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Friday, May 20, 2005

Will Gov. Rell sign the bill?

The Senate voted 21-to-16 to approved bill (H.B. 6635) which will equalize the mandatory sentances for selling crack and powder cocaine.

From The Haven Register:

Current law sets the same mandatory minimum sentences for possession or sale of half a gram of crack cocaine as for possession of an ounce of powdered cocaine.

The bill approved by the General Assembly would equalize the thresholds for triggering mandatory minimum sentences for both types of cocaine at one ounce.

Critics of the current law say its discrepancies have contributed to racial discrimination in sentencing, since crack is often called the drug of choice for inner-city minorities while powdered cocaine is favored by more affluent white drug abusers.

"That racial disparity (in the prisons) didn’t exist before we had these drug laws," said state Sen. Toni N. Harp, D-New Haven.

State Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, said that 50 percent of the people arrested in Connecticut on drug charges are white, but that only 10 percent of the them charged with drug offenses end up in prison.

The rate of incarceration for drug defendants who are minorities is closer to 90 percent, according to McDonald, who is co-chairman of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee.

Half a gram of crack cocaine costs $20-50 on the streets, said McDonald, while the street value for an ounce of powdered cocaine is between $1,400 and $2,800.

Gov. Rell has not commented personally on this issue or given an indication if she would sign or veto the bill.

How long has Nancy Johnson been silent on Tom Delay

Go here and find out.

Senator concerned politics played role in base closings

From The Raw Story

In a carefully worded statement, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) questioned why states that supported President Bush's reelection (red states) had a net job gain of 11,000, while states that opposed Bush (blue states) lost nearly 25,000 positions.

[...]

The heaviest hemorrhaging of service jobs—8,586—are in Connecticut, home of Democratic Sens. Joe Lieberman and Chris Dodd.

The largest gains, meanwhile, are in President Bush's home state of Texas, which will see a net increase in military jobs by 6,150 under the plan.

Base Closing Job Loss/Gain for Red and Blue States

Red States
Alabama: + 2,664
Alaska: - 4,619
Arizona: - 550
Arkansas: + 3,585
Colorado: + 4,917
Florida: + 2,757
Georgia: + 7,423
Idaho: - 659
Indiana: + 2,197
Iowa: - 6
Kansas: + 3, 582
Kentucky: - 3,658
Louisiana: - 1,297
Mississippi: - 1,678
Missouri: - 3,679
Montana: -124
Nebraska: -213
Nevada: + 1,059
New Mexico: - 2,849
North Carolina: - 422
North Dakota: - 2,654
Ohio: + 241
Oklahoma: + 3,919
South Carolina: + 709
South Dakota: - 3,797
Tennessee: + 1,088
Texas: + 6,150
Utah: - 446
Virginia: - 1,574
West Virginia: - 251
Wyoming: + 37

Total Personnel/Job Gains: 11,852 (Net)

Blue States
California: - 2,018
Connecticut: -8,586
Delaware: + 91
District of Columbia: - 6,496
Hawaii: - 298
Illinois: - 2,698
Maine: - 6,938
Maryland: + 9,293
Massachusetts: + 491
Michigan: + 125
Minnesota: - 262
New Hampshire: + 4
New Jersey: - 3,760
New York: - 1,071
Oregon: - 1,083
Pennsylvania: - 1,878
Rhode Island: + 531
Vermont: + 56
Washington: + 760
Wisconsin: - 552

Total Personnel/Job Losses: - 24,289 (Net)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

White House reaction to Newsweek a "miscalulation"

From Andrew Sullivan's "Email of the Day"

"The White House's spinning of the Newsweek error is a huge miscalculation. It worked with Rathergate, which involved non-existent 30-year old documents related to a tired, worn out story. The White House got the last word because the Bush National Guard story was toast. Does Karl Rove really believe this is the last word on Islam-and-Interrogation?
Rove is daring every media organization in the US to make prisoner abuse a Page 1 story again. What is he thinking? Stories of Koran-abuse are coming - and the harder the White House spins, the worse they'll look when they arrive. For the life of me, I can't understand why Rove didn't just let the story die. The media had nearly convinced itself that prisoner abuse stories don't matter, but Rove has just lit a flame under journalists everywhere."

