Monday, July 31, 2006

Fidel Castro "Temporarily Relinquishes Power

The media reports that President Fidel Castro has "temporarily" reliquinshed power to his brother because of illness.

Specifically, MNSBC writes that Castro is undergoing an intestinal operation; rumors have been flying that Castro has been ill for quite some time.

Back in November, the CIA said Castro has Parkinson's disease; and the United States has been busy making plans for a post-Castro Cuba.

Is the end finally here?!? Will Howling Latina soon be able to travel to Cuba and visit with aunts and cousins who stayed behind?!? Well, at least HL doesn't have a Yankee accent and speaks her fifth grade Spanish like a native.

D-Day on Monday

D-Day for Delay came today.

The fifth Court of Appeals began to hear the case of the run-away cut-and-run candidate Tom DeLay and whether he'll just have to suck it up and run in Texas' 22nd District.

CQ reports that the legal shoot-out in New Orleans will determine "whether Tom DeLay — the former House majority leader who resigned from Congress under a cloud of ethics controversies June 9 — must remain on the ballot this November as the Republican nominee."

A lower court ruling has already said the Republican party cannot replace him; he can withdraw, but no other candidate can run as a Republican.

Texas law sets a rather high bar for replacing a candidate who has already been duly nominated, generally allowing it only if the candidate dies, suffers a debilitating illness or is declared “ineligible.”
The Houston Chronicle reports that questions from the judges do not bode well for GOP arguments on the matter.
A federal appeals panel indicated today that the ability of Republicans to replace former U.S. Rep. Tom Delay on the ballot rests on whether there was "conclusive" evidence that he had moved to Virginia.
And as Howling Latina earlier wrote two of the three justices who will hear the case were appointed by Democrats.

Judges Pete Benavides and Edith Clement noted that a candidate like DeLay could move back to Texas by election day and be eligible for office. They said the U.S. Constitution would prohibit a state party official from throwing a candidate off the ballot in such circumstances.

"How can it be conclusive if you can always change your voter registration," Clement asked.

Folks, Clements is the Republican appointee; and it gets even better.
At one point, Benavides also quipped: "I lost a campaign for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals when my opponent was in Europe, but he was still a resident of Texas."
Pull up a chair and feel free to drink an icy glass of schadenfreude.

Howling Latina Jumped the Gun

Howling Latina should not have jumped the gun; and she was wrong!

In an earlier post, HL wrote that an Ohio blogger forced viewers to register before they could read posts.

Well, HL was wrong. It appears that As Ohio Goes was having some kind of glitch; the blog DOES NOT require ANYONE to register to comment.

There is an e-mail listed on the blog, and in hindsight, HL should have written the site owner before she starting escoriating the site.

¡Ay, qué estúpida soy!

Wonky Numbers

Ben Tribbett of Not Larry Sabato reports that only 39 percent of African-Americans support Jim Webb for the Senate. Sixteen percent support Sen. George Allen and a whopping 45 percent are undecided.

Howling Latina decided to do a little late night math, just for fun; and here's what she came up with.

The African-American population in Virginia is approximately 20 percent; of course, not every person votes, so conservatively estimating that 15 percent of voters in November will be African-American, that's still a very sizable voting bloc.

Taking the 45 percent of undecideds (as illustrated by Raising Kaine) times the 15 percent of African-Americans who vote, and the total is an extra 7 percent for Webb (rounded-out).

Now, taking 7 percent times targeted ultimate percentage who vote for Webb of 80 percent, will give the Webb campaign an extra 6 percent.

Using the 20 percent of undecideds (as illustrated by Raising Kaine) times 15 of African-Americans already included in the earlier sample and you arrive with 17 percent undecided sample size who are not African American.

Taking the 17 percent of undecideds and multiplying times targeted conversion rate of 75 percent adds yet another 13 percent to Webb's total.

Finally, that's 32 percent who already support Webb + 6 percent from the undecided African American voters + 13 percent from the undecided who are not African American, and voila, you have a total of 51 percent who support Webb.

And folks, that's what Jim Webb has to do. Convert 75 percent of the undecideds who are not African-American and convert 80 percent of the African-American voters.

As RK noted, the undecideds know Allen very well; yet they ain't committing. This is not a good sign for Allen.

Howling Latina remembers when she phone banked for Jim Webb in the primary how African-Americans overwhelmingly told her they were uncommitted; but HL knew better; she knew these folks were voting for Harris Miller; and they did.

An uncommitted voter this late into Allen's Senate term means only one thing: all Webb needs to do is whisper sweet little truths about about Bush and Allen, and they're his for the TAKING.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

You're Blog Sucks....

Trolling through the internet, Howling Latina came across a post from an Ohio blogger on leftyblogs.

Thinking it might be an interesting read, HL clicked but alas, before she could read the post, she had to fill out this bullshit form.

And to add further injury to my wounded blogging spirit, even after HL had spewed out her life's history on the damn questionnaire, the frigging site still wouldn't let me read the post.

Thanks but no thanks, As Ohio Goes. It's bad enough you have to register to read the New York Times, Washington Post and others. But...when I gotta waste my precious time just to read a stupid post, take your blog and SHOVE IT!

Certainly, there are blogs that require viewers to register before they can comment. But please, please, let's not have blogging sites go the way As Ohio Goes.

Update: Apparently my title, "You're blog sucks has come under criticism; and understandably so. HL was trying to personify the blog owner; and let him or her know that it was truly too much of a pain in the ass to read posts for newcomers if everytime said person visited site, they had to register.

Lack of Representation for DC Residents Slammed by UN

Residents from the nation's capital have no member in Congress who exclusively represents their interests; and Reuters reports that the United Nations on Friday "urged U.S. lawmakers to give the District of Columbia a voting member of Congress."

The international body politic said that "the lack of such representation appeared inconsistent with international law."

The rebuke came in a report released by the committee in Geneva on Friday which said residents of the U.S. capital deserved to take part in government affairs directly or through freely chosen representatives under the 1992 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Indeed, before the twenty-first constitutional amendment was ratified in 1961, residents of the District of Columbia couldn't even vote for president; a recent campaign by DC residents with the catchy license plate phrase, "Taxation without representation" hopes to be able to mobilize national and international public opinion in support of representation.

The State party (the United States) should ensure the right of residents of the District of Columbia to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives, in particular with regard to the House of representatives," the panel said.

Rep. Tom Davis supports legislation that would create two new House seats, one for heavily Democratic DC and the other for Utah, "the largely Republican state that was next in line for a new seat based on 2000 Census Bureau data."

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a meeting on Sept. 14. Reuters reports the bill was earlier overwhelmingly endorsed by the House Government Reform Committee.

Hmmm, looks like all those license plates whirling around town to and fro might have received the intended national and international notice and support.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Jimmy McCain is Good News for Jim Webb

The news that Jimmie McCain joined the Marines is good news for Jim Webb; it brings to the forefront the huge difference between Chickenhawks and real fighting men.

Jimmie is the son of ’08 Republican presidential front-runner Sen. John McCain, another war hero.

As Howling Latina has previously noted, George Allen is a spineless cheerleader who never served a day in the military; sure, McCain supports the Iraqi war efforts, but at least McCain served his country and backs up his words with a son following his military footsteps with "birdie and ball."

Meanwhile, back at the dude ranch of virtual reality, Allen applauds the president's policy. Reminds HL of an old Spanish proverb, "The tongue moves easily 'cause it has no bone."

In other words, it's easy to echo stay the course meme as long as the brave men and women dying in a war are not related to you.

With Jimmie signing up, the spotlight will be on politicians who have family members in harm's way; and this includes Jim Webb.

And it will be interesting to see if McCain continues to support Bush's disastrous war policies that have killed 2,574 and cost billions and billions of dollars; it sure would be nice to have him join Webb and say, "NO, let's change course!"

A change of course might avert losing a son; and stave the affliction of contributing to his death and the death of thousands of other sons and daughters -- like poor Adm. Elmo Zumwalt Jr., in Vietnam -- to his heartbreak.

McCain's Son Joins Marines

The New York Times reports today that Sen. John McCain's youngest son, 18-year old Jimmy McCain "will spend three months in boot camp in California this autumn and another month in specialized training."

Well, that's what you call putting it on the LINE!

Depending on his unit, the younger McCain could eventually wind up in Iraq where Marines have experienced heavy fighting, Time reported. Marines are also in combat in Afghanistan.

``I'm obviously very proud of my son,'' McCain told Time, ''but also understandably a little nervous.''

