American Samoa wists:The Minimum Wage in American Samoa simpy:The Minimum Wage in American Samoa newsvine:The Minimum Wage in American Samoa blinklist:The Minimum Wage in American Samoa furl:The Minimum Wage in American Samoa reddit:The Minimum Wage in American Samoa fark:The Minimum Wage in American Samoa blogmarks:The Minimum Wage in American Samoa Y!:The Minimum Wage in American Samoa smarking:The Minimum Wage in American Samoa magnolia:The Minimum Wage in American Samoa segnalo:The Minimum Wage in American Samoa

Something I missed mentioning last week, but despite recent news that Indiana’s Voter ID laws withstood the latest legal challenge, the outlook is not as good for the Georgia version. Thursday the AJC reported that new Georgia Lt. Governor Casey Cagle believes that a proposal to amend the Georgia State Consitution to clear any objections to Voter ID rules will not even come to a vote in the Georgia State Senate.

Senate Resolution 4, sponsored by Sen. Cecil Staton (R-Macon), was assigned to a Senate committee Thursday. If approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate and House, and then by Georgia voters in a statewide referendum, SR 4 would allow the General Assembly to enact regulations over voting, including a future photo ID requirement.

Past attempts by the Legislature to enact photo ID at the polls have been struck down by state and federal courts. A Fulton superior court judge last year ruled that the Legislature lacked the authority in the state Constitution to pass laws restricting the right to vote to only those who hold picture ID.

On Thursday, Sen. Kasim Reed (D-Atlanta) predicted that another bitter, divisive fight over photo ID in the General Assembly would harm the newly-inaugurated lieutenant governor’s efforts at bi-partisanship.

In a question-and-answer session in his office today with reporters, Cagle said he supports the voter ID requirement, but he said he doesn’t believe SR 4 can gain the required two-thirds majority in the Senate.

“If you don’t have the votes, it’s not worth the fight,” said Cagle, who has appointed three Democrats to chair Senate committees. “I’m not pushing it. I’m not interested in bringing bills to the floor … if there’s no possibility of it passing.” Voter ID Amendment Unlikely? digg:Georgia Voter ID Amendment Unlikely? spurl:Georgia Voter ID Amendment Unlikely? wists:Georgia Voter ID Amendment Unlikely? simpy:Georgia Voter ID Amendment Unlikely? newsvine:Georgia Voter ID Amendment Unlikely? blinklist:Georgia Voter ID Amendment Unlikely? furl:Georgia Voter ID Amendment Unlikely? reddit:Georgia Voter ID Amendment Unlikely? fark:Georgia Voter ID Amendment Unlikely? blogmarks:Georgia Voter ID Amendment Unlikely? Y!:Georgia Voter ID Amendment Unlikely? smarking:Georgia Voter ID Amendment Unlikely? magnolia:Georgia Voter ID Amendment Unlikely? segnalo:Georgia Voter ID Amendment Unlikely?

When you ask anyone to categorize their intelligence into above-average, average, or below-average… I’ll bet that many more people will consider themselves above-average.

And if you ask someone whether they are wealthy, middle-class, or poor… most working people will consider themselves “working-class”.

That’s the nice part about using terms that are not really defined well (or re-defined depending on your purpose).

Anyway, you may just be about to find out how wealthy you are! Remember, George W. Bush last cut taxes for the ‘rich’ (which was another way to say that he cut taxes for people who actually paid taxes). And it’s pretty popular to invoke class warfare… let some of those ‘rich people’ pay the bills.

Now, CBS News is reporting: “Dems Won’t Rule Out Tax Hike On Wealthy”.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats are not ruling out raising taxes for the wealthiest people to help pay for tax cuts for middle-income families.

