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Monthly Archives: September 2007

Wounded vets face financial woes

He was one of America's first defenders on Sept. 11, 2001, a Marine who pulled burned bodies from the ruins of the Pentagon. He saw more horrors in Kuwait and Iraq. Today, he can't keep a job, pay his bills, or chase thoughts of suicide from his tortured brain. In a few weeks, he may lose his house, too. Gamal Awad, the American son of a Sudanese immigrant, exemplifies an emerging group of war veterans: the economic casualties.

Will the GOP become extinct?

It is gallows humor time for Republicans in Congress, where one lawmaker jokes that "there's talk about us going the way of the Whigs," the 19th century political party long extinct. "That's not going to happen," Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., hastens to add, although a little more than a year before the 2008 election, the major leading political indicators still point downward for a party abruptly turned out of power in 2006. Fundraising for Republican campaign organizations lags. That is strikingly so in the House, where the party committee spent more than it raised in each of the past two months, reported only $1.6 million in the bank at the end of August and a debt of nearly $4 million.

Too much of the same old pols?

Forty percent of Americans have never lived when there wasn't a Bush or a Clinton in the White House. Anyone got a problem with that? With Hillary Rodham Clinton hoping to tack another four or eight "Clinton" years on to the Bush-Clinton-Bush presidential pattern that already has held sway for two decades, talk of Bush-Clinton fatigue is increasingly cropping up in the national political debate.

Outsiders frame political debate

They raise millions of dollars, conduct provocative ad campaigns, work with a vast network of like-minded allies and have the power to frame the presidential election going forward as much as the candidates themselves. That used to define only the liberal MoveOn.org, an organization of 3.3 million members that has raised $25 million in the past 18 months and is helping spearhead an anti-war coalition.

Cashing in on political stardom

Barack Obama has two best-selling books, a nice salary as a senator and a wife with a handsome income. Earlier this year he reported assets of up to $1.14 million in addition to his Chicago home. That's small change to some of his presidential rivals, but more than enough to create entanglements and controversies for Obama, a Democrat who has been positioning himself as a friend of the little guy on financial matters. Recently, he scolded Wall Street executives for focusing too much on their own success and not enough on what's good for the whole nation. And he called for tax cuts for the working poor.

Death penalty? What death penalty?

Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson said Thursday he was unaware that a federal judge had ruled last week that lethal injection procedures in his home state were unconstitutional. Thompson also told reporters he was unaware that the U.S. Supreme Court agreed this week to consider a Kentucky case about whether lethal injection violates the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The debate that wasn’t

Republican presidential candidates discussed the importance of reaching out to people of color during a minority issues debate Thursday night and criticized the leading four GOP contenders for skipping it. "I think this is a disgrace that they are not here," said Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback. "I think it's a disgrace to our country. I think it's bad for our party, and I don't think it's good for our future." Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said he was "embarrassed for our party, and I'm embarrassed for those who didn't come."

Bush’s billion bilking wars

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost at least $190 billion in 2008, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, making it the most expensive year in the conflicts since they were launched by President George W. Bush. Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked Congress to approve the funding after Bush this month beat back demands from Democrats for a quick end to the Iraq war and said the U.S. presence there would go on after he leaves office in 2009.

Judge knocks down part of Patriot Act

An Oregon judge on Wednesday ruled that two provisions of the Patriot Act violated the U.S. Constitution's protection against unlawful searches and seizures. U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled in favor of Brandon Mayfield, a lawyer wrongly arrested by the FBI in 2004 for possible ties to the Madrid train bombings, who challenged the secret searches of his home and office.

Candidates plan spending spree

As they stuff millions of dollars more into campaign coffers ahead of a key fundraising deadline, 2008 White House hopefuls are plotting a campaign spending binge of unprecedented proportions. National front-runners Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Rudolph Giuliani and their rivals are making a frenetic dash for cash, before the latest quarterly campaign fundraising period ends Sunday.