Welcome to the real world; where the death toll in Iraq is 2,574, "including four Marines killed on Thursday."

Now let's see all, or even some of those Chickenhawks enlist or ask their sons and daughters to do so. Oh yea, and that especially includes the neocons with diarrhea of the spine.

Illegality Looking for a Law

Contrary to White House assurances that everything they did to enemy combatants was perfectly legal, it looks like the Bush administration is now scared of being charged in the future with war crimes.

The Washington Post reports that a “law approved by a Republican-controlled Congress a decade ago has made the Bush administration nervous that officials and troops involved in handling detainee matters might be accused of committing war crimes."

Hell, they ain't afraid of being accused, they're scared out their gore of being CONVICTED!

Maybe Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should have thought about that before his too-cute-by-half advice to start calling them enemy combants and do away with the Geneva Convention.

In light of a recent Supreme Court ruling that the international Conventions apply to the treatment of detainees in the terrorism fight, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has spoken privately with Republican lawmakers about the need for such "protections," according to someone who heard his remarks last week.

Oh, please give us a legal shield, anything but hold us accountable! Why laws are for everyone else but us (you know, the priviledged few).

But...with the latest flare-up in Lebanon, the on-going violence in Iraq and the surging insurgency in Afghanistan, Howling Latina wonders if Bush and Company are going to have enough time to whip up the needed votes before the fall elections to give them their precious shield.

I mean, why in God's green little acre would Democrats allow a vote on the Senate floor and give the White House legal shelter?

And it's not like the United States hasn't faced heavy-duty enemies before. If the U.S. was able to face down the Evil Empire during the last half of the 20th century, HL doesn't think they need to scrap the Geneva Convention for the latest enemy crew, just because Junior doesn't want to face the legal music.
"The military has lived with" the Geneva Conventions provisions "for 50 years and applied them to every conflict, even against irregular forces. Why are we suddenly afraid now about the vagueness of its terms?" asked Tom Malinowski, director of the Washington office of Human Rights Watch.
Indeed, the law was initially “intended…for use against future abusers of captured U.S. troops in countries such as Bosnia, El Salvador and Somalia.”
[T[he Pentagon supported making its provisions applicable to U.S. pesonnel because doing so set a high standard for others to follow. Mary DeRosa, a legal adviser at the National Security Council from 1997 to 2001, said the threat of sanctions in U.S. courts in fact helped deter senior officials from approving some questionable actions. She said the law is not an impediment in the terrorism fight.
Oh dear....looks like history and the pesky facts are against the criminal gang at the White House.

The Associated Press reports that Bush wants the power to hold any American "suspected of terror ties...indefinitely and barred from access to civilian courts under legislation proposed by the Bush administration."

Can you hear and see poor Lady Liberty crying?

"Meet the Press"

On Sunday, moderator Tim Russert will interview Israeli United Nations Ambassador Dan Gillerman and Nouhad Mahmoud, a special envoy of the Lebanese Foreign Ministry, to shed some light into the insoluble latest crisis in the Middle East.

Russert will also discuss violence in the Middle East with Tom Friedman, author of the best selling books, "The World is Flat" and "Beirut to Jerusalem."

Friedman spent six years in the Middle East as a correspondent with United Press International and then with the New York Times. He is now a widely read columnist with the New York Times and considered an expert in the Middle East.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Vote for Phil Kellam -- TODAY!

Howling Latina has been posting about the close race between Rep. Thelma Drake, R-Va., and Virginia Beach Commissioner of the Revenue Philip J. Kellam.

John Edwards, through his One America Committee, is asking Democrats to vote for two candidates who are running in targeted districts by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to decide which ones his PAC will headline in the fall.

Please, please vote for Kellam and a second candidate of your choice.

Howling Latina is torn between Keith Shuler, former Redskins quarterback, Nick Lampson, former congressman who is running in Tom DeLay's district; and fighting Dem Tammie Duckworth, running in former Judiciary Chairman Henry Hyde's district.

Voting ends on Friday, Aug. 4.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sorry Larry Sabato, but You're Wrong

NewsMax gleefully reports that Larry Sabato, political analyst and professor at the University of Virginia thinks the latest Middle East flare-up bodes well for GOP chances in the fall.

It's rally-around-the-president-during-times-of-national-crisis mentality that could stymie Democratic gains, according to Sabato.

In times of international tension and trouble, there is a natural focus on the White House, and President Bush has the security credentials to take advantage of this issue on behalf of his party. Whether Bush fully does so remains to be seen.
News about the Israeli conflict also sucks all the air out of any bad news from Iraq.
Were it not for the bombs falling on Beirut and the rockets raining down on Haifa, the carnage throughout Iraq would be leading the news. GOP candidates would surely suffer from the chaos, just as they have been doing for a year or more.
Well, Howling Latina agrees the Israeli attack on Lebanon has created a virtual "blackout" of other news, but from the poll HL posted a few days ago, Americans do not want the United States to become involved in the latest maelstrom.

Sabato acknowledges that "Democrats can also score points from the conflict...Any failures in American diplomacy can be attributed in part to the nation's costly commitment in Iraq."
"The final electoral truth is that the Middle East war would somehow have to help President Bush and the Republican Congress to climb out of the polling cellar in the time remaining before Americans stream to the polls."
Poll after poll consistently shows Iraq is the main issue on voter's mind; and irrespective of the 24/7 media coverage, no Americans are dying, no taxpayers $$$ is being squandered and if anything, the latest crisis shows that the road to peace in the Middle East through Baghdad is a dismal and costly administration policy FAILURE.

Update: Looks like Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post and others agree with Howling Latina.

Chief of Staff Sleeps on Capitol Floor

Rob Woodall, chief of staff to Republican Rep. John Linder of Georgia sleeps on the warm floor of the capitol whenever he is in town, reports Roll Call.
Woodall even has a blankie in his 5-by-10-foot space, a little mattress and other things to spruce it up and make it a little homier. As one source [wrote] in an e-mail, "You can see a towel drying, his foam cot and some personal items (including a large assortment of ties, and for some reason, a decorative throw pillow) in the space."
Woodall travels to Washington at least a couple of times a week and figures why waste taxpayers money when he can sleep in the capitol and shower and shave in the House gym?

In other news, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is quoted during yesterday's Senate debate on parental notification for minors by Roll Call as saying, "Condoms and teenagers work about 50 percent of the time, if you count all of the studies up." Roll Call observes that condoms actually work 97 percent of the time.

Finally, looks like Howling Latina wasn't the only person who thought Sen. Mike DeWine was the mystery senator in yesterday's Dana Milbank story.
Whodunit. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had a ball Tuesday guessing (or knowing, but going through the motions) exactly who was the mystery Republican Senate candidate featured in a Washington Post sketch who bashed just about every one of President Bush's policy decisions and said he would "probably not" want Dubya campaigning for him.
The DSCC fired off a couple of press releases initially pointing the finger at DeWine but then suspecting Sen. George Allen.

George Allen? No way. He's too much of Bush's boy and his future too directly linked to the White House; he would never, ever say anything critical about King George, especially since he wants to be crowned the next GOP presidential monarch.

Not Guilty!

A Texas jury found Andrea Yates not guilty of capital murder by reason of insanity. Four years ago, Yates had been found guilty of drowning her five children.

But Yates' prior prior conviction had been based on a forensic psychiatrist's false claim that Yates had been inspired by an episode on NBC "Law and Order" where a mother was acquitted for drowning her children by reason of insanity.

"Law and Order" never aired such a story plot; and attorneys for Yates successfully argued that bogus evidence had unduly influenced the prior jury panel; the conviction was overturned on appeal.

And after rehearing the evidence and deliberating for three days, jurors agreed with defense that Yates was insane, the Houston Chronicle reports.

The verdict upholding Yates' insanity defense comes after the jury deliberated more than 12 hours over three days. Yates appeared shocked and sat staring wide-eyed with her lips slightly parted as State District Judge Belinda Hill asked each juror individually shortly after noon today whether they agreed with the verdict.

The acquittal in Yates' second capital murder trial follows nearly a month's worth of exhaustive testimony, capped by four hours of emotional closing arguments Monday, during which Yates broke down in tears and her former husband, Russell Yates, abruptly left the courtroom.

The jury's verdict means Yates, 42, will be sent to a state mental hospital for treatment, rather than be sentenced to life in prison. "It's a miracle,'' Rusty Yats said afterward when asked his reaction.

