Press Release of Senator Cantwell
Cantwell Announces Vote Against AlitoFollowing Face-to-Face Meeting, Cantwell Expresses Concerns About AlitoÂs Positions on the Constitutional Right to Privacy, the Balance Between the Rights of the Government and the Individual, and the Relationship Between Branches of GovernmentMonday, January 30,2006
WASHINGTON, D.C. Â Monday, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced that she will vote against the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. ...(more)
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Sunday, January 29, 2006
On Friday's TVW - OLYMPIA ON-CALL House Republican Floor Leader Doug Ericksen [(R) 42nd LD] first called the Speakers Roundtable an outside group and when he'd been called on that, he tried to characterize the smear campaign as outside noise having nothing to do with him.
The smear campaign run by the House Republican's surrogate, The Speaker's Roundtable is so dirty that it's actually brought some Republican Legislators to tears.
GOP leader denies role in attack ads
Published Wednesday, January 25th, 2006
By Chris Mulick, Herald Olympia bureau (Tri-City Herald)
...Though he raises money for the Speaker's Roundtable, DeBolt said he does not keep tabs on its activity, does not review its budgets and did not orchestrate the ad campaign. He said that was the work of Kevin Carns, who works for both political committees.
"What they do, they do," DeBolt said of the Speaker's Roundtable.
But others, even some Republicans, disputed the "arm's-length" relationship DeBolt described.
"I think leadership bears some responsibility," said Rep. Bruce Chandler, a Granger Republican who led the caucus last year. "Inevitably, anything the Speaker's Roundtable does reflects on leadership."
DeBolt said he hasn't heard complaints from other Republicans. But several have apologized, Grant said.
That includes Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland, whose eyes began to well up when asked about the ad campaign.
"I'm appalled at it," he said. "I came over here to build bridges and this burns those bridges. It makes me want to throw up. My constituents didn't send me over here to do this."
Haler, who said he apologized to at least three Democratic colleagues Tuesday, said DeBolt "has no room for deniability." He and Chandler said rank-and-file caucus members were not told the campaign was coming. ...Postcard aimed at Democrats was cheap shot
Rep. Bill Grant of Walla Walla was a target. Republican leaders should denounce the mailing in an effort to wash some of the political dirt from their hands.
By the Editorial Board of the (Walla Walla) Union-Bulletin
Postcards from the sleazy edge stand in the way of a solution
Seattle Post Intelligencer -
OLYMPIA -- A disturbing little postcard showed up in the Shapleys' Post Office box last weekend. "Sex offender notification" the card blared, "This violent ...
Nicole Brodeur - Seattle Times staff columnist
That wasn't a Jiffy Lube reminder that came in the mail
last week. It was something much greasier, from an outfit called the Speakers Roundtable...House GOP should disavow predator mailings
TheNewsTribune.com (subscription), WA -
Jan 27, 2006
... didn't know that the offender lived nearly ... The postcard
targets specific Democrats whom Republicans consider ... impose life sentences for violent sex offenders. ...
In Our View: Dirty Tricks
The Columbian, WA -
Jan 25, 2006
... says, "This level III sex offender abducted two children, sexually assaulted them and threatened to kill them if they told anyone.". But this postcard from The ...
DeBolt offers no apology for ads
The Olympian, WA -
Jan 25, 2006
... As for worrying people that a particular sex offender has moved into their neighborhoods, he said the man in the postcard is a "generic figure," and people ...
Pedophile postcard angers Democrats
The Spokesman Review, WA -
Jan 25, 2006
... Marked "SEX OFFENDER NOTIFICATION," the cards picture a real child rapist. "This violent predator lives in your community," the cards say. ...
Ken's Commentary: Even When The GOP Is Right, They're Wrong
KOMO, WA -
Jan 24, 2006
... are a mug shot of an actual level 3 sex offender. ... to impose a life sentence for violent sex predators like him ... is, the sleaze bag depicted on the postcard is of ...
GOP postcards fuel a fracas
Seattle Times, United States -
Jan 24, 2006
... "The entire postcard is a lie," Kessler said. For example, she said, although the postcards claim the sex offender pictured lives in a particular district, the ...
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Media reported Hayden's defense without challenge; will they now report
Will the following media -- and others -- who
repeated Hayden's claims without challenge now report the contradictions in the
Bush administration's defense of the domestic surveillance program?
