Tuli Can't Stop Talking

These are just my thoughts on contemporary issues and an attempt to open up a dialogue.

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Location: New York City

A citizen who cares deeply about the United States Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Coretta Scott King

R. I. P.
1927 - 2006

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Wolcott on Bartlett

My, my, how times have changed. And one of my favorites the brilliant Mr. Wolcott takes his rapier mind and pen to make it all clear.

Bruce Bartlett, formerly a Kool-Aid drinking Bushie, until he was shown the door at the National Center for Policy Analysis for having contrarian and Non-Bushie Orthodox views, has a new book out. Now, Mr. Bartlett is a supply-side economist who has written extensively bashing the Shrill One, Mr. Krugman (in full disclosure one of my heroes).

But now he appears to be the basher and sounding very shrill himself. Hmmm. The rapier mind of Mr. Wolcott takes him on and is brilliant.

A taste:

Ah, sweet irony of life. It was less than three years ago that Bruce Bartlett, a supply-side economist who's held a bouquet of policy-adviser positions, was writing columns trying to dump ice water on the "angry," "inflammatory," "apoplectic" Paul Krugman. But last October Bartlett, a sure-as-shootin' Reagan conservative, was hustled to the exit from his post at the National Center for Policy Analysis for impure thoughts and words that violated the rightwing think-tank's canon.

Next month will see the publication of his new book about Bush's superbad economic policy, and, my my, does much of it sound Krugmanesque, an adjective that I consider a compliment. Bartlett emerges from these pages drenched in an auburn shade of Bitter Disillusionment, and the title alone tells you how fed-up, cheesed-off, and ready to bring on the funk he is:

Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy

Four presidents dominate this book: Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush the Son. And the thesis of the book is that Bush is much closer to Nixon than Reagan, and that conservatives have reason to rue that they ever mau-mau'd Clinton about Monica. An unharassed, unbesieged Clinton might have truly reformed Social Security in his second term, according to Bartlett. The Monica follies made that impossible. Yet history will record that in economic Clinton was the far more prudent, serious, and conscientious leader.

"I think it is telling that Bush’s Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton, was far better on the budget than he has been. Clinton vetoed bills because they spent too much. Bush never does. Clinton not only reduced the deficit, but he actually cut spending. Bush has increased both. Clinton abolished an entitlement program. Bush created an extremely expensive new one. One can still argue about whether Clinton was a better president or a better man than Bush, but on the budget there is no ambiguity. Clinton was much better.

Now was Mr. Bartlett during his service to Bush Co. merely delusional and now disillusioned? This is the question I always have about these former Kool-Aid drinkers. What the hell were they thinking in the first place? It isn’t as if anyone who was slightly interested couldn’t find out who and what George W. Bush was prior to being President. This knowledge would have given you a really clear idea as to what was going to transpire during his presidency. I know I have not been shocked by anything he has done and I am no big time policy wonk.

So, why are these guys SHOCKED, SHOCKED?

I think that it is time to seriously re-evaluate how we decide who is a policy wonk worthy of our consideration. Because if I knew that Bush was a corporatist stooge who was going to loot the U.S. Treasury for the benefit of his corporate masters and in the process run up a deficit to beat all deficits and plunge the American Economy into virtual bankruptcy, where were these so called professionals who supported his every move and are now decrying his economic policies?

I am so tired of these mea culpas. Enough already.

You all, Mr. Bartlett, et al., assisted George W. Bush in screwing and looting this nation’s coffers.

You need to stand up, be a man and own up to it.

Doug Seems Really Pissed Off!

Over at Capital Hill Blue I sense a little outrage. Now, I know a lot of folks out there dismiss CHB as being fringe. In fact they are so fringe that they alerted us to the NSA domestic spying over a year before the MSM, i.e. the NYT’s, did but that is just one of many stories for another day.

That said, Doug Thompson has a way of really putting the story into a coherent and concise narrative. And in the Bush Co. years that ability alone explains why he is on the No-Fly List.

Here is a bit of what he has to say:

Sadly, the President of the United States is a criminal. In fact, he should be arrested, tried and sentenced to life in prison as a repeat offender.

He is a war criminal who led this nation into an illegal conflict based on lies. His criminal conduct in the invasion of Iraq has led to the deaths of more than 2,000 American military men and women and countless thousands of Iraqi civilians.

He ripped the Constitution to shreds, ordering the National Security Agency, the Pentagon and other government agencies to spy on American citizens.

His administration trampled basic American freedoms, creating a police state through the Gestapo tactics of the Department of Homeland Security and the rights-robbing USA Patriot Act.

He lied to the American people about his close relationship with corrupt GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, claiming he didn’t know the man who raised more than $100,000 for his campaign and visited the White House more than 200 times in his first year in office as well as trips to the ranch in Crawford, Texas.

He ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to withhold information about dangerous toxins dumped into the air over Manhattan when terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center.

His vice president met secretly with the CEOs of America’s top energy companies, cutting deals that gave those companies record profits while ripping off consumers at the gas pump.

Bush’s crimes against the Constitution and the American people began the day he took office and continue today. Each day brings new revelations of abuse of power, evasion of the law and disregard for basic rights of privacy.

Under Bush’s watch, the fears of George Orwell became all too real. The NSA routinely monitors phone calls of American citizens. The Defense Advance Research Projects Agency tracks routine travel and financial activities of Americans. The Pentagon sends infiltrators to spy on groups whose only crime is disagreement with the Iraq war or the other Draconian actions of the Bush administration.

Now, Doug is really pissed off here. So are a very large number of U.S. Citizens. But as we all know: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are not going to be impeached. The House and Senate are GOP captives.

Exhibit A: We currently have a Senate that is so enthralled by this Administration that they are going to put Samuel Alito, who believes in the Unitary Executive Theory, on the Supreme Court. These Senators know that in doing this they are handing over their Constitutionally delegated powers to the Executive. This is a clear violation of their Oath of Office to defend the Constitution and the checks and balances our Founding Fathers so carefully crafted in our premiere legal document. And yet, they are going to do it.

There is obviously something in the Kool-Aid in Washington, D.C. and the President isn’t the only one drinking it.

I am with Doug here and I am, like him, REALLY, REALLY PISSED.

Now, go and read the whole thing.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Ah, the Blogosphere and the MSM.

Scott Shields at MyDD has a good post on how the MSM views the Blogosphere.

Here is a snippet:

Jim VandeHei of The Washington Post, whose wife Hanna used to work for Tom DeLay and whose house is reportedly adorned in wingnut finery, has an article in this morning's paper that amounts to nothing but a hit piece on the progressive blogosphere. It seems that the netroots campaign to hold the Post accountable is freaking them out.

So, go read the rest and keep in mind these are for the most part folks who have been cowed as being the liberal media by the right-wing and are desperately trying to prove that they are not liberal, but merely “balanced.”

Balanced, of course, not meaning factual.

I guess it is time for a Blogger’s Ethics Conference.

Senators Who Support Unitary Executive Theory Should be Impeached

Why would any Senator in his right mind vote for Alito when he believes in the Unitary Executive Theory? Why would they want to give their constitutional power to the executive? They have sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

Every Senator should join the Filibuster, in their interest, and in the interest of the Republic.

Any Senator who votes for Alito is violating his Oath of Office and should be impeached.

Education: What Does it Mean?

Andros has a very thoughtful, as usual, post on education over at Liberal Citizen. I agree wholeheartedly. Being educated is one thing, but what you do with it is another thing. I am a subscriber to the theory that a “Liberal Arts Education” should promote citizenship.

I don’t mean to say that a “Technical Education” is a bad thing, but that it shouldn’t be the only thing.

I also ascribe to the theory that an Interdisciplinary approach to education is the most relevant form of pedagogy. I believe in context and the intertwining of disciplines just as life is an intertwining of values, events and consequences.

Now as one with a technical degree, i.e. a J.D., though from an Interdisciplinary school, I appreciate the fact that I received an excellent Liberal Arts Education as an undergraduate. Without that grounding I would have been less able to put my legal education into a coherent perspective and integrate it into my world view and actual life goals.