Howling Latina previously posted about the trial and wondered whether Yates would receive a fair trial in Harris County.

Blessedly, the answer is "yes."

Indeed, the American criminal justice system doesn't need to punish people who have no more control over their mental constitution that any other health ailment.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Phony Cowboy and Phony Virginian

In an article by the Washington Times, Democratic Senate candidate Jim Webb was given a very favorable spotlight; and he was quoted with one of the best zingers of last Saturday's debate.

When talking about former-President Ronald Reagan and the Soviet Union in relationship to the disastrous war in Iraq and Bush's preemptive policy, Webb had this to say:
"Ronald Reagan didn't bring down the Soviet Union by invading Czechoslovakia," Mr. Webb said. "There are very few people in the Reagan administration who have in any way supported this administration's policies in terms of invading and occupying and placing our troops at risk in a place like Iraq."
The article proceeded to write several more lines and framed Webb's campaign as that of an independent war hero fighting for what he believes is right.

Kristian Denny Todd, a spokeswoman for Mr. Webb, said the decorated Vietnam War veteran did not agree with Mr. Reagan all the time, but that he admired Mr. Reagan's ability to end the Cold War without a bullet being fired. Mr. Webb resigned as Navy secretary after refusing to reduce the size of the Navy.

Robert Holsworth, dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University who served as moderator, told The Washington Times he was somewhat surprised by Mr. Webb's response.

But, he said Mr. Webb showed that he does not fit the normal political mold."Almost anyone involved in the political arena would point to John Kennedy or Harry Truman," Mr. Holsworth said.

"It really shows that Jim Webb obviously says what he thinks, and he doesn't put most of his statements through a political grinder before they come out."

And how did Allen's campaign manager, Dick Wadhams, respond to the favorable impression from someone who witnessed the debate?

By lamely labeling Webb's independence as an "identity crisis."

What an idiot; any nonpartisan reading the Times has to be delighted to find a politician who actually tells the truth, as he sees it; that's what people loved about Reagan, whether they agreed with him or not.

Let's face it, Webb is no canned politician; he is the antithesis to the phony cowboy personae from the sap who wishes he were from Iowa, North Carolina, California, Virginia, hell, wherever the audience is from.

You just know it tears at poor Allen's stone heart that Webb is not only the true patriot, but also the true Virginian, with roots that go back centuries.

Virginia values? What would Allen know! He's just a carpetbagging, phony cowboy with a football and a last name that means nothing to nobody; and when he accuses Webb of being a Hollywood elitist, hell, if anyone has a better claim to Hollywood, it would be guy who grew up within miles of Tinseltown; and that of course, would be Allen.


Howling Latina was punked by Dana Priest in a Washington Post article. Never, ever assume ANYTHING when reading a news story.

This morning, HL wrote about a Milbank column about a distraught Senate candidate who was lamenting his GOP brand; and immediately ass-u-med that the senator was running for reelection.

But alas, although the secret senator is indeed running for the Senate, not a darn thing in the story referred to a reelection fight, only a political brawl.

And yes, when referring to "Bush's low standing in his home state," Ohio applies, but so does Maryland and a few other states as well.

The secret is out; and the mystery senator is Republican Senate candidate Michael Steele of Maryland.

Sorry folks, HL gave you a bum steer; but Milbank did say the quoted senator was "immersed in one of the most competitive Senate races in the country," and right now things ain't looking too good for Steele or his former running mate, Gov. Bob Ehrlich.

Who is the Secret Senator?!?

The Washington Post wrote an article today about a GOP senator who laments Bush's wretched policies and record -- anonymously -- of course.

You see, he is running for reelection in one of the tightest races in '06 and needs the continued flow of $$$$, er, support, from the White House.

The Post gives readers a few hints as to the identity of the secret senator whose name would remain unspoken.

He does not support stem cell research, which eliminates Chafee; the race is extremely competitive, knocking out Santorum; supports a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning, opposes Bush's guest worker plan, wears a monogrammed shirt with French cuffs and matches cuff links to tie, is anxious about the Iraqi War, condemns Bush's response to Katrina and is quoted as saying:

On the Iraq war: "It didn't work. . . . We didn't prepare for the peace."

On the response to Hurricane Katrina: "A monumental failure of government."

On the national mood: "There's a palpable frustration right now in the country."


"We've lost our way, we've gone to the well and we drank the water, and we shouldn't have," he said of congressional Republicans. "You don't go to Congress to become the party that you've been fighting for 40 years." Lamenting "the spending, the finger-pointing, not getting the bills passed," he counseled: "Just shut up and get something done."

The senator's positions are too nuanced and cerebral, striking Allen and Talent.

Absolutely no discussion about corruption, strike Burns.

By the power of deduction, Howling Latina is confident that Sen. Mike DeWine of Ohio is the anonymous GQ senator quoted in the Post story.

Breaking News - Three-Judge Panel Named

Tom DeLay may have to run for Congress in the 22nd District, after all; and give up his life of leisure and riches in Virginia and California.

A three judge panel from the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit was named to rule on the merits of the run-away candidate; and whether the GOP can replace DeLay in November's ballot or be forced to stay the course with DeLay.

Two of the three judges named to hear the case were appointed by DeLay's nemesis, good ol' Slick Willie Clinton.

Oh what glorious irony. The ghost of Clinton reaching beyond political retirement and biting DeLay's Machiavellian fat ASS!

Via Musings, a Texas blogger, the hearing is set for July 31, and the three judges who will hear the evidence are Pedro Fortunato Benavides, James L. Dennis and Edith Brown Clement. Benavides and Dennis were appointed by Clinton and Clement was appointed by Junior.

Folks, can you hear the squealing, screeching and screaming all the way from Texas?!?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Shakira Coming to the District

Mega superstar Shakira is touring the United States this summer and will visit the nation's capital during her "Oral Fixation" tour of 23 cities, Hispanic PR Wire reports.

Howling Latina absolutely adores Shakira and her whirligig gyrations; she moves her body as if it were a rubber band; gosh that girl can DANCE!

HL just hopes they still have a couple of tickets for the show at the Verizon Center on Aug. 29.

The Columbian beauty of Lebanese parents starts her tour in El Paso on Aug. 9 and ends in McAllen, Texas on Sept. 25.

For dates, cities and venues, click here.

Shakira has also been in the news lately with her call "for a ceasefire to end the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon."

She said: "War is not the answer. War is not the solution to any conflict - not today, not in this century. I am sad, like the rest of the world is, to know that because of this conflict so many innocent mothers and children are dying.

"We want something better for the kids of the world. We don't need leaders that create more divisions and resentment and more hatred. We need leaders that care about the people."

Sounds like the sexy lady is not only talented but has a few brain cells as well; and all the more reason to buy a ticket to see her concert, if she's not already sold out.

Update: Tickets are still available through TicketMaster as of this morning.

U.S. Gas Prices Near Highest Ever

Even though U.S. gas prices have reached near record level, don't pay attention to your vanishing bank account, Vice President Cheney thinks recent events in the Middle East are good for Republicans, so be sure to vote for GOPers in November so the good times can keep on rolling.

The Associated Press reports:
Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday pointed to the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah as fresh evidence of the ongoing battle against terrorism that underscores the need to keep President Bush's Republican allies in control of Congress.
Can you believe the huge huevos of this hombre?!?

Cheney said that as Republicans make their case to voters in the midterm elections, "it's vital that we keep issues of national security at the top of the agenda." He faulted Democrats in Congress who have pushed for a timetable for withdrawing Americans from Iraq, saying that would send the wrong message to terrorists.

"If anyone thinks the conflict is over or soon to be over, all they have to do is look at what's happening in the Middle East today," he said.

You ain't telling Noah about the flood, we've got eyes and ears and can read and hear the horrific news.

But...whatever happened to the terrorists being on the last throes of defeat?!? Guess with the overwhelming violence across TV-land the lying canard had to be discarded.

Oh please bring back even the most venal, incompetent Democrat; anyone. These lethal fools are dead serious about our future and our children's future. Death and destruction to all!

Ha, HA, HA, HA, HA [deafening loud evil laugh]

Bestest Friends - Mehlman and Reed

When Ralph Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition and darling of the Christian right-wing, Abramoff accomplice and GOP operative extraordinaire lost his primary bid to be the GOP lieutenant governor candidate in Georgia, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman sent him a love note to hearten his spirits.

In a New York Times article, Mehlman is quoted as saying that he was still "sticking by Mr. Reed."

