Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Farewell Molly

WaPo on Molly Ivins: Both her parents were Republicans, but she rejected Republican politics for the same reasons that inspire most Southern liberals: race. "Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything," she wrote.

Molly Ivins has died at 62.
Molly's columns at the Texas Star Telegram
Molly at Wiki

Congress Can Chain the Dogs of War

Fred Barbash has an excellent column in today's WaPo. He thinks the President's interpretation of the Constitution is a little fruity. Barbash exposes Bush’s fondness for cherry picking from the Constitution to support his exclusive War Powers. He quotes Scalia, yes, Scalia:

"Whatever the general merits of the view that war silences law or modulates its voice, that view has no place in the interpretation and application of a Constitution designed precisely to confront war and, in a manner that accords with democratic principles, to accommodate it."
The Constitution's Article I gives Congress war powers far beyond the power of the purse.

It vests in the House and Senate the authority to "declare war," to "make rules concerning captures on land and water [torture and Habeus Corpus]," to "provide for the common defense [Homeland Security, warrantless wiretapping]," to "raise and support Armies," and to "make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces [deployment and protective gear]." In addition, the Senate advises and consents on important military appointments, which is why Lt. Gen. David Petraeus was on Capitol Hill last week for confirmation as the general in command of U.S. forces in Iraq.

War is a shared responsibility. The records of the 1787 convention at which the Constitution was drafted unquestionably demonstrate that. An early version of Article I, for example, gave Congress the power to "make war."

The delegates changed the wording to "declare war," not to remove Congress from the process but to leave the commander in chief the "power to repel sudden attacks," as James Madison put it.

"The executive should be able to repel and not to commence war," agreed Roger Sherman. In the eyes of some delegates, this limited authority was safe in the hands of a president because "no executive would ever make war but when the nation will support it," said delegate Pierce Butler.

Monday, January 29, 2007

What is Tom Davis Up To? Part III -- ICF in the Gulf

Today (Monday) the Washington Post did a story about the incompetence of a Fairfax firm, ICF, in its Hurricane Katrina response. ICF was awarded a contract worth about $8 million, to disburse $7 Billion to homeowners in New Orleans.

Since then, residents and state and federal officials have accused ICF of moving too slowly, paying its lawyers too much and valuing homes too low. The company's performance has been criticized by Donald Powell, federal coordinator of Gulf Coast rebuilding, and the Louisiana House and Senate have called for the contract to be canceled and for an audit of the company's $19 million in travel expenses...

Fairfax-based ICF is a mid-size contractor that provides consulting and technology services for government agencies, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Defense Department, as well as some large companies.

ICF says the job is hard. Government officials and homeowers say that's why the company got $7 BILLION. If ICF can't do the job, will the company release the government from the contract and let someone else give it a try? Certainly not. Tom Davis had not asked ICF to explain itself, despite the widespread agreement that oversight was desperately needed. Henry Waxman, the new chair, now has ICF in his sites.

Waxman's oversight may be a wake up call for ICF. Before Waxman took control, when ICF had to testify at the Government Reform Committee in 2005, how did it respond? ICF donated to Committee Chair Tom Davis.
What was going on on June 8? The ICF Committee hearing was being scheduled.

In addition to the campaign contributions, Tom Davis's wife is available to consult with ICF to prepare them for the hearing. No one will say whether she was the consultant for that job.

After paying the donations to Davis, ICF then got on the schedule after the summer recess, and got the "soft" hearing it needed to escape accountability.

ICF also had donated $2,500 to Davis's Victory Fund PAC before, putting his PAC in their top 10 recipients. Davis's wife also has been a recipient of ICF donations.

What is Tom Davis Up To? Part II -- Parsons in Iraq

Here is a recent story on the corruption and incompetence on an Iraq War contractor in Waxman's sites, Parsons. The company incompetence has been diaried here on DKos.

More recently, Waxman leveled his sights on Parsons Corp. The California-based international engineering and management services firm has been cited by Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, for delays and other problems in the construction of dozens of health care centers across Iraq, and for work so shoddy in the construction of police academy barracks that raw sewage leaked through ceilings onto recruits.