My Liberal Arts Education and subsequent Interdisciplinary Legal Education gave me a broad and unlimited view of citizenship. I believe that a purely Technical Education provides a narrow and, I believe in most cases, self-serving view of citizenship.

Now, maybe it is just me? I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

So, I guess we have to ask those Money Changers on Wall Street and at the White Shoe Law firms what they think.

I don’t mean to sound self-congratulatory, after all I am Canadian and Harper was just elevated to the top. But, as a Canadian, Liberalism is in my blood.

Just read Andros, it is worth it.


The Republican “Revolution” has led to an increase in Pork! It turns out that those Revolutionizing Republicans are Pigs for Earmarks, which is the Congressional word for Pork. Am I surprised? Not in the least. Back in the day there was a saying that “The Democrats may steal your daughter, but the Republicans will steal your wallet.” Apparently that old adage was even truer than we thought. Click on this link to a graphic on earmarks, i.e. congressional Pork, and see what I mean.

This is the real story of the K Street Project and the Republican-Abramoff Scandal. It is the intersection of the whole pay-for-play scheme that rules this Republican Congress.

Make no mistake; it is about looting the U.S. Treasury for the benefit of the Corporatists who control this government.

Like the saying goes, “Follow the Money.”


This is painfully hilarious. Watch this before you watch the State of the Union speech to be delivered on Tuesday. Okay, I know that many are unable to watch our present day King George speechifying, but say you do watch, or not, you should watch this video.

It is, like I said, “painfully hilarious!”

PS This is getting many hits so you might not be able to get there at first. Keep trying. It is worth it.

Cliff’s Corner is Great!

Are you a regular Americablog reader? If not, why not? One of my favorite features is Cliff’s Corner. No offense John I love you too. You are serious as a heart attack and I love that. We all get great scoops from you. But, though Cliff is serious as a heart attack, he makes me laugh and a girl’s got to laugh these days.

Here is a taste of what you get when you walk to his corner:

Another week. More preposterousness to report.

Chris Matthews, who sits home in his Jack Abramoff underoos while replaying videos of George W. Bush’s tight flight suit adventure to ensure he can still get his flag up to full mast, finally stepped over a line this past week. Actually, he has hurdled over the Checkpoint Charlie of decency in the past, but many mired in “reality-based” thinking have now decided enough is really enough.

The irrepressible Mr. Matthews, whose voluptuous head is so empty that D.C. squatters use it for shelter, has shown himself to be pathetically enamored with George W. Bush’s “maleness” in the past (although it doesn’t stop him from making “fag” jokes on Imus) and often makes political pronouncements so stupid Jessica Simpson thought of them first.

Recently, Mr. Matthews compared Osama bin Laden to Michael Moore, even though the Bush Administration can actually find Michael Moore. And Moore and Osama would have to strain to have anything in common, being that Moore, like any sentient being, detests Bush for his constant lying. Meanwhile bin Laden loves Bush for the wonderful recruiting possibilities he has opened up for Al Qaeda with his abject failure to succeed in any phase of being a “war-time president” or “decision-maker.” I assume Bush meant the latter, "decision-maker," as in, should I use Captain Morgan’s or Cruzan for that Cuba Libre next time I go off the wagon?

Go on and read the finale. You will be glad you did.

And do visit John, et al., at Americablog regularly. You might, to quote Martha, “learn something new everyday.” I know I do.

Is this Blatant or What?

What the implications for Bush’s latest move in the Abramoff Scandal are yet to be seen. But this nomination of the lead prosecutor doesn’t bode well for the cases as far as I am concerned.

From the WAPO:

President Bush on Wednesday nominated one of the Justice Department's lead prosecutors in the Jack Abramoff corruption probe to a U.S. District Court seat.

Noel Hillman, chief of the department's public integrity section, was nominated for the federal judgeship in New Jersey, where he served in the U.S. Attorney's office under Michael Chertoff, now secretary of Homeland Security.

The White House was poised to nominate Hillman last summer, after New Jersey's two Democratic senators took the opportunity to weigh in on Hillman and other nominees in exchange for lifting their objections to another candidate Bush had nominated in 2003.

White House spokeswoman Erin Healy said the president makes all his nominations in a timely manner and was ready to move forward with these, adding that Bush was pleased to work with Sen. Frank Lautenberg and former Sen. Jon Corzine, now governor of New Jersey.

Hillman will step down as chief of the public integrity unit next week, but remain in the Justice Department's criminal division until he is confirmed, a department official said. Andrew Lourie, a career prosecutor in Miami, will lead the public corruption-fighting office on a temporary basis, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss personnel matters.

Lourie performed the same role until Hillman took over early in 2003.

During a news conference earlier this month following Abramoff's guilty plea on corruption-related charges, Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher said Hillman played an important role in providing leadership in the investigation.

Hillman came to Washington in 2001. Before that, he was an assistant U.S. attorney in New Jersey from 1992 to 2001, coming in while Chertoff was the U.S. attorney.

Last summer, Corzine and Lautenberg signed off on the nominations of Hillman and two others nominated to judgeships in New Jersey on Wednesday. They gave the OK as part of an agreement to lift their objections to Bush's nomination of Republican activist Peter Sheridan to the federal bench.

Now I don’t normally have an Aluminum Hat on but this smells to me. And as for Alice Fisher, Jane at Firedoglake has some very interesting thoughts on that as well:

I was more than a little tweaked today when I turned on CSPAN and saw that Alice Fisher was giving the press conference in the Abramoff case. Alice Fisher should have recused herself long ago.

As Digby has noted, with the Democrats neutered and the press sufficiently conscripted into the GOP cause at a certain point the only functional check in the system over this corrupt administration became the career prosecutors within the Justice Department. James Comey was a full-on disaster appointee for BushCo. who bucked them from the get over wiretapping, torture and Ashcroft's oversight of the Plame investigation. When the wingy Ashcroft was not servile enough and refused to reign Comey in even he got the boot and was replaced by the much more morally pliant Abu Gonzales.

Last year BushCo. was trying to get Timothy "Tyco" Flanigan through Senate confirmation to replace Comey as the number two in the Justice Department, but Flanigan got cute at his hearings and Specter hated him. There was much speculation that Flanigan would get a recess appointment last summer and as Bush's old Skull-and-Bones crony be in the perfect spot to oversee Patrick Fitzgerald, but that didn't happen. Bush did give a recess appointment to Alice Fisher as Chief of the Criminal Division. On Wednesday, right smack in the middle of the Hurricane Katrina disaster when the country wasn't looking. (Comey eventually shot them all the finger on his way out the door and appointed the ethical David Margolis to oversee Fitzgerald.)

Bush must've really wanted Alice Fisher in there.

Fisher had been having trouble with her confirmation too, and Carl Levin had blocked her nomination due to concerns over her position on torture. There was also worry about her connection to DeLay:

Leahy also expressed concerns about Fisher's "views on checks of controversial provisions of the Patriot Act and her opposition to the Act's sunset provision; her participation in meetings in which the FBI expressed its disagreement with harsh interrogation methods practiced by the military toward detainees held at Guantanamo, and her ideas about appropriate safeguards for the treatment of enemy combatants." Leahy was also concerned about "reports that she has had ties to Congressman Tom DeLay'’s defense team" and "also to know what steps she to take to avoid a conflict of interest in the Department's investigation of lobbyist Jack Abramoff and possibly Mr. DeLay."

Fisher is a career Republican who in her former job was registered as a lobbyist for HCA, the healthcare company founded by Bill Frist's father. Her appointment was also controversial due to the fact that like her boss Abu Gonzales, Fisher has no trial experience and with Comey gone there would be no senior member of the Justice Department who was an experienced criminal prosecutor. But Senatorial oversight was dispensed with and BushCo. continued on its Brownie-esque rampage to replace experience with cronyism.

Dismissing Jane Hamsher’s analysis is at our peril.

So, it is with extreme trepidation that I try to visualize the future of this investigation into Republican High Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Abramoff and Scanlon may be singing to the DOJ, but will they listen, and hear the song?

His Way!

Well, Driftglass has done it again. He has taken Sinatra’s song “I Did It My Way” and customized it to fit W’s life.