From the January 23 Associated Press article headlined "Bush
Calls Surveillance Legal, Necessary":
Under the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act, government officials had to prove to a secretive intelligence
court that there was "probable cause" to believe that a person was tied to
terrorism. Bush's program allows senior NSA officials to approve surveillance
when there was "reason to believe" the call may involve al-Qaida and its
Hayden maintained that the work was within the law. "The
constitutional standard is reasonable. ... I am convinced that we are lawful
because what it is we are doing is reasonable," he said at the National Press
what a load!!!....hasn't the former head of NSA heard?.....the knew who they were....one was even in the phone book.....the intelligence community was screaming("hair on fire, red lights blinking") and the higher ups ignored them!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jan. 23, 2006 — Michael Hayden, the deputy director of national intelligence and
former director of the National Security Agency, defended a controversial NSA
eavesdropping program this morning, kicking off a weeklong effort by the White
House to counter criticism of the highly secretive program.
In a speech at
the National Press Club, Hayden said if the program had been in place before the
Sept. 11 attacks, it may have detected some of the 9/11 hijackers.
"Had this program been in effect prior to 9/11, it is my professional
judgment that we would have detected some of the 9/11 al Qaeda operatives in the
United States, and we would have identified them as such," said Hayden.
Legislature 2006The Speakers Roundtable that is carrying out this smear campaign is a front for The House Republican Organizing Committee. The House Republican Organizational Committee (HROC) is the official campaign arm of the House Republican Caucus. So that makes the House Republican Caucus responsible for sabotaging rational debate, terrorizing voters and exploiting at risk children. Maybe it's their pictures that should be on a postcard.
GOP postcards fuel a fracas
By Andrew Garber
Seattle Times Olympia bureau
OLYMPIA Â House Democrats on Monday accused Republicans of dirty politics for mailing out 25,000 postcards that accuse certain lawmakers of being soft on crime and protecting violent sex offenders.
The postcards show a mug shot of a middle-age man with slicked-back hair. His eyes and his name are blacked out to shield his identity. The cards, shown in photocopies provided by Democrats, carry a bold headline that reads, "This violent predator lives in your community."
They also describe sex crimes supposedly committed by the person, then mention the name of a Democratic lawmaker and claim the legislator "refused to impose life sentences for violent sex predators."
The cards are part of a $75,000 Republican ad campaign that Democrats say is targeting lawmakers in swing districts for the November election. In addition to the cards, the campaign is using radio spots, television ads and automated phone calls.
"It's politics at its worst," fumed House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam. ...
...The attack ads are based on a vote taken the first day of the legislative session after House Republicans made a motion asking for an immediate floor debate on a newly drafted, 116-page sex-offender bill. The measure would crack down on sex offenders, including imposition of lengthy mandatory minimum sentences.
Since the session had just started, no hearing had been held on the bill and lawmakers hadn't had a chance to read it. The GOP motion was rejected on a party-line vote.
Within days, voters in six districts started getting automated phone calls attacking Democrats for not voting for the measure. Carns said there was discussion of an ad campaign even before the vote was taken, but the ads weren't created until afterward.
The mailing infuriated Democrats. "The entire postcard is a lie," Kessler said. ... [full article]
Saturday, January 21, 2006
|Republicans leaves a slime trail across Washington state|
GOP fake "sex offender" mailing
... I've seen a lot of offensive things as a participant and observer of politics, but this is one of the most vile things I have ever seen. ...
- And from horsesass.org -
The WA state GOP: political predators
It is sick enough to exploit the victims of child sexual abuse for political gain, but to do so based on a lie is doubly unforgivable. ...
Friday, January 20, 2006
Zogby poll: Majority supports impeaching Bush for wiretapping
WASHINGTON, D.C. — By a margin of 52 to 43 percent, citizens want Congress to impeach President Bush if he wiretapped American citizens without a judge's approval, according to a new poll commissioned by AfterDowningStreet.org, a grassroots coalition that supports a Congressional investigation of Pres. Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003.
The poll was conducted by Zogby International.
The poll found that 52 percent of respondents agreed with the statement: "If President Bush wiretapped American citizens without the approval of a judge, do you agree or disagree that Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment."...(more)
Right-wing/Neo-con Political Philosophy:
"Saddle up! Lock and Load!"
You may have noticed that when things aren't going well for the White House, they seem to think they can do a rewrite - reshoot the scene - and no one will notice the change.
John Wayne Movies as policy:
Newt Gingrich called The Sands of Iwo Jima. "the formative movie of my life."
According to John Waynes Western's and War Movies:
Americans/Good-Guys are always Brave and Honest... but they are allowed to break the law and use violence to "get things done".
Foreigners/Bad-Guys are always corrupt and cowardly... so it's alright to bribe them to do things because they're already corrupt and if bribery doesn't work, all that's needed is to "stand up to them and show them we mean business" and they'll run away and cower in a corner.
And there you have the Rights worldview distilled down to its essence. They go at life as though it was the script to a movie. They "don't do nuance" and they think there blunders will have no real consequences.
