Terry Schiavo case still hurting Republicans



Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007


Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007 (Introduced in House)

February 5, 2007
`Subtitle C--Mandatory Manual Audits by Election Audit Boards


What Tallahassee Is Up to


HouseFlorida House of Representatives
Among the many bills on today's Special Order Calendar are:
HB 289 by Rep. Antiere Flores, which would prohibit community college and university professors from accepting kickbacks from textbook publishers in exchange for selecting their book and require the posting of the required textbook list on the Internet at least 30 days before the start of the semester (so students can shop around for their book);
Two bills relating to petition gathering for citizen initiatives: HB 559 by Rep. Don Brown would allow private property owners the right to determine whether or not petition gatherers could obtain signatures on their property and HB 7009 by Rep. Dean Cannon revises the regulations for the petition gathering process, including requiring the name and address of the petition gatherer to be on the form, requiring those who are paid to wear a badge saying they are being paid and prohibiting the payment of gatherers on a per-signature basis;
HB 323 by Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera would provide a tax rebate for the Florida Marlins to build a new stadium and for the Miami Dolphins to retrofit Dolphin Stadium to undo the baseball renovations (Note: A similar bill is effectively dead in the Senate); and
HB 1497 by Rep. Trey Traviesa which requires a 24-hour waiting period before undergoing an abortion and provides that minors seeking to waive the parental notification requirement will have a guardian ad litem appointed for them;

SenateFlorida Senate
Today's Senate Special Order Calendar includes SB 2334 by Sen. Steven Geller would allow video lottery terminals at parimutuel facilities;
SB 752 by Sens. Geller and Mike Fasano would revise the rules for parimutuel cardrooms, allowing video poker machines and high stakes poker tournaments;
SB 134 by Sen. Larcenia Bullard would allow cardrooms to offer gambling on dominoes;
SB 998 by Sen. Mike Bennett would remove the local cable franchise process and replace it with a statewide process, a provision requiring service in low-income areas was stricken from the bill at its last committee stop;
SB 960 by Sen. Lee Constantine would change the date of Florida's presidential preference primary to the last Tuesday in January and require the use of optical scan voting equipment; the bill is controversial now because of additional election provisions added on in its last committee;
SB 900 by Sen. Bill Posey allows voters who sign an initiative petition to official revoke their signature at a later date, it was similar to HB 7009, but much of the language was removed in committee;
SB 1920 by Sen. Fasano would allow private property owners the right to determine whether or not petition gatherers could obtain signatures on their property; and
SB 1710 by Sen. Steven Oelrich would allow the University of Florida, Florida State University, and the University of South Florida to assess a 'differential tuition' to bolster undergraduate teaching;



Bill Moyers and the Failure of America's Media


A new documentary by Bill Moyers examines the failure of the American press and media to alert the public about the deceptive propaganda used by the Bush administration to initiate the Iraq invasion, says John Nichols.

