Thursday, April 21, 2005

This morning's NYT: the Bully Boy economy, bolting from support for Bolton, No State Left Unbullied, Prissy Owens, Pentagon rethinks sodomy and DeLay

From this morning's New York Times, let's start with Jonathan Fuerbringer and Louis Uchitelle's "Fears of Rising Inflation Send Shares to New Lows for '05:"

Fears of rising inflation sent stocks to new lows for the year yesterday after the government reported a sharp increase in consumer prices that all but guaranteed that the Federal Reserve would continue to push interest rates higher even as the economy may be slowing.
Last week investors were worried about the effect of slower economic growth on corporate earnings. The addition of inflation fears to the mix could put nerves on Wall Street even more on edge.

[. . .]
But the broader inflation rate shows no signs of diminishing. Half of the rise in the overall index was from rising gasoline prices, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. They averaged $2.09 a gallon, up from $1.91 in February, according to Energy Department surveys, and in the first half of April the average rose again, to $2.24 a gallon, foreshadowing still another sharp increase in the Consumer Price Index.

Leslie e-mails to call our attention to Douglas Jehl and Sheryl Gay Stolberg's "Doubts on U.N. Nominee's Confirmation Are Growing:"

The nomination appears to hang on what emerges on several points.
One is whether the Senate panel substantiates accusations from a former contract worker on an Agency for International Development project that Mr. Bolton, as a private lawyer hired by her employer, tried to intimidate her in 1994. A co-worker has corroborated some of the charges made by the former contract worker, Melody Townsel, while the president of the company has challenged some of her claims.
A second point involves documents sought by the committee from the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency, to clarify conflicting accounts about Mr. Bolton's role in several matters, including his attempts while working as an under secretary of state to seek the transfer of several employees, and his requests for identifying information about American officials who were mentioned in or participated in conversations intercepted by the National Security Agency. He addressed some of these issues in his public testimony last week, but Democrats have said there is evidence some of his answers were less than candid.
Finally, Mr. Bolton's prospects may hinge on calculations made by the nominee himself, or by the White House, and particularly Vice President Dick Cheney, who is regarded as his main patron. For now, President Bush and his team appear to see the battle as a test of wills, but new information, or the potential for another bruising hearing, may turn his cause into an unacceptable political liability. Mr. Chafee told CNN that the committee's Republicans might consider whether to recommend that the nomination be withdrawn.

Three of our members who are teachers e-mailed to note Sam Dillon's "Districts and Teachers' Union Sue Over Bush Law:"

Opening a new front in the growing rebellion against President Bush's signature education law, the nation's largest teachers' union and eight school districts in Michigan, Texas and Vermont sued the Department of Education yesterday, accusing it of violating a passage in the law that says states cannot be forced to spend their own money to meet federal requirements.
[. . .]
Both the Utah measure, which requires educators there to spend as little state money as possible in carrying out the federal law's requirements, and the union lawsuit rely heavily on the same section of the federal law, which prohibits federal officials from requiring states to allocate their own money to fulfill the law's mandates.
This month, Connecticut's attorney general also announced the intention to sue the department on the same grounds, saying that the testing the law requires costs far more than the money the state is given to pay for it.

Ben e-mails to give a heads up to Neil A. Lewis' "For Republicans, 2 Women Are Exhibits A and B in Battle on Judicial Appointments" which starts off telling us that the vote on the two women will split along party lines:

That is fine with those Republicans and their conservative allies who are pressing for a change in Senate rules to prevent filibusters on judicial nominees, an action that could plunge the chamber into an angry deadlock. The reason the champions of a rule change are pleased is that they believe the two candidates will serve as sympathetic figures and rallying points for their case.
Both nominees are women and state supreme court judges, Priscilla R. Owen of the Texas Supreme Court and Janice Rogers Brown of the California Supreme Court. Democrats mounted filibusters against them in Mr. Bush's first term, blocking them from taking seats on the federal appeals courts.

Re: Prissy Owens (as Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose have dubbed her), opponents would be smart to make an issue of something Neil A. Lewis doesn't include in his article, Willie Searcy. If you have Ivins and Dubose's Bushwhacked, refer to pages 233 to 239 and we'll talk more about it tonight. That's not to imply that Owens is fit for the bench for other reasons -- she's not. That is to say, that's one place to start the discussion.

Marcia e-mails to alert us to John Files' "Pentagon Considers Changing the Legal Definition of Sodomy."

Marcia: I can't figure this out but I think the key passage is:

While the change would not alter the military's policy against gay men and lesbians in uniform, advocates for gay rights said that recent court decisions and the proposed changes to the military code could have broader implications for gay men and lesbians in the armed forces.
"Pentagon leaders can no longer justify banning gays because of private, consensual conduct if the military sodomy statute is repealed," said Steve Ralls, a spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a gay rights group.

Paul e-mails to note Philip Shenon and Stephanie Strom's "DeLay Charity for Children Financed by Corporations:"

A children's charity established by Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, has been underwritten by several of the nation's largest companies and their executives, including companies that routinely lobby lawmakers on issues before Congress, according to a review of charity records released by the companies and other documents.
The 19-year-old charity, the DeLay Foundation for Kids, has consistently declined to identify its donors, citing their desire for privacy. But a review of corporate and charitable records shows that recent donors have included AT&T, the Corrections Corporation of America, Exxon Mobil, Limited Brands and the Southern Company, as well as Bill and Melinda Gates, the Microsoft founder and his wife, and Michael Dell of Dell computers.
[. . .]
Building permits in Texas show that the charity's largest project, a $7 million 50-acre housing complex near Houston for foster children, is being built by Bob Perry, a Texas contractor and a top Republican Party donor. Mr. Perry drew attention last year after providing the seed money for Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the conservative group that sought to undermine Senator John Kerry's Vietnam War record during his campaign for the presidency.

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