1)The Articles linked below were Abstracted from the sources cited. After the abstract there's analysis and commentary, links to related articles, and a link to the database with suggested search terms.
New Pakistani PM Yusuf Raza Gillani has said he will order the release of all judges detained under emergency rule, minutes after being elected by MPs.
President Pervez Musharraf in November sacked dozens of judges as the Supreme Court was set to rule on whether his re-election was legal.
Former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was among those still held.
Mr Gillani's Pakistan People's Party heads a government for the first time in 12 years after February's elections.
It will lead a coalition that has a substantial majority.
Mr Gillani made two key pledges in his speech following his election.
The first was to demand "the immediate release of all the arrested judges", sparking cheers from most of the gathered MPs.
Police have already removed barbed wire from outside Mr Chaudhry's home in Islamabad, where he has been under house arrest.
Mr Chaudhry later appeared on his balcony to wave to hundreds of supporters. It was his first public appearance for four months.
He thanked his "fellow judges and the entire nation".
Mr Gillani's second pledge was to seek a resolution calling for a UN investigation into the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
"Democracy has been revived due to the sacrifice of Benazir Bhutto," Mr Gillani said.
He urged MPs to help him in his tasks.
"My past experience in parliament has shown me that if you want this country to work, the parliament must be supreme, constitution must be sacred and rule of law enforced."
The PPP, led by Benazir Bhutto until her assassination in December, emerged as the biggest party in the February elections.
It is now headed by her widower, Asif Ali Zardari.
On Monday he was quoted in The News newspaper as saying that Mr Gillani would serve a full five-year term as prime minister.
There has been widespread speculation that Mr Zardari only wants the next prime minister to hold the post on an interim basis while Mr Zardari takes the necessary steps to make himself eligible to become prime minister.
Despite, or possibly because of american efforts to prop up pakistan's military dictator musharraf, the normally contentious political parties in pakistan were able to come together and take a commanding majority in parliament.
The prime minister's promise to restore the judiciary musharraf dismissed and arrested is a clear and direct threat to musharraf's hold on power, and our ability to project power in pakistan through him.
Our role in pakistan is clear. We have supported musharraf's dictatorship because we desire the unchecked power to kill, kidnap, secretly detain, and torture any one we suspect of anti-americanism in the pakistani provinces bordering Afghanistan.
Our demand for lawless authority is not limited to pakistan. We support a ring of dictators across the middle-east and around the world who act above the rule of law.
The death of bhutto did more to unify pakistan than if she would have continued her life of political and economic corruption.
Bhutto's death has opened up a historical moment allowing all the major pakistani parties the opportunity to unify on a shared public repudiation of the dictatorships and corruption that have plagued pakistani politics for decades. Bhutto has given more in death than she was ever capable of when she lived.
There are three dangerous wild cards hidden in this deck that can screw up the emergence of democracy in pakistan. The first is zadari, the corrupt widower of Bhutto. If "10% zadari" tries to wrestle the speaker ship out of the hands of his PPP underling, gillani, this fragile coalition may shatter. The other wild card is the role of the army.
If the army is willing to step back and take a back seat as musharraf is finally deposed, a parliamentary democracy could emerge in pakistan that resembles the relationship of the army and government in turkey.
The final wildcard is the role we will play in supporting musharraf, manipulating zadari, plotting with the army, and staging attacks in the western provinces. The history of our relationship with pakistan is clear: we will support military dictators who are willing to do our bidding.
If zadari cuts a deal to act as an agent of american authority, or the military intervenes to maintain musharraf, or we put too many missiles into the tribal areas, the situation in pakistan could spin out of our control into instability that will favor the adherents of radical islam.
We should step back and take a look at The Big Picture to get a better understanding of the context of the political situation in pakistan. To pakistan's west sits our military and political failures in Afghanistan.
We started our latest imperial adventure in pakistan to prop up our war in Afghanistan, but we have effectively lost Afghanistan, and now we are on the verge of losing pakistan.
This suggests that no tactical adjustments will salvage our position in east asia. Our imperial policies are going down in flames across the middle-east. To recover from these failures we need to honestly examine our approach to, and our goals of our war in Afghanistan and our support of authoritarian regimes across the middle-east.
An honest evaluation of our policies towards pakistan indicates that our actions reflect our values, means, and goals. Our goals and means are those of a corporate empire, not a democratic republic. This implies that the breakdowns and failures of our war and foreign policies are centered in washington, not baghdad, kabul, or islamabad.
The consistency of our historical support for dictators spans both democratic and republican dominated congresses, and is consistent across the administrations of both parties suggests that our political breakdown is systematic, and not the product of a particular administration.