In an e-mail message, [Mehlman] said Mr. Reed had “played a vital role” in building the party's grass-roots networks in Georgia and around the country. He added, “I look forward to continuing to work with him and value his friendship.”

Well, birds of a feather, flock together; let's hope this lovely pair as a couple does not make a political comeback. (Hmmm, is there a Mrs. Ralph Reed? Or is he the single stud-about town, like Mr. Mehlman?)

Back in the 70s when Republicans were in the political basement, Darth Cheney and his cabal of evildoers plotted, schemed and planned their resurgence, which thanks to Nancy Reagan, delayed their triumphant return to power for at least 15 years.

But oh yea, Ollie is now on Fox, obliviating about honor and courage; Liddy advising the fearless denizens on ways to nail the bad guys with firepower; Rumsfeld quietly abetting Cheney's lust for absolute power; Cheney giving the calming kool-aid to junior to keep him quiet as the world becomes his pawn in a fireball game of chess.

Mr. Reed is the latest disgraced Republican from a long line of shameless brethren; but there should be no room in politics for his ilk, and yes, that includes the GOP, irrespective of how well Reed can "craft a message for religious conservatives" (which we've learned was nothing more than blasphemous hogwash, the phony hypocrite).

Sorry Neocons, Americans Do Not Want War

In the latest SurveyUSA poll, a majority of Americans indicated that they do not want the United States to get involved in the Middle East crisis between Israel and Lebanon.

When Americans were asked if they wanted our military to get involved in the conflict, a whopping 87 percent said the military should stay out of it, with only 10 percent calling for military action and 4 percent saying they were not sure.

Now, Howling Latina realizes the total adds to more than 100 percent; but hey, HL is just the messenger reporting figures as they were posted by SurveyUSA.

Maybe a problem in rounding out?!?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Intellectual Honesty of Jim Webb

Even though Howling Latina is far from a fair broker when weighing in about the Senate race in Virginia and anything having to do with Darth-Allen or Wonderful Webb, the Roanoke Times did an excellent job presenting the facts to readers without media spin or candidate bias, which of course, helped Webb since he is by a zillion suns more qualified than Allen.

U.S. Sen. George Allen and Democratic challenger James Webb sparred over the war in Iraq, economic policies and stem cell research Saturday during their first face-to-face debate of the 2006 campaign.

Allen, the Republican incumbent and former governor, repeatedly emphasized his experience in public office and his familiarity with Virginia issues. He tried to underscore that point midway through the debate when he quizzed Webb about plans to expand the Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area in Portsmouth and possibly develop a marine cargo terminal there. Webb acknowledged that he didn't know anything about the project, prompting Allen to claim after the debate that Webb "is not conversant on the important issues."

Webb later dismissed the flap as "a gotcha question" and rejected suggestions that it exposed a weakness in his candidacy.

Like the cheating rascal who peeks over the smartest kid's shoulder, copies the answers and then brags about how smart he is when he gets an A, Allen had his "gotcha moment," but Roanoke-Times wasn't impressed.

Of course Allen knew the answer to his own question; the goober smarty-pants had his staff prep him on the issue beforehand.

But Webb had the absolute perfect comeback with his simple and honest answer. "I don't know, tell me about it."

I mean, couldn't Virginians use less certainty from their leaders after the haughty crowd in charge guaranteed certitude but was dead wrong about every assumption under the sun?!?

And doesn't it bode well that Webb has the self-assurance to humble himself before thousands and admit he didn't have all the answers but welcomes knowledge, even from his opponent?!?

For Webb, the ever consummate author and reader, knowledge is power; and if Allen has information that is not only useful for future talking points or campaign commercials, but also addresses issues of import to his would-be constituents, oh yea, baby, tell me all about it, is Webb's hungry-for-knowledge attitude.

No rubber-stamper; and with more intellectual curiosity in his pinkie than Allen's entire phony pompous head; a man of honor looking to serve his country and ALWAYS WILLING TO LEARN.

As the great philosopher Aristotle is quoting saying, "A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool."

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Daily Press vs. Washington Post

If the Washington Post is the nation's leading news source for Congress, including Senate and House races, please give me a small, no-name state newspaper over the overrated Post any day.

In reporting the debate on Saturday between Sen. George Allen and Jim Webb, the Post reported a few zingers by Allen, which Webb zapped and put in their respective meaningless place.

For example, here's the Washington Post noting how Allen supposedly "embarrassed Jim Webb" because he didn't know about some proposed Hampton Roads project that honestly, unless you live in the immediate area, you probably would have no reason to know about, unless of course, you already represent the area as senator.

A half-hour into the debate, Allen caught the challenger off guard by asking him a question that forced Webb to admit he was unfamiliar with Portsmouth's Craney Island, which consists of dredged material that officials hope to turn into a cargo terminal.

"Craney Island is in Virginia," said Allen, who then lectured Webb about the site. "I got it, George. I got it, George," Webb responded.

Here is what the Daily Press had to say about the same subject, an obvious more nuanced take:

Allen asked Webb to elaborate on his ideas for the proper use of the 2,500-acre manmade peninsula in Portsmouth created from mud dredged from the Elizabeth River ship channel.

Webb paused an uncomfortable moment. "I'm not sure I know where Craney Island is," he conceded. "Why don't you tell me."

"Craney Island's in Virginia," Allen replied, affecting an exasperated look as he schooled Webb on the history of the site and why it's important now. Congress is considering an expansion of the site to accommodate a major international terminal that could create thousands of jobs in Hampton Roads.

Afterward, Webb dismissed Allen's question as "a classic debate-prep thing, to find one sentence and throw it out."

Hell, you don't even have to read the stories, just the ledes will do. Here is the lede by the Washington Post: "It's 'Virginia Values' vs. 'Fresh Eyes.'"

And here's the lede by the Daily Press: "Allen says his record is plus; Webb says it's the problem."

Now, the Daily Press did not mention Allen's evil attempt to try to frame Webb as a Hollywood liberal; but the Post did, and here's what they had to say:
During the debate, Allen tried to needle Webb, a novelist who has also worked on feature films in Hollywood. Allen spoke of pursuing "Virginia values" instead of "Hollywood values" and made several references to Webb's writing career.
But if a newspaper is going to mention an incident, shouldn't they tell the whole 'frigging' story, for Pete's sake?

Per Raising Kaine, Webb came back with a wallop that sailed right out of the ballpark. "Calling me a Hollywood liberal; was Ronald Reagan a Hollywood liberal," he asked?

Yes, George, you're not only a phony cowboy, but you're also a phony conservative.

Dear readers, whoever you may be, please read the full Daily Press story; more actual quotes, less biased analysis; it's the only way you can have a full sense of what went on in Hot Springs until the video comes out.

A Crime Story

Whatever happened to Charlton E. "Charlie" Gnadt Jr., that moral pillar of rectitude who was sentenced to jail for three months for fondling a hapless prisoner?!?

Mr. Gnadt worked as assistant commonwealth attorney in Prince William County where he often escorted shackled prisoners into court.

Well, Gnadt got caught with his hands in the cookie jar, sort've speak, taking sexual liberties with an Army medic, allegedly looking for "hidden weapons inside his trousers."

Back in February 1996, Gnadt was convicted of "sexual battery" but the verdict was overturned on appeal to the lesser charge of "assault and battery." Gnadt was then sentenced to 12 months in prison with nine months suspended.

The Washington Post reported in 1996:

Gnadt, 48, did not take the stand in his trial, in Prince William County General District Court. But his former boss, Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert, testified that Gnadt admitted to the crime in his office several days after it happened."

He said, 'It was stupid of me. I don't know why I did it.' He said, 'Please don't fire me,' " Ebert testified. "I said, 'How many times has this happened?' and he said two or three. I said, 'Could it have been three or four?' and he said yes."

A U.S. District Court jury awarded the Army medic $165,000; but with the new finding, Gnadt avoided the heavy burden and shame of registering as a sex offender.

That was still not good enough for Gnadt, though; he wanted the guilty verdict stricken from his record and appealed the decision to Virginia's highest court.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's finding in Gnadt v. Commonwealth on April 14, 1998. Too bad it didn't also repeal the District Court's finding and go back to the initial trial court's ruling, "guilty of sexual battery." As it is, Gnadt is who knows where preying on innocent folks.

