Saturday, January 12, 2008

Clinton Advisor Arrested for Aggravated DWI

contributed by Suzanne Smalley

Sidney Blumenthal plays hardball. A longtime confidante and adviser to the Clintons, he has zealously defended them through any number of scandal investigations. Along the way, Blumenthal has shown an affinity for the sharp counterattack. When a group of Arkansas state troopers in the early 1990s began leveling charges that Bill Clinton had strayed in his marriage, Blumenthal shot back--penning an article in The New Yorker accusing the troopers of a litany of their own transgressions, including attempted fraud, marital infidelity and drunken driving.

Now, Blumenthal himself faces charges of driving drunk. Blumenthal, an unpaid senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, was arrested in Nashua on the eve of the New Hampshire primary and charged with aggravated DWI, according two members of the Nashua police force.

Sgt. Mike Masella, one of the arresting officers, said the movements of a Buick caught his eye. “I observed all his erratic driving,” Masella said. “When I first noticed him it was at an intersection. He abruptly stopped. That caught my eye … He was drifting in his lane.” Masella followed the car, a rental, for a mile and a half, and clocked its speed at 70mph in a 30mph zone--more than twice the legal limit. Masella pulled the car over at 12:30 a.m. Monday morning. Blumenthal told the officer he was returning to his hotel from a restaurant in Manchester. After declining to take a Breathalyzer, Masella says, Blumenthal failed a field sobriety test. Blumenthal was handcuffed, booked, had his fingerprints taken and was held for four hours--standard operating procedure in such arrests in New Hampshire--before posting bail and being released. (He will be arraigned later this month.) Because the car was moving at excessive speeds, Blumenthal was given the more serious charge of “aggravated” DWI--which carries a mandatory sentence of at least three days behind bars. “He’s charged with a serious crime,” says Nashua Police Capt. Peter Segal, who will oversee the case as it moves toward a court date.

Ray Mello, a New Hampshire attorney, says he is representing Blumenthal and will explore “all of the avenues of discovery.”

“In reality, it’s a traffic violation,” Mello said, noting that the more serious “aggravated” DWI charge is due to the alleged speeding, not “degree of intoxication.” When asked if Blumenthal was driving drunk, Mello said, “He’s going to pursue all legal defenses in court, and we’re going to deal with the case in court and not in the media.” (The Clinton campaign declined comment on the arrest and whether it would affect Blumenthal's status as an adviser.)

Blumenthal’s attorney could, of course, work out a plea agreement with prosecutors and spare his client jail time. Masella said that Blumenthal, a journalist and author currently working as a senior fellow for the New York University Center on Law and Security, was a gracious arrestee. “I asked if he was here with a campaign. He said he was here with Clinton," Masella said. “Other than that we certainly suspected him of DWI, he was a perfect gentleman."

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NH okays Kucinich recount. Kucinch has to pay,

The New Hampshire secretary of state will conduct hand recounts of Tuesday's Democratic and Republican primaries, reported Manchester, N.H., TV station WMUR.Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich and lesser-known Republican Albert Howard asked for the primary recounts.Kucinich, who received 1.4 percent of the New Hampshire primary vote said that he is asking for the recount because of what he says are unexplained disparities between hand-counted ballots and machine-counted ballots and rumors online of counting errors.
Kucinich said he doesn't expect the recount to affect the results.He alluded to online reports alleging disparities around the state between hand-counted ballots, which tended to favor Barack Obama, and machine-counted ones that tended to favor Hillary Clinton. He also noted the difference between pre-election polls, which indicated Obama would win, and Clinton's triumph by a 39 percent to 37 percent margin."It is imperative that these questions be addressed in the interest of public confidence in the integrity of the election process and the election machinery," Kucinich said in a written statement.Howard received 44 votes in the Republican primary, according to unofficial results released by the secretary of state's office.Secretary of State Bill Gardner said that Kucinich and Howard must pay for the recounts. State law allows a candidate to request a recount, but if the difference between votes received for the winner and the candidate requesting the recount is greater than 3 percent, the candidate must pay for the recount.If the candidate asking for the recount is then declared the winner or loses by less than 1 percent of the total votes cast, the cost is refunded by the state.Gardner said the last time New Hampshire did a statewide recount of the results of the presidential primary was in 1980.Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan said his office had received several phone calls since Tuesday, mostly from outside the state, questioning the results. New Hampshire's voting machines are not linked in any way, which Scanlon says reduce the likelihood of tampering with results on a statewide level. Also, the results can be checked against paper ballots."I think people from out of state don't completely understand how our process works and they compare it to the system that might exist in Florida or Ohio, where they have had serious problems," he said. "Perhaps the best thing that could happen for us is to have a recount to show the people that ... the votes that were cast on election day were accurately reflected in the results. And I have every confidence that will be the case."

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Rove Obama attack close to 'outright racist'

Keith Olbermann began a segment on the presidential primary campaign with a disclaimer about the irrelevance of endorsements, saying the last time one may have made a decisive difference was when William Jennings Bryan backed Woodrow Wilson in 1912.

That said, he noted that Barack Obama has been picking up a large number of endorsements this week, the most high-profile coming from Sen. John Kerry, who proclaimed, "The old guard sometimes has a hard time acknowledging an individual who breaks the mold. ... Barack Obama isn't just going to break the mold. Together, we are going to shatter it into a million pieces and rebuild our nation."

"No official endorsements for Senator Clinton today," Olbermann stated, "but it sure appeared as if Karl Rove was back to backing the candidate he'd love to see beaten ... writing an op-ed in the now Murdoch-owned Murdoch Street Journal, in which he explains why Mrs. Clinton won in New Hampshire and otherwise eviscerates Senator Obama, saying of the Illinois Democrat's performance at the debate Saturday, 'His trash talking was an unattractive carryover from his days playing pickup basketball at Harvard, and capped a mediocre night.'"

Political analyst Richard Wolffe joined Olbermann to comment on the Kerry endorsement, which he called "very well timed ... because there is a question of foreign policy experience, of where the establishment of the party is likely to go."

He further explained that the endorsements by Kerry and by a congressman who is extremely close to Nancy Pelosi are not really intended for voters, but should be taken as "important signals to the party that not only can Obama be taken seriously, but they should consider where they put their endorsements."

Of the Rove editorial, Wolffe stated, "Talking to some of Obama's aides, I think they detected a pretty ugly undertone in Rove's op-ed there. The 'trash-talking.' The 'basketball.' The 'lazy' thing. Is he suggesting that there's some sort of color aspect to Barack Obama's behavior that he's getting at? It was uncomfortably close to the edge of being plain-out racist."

"That's Karl," said Olbermann.

The racist slant of Rove's op-ed has already been widely noted among bloggers, with one of the more vehement writing, "When you take into consideration the malevolent genius of Karl Rove - The god damned Johnny Appleseed of fear harvesting - and understand that the higher echelon of the Republican base is being spoon-fed a concoction that consists of a feminist-socialist lesbian wife of a shill president or a lazy, jive-talking, b-ball playing huckster boy politician from Chicago ... Rove's ability to triangulate issues and interweave them with subtle strereotypical imagery would be fun to read if it was fiction. Unfortunately in real life, the fat master has stirred and is testing the waters to see if his style of politics still plays."

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This Year, Vote For Change!

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Guantanamo detainees are not human beings - US judges

On the sixth anniversary of the imprisonment of detainees at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, a United States judge threw out lawsuit brought by four former British detainees against Donald Rumsfeld and senior military officers for ordering torture and religious abuse, ruling that th the detainees are not "Persons" under U.S. Law, which according to another judge, means that they are less than "human beings".

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit also ruled that torture is a "foreseeable consequence" of military detention in dismissing the action brought by Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed and Jamal Al-Harith, who spent more than two years in Guantánamo and were repatriated to the U.K. in 2004.

In a 43-page opinion, Circuit Judge Karen Lecraft Henderson found that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a statute that applies by its terms to all “persons” did not apply to detainees at Guantánamo, effectively ruling that the detainees are not persons at all for purposes of U.S. law.

The Court also dismissed the detainees’ claims under the Alien Tort Statute and the Geneva Conventions, finding defendants immune on the basis that “torture is a foreseeable consequence of the military’s detention of suspected enemy combatants,” and ruled that even if torture and religious abuse were illegal, defendants were immune under the Constitution because they could not have reasonably known that detainees at Guantánamo had any constitutional rights.