If we want to democratize the world we must first restore our democracy here. Otherwise we will continue to talk of freedom and democracy while making war and imposing dictators on nations seeking self-rule around the world.
As Democrats prepare to gather in San Jose later this month, convention delegates will deal with a handful of bruising primary fights. Many of those fights will come to the convention floor, as candidates busily jockey for a party endorsement in what is expected to be a very low-turnout election.
A handful of candidates have already received their party's backing. Through an intricate series of party rules, a number of candidates locked up support at Democratic Party pre-endorsement caucuses that took place around the state last week.
A Democratic Party endorsement brings with it a number of political and financial advantages. But it is unclear how many of those advantages apply in party primaries. In general elections, county and state party political committees are used by candidates as a way around campaign contribution limits. While candidates can only receive direct contributions in $3,300 increments, there is no limit on the amount a donor can give to a state or county party. County party committees have been used by both parties as virtual clearinghouses to move large blocks of money into targeted races.
But that strategy has some risks and pitfalls. Instead, most of the big money is expected to be spent on independent expenditure committees in the primary battles.
Republicans do not endorse candidates in intra-party primaries. In Placer County, the local Republican Party endorsed Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, in his run for Congress against former Congressman Doug Ose. A spokesman for the state Republican Party said that endorsement was in violation of the state Republican Party bylaws.
"On the Republican side, we use other surrogates," said Rexroad. "We have groups like the California Republican Assembly or the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and they help give guidance to voters. The Republican Party surrenders the opportunity to be the focal point in the
Our initiative closes the county and state committee campaign finance loophole, while maintaining the ability of political parties to support their candidates.
Rather than trying to completely prohibit outside contributions, which would virtually eliminate the national political parties, our initiative prohibits any non-voter from contributing to an election they cannot vote in, but puts no limits on what they can contribute to county and state parties.
Our initiative goes at it from the spending side. Our initiative imposes a sliding scale contribution limit on the parties. Under our initiative, the total of all party contributions to any candidate cannot exceed 30% of the total contributions from voters qualified to vote in the election.
Our initiative maintains the right of anyone in the country to give to state and county party committees in california, and allows the committees to distribute this outside money to their candidates. But most importantly, our initiative requires that the contributions of the locals have the predominant weight in determining the viability of local candidates.
3)The Article linked below was Abstracted from the source cited.
Supreme Court rejects Bush's claim on death cases
In a case that pitted the president against his home state of Texas, the high court rules that he does not have the authority to order new hearings for Mexican nationals.
By David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
8:21 AM PDT, March 25, 2008
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court dealt President Bush a defeat today and ruled that he does not have the "unilateral authority" to force state officials to comply with international treaties.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts said the Constitution gives the president the power "to execute the laws, not make them." Unless Congress passes a law to enforce a treaty, the president usually cannot do it on his own, Roberts said.
The International Court of Justice in the Hague, acting on a suit by Mexico, ruled that the United States had failed to carry out its treaty duty to inform a native country when one of its citizens was arrested and charged with a serious crime. The decision pointed to 51 Mexican nationals who were under death sentences in Texas, California and several other states.
It was unclear how this ruling could be enforced. But in a surprise move in 2005, Bush told Texas officials they must reopen and reconsider the cases of the Mexican-born murderers on death row. Bush, a former Texas governor, said he was acting "pursuant to the authority vested in me as president by the Constitution and laws of the United States."
Texas officials refused to go along with Bush's order, and they fought him in court.
In today's 6-3 decision, the high court sided with the Texas prosecutors.
Roberts said the treaty known as the Vienna Convention was not "binding federal law" because Congress had not passed a law to enforce it. And the president cannot do this on his own, the chief justice said.
"The president's authority to act, as with the exercise of any governmental power, must stem either from an act of Congress or from the Constitution itself," Roberts said. "We therefore conclude, given the absence of congressional legislation, that the non-self-executing treaties at issue here did not expressly or impliedly vest the president with the unilateral authority to make them self-executing," he said.
Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. joined Roberts' opinion. And Justice John Paul Stevens concurred in the result.
The dissenters, led by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, took the view that treaties become part of American law and must therefore be followed by state and federal officials.
The ruling in Medellin vs. Texas is a complete defeat for the Mexican nationals on death row. They have no right to further hearings, the high court said, once their appeals have been rejected by state and federal judges.
supreme court deliverers a shocking blow to bush: OBEY THE LAW
Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., March 25, 2008
In this decision, the supreme court ruled on a case where the president had ordered Texas to obey the treaty obligations of the Vienna Convention, which states that a nation must be informed when one of its citizens is charged with a serious crime by another nation.
Texas disobeyed, and the court agreed with Texas, saying that the president had no power to order Texas to obey the law.