We’ll just have to see how “wealthy” is defined when the dust settles: $500,000 annual family income, $100,000, $75,000, ??? …

I’m not against some fiscal responsibility in Washington. Neither Republicans nor Democrats should be spending with a blank check. But beware, until you hear about the real definition of “wealthy” – you might just find yourself in that group! Out Whether You Are Wealthy! digg:Find Out Whether You Are Wealthy! spurl:Find Out Whether You Are Wealthy! wists:Find Out Whether You Are Wealthy! simpy:Find Out Whether You Are Wealthy! newsvine:Find Out Whether You Are Wealthy! blinklist:Find Out Whether You Are Wealthy! furl:Find Out Whether You Are Wealthy! reddit:Find Out Whether You Are Wealthy! fark:Find Out Whether You Are Wealthy! blogmarks:Find Out Whether You Are Wealthy! Y!:Find Out Whether You Are Wealthy! smarking:Find Out Whether You Are Wealthy! magnolia:Find Out Whether You Are Wealthy! segnalo:Find Out Whether You Are Wealthy!

It took Newsbusters to highlight that a Federal Appeals Court actually *upheld* Indiana’s voter ID law. Of course, I had to read about it there, because there has been almost no coverage elsewhere in the media outside of Indiana.

Georgia’s long-standing struggle over enforcement of enhanced Voter ID rules received significantly more play in the press… and it seems that the last step we were left with was possibly needing to go as far as to amend the state constitution in order to address some of the objections.

It would be interesting to understand how the Indiana law was crafted differently that made it “not too burdensome”. We know that providing state ID’s at no cost and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on education programs was not enough. I’m sure that there are some very interested lawmakers in Atlanta right now.

UPDATE: This is exactly the same scenario that I can see with various communities trying to create ordinances regarding illegal immigrants. Whether it’s Cherokee County, GA or Hazleton, PA or Valley Park, MO, or Escondido, CA, or somewhere new… eventually one of these communities will bear the financial and time burden of navigating the myriad of lawsuits. And when one of these ordinances is eventually judged as sound law, then it will have a cascading effect as it is copied by communities across the country. ID Law Stands in Indiana digg:Voter ID Law Stands in Indiana spurl:Voter ID Law Stands in Indiana wists:Voter ID Law Stands in Indiana simpy:Voter ID Law Stands in Indiana newsvine:Voter ID Law Stands in Indiana blinklist:Voter ID Law Stands in Indiana furl:Voter ID Law Stands in Indiana reddit:Voter ID Law Stands in Indiana fark:Voter ID Law Stands in Indiana blogmarks:Voter ID Law Stands in Indiana Y!:Voter ID Law Stands in Indiana smarking:Voter ID Law Stands in Indiana magnolia:Voter ID Law Stands in Indiana segnalo:Voter ID Law Stands in Indiana

The new Congress was sworn in and Nancy Pelosi took over as Speaker of the House. As the news outlets like the Detroit Free Press noted, this was quite a cause for celebration (“It’s a blessed day. I’m so glad the Republicans are out. Look at the price of gas, man. It’s ridiculous.”) Even John Boehner said “Whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat or an independent, today is a cause for celebration.”

Despite my mild frustration over hearing all of the recycled campaign slogans repeated by the media about how the Democratic Congress is going to champion the middle class, families, and small furry animals — I know that ‘to the victors goes the spoils’… and they should enjoy their honeymoon while it lasts.

One of the post-election dust-ups was over new Representative Keith Ellison’s decision to take the ceremonial photo op posing with a Quran rather than a Bible. I understand the point of Dennis Prager (who did not deserve the villification he got over his comments), but to me it did not seem to be anything to be up in arms about. I am sad to see when tradition is thrown out, but not improved. And while I think Dennis is correct that the Bible has been the unifying piece that really has held the fabric of American culture together, I don’t feel that the Bible’s status is either enhanced or diminshed by forcing Ellison’s choice of accessory for his photo session.

So to this point, I had nothing to say about it.

