New Congressional Votes Database

Thanks to Adrian Holovaty, developer of, there is now a searchable “U.S. Congress Votes Database,” allowing users to browse every vote in the U.S. Congress since 1991.

Holovaty, now an employee of WashingtonPost/ and a host of the “Mashington Post,” WaPo mash-up center, explains this valuable resource in his blog:

“You can subscribe to an RSS feed for any senator or representative…” the database includes such amusing aggregations as “votes that happen after midnight, vote missers, and on a lighter note, vote totals by astrological sign.”

Updated daily, we’ll never be left curious as to which Congressmen turn into werewolves at full moon.

Eggs over-easy w/ a side of death

At least 120 people are dead after an Iranian military plane carrying mostly journalists crashed into a ten story apartment building in Tehran.

The pilot radioed for an emergency landing shortly after take-off at which point it crashed. All 96 on the plane were killed and there may be many more fatalities on the ground.

NPR is reporting from an Iranian source that SANCTIONS against Iran are to blame for the inability of the government to update parts on their antiquated stock of C-130 planes from before the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

No report yet on the “technical problems” resulting in the plane crashing into a residential building.

In Iraq, at least 30 Iraqi police are dead and scores are injured after two female suicide bombers blew themselves up in an Iraqi police academy classroom this morning.

Condoleezza Rice admitted today in Germany that Washington “may make some mistakes” in the war on terror. She did not mention, however, whether or not the administration will acknowledge, admit to, or make not of said “mistakes.”

This week in torture

Condoleezza Rice

Condi Rice continues to riddle her credibility at home and abroad on her never-ending talking points tour.

“Rendition” as they call it, has in fact been practiced since the mid-80s, REUEL GERECHT explained in an extensive debate/history of rendition that was Margaret Warner’s piece tonight on NewsHour. Truth be told, TalkLeft indicates in this post – Extraordinary rendition, as we know understand it — to countries that are not likely to respect the rights of detainees — can legally be considered kidnapping.

Andrew Tyree, Tory MP in The Guardian:

By apparently assisting the US in the practice of extraordinary rendition, the UK and the west are losing the moral high ground so valuable to foreign policy since the end of the cold war.”

See links to Rice’s speech today in which she interprets rendition as a “lawful exercise.” Full speech at BBC. Amnesty article, as reported by the Beeb, which alleges over 800 flights over EU airspace in recent years by CIA rendition planes (Thanks to mBlog for the links).

Human Rights Watch a warning Monday regarding Condi Rice’s mischaracterization of Rendition as lawful.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. writes in HuffPo that all one need know regarding official explanation for torture “not going to engage in torture” can be found in the text of Alberto Gonzales address to the Council on Foreign Relations last week. (Prepared remarks available here at the US DOJ website).

Regarding the Abu Ghraib scandal, Gonzales chided: “The day shift didn’t engage in that kind of conduct.”

Juan Cole hits this hard in his post today, in which he wonders why U.S. institutions abroad are not bound by the Bill of Rights – the backbone of our constitution.

The Heretik has a solid round-up of the reaction in the UK and what’s to come in Deutschland.

Harsher assessment are sure to follow at Rice’s next stop, Germany, where citizens are irate over alleged participation by their government in extraordinary renditions.

Statements from the administrations Venezuelan “arch-enemy” seem to be qualified in light of the European headlines.

From Monday’s Prensa Latina:

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez described the US as the world”s greatest destabilizing factor since WWII, since when no one has sown such instability “as the great US imperial power, particularly in recent years”.

In other news today, Iraqi Vice President Ghazi al Yawer disputed the U.S. government’s assessment that the training of security forces was gathering speed. To that, he agreed with Bush, that it would be ridiculous to set a timetable.

Elisabeth Bumiller writes in the New York Times of the Administrations apparent plans to shake up the staff as the year rolls to a not-so-merry close:

“I hope you know that coming into a new year, some people say, ‘I want to move on,’ ” Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff, said in a recent interview.

Donald H. Rumsfeld spoke today at the School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins Univ. in D.C. In his speech (transcript) he alluded to a recent Pew Research poll that asserted:

* 63% of the people in the news media thought the enterprise would fail;
* So did 71% of the people in the foreign affairs establishment; and
* 71% in the academic settings or think tanks.

It was widely reported over the weekend that a “top” or “#3” member of al-Qaeda was killed in Pakistan. The United States has yet to confirm this death despite Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s “200 percent” certainty of the man’s death.

Editor & Publisher lashes out at those media outlets who once again fell for the “Number 3 Qaeda….” headline:

The Egyptian [Hamza Rabia] wasn’t on the FBI’s list of the world’s 15 most wanted terrorists, nor had he made Pakistan’s most wanted list. In fact, there had been little public mention of Rabia–before he was apparently killed last week in an explosion at his tribal hideout.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s National Security Advisor, addressed one of my deepest curiosities in a Washington Post editorial over the weekend. What does Islamic Radicalism have to do with Communism?

DocuTicker has links to the PDFs of the final assessment of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, which remind me of the time in middle school that they gave “E”‘s instead of “F”s because of the implication “f=failure.”