The court reached this decision by differentiating between treaties that deal with external issues, such as foreign relations and international affairs, and treaties that deal with regulating the domestic, or internal affairs of a nation.
Furthermore, the court differentiated between domestic treaties that contained enforcement clauses, and those that did not. The court said that domestic treaties that did not contain enforcement clauses could only be enforced by congressional law, not by presidential fiat, and required that bush have a law to enforce before he acts to enforce a domestic treaty that has no enforcement clause.
The remarkable thing is that the court actually checked bush's virtually unlimited use of presidential power, telling him his job was "to execute the laws, not make them."
If they really meant that, they would have ordered bush to arrest himself for openly breaking our laws against kidnapping, torture, and illegal searches, not to mention the breaches of our constitution that breaking these laws entailed.
The supreme court simply stated what bush has ignored during his whole administration: the president has no authority to make law, or apply authority without a congressional law to enforce.
This president has gone far beyond making his own laws, he has used his governmental authority to commit crimes and cover them under a veil of national security. Bush's crimes against the constitution and congressional law are extensive.
The president has made rules for war and captures, a power which the constitution reserves for congress.
The president has employed kidnapping and torture against congressional and international law.
The president has broken international treaties long established by congressional law, namely the "old" geneva conventions.
It is ironic that the same president who committed all of these violent crimes against our constitution and rights is now being rightly told by the supreme court that his acts have no legitimacy without a basis in congressional law.
Strange how the court found the constitution when bush tried to use illegal authority to save lives, rather than take lives.
We would be a lot better off if the supreme court did not put him in office in the first place, or at least exercised their constitutional duties before his lawless government shattered our constitution, stole all our money, destroyed our military, and inflamed the world.
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Demand for machinery and other capital goods sank in February, driving orders for durable goods down 1.7%, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.
The unexpected decline in orders for big-ticket items marked the second straight monthly drop, an indication that domestic demand is weakening faster than exports can grow.
"This is another report that has a strong recessionary feel about it," wrote John Ryding, chief U.S. economist for Bear Stearns.
"The data strongly suggest that the period of retrenchment in the manufacturing sector is likely to get far worse before things stabilize," wrote Joseph Brusuelas, chief U.S. economist for IDEAglobal.
Orders for capital goods -- the kind of equipment businesses need to increase or modernize their productive capacity -- fell 2.6% in February after a 1.8% decline in January.
Excluding the drop in machinery, total orders rose 0.3%. Machinery orders have been strong, led by exports. The sector includes construction equipment, turbines, industrial machinery, and oil-drilling equipment. "Either the export engine is already sputtering or this specific category is likely to rebound," wrote Stephen Gallagher, economist for Societe Generale.
Excluding transportation goods, February's orders fell 2.6%, the most in a year.
Outside of machinery, most industries showed small gains. Electronics orders rose 2.3%.
Shipments of durable goods fell 2.8% for last month, the largest drop since September 2006. Shipments of electronics plunged a record 10.3%, led by a 31% drop in shipments of semiconductors.
It has been reported, and disputed here, that the drop in the value of the dollar will provide a stimulus for exports that will offset the decline in the domestic economy. The report above, reporting on the sharp downturns in american manufacturing, indicates that the "stimulus in exports" theory has failed.
This flows from the fact that the weakness of the dollar reflects more concerns than just the imbalance in trade and declining value of the dollar. Dollar weakness also reflects a global lack of confidence in the role of US manufacturing and trade strength vis a vi the emerging manufacturing, technology, and consumption powerhouses of china and india.
Despite the precipitous drop in the value of the dollar, american manufacturing, even utilizing illegal labor, providing minimal benefits, and paying no taxes still cannot compete with the slave-labor like laboring conditions in the state-sponsored industries of china and india. American manufacturing and exports have proved themselves unable to offset the economy's domestic decline.
Global market concerns about the american economy have extended outward from the value of the dollar, and now the central role of the US economy in global markets is being questioned.
The sub-prime debacle has damaged the US's role as the financial center and leader of global finance. The Fed's response, cheapening the dollar and bailing out the thieves, will not repair america's central role in global finance, or shore up the credit line required to maintain ourselves as the biggest consumer of the world's resources.
The depth of our economic and political irresponsibility have put the dollar beyond the point where the fed could meaningfully support the value of the dollar, or dictate the interest rates on dollar denominated lending. The global markets and global creditors perceive that the US economy presents risks that now include deepening asset depreciation, severe economic downturn, and continued loss in the value of the dollar, all sitting atop a massive american consumer and business debt of dubious value. These factors are causing rates to remain high independent of the fed's rate reductions and liquidity moves.
