The Bush administration has pulled another thread from the intricate legal tapestry shielding the national forests from excessive logging. On Tuesday, it announced that the Tongass National Forest in Alaska would be denied protections provided by the so-called roadless rule, a federal regulation prohibiting the building of roads — and by definition most commercial activity — on 58.5 million acres of national forests.
The announcement came wrapped in the same deceptive packaging that has camouflaged much of this administration's forest policy. The most egregious example was the Forest Service's disingenuous assertion that the new policy would allow logging on only 300,000 acres of the Tongass, or about 3 percent of the 9.6 million roadless acres that are earmarked for protection.
Though that is technically true, the actual ecological impact would be far greater. For one thing, those 300,000 acres include many of the forest's oldest trees and most valuable watersheds, as well as an extraordinary collection of wildlife. It is no exaggeration to say that these acres constitute the forest's biological heart. And because these acres are not all in one place, but are distributed among 50 different logging projects, the new roads required to reach them will inevitably violate even more of the forest.
The administration's action is prelude to what is most likely to be an even broader assault on the roadless rule, which has been challenged in the courts by timber interests and six other states where logging is big business. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the rule; the 10th Circuit is reviewing a lower court's decision rejecting the rule. But rather than wait for a resolution, the administration has indicated that it will move administratively to give individual governors the right to ignore the rule. That would seem to pre-empt the judicial process. It would also give a handful of state officials power over federal lands, which belong to all Americans. [Emphasis mine]
""The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden.
It is our Number one priority and we will not rest until we find him!"
George W. Bush, September 13, 2001
"I don't know where bin Laden is.
I have no idea and I really don't care.
It's not that important. It's not our priority."
George W. Bush, March 13, 2002
Out of touch with average Americans
For the past couple of decades, the Republican Party has drifted so far to the right, and benefited so few people, that its agenda no longer addresses issues relevant to average Americans -- those citizens who favor such "liberal" ideas as secure employment, workers' benefits, affordable health insurance, clean air and water and the like.
The GOP has perfected diversionary tactics, mainly relentless attacks on the opposition. Calling liberals "traitors" is routine practice nowadays; it gets a little shrill sometimes. Aided and abetted by the right's radio mouthpieces, they hope for a huge victory in 2004. I hope Americans wake up and start thinking for themselves before they go to the polls.
Partisan carping began with them
What goes around comes around, and the conservatives who bemoan how liberals find fault in President Bush's every action and statement have nobody to blame but themselves.
For eight years, President Clinton could do nothing right in the eyes of conservatives. Even in retirement, he's still being blamed for everything from the Sept. 11 attacks to the economic malaise that has lingered for three years.
I'm not saying an "eye for an eye" approach is justified, but Bush's supporters need only look in the mirror to discover the reason why political discourse in this country has degenerated to little more than petty personal attacks.
And especially to Strom Thurmond's family -- I want to wish them a Happy Kwanzaa.
The move is striking for a man who has steadfastly kept his personal life out of the campaign, rarely offering biographical information, much less his religious beliefs. But in the Globe interview, Dean said that Jesus was an important influence in his life and that he would probably share with some voters the model Jesus has served for him.
''Christ was someone who sought out people who were disenfranchised, people who were left behind,'' Dean said. ''He fought against self-righteousness of people who had everything . . . He was a person who set an extraordinary example that has lasted 2000 years, which is pretty inspiring when you think about it.''
He acknowledged that he was raised in the ''Northeast'' tradition of not discussing religious beliefs in public, and said he held back in New Hampshire, where that is the practice. But in other areas, such as the South, he said, he would discuss his beliefs more openly.
Dean himself made a decision about religion in the early 1980s, opting to leave the local Episcopal church when it sided with landowners seeking to preserve private property in lieu of a bike path in Burlington.
''Churches are institutions that are about doing the work of God on earth, and I didn't think [opposing the bike path] was very Godlike and thought it was hypocritical of me to be a member of such an institution,'' Dean said.