Here are just a few bars to get you going:

And soon, November nears;
And so we face the next election.
My friends, keep pimping Fear,
Its all that give us our erection.

I’ve lived a wastrel’s life
Should be trailer-bound and selling Amway
But Daddy’s rich; friends richer still
So I get things my way.

Regrets? My drunken kids.
Except for them, I am perfection.
Shivved who I wanted to
And spied on you without detection.

Go read and sing along.

Driftglass: Brilliant!

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Rude One on MLK and Separation of Church and State.

The Rude One has an entry today on MLK, Jefferson, and the Religious Right. And, yes he is Rude, it is his job. And, yes he is also Right!

Read it all.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Snow and Riverside Drive

Riverside Drive is beautiful. But, when it is covered with snow it is extremely elegant. That is what it looks like right now.

Okay, so I am a sucka for the Upper West Side.

But, Riverside Drive and the Park covered in pristine snow is spectacular.


Swift Boating of Murtha, and Murray Has It.

Rove and BushCo. have the same script over and over again. Let me see we had Cleeland, Kerry, and now Murtha. No imagination here, just fragging the folks who actually did serve in the military as opposed to this entire administration who didn’t serve in the military or in the President’s case forgot to serve.

So, here is what Murray, the sage, has to say:

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Washington Post this morning gives major play this morning to an attack of Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) on the website of the (until now) obscure Cybercast News Service. It accuses
Murtha-- who had won eight military awards, including a Bronze star, and a Distinguished Service Medal of the United States Marine Corps, for his 37 years of military service-- of purportedly saying that he had not deserved to win two Purple Hearts also awarded him for his service during the Vietnam war.

The Post story, by reporters Howard Kurtz and Shallagh Murray, quotes extensively David Thibault, the editor in chief of the (who ever heard of them before the Washington Post decided to give them such prominence?) Cybercast News Service, as saying that Murtha's medals from 1967 are relevant now "because the congressman has really put himself in the forefront of the antiwar movement."

But the article tells us very little about Thibault himself. Had the reporters done a simple Internet search, they would have discovered this biography of Thibault posted online which describes him as a "senior producer for a televised news magazine" broadcast and sponsored by the Republican National Committee. I dunno, but I for one, would have wanted to know that.

Thibault's background and those engaging in the Swiftboating of Murtha would be relevant to any news story on this issue, I would think.

And so would some independent examination by the Post as to whether there is even any veracity to the charges.

The New York Times takes a day or two, or longer, before doing stories like this, as do other papers. They tend to examine the motives and backgrounds of those making such charges, and whether or not they have any basis in fact. That's how the Times handled the allegations that swirled around John Kerry's war service.

The Post's news ethic tends more towards that simply because an allegation is made it should be reported. To do otherwise, some editors of the newspaper argue, would mean putting aside one's objectivity. But simply giving prominent play to allegations that might or might not turn out to be true at some later day seems to me to be subjectivity by some other name.

Update: 5:20 P.M., Saturday night: The Post article in amplifying the allegations of the Cybercast News Service, also, in turn quotes an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

The article included a 1996 quote from Harry Fox, who worked for former representative John Saylor (R-Pa.), telling a local newspaper that Murtha was "pretending to be a big war hero" Fox, who lost a 1974 election to Murtha, said the 38-year old Marine veteran had asked Saylor for assistance in obtaining the Purple Hearts because the office believed he lacked adequate evidence of his

What the Post leaves out of its story is that Saylor is deceased, and well, has been for some time now. (Saylor died way back in 1973, something that the Cybercast "News" Service, noted in their news story-- not to impugn their reporting practices.) In short, the Washington Post is relying on something said by a person with an axe to grind (Fox), who is quoting someone who is deceased (but who the newspaper forgot to tell you is deceased.) But it is even somewhat worse than that: the Post is quoting the ever-so-reliable and unbiased Cybercast News Service, which is quoting a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, which includes an allegation by Fox... who is citing someone now deceased.

Makes you want to drop a dime to Howie Kurtz! But alas, Kurtz wrote the story. Oh well.

Second update, 10:50 P.M., Saturday Night: In my original post, I mistakenly reported that Rep. Murtha won a Silver Star and two Bronze stars. Instead, he won a Bronze Star; a Distinguished Service Medal of the United States Marine Corps, and six other military awards for his 37 years of service with the Marine Corp. Apologies to my readers. A complete list of Murtha's military awards can be found here.

Third update, 12:43 P.M.: It gets worse. At a blogger, I am only an amateur at best. Jane Hamsher who knows how to do it right, and better than anyone else. A natural born blogger! Jane points out that Cybercast never actually even interviewed Harry Fox.

Jane quotes the website as saying: "Cybercast News Service attempted to contact Fox for this article, but learned that the health of the 81-year-old was too poor to allow him to communicate."

So if I understand this correctly, regarding the purported allegations by the late Rep. Saylor that Rep. Murtha did not deserve his Purple Hearts, the Washington Post is relying on the reporting of the Cyercast News Service, which is in turn is relying on comments made years ago by Harry Fox, who is in turn is quoting the late Congressman Saylor-- who died all the way back in 1973. The Post should have done a much better job of making this clear in their story-- in my humble opinion-- if they should have even published a story at all

Murtha, unlike many others, is fighting back and he is not going to let this stand.

And, that is the way it should be. Is that Walter Cronkite speaking?

Abu Ghraib: The WAPO Finally Gets It!

Finally the Washington Post, Fred Hiatt that is, gets the Torture Scandal.

A General's Dishonor

Sunday, January 15, 2006; B06

BY INVOKING his right to avoid self-incrimination, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller has avoided a much-needed cross-examination of his role in the abuse of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. He has also added to his dishonor as a commander who oversaw improper interrogations at Guantanamo Bay, then introduced some of the same practices in Iraq in violation of the Geneva Conventions. Gen. Miller's subsequent account of his actions, in sworn testimony to Congress and Army investigators, has been contradicted by at least four other witnesses, so it's not surprising that he has sought shelter in the military's equivalent of the Fifth Amendment. He has yet to be the subject of any charge. But anyone who still accepts the Abu Ghraib cover story peddled by the White House and the Pentagon -- that the abuses portrayed in now-infamous photographs were invented by rogue guards on the night shift -- ought to be asking what this two-star general is afraid of.

Gen. Miller was commander at Guantanamo in 2002 when prisoners were subjected to abuses documented by shocked FBI agents as well as the International Red Cross, which called them "tantamount to torture." An Army investigation completed last summer found that an al Qaeda suspect named Mohamed Qahtani was threatened with snarling dogs, forced to wear underwear on his head and led by a leash attached to his chains -- the very abuse later shown in the Abu Ghraib photographs. In August 2003 Gen. Miller was dispatched to Iraq with the mission of improving intelligence collection from detainees. Within weeks dogs had been introduced to interrogations at Abu Ghraib, and Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the senior U.S. commander in Iraq, had issued several memos authorizing other interrogation techniques used at Guantanamo but violating the Geneva Conventions, including painful shackling, sleep deprivation and nudity.

The military intelligence commander at Abu Ghraib, Col. Thomas M. Pappas, told investigators in 2004 that Gen. Miller specifically recommended the use of dogs in interrogations. The prison's former warden, Maj. David DiNenna, supported that account in sworn testimony last summer. So did a military interrogator who said he had been trained in using dogs by a team that Gen. Miller sent to Iraq. But the general denied recommending dogs for interrogations in sworn testimony to Congress in 2004 and in interviews with military criminal investigators. "No methods contrary to the Geneva Convention were presented at any time by the assistance team I took to Iraq," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. This highly questionable testimony was not challenged by the Senate or by the numerous Pentagon investigations into Abu Ghraib, which excused all senior officers except for one reserve brigadier general who says, convincingly, that she was made a scapegoat.

That Gen. Miller has now been obliged to hide behind a self-incrimination shield is mainly due to the tenacity of defense lawyers handling the court-martial cases of two Abu Ghraib dog handlers. The lawyers won a court order giving them the right to interview Gen. Miller. What's not yet clear is whether Army prosecutors and senior commanders are willing to stop protecting the general. Last year his superior, Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, rejected a recommendation by the military's own investigators that Gen. Miller be sanctioned for his performance at Guantanamo. Army prosecutors have obtained immunity for Col. Pappas; that should have been done only if they intended to use his testimony against more senior commanders. Unless charges are forthcoming against Gen. Miller, he could yet escape all responsibility for his actions -- even that of telling the truth.