James McNulty, chairman and CEO of Parsons, doesn't dispute the problems the IG has cited with his company's work, but he says the projects have been far more difficult than anyone anticipated.
So, the job is hard. That's why Parson's is paid top dollar. Instead of hiring Americans, or grateful natives, Parsons has used the cheapest imported labor to save even more money. If the job is so hard, shall we expect Parsons to give up the contract and give some money back? Admit they can't do it, and let another company take over? Certainly not.

How does Parsons get away with getting paid top dollar for its incompetence? Campaign contributions to Tom Davis (R-VA), the corrupt politician and oversight committee chair who was supposed to oversee their spending.


Parsons PAC also gave generously to the National Republican Congressional Committee, $5,000 every March since the Iraq War began in 2003, for a total of $20,000.

Davis's wife hires herself out for ICG Government to help witnesses prepare testimony for his Committee. Davis got her the job with his friend Don Upson. Hiring her is a potential conflict of interest - if not an actual conflict - that goes on anyway. Witnesses know paying her can't hurt their chances for softball questions from him.

Parsons also gave to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, but only one-tenth of what the NRCC got, and only starting in December 2005 when it became evident that Davis, the Committee Chair, was losing his majority rule. Parsons gave no money to incoming Reform Committee chair Henry Waxman.

What is Tom Davis Up To? Part I

Why should voters outside of Virginia care about Tom Davis? His opportunism spreads from the DC area Metrorail to Terri Schiavo's hospital bed. His corruption spreads from Iraq to the Gulf region. His fundraising consists of demanding money from contractors scheduled for review by the Government Reform Committee, a practice called churning by Democrats like our district's own Chris Van Hollen, who works for oversight hearings to be more meaningful.

Davis raised money with Jack Abramoff, and even received an award from one of Jack Abramoff's cover-up groups, Americans for Tax Reform. He also started the Republican "Business Leadership Trust" whose elite first members included fundraiser Mark Foley, who strategized on Florida voters and Miami millionaires with Davis by day and preyed on teen pages in DC by night. While all the Congressional Reps could not have known about Foley, Davis has a reputation for memorizing minute details about Congressional representatives and their districts.

Now that Henry Waxman (D-CA) has the gavel, he is the scariest man in town. I am keeping an eye on what he uncovers. Come back for updates!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

WOW. You thought Tyson's was bad now

This is a monstrosity. Graphic credit: WaPo

Some of my friends and family in Fairfax shop at Montgomery Mall because traffic is easier to manage than traffic through Tysons. Expect more people to make the drive. If you've ever waited through 8 traffic light cycles to get through an intersection there, you already know why they make the trip.

Overhaul Of Tysons Center Approved: Decade-Long Project Will Add Towers With Offices, Apartments. (This story is getting play not just locally but all over the national business press)

The expansion, to begin next year and last a decade, will reshape the huge shopping center, which helped put the former rural crossroads of Tysons on the map 38 years ago -- and which still helps define what is now the 12th-largest business district in the country.

* * * *

Under Macerich's plans, several thousand people will live in nearly 1,400 apartments in towers rising as high as 30 stories and arrayed around the sprawling, 300-store mall like watchtowers around a fort.

The plan ignores new technology that would make a tunnel possible, even though a Tunnel Is Affordable, Advocate Group Says.

A group of Northern Virginia business leaders and residents presented detailed plans yesterday that they said prove that a Metro tunnel through Tysons Corner could be built at an affordable price, raising the pressure on Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and federal officials who have decided the underground route isn't realistic.

"Once they see this information, it will be very difficult for them to say no," said the group's leader, Scott Monett, in presenting the plans at the Fairfax County Government Center. "Now, the ball's in their court. We've given [them] what they need."

Monday, January 22, 2007

Happy Roe Day

PhriendlyJamie has an eloquent blog here.