Combined with the fact that we can no longer cover the vast debt that is funding our previous consumption with a line of new credit, the already significant pressure in global markets to devalue the dollar is now being highlighted by american manufacturing's inability to pick up the slack through exports.
At this point the solution to our impending crisis is not visible to the economists, financial players, or the politicians. Their basic assumptions about never ending growth, consumption, and profit make it impossible for them to identify themselves as the real problem, or recognize the illegitimacy of their political power and economic policy.
The solution to our economic problems does not lay in the economic sphere. it sits in our ethical world view.
The root of our economic problem is that we have lived our lives for the last 35 like we were on one big shopping spree, assuming that endless growth in population, consumption, profits, and asset values was a fact of life, and reflected our wisdom and justice.
Our social, economic, and environmental breakdowns are signaling that our ethical, political, and economic assumptions have been fatally flawed, and we have been neither wise nor just in how we have led our lives.
Our fundamental misperceptions about the nature of life have opened the doors to global economic, political and military chaos, not to mention our impending environmental disaster. This, my friends, is an ethical crisis, not an economic crisis, and it can only be addressed politically.
We are far beyond the point where a set of economic adjustments or regulations, or even resource wars, will prop up our flawed assumption that growth and profit are endless, or prop up the tottering global empire that funds our consumption. It is our assumption of endless growth that is dying a bloody death before our eyes in iraq, and in our financial markets.
The requirement to address the essential ethical problems underlying our economic problems will emerge only as our assumptions of endless growth and consumption fail. This process of failure is in mid-flight.
Our pursuit of endless irresponsible growth has already gutted our domestic polity. It has killed our schools, drained our water and energy resources, and has imbalanced our domestic distribution of wealth enough to have made a mockery of our democracy.
Our basic assumption of endless growth is the walking dead, and will soon topple into the grave it dug for itself during the last 35 years of irresponsible growth. The shopping spree is over. There is no solution to the economic problems we face, short of taking our medicine.
At present, our corrupt politicians and Fed officials are trying to restart the speculative bubble that brought us to the brink of chaos, seemingly unaware that it is both impossible and unwise.
It also appears the era of the businessman is over, but they are too blind to see it as they continue to lead us towards the cliff. The logical question this brings to mind is, "What will replace meaning in our lives when the flow of ever increasing production, consumption and profit stops?"
The answer is ethics. Our failures came about because one part of our society, the wealthy, have floated our elections on a sea of bribes. They have used their wealth to dominate political funding, elections, and subsequently dominate the production of law and policy.
It is going to take the combined wisdom of our country to properly address, if not undo the damage our wealthy have done to our country by looting our government, our infrastructure, and our economy. They have run every aspect of our country into the ground.
If we want to bring the combined wisdom of our country to bear on our problems, we are going to have to restore our democracy. We must stop wealth from twisting our government to its service. This is the only way we are going to create laws and policies sufficient to deal with the problems our corrupted government has brought upon us.
To fix our problems we must restore the fundamental assumption of our democracy, that our government is determined by, and run for the benefit of all, rather than the few, and based on the rights and responsibilities of each.
Only then will we be able to draw the wisdom of our nation into politics to bear on our economic crisis. Only after we put our ethics before our profits will the practical solutions to our problems emerge.
If this impending economic crisis sparks the rebirth of our democratic principals sufficiently evolved to defeat the modern terms of tyranny our corporate consumer aristocracy has imposed on our country, history will say that we turned a profit from this crisis, despite changing the global climate, the mass extinction we triggered, our bloody wars, and the trillions of dollars that are about to disappear.
Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday she made a mistake in claiming that she came under hostile fire in Bosnia 12 years ago, as rival Barack Obama's campaign continued to challenge her credibility.
In a recent speech and interviews, the New York senator described a harrowing scene in Tuzla, Bosnia, in which she and her daughter, Chelsea, had to run for cover as soon as they landed for a visit in 1996. But video footage of the day showed a peaceful reception in which a young girl greeted the first lady on the tarmac.
Clinton told reporters in Pennsylvania on Tuesday that she erred in describing the scene, which she now realizes after talking with aides and others.
"So I made a mistake," she said. "That happens. It proves I'm human, which you know, for some people, is a revelation."
SACRAMENTO -- With the swagger of an elite class, Bay Area lawmakers indulged in a spending spree in 2007 by using their campaign committee accounts like lines of credit for foreign travel, lavish fundraisers and pricey meals and gifts.
The 28 lawmakers whose districts extend into the Bay Area spent more than $8 million of the $10.7 million they raised last year, and critics question how much of it was for campaign, legislative or governmental purposes.
Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-San Ramon, for instance, could not recall when asked the name of the conference nor the panels on which he served during his trip to Hawaii, with wife and three children in tow. He said he would supply the information later but didn't.
Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Oakland, lapped up the luxury nearer to home, using his campaign account to host an extravagant $28,000 fundraiser at the posh Claremont Resort & Spa in Oakland.
"It's become a political industrial complex," said Kathay Feng, director of California Common Cause, "where there's a whole industry around fundraising for the next election that is really about creating a slush fund for wining and dining supporters, clawing your way up to leadership posts and sustaining a bevy of consultants."
The idea of campaign contributions financing actual campaigns is becoming an almost quaint relic of past ideals.
Even for the June 3 primary, no legitimate candidates have emerged to challenge Bay Area incumbents holding onto their seats. But that didn't stop incumbents -- or term-limited lawmakers -- from raising campaign cash at a break-neck pace and spending it just as freely last year -- on activities that stretch the definition of campaigning.
Assembly members Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, and Joe Coto, D-San Jose, were two of five lawmakers to accompany Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, on his infamously lavish trip to France.
Ma spent $38,515 -- at least twice as much as any other Bay Area lawmaker -- on travel expenses, marked by a dozen trips around the country.
Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, spent $12,278 on a trip to the Mideast.
Critics say they hope that recent crackdowns by the campaign finance watchdog Fair Political Practices Commission will make lawmakers think twice about abusing campaign funds. The FPPC this month handed down a $350,000 fine and filed a $9 million countersuit against Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco for alleged illegal use of campaign funds.
The FPPC also tightened spending regulations last month to require lawmakers to list who they travel with and to outline the legislative purpose of foreign travel. The new rules take effect in July, though they won't require the same information on in-state travel expenditures.
Lawmakers will, however, be required to justify the political, legislative or governmental purpose of gifts and meals -- which critics said they hope will cause some lawmakers to think twice.
Swanson charged his campaign account for a Bay Area-high 157 meetings last year for a total of $12,615. On 125 of those meetings, the average cost was $46 -- basically lunch money from his campaign treasury.
"I meet with people, and I pay for myself instead of them paying for me," Swanson said. "I tend to think there's no free lunch."
Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Hayward, was generous to those close to her. She gave out $1,175 in Nordstrom gift cards and $400 in tickets to the San Francisco ballet to staff members, and $25,324 to her husband, Dennis, to help him retire his debts from two previous campaigns. Hayashi also purchased $3,966 in furniture from Crate & Barrel to outfit her district office.
Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, has consistently been the most prolific gift-giver in the Legislature. Last year he didn't relent, showering staff members and constituents with $41,819 in gifts, including $11,070 in pens from Washington, D.C.-based Fahrney Pens, $3,000 in gifts from Macy's, $19,700 from Target and $2,068 from Nordstrom.
SACRAMENTO – Dinners with liquor company executives, free tickets to the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl and trips to Central Asia, Japan, Europe and South America are among the gifts San Diego County legislators reported receiving last year.
Under state law, an individual or organization can give a lawmaker gifts totaling no more than $390 per year, but trips sponsored by nonprofit foundations are exempt from the limits.
State Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, chairwoman of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Commerce Committee, received the most expensive item, a $10,413 trip to Japan.
It was paid for by the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy, which is funded by major companies including AT&T, Sempra Energy and Pacific Gas and Electric.
Government watchdog groups complain that these trips, tickets and dinners allow wealthy special interests to get access to lawmakers to help plead their case on dozens of critical bills. Ordinary citizens, they argue, don't have this privilege.
“It's troubling for voters to see companies that have business in the state of California giving gifts, some modest, some extravagant, as a way of buying access or just building good will,” said Derek Cressman, director of California Common Cause. “I'd rather see them make their case strictly on the merits.”
Last year, one special interest group, Diageo, an international liquor company, spent more than $400,000 in lobbying, mostly in an effort to fight off efforts to tax its sweet alcoholic drinks, such as Smirnoff Ice, at a higher level.
As part of its campaign, the company treated Assemblyman George Plescia, R-San Diego, to two dinners totaling $277 and Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries, R-Lake Elsinore, to one dinner that cost $147.
Assemblywoman Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Hills, dined with officials from the tobacco company Philip Morris USA/Altria Corporate Services at a cost of $162.
Most San Diego County legislators accepted a dinner, concert, basketball ticket or lunch from a powerful Indian gaming tribe, Pechanga of Temecula.
Many of the gifts to local lawmakers involved sporting events. Assemblyman Martin Garrick, R-Carlsbad, received $365 tickets to the International Gold Cup steeplechase race in Virginia, and a $245 photo and $110 dinner from the Thoroughbred Owners of California.