Update: Jaded JD pointed out that Virginia's highest court is the Supreme Court. HL should have said the appeal was to the next highest court. Sorry:( hopefully clarify the series of events, here's what happened. Gnadt was found guilty in District Court. He appealed and had the initial verdict changed by Prince William Circuit Court Judge Thomas A. Fortkort from "sexual battery" to "assault and battery." He then appealed to Virginia Court of Appeals, which affirmed the lower court ruling.

Praise a Few Good Baptists

After steadily watching the Southern Baptist Church deteriorate from Roger Williams' initial vision of a Holy Spirit led flock into a church of ever-increasing canons of "indoctrination," Baptist colleges are disaffiliating from the main church.

The New York Times reports today that "a half-dozen colleges and universities...with [ties to] state Baptist conventions" have elected to terminate their relationship during the last four years.

According to the story, this estrangement is "part of a broad realignment in which more than a dozen Southern Baptist universities, including Wake Forest and Furman...ended affiliations over the last two decades." To illustrate:

Rev. Hershael W. York, then the president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention...asked Georgetown College, a small Baptist liberal arts consider hiring for its religion department someone who would teach a literal interpretation of the Bible.

But to William H. Crouch Jr., the president of Georgetown, it was among the last straws in a struggle that had involved issues like who could be on the board of trustees and whether the college encouraged enough freedom of inquiry to qualify for a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

Indeed, ever since the early 90s when the fundamentalists won the fight with moderates within the Southern Baptist Convention, more than a few individual churches opted to follow their own paths to God while paying mere lip service to the central congregational body by way of dues.

People may not realize that Baptist preachers are often more progressive than their congregation. Thus it is not incongruous for Howling Latina to prefer to do her worshipping in a Southern Baptist venue, with spirit-led worship services and powerful message. Each person is nudged by the Holy Ghost in accordance to God's will and for now, it is where HL's soul finds comfort.

A few weeks ago, Moral Contradictions wrote an excellent post with comments on the subject; prompted by the new election of Frank Page as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The New York Times notes in their article that Page "promised to be 'a big-tent conservative' and defeated candidates supported by the convention’s establishment." Paige won in the first ballot. MC wrote Page's victory was attributed to bloggers.

Well, with the increasingly rising stars of Sens. John Edwards and Lindsey Graham, both of North Carolina and Dr. Page's initial roots in the Palmetto State, maybe there is a little more to the conservative brand in South Carolina that even a raging liberal like HL might find something to like, now and then.

Friday, July 21, 2006

State of Electronic Security is Not Good

The Election Assistance Commission created by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 is failing to safeguard the integrity of our electoral process.

Roll Call reported yesterday that expert witnesses testified they have little confidence in electronic voting.

David Wagner, an expert on security and electronic voting and professor of computer science at the University of California at Berkeley, said the EAC ...needs to go even further than creating these system guidelines. There are effective security measures available, he said, which many states do not implement.

"Today, the state of electronic voting security is not good," he said. "The most effective defense involves adoption of voter-verified paper records and mandatory manual audits of these records."

The purpose of a House hearing was to learn if the Voluntary Voting Systems Guidelines mandated by the 2002 legislation was comprehensive enough "to ensure security in our election systems."

Roll Call notes, however, that "almost every question and response made reference to the need for a form of voter verification when using electronic voting machines."

Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., called for Congress to require that "all voting machines...create a voter-verified paper trail" during a pre-hearing press conference.

Howling Latina has absolutely no confidence that e-voting accurately records votes; and wonders if that GOP snake running for governor in Ohio along with other GOPers who are behind the polls pull out inexplicable victories, folks will finally wizen up.

The election system is rigged and has been rigged since 2002 when Republicans starting miraculously winning races after exit polls showed Democrats had actually won.

Growing Dowtown Pot Plant

Oh my...

The Associated Press via Fark reports that an Indiana town had a healthy 3-foot pot plant growing right under the eyes and nose of everyone.

Yep, the cannabis plant was "growing in a brick planter along a downtown sidewalk" in LaPorte, Indiana.
Chief of Detectives Adam Klimczak said the marijuana was likely planted on purpose.
What great beagle detective work, you think...?
Dave Sanderson, president of the Business Improvement District, which finds volunteers to maintain the planters, suspected the marijuana was planted as a joke and said the volunteers were unlikely to have noticed it. ''I wouldn't know a marijuana plant from a dandelion,'' he said. ''I'm not sure if they would either.''
Hmmm, wonder if the spirit of volunteerism jumped during the last few months; just asking.

Vote for Jim Webb TODAY!

If you haven't already done so, please take a minute and vote for Jim Webb in Sen. Barbara Boxer of California's, Pac for Change. The online polls will close at midnight tonight.

Current vote leaders as of 10 a.m., today:
Bob Casey (PA) 22%
Claire McCaskill (MO) 18%
Sherrod Brown (OH) 11%
Barbara Ann Radnofsky (TX) 11%
Amy Klobuchar (MN) 10%
Pete Ashdown (UT) 8%
Jim Webb (VA) 7%
Erik Fleming (MS) 4%
Hurry and vote, please!

Debate update: The Webb campaign will try to live-blog the debate between Allen and Webb this Saturday; unfortunately, it is not going to be aired or televised.

Look for it at the Webb for Senate blog shortly after the debate begins around 10:00 a.m.

"Meet the Press"

This coming Sunday, moderator Tim Russert will interview White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten.

Russert will ask questions regarding the heated violence in the Middle East, the president's first-ever veto this week on stem-cell research and White House priorities for the rest of the year (and before the ever-important November elections).

Russert's second guest will be Washington Post's senior military correspondent and author of a new book, "Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq."

Tom Ricks will discuss how the United States strategically screwed up the war in Iraq.

Finally, "Meet the Press" will look back at the first White House chief of staff to ever appear on their show nearly half a century ago.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Richmond Times-Dispatch Gags Employees

The Richmond Times-Dispatch has a lovely rule; no employee may speak to a journalist from another newspaper or media organization without prior approval.

Editor and Publisher notes that an attorney for the "newsroom employees union" is thinking of challenging this unsavory edict in court.

"Legally, it could be challenged because it is too broad," said Jay. J. Levit, attorney for the Richmond Newspapers Professional Association. "It doesn't make any distinction as to whether the reporter [wishing to speak to the media] holds union office. The union has a right to communicate to the outside world. We are looking into whether there are any legal ramifications."
Ay, Dios Mio, what is it about GOP loving minions and backers that hate America's freedom.

Nah, perish the thought; you see, it's about message control.
Publisher Tom Silvestri defended the policy, saying it is no different than those at other companies who are seeking to "establish rules of communication."
The ruckus started when an alternative newspaper in Richmond, The Style Weekly, chronicled dissent in the newsroom since Silvestri and executive editor Glenn Proctor were hired.

Guess it's time for reporters to wear tape over their mouth and hit the streets ALA reporters at Santa Barbara News Press in California.

Stop Your Blabbing and Do Something!

Sen. George Felix Allen posted on his Web site that he is deeply concerned about Americans stranded in Lebanon.

Hey, goober, it is White House policies in the Middle East that have gotten the world into this unholy mess; and as every nation immediately went into alert to escort their citizens to safety, Bush was too busy giving unwanted back rubs to the German chancellor and worrying about the swiftest route home to give the thousands of poor saps stuck in Lebanon any thought.

The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. So when asked about the boiling Middle East, and what the United States should do about it, Allen spouts a Bush talking point, of course.
"Any country, particularly Israel, has the right to defend itself and to protect its citizens as we do," Sen. George Allen, R-Va., said in the Fox interview.
Hell, even Sen. Trent Lott at least offers some intelligent thought on the subject.

Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., agreed [with Democrats] that there was a need for hands-on diplomacy."

At some point, I would suspect that high-level people would be going in there. Some are already going in," Lott said on CNN's "Late Edition."

Hmmm, Howling Latina sees there are no upcoming events listed on Junior's site (yep, another junior with a smiley cowboy face and straw for a brain).

Hopefully, Allen's brushing up on his current events and how to answer the onslaught of questions about what he's been up to for the last 5 1/2 years as soldiers died, GOPers lied, American world opinion plummeted, the administration circumvented the law, deficits skyrocketed, wages stagnated, college tuition went up as the federal government raised student loan interest rates for the middle class, and his brethren in Congress failed to hold one single person accountable,

Gotta give it to Felix, though; straight out of the Rove playbook of making your weakness your strong point, Allen has the cheek to post on his Web site that he's been fighting, yes, fighting for the renewal of the Voting Rights Act.