I knew that it would certainly be mentioned yesterday, given the buzz surrounding the reaction to Prager’s earlier comments. But I was caught by surprise by all of the coverage of Thomas Jefferson’s Quran/Koran/Qur’an being used as the prop. In some way, it was suggested, the use of that book once owned by a founding father somehow put the situation to rest and trumped the opinions of anyone who was against its use.

I was even more surprised to see comments Ellison made about that particular Quran in an interview with MSNBC/Newsweek:

NEWSWEEK: Your swearing in is historic in some senses. How did you come up with the idea of being sworn in with a Qur’an owned by Thomas Jefferson?
Keith Ellison: An individual wrote a letter to the office … It was like, “Wow, isn’t that interesting? Here’s a book that was owned by Thomas Jefferson, a towering figure of American democracy” … Clearly [Jefferson] thought it contained information that he wanted to know about … It just demonstrates that at the very earliest moments of this country, religious tolerance was a principle that one of the Founding Fathers was relying on.

Wow! Never knew that Jefferson had a copy of the Quran, let alone used it’s principles to shape our country.

Ellison also invoked more Jeffersonian approval:

The very foundation of our nation, the authors of our Constitution impressed, is religious freedom, and the use of Jefferson’s Koran shows that the founders not only knew of the Koran but also used it.


This is a pretty amazing revelation. And complete poppycock.

An absolute must-read comes from the Independent Conservative, who shreds Ellison’s sound bites about Jefferson’s love of the Quran. I won’t spoil the read, but I thought that I give you at least one treat:

Given Jefferson’s library had religious books from around the world and various times. His owning a Koran does not prove any reverence for Islam any more than his copy of “William King’s Historical Account of the Heathen Gods and Heroes”, which was a popular book of that time, but not regarded as something to revere.

While there is clearly room for any religious belief (including Muslims, Muslim-converts, atheists, or worse) for a member of Congress, and while every one of those members has every right to generate a little publicity for their pet ’cause’… I would be *very* careful before pushing revisionist history about the founding of the country and the importance of the Quran in the formation of America.  digg:A  spurl:A  wists:A  simpy:A  newsvine:A  blinklist:A  furl:A  reddit:A  fark:A  blogmarks:A  Y!:A  smarking:A  magnolia:A  segnalo:A

It was just the other week, when the lawyer for Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson was salavating over the civil lawsuit that the couple was bringing against Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, and Richard Armitage.

Besides a fondness for his family, the photos also capture [Wilson’s lawyer Joe] Cotchett’s close relationship with leaders of the Democratic Party, for whom he is an active donor and fundraiser. In one picture taken aboard Air Force 2, the 6-foot 4-inch attorney stands behind Hillary Clinton, who is seated, wearing a black suit and dark sunglasses.

Cotchett plans to reach into a dark chapter in the Clintons’ life to propel the Wilsons’ civil suit. The court ruling that required President Bill Clinton to testify in a lawsuit brought by Paula Jones serves as a precedent to compel testimony from Libby and his co-defendants, Cotchett said.

Libby is also the subject of a criminal case, brought by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, that charges him with perjuring himself and obstructing justice in the course of a federal investigation into the leak of Plame’s identity.

Plame’s employment with the CIA was first revealed in an article by columnist Robert Novak on July 14, 2003. Joseph Wilson charged that Libby, Rove and other officials deliberately spread that information to Novak and other reporters in retaliation for an article he had published a week earlier in The New York Times.

But in the criminal case, Joseph Wilson is not so eager to be put on the stand.

Sloan has asked Walton to quash Wilson’s subpoena to testify, because she says, “We`re concerned that they might be trying to use this opportunity to get information that they couldn’t otherwise get for use in their civil case, in the defense of the civil case.”

Even worse, Wilson is worried about being harassed:

“Mr. Libby should not be permitted to compel Mr. Wilson’s testimony at trial either for the purpose of harassing Mr. Wilson or to gain an advantage in the civil case,” Wilson’s attorneys wrote.