Of course their policies are based on fantasies so the results are disaster raining down on all our heads. Elderly folks really are suffering without heat and medication. New Orleans isn't a movie set. Those Iraq war casualties won't get up and walk away when someone yells cut.
Some one really should tell the Right that there never was a John Wayne. He was a character played by a guy named Marion... Marion Morrison who avoiding service in WWII for fear it would interrupt the momentum of his career.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
In the past communities set standards of conduct for businesses, it was just less formal...
Ever heard the expression, "run out of town on a rail"?
Trailing in "race" with Wal-Mart
By Danny Westneat - Seattle Times staff columnist
The pernicious thing about Wal-Mart, says Craig Cole, is if we don't change it, it'll change us.
He should know. Cole runs Brown & Cole, a business founded by his grandfather in Lynden 97 years ago that consists of 29 groceries in this state. Cole, 55, can feel this family legacy slipping away. Last year he closed seven stores. The reason, he insists, is simple: He buys health insurance for his workers, and Wal-Mart largely does not.
"I was raised with American values, that good companies take care of workers," Cole says. "Wal-Mart is changing the rules. We're at a crucial point where society needs to decide whether we're going to follow them on this race to the bottom, or not." ...
... Cole buys health insurance for 95 percent of his 1,500 workers, including any who work 20 hours per week. He also insures their families.
Wal-Mart, Cole's direct competitor, insures 45 percent of its workers. A Wal-Mart memo leaked in October revealed that half of the children of its employees are either uninsured or on the government's Medicaid program for the poor.
Who pays when these children go to the doctor? We do, says Cole.
"That's the real problem here - the public is picking up the tab for what should be Wal-Mart's responsibility," he says. ...
... His company does right by its workers. The way he can see to compete now with Wal-Mart is to do wrong by his employees. To mimic Wal-Mart.
In the end, won't that cost us more?
"Wal-Mart is like a form of social pollution," Cole says. "If we let an oil company dump waste into Puget Sound, it could make cheaper gas. But we don't let them, because it degrades the environment.
"Well, what Wal-Mart is doing degrades American workers. And not just their own."
I am Jesse Salomon and I am running for the State Senate in the 42nd District (Whatcom County) against Sen. Dale Brandland.
My priorities include increasing clean and renewable energy while stimulating the economy, controlling growth to prevent sprawl, to make sure that as we move into the era of the WASL that we maintain high standards in education but make sure there are alternatives to a single standardized test- alternatives which are culturally sensitive and not biased, and to find long-term solutions to the health care crisis.
I am very excited about stimulating private development of clean energy, so let me outline my ideas:
-Utilities should be required to buy any clean energy not being used by a consumer. In other words, if you put a solar panel on your house, a windmill on your farm, an anerobic digester or any other clean energy mechanism you can invent (and please do!) you can sell any extra energy to the utilites at at a higher than market rate. In addition I will support any tax breaks or credits necessary to get you to invest in your own solar panel etc.
Why do this? Why shoud the government get involved? Pick any of the following reasons (or add your own): It preserves clean air and water and quality of life, it helps decrease our dependence on mid east oil and thus helps national security and energy independence, it keeps money in the community, it feels good to do good...
Sen. Brandland has not served us well. He has sponsored bills to repeal consumer protection laws in order to deny an individual's right to sue. He cast THE DECIDING VOTE against adding sexual orientation to anti-discrimination laws-get off it already!
Anyways, I fear I am going into too much detail, although there are so many other bad things he's done-suffice it to say this the Senate needs another dedicated Democrat, as this is where the progressive bills are bottling up due to the almost even partisan split in that body.
As you know, Dale will have all the money he wants from the big corporations he's gone to bat for. I need money from people like yourselves to gain name recognition and support for my positive platform of clean energy, managing growth and development, and investing in public education and health care for all.
Please make your contribution to
Jesse Salomon for State Senate
P.O. Box 5273
Bellingham, WA 98227-5273
Please include your name, address, occupation, and if over $100.00, your employer's name, city and state.
Democratic Candidate for 42nd LD State Senate
"You don't like the way we do this job, then come down and do it yourself. I'm outta here."-State Senator Dale Brandland.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Supreme Court Upholds Oregon Suicide LawHey Scotty! I'm not in need of ethics lessons from a pack of pulpit pounding popinjays. I'm not interested in being dictated to by a counterfeit cowboy and his corrupt cronies. I'm committed to building a culture of 'stay out of my' life.
By GINA HOLLAND
Associated Press Writer
Jan 17, 5:12 PM EST
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked the Bush administration's attempt to punish doctors who help terminally ill patients die, protecting Oregon's one-of-a-kind assisted-suicide law. ...
...White House press secretary Scott McClellan said, "The president remains fully committed to building a culture of life, a culture of life that is built on valuing life at all stages."...
