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  OH Coin Dealer Admits Illegal Donations to BushMay 31, 2006 21:53 A coin dealer and prominent GOP fundraiser at the center of an Ohio political scandal pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges he illegally funneled about $45,000 to President Bush's re-election campaign.

Tom Noe, once a powerful political figure who also raised money for Ohio Republicans, still is charged with embezzlement in an ill-fated $50 million coin investment that he managed for the state workers' compensation fund.

The investment scandal has been a major embarrassment for Ohio's ruling Republicans and given Democrats a better shot at winning state offices this year, including the governor's office, which has been under GOP control since 1991.


 
  Assembly Backs Plan To Give Presidential Votes On Popular VoteMay 31, 2006 20:26 Frustrated that presidential candidates have spent so little time in California, lawmakers on Tuesday approved legislation to change how the state awards its electoral votes for president.

The bill would pledge California's 55 Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular vote, a system critics charged was an attempt to circumvent the U.S. Constitution.

"Presidential candidates would have to come to California because of our population and they would have to take a position on issues that we care about," Assemblyman Tom Umberg, D-Santa Ana, said on the Assembly floor.

The Assembly voted mostly along party lines to approve the bill, 49-31.

The interstate compact they authorized is part of a national campaign launched in February by a Los Altos nonprofit to change the way the nation picks a president. However, if the bill became law in California, it only would take effect if states with a combined total of 270 electoral votes - the number now required to win the presidency - also agreed to decide the election by popular vote.

  Dumb Move: Democrat Leader Took Free Boxing TicketsMay 31, 2006 15:04 The leader of the Democratic Party in the US Senate who has accused Republicans of fostering a "culture of corruption" has said he accepted free tickets to boxing contests in Las Vegas.

Senator Harry Reid, leader of the Democrats in America's upper house and a former boxer, said he had done nothing wrong and was seeking to learn more about the sport in his home state.

The three tickets were provided between 2003 and last year when Mr Reid championed legislation to impose government controls on the sport. One ticket had a face value of $1,400 (£750).

Asked by the Associated Press whether he would do anything differently, he said his only concern was "the willingness of the press to take these instances and try to make a big deal out of them".

  As Dem's Pick For NY Governor, Spitzer Vows Vast ReformsMay 31, 2006 15:00 In accepting the Democratic Party's nomination for the gubernatorial race, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said he plans to bring his crusade against Wall Street and big corporations to the doorstep of the state Capitol.

"In this campaign, we are fighting for the very soul of government, the very future of New York," said Spitzer, at the party's state committee convention in the Hyatt Regency hotel here. "The crowd in charge of Albany is out of touch, out of ideas and come Jan. 1, they'll be out of time.

"Because on day one of a Spitzer administration, everything changes."

Among his plans are reforming property taxes, health care, public education and economic development.

"He had a very positive and uplifting message," said proxy delegate Nayyera Haq of Great Kills. "You look at his face and you just know he's a winner."

Spitzer's running mate, Senate Majority Leader David Paterson, got the nod for lieutenant governor. They were joined by Andrew Cuomo -- secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Clinton, past gubernatorial hopeful and son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo -- as the candidate for attorney general.

  Ex-Reagan Official Runs As DemocratMay 30, 2006 15:38 Thirty-seven summers ago, in the swelter of An Hua Basin, Marine Lt. James H. Webb saw more bloodshed and death than most people see in a lifetime.

Since his decorated tenure in Vietnam, Webb has added hitches as President Reagan’s Navy secretary, an Emmy-winning journalist and author of best-selling, military-suspense novels to his made-for-the-movies biography.

Why, then, suddenly run this year as a Democrat to unseat Sen. George Allen, a Republican former governor whom Webb endorsed just six years ago?

“When I look at where this administration has taken its own party, I cannot help but think about the pendulum of history,” Webb said.

“The pendulum has swung, I think, as far as it can swing given the principles this party had once espoused.”

Webb says Allen is part of an arrogant Republican majority in Washington bent on repeating in Iraq the blunders that killed so many of his buddies in Vietnam a generation ago.