CNN says:

Former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson has filed a motion to quash the witness subpoena issued last week for his testimony for the defense in the Lewis “Scooter” Libby trial, arguing the defense has no right to call a witness whose testimony would not be helpful to the defense.

“Mr. Wilson is such a witness,” the motion to quash said. “He personally observed none of the events that led to Mr. Libby’s indictment and he has no direct personal information regarding Mr. Libby’s defense, i.e., the matters Mr. Libby worked on at the White House or Mr. Libby’s memory or veracity.

Thus, Mr. Wilson’s testimony would not be relevant or material to the defense and, therefore, should not be compelled.”

This is all very interesting. All of the parade of witness will testify in the obstruction of justice case, including Cheney, and Wilson’s lawyers are geared up to try to compel the world to come to testify in Wilson’s civil case. Meanwhile, when they found out that Richard Armitage was the one who gave information to Robert Novak, not someone from the White House, didn’t Libby become irrelevant to the civil case? Forget for a moment that it turns out that a crime was not commited and the witch-hunt within the administration got stalled when it turned out the wrong guy was the source… it just still seems inconceivable that Wilson & Plame should get money for being harmed in a conspiracy that did not happen.'s Not So Funny When the Subpoena Is On The Other Foot digg:It's Not So Funny When the Subpoena Is On The Other Foot spurl:It's Not So Funny When the Subpoena Is On The Other Foot wists:It's Not So Funny When the Subpoena Is On The Other Foot simpy:It's Not So Funny When the Subpoena Is On The Other Foot newsvine:It's Not So Funny When the Subpoena Is On The Other Foot blinklist:It's Not So Funny When the Subpoena Is On The Other Foot furl:It's Not So Funny When the Subpoena Is On The Other Foot reddit:It's Not So Funny When the Subpoena Is On The Other Foot fark:It's Not So Funny When the Subpoena Is On The Other Foot blogmarks:It's Not So Funny When the Subpoena Is On The Other Foot Y!:It's Not So Funny When the Subpoena Is On The Other Foot smarking:It's Not So Funny When the Subpoena Is On The Other Foot magnolia:It's Not So Funny When the Subpoena Is On The Other Foot segnalo:It's Not So Funny When the Subpoena Is On The Other Foot

As we come closer towards Christmas, it seems that “real news” is going on vacation as well… and there has been a lot less to write about. I mean, I really find it hard to get worked up about the latest silly thing said on The View, since I don’t watch the show nor really care what any of the hostesses think. Maybe there is just a little pleasure when Rosie steps into a deep pile of her own making… but it’s not something that upsets me. I’m also not even curious whether or not Tara Conner gets to keep her crown as Miss USA despite underage drinking and other misbehavior, because before this week and that NBC/Donald Trump media machine put it out there, I did not even know that Tara Conner was Miss USA. And I guess Jennifer Aniston didn’t break up with anyone this week, and Britney Spears kept her pants on, and Terrell Owens just continued his typical unsportsmanlike behavior.

I do care that the Associated Press still hasn’t acknowledged that the questions about Jamil Hussein really points out some fundamental flaws in the way that news is being collected and reported. But instead of looking at it critically, they seem to essentially be ascribing to the Dan Rather School of Journalism (“Fake, but accurate”). Sure, it sounded better to have a legitimate-sounding name thrown in as the source of the reports of mayhem, but the guy (who ever he is, if he does actually exist) does seem to get around an awful lot. Anyway, this week there really are no developments in the story, despite some excitement (ala the possible existance of either Sgt. Jamail Hussein or Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim / Ghulaim), it hasn’t developed much more. Regardless, the AP is not standing up on this in public, and simply can change their stories in the future to refer to unnamed annonymous “sources” and rewrite their existing stories.

This morning, however, I was hit with a reminder of a “blast from the past”. Just yesterday, we heard that VP Dick Cheney will be called to testify in the trial of Scooter Libby, still charged with perjury and obstruction in the “CIA leak case” that really turned out to not be a CIA Leak, and with the wrong target. So this trial continues. Then this morning, I see that Clinton’s National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and his National Archives classified document grab has come back to light. Says the article:

Berger pleaded guilty to unlawfully removing and retaining classified documents. He was fined $50,000, ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and was barred from access to classified material for three years.