Transcript: Al Gore On the Limits of Executive Poweri will let Maria and Patty know....
Monday, 16 January 2006
by Al Gore
.......A special counsel should immediately be appointed by
the Attorney General to remedy the obvious conflict of interest that prevents him from investigating what many believe are serious violations of law by the President. We have had a fresh demonstration of how an independent investigation by a special counsel with integrity can rebuild confidence in our system of
justice. Patrick Fitzgerald has, by all accounts, shown neither fear nor favor in pursuing allegations that the Executive Branch has violated other laws. Republican as well as Democratic members of Congress should support the bipartisan call of the Liberty Coalition for the appointment of a special counsel to pursue the criminal issues raised by warrantless wiretapping of
Americans by the President.
Second, new whistleblower protections should immediately be established for members of the Executive Branch who report evidence of wrongdoing -- especially where it involves the
abuse of Executive Branch authority in the sensitive areas of national security.
Third, both Houses of Congress should hold
comprehensive-and not just superficial-hearings into these serious allegations of criminal behavior on the part of the President. And, they should follow the evidence wherever it leads.
Fourth, the extensive new powers requested by the Executive Branch in its proposal to extend and enlarge
the Patriot Act should, under no circumstances be granted, unless and until there are adequate and enforceable safeguards to protect the Constitution and the rights of the American people against the kinds of abuses that have so recently been revealed.
Fifth, any telecommunications company that has provided the government with access to private information concerning the communications of Americans without a proper warrant should immediately cease and desist their complicity in this apparently
illegal invasion of the privacy of American citizens.
full speech transcript
listen to the speech if you haven't heard it yet....you will not regret spending the time.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
done as a result of our aggression.....
Thank You for the Music...
When I first heard about the
abduction of Christian Science Monitor journalist Jill Carroll a week ago, I
remember feeling regret. It was the same heavy feeling I get every time I hear
of another journalist killed or abducted. The same heavy feeling that settles
upon most Iraqis, I imagine, when they hear of acquaintances suffering under the
I read the news as a subtitle on tv. We haven't had an
internet connection for several days so I couldn't really read about the
details. All I knew was that a journalist had been abducted and that her Iraqi
interpreter had been killed. He was shot in cold blood in Al Adil district
earlier this month, when they took Jill Carroll... Theysay he didn't die
immediately. It is said he lived long enough to talk to police and then he died.
I found out very recently that the interpreter killed was a good friend-
Alan, of Alan's Melody, and I've spent the last two days crying.
full post Thursday, January 12,
It's good news for Whatcom county. Young, progressive candidates who are more interested in representing the people than building a clientele of special interest campaign contributors.
Local lawyer to run for state SenateCandidate to challenge Brandland
THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
A lawyer working for Lummi Nation will challenge state Sen. Dale Brandland for his 42nd District seat this fall.
Jesse M. Salomon, 29, filed with the state late last month to run. A former civil prosecutor for the Lummis, Salomon now represents victims of domestic violence in tribal and state courts. He also served as a delegate for Howard Dean at the Democratic National Convention in 2004.
"We need younger leadership," said Salomon, a Bellingham resident. "I just feel like the people of my generation have not yet stepped up to the plate."
Salomon believes he'd better represent the county's 42nd District, which includes the northern portion of Bellingham and the entire county west of the Cascades. He wants to provide more push for renewable and clean energy, to protect the environment and end the nation's reliance on foreign oil.
As growth issues continue to dominate concerns around the county, Salomon said he'd do more to empower local governments to make decisions tailored for their communities.
"I don't think it's fair for someone in Olympia to dictate how we grow," he said. "We need to have sovereignty in deciding the way we grow." ...
...Salomon isn't the only young challenger campaigning for the state Legislature in Whatcom County this year. Jasper D. MacSlarrow, a 29-year-old aide to U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, has already filed to run against incumbent Rep. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale. ... [full article]
Think progress supplies these quotes from Bush
There's a 'menacing' photo to go with the latest "grave threat to ...":
President Bush, 1/13/06:
Iran, armed with a nuclear weapon, poses a grave threat to the security of the world.
President Bush 10/7/02:
Tonight I want to take a few minutes to discuss a grave threat to peace…The threat comes from Iraq…It is seeking nuclear weapons.
But WAIT! - It's the menacing N. Korean nuclear facility (photo via bradblog)
Oops! No, it's the menacing Iranian nuclear facility (photo via bradblog)
Hey folks - DON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN!
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Key figure in abuse case invokes shield
General eyed in use of dogs at Abu Ghraib
By Josh White, Washington Post January 12, 2006
WASHINGTON -- Major General Geoffrey D. Miller, a central figure in the US detainee-abuse scandal, this week invoked his right not to incriminate himself in court-martial proceedings against two soldiers accused of using dogs to intimidate captives at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, according to lawyers involved in the case.