Yes, that is right, Miller might not have to tell the truth, And, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush might not have to tell the truth either.

Why did it take so long for Fred to figure this out? He needed the General to do the obvious Fifth Amendment movement to understand that he was complicit in torture?

We really need to re-evaluate who are the best and the brightest in journalism, etc. I say this because you would have to be an idiot not to know that Miller was part of this problem.

Has Fred been in a coma all this time?

Pitts on MLK.

Leonard Pitts always sets us straight. Here he is on Martin and Poverty.

Posted on Fri, Jan. 13, 2006


Dr. King got it: Poverty isn't all black - or white


The barber leaned close so the white folks couldn't hear.

How are you adjusting to the culture shock, he asked. Takes some getting used to, I replied.

We were two black men in a place -- the Appalachian foothills where Ohio abuts West Virginia -- that is home to very few people like us.

But the culture shock he spoke of wasn't about race so much as economics. It's a strange thing, he said, still leaning close, to see white people, poor.

It is strange, indeed.

Not that I didn't know there are white poor. To the contrary, I knew that while poverty on a percentage basis is far greater among blacks than whites, there are, in terms of raw numbers, more poor whites than poor anybody. And this region, where I will be teaching journalism until June, is among the poorest and whitest in the country.


Still, it's one thing to read statistics and quite another to see with your eyes. But my sojourn here makes seeing inevitable. And I find myself fascinated by how markers of poverty can be simultaneously so familiar and yet so unknown: the unmarried teenage dropout soon to be a mother, the service worker missing teeth, the uneducated woman dying of emphysema, sneaking a smoke in her hospital bed, the rough man who lives between scrapes with the law, the young guy buying a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor before noon. All white.

We are so comfortable thinking of people like them as archetypes of black dysfunction. It's jarring to be reminded that they are, in fact, archetypes of dysfunction, period, and that dysfunction, no matter its color, should trouble us all.

Martin Luther King understood this. Which is one of the things we understand least about him.

Monday will be the 20th King Day. It will bring the 20th round of interfaith prayer breakfasts, recitations of I Have a Dream, assessments of progress toward racial equity and the lack thereof. I suspect there won't be much discussion of white poverty.

This is not a surprise. We like our heroes and their heroism simple, unencumbered by that which doesn't fit neatly into a box. We like our commemorations simpler still, a self-congratulatory excuse for a three-day weekend or a used car sale.


But the man who said, ''I have a dream,'' also said, ''All life is interrelated,'' and came to believe his mission as a moral leader encompassed more than race. Encompassed, among other things, class.

It is instructive to remember that in his last days, King was planning what he called the Poor People's Campaign, a multiethnic march on Washington to demand action against poverty. At Canaan's Edge, the final chapter of Taylor Branch's epic retelling of the civil rights years, recounts a summit meeting a few weeks before King's assassination. Chicano farmworkers, Native Americans from the Plains and white coal miners from Appalachia sat with King to explore the revolutionary idea that their peoples might have causes and grievances in common.

Then King went to Memphis. And the idea has not been meaningfully explored since.

Neglect has made it no less tantalizing.

Yes, race matters. Most of us know this. But the genius of Martin Luther King in his final days was to understand that there are paradigms beyond race and that they matter, too.

So on Monday, as we are exhorted to seek paths of racial amity, one hopes we will also be exhorted to understand, as King did, that conscience has no color, that race is not destiny, that injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere.

There are among us children who sleep in hunger, rise in cold, live in ignorance and they are of every color and every tribe. We ought not find their suffering easier to accept because they are not like us. Ought to realize that the dignity of all is the concern of all.

That, too, was Martin's dream.

Thank you Mr. Pitts for reminding us.

Martin we miss you and your dream.


I am too depressed about this to really blog about it. So, I won’t. I will say however, that Alito’s adherence to the “Unitary Executive Theory” should be a wakeup call to every U.S. Senator.

Why anyone in the Senate would vote for this man baffles me. A vote for Sam Alito is a vote to diminish their power and the power of the entire legislative process. It makes me wonder how many insane Senators there are. We will of course soon find out. But, as a really smart friend of mine recently pointed out: these representatives of the American people really only care about keeping their jobs and not what their job is.

I am sorry to say that he is apparently right.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Gadflyer on Reid is Right On.

It is so heartening to see and hear a Democrat with cajones. Harry Reid has made it clear that he knows exactly what is going on in this Administration and Republican controlled Congress. And he is apparently capable of dealing with the situation as he makes clear that his experience dealing with the mob has prepared him for whatever these Repubs throw.

Paul Waldman at Gadflyer has a terrific post on this and here it is:

Atrios and Digby have pointed to this rather remarkable op-ed from Harry Reid, but I had to add an extra note. First, what he says:

In 1977, I was appointed chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission. It was a difficult time for the gaming industry and Las Vegas, which were being overrun by organized crime. To that point in my life, I had served in the Nevada Assembly and even as lieutenant governor, but nothing prepared me for my fight with the mob.

Over the next few years, there would be threats on my life, bribes, FBI stings and even a car bomb placed in my family's station wagon. It was a terrifying experience, but at the end of the day, we cleaned up Las Vegas and ushered in a new era of responsibility.

My term on the gaming commission came to an end in 1981, and when it did, I thought I had seen such corruption for the last time. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. It is not quite the mafia of Las Vegas in the 1970s, but what is happening today in Washington is every bit as corrupt and the consequences for our country have been severe.

Our nation's capital has been overrun by organized crime -- Tom DeLay-style.

Daaaaaaamn. Reid is a former boxer - he knows how to pop somebody in the nose. But here's the thing. Republicans are going to squeal about this, get into a phony high dudgeon, and say, "How dare he compare us to the mob? He obviously hates Italian-Americans! We demand a retraction for this political hate speech!" Democrats have to avoid doing what they usually do, which is to slink off and apologize. What they should do is get right up in the Republicans' faces, and say, "That's not the half of it, you two-bit criminals. Here's a piece of advice, Tom, you little twerp: when you get to jail, you might want to consider finding the biggest, toughest guy in the joint and ask if you can be his wife for the duration of your stay. After all, you've been on your knees offering corporations the chance to tickle your uvula for years, so it shouldn't be too much of a stretch."

Or something like that. The point is, the Democrats' biggest problem is that people think they're a bunch of weaklings who don't stand for anything. The best way to start changing that image is to beat the hell out of their opponents. Don't stop beating them when they squeal. And for God's sake, don't stop when David Broder scolds you for being negative. The press already has no respect for you - they respect toughness and winning. Why not show them a little?

If the Democrats don’t fight and stand up for themselves the electorate sure as hell isn’t going to think they will fight to defend the rest of us.

Americans love fighters. Give them Hell Harry!

Carl Hiaasen’s Next Novel.

I am a huge Carl Hiaasen fan (thanks to my friends Jean and Steve Z.) I have read all his books and columns. So, I just cannot wait for his fictional or not so fictional telling of this Republican Scandal.

It has everything you could possibly want in a scandal real or otherwise. It has Washington, Texas, Ohio, Florida, The President, Senators, Congressman, Corporate Icons, Major Law Firms, K-Street, Gambling, Native Americans, Sweat Shops, The Christian Coalition, Fake Charities, The Mafia, Bribery, Fraud, Conspiracy, and a Gangland-style Murder. Oh, and did I mention Grover Norquist and the College Republicans.

Okay, so they are all Republicans, but WOW, this is just so waiting for Carl to pick up his pen or type on his keyboard. I am sure he is clipping stories from newsprint everywhere, and taking mad notes on it all.

That said, here is his latest column on the burgeoning scandal:

Yet another scandal tied to South Florida

There's no truth to the rumor that a hazmat team was brought in to decontaminate the Miami courtroom where Washington vermin Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to fraud last week.

The former lobbyist and erstwhile travel companion to Rep. Tom DeLay was on the final leg of a plea-copping tour that will make him the star snitch in the burgeoning Republican corruption scandal.