Angela Carder was a neighbor of mine who got pregnant at 26+ years old. She had been told since she was 13 that her cancer gave her 6 months to live. She and her husband were determined to keep the baby and she stopped taking her medicine. Her remission ended and when her cancer returned she was hospitalized during the 2d trimester for her high-risk pregnancy. George Washington Hospital in DC appointed a guardian for her fetus - not for her - and he sued the mother to end the pregancy. He said it was for good of the child, since Mom was as good as dead, he said, to give the fetus a "better chance" in Neonatal ICU rather than in her declining body. The wacked-out judge weighed the value of her life and the unborn baby's and agreed. The fetus was removed over the objections of her, her husband, and her doctor. The anesthesia killed Mom, AND the baby. The ACLU continued the case to settle the law, even though the outcome couldn't help Angie. They won because the lower court should have honored her freedom of choice and right to privacy.

FDA Round Up around the Beltway

FDA is reeling and reorganizing.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Birchmere coming to Silver Spring

To those of us who groan at the thought of driving the 15 miles through Tyson's traffic to get to the Birchmere, it is coming to Silver Spring!

Birchmere support group:

Downtown Silver Spring:

The Celebrate Silver Spring Foundation:

Bethesda Magazine loves Silver Spring:

67 Things We Love About Bethesda: Bethesda Magazine’s editors pick the things they love about Bethesda.

(3) The Birchmere coming to Silver Spring. The missing link in the Bethesda-area’s arts and entertainment scene. Finally, a place to hear top-name musical performers in our own back yard.
(10) Strathmore Concert Hall. It’s everything that CEO Eliot Pfanstiehl promised. His programming from around the world draws new audiences to the arts (and Strathmore), and opens the eyes and minds of regular audiences.
(19) Strosniders. It’s expensive, it’s crowded, it’s claustrophobic, but you’ve got to love a place where knowledgeable adults help you find the right tool or part, and spend as much time with a person looking for a screw as a $5,000 grill.
(21) Robin Ficker. Come on, politics wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without him.
(23) Lunch at Redrock Canyon Grill in Silver Spring. Sit at the bar and order one of their terrific salads. Jason, the bartender, introduces himself, shakes your hand, and provides terrific, friendly service.
(31) The Republican Party in Montgomery County. If we don’t love them, who will?
(63) Congressman Chris Van Hollen. Get a glimpse of him now because he’s going places—and fast.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ugly Femi-Nazi Condi: asking for it?

There was a time not too long ago when Rush Limbaugh said, "feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream." This week he rushed to defend one power woman drowning in the mainstream when he came to Condi Rice's side after Barbara Boxer pointed out that no one in the current administration including Condi bears accountability to her own family members for the dangers in Iraq.

Here's the exact quote from Boxer, who mentioned Condi's immediate family, which would include her parents and any brothers and sisters. Boxer said nothing about Condi's child-free choices:

"'Who pays the price? I'm not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old and my grandchild is too young. You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families. And I just want to bring us back to that fact.'"

While standing on the shoulders of giants like Madeline Albright who have personally been targets for Rush, Condi defended her own femi-Nazi status "I thought it was O.K. ... if you were single and didn't have children." Rush, who has said that women who are sexually harrassed at work were asking for it, seems to think that sexual harassment is chosen more freely than Condi's alternative lifestyle.

Media Matters for America monitored The Rush Limbaugh Show from March 15 to April 29. During that time, Limbaugh used the term "femi-Nazis" eight times; he suggested that women want to be sexually harassed; he repeatedly equated Democrats with terrorists; he twice resurrected long-discredited right-wing claims that Clinton deputy White House counsel Vince Foster was murdered; he repeatedly called Senator John Kerry a "gigolo"; he called environmentalists "total wackos"; he called Howard Dean "a very sick man"; he said Democrats "hate this country"; he referred several times to Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe as a "punk" ... and so on.

But he’s come to Condi’s rescue, and Condi, like a good Republican woman, has done nothing to suggest that she doesn’t need the knight in shining Oxycontin to come to her rescue.