The White House's high profile attack on Newsweek - and the reliable media pouncing on the story - is a good strategy if the underlying story is untrue and will not be verified by future reporting. But if the story is true - and no one has denied it - then it will surely come out. Worse, it will raise the whole issue of the abuse of Islam in the treatment of prisoners, which goes far beyond merely one alleged incident of a toilet flush. This may not be close to torture, but it sure does violate the Geneva Conventions; more importantly, it's explosive in terms of alienating Muslims we need and winning the broader war.

Flashback: The White House’s Single, Anonymous, Unreliable Source

From Think Progress:

Today, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan lectured the media about a “journalistic standard that should be met” before running with a story. Fine, but isn’t there also a political standard of accountability that should be met as well? McClellan’s issue with the Newsweek story was that it was “based on a single anonymous source who cannot personally substantiate the report.”

Remember when we learned that the evidence for Iraq’s supposed mobile biological weapons labs came from an unrel iable source? What was McClellan’s response then?

QUESTION: Does it concern the President that the primary source for the intelligence on the mobile biological weapons labs was a guy that U.S. intelligence never every interviewed?

MCCLELLAN: Well, again, all these issues will be looked at as part of a broad review by the independent commission that the President appointed… But it’s important that we look at what we learn on the ground and compare that with what we believed prior to going into Iraq.

There you have it. When confronted with an anonymous source who provided faulty intelligence that the President relied upon to go to war, McClellan chose not to talk about standards of accountability that should be met. Instead, the White House passed the buck to an independent commission and suggested that it didn’t matter what subsequent information they learned about Iraq’s intelligence because they didn’t know it when they went to war. Newsweek has taken responsibility by retracting its story. Will President Bush take responsibility for his own errors?

Base Closing Hearings

The hearings will be televised live today on C-Span3

Listing from the Hartford Courant:

9:30 a.m.
Michael L. Dominguez, acting secretary of the Air Force
Gen. John P. Jumper, Air Force chief of staff

1:30 p.m.
Gordon England, Secretary of the Navy
Admiral Vern Clark, chief of naval operations
Gen. Michael W. Hagee, Marine Corps commandant
Air Force, Navy and Marine leaders will testify today before the government's nine-member base-closing commission. These commission members will review the Pentagon proposal released Friday and send their recommendation to President Bush by Sept. 8:
Anthony Principi (chairman) of California, a Vietnam veteran who was secretary of veterans affairs in President Bush's first term.
James T. Hill of Florida, a retired Army general and former combatant commander of the U.S. Southern Command.
Sue Ellen Turner of Texas, a retired Air Force brigadier general and a member of the American Battle Monuments Commission.
James V. Hansen of Utah, a Navy veteran and former Republican congressman who served on the House Armed Services Committee.
Samuel Knox Skinner of Illinois, a former Army reservist and one-time chief of staff and secretary of transportation under President George H.W. Bush.
Harold W. Gehman Jr. of Virginia, a retired Navy admiral and former NATO supreme allied commander.
Lloyd Warren Newton of Connecticut, a retired Air Force general, now executive vice president for military engines at Pratt & Whitney.
James H. Bilbray of Nevada, a former Army reservist and Democratic congressman who served on international relations, armed services and intelligence committees.
Philip Coyle of California, a defense consultant and senior adviser to the Center for Defense Information, an assistant defense secretary in the Clinton administration.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The politics of closing military bases

David Lightman of the Hartford Courant has an interesting piece on the military base closings and the effect the closings could have on the elections in 2006.

Democrats now have something to complain loudly about. "They can point to the Republican Congress and White House and hold them responsible for losing jobs," said Stuart Rothenberg, a Washington political analyst.

Some of the most vulnerable GOP incumbents are in the Northeastern states and found themselves in fresh fights to save major installations in their states or districts.

Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District, already a key Democratic target because he represents a district that leans to the Democratic side, headed Friday's list. The list also included Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, and Rick Santorum, R-Pa.

Closing of the military base in Groton will not be good for Simmons and Lightman is right when he says that the 2nd district of Connecticut is a seat the democrats think they can pick up next fall.