Bill Moyers is not the first American to ask with regard media coverage of the run-up to the invasion of Iraq: "How did the mainstream press get it so wrong?"
The man who has been a White House press secretary, newspaper publisher, author and television news program host is not alone in wondering: "How did the evidence disputing (Bush administration claims and intimations regarding) the existence of weapons of mass destruction and the link between Saddam Hussein to 9-11 continue to go largely unreported?"
But Moyers has done something that most Americans have not had the time, the resources or the contacts to do, and that is answer the fundamental questions about the failure of print, broadcast and cable news outlets to cut through the spin and give the American people the truth about the Bush administration's unwarranted rush to war.
"What the conservative media did was easy to fathom; they had been cheerleaders for the White House from the beginning and were simply continuing to rally the public behind the President -- no questions asked," explains Moyers. "How mainstream journalists suspended skepticism and scrutiny remains an issue of significance that the media has not satisfactorily explored. How the administration marketed the war to the American people has been well covered, but critical questions remain: How and why did the press buy it, and what does it say about the role of journalists in helping the public sort out fact from propaganda?"
These and the premises and purposes of a remarkable new documentary, "Buying the War," which explores the role of the press in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The 90-minute production, which airs this week beginning April 25, on the Public Broadcasting Service channels across the country, is the special premiere of a new weekly series, "Bill Moyers Journal."
After Wednesday night's premiere, Moyers will return to PBS on the Friday night schedule where he was resident for a number of years as the host of "NOW with Bill Moyers." And, just as he did before leaving "NOW" several years ago, at a time when President Bush's allies and appointees were attacking him for giving air time to administration critics -- including Republicans such as Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel -- Moyers is still practicing the craft of journalism in the manner intended by the rebels against empire who wrote a "freedom of the press" protection into America's founding document.
In other words, he is refusing to be a stenographer for the powerful.
"Buying the War" highlights that refusal.
In the documentary, Moyers interviews former CBS news anchor Dan Rather, NBC's "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert, former CNN president Walter Isaacson, and many of the top American print and broadcast reporters. He challenges them. He presses them. He gets them to acknowledge not just the drastic flaws in the reporting before and immediately after the invasion of Iraq but also the extent to which those flaws illustrate the deeper crisis of today's "on-bended-knee" media.
The veteran CBS Middle East correspondent, Bob Simon, sums up that crisis when he refers to the Washington press corps as operating "in a bubble" shaped by the Bush administration.
"Buying the War" is not a polemic. Rather, it is an aggressively and thoroughly reported critique of pre-war media coverage, which celebrates the handful of journalists -- particularly those with the old Knight-Ridder Washington bureau -- who asked the right questions, while solemnly detailing the reality that most media merely repeated administration claims as if they were truths that could not be debated.
Remarkably, and importantly, Moyers gets journalists who are still in the game to explain where things went wrong. For instance, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz notes, "From August 2002 until the war was launched in March of 2003 there were about 140 front page pieces in the Washington Post making the administration's case for war. But there was only a handful of stories that ran on the front page that made the opposite case. Or, if not making the opposite case, raised questions."
What Moyers has produced is a chilling account of what happens in a republic where the media, for the most part, becomes a mouthpiece for the government. As Walter Pincus, one of the last of the great Washington reporters, explains to Moyers, "More and more the media become, I think, common carriers of administration statements and critics of the administration. We've sort of given up being independent on our own."
That surrender of independence destroys the whole matter of a free press, just as it prevents citizens from gaining the information and insight needed to be functional players in America's democratic experiment. But even in this dark interregnum, there is hope for freedom of the press -- and for the democracy it sustains. Bill Moyers is back on the air.
John Nichols is the Washington correspondent forThe Nation magazine.
Copyright © 2007 The Nation


Politically Motivated "Voting Fraud" Claims

New York Times Editorial -- April 15, 2007
The more we learn about the White House's purge of United States attorneys, the more a single thread runs through it: the Bush administration's campaign to transform the minor problem of voter fraud into a supposed national scourge.
When the public first learned about the firing of eight United States attorneys, administration officials piously declared that many of the prosecutors had ill served the public by failing to aggressively pursue voter fraud cases (against Democrats, naturally). But the more we examine this issue, the more ludicrous those claims seem.
Last week, we learned that the administration edited a government-ordered report on voter fraud to support its fantasy. The original version concluded that among experts "there is widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling place fraud." But the publicly released version said, "There is a great deal of debate on the pervasiveness of fraud." It's hard to see that as anything but a deliberate effort to mislead the public.
Sound familiar? In President Bush's first term, a White House official, who had been the oil industry's front man in trying to discredit the science of global warming, repeatedly edited government reports to play down links between climate change and greenhouse gases. And then there was the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which turned reports on old, dubious and false tales about weapons of mass destruction into warnings of clear, present and supposedly mortal dangers.
It's obvious why the Bush administration would edit those documents, but why the voting report? Because charges of voter fraud are a key component of the Republican electoral strategy. If the public believes there are rampant efforts to vote fraudulently, or to register voters improperly, it increases support for measures like special voter ID's, which work against the poor, the elderly, minorities and other disenfranchised groups that tend to support Democrats. Claims of rampant voter fraud also give the administration an excuse to cut back prosecutions of the real problem: officials who block voters' access to the polls.
There is one big catch, as Eric Lipton and Ian Urbina reported in The Times last week. After a five-year crackdown, the Justice Department has not turned up any evidence that voter fraud actually is a problem. Only 86 people were convicted of voter fraud crimes as of last year — most of them Democrats and many on trivial, trumped-up charges.
The Bush administration was so determined to pursue this phantom scourge that it deported a legal Florida resident back to his native Pakistan for mistakenly filling out a voter registration card when he renewed his driver's license. And it may well have decided to fire most of the eight federal prosecutors because they would not play along.
It is vital that Congress get to the truth about these firings. Last week, the Republican National Committee threw up another roadblock, claiming it had lost four years' worth of e-mail messages by Karl Rove that were sent on a Republican Party account. Those messages, officials admitted, could include some about the United States attorneys. It is virtually impossible to erase e-mail messages fully, and the claims that they are gone are not credible.
The only solution is to get these issues out into the open. It is good that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will finally testify in the Senate this week. But Mr. Rove, who seems to be at the heart of this affair, should also be required to testify under oath — and in public. Even the Wizard of Oz eventually came out from behind the curtain.