Inspector General Paul Brachfeld reported that National Archives employees spotted Berger bending down and fiddling with something white around his ankles.

The employees did not feel at the time there was enough information to confront someone of Berger’s stature, the report said.

Later, when Berger was confronted by Archives officials about the missing documents, he lied by saying he did not take them, the report said.

Brachfeld’s report included an investigator’s notes, taken during an interview with Berger. The notes dramatically described Berger’s removal of documents during an Oct. 2, 2003, visit to the Archives.

Berger took a break to go outside without an escort while it was dark. He had taken four documents in his pockets.
“He headed toward a construction area. … Mr. Berger looked up and down the street, up into the windows of the Archives and the DOJ (Department of Justice), and did not see anyone,” the interview notes said.

He then slid the documents under a construction trailer, according to the inspector general. Berger acknowledged that he later retrieved the documents from the construction area and returned with them to his office.

“He was aware of the risk he was taking,” the inspector general’s notes said. Berger then returned to the Archives building without fearing the documents would slip out of his pockets or that staff would notice that his pockets were bulging.

The notes said Berger had not been aware that Archives staff had been tracking the documents he was provided because of earlier suspicions from previous visits that he was removing materials. Also, the employees had made copies of some documents.

In October 2003, the report said, an Archives official called Berger to discuss missing documents from his visit two days earlier. The investigator’s notes said, “Mr. Berger panicked because he realized he was caught.”

The notes said that Berger had “destroyed, cut into small pieces, three of the four documents. These were put in the trash.”
After the trash had been picked up, Berger “tried to find the trash collector but had no luck,” the notes said Lewis.

So here’s a guy, on the eve of the 9/11 Commission stealing and destroying classified documents from the National Archives, and he gets a fine and some community service time. And prompted his boss Bill Clinton to say:

“Anybody that ever saw Sandy Berger’s office at the White House would not be surprised that he gets the papers mixed up or takes the wrong ones away,” Clinton grinned. “He’s got a well-organized mind and a disorganized desk.”

I guess he routinely took “smoke-breaks”, hid documents under construction trailers, retrieved them to destroy them in his office… because he had a disorganized desk.

100 Hours of Community Service… ha. Hours... digg:100 Hours... spurl:100 Hours... wists:100 Hours... simpy:100 Hours... newsvine:100 Hours... blinklist:100 Hours... furl:100 Hours... reddit:100 Hours... fark:100 Hours... blogmarks:100 Hours... Y!:100 Hours... smarking:100 Hours... magnolia:100 Hours... segnalo:100 Hours...

The story of South Dakota Senator Tom Johnson’s illness is a sad one. I really hope that is is able to recover, and if he is unable to continue to serve in the Senate, at least can continue to have a productive personal life.

Amid all of the speculation that’s surfaced about Senator Johnson’s illness, is the concept that if he is unable to continue as a member of the Senate, that the Governor of South Dakota, a Republican, might replace him with a Republican rather than a Democrat, thereby throwing the balance back to 50-50.

Newsbusters told of the CNN report which highlights this Democratic (and therefore media) concern in no uncertain terms:

Reporting on what the political ramifications would be if the Democrat resigned from Congress, thus giving Republicans control of the Senate, Franken used apocalyptic language to describe such an occurrence. The loss of Johnson, who suffered a brain hemorrhage on Wednesday, would be a “major, major disruption” and could leave Congress “ripped in half by fate” Such an event would enable the Republicans to “protect their party’s president from a full-scale assault.” It was this type of over-the-top reporting that led to Franken’s claim that the Democrats are the ones who really care about the Senator:

Bob Franken: ” Without question, all the expressions of concern for Senator Johnson are very sincere, but I’ve got to say that the ones from the Democrats, Miles, are even more sincere.”