As happened in another infamous political disaster, the plot came unglued in South Florida, where all rivers of sleaze seem to lead.

It was almost 34 years ago when Martin Dardis, an investigator for the Dade State Attorney's Office, discovered that a strange check had gone to a bank account of a Miami burglar who'd broken into Democratic Party offices in a building on the Potomac called the Watergate. That check was traced to Richard Nixon's reelection campaign, and the rest is history.

Now, once again, Florida authorities are the ones who turned over the incriminating rocks. Abramoff might still be riding high if only he'd steered clear of the Sunshine State.

It was his scheme to fraudulently hijack the SunCruz Casinos fleet that put him on the radar of local prosecutors. Before that, he'd risen to untouchable glamour-boy status, boasting powerful connections from Capitol Hill to the White House.

One of Abramoff's lobbyist cohorts was David Safavian, who became head of the White House procurement office before his unseemly arrest last fall. A personal assistant to Abramoff had previously worked for Karl Rove, President Bush's political guru and comfort nurse. Among Abramoff's other well-connected pals are pious conservative hustlers such as Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition now running for lieutenant governor in Georgia.

Now that Abramoff is squealing, orifices are puckering from K Street to Pennsylvania Avenue. According to The New York Times, as many as a dozen members of Congress -- including one or two Democrats -- are suspected of taking bribes from Abramoff's firm in exchange for legislative favors. Most notable is DeLay, the former Republican House majority leader, now under indictment in a separate case for allegedly laundering campaign funds in his home state of Texas.

DeLay's former press secretary, Michael Scanlon, has al ready pleaded guilty to helping Abramoff scam a fortune from Indian tribes that had gambling interests. Together the men hauled in more than $43 million in lobby fees and $20 million in kickbacks, some of it funneled illegally through tax-exempt foundations and PR firms.

Were it not for one greedy mistake, Abramoff would still be taking congressmen on golf trips to Scotland and hosting political fundraisers in skyboxes purchased with dirty money. In 2000, Abramoff hooked up with Adam Kidan, a defrocked New York lawyer and fellow Republican. Together they decided to buy the SunCruz fleet from entrepreneur Gus Boulis, who was being forced to sell because he wasn't a U.S. citizen.

Boulis proved a feisty negotiator. Out of the blue, Rep. Robert Ney, an Ohio Republican, slammed Boulis in the Congressional Record while praising Kidan, Abramoff's partner. (Prosecutors are expected to allege that Ney did this for Abramoff and Scanlon and was rewarded).

Ultimately the SunCruz deal was finalized. To obtain $60 million in financing, Abramoff and Kidan produced bogus documents showing they'd invested $23 million themselves. In reality, they never put in a dime.

Boulis, who'd kept a stake in SunCruz, was later murdered gangland-style in Fort Lauderdale. One of the three men charged with the crime is a longtime acquaintance of Kidan.

The rope came tight on Abramoff when U.S. prosecutors in Florida began scrutinizing the terms of the casino-fleet purchase. A fraud indictment followed last summer, opening the proverbial can of maggots.

After Boulis' death it had taken only a few months for Kidan and Abramoff to loot the SunCruz operation, paying themselves $500,000 each in salaries and using $310,000 of company money to lease skyboxes for entertaining GOP heavyweights at FedEx Field and the MCI Center, both in the Washington, D.C., area.

Once indicted, Abramoff realized there was no way out but to cut a deal. He had plenty to offer. Now he's yodeling like a tweety bird about what his clients received in return for all the goodies he lavished on politicians. As expected, the politicians are scrambling to cleanse themselves.

Bush has announced that he's giving $6,000 in Abramoff-tainted campaign funds to the American Heart Association, which is fitting when you consider how much cardiac unrest is being caused by the lobbyist's cooperation with prosecutors.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert is hastily giving $69,000 in Abramoff-related donations to charity, and even grumpy Tom DeLay is dumping $15,000 in contributions arranged through Abramoff.

Of course, getting rid of the money is the easy part. It's the stench that won't go away.

I am willing to bet that Barnes & Noble and Borders have already planned the window displays and the space needed for this widely anticipated bestseller.

Bush, Rove, Abramoff and Six Degrees.

Does Kevin Bacon show up here? No, but the six degrees of Bush, Rove and Abramoff do.


Monday, January 09, 2006 - FreeMarketNews.com

by staff reports
In President Bush's first 10 months, GOP fundraiser Jack Abramoff and his lobbying team logged nearly 200 contacts with the new administration pressing for friendly hires at federal agencies and sought to keep the Northern Mariana Islands exempt from the minimum wage and other laws, records show. Meetings between Abramoff's lobbying team and the administration ranged from Attorney General John Ashcroft to policy advisers in Vice President Dick Cheney's office, according to his lobbying firm billing records. Abramoff, a $100,000-plus fundraiser for Bush, is now under criminal investigation for some of his lobbying work. His firm boasted its lobbying team helped revise a section of the Republican Party's 2000 platform to make it favorable to its island client. In addition, two of Abramoff's lobbying colleagues on the Marianas won political appointments inside federal agencies.

And then USA Today drives it home in case you don’t get the point.

Abramoff, a $100,000-plus fundraiser for Bush, is now under criminal investigation for some of his lobbying work. His firm boasted its lobbying team helped revise a section of the Republican Party's 2000 platform to make it favorable to its island client.

In addition, two of Abramoff's lobbying colleagues on the Marianas won political appointments inside federal agencies.

"Our standing with the new administration promises to be solid as several friends of the CNMI (islands) will soon be taking high-ranking positions in the Administration, including within the Interior Department," Abramoff wrote in a January 2001 letter in which he persuaded the island government to follow him as a client to his new lobbying firm, Greenberg Traurig.

The reception Abramoff's team received from the Bush administration was in stark contrast to the chilly relations of the Clinton years. Abramoff, then at the Preston Gates firm, scored few meetings with Clinton aides and the lobbyist and the islands vehemently opposed White House attempts to extend U.S. labor laws to the territory's clothing factories.

The records from Abramoff's firm, obtained by The Associated Press from the Marianas under an open records request, chronicle Abramoff's careful cultivation of relations with Bush's political team as far back as 1997.

In that year, Abramoff charged the Marianas for getting then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush to write a letter expressing support for the Pacific territory's school choice proposal, his billing records show.

"I hope you will keep my office informed on the progress of this initiative," Bush wrote in a July 18, 1997, letter praising the islands' school plan and copying in an Abramoff deputy.

White House spokeswoman Erin Healy said Thursday that Bush didn't consider Abramoff a friend. "They may have met on occasion, but the president does not know him," she said.

As for the number of Abramoff lobbying team contacts with Bush officials documented in the billing records, Healy said: "We do not know how he defines 'contacts.'"

Andrew Blum, a spokesman for Abramoff, declined comment.

The Greenberg Traurig firm, where Abramoff worked between late 2000 and early 2004, is investigating Abramoff's work and cooperating with government investigations.

"Greenberg Traurig accepted Jack Abramoff's resignation from the firm, effective March 2, 2004, after Mr. Abramoff disclosed to the firm personal transactions and related conduct which are unacceptable to the firm and antithetical to the way we do business," spokeswoman Jill Perry said.

Abramoff is now under federal investigation amid allegations he overcharged tribal clients by millions of dollars, and his ties to powerful lawmakers such as House Majority Leader Tom DeLay are under increasing scrutiny.

The documents show his team also had extensive access to Bush administration officials, meeting with Cheney policy advisers Ron Christie and Stephen Ruhlen, Ashcroft at the Justice Department, White House intergovernmental affairs chief Ruben Barrales, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, Deputy Interior Secretary Steven Griles and others.

Most of the contacts were handled by Abramoff's subordinates, who then reported back to him on the meetings. Abramoff met several times personally with top Interior officials, whose Office of Insular Affairs oversees the Mariana Islands and other U.S. territories.

In all, the records show at least 195 contacts between Abramoff's Marianas lobbying team and the Bush administration from February through November 2001.

At least two people who worked on Abramoff's team at Preston Gates wound up with Bush administration jobs: Patrick Pizzella, named an assistant secretary of labor by Bush; and David Safavian, chosen by Bush to oversee federal procurement policy in the Office of Management and Budget.

"We have worked with WH Office of Presidential Personnel to ensure that CNMI-relevant positions at various agencies are not awarded to enemies of CNMI," Abramoff's team wrote the Marianas in an October 2001 report on its work for the year.

Abramoff's team didn't neglect party politics either: There were at least two meetings with Republican National Committee officials, including then-finance chief Jack Oliver, as well as attendance at GOP fundraisers.

In 2000, Abramoff and his team were connected enough to both political parties to boast of obtaining early drafts of the platforms each adopted at its presidential nominating convention.

"In the case of the Republican platform, the team reviewed and commented on sections dealing with insular territories to ensure appropriately positive treatment. This was successful," the Preston Gates firm wrote to Marianas.

"In the case of the Democratic Party platform, the team assisted in drafting early versions of neutral language relating to the territories," the firm wrote. "However, heavy intervention by the White House eventually deleted positive references to the CNMI."

The access of Abramoff and his team to the administration came as the lobbyist was establishing himself as a GOP fundraiser.

Abramoff and his wife each gave $5,000 to Bush's 2000 recount fund and the maximum $1,000 to his 2000 campaign. By mid-2003, Abramoff had raised at least $100,000 for Bush's re-election campaign, becoming one of Bush's famed "pioneers."

Money also flowed from the Marianas to Bush's re-election campaign: It took in at least $36,000 from island donors, much of it from members of the Tan family, whose clothing factories were a routine stop for lawmakers and their aides visiting the islands on Abramoff-organized trips.

Two Tan family companies gave $25,000 each to the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the 2002 elections. Greenberg Traurig, too, was a big GOP giver. Its donations included $20,000 to the Republican National Committee for the 2000 elections and $25,000 each to the GOP's House and Senate fundraising committees in 2000 and again in 2002.

The Marianas' lobbying paid off — it fended off proposals in 2001 to extend the U.S. minimum wage to island workers and gained at least $2 million more in federal aid from the administration.

Abramoff's team bragged to the cash-strapped Marianas government that the taxpayer money would cover its lobbying bill: "We believe that this additional funding — along with other funds we expect to secure by the end of the year — will make clear to even our biggest critics that we pay for ourselves," Abramoff teammate Kevin Ring wrote in October 2001, copying in Abramoff.

So, that would be why the Bush Administration is scurrying around trying to find any pesky pictures of Abramoff and Bushies.

Frank Rich says it:

THERE'S nothing this White House loves more than pictures that tell a story - a fictional story. And so another mission was accomplished when President Bush posed with the 13 past secretaries of state and defense he hustled into the Oval Office 10 days ago: he could pretend to consult on Iraq with sages of all political stripes - Madeleine Albright, yet - even if the actual give-and-take, all 5 to 10 minutes of it, was as substantive as the scripted "Ask the President" town hall meetings of the 2004 campaign.

But this White House, cunning as it is, can't control all the pictures all the time. That photo op was quickly followed by Time's Jack Abramoff cover and its specter of other images more inopportune than op. Mr. Bush's aides, the magazine reported, were busy "trying to identify all the photos that may exist of the two men together." Translation: Could a Bush-Abramoff money shot as iconic as Monica on the rope line be lurking somewhere for a Time cover still to come?

This is a Republican Scandal and they know it. Anyone know someone with excellent Photoshop skills?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The United Negro College Fund Tribute to Stevie Wonder

It is showing on my local NBC affiliate. If it comes to your local affiliate don’t miss it. Lou Rawls was a huge supporter and promoter of the UNCF and I believe this was his last national and televised performance.

It is a tribute well deserved and filled with wonderful performances.

Lou Rawls RIP and you will live on.

Stevie Wonder’s music and legacy will live on for ever.

We are blessed to have been here during their time.

PS Don’t forget to contribute to the UNCF.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

When the Kettle Calls the Pot Black.

Well, what can one say:

Newt as Diogenes in a Dark Capitol

It was a measure of the failure of Congressional leadership on both sides of the aisle that Newt Gingrich, the disgraced former speaker, was the one to lecture the House Republican majority this week on the siren lure of lobbyists and the pitfalls of cronyism. But Mr. Gingrich, whose downfall included a $300,000 penalty for violating House ethics rules nine years ago, did speak truth. "You can't have a corrupt lobbyist without a corrupt member or a corrupt staffer on the other end," he warned fellow Republicans, who were stunned when Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist darling of legislative leaders, copped a plea and promised to help an investigation of influence peddling at the Capitol.

In the blink of a news cycle, lawmakers and President Bush were turning over tainted donations from the Abramoff money machine to charity, as if they were buying indulgences for a political inquisition to come. They gave no sign of heeding the real messages of the week.

One was that true redemption can come only from a full reform of Congress's porous to nonexistent rules governing members' dealings with lobbyists. And the other is that the Congressional leadership on both sides of the aisle seems incapable of rising to the occasion. Real change will require a ground-level alliance between true conservatives, some of them part of Mr. Gingrich's anticorruption revolution to gain majority power in 1994, and reformers on the Democratic side who are willing to make that bargain.

Right now, the rules are little more than velvet ropes at the Inner Sanctum club of lawmakers and their embedded lobbyists. Dozens of incumbents in both parties are close enough to potent lobbyists to have them run their political fund-raising committees. It's also been routine for lobbyists to pay for lawmakers' junketeering - an estimated $18 million worth for 600 of the people's elected choices across the past five years.

Indeed, the Abramoff scandal could become such a sensation that the more routine lobbying excesses could be overlooked. On a mundane level, these include lobbyists who regularly violate with impunity the existing limits on wining and dining lawmakers and their aides, and on giving them gifts, and the rule on fully reporting lobbying activities. Unfortunately, this Congress is just as likely to raise the $49.99 limit per meal that lobbyists find such an impediment. "In Washington, D.C., there's no such thing as a reasonable restaurant," griped one of the many lawmakers who so far just don't get it.

Anxious Republicans are scurrying to catch up with proposals submitted by such Democrats as Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin and Representatives Martin Meehan of Massachusetts and Rahm Emanuel of Illinois. Their plan is a good start. It would curb lobbyists from packaging campaign donations for incumbents; make lawmakers wait two years, not one, before crossing over to the lucrative world of K Street lobbying; and require more conscientious disclosures of lobbyists' spending.

Even more of a crackdown is needed, including an outright ban on lobbyists' junkets and a clear way of showing the public who the lobbyists are and what they are doing. While they're at it, G.O.P. leaders might find the courage to revive the House's moribund ethics committee.

It seems to me that when the ethically challenged Newt Gingrich calls you out you have a very large problem.

But then I am so naïve, not.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Republican Alert: Duke Really was Really, Really Wired.

As Time Inc. points out apparently the Dukester, disgraced Republican Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham and confessed felon, was wired in more ways than one. As I had said before, these are going to be very interesting times for the GOP and its Republican membership.

So much for Family Values and Conservative Values with this hypocritical crowd. Let’s be clear, what these “Free-Market Capitalism Mavens” really value is a “Free-Market Government” where the spoils go to the highest bidder for strictly self-serving purposes and benefit.

Whatever happened to Honest Graft? At least then the citizens reaped some of the benefit. Just ask the citizens of Providence Rhode Island (one of my favorite cities, I must admit) how they feel about convicted felon and former mayor Buddy Cianci. He understood Honest Graft, in the true Plunkett sense, and the city of Providence and citizens benefited from it.

So, when I saw this story all I could do was scream “OOPS,” and laugh my ass off. If it is true it will give a whole new meaning to “Defense Appropriations Committee Meetings.”

Here is what Time is reporting:

Washington's power players have always bragged about being well-wired, but for disgraced former congressman Duke Cunningham, "wired" wasn't just a figure of speech. In a week when legislators are focused on the question of who else might be brought down by ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s cooperation with prosecutors as he seeks lenient sentencing over his two federal guilty pleas this week, sources tell TIME that in a separate investigation, ex-Rep. Cunningham wore a wire to help investigators gather evidence against others just before copping his own plea.

Sources familiar with the situation say Cunningham, a California Republican who pleaded guilty Nov. 28 to taking $2.4 million in bribes—including a yacht, a Rolls Royce and a 19th-century Louis-Philippe commode—from a defense contractor, wore a wire at some point during the short interval between the moment he began cooperating with the feds and the announcement of his guilty plea on Nov. 28.

The identity of those with whom the San Diego congressman met while wearing the wire remains unclear, and is the source of furious—and nervous—speculation by congressional Republicans. A Cunningham lawyer, K. Lee Blalack, refused to confirm or deny the story, and wouldn't say whether Cunningham will implicate any other members of Congress. The FBI is believed to be continuing its probe of defense contractors involved in the Cunningham case. An FBI spokesman declined comment. Asked whether Cunningham, an ace Navy fighter pilot decorated for his service in Vietnam, had worn a wire, the spokesman said the response from a higher-up was, "Like I'd tell you."

So, as the Republican Family Values, Conservative Values, Free-Market Mavens on the Defense Appropriations Committee get together to compare notes and conversations with their former esteemed co-conspirator we can only hope that they have it all on tape. The old “I don’t know him” and “He tricked us” won’t work this time. These guys are all being looked at as part of the Pay-for-Play scheme run on the Hill by DeLay, Inc. and BushCo.

Yes, indeedy, PASS THE POPCORN.

Reproductive Rights, or Not.

I have long subscribed to the theory that the whole abortion debate is about girls and women having sex. I think that the debate is about how many folks believe that females who engage in sexual activity, outside of the confines of marriage and male control, should be stigmatized for their behavior and have to pay for it.

Death by illegal abortion is the ultimate price we are suppose to pay.

Hell, it is not like outlawing abortion will eliminate it. Everyone knows that. In fact in the late 60’s I had an illegal abortion and nearly died from it. But, I also was not suppose to get birth control pills because I was not married at the time.

In fact I had gone to a gynecologist who practically begged me to tell him that I was married so that he could prescribe the pill. During the office visit I finally got the point and I lied, and he gave me a prescription. So, I dutifully went to the pharmacy and had the prescription filled and then I found out that it is better to be prepared ahead of time than after the fact. Being that I was in my early 20’s and should have been legally declared retarded and grossly uninformed, I discovered that I was already pregnant.

Well, it was the late 60’s and with the help of a very well informed underground, and the best friend of a future justice of the SCOTUS (who never discussed abortion with anyone, anytime, anywhere, and who was affectionately, or not, known as the Creep from the Crotch, and Lenny I love you) a fund was put together by Lenny to pay for my illegal abortion and a road to the illicit abortionist was found.

To this day, I do not know if the guy who left me to die and who performed the abortion was a doctor. But I do know that the Hippocratic Oath was violated if he was a physician. And, I know that the Hippocratic Oath was violated by every physician who would not prescribe birth control to any female who wanted it.

The latest on Target and Wal-Mart refusing to fill birth control prescriptions makes this all too obvious.

So, it was with great interest that I read this editorial from the New York Times today. Because it seems to me that as long as we outlaw abortion it will continue to increase and kill girls and women.

Here it is in it’s entirety and the future of our country under the alleged Christians and moralist on the right:

January 6, 2006


Abortion Rights in Latin America

“For proof that criminalizing abortion doesn't reduce abortion rates and only endangers the lives of women, consider Latin America. In most of the region, abortions are a crime, but the abortion rate is far higher than in Western Europe or the United States. Colombia - where abortion is illegal even if a woman's life is in danger - averages more than one abortion per woman over all of her fertile years. In Peru, the average is nearly two abortions per woman over the course of her reproductive years.

In a region where there is little sex education and social taboos keep unmarried women from seeking contraception, criminalizing abortion has not made it rare, only dangerous. Rich women can go to private doctors. The rest rely on quacks or amateurs or do it themselves. Up to 5,000 women die each year from abortions in Latin America, and hundreds of thousands more are hospitalized.

Abortion is legal on demand in the region only in Cuba, and a few other countries permit it for extreme circumstances, mostly when the mother's life is at risk, the fetus will not live or the pregnancy is the result of rape. Even when pregnancies do qualify for legal abortions, women are often denied them because anti-abortion local medical officials and priests intervene, the requirements are unnecessarily stringent, or women do not want to incur the public shame of reporting rape.

But Latin Americans are beginning to look at abortion as an issue of maternal mortality, not just maternal morality. Where they have been conducted, polls show that Latin Americans support the right to abortion under some circumstances. Decriminalization, at least in part, is being seriously discussed in Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Uruguay and Argentina, and perhaps will be on the agenda after the presidential election in July in Mexico.

International pressure is helping. In November, the United Nations Human Rights Committee decided that Peru had violated a woman's rights when a hospital denied an abortion to a 17-year-old carrying a severely malformed fetus, who died shortly after birth. United Nations conferences on women also have forced governments to track and publish their progress on expanding women's rights. This has emboldened women's groups and led to the creation of government offices on women's issues, which have helped the push for abortion rights.

Latin American women, who are increasing their participation in the work force and in politics, have also become more vocal. Their voice would be much louder were it not for the Bush administration's global gag rule, which bans any family planning group that gets American money from speaking about abortions, or even criticizing unsafe illegal abortions. This has silenced such respected and influential groups as Profamilia in Colombia. Anti-abortion lawmakers in Washington can look at Latin America as a place where the global gag rule has worked exactly as they had hoped. All Americans can look at Latin America to see unnecessary deaths and injuries from unsafe abortions.”

Females just like males will continue to have sex. No one that I have heard of (and maybe I am misinformed) is crying out to have males neutered for having sexual relations, or branding them, or stigmatizing them for destroying civilization and for bring children into the world that can’t support or love them. But as we all know women bear the burden of procreation. That said , female sexuality seems to be in public discourse, and the result is a threat to civilization as we know it.

So, my point is: is this where we really want to go?

Do we want a county in which birth control and access to it is limited, eliminated, and abortion is not safe and death is inevitable and desirable? Or do we want to make the choice to bear a child a positive choice.

As a parent, I vote for a positive choice.

One of the Best Gifts Ever!

I am always so impressed by many of our young people. Two great examples are my son and nephew. My son built me the greatest computer and has tried to turn me into a geek. My father in 1990 started me on the way. But my son, who is a genius, has really dragged me into cyberspace. He was instrumental in my starting this blog. I can’t thank him enough.

Likewise, my nephew, who was also instrumental in my starting this blog, gave me one of the greatest gifts ever this holiday. He gave me “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” by John Perkins. I can not recommend this book strongly enough. It is the personal story of a man who confesses to being part of the problem. He ties together world history, current events, and corporatocracy using his personal story.

He doesn’t describe the corporatization of our government and other governments as a conspiracy, but merely the natural evolution of the oligarchy and a way of life. He starts out positing that greed and self service are merely a part of the human experience of those in power and those who desire power, and or the good life.

Then he takes a personal detour and suggests an alternative and confesses. I think that he is right. I am an optimist and a cup half-full person. So, I am always so disappointed by my fellow human beings, and myself, when we do something that is self-serving and detrimental to the larger picture, and our fellow humans and the world at large.

This book put into perspective for me why I felt that the current administration has so blatantly employed policies and made it clear that they plan to turn the U.S.A. into a “Third World Country” or an LDC. Though he doesn’t say as much there are hints and it hit me square in the forehead. This is happening because it has worked so well for the oligarchy in the past. Why not try it here as well? How else can you explain the tax cuts for the extraordinarily wealthy and the corporate class, the benefit cuts to the middle-class, the working-poor and the poor, and the widening income gap? The need for the huge deficits become even clearer.

It makes it clear why the administration will continue to have only US companies allowed to do business in Iraq. It makes it clear the logic of having Paul Wolfowitz as the head of the World Bank. It makes it clear why the World Bank was in the Ukraine and touting the newly elected head of the government long before the “Revolution.”

This book makes the “New Empire” and imperialism clear.

Read it and decide if you want to continue to be “Part of the Problem.”

Mr. Perkins by connecting the dots has challenged us all.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

This Could Get Really Interesting!