Dean chose Congregationalism -- a denomination, he said, that suits him, because ''there is no centralized -- almost no centralized authority structure -- and I like that.''
Dean does not attend church regularly, but he said he prays daily.
He was reeking of alcohol and was abusive toward the Roswell police officers who arrested him and hauled him off to jail for underage drinking, according to police.
It took two corrections officers to get him out of the cruiser, into a cell and quieted down.
When he got out on bond a day later, he had a black eye -- and that, more than anything he had done, became the focus of his run-in with the police.
Before it was over, that shiner would effectively end three law enforcement careers, spark a recently filed lawsuit against the city and deliver a black eye to the Roswell Police Department.
Watkins and his mother, who declined to be interviewed, have sued the city and the three jailers for civil rights violations, mental distress and physical suffering. They are seeking actual and punitive damages in Fulton Superior Court. The case is pending.
The plan sounds perfectly reasonable. Perdue wants to expand faith-based initiatives in Georgia and prevent an avalanche of lawsuits brought by people under the state Constitution's Blaine amendment, which states: "No money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, cult or religious denomination or of any sectarian institution."
"Gov. Perdue's whole intent was this: One, to avoid getting the state mired in litigation. Two, he has a very strong belief that the state cannot provide all the services for Georgians in need," says Perdue press secretary Loretta Lepore.
"A lot of these groups that are out there are already providing these services and in a lot of cases already doing a better job than government could do."
But then you dig a little deeper. The state has never been sued under its Blaine amendment. And yet it already contracts with faith-based groups through the Department of Human Resources for a variety of needs. Then you try to figure out how the governor has come to the conclusion that the private groups can do the human resources jobs better than current social service providers and more cheaply. Well, it wasn't based on any study.
"I don't know that there are any studies," Lepore admits.
Actually, there are studies, and the most recent and comprehensive of them doesn't agree with the governor's conclusions.
Lots of benefits to Dean presidency
Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) may be correct when he states that if Howard Dean were president, Saddam Hussein would still be in power.
However, he fails to mention some other important probabilities: If Dean were president, hundreds of brave U.S. troops would still be alive and thousands would still be healthy; Saddam would not be developing weapons of mass destruction because U.N. inspectors would be monitoring him; America would be billions of dollars wealthier, and our country would not be approaching a $1 trillion deficit; we would have maintained our moral authority and prestige in the world; tax cuts would have been targeted toward people who really need them; millions of Americans would still be working and their overtime pay would not be in jeopardy; since all our resources would have been targeted toward capturing Osama bin Laden, we would most likely have him in custody by now.
I don't know about everyone else, but I for one would give up Saddam for all of that.
In the big picture, nothing's changed
I fail to see the significance of the capture of Saddam Hussein. Didn't we overthrow his regime months ago? What is different now? We all know what a horrible person Saddam is, so what's new?
We invaded Iraq because the Bush administration claimed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and was ready to attack this country, which so far has turned out to be a lie.
Our young men and women are still dying in Iraq, and now we find that there is war profiteering by Halliburton, the company formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney. In my view, nothing has changed.
Sen. Zell Miller, the maverick Democrat who left fellow Democrats sputtering with a critical book that has become a national best seller, may get a statue on or near the state Capitol grounds, thanks to home state Republicans.
A bill creating a commission to honor Miller, a former two-term Georgia governor, was pre-filed in the Legislature Monday by Sen. Bill Stephens, R-Canton, the majority leader of the state Senate. The legislative session begins in January.
For the parent’s of slain Roswell soldier, Jamaal Addison, the capture of Saddam Hussein brought a combination of relief and sorrow Sunday.
“It just opens a wound that is trying to heal,” says Jamaal’s father, Kevin Addison, wearing a button with his son’s photo on it. “It just keeps rehashing the same thing. It’s like you’re living it over and over again.