Take to the Streets

Take to the Streets April 28th to Change America!

50 State Canvass The days of a do-nothing Republican Congress are over, but the days of a disastrous Republican Presidency aren't quite over yet. The Democratic majority in the US House and Senate stood with the American people, passing a bill that would both fund our troops and begin the process to bring them home. President Bush's impending veto of the Iraq War supplemental bill is an insult to the majority of Americans who voted for change in November and to the brave men and women who risk their lives everyday for our country. It's clear that President Bush sees no end in sight. America needs to elect a Democratic president in 2008 so we can bring our troops home. It's time to take action now. Sign up to take part in the Democratic National Organizing Day on April 28 at www.democrats.org/50StateCanvass. Our regional directors will help to organize events in the coming weeks to get the Democratic message out across the state.


Republican Leader Shows Integrity

Knew that headline would get your attention. We speak here of Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who last Thursday approved a measure to restore voting rights to an estimated 950,000 Floridian ex-felons, about 9 percent of the voting-age population of the Sunshine State. Crist's initiative has political observers scratching their heads. How much of a political impact could it have?


'Surge' Against the Democrats

The Corporate-Owned Media 'Surge' Against the Democrats

The 'surge' is on! And, how! During Mister Bush's latest hissy-fit passed off as press conference, he claimed that HIS surge -- the one in Iraq -- was only 40 percent operational. That could be true, but it wouldn't be wise for anyone to bet their child's life on anything George W. Bush says. After all, there is no proof whatsoever that the man has ever uttered a truthful word in the past six-years. Besides, since Mister Bush's 'surge' began, regardless of operational proportionality, more Iraqi civilians have been killed than before it started...not hardly a success, is it?

No, Mister Bush's 'surge' isn't exactly building toward a tsunami of achievement, but the corporate-owned media 'surge' against the Democrats is certainly building toward a Hurricane Katrina-like destructive force.

Goodness gracious! The corporate-owned press has been banging on Pelosi's visit to Syria, like a Republican evangelical preacher locked in a love embrace with a gay male prostitute. The press has pounded away, verbatim, on the White House's Pelosi talking points...only grudgingly and belatedly bothering to mention that the Bush administration had helped arrange a Syrian visit by Congressional Republicans.

Actually, it wasn't the Republican-shilling corporate-owned media that reported the truth regarding the White House playing travel agent for the Republican visit to Syria, but the tiny Lancaster, Pennsylvania Intelligencer Journal did:

"Gabe Neville, [Republican Congressman] Pitts' chief of staff, said Monday the conference between Assad and the three Republicans was intended to be 'low profile...It was done in cooperation with the administration,' he said."

But the corporate-owned press' Pelosi political gangbang isn't the only front in their 'surge' against Democrats.

The administration and the corporate-owned media have decided to try and resurrect Mister Bush's dead Presidency. They have seemingly colluded and concluded that George W. Bush can drive up his poll numbers, as Clinton had in the 90's, by confronting Congress. They keep telling the people over and again, that the parallels between Mister Bush's current troubles and President Clinton's are 'remarkable'. Only, that is a completely false narrative.

In the 90's, people were upset at Clinton's policies and because of that his poll numbers suffered. Loony Newt Gingrich tried to exploit Clinton's poor political standing by forcing a governmental shut-down. President Clinton called his bluff and the American people saw through Gingrich's blatantly partisan motivations and punished the Republicans accordingly. Regardless of how much the corporate-owned press tries to spin it, Mister Bush's political situation is nothing like President Clintons.