  Panel Hears Testimony On Raid Of Lawmakers' OfficeMay 30, 2006 15:22 Constitutional experts says the F-B-I crossed a forbidden line when it raided Congressman William Jefferson's office.

University of Baltimore law professor Charles Tiefer (TEE'-fur) says the raid breached "a previously sacrosanct constitutional tradition." He says the executive branch of government clearly was trying to intimidate Congress.

A former deputy attorney general during the Reagan administration, Bruce Fein, agrees -- saying the administration clearly is trying to "cow" Congress.

Former Pennsylvania Congressman Robert Walker says Congress should play hardball by issuing subpoenas for administration documents that authorized the raid.

Walker says Americans should be "deeply concerned" the raid was planned at the highest levels of the Justice Department and the F-B-I.

  Bush Quells Constitutional Fight, Orders Lawmaker'S Records SealedMay 26, 2006 14:04 President Bush intervened in a tense constitutional fight between Congress and the Justice Department on Thursday by ordering records seized from a congressional office over the weekend sealed for 45 days.

"Our government has not faced such a dilemma in more than two centuries," the president said in his first statement on the swirl of events surrounding the FBI's search of the office of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., who has been accused of accepting bribes. "Yet after days of discussions, it is clear these differences will require more time to be worked out."

Bush said the material in question would be turned over for 45 days to the solicitor general, the Justice Department official who represents the government before the Supreme Court. That step would allow the Justice Department to assert that it had not given up material that prosecutors regarded as lawfully obtained evidence for a criminal case.

The presidential intervention came as House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., normally the Bush administration's champion on Capitol Hill, suggested that the Justice Department had tried to intimidate him through a news leak because of his challenge of the department's authority to conduct the search.


 
  House Leaders Demand FBI Return DocumentsMay 25, 2006 16:43 Some lawmakers are warning of a voter backlash against members of Congress "trying to protect their own" if party leaders keep escalating a constitutional dispute over the FBI's raid of a representative's office.

Yet not long after House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi demanded on Wednesday the bureau return documents it took, White House aides were in talks with Hastert's staff about the possible transfer of the material, perhaps to the House ethics committee, according to several Republican officials.

The goals of any transfer, they said, would be to deny the documents both to prosecutors and to Rep. Willliam Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat ensnared in a bribery investigation, until the legal issues surrounding the weekend search of his office are resolved. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the confidential nature of the discussions.

  Government Secrecy Is A FarceMay 23, 2006 18:56 Over the weekend, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales made a draconian threat to prosecute journalists for writing about the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) clandestine and illegal monitoring of U.S.-overseas telephone calls. That threat shows what an Orwellian farce the government’s classified information system has become.

Gonzales is threatening to prosecute reporters under the 1917 Espionage Act. This anachronistic act was passed during World War I to make it illegal for unauthorized personnel to receive and transmit national defense information. The law is also currently being used to prosecute two lobbyists from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for obtaining and transmitting classified information they received from a U.S. Defense Department employee. The lobbyists’ lawyers have filed a motion in court arguing that the law is an unconstitutional breach of the First Amendment right to free speech.

A successful prosecution in the AIPAC case could open the floodgates to indict journalists for publishing classified information leaked to them by government officials. The government would have an easier time prosecuting reporters than it does uncovering and indicting often-anonymous leakers. In fact, the threat of being prosecuted might make reporters less inclined to protect sources, thereby flushing out the leakers, or making officials more reluctant to leak in the first place.

The casual observer might conclude that reducing the amount of classified information in the media might be a good idea. But the revelation of the unconstitutional NSA domestic spying program shows that leaks by conscientious officials can, at times, have positive effects. And the public shouldn’t assume that all, or even most, of the information the government shields from public view needs to be secret.


 
  Rice Faces Silent Protest In BostonMay 22, 2006 20:24 Dozens of faculty and students turned their backs and waved protest signs when U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice received an honorary degree from Boston College on Monday.