The move by Miller -- who once supervised the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and helped set up operations at Abu Ghraib -- is the first time the general has indicated he might have information that could implicate him in wrongdoing, according to military lawyers.
Harvey Volzer, an attorney for one of the dog handlers, has been seeking to question Miller to determine whether Miller ordered the use of military working dogs to frighten detainees during interrogations at Abu Ghraib. Volzer has argued that the dog handlers were following orders when the animals were used against detainees.
Miller's decision came shortly after Colonel Thomas M. Pappas, the commanding officer at Abu Ghraib, accepted immunity from prosecution this week and was ordered to testify at upcoming courts-martial. Pappas, a military intelligence officer, could be asked to detail high-level policies relating to the treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib.
He also could shed light on how abusive tactics emerged, who ordered their use, and their possible connection to officials in Washington, according to lawyers and human rights advocates who have closely followed the case. Pappas has never spoken publicly.
''This could be a big break if Pappas testifies as to why those dogs were used and who ordered the dogs to be used," said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. ''It's a steppingstone going up the chain of command, and that's positive. It might demonstrate that it wasn't just a few rotten apples."
Posted on Tue, Jan. 10, 2006
Ashcroft breaks with tradition by lobbying, has earned $269,000
BY ANDREW ZAJAC
WASHINGTON - Less than three months after registering as a lobbyist, former Attorney General John Ashcroft has banked at least $269,000 from just four clients and appears to be developing a practice centered on firms that want to capitalize on a government demand for homeland security technology that boomed under sometimes controversial policies he promoted while in office
............During a frequently contentious four years as attorney general, Ashcroft championed a series of measures, including the USA Patriot Act, which gave police and intelligence authorities greater latitude to conduct secret surveillance and gather information on people even if they were not alleged to be terrorists.
Now, Ashcroft could sign up to advocate for interests "who are arguably making it possible for the government to infringe on our privacy," said Garrett. "That will give people more pause."One of the world's biggest software companies, Oracle makes large databases, including some used by intelligence services, and plans to use Ashcroft as a consultant for business opportunities on homeland security issues, according to a company spokesman.
As attorney general, Ashcroft sued Oracle in 2004 to try to block an earlier acquisition by the company.
Ashcroft's clients also include ChoicePoint, a data broker that sells credit reports and other personal information to the FBI and other federal agencies, and LTU Technologies Inc., a Washington and Paris-based maker of software for analyzing large batches of video and other visual images.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
Main Entry: dic·ta·tor
Pronunciation: 'dik-"tA-t&r, dik-'
Etymology: Latin, from dictare
1 a : a person granted absolute emergency power; especially : one appointed by the senate of ancient Rome b : one holding complete autocratic control c : one ruling absolutely and often oppressively
The Unitary Executive: Is The Doctrine Behind the Bush Presidency Consistent with a Democratic State?Wake up, stand up, shout "Down with the Tyrant", throw out the Usurper!
By JENNIFER VAN BERGEN
---- Monday, Jan. 09, 2006
When President Bush signed the new law, sponsored by Senator McCain, restricting the use of torture when interrogating detainees, he also issued a Presidential signing statement. That statement asserted that his power as Commander-in-Chief gives him the authority to bypass the very law he had just signed.
This news came fast on the heels of Bush's shocking admission that, since 2002, he has repeatedly authorized the National Security Agency to conduct electronic surveillance without a warrant, in flagrant violation of applicable federal law.
And before that, Bush declared he had the unilateral authority to ignore the Geneva Conventions and to indefinitely detain without due process both immigrants and citizens as enemy combatants.
All these declarations echo the refrain Bush has been asserting from the outset of his presidency. That refrain is simple: Presidential power must be unilateral, and unchecked. ...
The Unitary Executive Doctrine Violates the Separation of Powers
As Findlaw columnist Edward Lazarus recently showed, the President does not have unlimited executive authority, not even as Commander-in-Chief of the military. Our government was purposely created with power split between three branches, not concentrated in one. ...
Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense:In America, the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.
The unitary executive doctrine conflicts with Paine's principle - one that is fundamental to our constitutional system. If Bush can ignore or evade laws, then the law is no longer king. Americans need to decide whether we are still a country of laws - and if we are, we need to decide whether a President who has determined to ignore or evade the law has not acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government.