Plescia and Walters each received tickets to the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, while state Sen. Denise Ducheny, D-San Diego, received San Diego Chargers tickets worth $245 and San Diego Padres tickets worth $87.
Assemblyman Joel Anderson, R-El Cajon, attended the Legislative Ski Day, a gift of $206 courtesy of the Association of School Administrators, Mobile Modular and the California Ski Industry Association.
Plescia got to work out for free last year at the Capital Athletic Club, which gave him a $285 gym membership.
Walters got free parking at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, a gift valued at $360.
Ducheny, Kehoe and Saldaña did the most traveling. Each listed two foreign trips.
Ducheny and Kehoe went to Argentina to examine the use of biofuels and meet with agricultural officials and business leaders in Buenos Aires and Rosario. The trip was financed by a foundation from Argentina.
Ducheny also traveled to Taiwan.
Saldaña traveled to Azerbaijan with a group of female lawmakers to learn about emerging women's groups in that nation. The trip was paid for by the parliament of Azerbaijan.
“It was sort of a cultural exchange,” she said. Saldaña also toured the former East Germany on a $3,500 trip sponsored by the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation.
Kehoe visited Japan with other state officials and representatives from a variety of California companies, which paid the bills through the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy. The California group met with telephone and wireless companies from Japan as well as government officials.
Some described the $10,000-per-person trip as lavish. Kehoe acknowledged that the sponsors “make it comfortable.”
Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., March, 2008
The bribery that has engulfed our elections has become so common that it has become acceptable for "our" representatives not to just be elected on a flood of special interest bribes, but to use special interest bribes to live a life of luxury.
If you think these bribed hacks of either party represent you or your interests, you are deluded. The links below demonstrate that no real change in who runs congress happened when the dems captured congress.
In addition to maintaining the level of bribery and corruption, the dem congress has done nothing but help bush assert unconstitutional powers allowing illegal searches, detentions, torture, and kangaroo courts that mark both parties as not just corrupted, but as enemies to our democracy, our rights, and our constitution.
Corruption Updates 19, 1st article on page, “TOP RECIPEINTS OF LOBBYISTS BRIBES ARE LEADERSHIP OF BOTH PARTIES”
Corruption Updates 20, 1st article on page, 10-25-06, PELOSI FUNRAISING FRENZY ASSURES SPECIAL INTEREST DOMINATION OF GOVERNMENTINDEPENDENT OF WHICH SIDE WINS IN NOV
Corruption Updates 20, 6th article on page, DEMS RECEIVE SPECIAL INTEREST BRIBES ANTICIPATING VICTORY IN NOV
Corruption Updates 21, 2nd article on page, 10-30-06: “SHADOW PARTIES (527S) INFUSE MILLIONS IN BRIBE MONEY INTO ELECTIONSPECIAL INTERESTS SKIRT CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS TO MAINTAIN THEIR ILLIGIMATE AUTHORITY THROUGH POLITICAL BRIBERY”
Corruption Updates 21, 8fh article on page, 11-1-06: “DEMS BIG CHANCE TO REAP THE REWARDS OF CORRUPTIONPOLITICAL VICTORY OPENS DOORS OF LOBBYING FIRMS TO DEMO INSIDERS: IT'S THE DEMS TURN TO ROB THE PUBLIC BLIND, AND BETRAY OUR DEMOCRACY”
After the Election:
Corruption Updates 26, 1st article on page, 12-8-06, “LOBBYISTS SEE NO CHANGE UNDER DEMSCORRUPTION PRESENTED AS FORCE OF NATURE, DEM CORRUPTION NATURAL”
Corruption Updates 28, 1st article on page, 1-2-07: LOBBYISTS HIRING-BRIBING DEMSSHIFTING FUNDS AND PERSONELL TO DEMS ASSURES NO REAL CHANGES
March was, to put it mildly, an unpleasant month for Migden, who's enmeshed in a three-way battle to retain her Senate seat. Assemblyman Mark Leno and former Assemblyman Joe Nation are challenging Migden in the June 3 primary. Winning then is tantamount to winning the seat in the overwhelmingly Democratic, San Francisco-Marin County district.
The month began with her suing the Fair Political Practices Commission, which had blocked her from using $600,000-plus in campaign funds raised for other offices to defend her Senate seat. Then the FPPC levied a $350,000 fine against her for campaign finance law violations, including personal use of campaign funds, the largest such fine ever imposed by the commission.
Last week, the FPPC countersued Migden for $9 million in federal court, alleging that Migden had deceived voters by "filing inaccurate campaign statements, fabricating the elimination of committees and concealing campaign funds," just a couple of days before the state Democratic Convention was to decide whether Migden would receive the party's official endorsement.