Co-host Miles O’Brien “Absolutely.”

Let me first say that I don’t particularly want the Republicans to gain parity or control of the Senate through “back door” means. I know that there are any number of political strategists who would argue that everything’s fair, but the simple fact is that we would not have to have this discussion if either the Republians or the Democrats had won enough seats to establish a clear majority.

So that being said… it seems to be quite an interesting media reaction to this situation.

Despite an overwhelming desire to rip into Bob Frankin for opinionating that Democrats are more sincere in their concern for Senator Johnson’s health, I will just let that one alone.

But rather it’s the notion that something might intercede into Democratic control that needs to be described in such harrowing terms that makes me really take notice.

Let’s go back in time here a bit. Remember back in May of 2001 when Vermont Senator “Jumpin Jim” Jeffords decided to bolt from the Republican Party and declare as an Independent (or at least an Independent with Democratic Committee tenure priviledges) which gave the control of the Senate to the Democrats (49-50-1). Instead of talk of having the Senate “ripped by fate” or having the voters’ will overturned… we instead got coverage of what a courageous moderate Jeffords was.

Not the same situation, you might say. Jeffords made the move on his own – and the voters elect the person, not the party, so that’s just the way it works. OK. But it doesn’t take much to think just a little farther back to July 2000, when Georgia Senator Paul Coverdell, a Republican, passed away suddenly while in office. Georgia’s Democratic Governor Roy Barnes appointed former Governor Zell Miller, also a Democrat, to fill the vacancy. But wait, you might say, the voters not only elected the man in Coverdell… but also a Republican. How dare a Democratic Governor with a Democratic-controlled State Leglislature replace him with a Democrat?!? Well, it happened, and while Democrats might not like the thorn in the side that Senator Miller eventually became, they initially benefited politically. There was not media hand-wringing, nor calls for protecting the voters’ will. In the end the Governor is charged to do whatever he thinks best for the representation of his state, not for some other political motive or purpose.

If the worst happens and Senator Johnson is unable to continue to serve, I truly hope that Governor Mike Rounds would make a good choice, regardless of whether or not he would choose a Republican or Democrat to fill the spot.

Let’s hope that it is all unnecessary because Senator Johnson recovers. But if it can not be, let’s keep some perspective. This is not new ground here, and it’s certainly not doomsday. digg: spurl: wists: simpy: newsvine: blinklist: furl: reddit: fark: blogmarks: Y!: smarking: magnolia: segnalo:

Although it received little play, Senator Johnny Isakson’s weekly newsletter pointed out that last week the Senate has approved S.4042:

We also passed legislation that Senator Chambliss and I cosponsored in response to the protests that have occurred at military funerals nationwide. Our bill, S.4042, “The Respect for the Funerals of Fallen Heroes Act,” will protect and preserve the dignity of military funerals. Our servicemen and women and their families have made immeasurable sacrifices for our nation and the chance for freedom to take root abroad. All of our fallen heroes must be given the highest honors and respect for their great sacrifice. The legislation makes it a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by a fine or up to one year in jail, for any person who makes noise within 150 feet of a military funeral location that intentionally disturbs the peace and good order of the funeral, or intentionally impedes access to or from the funeral within 300 feet of the funeral location. Response to the Westboro Protestors digg:In Response to the Westboro Protestors spurl:In Response to the Westboro Protestors wists:In Response to the Westboro Protestors simpy:In Response to the Westboro Protestors newsvine:In Response to the Westboro Protestors blinklist:In Response to the Westboro Protestors furl:In Response to the Westboro Protestors reddit:In Response to the Westboro Protestors fark:In Response to the Westboro Protestors blogmarks:In Response to the Westboro Protestors Y!:In Response to the Westboro Protestors smarking:In Response to the Westboro Protestors magnolia:In Response to the Westboro Protestors segnalo:In Response to the Westboro Protestors

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