Are you Americans or mice?
the Alito nomination to the supreme court will threaten our rights, strengthen the executive branch and support corporations for years to come.....our environment, privacy rights and the ability to create a society we can all live well in will suffer. he is part of a group of people who want to take us back to the days of the "robber barens"....most of us will not do so well in those circumstances....let our senators know how you feel..... http://cantwell.senate.gov/contact/index.html http://murray.senate.gov/email/index.cfm
let the democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee know they did a good job today....and that we must win this fight.http://judiciary.senate.gov/members.cfm
A lot has alreay been written about Joe Klein's latest column - a true foray into fantasy. The man is the eitomy of a journalist who is so self-absorbed, so obsessed with himself, or so lazy that he quite literally thinks he can just make things up. But sadly, Klein epitomzes a new brand of journalism sweeping the nation. It's what I call Rectal Journalism because its based on reporters and pundits simply pulling stuff right out of their ass and peddling it as fact, when in fact it is anything but. ...(more)
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
And they don't 'deserve' due process?
Is this more politicizing of the Federal Government?
Are IRS policies now based on Rightwing philosophy instead of the law?
IRS held up refunds of 120,000
By Albert B. Crenshaw
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON - Criminal investigators at the Internal Revenue Service froze more than 120,000 taxpayers' refunds last year on suspicion of fraud without notifying the taxpayers or giving them a chance to respond, the federal National Taxpayer Advocate said in a report released Tuesday.
In fact, based on data from fiscal 2004, the advocate estimated that as many as 1.6 million refunds have been frozen by the IRS' Criminal Investigation (CI) division over five years without letting taxpayers know they were under "suspicion of criminality or giving the taxpayers an opportunity to provide documentation to support their refund claims."
"At a minimum, this procedure constitutes an extraordinary violation of fundamental taxpayer rights and fairness. In our view, it may also constitute a violation of due process of law," said Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson in her annual report to lawmakers on problem areas in tax administration. ...
... But a TAS study of some of the cases brought to it by complaining taxpayers found that in 66 percent there was no evidence of current-year fraud and that 80 percent of these taxpayers ultimately received either a full refund or partial refund of the amount they had originally claimed.
The median adjusted gross income of taxpayers who were found to have committed "no fraud" was $13,330 and the median income of those who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit was $11,956. The median refund received was $3,685, Olson said. ... (full article)
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Doug Ericksen has a lame idea
... On the environmental front, Rep. Doug Ericksen wants to propose a bill allowing owners of cars more than 15 years old to pay no sales tax when buying a new car, if they destroy their old car. The bill, which requires the cars to be licensed and in running condition in the last two years, will help limit air pollution while spurring auto sales, Ericksen believes.
"The problem with pollution is old cars. We need to get old cars off of the freeway," said Ericksen, R-Ferndale. "There is a whole lot of environmentalism out there that isn't incentive-based. This tax exemption gives a massive bang for its buck." ... (SOURCE:)
Q. Who owns old cars?
A. People who love their car and people who are barely scraping by.
Q. Are people who love their car or people who are barely scraping by likely to buy a brand new car?
A. Not very.
So who could benefit from Ericksen's proposal? Well... I suppose one of those pseudo-libertarian greed-heads could spend an afternoon with the free classifieds and find something like this:
|[87 Nissan Sentra, Auto, runs, but needs work, 2dr $300 OBO]|
And use it for the tax incentive to buy this:
|2006 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class CL65 AMG Coupe|
Gas Mileage: 13 mpg city / 20 mpg hwy
Invoice Price: $167,028
(sales tax $14,364.41)
If it were fixed up, that '87 Sentra would get MPG (city) 28 / MPG (highway) 35, but according to Ericksen it would be better to crush it and put a car on the road that gets less than half the city mpg. (and ding state revenue $14k in the process)
It doesn't sound like a great solution to air pollution... But maybe Ericksen just wanted to propose something to "spurring auto sales" as an early Valentine to his auto-dealer and insurance company campaign contributors.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
SPIEGEL MagazineIt should get exciting when Merkel goes toe to toe with Bush.
January 7, 2006
Merkel Calls for Closure of Guantanamo
In an interview, Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, says she will plead with United States President George W. Bush to close the controversial Guantanamo prison camp, where some suspects have been held without trial since the start of the war on terror. ...
Yesterday we heard: IRS tracked taxpayers political affiliation
Today, we hear:
IRS accused of violating order
By Peter Lewis - Seattle Times staff reporter
The Internal Revenue Service has stopped providing detailed statistics to a tax expert, violating a court order she obtained 30 years ago, according to a motion filed in Seattle federal court.
Susan B. Long, a Syracuse University professor and co-director of a data-research group called Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), asserts that since 2004, the IRS has knowingly failed to comply with a 1976 consent decree that it admits it remains bound by. ...
... Long said the IRS' changed attitude toward compliance corresponds with a change at the top in 2003, when Mark W. Everson, then a deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, succeeded Charles O. Rossotti as IRS commissioner.
Commissioners serve five-year terms.