But the protest against Rice, a central player in President George W. Bush's Iraq policy, was smaller than had been expected and those among the 25,000 crowd who gave her a standing ovation outnumbered those who sat in silence.

Rice's selection as commencement speaker had stirred controversy at the Jesuit school, where many oppose the war and say it contradicts Catholic teaching.


"We've spent the last four years learning how to appreciate and work for social harmony, and to have a woman who is part of an administration that has launched a very unjust war, it's just outrageous," said Emily Jendzejec, 22, one of about 60 students who turned their backs on Rice.

Like dozens of students, Jendzejec wore a protest armband and sticker on her graduating robe reading "Not in my name."

  Bush's Base BetrayalMay 22, 2006 15:16 As a candidate in 2000, George W. Bush was a Rorschach test. Country Club Republicans saw him as another George H.W. Bush; some conservatives, thinking wishfully, saw him as another Ronald Reagan. He called himself a "compassionate conservative," which meant whatever one wanted it to mean. Experts from across the party's spectrum were flown to Austin to brief Bush and reported back: "He's one of us."

Republicans were desperate to retake the White House, conservatives were desperate to get the Clinton liberals out and there was no direct heir to Reagan running for president. So most conservatives supported Bush as the strongest candidate -- some enthusiastically and some, like me, reluctantly. After the disastrous presidency of his father, our support for the son was a triumph of hope over experience.

Once he took office, conservatives were willing to grant this Bush a honeymoon. We were happy when he proposed tax cuts (small, but tax cuts nonetheless) and when he pushed for a missile defense system. Then came the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and conservatives came to see support for the president as an act of patriotism.

Conservatives tolerated the No Child Left Behind Act, an extensive intrusion into state and local education, and the budget-busting Medicare prescription drug benefit. They tolerated the greatest increase in spending since Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society. They tolerated Bush's failure to veto a single bill, and his refusal to enforce immigration laws. They even tolerated his signing of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance overhaul, even though Bush's opposition to that measure was a key reason they backed him over Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) in the 2000 primaries.

In 2004, Republican leaders pleaded with conservatives -- particularly religious conservatives -- to register people to vote and help them turn out on Election Day. Those efforts strengthened Republicans in Congress and probably saved the Bush presidency. We were told: Just wait till the second term. Then, the president, freed of concern over reelection and backed by a Republican Congress, would take off the gloves and fight for the conservative agenda. Just wait.

We're still waiting.


 
  NOW To Back Lieberman's Democratic Challenger For Senate SeatMay 17, 2006 01:20 Edward M. "Ned" Lamont, the Greenwich cable executive challenging U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman for the Democratic nomination, was expected today to collect the endorsement of the National Organization for Women's political action committee.


The nod from the NOW PAC was to be announced today at a news conference jointly hosted in Hartford by Lamont and the women's organization, which said it had reached its decision "after extensive research and discussion."

Lamont's campaign spokesman declined to comment early today, and Connecticut NOW Executive Director Kathleen Sloan, who distributed the group's announcement, was not immediately available for comment.

Lieberman's campaign director, Sean Smith, reacted by emphasizing the senator's support from other organizations concerned with women's issues and among prominent women Democrats in Connecticut, including Democratic State Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo; U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District; state Comptroller Nancy Wyman; and state Treasurer Denise L. Nappier.


 
  Mccain Earns Goodwill With EvangelicalsMay 15, 2006 19:20 Sarah Smith and Bryan Northup, both recent graduates of Liberty University, were surprised when the Rev. Jerry Falwell invited Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona to deliver the commencement address at their alma mater last Saturday.
After all, Senator McCain has not exactly been viewed as a friend of Christian evangelicals, especially since he tagged the Reverend Falwell - Liberty's founder and president - and a few others as "agents of intolerance" who were "corrupting influences" in American politics during the 2000 presidential campaign.