When the convention opened on Friday, Migden, while addressing the party's Women's Caucus, had a verbal confrontation with pro-Leno attendees who were passing out fliers about the FPPC countersuit, and hurled personal invective at the Leno workers. It was reminiscent of her erratic behavior that ended with an auto accident and a suspension of her driver's license last year.
On Saturday, after a hard-fought internal battle, Migden won the endorsement of 3rd Senate District Democrats, but the Leno activists quickly gathered signatures on a petition to demand a separate vote by the full convention, reportedly scouring local bars to find enough Democrats to meet an 11 p.m. deadline.
The petition drive touched off a floor battle Sunday and a humiliating defeat for Migden, with more than 70 percent of delegates voting to deny her the party's endorsement, although Leno fell just short of winning the imprimatur himself.
California's political watchdog agency filed a whopping $9 million countersuit Tuesday against state Sen. Carole Migden, three weeks after she sued the agency for preventing her from spending money she raised before being elected to the Senate.
The counterclaim, filed in federal court in Sacramento, came a week after the San Francisco Democrat agreed to pay a record $350,000 fine for campaign spending violations in a separate case.
Ross Johnson, chairman of the Fair Political Practices Commission, charged Migden has repeatedly "deceived" voters by "filing inaccurate campaign statements, fabricating the elimination of committees and concealing campaign funds."
The "pervasive pattern of deception … has been ongoing for more than five years," Johnson said in prepared statement.
Richie Ross, Midgen's political consultant, accused Johnson, a former Republican member of the Legislature, of a "retaliatory, Nixonian tirade."
Ross contends the FPPC, under Johnson, is preventing Migden from exercising her First Amendment right to free speech by denying her use of the money.
In seeking more than $9 million in damages, the FPPC contends Migden failed to report a number of large transactions entirely and reported other large transactions that never occurred.
In an unusual move, Migden sued the FPPC and Johnson after the agency ruled she could not spend $647,000 in political contributions she raised before being elected to the Senate.
State law requires elected officials to spend money they raised in office before leaving that office. Those who do not can donate the surplus money to nonprofits or political parties but cannot use it to campaign for another office.
Johnson, who accused Midgen of trying to "bully" the FPPC and distracting its staff from its probe, said she had already spent nearly $400,000 to which she was not legally entitled.
The FPPC said that during the months-long probe that resulted in the $350,000 fine Migden agreed to last week, investigators uncovered multiple illegal transfers of approximately $1 million of surplus campaign funds that occurred over several years.
The money, which the FPPC said Midgen raised as a member of the Assembly and state Board of Equalization, was allegedly funneled through multiple committee accounts controlled by the senator.
Migden has crawled into the refuge of political scoundrels: the notion that bribery is free speech.
Imagine the size of the ego that puts itself not only before public safety, as migden did when she used her state vehicle to go on a bumper car destruction derby, but is willing to twist our right of free speech into a cover for accepting political bribery.
I wonder what she promised the CHP to avoid a drug test after her series of drunk-like accidents?
Migden did not just accept political bribes, normal for our corrupted politicians, but illegally transferred them to her current campaign to stay in office. Who bribed her? Nobody knows. But that doesn't bother migden, as she knows who she is beholden to, even if the voters don't: midgen fights for the right of free speech to hide secret contributors to candidates in elections they can't even vote in.
Thank god we have such strong advocates of free speech like migden to protect our constitutional right to bribe politicians. I don't know what I would do without her in office, but it would be a pleasure to find out.
Despite the forgiving laws that people like migden crafted to allow and protect political bribery, migden wants more. Note that migden did not first contest the decision against her in court. Instead, she defied the law and the FPPC, and just went and broke the law. What arrogance and disrespect for the laws she was elected and sworn to uphold.
It is clear that migden puts herself above the law. I say that the voters should give migden more time off. A term or two our of office to cool her overheated ego would be good for california and good for midgen's superiority complex.
Get out the trough, it's feeding time. Congress has decided that an election year with recession written all over it is not the time to be giving up those job-producing "pork" projects bemoaned by both parties' presidential candidates.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has quietly shelved the idea of a one-year moratorium on so-called earmarks, the $18 billion or so in pet projects that lawmakers sent to their home states this year. Senators in both parties have voted to kill the idea.
The California Democrat earlier had signaled her support for the idea of including no legislative earmarks in next year's budget. She pulled back in the face of resistance by Democratic allies and after the Senate turned a thumbs-down by a resounding 71-29 vote in mid-March.
The response to the Senate vote from rank-and-file lawmakers: They sent in so many last-minute earmark requests that a House Appropriations Committee web site seized up and the deadline for requesting pork had to be extended.