Long said Rossotti "believed in transparency" but with Everson at the helm, the agency "just started shutting down." ...
You've just got to wonder what's up with the IRS since Mark W. Everson took over. Remember just before the 2004 election when the IRS decided to investigate the NAACP? [The IRS vs. the NAACP] And yet, overt political speeches by rightwing Religious figures generated no similar investigations [ NAACP audit raises suspicion]
There's no proof of political skull duggery, so far. And yet, I smell a rat and we should all be watching what the IRS is up to.
Friday, January 06, 2006
IRS tracked taxpayers’ political affiliation
The News TribuneWASHINGTON – As it hunted down tax scofflaws, the Internal Revenue Service collected information on the political party affiliations of taxpayers in 20 states.
Last updated: January 6th, 2006 06:13 AM (PST)
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a member of an appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the IRS, said the practice was an “outrageous violation of the public trust” that could undermine the agency’s credibility.
IRS officials acknowledged that party affiliation information was routinely collected by a vendor for several months. They told the vendor last month to screen the information out. ...
... Murray said she learned about the problem from the president of the National Treasury Employees Union, Colleen Kelly. The IRS is part of the Treasury Department.
“This agency should not have that type of information,” Murray said in a telephone interview from Seattle. “No one should question whether they are being audited because of party affiliation." ...... “We think Congress should suspend IRS plans to use private collections agencies until these questions have been resolved,” she said.
According to Murray’s office, the 20 states in which the IRS collected party affiliation information were Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. [ full article ]
Way to go (R)'s... Grandstanding instead of really working for your constituents.
By CHRIS McGANN
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER CAPITOL CORRESPONDENT
OLYMPIA -- Republican leaders vowed Thursday to protect family farms from the ravages of Washington's estate tax as they set their sights on killing the so-called death tax.
But they overlooked one important detail -- farms are exempt from the estate tax. ...
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Snohomish County switching to mail-in elections
By Christopher Schwarzen - Times Snohomish County Bureau
The new Democratic majority on the Snohomish County Council wasted little time in approving a switch to all-mail elections.
The council approved the measure Wednesday with a 3-2 vote along party lines. Last year's Republican-led council repeatedly voted against making the change. ...
... Republicans have said they fear there is potential for mail fraud and believe a voter should have the right to choose whether to vote by mail or at the polls. ... (more)
Well golly gee, the Republicans are [once again] "worried" about voter fraud. Even though they never can point out any actual cases of fraud. Remember the outlandish claims WA GOP chairman Vance made during the 2004 Governors election recount? And then it turned out there were only a couple of fraudulent votes... and they were for Rossi!
What's really happening is that the Democrats are moving to insure honest verifiable elections... and the Republicans don't like that.
Remember Snohomish county's strange (electronic) election results in 2004?
|"the chances that above 2/3 of the vote that is paper balloting would show a Democratic lead , while the remaining 1/3 of the vote on touch screens would show a Republican lead resulting in an overall Republican win in Snohomish county as a result of voters randomly choosing whether to vote by paper ballot or by touch screen is one in 1,000 trillion!"|
EVIDENCE OF ELECTION IRREGULARITIES IN
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, WASHINGTON
GENERAL ELECTION, 2004
By Paul R. Lehto, Attorney at Law
Jeffrey Hoffman, Ph.D., Northern Michigan University
January 6 20054
"Investigative" Tribnet reporter David SeagoÂs 8/18/04 email suggesting language to the Snohomish County auditor for an editorial about security issues on touch screen voting systems, reflecting a nonchalant attitude about election security: "How about: "Screw the loonies who think hackers will steal your votes. Our system works good."
Nationally, the subject of electronic and touch screen voting has been the subject of vigorous discussion about the election security risks they present.5 Because the operating systems of these electronic voting systems are claimed to be proprietary trade secrets, in effect the counting of electronic ballots takes place in electronic "rooms" where the public is never allowed to observe, even though most state statutes grant observers the right to observe all aspects of the vote counting process. Because this lack of security was widely publicized along with the status of the various battleground states, no one supporting Kerry or Bush needed an order from on high or a sign held up by Tim Russert of Meet the Press to know what the candidate needed (votes), in what states he needed them, and in what amounts they were needed. A seeming replay of the 2000 election debacle, including exit polling discrepancies and widespread voting problems has, without any substantial media coverage, led to fully 20% of the American public being convinced the election lacked legitimacy, according to one poll. See Keith OlbermannÂs MSNBC blog. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6210240
The Problem Presented
Washington state recently had a historically close gubernatorial election, in which Democrat Christine Gregoire trailed Republican Dino Rossi by only 42 votes statewide after a machine recount, and a hand recount was then requested by Gregoire and the Democrats. In normally Democratic Snohomish County, Kerry had easily won the county (though the race against Bush was much narrower in election day touch screen voting), but in the governorÂs race, Republican Rossi defeated Gregoire in Snohomish County by over 6000 votes thanks to an election day touch screen landslide of over 8000 votes.