But as the 2008 race gears up, with McCain a likely competitor, it's a new day - at least for some. Falwell and McCain have patched up their relationship. And if the reaction of a sample of attendees is any guide, McCain may have done himself some good at this campus nestled in the rolling hills of Lynchburg, Va.
  Is Bush Ready To Fire Cheney?May 15, 2006 16:10 On Feb. 12, 2002, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) issued a report titled "Niamey signed an agreement to sell 500 tons of uranium a year to Baghdad." After reading the report, Vice President Dick Cheney requested additional information from his CIA morning briefer. Today, it is known that the DIA report was based on a series of forged documents.

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern has described Cheney's receipt of a DIA document as very unusual. "In more than two years of briefing then-Vice President George H. W. Bush every other morning, not once did he [Bush] ask a question about a DIA report or even indicate that he had read one," McGovern recalled.

He added that Cheney's receipt of this particular DIA report "almost certainly reflects the widespread practice of 'cherry picking' intelligence."


 
  The Crash Of Big-Government ConservatismMay 15, 2006 15:00 Big-government conservatism has a few main aims: to preserve the welfare state while mitigating its ill effects, to preserve the present American culture while mitigating its bad effects, to preserve the present international order while mitigating its bad effects, and to preserve the present system of national politics while mitigating its ill effects.

The economic premise of big government conservatism is that the welfare state benefits from free markets and is not in dire conflict with them. Their social premise relies on the same utilitarian calculus as that of their opponents on the Left, but the big government conservatives hold that although antinomianism is not good for people, nothing can really be done about it except to try to ease government restrictions on religion. The international affairs premise is that liberal democracy is the best thing for all nations and imposition of it on other nations is the solution when they become threats to U.S. interests.

The Democrats and the Left in general, by contrast, say that the system of free markets and human welfare are in inevitable conflict, and the latter must always be the higher priority.


 
  Mrs. Bush: Don't Campaign On Marriage BanMay 15, 2006 14:54 Some election-year advice to Republicans from a high-ranking source who has the president's ear: Don't use a proposed constitutional amendment against gay marriage as a campaign tool.

Just who is that political strategist? Laura Bush.

The first lady told "Fox News Sunday" that she thinks the American people want a debate on the issue. But, she said, "I don't think it should be used as a campaign tool, obviously."

"It requires a lot of sensitivity to just talk about the issue -- a lot of sensitivity," she said.


 
  Cheney The Focus Of Cia Leak Court FilingMay 14, 2006 05:48 In a new court filing, the prosecutor in the CIA leak case revealed that Vice President Dick Cheney made handwritten references to CIA officer Valerie Plame - albeit not by name - before her identity was publicly exposed.

The new court filing is the second in little more than a month by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald mentioning Cheney as being closely focused with his then-chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, on Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, who is married to Plame.

With the two court filings, Fitzgerald has pointed to an important role for the vice president in the weeks leading up to the leaking of Plame's identity.

In the latest court filing late Friday, Fitzgerald said he intends to introduce at Libby's trial in January a copy of Wilson's op-ed article in The New York Times "bearing handwritten notations by the vice president." The article was published on July 6, 2003, eight days before Plame's identity was exposed by conservative columnist Bob Novak.


The notations "support the proposition that publication of the Wilson Op Ed acutely focused the attention of the vice president and the defendant - his chief of staff - on Mr. Wilson, on the assertions made in the article and on responding to those assertions."

  McCain Gives Commencement Speech At Christian CollegeMay 13, 2006 21:09 Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), offering an olive branch to Christian conservatives who could impede his presidential ambitions, Saturday called for more civility in politics — even as he stood next to an evangelical leader he once denounced as an "agent of intolerance."

"Americans deserve more than tolerance from one another," he said in a commencement address at Liberty University, a fundamentalist Baptist institution here, where he shared the stage with its founder, the Rev. Jerry Falwell. "We deserve each other's respect, whether we think each other right or wrong in our views."

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It was a rare joint appearance between two GOP powerhouses — and one time antagonists — who are positioned to play central roles in the fight for party leadership in the post-Bush era.

  Impeachment: It's Time To Bring Out The 100-Ton GunMay 12, 2006 20:19 James Bryce, in his landmark commentary The American Commonwealth, wrote that impeachment "is like a one-hundred ton gun which needs complex machinery to bring it into position, an enormous charge of powder to fire it; and a large mark to aim at."