"My patience is running out on earmarks, I'll tell you that," Pelosi said March 6. "I don't intend to spend a whole lot of time talking about them. We'll either have them or we won't, but we're not going to spend a lot of time talking about it."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., a former member of the pork-dispensing Appropriations Committee, also strongly opposed the moratorium, as did all but a handful of Democrats.
House Democrats like John Murtha, D-Pa., a longtime Pelosi ally who got the "porker of the year" award from Citizens Against Government Waste, a Washington-based watchdog group, weighed in as well. If the Senate won't give up its pork, they argued, why should the House?
Having preserved their right to earmark, lawmakers nonetheless shouldn't count on delivering too much before Election Day. That's because few if any of the 12 spending bills that carry earmarks are likely to be sent to President Bush before then, much less be signed by him.
One possible exception is the annual defense appropriations bill, slated to exceed $500 billion for the budget year beginning Oct. 1. The 2008 version passed last year contained $6 billion in earmarks disclosed by lawmakers, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group that tracks earmarks closely.
Many of the defense earmarks go to private firms that hire Washington lobbyists to help navigate the corridors of power in the capital city.
Murtha, who chairs the House Defense Appropriations panel, obtained $160 million worth of earmarks to lead all House members.
Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., March, 2008
Neither the dems nor the repugs are going to threaten the mechanism that allows them to pay back the bribes of their biggest bribers: Earmarks.
It is sad that the media masks the legislative corruption of earmarks behind "job creation." First, earmarks do not go to the locals constituents, earmarks go to the biggest bribers. There are no rules to earmarks. But the press insists on characterizing earmark corruption as some type of jobs program.
Let's be real about who gets the money and who gets the jobs: The corporate bribers get the money, and lobbyists get the jobs.
This is because earmarks bypass the legislative process. Earmarks are the ultimate in bi-partisanship: Earmarks represent the true nature of the parties by demonstrating how they agree that both parties will divide up billions of dollars between themselves, in secret, to pay off their political bribers.
If the politician's bribes came from a local corporation, it is possible that the locals may indirectly benefit from the politician's dirty payoff. But the chance are much greater that the earmark payoff will line the pockets of the bribers, not the local voters.
Earmarks are yet another example of why we must end the ability of non voters to corrupt our politicians and steal our money and our right to have an open democratic government.
Until we end the bribery itself, earmarks will continue to be a favored method of the bribed politicians and parties to reward their bribers.
WASHINGTON — To the end, Housing Secretary Alphonso R. Jackson seemed determined to hang on.
He dismissed calls from Democratic senators for his resignation. He declared he would be cleared of wrongdoing. And as federal authorities investigated whether he had given lucrative housing contracts to friends, Mr. Jackson, 62, stood proudly in the spotlight.
His resignation on Monday was a blow to the Bush administration, which is increasingly turning to the Federal Housing Administration, a unit of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to help stanch the widening flood of foreclosures.
In 2004, less than two months after his confirmation as housing secretary, Mr. Jackson told a House panel that he believed poverty “is a state of mind, not a condition,” provoking strong criticism. Two years later, he said in a speech that he had canceled a contract for a company after its president told him that he did not like Mr. Bush. Mr. Jackson later said he had made the story up.
This month, Mr. Jackson took a pounding from senators who demanded explanations for accusations that he had steered hundreds of thousands of dollars to friends for work at the Virgin Islands housing authority and reconstruction in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
The Justice Department and the inspector general at the Housing Department are investigating those accusations, which were first reported by The National Journal. A government official briefed on the inquiry said investigators were particularly focused on Mr. Jackson’s role in New Orleans, where he is accused of helping a friend get construction work.
Lawmakers also raised concerns about accusations, first reported by The Washington Post, that Mr. Jackson had threatened to withdraw federal aid from the Philadelphia Housing Authority after its president refused to turn over a $2 million property to a politically connected developer. Pennsylvania’s senators, Arlen Specter, a Republican, and Bob Casey, a Democrat, said “it is difficult to conclude that HUD’s actions are anything but retaliatory.”
And in a letter to Mr. Bush this month, two Democratic senators, Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut and Patty Murray of Washington, called on Mr. Jackson to resign, saying that the accusations of wrongdoing had undermined his leadership.
Sheila Crowley, of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, called his tenure “a disaster.” Michael Kelly, who heads the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, described Mr. Jackson’s recent budget as part of a continuing “effort to cripple, dismantle, devalue and defund public housing as we know it.”
On Thursday, as Mr. Jackson addressed an applauding crowd of real-estate agents, he seemed as if he were on top of the world. When the agents lined up to shake his hand and snap his photograph, he beamed.