Thanks to mathematician Arlene Ash, we calculate that the chances that above 2/3 of the vote that is paper balloting would show a Democratic lead of 97044 to 95228 votes, while the remaining 1/3 of the vote on touch screens would show a Republican lead of almost 5% (50,400 Republican to 42,145 Democratic) resulting in an overall Republican win of over 6000 votes in Snohomish county as a result of voters randomly choosing whether to vote by paper ballot or by touch screen is one in 1,000 trillion! A true impossibility. ...
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
While Foulke is at least fairly well known in the workplace safety and health community (especially in Republican circles), Stickler's appointment, on the other hand, was met by a collective "Huh?" by both labor and management.Stickler has spent his career in the mining industry, mostly as a mine manager, and as Director of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Deep Mine Safety from 1997 to 2003. Stickler was head of the Bureau during the 2002 Quecreek Mine flood that trapped 9 miners who were eventually rescued.United Mineworkers spokesman Phil Smith emphasized the need for good communication between MSHA and the UMWA. Communication has been good between the UMWA and current acting Assistant Secretary David Dye, although they often don't see eye to eye. Smith urged the Senate to make sure that MSHA fulfills its mandate as a strong watchdog, especially with the current pressures for increased production and the retirement of experienced miners with inexperienced miners now doing more of the work.Some mine officials weren't quite as diplomatic, wondering where the hell they found this guy. Those who know him aren't expecting aggressive enforcement and express concern that he had spent two years working for a subsidiary of Massey Energy, which has been battling with the Mineworkers for years.
Mine Inspectors Questioned Administration’s Commitment To Mine Safety
...........The Labor Department denies that budget cuts and staff reductions under President Bush have hindered the ability of the department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration to ensure coal-mine safety. But Jack Spadaro, a former mine safety investigator, claims that mine inspectors raised concerns before Sago about the disastrous consequences that might result from the Labor Department’s unwillingness to enforce safety regulations:
Jack Spadaro, former director of the MSHA National Mine Safety Academy, said inspectors told him privately that Labor Department opposition to vigorous safety regulation has hindered their work.
“Two weeks before this explosion, I was told by an inspector, ‘Jack, there’s going to be another disaster because we can’t do our jobs,’ ” he said in an interview.
Monday, January 02, 2006
Is W losing the War on Weeds?
Bush begins year with political hangover
... GEORGE BUSH: As you can probably see, I was injured myself - not here at the hospital, but in combat with a... with a cedar. I eventually won. ...
From the NYT WeekInReview
... Orin S. Kerr, an associate professor of law at George Washington University and a former trial lawyer for computer crime cases in the Justice Department, said it was too soon to tell about the impact of the N.S.A. disclosures.
"There's a mixed set of reactions," Mr. Kerr said. "Some people think it's bad because there was a privacy violation. Some people think it's a good thing, even though it may be illegal. They're all over the map."
But a poll conducted for Mr. Ponemon last month may show that people hold different views on commercial and government privacy issues. Conducted after The New York Times revealed the N.S.A. surveillance, it suggested great concern. Of those polled, 88 percent expressed concern, and 54 percent said they were "very concerned," he said.
"It was, 'Wow,' " Mr. Ponemon said. The 88 percent figure was more than twice the level of concern of past studies he had seen of public attitudes toward commercial privacy breaches.
The reaction to the president's program could be cumulative, said Bob Barr, a former Republican congressman from Georgia who speaks out on civil liberties issues in alliance with conservative libertarian groups and the American Civil Liberties Union. When the privacy violations on the business side and those on the government side are taken into account, he said, "you get a truly frightening picture." ...
What's important, is the un-Constitutionally illegal spying on Americans, not who leaked it to the press.
The leaker is a HERO!
Bush and his pseudo-legal advisers are the CRIMINALS!
Sunday, January 01, 2006
Down on the Ranch, President Wages War on the Underbrush
Bush Conscripts Aides in Tireless Pursuit of Clearing Ground
By Lisa Rein - Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 31, 2005; Page A03
CRAWFORD, Tex., Dec. 30 -- On most of the 365 days he has enjoyed at his secluded ranch here, President Bush's idea of paradise is to hop in his white Ford pickup truck in jeans and work boots, drive to a stand of cedars, and whack the trees to the ground.If the soil is moist enough, he will light a match and burn the wood. ...
... As much as it is a metaphor for presidential vigor, Bush's preoccupation with wielding his chain saw has become fodder for bloggers and other critics who complain that he is isolated and disengaged. ...