Last week on Rush Limbaugh's show, his own feminism came out of the closet. "Here you have a rich white chick with a huge, big mouth, trying to lynch this -- an African American woman -- right before Martin Luther King Day, hitting below the ovaries here. What about the childless Gloria Steinem? Drum her out of the feminist movement? I'm going to tell you, I was joking the other day about setting up a lobbying group for the childless. This kind of thinking is exactly where we're headed
with Democrats.”

Rush seems eager to form a lobbyist firm of Femi-Nazis for Condi.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

100 Hours Update from


First 100 Hours is an extensive resource of Federal and state legislation and legislators. The site monitors votes and sends weekly updates telling you what votes are upcoming and how your representative voted on previous bills. It provides links to send your opinion. Here is the latest newsletter for this week, the second newsletter in Congress's First 100 hours.

The new Democratic House leadership intends to spend the first "100 hours" of the legislative session to vote on legislation the Democrats believe are important to the voters. Weigh in with your views on these issues and we will tabulate the results daily.

Cut subsidies to student loan providers to reduce interest rates by 50%.
Your Vote Count: Congress can count on me to Support the Bill -- Oppose the Bill

Proposal: Reduce or rollback tax breaks for oil companies to fund renewable energy projects.
Your Vote Count: Congress can count on me to Support the Bill -- Oppose the Bill

Proposal: Repeal laws that prevent the government from negotiating discount drug purchases from drug companies.
Your Vote Count: 11,924 messages so far - Congress can count on me to


FUND STEM CELL RESEARCH Passed 253-174 VOTE RESULTS House approves funding for stem cell research.
Your Vote Count: 13,126 messages - SUPPORTED (54%) -- OPPOSED (46%)

PAY AS YOU GO RULES Passed 232-200 VOTE RESULTS House requires spending cuts or tax hikes to offset any new spending or tax cuts.
Your Vote Count: 9785 messages - SUPPORTED (74%) -- OPPOSED (26%)

ETHICS OF CONGRESS Passed 232-200 VOTE RESULTS House bans gifts from lobbyists and requires full disclosure of earmarks.
Your Vote Count: 19,112 messages - SUPPORTED (92%) -- OPPOSED (8%)

MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE Passed 315-116 VOTE RESULTS House votes to increase it to $7.25 an hour.
Your Vote Count: 18,112 messages - SUPPORTED (65%) -- OPPOSED (35%)

9/11 COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS Passed 299-128 VOTE RESULTS House approves implementing the 9/11 Commission security proposals.
Your Vote Count: 10,037 messages - SUPPORTED (84%) -- OPPOSED (16%)

The Weekly Update Editors

Monday, January 15, 2007

My trial blog starts now - update

I am taking a shot at the Blogosphere. After posting on DailyKos, Raising Kaine, and myDD, I am willing to see if there is interest to news, links, and rants on politics for 2007-2008.

I see blogs in MD, mostly in Baltimore, and around Annapolis, but none that address the problems, issues, concerns and observations of those of us around the Beltway. The Virginia blogs rose to the occasion in 2006 and gave Democrat Jim Webb the lift he needed to beat neo-wackjob George Allen. Here in Maryland, we had sent the very nice Connie Morella packing years ago when all she did was sign on to the "Contract with America." Now we have politicians like Paul Sarbanes, Ben Cardin, and Chris Van Hollen: hard working representatives who are honest about where they stand, are voting the way as most of the constituents want, and are remaining scandal-free. It's easy to be complacent. But we are affected by politicans and their policies everywhere, as the 5 Republicans pushed through the Texas legislature by Tom DeLay and Karl Rove proved in 2002. Likewise, politics and politicians in Maryland, DC and Virginia affect us. Their policies on traffic lengthen our commute, and prevent Virginians from going to an NFL game and Marylanders from enjoying Old Town. Their policies on safety stop us from taking visitors to the DC Mall at night, or going to Adams Morgan. It is worth identifying action we can take that goes beyond our jurisdictional lines.

So, I plan to start something. Watch for more to come.

My inspiration to get started today comes from the Martin Luther King Day speech by John Edwards:

Silence is Betrayal

It's time to be patriotic about something other than war

The world needs to see our better angels.

More here on

Thanks for coming by -
please leave a comment with any tips or ideas for me!