Guess on an election year, a pesky 20 percent African-American constituency would give a well-documented racist gamy pause.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Latest SurveyUSA Presidential Numbers

Well, so much for the media story thread of Bush on the come-back trail.

In the latest SurveyUSA poll, President Bush's approval numbers remain stuck at 37 percent; his numbers are in the black in only three states: Utah, Idaho and Wyoming (barely), for a measly 46 electoral votes if elections were held today.

The SurveyUSA poll numbers show Virginians are slightly happier with Bush in July that they were in June, 43 percent versus 40 percent.

Bush lost 2 points in his home state of Texas, with a 49 percent approval rate, 3 points in the battleground state of Ohio, with a 33 percent approval rate and a whopping 5 percent in Alabama, with a 46 percent approval rate.

In Virginia, 55 percent of Independents disapprove of Bush, 88 percent of Democrats also disapprove, while 77 percent of Republicans think Bush is doing a marvelous job.

Bush's strongest support comes from the Shenandoah and southeast regions of the commonwealth with a 45 percent approval rate; and his lowest support comes from the northeast with a 41 percent approval rate with central Virginia trailing a mere point behind.

Howling Latina notes what others may already know, blue-leaning northeast offsets red-leaning Shenandoah and southeast with central Virginia the bellwether region.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Illegal Allen

The Fauquier County fair is history, but a huge ugly 'Allen for Senate' sign is now up on Meetze Road right outside Warrenton.

Now, Virginia laws says that campaign signs may not be displayed earlier than 90 days before election, and they must be removed no later than 10 days afterwards.

Folks, Election Day ain't until November 7, almost four months away; so what the hell is this illegal sign doing up by the side of a road?

To add salt to the offending wound, after Fauquier County explicitly told booth sponsors to be sure not to take their tents down before the fair closed at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, the GOP gang closed up shop almost an hour before closing.

Their tent had been neatly packed and was gone minutes after 5:00 o'clock.

Hmmm, so much for Republicans as the party of blessed rules; they obviously think rules only apply to others.

From the latest dissembling by UN Ambassador John Bolton as to why it's okay for Israel to kill civilians to Bush's gyrating talking points in the lead-up to the Iraqi War; and everything in between under the sun (hat tip to NIV and Ecclesiastes).

Monday, July 17, 2006

Israeli Police Arrest Al-Jazeera Chief for Second Time

Fox News reports that Israeli police have arrested Jerusalem's Al-Jazeera chief for the second time.

Walid Al Omari was questioned for several hours about issues related to Israeli military censorship rules, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Al Omari was released without being charged.
This dastardly act against the free press is inexcusable. Imagine the Bush administration arresting Leonard Downie, executive editor of the Washington Post; or better yet, Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor, warmonger and media whore.

Fox reports that Israel detained Al Omari for several hours last Sunday as well.

Frigging unbelievable!

Frank Wolf Hates His Constituents

Together with fellow congressional GOPers Randy Forbes, Virgil Goode, Bob Goodlatte and Eric Cantor, Frank Wolf voted to strip mostly Latinos of bilingual voting ballots and language aid.

The final roll call via Latino Pundit shows that 181 Republicans voted "aye," with Wolf joining the gamy gang.

The Neanderthal who offered this ghastly bill was Rep. Steve King of Iowa; and here is one of his lying reasons why bilingual ballots should not be made available via Americablog.

Mr. Speaker, there is no excuse for producing multi-lingual ballots of any kind here in America. There is a requirement when you are a naturalized citizen that you demonstrate proficiency in English. And so therefore if you come into this
country legally and you acquire citizenship, which is a requirement for voting in America, you will have been required to demonstrate proficiency and literacy in English.
A bald-faced lie since legal residents of more than 20 years and over the age of 50 can take the citizenship exam in their own native language, as can those 55 years or older who've been permanent residents for 15 years or more.

So let's see, the 10th District encompasses parts of Fairfax County with a 27.0 percent minority population; Loudoun County with a 20 percent minority population; Clarke County with a 7.4 percent minority population; part of Fauquier County with 11.3 percent minority population; and a tiny sliver of Prince William County with a 29 percent minority population.

It also includes the cities of Sterling, McLean, Chantilly, Manassas, Manassas Park, Winchester and Front Royal.

When combining total population in the cities of Manassas, Manassas Park, Winchester and Front Royal, the minority population is approximately 16.7 percent.

Howling Latina suspects the over-all demographics of Sterling, McLean and Chantilly mirror those of the rest of Fairfax County; no separate figures were readily available from the Census Bureau.

Only four Democrats voted with Republicans for the King amendment: one-term Congressman John Barrow of Georgia who is in a tough reelection race (a flip-flopping liberal, according to his opponent); Tim Holden of Pennsylvania from a crimson red district; Collin Peterson of Minnesota (another endangered Democrat from a rural district in a tough race) and Gene Taylor of Mississippi (enough said).

HL would also like to point out that 10th District voters supported Gov. Tim McCain during last year's election.

So if Feder and other Northern Virginia Democrats can game Wolf and remind Hispanic constituents how Wolf and other Republicans tried to restrict the Voting Rights Act for naturalized citizens, it could well make a sizable dent in George Allen's cash advantage over Jim Webb in the area; and make the difference in their own races as well, a win-win for all!

Phony Allen Baloney

After reading a Washington Post article yesterday morning about how the youth vote could be the deciding factor in this year’s fall election, Howling Latina had a duh moment when she glanced at a Daily Press story about Sen. George Felix Allen’s sudden interest in students, or at least their parents.

That’s right, inspired by Virginia’s rich history, Allen kicked off a high-school writing contest with all the hype and backdrop equal only to Dubya’s "Mission Accomplished" dissembling of three years ago.

The Daily Progress writes:
Allen was the center of attention Saturday as he stood in front of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home and kicked off an essay and poetry contest aimed at energizing high school students to learn more about their Virginia heritage.
The catchy phrased 'Know Your History, Know Your Story' essay and poetry contest asks students to talk about past Virginia presidents or historic locations and what they mean to them in relationship to their ethnic background and core “principles and doctrines.”

“Some of the folks who have been here, though, even on these grounds here at Monticello, have been forgotten. … These folks are going to be rediscovered …and the story of their lives will be retold again.”
Let us hope more than a few brave souls dare express in prose the pain and sorrow linked to Virginia's unheroic and shameful Dixie past; and yes, this should include the torment some students may have felt in more recent history when faced with stubborn remnants of good ol' Jim Crow.

Allen apparently hopes minorities forget how he opposed the Martin Luther King Holiday; and his days as governor where the Confederate flag draped his office; and oh, his lovely noose. But never mind, forget his bigoted past. Allen is a born-again civil-rights bleeding-heart.
“We ought to respectfully acknowledge the contributions of many African-Americans who lived and worked here [at Monticello] and also in the nearby communities,” he said. “Their labor, and indeed their lives, were vital to the creation and the building and the survival of Virginia and America. Their story has not often been told because it has been in many ways a painful story. … But it is the story of survival, of personal perseverance.”
Providentially, the contest is sponsored by Soul of Virginia magazine, not the phony cowboy senator with fake guilt whose goal is to wipe out any memory of past sins. The contest sponsors hope to bring "diverse voices" to the dialogue of Virginia's history.

In that spirit, those who represent Soul of Virginia magazine hope to generate a cross-section of essays and poems from students of many different backgrounds throughout the state.

“I think it’s almost a history of omission,” said Russell Hopson, a former public-school teacher in Yorktown who will be a judge in the contest. “Black people need to know they are co-equals in this history. This conversation needs to take place.”

Well, maybe Allen has had a change of heart and at long last discarded his precious Confederate flag lapel from his rebel high school days.

In the meantime back in our reality based universe, dear senator, can you please explain to Virginians why you voted to increase the cost of higher education for poor students while backing humongous tax cuts for the insanely rich?!?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

GOP Law Breakers

Yes, the Republican Party broke the law in Fauquier County.

Just as folks were traveling on Metz Road to turn off to go to the Fauquier County Fair, lo and behold, signs for George Allen were illegally sitting by the side of the road.

As a person who rabidly hopes that people who tout the "rule of law" follow their words with deeds, Howling Latina called the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Of course, the office was closed during the weekend; how convenient for the GOPers.

One noteworthy thing about the illegal George Allen signs; they were blue, the color used by Democrats.

Could George Allen be running away from the distinctive mark of the beast, crimson red?!? Huge hat tip to Shawn O'Donnell's Web site for pointing out that Davis and Allen have turned blue, or at least their signs have.