“If they do find what they were looking for then maybe I could say there was a reason for all the boys and girls to go over there and some of them pay the ultimate sacrifice,” Kevin says. "Maybe it was really necessary.”
“We want to know that my son died for weapons of mass destruction,” says Patricia Roberts, Jamaal’s mother. “I want to know about them.”
Carter, appearing on the radio program "Fox News Live with Alan Colmes," said Wednesday that "one of the worst mistakes" Roy Barnes made during his term as Georgia governor was appointing Miller to the Senate following the July 2000 death of Republican Sen. Paul Coverdell. Miller later won a special election to fill the rest of Coverdell's term.
Since joining the Senate, Miller has often sided with the Republicans on issues such as tax cuts and the appointment of federal judges. He has also endorsed President Bush for re-election in the 2004 White House race.
"He has really betrayed all the basic principles that I thought he and I and others shared," Carter told Colmes.
Gosh, free speech sounds expensive
I would broadcast it on TV, but I can't afford $2 million for a 30-second spot. I would say it on the radio, but I can't get past the idiotic pop music the record execs deem popular. I would publish it on the Internet, but the FBI, under the irrefutable search warrant known as the Patriot Act, might label me a terrorist. I would write it on a sign and march with it, but some agent of Homeland Security might beat me with a baton or shoot me with pepper spray.
So I'll just say it here: I sure am glad we live in a democratic country, with freedom of speech and expression, where the power lies in the hands of the people.
An eye-opener on leg breaking
In response to Wendy Ruff's Equal Time column in favor of payday lending ("Payday advance legislation can work in customers' favor," @issue, Dec. 8): What does it say about an industry when one of the restrictions it requires is "don't threaten customers with physical harm"?
As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one. There is a tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress.
As a discussion of US politics grows longer, the probability of a liberal or progressive being called a 'Bush-Hater' approaches one. Once this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever called someone a Bush Hater has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress.
As a discussion of current Republican politics or politicians grows longer, the probablity of hearing "But what about Clinton" approaches 1. Once that happens, the Republican, Independent, or "So-called-former-Democrat" automatically loses the argument.
Under no circumstances -- and I can't state this too strongly -- should my fate be put in the hands of peckerwood politicians who couldn't pass ninth-grade biology if their lives depended on it.
1. While remaining sensitive to the feelings of loved ones who might cling to hope for my recovery, let me state that if a reasonable amount of time passes -- say, ____ (fill in the blank) months -- and I fail to sit sit up and ask for a cold beer, it should be presumed that I won't ever get better.
When such a determination is reached, I hereby instruct my spouse, children and attending physicians to pull the plug, reel in the tubes and call it a day.
3. Under no circumstances shall the governor of Florida butt into this case and order my doctors to put a feeding tube down my throat. I don't care how many fundamentalist votes he's trying to scrounge for his brother in 2004, it is my wish that he plays politics with someone else's life and leaves me to die in peace.
If any of my family goes against my wishes and turns my case into a political cause, I hereby promise to come back from the grave and make his or her existence a living ____ (fill in the blank).
"Queer Eye" guy Carson Kressley asks Cher in Us Weekly who she'd most like to have as a co-joined twin. Attorney General John Ashcroft, she says. "So I could influence him a bit - or just beat the s-- out of him." Kresley notes that Cher doesn't seem to be a Republican, "Are you kidding me?" she says. "I'd rather stick needles in my eyes" ...
"the power train that will bridge us from the standard internal combustion engine to the hydrogen-powered fuel cell."
But the main attractions Thursday were the two jerseys hanging in his locker from his days with the Las Vegas Outlaws of the now defunct XFL. With his self-chosen nickname "He Hate Me" on the back, teammates gathered to get a look at what made Smart so well-known.
"I just knew him as 'He Hate Me,' so that's what I call him," safety Deon Grant said. "And you can't get one of those jerseys anywhere. Every time they put them in the stores, they sell out right away."