Like a 100-ton gun, impeachment is seldom used but remains a bedrock of our democracy; necessary, as was said at the Constitutional Convention, "to guard against perfidity of the Chief Magistrate" (James Madison of Virginia), or when "great crimes were committed" (William Davis of North Carolina). James Iredell elaborated during the North Carolina ratification debates that impeachment was intended to guard against "tyranny and oppression as when the President gives false information to the Senate to induce them into measures injurious to their country."

Impeachment has roots deep in our history. The colonies had suffered the wrath of imperial royal governors. This experience burned into their consciousness the political axiom that unchecked executive power leads to tyranny. With independence in 1776, they wrote impeachment clauses into their constitutions to prevent grave abuse by official authority. North Carolina, for example, authorized the removal of high officials "for offending against the state by violating any part of this constitution"; Virginia, for "offending against the state by which the safety of the state may be endangered."

This theme continued when our founding fathers met in Philadelphia in 1787. Early on during the convention, Roger Sherman of Connecticut suggested that the national legislature have the authority to remove the president "at its pleasure," the practice in seven states. George Mason of Virginia was "shocked at the proposal to make the Executive the mere creature of the Legislature." John Dickinson of Delaware proposed that the executive be removable "on the request of a majority of the legislatures of the individual states." Alexander Hamilton of New York objected to this "rudderless method of ousting a President" and counter-suggested he be removed for "corrupt conduct" and trial by a court composed "of the Chief Judge of each State."

As the weeks wore on and the debate continued, Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania, "fearing for the independence of the executive," opposed the very concept of impeachment. But then, "recalling that Charles II of England was bribed by Louis XIV of France," Morris became "sensible to the necessity of impeachment" and suggested it be available "for treachery." The delegates rephrased this to mean "treason or bribery," and those words went unchallenged until the very final days of the convention. Then, George Mason noted that the phrase might not reach many "great and dangerous offenses." He suggested adding the words "other high crimes or misdemeanors." This was agreed to without debate.


 
  Having Yellowcake And Eating It, TooMay 12, 2006 15:51 Prosecution documents in the trial of former Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby revealed that President Bush himself had authorized the leak of classified intelligence that led to the exposure of a covert CIA operative. The president had heretofore feigned outrage at the leak and claimed that anyone responsible would be fired from his administration. While not denying Bush's involvement, the White House is now attempting to spin the revelation by citing the president's inherent power to declassify documents; such that anything the president chooses to leak would be ipso facto declassified and therefore legal.

While it is not yet clear that the president explicitly ordered the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame -a potentially treasonable offense- the leak is only the latest in a series of incidents demonstrating this administration's supreme indifference to the rule of law. Since the terrorist attacks of 2001, Bush has consistently maintained that his prerogatives as a "war president" trumps the normal checks and balances of government. It is a truism that "everything changed" on Sept. 11, but it is becoming increasingly clear that this might also refer to our constitutional system of government.

  Dole Flies Into Political Head WindMay 12, 2006 15:36 President Bush's approval ratings are at Nixonian lows, five incumbent Republican senators are fighting for their political lives, and on issue after issue--from gas prices to ethics to the war in Iraq--Democrats seem to have the upper hand.

Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), the former Cabinet secretary and presidential candidate, has been chosen by her colleagues to head their efforts to keep the Senate in Republican hands against these forces and in spite of unease from fellow Republicans about whether she can overcome the obstacles thrown in her way.

"No question, the wind has been in our faces for many months," said Dole, in a rare admission that the political landscape is far from perfect.

Republicans have criticized the National Republican Senatorial Committee that Dole leads for recruiting disappointments, fundraising that has lagged behind the Democrats and an unsuccessful effort to push Katherine Harris, the Republican candidate for Senate, out of the Florida race.

"The concerning thing is the fundraising," said John Weaver, the strategist who advises Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). "I don't know how you can put a positive spin on it. Numbers don't lie, like so many other things we do in this business."

  Rove Revamps The Republican StrategyMay 10, 2006 17:19 This fall’s election season is going to make the past three look like episodes of “Barney.”

The conventional notion here is that Democrats want to “nationalize” the 2006 elections — dwelling on broad themes (that is, the failures of the Bush Administration) — while the Republicans will try to “localize” them as individual contests that have nothing to do with, ahem, the goings on in the capital.

That was before the GOP situation got so desperate. The way I read the recent moves of Karl Rove & Co., they are preparing to wage war the only way open to them: not by touting George Bush, Lord knows, but by waging a national campaign to paint a nightmarish picture of what a Democratic Congress would look like, and to portray that possibility, in turn, as prelude to the even more nightmarish scenario: the return of a Democrat (Hillary) to the White House.

  Bushes in FloridaMay 10, 2006 16:41 As President Bush makes his way across Florida today, essentially campaigning for his party on the benefits of the Medicare prescription drug plan, the midterm congressional elections of 2006 looming over the horizon could offer a telling preview of the open presidential contest of 2008.

The president’s own brother this week conceded publicly that the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee for the Senate in Florida this year, Rep. Katherine Harris of Longboat Key, stands absolutely no chance whatsoever of unseating Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in November. Sure, the Bush brothers have carried Florida twice, but Gov. Jeb Bush readily allows that Florida is “a purple state… Democrats can win. Republicans can win. I don’t think anybody can take anything for granted.’’

The soon-retiring yet still-popular governor’s words should serve as both an ’06 and an ’08 wakeup call for the Republican Party in a state whose Legislature and congressional delegation both are dominated by the GOP and where Republicans have carried most presidential elections since 1952.

The GOP in Florida has found some troubling storm warnings in its own latest pulse-taking of the Sunshine State. On a "generic ballot'' -- asking voters statewide if they would support a Republican or a Democrat -- the party's own polling within the past few weeks has found the generic Republican trailing the generic Democrat by nine points. This is perceived as a reflection of how poorly Republicans are polling nationally, and a phenomenon likely to be registered in many other states this year.

  Working To Give MI A Spending Republican SenatorMay 10, 2006 16:36 Read about another DemoRepublican... a Republican candidate who is trying to appeal to the masses... by looking Democratic-Centrist. Unbelievable.
  Harris Campaign Hits Rough WatersMay 10, 2006 14:59 As she worked the room at the Shriners Club last weekend, pressing thumb-sized Velcro oranges on the lapels of the Republicans she was courting, U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris looked like a candidate whose election-year problems are over.

But this week will provide a crucial test for the U.S. Senate candidate, who gained national fame in 2000 when, as Florida secretary of state , she called an end to the search for hanging chads and declared George W. Bush the winner of the state's crucial presidential vote.

Like Bush, she became a hero for Republicans. She was elected to Congress in 2002. Two years later, she won re-election, and last summer she decided to take the next step on the political ladder by challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

Since then, however, her fortunes - like Bush's approval ratings - have plunged.

  Support For President Plummets As Americans' Pessimism GrowsMay 10, 2006 14:57 Americans have a bleaker view of the country's direction than at any time in more than two decades, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. Sharp disapproval of President Bush's handling of gasoline prices has combined with intensified unhappiness about Iraq to create a grim political environment for the White House and congressional Republicans.

Bush's approval ratings for his management of foreign policy, Iraq and the economy have fallen to the lowest levels of his presidency. He drew poor marks on the issues that have been at the top of the national agenda in recent months, in particular immigration and gasoline prices.

Just 13 percent approved of Bush's handling of rising gasoline prices. About a quarter said they approved of his handling of immigration, as congressional Republicans struggle to come up with a compromise for handling the influx of illegal immigrants into the country.


 
  Conservatives Drive Bush's Approval DownMay 09, 2006 14:53 Angry conservatives are driving the approval ratings of President Bush and the GOP-led Congress to dismal new lows, according to an AP-Ipsos poll that underscores why Republicans fear an Election Day massacre.

The AP-Ipsos poll also suggests that Democratic voters are far more motivated than Republicans. Elections in the middle of a president‘s term traditionally favor the party whose core supporters are the most energized.

* Just 33 percent of the public approves of Bush‘s job performance, the lowest of his presidency. That compares with 36 percent approval in early April. Forty-five percent of self-described conservatives now disapprove of the president.

* A majority of Americans say they want Democrats rather than Republicans to control Congress (51 percent to 34 percent). That‘s the largest gap recorded by AP-Ipsos since Bush took office. Even 31 percent of conservatives want Republicans out of power.

  Ex-Aide To Ney Pleads Guilty To CorruptionMay 08, 2006 21:37 A former top aide to Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Ney pleaded guilty on Monday and agreed to cooperate in an expanding political corruption investigation centered on disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Ney's former chief of staff, Neil Volz, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and to violating a one-year ban on lobbying after leaving Ney's office in 2002 and joining Abramoff's lobbying firm.

"Guilty, your honor," Volz, 35, told U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle during a brief court hearing.


Abramoff, Tony Rudy and Michael Scanlon, two former aides to Texas Republican Rep. Tom DeLay, have also pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate in the investigation of a conspiracy to bribe members of the U.S. Congress in return for legislative favors.

  The Rise And Possible Fall Of Richard PomboMay 06, 2006 17:56 Richard Pombo, foe of the environment and friend of business, is embattled on both the Left and Right fronts. Read about the rise and fall of this outrageously anti-environmental member of the US House.
  Angry Conservatives Seen Behind Bush'S Drop In PollsMay 06, 2006 17:51 Angry conservatives are driving the approval ratings of President Bush and the GOP-led Congress to new lows, according to an AP-Ipsos poll that underscores why Republicans fear an Election Day massacre.
Six months from the November elections, the intensity of opposition to Bush and Congress has risen sharply, along with the percentage of Americans who believe that the nation is on the wrong track.

This week's AP-Ipsos poll of 1,000 adults, including 865 registered voters, found:

About 33 percent approve of Bush's job performance, the lowest of his presidency and down from 36 percent in early April. Forty-five percent of self-described conservatives now disapprove of the president.

About 25 percent approve of the job Congress is doing, a new low in AP-Ipsos polling and down 5 percentage points from last month. About 65 percent of conservatives disapprove of Congress.

  Embattled Bush And Blair Hope Changing Staff Changes Fortunes / Britain: Prime Minister Fires Some Officials, Demotes Others After Election SetbackMay 06, 2006 17:50 Reeling from his party's poor showing in local elections, British Prime Minister Tony Blair fired several senior ministers from his Cabinet on Friday in a sweeping reshuffle intended to reassert his authority and silence party members who want him to quit.

But his most powerful colleague, rival and heir apparent -- Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the exchequer -- distanced himself from the reshuffle, saying he had not been consulted. Brown also described the voting results as "a warning shot" that showed the Labor Party needs to be "renewed."

Labor backbencher Frank Dobson was more dismissive still, telling Sky News that Blair's reshuffle amounted only to "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic."

Blair dismissed Charles Clarke as home secretary and stripped Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott of his department, although not his title. Scandals involving the two ministers -- widespread criticism for his agency's release of foreign prisoners in the former case and an extramarital affair splashed across the tabloid media in the latter -- were seen as having damaged the ruling Labor Party in the run-up to Thursday's elections. The balloting was held to select more than 4,000 members for 176 councils across England.

  Sex, Lies, And Government ContractsMay 05, 2006 17:55 The most extensive federal corruption scandal in a century is growing. In March, former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison (the longest sentence ever given to a member of Congress) for accepting $2.4 million in bribes in exchange for lucrative defense contracts. Yet Cunningham's crimes, the "magnitude and duration" of which are compared to the Teapot Dome scandal of the 1920s, may end up a mere prelude.

According to recent reports, federal investigators have traced the outlines of a far more extensive network of suspected corruption, involving multiple members of Congress, some of the nation's highest-ranking intelligence officials, bribery attempts including "free limousine service, free stays at hotel suites at the Watergate and the Westin Grand, and free prostitutes," tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts awarded under dubious circumstances, and even efforts to influence U.S. national security policy by subverting democratic oversight.

At the center of the storm is California defense contractor Brent Wilkes -- aka "Co-Conspirator #1" in government documents -- "who gave more than $630,000 in cash and favors" to Cunningham "for help in landing millions of dollars in federal contracts."

  Letter: Impeach Bush/Cheney Now!May 04, 2006 19:33 We must impeach Bush/Cheney NOW in order to end the War for Oil in the Middle East, stop the torture and illegal detentions in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan, end the illegal wire tapping of American citizens, and uphold the laws and Constitution of the United States.

There is overwhelming evidence of many impeachable offenses (see www.afterdowningstreet.org and www.impeachbush.org). The longer that Congress delays impeachment proceedings, the higher the chances are that the Bush/Cheney Administration will attack Iran, which will spread the War for OIL throughout the Middle East for decades to come. The War President is even considering the use of nuclear weapons on Iran, and the corporate masters who control the White House are power hungry enough and sick enough to do it, as empire building is more important to them than human life or the environment.


Unfortunately, the Democrats in Congress are more concerned with their November elections than they are with enforcing our laws and upholding the U.S. Constitution. A couple of weeks ago in Woods Hole, Rep. Delahunt held an Emergency Town Meeting where he told us that Bush/Cheney have committed torture, illegal wire tapping, and other crimes, but he would not introduce Articles of Impeachment because that was risky to the Democratic Party. Delahunt’s oath of office to uphold the laws and Constitution is secondary to what is politically astute.


 
  Watchdog Asks Justice To Probe Harris (R-FL) DealMay 02, 2006 14:43 The nonpartisan watchdog group Common Cause filed a complaint with the Justice Department Monday alleging that Rep. Katherine Harris violated federal law by seeking a $10 million appropriation in exchange for an offer of fund-raising support from a defense contractor.

The complaint alleges that Harris, a Republican from Longboat Key who is running for the U.S. Senate, sought the appropriation for a counterintelligence facility in her congressional district after having dinner early last year with Mitchell Wade, an owner and chief executive of MZM Inc., a defense contractor who later pleaded guilty to bribing former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif.

During that dinner, which reportedly cost $2,800 at Citronelle Restaurant in Washington, Wade offered to help raise money for Harris' political campaign, the complaint said.

"It appears that Representative Harris crossed the line from the usual back-scratching that goes on between lobbyists and members of Congress, to agreeing to a quid pro quo from Wade — a fund-raiser in exchange for his $10 million earmark," Common Cause President Chellie Pingree said in a news release. "We would like the Justice Department to investigate."


 
  Clinton vs. McCain?May 02, 2006 14:41 If you think we've seen a bruising primary election campaign in Ohio this year, just wait until 2008.
That's when the Buckeye State is again expected to occupy the center of the political universe in the presidential election. It will be the first White House contest in more than 50 years without a sitting president or vice president.

Already, seven possible candidates are drawing double-digit support from registered Ohio Democrats and Republicans, a new Dispatch Poll shows.


 
  Three Years Since Bush's "Mission Accomplished": Torture, Corruption, Growing Resistance In IraqMay 02, 2006 14:38 May 1 marks three years since President George W. Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln for a rally, choreographed by White House spin-doctors, to celebrate “Mission Accomplished” in the US war against Iraq. Organized military resistance by the regime of Saddam Hussein had collapsed. Fewer than 150 American soldiers had been killed in the successful invasion, in which the United States seized control of a country boasting the world’s second largest oil reserves.

Fast forward to today: nearly 2,300 more US soldiers have died since Bush declared major combat at end, while the Iraqi death toll has soared to well over 100,000. US efforts to exploit Iraq’s oil wealth have been stymied by guerrilla attacks and the corruption and incompetence of the US occupation regime and its Iraqi stooges. The country is sinking into a nightmare of incessant terrorist attacks, indiscriminate US air and ground raids, and ethno-religious civil war.