Not So Fast, Let's Rejoice in the Moment

The Virginian-Pilot ran a self-directed Webb-Allen poll. Howling Latina often blogs at The Virginia Progressive and directed readers to the poll in a post.

As of the wee-morning hours on Saturday, Allen was leading by 7 points. As of midnight the same day, Webb was leading by 7 points.

More than a few commentators dismissed the poll as essentially meaningless. But...not so fast, folks. Let's rejoice in the moment!

Now, the reason HL found the poll interesting is that in the early morning hours, the poll likely reflected where Webb and Allen stood in the numbers game. The poll was barely a few hours old, with little, if any time for Democrats to fire up interest and direct people to the poll; the votes mirrored the over-all numbers in a random sample of Web site visitors.

Interestingly, Mosquito from the comment section wrote that as of 9:15 a.m., Webb led Allen by 7 percent, exactly where Webb stood at the end of the day, which can only mean one thing, Webb supporters showed up.

And...isn't it just as likely that Webb supporters who are more energized will remain more energized and show up in November?

Yes, HL knows some people vote in every election as their civic duty by party line, even if they don't know a damn thing about the issues; and a computer savvy sample hardly represents the over-all population.

But still, the poll is a very favorable sign; for nearly 24-hours, Jim Webb held a 7 percent lead over Allen, and Allen just might have to spend another $1.7 million to further burnish his image.

One final thought on the poll: the number of participants as of midnight was 1262. During the last week of various polls by The Virginian-Pilot, the Senate race garnered the most votes. The gamut ran from NASCAR to border duty by the National Guard.

It's early July, but Virginians are paying attention.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

"Meet the Press"

Yikes, last week Howling Latina was on vacation and failed to write her weekly "Meet the Press" post; and this week, she's late and nearly forgot.

Here's the scoop for tomorrow's show. Tim Russert will do a joint interview with Sen. Joe Biden, D-DE., ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee and Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House.

No doubt, the topic will be the Middle East flare-up; and exactly what the United States can do about it.

Russert will wrap up the show with Robert Novak as his final guest, the journalist leaker extraordaire. Let's hope Russert is as tough with Novak as he is with his Democratic guests on the show.

Finally, "Meet the Press" will be shown at its regular time this Sunday, 10:30 a.m.

Happy viewing!

Latest Members of the Axis of Blue

Equal to Northern Virginia, are the exurbs now becoming members of the axis of blue?!?

During the last few weeks, The Free-Lance Star published four letters from readers about the upcoming Senate race between Sen. George Felix Allen and challenger Jim Webb.

The first letter was written by a Republican voter who has only twice voted for a Democrat during his entire life: John Kennedy in 1960 and Jimmy Carter in 1976. In his letter, the male reader notes that Allen “has abandoned middle-class Americans.”

Actually, Allen never gave a rat’s butt, just pretended to; now, folks have started to wizen up to his smiley fake cowboy poke act.

The second letter was from the vice-chairman of the Fredericksburg Republican Committee; and surprise, Dennis Lister is supporting Goober George!

The third letter was from a self-described “lifelong Republican.” She writes:
For many years, Republicans stood for fiscal responsibility and personal rights--keeping government out of our lives and homes.

To me, this current congressional stance and that of Sen. Allen, along with the debacle of Iraq, is immoral and dishonest. It threatens the future of our children.

And the final letter is from the guy who started the dialogue rolling with his “Adieu, Sen. Allen, for you no longer represent me” slap in the face.

This time around, Rex A. Hoover from Sumerduck of Fauquier County simply restates his commitment to Webb. He believes the former war hero, Navy secretary, famous author, prescient journalist and all-around great guy is the candidate who “will work toward rebuilding a sound American economy.” Not just for corporate fat cats, like most GOPers, and certainly true of Allen.

That's three letters from private citizens for Webb and one letter from a party hack for Allen.

Geez, with all the good press by the local Fredericksburg newspaper, Howling Latina thinks she’ll drop a line or two on behalf of Democratic House candidate for the 1st District, Shawn O’Donnell; and to anyone who wants to join in the fun, please feel free to do so as well.

Friday, July 14, 2006

First Webb and Allen Debate

The Associated Press News Calendar via reports the first debate between Sen. George Allen and Democratic challenger Jim Webb will be in Hot Springs, Virginia on July 22.

The two were previous guests on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on July 9, although each was interviewed separately.

In other Webb news, the Free-Lance Star in Fredericksburg publishes yet another letter from former GOPer and Webb supporter, Rex A. Hoover who writes:

This is what concerns me: our dependence on foreign oil, our loss of more than 2.5 million manufacturing jobs and more than 850,000 professional-service and information-sector jobs since 2001, the predicted loss of an additional 3.4 million white-collar jobs and $136 billion in wages overseas by 2015, and a national energy policy that ignores huge subsidies for rich oil companies while noting the need for rebuilding their neglected infrastructure without recommending who should pay for it.
George Felix Allen's rubber stamp support of an energy bill essentially written by the oil industry doesn't exactly sit well with Hoover.
While I don't trivialize things like marriage-tax penalties, tax moratoriums on the Internet, and a host of things that I think of as lifestyle issues, our national economic future is in peril.

If you don't have a job, tax relief isn't of any value to you.
And if the person running had the foresight to warn against a disastrous preemptive war that the incumbent supported and continues to support in spite of huge financial cost and loss of lives, limbs, honor and friends, all the more reason to vote for Jim Webb.

Update: The Webb campaign will try to live-blog the debate between Allen and Webb this Saturday; unfortunately, it is not going to be aired or televised; look for it at the Webb for Senate blog shortly after the debate begins around 10:00 a.m.

Put On Your Rapture Helmets

Contrary to the rosy picture sold to Congress when they stupidly gave Bush authority to invade Iraq, the Middle East picture is a thousand times more dangerous today than in more than two decades.

In a perpetual cycle of violence, Israel and Palestinians have been fighting on and off forever. But not since the Middle East erupted into war between Lebanon and Israel has the world seen such large-scale violence as in the last few weeks.

The latest warfare began when Palestinian militants killed two Israeli soldiers, kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Shalit and then demanded Israel release all Palestinian prisoners. Israel responded by sending hundreds of troops into Gaza to extricate their captured soldier, firing thousands of shells and killing Palestinian civilians along the way. Palestinians then retaliated by firing rockets that reached nearby Israeli towns.

In an effort to create distance between their villages and Palestinian rocket strikes, Israel fortified their forces in the southern part of Gaza, killing Palestinians with more mortar shelling in the process.

Hizballah, a terrorist group inside Lebanon and ever the stealthy enemy, seized the opportunity in the conflict and fired rockets and mortars of their own. They attacked a military unit inside the Israeli border that killed eight Israeli soldiers and then abducted two more.

The Israeli prime minister blamed the new fragile democratic Lebanese government; the Lebanese government insisted that they were not responsible. In the meantime, the United States blamed Iran and Syria as the State Department called for restrain. France, Russia, Britain and England called Israeli response "disproportionate" to provocation.

“We just continue to ask that the Israelis exercise restraint, be concerned about civilian casualties, be concerned of course about civilian infrastructure," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is quoted by the Washington Post.

Hmmm, words spoken without even a tiny glimmer of authority or hope. Israel’s immediate response today was to blockade Lebanon and shut down Beirut’s airport.

The Associated Press also reports that militants “blew a hole in the border wall” between Egypt and the Gaza Strip as hundreds of Palestinians subsequently crossed the border; they had been stranded since the fighting began.

Yep, the Bush administration’s cheerful prediction of peace and prosperity in the Middle East has born fruit of the reaping kind. In an excellent column in the Washington Post, E.J. Dionne writes of Bush's preemptive theory as nothing short of a "Big Bang Theory in Ruins."

He notes the promise of “[n]ewly empowered Muslim democrats [that] would reform their societies, negotiate peace with Israel and get on with the business of building prosperous, middle-class societies" is exploding into smithereens.

And in a trip down memory lane, Dionne quotes Cheney from 2002.
"Extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of jihad," Cheney said. "Moderates throughout the region would take heart, and our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced."

But instead as Dionne reminds readers, “Israeli troops batt[e] on their northern and southern borders…Iran ignore[s] calls for negotiations on nuclear weapons…Baghdad [is] in flames and…many of Iraq's moderates liv[e] in fear.”

Someone besides the American taxpayer and our poor soldiers should have to pay for this cataclysmic foreign policy failure. Nutwing Christians, notwithstanding, let us hope the abyss can be averted in time.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Back in the Saddle

Lots of news greeted me upon my return from a beach vacation with family.

At the top of my list is a story thread Howling Latina has faithfully followed since it broke. Robert Novak leaking the name of Valerie Plame.

MSNBC reports that Valerie Plame is suing Vice President Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby and Karl Rove.

Oh, how sweet it is!

The CIA officer whose identity was leaked to reporters sued Vice President Dick Cheney, his former top aide and presidential adviser Karl Rove on Thursday, accusing them and other White House officials of conspiring to destroy her

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Valerie Plame and her husband, Joseph Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador, accused Cheney, Rove and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby of revealing Plame’s CIA identity in seeking revenge against Wilson for criticizing the Bush administration’s motives in Iraq.

According to the news story, the trio along with 10 unnamed White House officials and/or operatives are being sued by Plame and her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, for placing their family in danger by their reckless outing.

For all the GOPers who cheered Paula Jones when she sued President Bill Clinton and the Supreme Court ruled it was hunky-dory, this special toast is for you!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

DeLay's two-edged Sword

A federal judge ruled that former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s name must appear on the ballot as the Republican congressional candidate for the 22nd Congressional District in Texas.

DeLay may opt to “withdraw,” the Houston Chronicle reports, but the GOP may not submit any other name to the Texas Secretary of State to replace DeLay. As the GOP primary winner, only DeLay's name is eligible to “appear on the Nov. 7 ballot as the...nominee for the congressional seat he abandoned last month.”
“DeLay had sought to have state Republican Chair Tina Benkiser declare him ineligible by moving from Sugar Land to his condominium in Virginia. But Sparks said that would not make him ineligible because the requirement under the Constitution is whether DeLay is an inhabitant of Texas on election day.”
Republicans are sure to appeal the unfavorable ruling to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, but in the meantime, former Rep. Nick Lampson is free to run his campaign without an active GOP opponent.

If the only constitutional requirement for a newly elected member is that he or she be a precinct resident on Election Day, and Texas “law does not allow a party's nominee to withdraw when another political party also has a nominee,” sure looks like the GOP is stuck with Tom DeLay as their chosen candidate.

Republicans were reportedly working hard and furiously to replace DeLay on the ticket; now, it looks like they’ll have to play the hand DeLay gave them on his way out of town until its bitter and hopefully losing end.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Irrational Logic and Ruling

The United States Supreme Court overturned a prior Kansas Supreme Court decision last week that had ruled a Kansas death-penalty statute was unconstitutional.

In a deeply divided 5-4 ruling, with Alito and Roberts joining the majority, the Highest Court ruled that Kansas could indeed command a death penalty verdict when aggravating factors were merely equal in weight to any mitigating factors.

But in a passionate dissenting opinion, Justice David H. Souter pointed out:
"A law that requires execution when the case for aggravation has failed to convince the sentencing jury is morally absurd, and the court's holding that the Constitution tolerates this moral irrationality defies decades of precedent aimed at eliminating freakish capital sentencing in the United States."
Justice Antonin Scalia was indifferent to Souter's argument and noted in his concurrent opinion "that there has been 'sanctimonious criticism of America's death penalty' from people in other countries and that Monday's dissent 'will be trumpeted abroad as vindication of these criticisms.'"

Besides, as Scalia happily gloated, not one single case of wrongful execution has ever been proven; the recent DNA testing of Roger Coleman in Virginia, which proved Coleman was guilty, confirmed the justice system and capital punishment were close to foolproof.
"With regard to the punishment of death in the current American system, that possibility has been reduced to an insignificant minimum,"Scalia wrote.
Never mind that Cameron Willingham was executed for murder by arson of his wife in Texas based on expert witness testimony that was bogus; or that Ruben Cantu was executed for robbery-murder in Texas where the star witness now says he was pressured by police to finger Cantu; or that Larry Griffin was executed in Missouri for a drive-by shooting based on one single witness who was a career criminal with several charges pending who likely wasn't even at the scene of the crime, but one victim who was at the crime scene never testified during trial but later said Griffin was not in the car where the shots came from; or that Carlos DeLuna was executed in Texas for stabbing a store clerk based on the nighttime identification of one witness, although Griffin told police Carlos Hernandez, a person known to police for similar stabbing incidences, was the killer and Hernandez repeatedly told his friends before he died in prison that he had indeed killed the convenience store clerk; or that since the death penalty was reinstated at least 123 death row inmates have been exonerated by DNA evidence.

Sanctimonious?!? Evidence suggests the four dissenting justices as well as death row opponents have the pesky facts on their side of the argument.

Not one single justice joined Scalia in his over-the-top dismissive concurrent opinion. On the other hand, Souter was joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen G. Breyer, leaving a strong dissent for future cases to require "morally justifiable sentencing” in accordance with the Eighth Amendment: "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."

The case was initially heard last fall, but when Alito joined the Court, it was reheard, which meant that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor had been the deciding justice with Alito now playing the pivotal role for the majority; and indeed, if O'Connor were still on the Court, Kansas v. Marsh may have been decided differently; however, it is highly unlikely the majority opinion would have been as far-reaching as the minority opinion written by Souter.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Chavez and Bush

In a couple of flip side stories, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela urged African nations today to wrap their loving arms around his country, Latin America and the Caribbean, and push back against United States "hegemony" in an article by Reuters.

Only a few days earlier, the LA Times had reported how Bush was strong-arming South American countries to not select Venezuela next year to the open seat on the U.N. Security Council.

Citing the example of Venezuela and Bolivia, [Chavez] urged Africa to seize greater control of its energy resources. He described the low royalty payments made by some foreign oil companies as "robbery."

"We should march together, Africa and Latin America, brother continents with the same roots ... Only together can we change the direction of the world," he told the opening day of the AU summit, to applause.

"The world is threatened by the hegemony of the North American empire," said the former paratrooper, following speeches from African leaders which had criticized colonialism.

What a lot of Americans may not realize is that Africa is blessed with a wealth of natural resources, "ranging from precious metals to iron ore and oil." And perhaps Chavez has a point when he says that African nations have been duped to giving their natural resources to the West at bargain basement prices.

Of course, government officials at the top skimmed their fat slice of the small pie, no worst for wear for them, and with America's blessing or blind eye.

In the meantime, the United Nations will have an open seat in the Security Council next year, explicitly established for a Latin American country on a two-year rotating basis. Venezuela is lobbying hard for the spot; and of course, the United States is equally adamant that the slot be awarded to Guatemala, a loyal lapdog.

Behind the scenes, U.S. officials have been applying pressure, even to close allies, Latin American diplomats say. For example, Washington has agreed to sell F-16 fighter jets to Chile, but are warning that Chilean pilots will not be trained to fly them if the government supports Venezuela's Security Council bid, the diplomats said.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other top State Department officials have been taking part in lobbying efforts.


When Rice met with Chilean Foreign Minister Alejandro Foxley in Washington in April, she devoted most of the closed session to a discussion of the Security Council issue. Foxley told La Tercera, one of Chile's largest newspapers.

Rice was quoted as telling Foxley that the issue was "singular because it aims at the heart of U.S. interests." The U.S. would not understand a vote for Venezuela, she said, and warned that such a vote would lump Chile with a group of "losers" separated from the U.S., Mexico, part of Central America and most of Europe, the newspaper reported.

Hmmm, let's see. The United Nations reserves a spot on their 15-member Security Council for a Latin American country; and the United States is going around threatening folks of dire consequences if they select Venezuela.

Hell, why have a spot at all, if Bush gets to pick who they get to pick?!?
"No one wants to choose between the United States and Venezuela, but that's what it's come down to," said a diplomat from one Western Hemisphere country, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. The Americans "have made it quite clear this is a top priority."
But American demands or threats ain't what they used to be; and the Times notes that Caribbean nations as well as Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina are likely to side with Venezuela; in case of a tie, the vote goes to all members.

And...there are a heck of a lot more developing countries who will likely side with Venezuela than rich or toady countries who will side with the United States, especially since Venezuela has framed the issue as a vote for Guatemala is a vote for Uncle Sam, who recent history has shown to be a wayfaring dangerous superpower.

Yep, little ol' Condi and Bushie just might have to make their case for war with Iran before their nemesis, Hugo Chavez, a two-year member of the Security Council with more time left in his seat than they as president and secretary of state.

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