Last week, House members said many of the favors bestowed in exchange for voting yes on CAFTA would be tucked into the huge highways bill that Congress was simultaneously debating. Even House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MS) admitted “‘it didn’t hurt’ that Congress was putting the finishing touches on a federal highway bill at the same time that the House was voting on CAFTA. ‘It’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibility’ that lawmakers would tie their votes on CAFTA to getting certain projects in the highway bill, Blunt said.”
Now the AP reports that an “estimated $24 billion in the [highway] bill [is] set aside for highways, bus stops, parking lots and bike trails requested by lawmakers.” In fact, with over 6, 000 special projects, the bill sets a new record for pork barrel politics. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), “one of only four senators to oppose the bill,” described it as “egregious and remarkable.” Here are some of the “favors” that found their way in:
- $200,000 for a deer avoidance system in Weedsport, N.Y.
- $330 million for a highway in Bakersfield., Calif.
- $480,000 to rehabilitate a historic warehouse on the Erie Canal
- $3 million for dust control mitigation on Arkansas rural roads.
- $2.3 million for landscaping on the Ronald Reagan Freeway in California (Truly ironic is the fact that Pres. Reagan once vetoed a highway bill because of its exorbitant spending expenses)
The vice president of policy for Taxpayers for Common Sense concluded, “This bill will be known as the most earmarked transportation bill in the history of our nation.” It also could be known as the bill that shows quite how vain lawmakers can be:
- Transportation Committee Chairman Don Young (R-AK) set aside $231 million for a bridge near Anchorage to be named “Don Young’s Way”
- Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) “used his seniority” to “secure $16 million for the eponymous Nick J. Rahall II Appalachian Transportation Institute at Marshall University”
President Bush, 6/14/05:
The best way to secure this country in the long run, though, is to spread democracy and freedom. We believe everybody deserves to be free. We believe everybody has a deep desire in their heart to live in a free society.
President Bush, 8/2/05:
On behalf of the United States, I congratulate my friend, King Abdallah bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, on assuming the Saudi throne and the position of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. We wish Saudi Arabia peace and prosperity under his leadership. I have spoken today to the new King, and the United States looks forward to continuing the close partnership between our two countries.
If Bush is for democracy everywhere, why does he hope Saudi Arabia prospers under a monarchy?
Buried inside the Washington Post today is a story, following up on a New York Times article yesterday, about a former CIA analyst who has asked the FBI to investigate allegations that the spy agency dismissed him for refusing to falsify intelligence.
The identity of the former CIA analyst, a 22-year veteran in the counter-proliferation department, remains undisclosed (but for how long?). The analyst’s lawyer, Roy Krieger, said his client had previously asked the CIA to investigate charges that other CIA officials had pressured him to alter intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war. So far, the CIA has refused to investigate.
The analyst reports to have had information from credible sources prior to the Iraq war which suggested that Baghdad had dropped a major segment of its nuclear program years before 2001, but CIA officials refused to distribute that finding to other agencies, as is typically done. Of course, we now know the truth — this former official was right and the Bush administration was wrong: Read more
At yesterday’s White House Press Briefing, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan congratulated the President’s work to reduce the number of abortions:
[On] the issue of abortion, the President has made it very clear that there are ways — common sense, practical ways that we can work together to reduce the number of abortions in America. And he has worked to do that, if you look at what we have done, by placing a ban on partial birth abortion, by supporting efforts to increase adoption. The President is strongly committed to finding ways we can work together to reduce the number of abortions in America.
It’s a rather limited effort if the administration is reducing the number of abortions only by working to reduce the number of pregnancies that end in abortion. It’s like hacking away at the branches instead of going after the roots. The fact is that “the United States has among the highest rates of unintended pregnancies of all industrialized nations. Half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, and nearly half of those end in abortion.” An obvious way to reduce the number of pregnancies that end in abortion is to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in the first place. Unfortunately, one of the President’s favorite initiatives — abstinence only education — may actually be counterproductive to this effort.
In updating its teen pregnancy policy, a leading group of experts — the American Academy of Pediatrics — stated that “Even though there is great enthusiasm in some circles for abstinence-only interventions, the evidence does not support abstinence-only interventions as the best way to keep young people from unintended pregnancy.” Instead, “teaching abstinence but not birth control makes it more likely that once teenagers initiate sexual activity they will have unsafe sex and contract sexually transmitted diseases.”
By continuing to pursue abstinence only education, President Bush is prioritizing conservatism over compassion and undermining his own efforts to reduce the number of abortions in our nation.
The right-wing argues that the outing of Valerie Plame’s identity of as a CIA operative isn’t significant. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, by all accounts a no-nonsense guy, disagrees. He continues to actively pursue the case and appears to be increasingly focused on Karl Rove.
From ABC’s The Note this morning:
Based on ABC News sources (and our own video camera) it appears that at least two witnesses testified before the grand jury last Friday, both close associates of Karl Rove.
ABC News has learned that one was Susan Ralston, Rove’s long-time right hand. The other, per ABC News’ Jake Tapper, was Israel “Izzy” Hernandez, Rove’s former left hand (and now a top Commerce Department official). It isn’t clear if either had been asked to testify before last week.
Looks like Fitzgerald doesn’t believe Rove has been “exonerated.”
recycles lies first “reported” by Jeff Gannon.