Judge Janice Rogers Brown agreed with the result but attacked the majority for using a definition of person “at odds with its plain meaning.”

“There is little mystery that a ‘person’ is an individual human being…as distinguished from an animal or thing.” she added and concluded that majority’s decision “leaves us with the unfortunate and quite dubious distinction of being the only court to declare those held at Guantánamo are not ‘person[s].’ This is a most regrettable holding in a case where plaintiffs have alleged high-level U.S. government officials treated them as less than human.”

“We are disappointed that the D.C. Circuit has not held Secretary Rumsfeld and the chain of command accountable for torture at Guantánamo," Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights, co-counsel on the case, commented. "The entire world recognizes that torture and religious humiliation are never permissible tools for a government. We hope that the Supreme Court will make clear that this country does not tolerate torture or abuse by an unfettered executive.”

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Judge halts Bible distribution in school

ST. LOUIS - A federal judge has ruled that it's unconstitutional for a school district to allow the distribution of Bibles to grade school students.

For more than three decades, the South Iron School District in Annapolis, Mo., allowed representatives of Gideons International to give away Bibles in fifth-grade classrooms.

Eight parents sued two years ago and won a temporary injunction against the handouts.

The district then altered its policy, saying the Gideons and others were still welcome to distribute Bibles or other literature before or after school or during lunch break, but not in classrooms.

But federal Judge Catherine Perry now has ruled both practices unconstitutional, saying their purpose "is the promotion of Christianity" with the school's apparent endorsement.

Mathew Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, a religious legal advocacy organization, represented the school district and says he'll appeal.

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New Hampshire to Recount Ballots in Light of Controversy

Both Republican and Democratic candidates have asked the state of New Hampshire to conduct a hand recount of all primary ballots statewide, citing internet rumors about vote discrepancies and voting machine fraud in the primary results.

Democratic presidential nominee candidate Kucinich was the first to make headlines in calling for a statewide recount of the Democratic primary results in response to the internet fury around a post made by a woman named Lori Price that someone made online that compares votes counted by optical scan machines made by Diebold Election Systems (now re-named Premier Election Solutions) to votes counted by hand. [Thanks to the reader below who wrote in to say that Price didn't create the site where the results appear.]

Today the New Hampshire secretary of state's office announced that Republican presidential nominee candidate Albert Howard also asked for a statewide recount of the Republican primary results.

The last time New Hampshire conducted a statewide recount of a presidential primary was in 1980.

Ellen Dube, elections assistant at the New Hampshire Secretary of State's office, told me that the Republican recount will begin next Wednesday (January 16). She said her office had not yet received a formal request from Kucinich. She said the recounts would likely take at least two weeks to complete and would cost several thousand dollars each, since the state will have to pay all workers involved in the recount, including state troopers who will transport the ballots.

I should emphasize here that, contrary to some reports in the blogosphere, the controversy is not about electronic voting machines (i.e., paperless touch-screen voting machines), since New Hampshire doesn't use such machines. New Hampshire passed a law back in 1994 requiring all voting machines to produce a paper trail, a decade before the controversy over paperless touch-screen machines even became an issue. Instead of touch-screen machines, New Hampshire uses only old-style paper ballots and optical-scan ballots. In the case of the latter, voters mark a paper ballot with a pen before officials scan it through an electronic reader and tabulate the results via computer.

The controversy began when Lori Price someone posted results showing that Barack Obama received more votes than Clinton in precincts where the ballots were counted by hand than in precincts where they were counted by optical-scan machines.

Some activists have seized the information as "proof" of voter fraud, though Price the person who posted the information cautioned against drawing such conclusions, writing that "They simply show that some things stand out as being odd and worthy of further investigation."

At least one blogger has found an alternative explanation for the differences in the vote results. The difference between the machine-counted precincts and the hand-counted precincts, writes blogger Ed Morrissey, "is that the former tend to be in the bigger cities such as Nashua and Manchester where Hillary had significant polling leads before the primary. The hand-counted precincts were in areas known to be Obama territory."

Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan told the Associated Press that the state will be happy to conduct a recount but Kucinich, who won only two percent of his party's vote and has the least to gain from the recount, will have to pay the full cost for it since he did not lose in a close race. Howard will also have to pay the entire cost of the Republican recount. (New Hampshire law allows candidates who lose a race by a margin of less than 3 percent to demand a recount at a cost of only $2,000. Candidates who lose by more than this have to pay the full cost of a recount.)

''Perhaps the best thing that could happen for us is to have a recount," Scanlan said, "to show the people that ... the votes that were cast on election day were accurately reflected in the results. And I have every confidence that will be the case.''

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As Diebold Goes, So Goes the Nation?

Conspiracy theories surrounding Diebold, the company that makes electronic voting machines, are not a recent phenomenon. The 2004 Presidential election, some conspiracy theorists say, was greased in Ohio by calculated Diebold glitches, adding that the company was a conspicuous donor to the Bush campaign and would benefit from another four years of his presidency. Strong words, of course, and hard to prove.

Today, the blogosphere is certifiably hopping with claims that Sen. Hillary Clinton received a boost in "Diebold Districts," or voting centers that utilized the machines. Some are claiming fraud, while others are breaking out the stats to show a clear Diebold Advantage for Clinton.

Just remember what Mark Twain said. "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics."

B. Brandon Barker is the author of the novel Operation EMU.

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Reagan On Giuliani: "I Think He's Crazy"

It appears the Gipper has injected himself into the presidential race from the grave. I picked up a copy of the newly released Reagan Diaries and found the following in an entry from Tuesday, June 14, 1988 :

Jim Kelly NSC came in to report Philippine legis. is giving us trouble on renewing our mil. bases there. And Giuliani (U.S. Attorney) is talking of drawing up an indictment against Marcos. I think he's crazy.

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Kucinich Asks for New Hampshire Recount

DETROIT - Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, the most outspoken advocate in the Presidential field and in Congress for election integrity, paper-ballot elections, and campaign finance reform, has sent a letter to the New Hampshire Secretary of State asking for a recount of Tuesday's election because of "unexplained disparities between hand-counted ballots and machine-counted ballots."

"I am not making this request in the expectation that a recount will significantly affect the number of votes that were cast on my behalf," Kucinich stressed in a letter to Secretary of State William M. Gardner. But, "Serious and credible reports, allegations, and rumors have surfaced in the past few days...It is imperative that these questions be addressed in the interest of public confidence in the integrity of the election process and the election machinery - not just in New Hampshire, but in every other state that conducts a primary election."

He added, "Ever since the 2000 election - and even before - the American people have been losing faith in the belief that their votes were actually counted. This recount isn't about who won 39% of 36% or even 1%. It's about establishing whether 100% of the voters had 100% of their votes counted exactly the way they cast them."

Kucinich, who drew about 1.4% of the New Hampshire Democratic primary vote, wrote, "This is not about my candidacy or any other individual candidacy. It is about the integrity of the election process." No other Democratic candidate, he noted, has stepped forward to question or pursue the claims being made.

"New Hampshire is in the unique position to address - and, if so determined, rectify - these issues before they escalate into a massive, nationwide suspicion of the process by which Americans elect their President. Based on the controversies surrounding the Presidential elections in 2004 and 2000, New Hampshire is in a prime position to investigate possible irregularities and to issue findings for the benefit of the entire nation," Kucinich wrote in his letter.

"Without an official recount, the voters of New Hampshire and the rest of the nation will never know whether there are flaws in our electoral system that need to be identified and addressed at this relatively early point in the Presidential nominating process," said Kucinich, who is campaigning in Michigan this week in advance of next Tuesday's Presidential primary in that state.

Kucinich for President 2008, Inc. National Campaign HQ: Andy Juniewicz, 216-409-8992 or Washington, D.C.: Sharon Manitta, 202-506-6683 or National Press Officer: Tom Staudter, 914-419-5221
Copyright Business Wire 2008
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John Kerry & George Miller Endorse Barack Obama

From NBC's Mark Murray and Chuck Todd

First Read has just confirmed this news that the AP first reported: that John Kerry will be endorsing Obama.

California congressman George Miller (D) is also backing Obama's presidential campaign. This is perhaps the closest thing to getting a Nancy Pelosi endorsement as you can come without actually getting it. Miller is incredibly close with her politically. He wouldn't be doing this without her consent of sorts.

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