The Diebold system, whose customers include Maryland, California and Kansas, is at the heart of concerns that for months have fueled dire conspiracy theories of a possible electronic coup d'etat.
This fall the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper disclosed that Diebold's chief executive, Walden O'Dell, is one of Bush's top fund-raisers and, in a letter to potential Bush donors, he had underscored his commitment "to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes" to the Republicans.
O'Dell has since expressed regrets for the remarks, saying that while experienced in business, he is "a real novice" in politics. Even so, he has no intention of stopping his fund-raising efforts as a "Pioneer" and "Ranger," designations used by the Bush campaign for elite fund-raisers who collect a minimum of $200,000 and $100,000, respectively. "I am one, and proud of it," O'Dell said in a statement issued by Diebold's corporate headquarters.
Things are different today, as Lantz is well aware. As WVU's parent advocate -- a salaried position at the Morgantown school -- Lantz fields up to 4,000 calls a year to the school's Parents Club Helpline, asking about everything from roommate problems to transportation glitches to billing questions.
Raise enough money in an instant
I have a suggestion: First, change the name of the city to Atlanta Inc. Then, make a large contribution to the campaign to re-elect President Bush.
Just like magic, the problem will be no more, at least not until the midterm elections.
It connects to our failure to notice how bizarre it was for our president to denounce Osama bin Laden as a coward for sending young men off to die while remaining himself protected from danger. Neither the president, nor the media covering him, seemed to think it strange for this accusation to be leveled by the best-protected person on the planet who had just sent young men off to war. For there's something in our culture that can make it difficult to see ourselves in the same moral perspective we apply to others.
In a decision late Tuesday morning, Goger gave primary custody of the children back to Joyce Williams, 35, of Sugar Hill, claiming he had misgivings about their father's character.
Goger's ruling capped what had been an international struggle for custody of two children involving at least three custody hearings. The latest revealed that Weeks is bisexual, which he reluctantly admitted in pointed questioning.
Weeks should not have tried to hide his personal life, Goger said
The computer expert, hired to check Weeks' computer for evidence of pornography, testified that the machine's hard drive had been erased a day before his probe. The expert also testified that he found evidence Weeks had been active on manhunt.net, a gay Web site.
A second witness told the court that her son, who is gay, had told her he had lived with Weeks during 1999 and 2000.
* Admittedly, this process favors Democrats. The kinds of places where predominantly Republican crowds gather also tend to be the kind of places where they frown on people with clipboards talking about democracy and empowering the electorate, and where they tend to discourage this sort of thing by employing humorless security guards to chase you off the sidewalk. When this happens, be polite and remember that your goal is to register voters, not to engage in a First Amendment debate with an underpaid security guard. Before agreeing to leave, first try to register the security guards themselves.
Daring actions worthy of applause
When I heard the reports of President Bush's surprise visit to our troops in Iraq I felt like cheering. His flying into Baghdad right under the noses of what remains of Saddam Hussein's thugs took daring.
All Americans should applaud our president, and those adhering to the idiot left should now get off his back, stop criticizing his decisions and begin acting like true Americans.
We'll see these photos next year
I was thrilled to see that President Bush was able to visit some of our troops in Iraq on Thanksgiving. It is a sign of his great respect for the efforts and sacrifices made by ordinary Americans.
My only disappointment was that he did not appear in uniform. Based on his previous heroics at the end of the major fighting, which culminated in his full dress battle apparel on the United States aircraft carrier, I thought for sure that he would wear full desert battle dress -- perhaps artfully dusted with Iraqi sand and accessorized with at least two still-smoking pistols that could later be sold off at a campaign fund-raiser.
We could all have pretended that he had just come in from hours in the "trenches" and rigorous house-to-house searches for those pesky, elusive weapons of mass destruction.
I know everyone here in America shares my disappointment with this lost opportunity, but there is the consolation that we can all hope to see the campaign pictures of this visit in the upcoming election.