Casino Jack, the Lord of K Street, has cut a deal in the Indian Gambling corruption, conspiracy and fraud case. He has yet to plead in the Florida SunCruz conspiracy and fraud case, though it seems imminent. And of course, the gangland style murder case is still out there hanging over his head.

The Information (PDF), as opposed to an indictment, is very informative as to transactions with Republican Representative Ney, I mean Representative #1, and several staffers. From the information it appears that Rep. #1 should be consulting with a very good criminal lawyer right about now. It also suggests that the staffers should be trying to make a deal and probably help the feds go up that ladder.

The WAPO has some choice bits:

The guilty plea by Abramoff provides a major boost to federal prosecutors in an influence-peddling investigation that could become one of the largest corruption scandals in recent memory, involving as many as a half dozen lawmakers, a former top official at the Department of Interior and former and current congressional aides.

Prosecutors are expected to seek information from Abramoff about official actions performed for his clients by the lawmakers, including DeLay, the former House majority leader, as well as by the former top Interior official, congressional aides and federal employees.

DeLay has taken three overseas trips with Abramoff since 1997 -- to the Mariana Islands, Moscow and the United Kingdom -- and received more than $70,000 from Abramoff, his associates and tribal clients for his campaign committees.

Investigating DeLay, who is facing separate campaign finance charges in Texas, could take up to a year and require the cooperation of other witnesses before issues surrounding the Texas Republican are resolved, according to people familiar with the case.

Prosecutors are expected to act more quickly in the case of Ney, who accepted campaign contributions, skybox fundraisers, drinks, dinners, gifts and a golfing trip to Scotland while allegedly performing official actions that benefited Abramoff and his clients.

Also of interest to prosecutors is former deputy Interior secretary J. Steven Griles, who received a job offer from the lobbyist in 2003 at a time when Abramoff was seeking department actions on behalf of his tribal clients.

Griles, who held the No. 2 job at Interior from 2001 to 2004, has said he never tried to intercede on behalf of Abramoff's clients, but e-mails released by a Senate committee show more than a half-dozen contacts Griles had with Abramoff or with a woman working as the lobbyist's go-between. The contacts concerned gambling-related issues affecting four tribal clients who were paying Abramoff tens of millions of dollars for representation.

Other lawmakers who had close dealings with Abramoff are Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.) and other members of Congress involved with Indian affairs.

Prior to resolution of any issues involving DeLay, prosecutors are continuing to investigate two of DeLay's top former deputies, Edwin A. Buckham and Tony C. Rudy. Abramoff maintained a business relationship with Buckham, who runs the Alexander Strategy Group with Rudy.

So, yes this could get really interesting.

I only hope that Grover Norquist, K Street’s GURU, will not be missing from this show.

Yes, indeed, PASS THE POPCORN!

PS Jane Hamsher has some ominous thoughts on the AUSA in the case. Read it.

Oh, and I forgot, Happy New Year.

Barron’s, that Left Wing Rag.

Sid has a post that is very important. When an organ (subscription required) of the WSJ mentions the “I” word something is definitely afoot. The President of the United States of America believes he is above the law. That should catch everyone’s attention. This is a country of laws, not men, and when conservatives notice that he is acting like a king/dictator, it is worth mentioning and ignoring copyright infringement.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

That darned liberal media again

Yes, Barron's magazine, owned by the Wall Street Journal, thinks the President and the Attorney General should be investigated and perhaps impeached. The editorial is locked up behind the Wall Street Journal's subscribers-only wall, but I'm sure they won't mind if I reprint it here:

Unwarranted Executive Power
The pursuit of terrorism does not authorize the president to make up new laws

Unnatural Disaster

AS THE YEAR WAS DRAWING TO A CLOSE, we picked up our New York Times and learned that the Bush administration has been fighting terrorism by intercepting communications in America without warrants. It was worrisome on its face, but in justifying their actions, officials have made a bad situation much worse: Administration lawyers and the president himself have tortured the Constitution and extracted a suspension of the separation of powers.

It was not a shock to learn that shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to conduct intercepts of international phone calls to and from the United States. The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act permits the government to gather the foreign communications of people in the U.S. -- without a warrant if quick action is important. But the law requires that, within 72 hours, investigators must go to a special secret court for a retroactive warrant.

The USA Patriot Act permits some exceptions to its general rules about warrants for wiretaps and searches, including a 15-day exception for searches in time of war. And there may be a controlling legal authority in the Sept. 14, 2001, congressional resolution that authorized the president to go after terrorists and use all necessary and appropriate force. It was not a declaration of war in a constitutional sense, but it may have been close enough for government work.

Certainly, there was an emergency need after the Sept. 11 attacks to sweep up as much information as possible about the chances of another terrorist attack. But a 72-hour emergency or a 15-day emergency doesn't last four years.

In that time, Congress has extensively debated the rules on wiretaps and other forms of domestic surveillance. Administration officials have spent many hours before many committees urging lawmakers to provide them with great latitude. Congress acted, and the president signed.

Now the president and his lawyers are claiming that they have greater latitude. They say that neither the USA Patriot Act nor the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act actually sets the real boundary. The administration is saying the president has unlimited authority to order wiretaps in the pursuit of foreign terrorists, and that the Congress has no power to overrule him.

"We also believe the president has the inherent authority under the Constitution, as commander-in-chief, to engage in this kind of activity," said Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The Department of Justice made a similar assertion as far back as 2002, saying in a legal brief: "The Constitution vests in the president inherent authority to conduct warrantless intelligence surveillance (electronic or otherwise) of foreign powers or their agents, and Congress cannot by statute extinguish that Constitutional authority." Gonzales last week declined to declassify relevant legal reviews made by the Department of Justice.

Perhaps they were researched in a Star Chamber? Putting the president above the Congress is an invitation to tyranny. The president has no powers except those specified in the Constitution and those enacted by law. President Bush is stretching the power of commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy by indicating that he can order the military and its agencies, such as the National Security Agency, to do whatever furthers the defense of the country from terrorists, regardless of whether actual force is involved.

Surely the "strict constructionists" on the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary eventually will point out what a stretch this is. The most important presidential responsibility under Article II is that he must "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." That includes following the requirements of laws that limit executive power. There's not much fidelity in an executive who debates and lobbies Congress to shape a law to his liking and then goes beyond its writ.

Willful disregard of a law is potentially an impeachable offense. It is at least as impeachable as having a sexual escapade under the Oval Office desk and lying about it later. The members of the House Judiciary Committee who staged the impeachment of President Clinton ought to be as outraged at this situation. They ought to investigate it, consider it carefully and report either a bill that would change the wiretap laws to suit the president or a bill of impeachment.

It is important to be clear that an impeachment case, if it comes to that, would not be about wiretapping, or about a possible Constitutional right not to be wiretapped. It would be about the power of Congress to set wiretapping rules by law, and it is about the obligation of the president to follow the rules in the Acts that he and his predecessors signed into law.

Some ancillary responsibility, however, must be attached to those members of the House and Senate who were informed, inadequately, about the wiretapping and did nothing to regulate it. Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, told Vice President Dick Cheney in 2003 that he was "unable to fully evaluate, much less endorse these activities." But the senator was so respectful of the administration's injunction of secrecy that he wrote it out in longhand rather than give it to someone to type. Only last week, after the cat was out of the bag, did he do what he should have done in 2003 -- make his misgivings public and demand more information.

Published reports quote sources saying that 14 members of Congress were notified of the wiretapping. If some had misgivings, apparently they were scared of being called names, as the president did last week when he said: "It was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war. The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy."

Wrong. If we don't discuss the program and the lack of authority for it, we are meeting the enemy -- in the mirror.
Now, when the E&P brought this to its reader’s attention they received many a nasty email. So they pointed out what happened when it was revealed that Bubba was having consensual sex in the Oval Office and how the howl went up for his impeachment and the need for him to quit, because as we all know a blow job in which no one dies threatens the Constitution and the U.S.A much more than lies leading to an illegal war and illegal wiretapping of Americans.

So, it appears that it isn’t just the frothing “Bush Haters” who see this as a problem. Barron's is a conservative voice of the WSJ.

Is there a stain on a “Red Dress” out there somewhere?

That would clinch the deal!