The biggest difference -- the only difference that matters -- is that on a very visceral level, the American people distrust and dislike George W. Bush. They see in him an extremely corrupted man, who has lied to them one too many times. In a very real sense, Mister Bush makes a vast majority of the peoples' skin crawl. The American people NEVER felt that way toward President Clinton (extremist evangelical Tom DeLay-loving Republicans excluded). And despite the corporate-owned presses best efforts, there is a huge difference between being upset at a President over his policies and having a President who makes the peoples' skin crawl.

In the corporate-owned media mind, however, Mister Bush's problem isn't that he is deeply distrusted and disliked...only that he needs to turn around the failed Iraq War. The corporate-owned press' narrative goes like this: If George W. Bush turns around the war, his Presidency is saved. And to that end, they've made themselves busy almost ignoring Iraq entirely.

A recent review revealed that ABC and NBC evening news programs spent 14 minutes per-week reporting on the Iraq War and CBS dedicated only four minutes. Yet, official government reports showed Iraqi civilian deaths had increased by 13 percent in March. An interesting, but very real part of the corporate-owned media 'surge' strategy appears to be not reporting what is actually happening in Iraq. Contrary to Crazy Train McCain's claims, it isn't that the press isn't reporting "the good news" coming out of Iraq; since Mister Bush's 'surge' has started, they've simply decided to ignore the war completely. Out of site, out of the American peoples' minds...don't tell the people that since the 'surge' began things have only gotten worse and, perhaps, they'll think it's going well and approve of Mister Bush's Presidency.

That's the corporate-owned media narrative anyway, but it is as fictional as were the reasons George W. Bush gave for invading Iraq in the first place. Mister Bush's problems aren't the war's status and his policies...his problems are that the American people really don't like him as a person and they trust him even less. But the corporate-owned press will continue to ignore those inconvenient facts, while continuing to implement their 'surge' against the Democrats.

Should anyone doubt the reality of this corporate-owned media 'surge' against the Democrats, consider Mister Bush's latest Rose Garden press conference. For the third or fourth time in the past two weeks, George W. Bush promised to veto the Democratic Congress' war-funding bill. The press spun it as a great victory for Mister Bush. He was 'decisive' and 'threw down the gauntlet' against the Democrats. But it isn't so much how the corporate-owned media spun the White House talking points that highlight the depths of their 'surge' against the Democrats, it is the fact that they pretended his regurgitated veto threat was newsworthy and covered it, AGAIN.

Make no mistake about it...the corporate-owned media 'surge' against the Democrats is on. And, how!


Quotes Of The Week

The Bush Administration's Epic Collapse
"And it is increasingly difficult to imagine yet another two years of slow bleed with a leader so clearly unfit to lead." ...more
Cheney Busted for Lying...by Pentagon
"Cheney repeated his assertions of al-Qaida links to [Saddam's] Iraq...as the Defense Department released a report citing more evidence that the prewar government did not cooperate with the terrorist group." ...more
U.S. Protecting Terrorists in Iraq
"[A]...group based in Iraq, despite being considered terrorists by the United States, continues to receive protection from the American military" ...more
Experts Say Bush is Exaggerating Threat of Iraq's Insurgents 'Following us home'
"The war in Iraq isn't preventing terrorist attacks on America. If anything, that - along with the way [we treat] suspects - [might cause]...Muslims to think of us as the enemy." ...more


DNC Shuts Out Fox

DNC Shuts Out Fox
Fox News may have landed a Democratic debate, but the Democratic Party is refusing to give its formal stamp of approval to the September event, which will be co-sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus Institute.
"The DNC sanctioned debates will not include Fox," says DNC Communications Director Karen Finney in an e-mail.
The Democratic National Committee announced today that it would sanction six debates, starting in July. In 2005, DNC Chairman Howard Dean called Fox "a propaganda outlet of the Republican Party," but has occasionally since then struck slightly more conciliatory notes.
The refusal of the party to consider sanctioning the Detroit debate, however, is a mark of an increasingly unified Democratic effort to marginalize the network.
Fox spokesman Michael Murphy had no immediate comment on the DNC's plan.
UPDATE: An unusually mild response from Fox, in a statement from Marty Ryan, the channel's executive producer of political programming: "We are continuing to move forward with all our debate partners – what Karen Finney expressed has no bearing on our course of action."

For more on Fox News  Viewers being the most ignorant of all Americans SEE: