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, March 28, 2006

Working Assets and Why I love them!

There are many reasons to support Working Assets. The personal is political of course is one. Also how many corporations that provide a necessary service have Molly Ivins prominently displayed on their home page? Not many!

So when you get Will Durst as an added attraction you need to say, “I love you!”

Here is Durst’s latest post at Working Assets:

Iraqi good stuff

Will Durst - WorkingForChange.com

03.23.06 - On the third anniversary of his misadventure into Iraq, President George Bush strove to sell his invade-and-occupy policy by holding a press conference and announcing that getting US troops out of Iraq is not his problem. Instead, it's going to be the problem of future US presidents and Iraqi governments. In other words, there's no light at the end of this tunnel, just a secular guerilla holding a flashlight, and we're backing out as fast as our little cowboy boots can carry us.

Civil war: the gift that keeps on giving.

To say Bush was a bit testy is like saying gravel is not as nutritious as it looks. He even snapped at Helen Thomas. For crum's sake, who snaps at Helen Thomas? It's like biting the head off a smurf. He also proceeded to duck questions asked of him and to answer unasked questions his handlers had prepared him for and to overall look like a guy who was trying to fake his way through not having done his homework... for the last thirteen semesters.

Bush did his best to reassure America that it's not as bad as it looks over there. Which is good, cuz to be honest, it looks pretty freaking bad over there. He was adamant that progress is being made, but when asked to explain where and how, he ran into a couple of minor roadblocks. Like examples of exactly where and how we're making progress. But if you believe Dubyah, which I'm not even sure Laura and the twins do anymore -- except for the prison assaults and the assassinations and the suicide bombings and the boots on the ground getting buried -- things are actually pretty good. It's that darn media that's screwing everything up. By showing stuff. Showing bad stuff.

If only that rascally American press could report some of the Good Stuff coming out of the Mideast, everyone would settle down. Birds would sing, gay people would drink beer and have babies, and all would be right with the world. So, being the patriot that I am, I've gone out, done the research, and collected a bunch of the Good Stuff coming out of Iraq in a little something I like to call...

Will Durst finds the bright side to xenophobic genocide

Now compare Working Asset’s homepage with the Verizon homepage and tell me who you’ve got to love.

UPDATE: I get no, repeat no, remuneration from either Working Assets or Verizon, etc., for anything that I write. Drat!.

It is Bigger than Ben!

Here is a little round-up via the NYT’s (I bet they loved publishing this):

March 25, 2006

Washington Post Blogger Quits After Plagiarism Accusations


A 24-year-old blogger for The Washington Post, Ben Domenech, resigned yesterday after being confronted with evidence that he had plagiarized articles in other publications.

His resignation came after writing six blog items in the three days he worked for Red America, a blog that The Post created to offer a conservative viewpoint on its Web site.

Mr. Domenech — who had worked in the Bush administration and was a founder of the conservative blog RedState.com — came under heavy criticism from liberal bloggers, who called his political views extreme.

They first pointed to previous comments by Mr. Domenech, who recently called Coretta Scott King a "communist."

But by late Thursday, the bloggers had found instances of what appeared to be plagiarism, including an article by Mr. Domenech in The New York Press that contained passages resembling an article that ran on the front page of The Washington Post.

Evidence of one instance of plagiarism first surfaced on the liberal blog Daily Kos on Thursday. A comment posted on the blog said a passage from an article by Mr. Domenech was nearly identical to a chapter from P. J. O'Rourke's book, "Modern Manners: An Etiquette Book for Rude People."

Other articles that contained passages that appeared to be copied were published in National Review Online, The New York Press and The Flat Hat, the student newspaper at the College of William and Mary, which Mr. Domenech attended.

Jim Brady, the executive editor of The Washington Post Web site, said that he knew that Mr. Domenech would be controversial but that a background check before he was hired did not reveal plagiarism.

"We've been catching a lot of grief on the blogs for not catching this ourselves, but obviously plagiarism is hard to spot," Mr. Brady said. He said The Post planned to hire another conservative blogger in Mr. Domenech's place.

I have waited to post about this debacle because I have been mulling over something about it that I think is bigger than one kid who wrote incendiary commentary and plagiarized. You know on a certain level I really can’t blame Ben Domenech for stealing other people’s work. He obviously doesn’t know better and I blame it on the culture in which he was raised and has lived in. He is a young Republican Apparatchik and I am sure aspires to be just like the grownups of his Party.

Now those grownups he emulates lie about everything. I won’t bore you with the litany, such as WMD, Aluminum tubes, Mobile Chemical Labs, Treasury notes backing Social Security are Worthless, Torture, Warrentless Wiretapping of Americans, etc., etc., but they also steal others' ideas, strategy and hatemongering manipulation techniques.

Take Karl Rove that famous uniter. He has stolen his whole game plan from one of the most important propagandists of this century: Joseph Goebbels. His entire strategy for the Republican Dominance of this Country, if not the World, is based on Goebbels ideas and techniques. The Goebbels’ idea of using fear and the big lie repeated over and over to divide the populous has been worked to death by this administration. And just like in Weimar Germany it has been very successful here in the United States of America.

So, is it even slightly surprising that this young man raised by grownup apparatchiks that he would engage in the same behavior? I think not.

What is horrifying is that the grownups at the Washingtonpost.com didn’t find this disturbing. Not only did they not find it disturbing they wrapped their arms around it and embraced it. I guess that I am assuming that there are grownups at the WAPO who have any kind of historical memory, understanding or curiosity.

That they felt compelled to have a far-right “conservative” voice on their website is very upsetting as they did not feel the need to have a far-left voice on their website. Now why is that and who are they trying to appease? Do they think for a minute that Dan Froomkin’s White House Briefing, Joel Achenbach’s Achenblog, or William Arkin’s Early Warning are far-left apparatchiks?

There are right-wing and or conservative folks on the WAPO site. The editorial page is run by Fred Hiatt, not exactly a liberal Democrat, and there is George Will, Charles Krauthammer, and Robert Samuelson, again not exactly liberal Democrats, not to mention far-left. In fact these folks have supported this radical administration until recently when it became an embarrassment for them and things started to really go south from their point of view.

So, exactly what kind of balance was Jim Brady trying to achieve by hiring a hatemonger and an inexperienced and plagiarizing one at that? Just exactly who were they appealing to, not conservatives that’s for sure, as they already have a conservative voice and following?

One look at Ben’s blog community would have warned off anyone with an ounce of integrity, or sense for that matter. Did anyone at the Post look at the comments section to see who they would be appealing to, and if not, why not? Was the WAPO really interested in cultivating a racist, homophobic, and radically authoritarian audience?

Now I refer to this administration as radical because I look to history and therefore I am not at all shocked by what and who Ben is and represents. He is one of the young brown shirt kids that indulge in hate and fabrication. And the adult apparatchiks whose behavior he emulates and plagiarizes have been very successful in the not so distant past and apparently the present.

Now, I am much older than Jim Brady at the post.com, so for me it isn’t the distant past.

Take a little walk though the past with me, won’t you, while I make some comparisons and connect some dots to our present situation.

Weimar Germany January 1933 = USA December 2000

Hindenburg Appoints Chancellor = U.S. Supreme Court Appoints President

Reichstag Fire = Destruction of the Twin Towers and Pentagon Attack

Communists = Terrorists

Jews (Semites) = Arabs (Semites)

Enabling Act = Patriot Act

Treason = Dissent

Poland = Iraq

Dictatorial Powers = Dictatorial Powers

Now this may seem a little over the top to some. But, if you look at history you see a pattern developing. When my young nephew came back from his visit to the Holocaust Museum he wasn’t shocked by the results of Germany’s Third Reich (he knew the results.) He was, however, shocked by how Weimar Germany became the Third Reich. He saw a clear pattern and connected it to what is happening right now and right here. Now that he was able to connect these dots could be that as a brown skinned person he is clear that he is at risk. And that was before this Executive made clear that he is above the law and free to engage in Torture, etc.

I am reminded of Benito Mussolini’s equating Fascism with Corporatism. The implications have been explored by Harper’s, no less. And I find it hard to believe that anyone who is paying attention thinks that this Administration is anything less than Corporatist (think Halliburton, et al.) Then, of course, there is always Huey Long who is purported to have said that Fascism when it came to America would be wrapped in the flag. And lest we forget the sage Samuel Johnson’s point “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Now this administration is corporatist, has wrapped itself in the flag and questioned all dissenter’s patriotism.

Hell, when there is a dialogue going on at the World Association of International Studies, which is under the auspices of the Hoover Institute, a Right-Wing Think Tank, about these comparisons it might be time to stand up, pay attention, and DO SOMETHING!

Which brings us back to the little brown shirted Ben and the Washingtonpost.com gig he was given. It seems to me that at this point in time the “DO SOMETHING” isn’t to appease those who engage in and support the abuse of power. It seems to me the “DO SOMETHING” is, as a news organization, to expose the abuses and not enable them.

My rant for today is over, but not ended!

And now for my two readers, who frankly like to see the lighter side of life, Greg Mitchell at Editor & Publisher has provided it for them, and I know they are grateful.

Mr. Mitchell ponders the new hire at Washingtonpost.com as they search for a replacement for the hateful and plagiarizing Ben. He believes he has found the perfect candidate: George W. Bush.

Says Mr. Mitchell:

(March 25, 2006) -- The Washington Post announced last night (play along with me here, folks) that President George W. Bush had agreed to replace Ben Domenech as the “Red America” blogger at the newspaper’s popular Web site. Bush contributed his first Web posting today, in which he thanked his old rival, Al Gore, for “inventing the internets.”

Domenech had been forced out Friday amid charges of rampant plagiarism. Jim Brady, executive editor of washingtonpost.com, said that he was searching for a conservative to replace Domenech, but the quick Bush hiring still came as a surprise. A Post spokesman said, "Last time we hired someone for that blog who had worked for the White House. So why not go straight to the top?"

The spokesman said the Post was confident the president had never plagiarized because “he hasn’t written anything himself since college”--but this time, unlike in the Domenech case, “we spent a few minutes googling just to make sure.” He added that the Post does not screen bloggers for “misleading statements or outright lies” in their past.

Asked how the president could blog and govern at the same time, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan explained, “He has promised to stay up late each night, until 10 p.m., to work on it—in his pajamas, as is customary for bloggers, we understand.”

Brady had hoped to hire a real reporter this time, but the Post apparently decided it could not pass up another partisan non-journalist. Bush, in his opening post today, claimed that he was not really all that partisan, since he “disagrees with the president" on certain issues, citing the Harriett Miers appointment and the Dubai port deal.

Press Secretary McClellan said he was “fairly sure” that Bush, unlike Domenech, had never called Coretta Scott King a “communist” when she died since, “after all, he did attend her funeral,” but “you never know.”

He added that the White House had convinced the Post that Bush, contrary to rumor, had not made inflammatory remarks posting under the name “Bluto” at National Review Online.

Asked about the ethics of the president receiving pay from the Post, McClellan explained that the money would be donated to charity--Neil Bush's software company.

Read the rest it might lift your spirits, or not! Because, when the Washington Post hires people like BD for “balance,” this is obviously bigger than Little Ben’s threat to our Democracy.

History: learn from it or relive it!

Blogger Ate My Posts!

Last night Blogger ate part of my “Jane Smiley” post and I was too tired, and not feeling very well, to deal with it. It also ate my Update to the “Abramoff Subpoena” post.

Now, by the miracle of technology, they are back!?! I don’t get it, but they are back.

Today I am too sick and tired to figure it out.

This ever happen to anyone else?

Jane Smiley Says it for Me!

I have been saying for quite sometime that I am tired of so called “Conservatives and Republicans’ calling out this Administration. Mostly I have been tired and perturbed because it has only been of late. Where were these guys over the last five years when this administration was trashing our foreign and domestic policy? You can see call outs here and here.

Where were these “Conservatives and Republicans” when Bernie Kerik was nominated to head up Homeland Security? Didn’t that move by this administration wake them up!?! Oh, yeah, this crowd doesn’t really care about Homeland Security so it fit in to their scheme of things.

So, once again, I am thrilled to see someone that I revere who writes far more eloquently than I could on the same subject.

Here is what Jane Smiley, another horse fanatic, posts about the newly found converts who find this Bush Administration to be wholly unacceptable and gives them a little heads up:

Bruce Bartlett, The Cato Institute, Andrew Sullivan, George Packer, William F. Buckley, Sandra Day O'Connor, Republican voters in Indiana and all the rest of you newly-minted dissenters from Bush's faith-based reality seem, right now, to be glorying in your outrage, which is always a pleasure and feels, at the time, as if it is having an effect, but those of us who have been anti-Bush from day 1 (defined as the day after the stolen 2000 election) have a few pointers for you that should make your transition more realistic.

1. Bush doesn't know you disagree with him. Nothing about you makes you of interest to George W. Bush once you no longer agree with and support him. No degree of relationship (father, mother, etc.), no longstanding friendly intercourse (Jack Abramoff), no degree of expertise (Brent Scowcroft), no essential importance (Tony Blair, American voters) makes any difference. There is nothing you have to
offer that makes Bush want to know you once you have come to disagree with him. Your opinions and feelings now exist in a world entirely external to the mind of George W. Bush. You are now just one of those "polls" that he pays no attention to. When you were on his side, you thought that showed "integrity" on his part. It doesn't. It shows an absolute inability to learn from experience.

2. Bush doesn't care whether you disagree with him. As a man who has dispensed with the reality-based world, and is entirely protected by his handlers from feeling the effects of that world, he is indifferent to what you now think is real. Is the Iraq war a failure and a quagmire? Bush doesn't care. Is global warming beginning to affect us right now? So what. Have all of his policies with regard to Iran been misguided and counter-productive? He never thinks about it. You know that Katrina tape in which Bush never asked a question? It doesn't matter how much you know or how passionately you feel or, most importantly, what degree of disintegration you see around you, he's not going to ask you a question. You and your ideas are dead to him. You cannot change his mind. Nine percent of polled Americans would agree with attacking Iran right now. To George Bush, that will be a mandate, if and when he feels like doing it, because...

3. Bush does what he feels like doing and he deeply resents being told, even politely, that he ought to do anything else. This is called a "sense of entitlement". Bush is a man who has never been anywhere and never done anything, and yet he has been flattered and cajoled into being president of the United States through his connections, all of whom thought they could use him for their own purposes. He has a surface charm that appeals to a certain type of American man, and he has used that charm to claim all sorts of perks, and then to fail at everything he has ever done. He did not complete his flight training, he failed at oil investing, he was a front man and a glad-hander as a baseball owner. As the Governor of Texas, he originated one educational program that turned out to be a debacle; as the President of the US, his policies have constituted one screw-up after another. You have stuck with him through all of this, made excuses for him, bailed him out. From his point of view, he is perfectly entitled by his own experience to a sense of entitlement. Why would he ever feel the need to reciprocate? He's never had to before this.

4. President Bush is your creation. When the US Supreme Court humiliated itself in 2000 by handing the presidency to Bush even though two of the justices (Scalia and Thomas) had open conflicts of interest, you did not object. When the Bush administration adopted an "Anything but Clinton" policy that resulted in ignoring and dismissing all warnings of possible terrorist attacks on US soil, you went along with and made excuses for Bush. When the Bush administration allowed the corrupt Enron corporation to swindle California ratepayers and taxpayers in a last ditch effort to balance their books in 2001, you laughed at the Californians and ignored the links between Enron and the administration. When it was evident that the evidence for the war in Iraq was cooked and that State Department experts on the Middle East were not behind the war and so it was going to be run as an exercise in incompetence, you continued to attack those who were against the war in vicious terms and to defend policies that simply could not work. On intelligent design, global warming, doctoring of scientific results to reflect ideology, corporate tax giveaways, the K Street project, the illegal redistricting of Texas, torture at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, the Terry Schiavo fiasco, and the cronyism that led to the destruction of New Orleans you have failed to speak out with integrity or honesty, preferring power to truth at every turn. Bush does what he wants because you have let him.

5. Tyranny is your creation. What we have today is the natural and inevitable outcome of ideas and policies you have promoted for the last generation. I once knew a guy who was still a Marxist in 1980. Whenever I asked him why Communism had failed in Russia and China, he said "Mistakes were made". He could not believe that Marxism itself was at fault, just as you cannot believe that the ideology of the unregulated free market has created the world we live in today. You are tempted to say: "Mistakes have been made", but in fact, psychologically and sociologically, no mistakes have been made. The unregulated free market has operated to produce a government in its own image. In an unregulated free market, for example, cheating is merely another sort of advantage that, supposedly, market forces might eventually "shake out" of the system. Of course, anyone with common sense understands that cheaters do damage that sometimes cannot be repaired before they are "shaken out", but according to the principles of the unregulated free market, the victims of that sort of damage are just out of luck and the damage that happens to them is just a sort of "culling". It is no accident that our government is full of cheaters--they learned how to profit from cheating when they were working in corporations that were using bribes, perks, and secret connections to cheat their customers of good products, their neighbors of healthy environmental conditions, their workers of workplace safety and decent paychecks. It was only when the corporations began cheating their shareholders that any of you squealed, but you should know from your own experience that the unregulated free market as a "level playing field" was the biggest laugh of the 20th century. No successful company in the history of capitalism has ever favored open competition. When you folks pretended, in the eighties, that you weren't using the ideology of the free market to cover your own manipulations of the playing field to your own advantage, you may have suckered yourselves, and even lots of American workers, but observers of capitalism since Adam Smith could have told you it wasn't going to work.

And then there was the way you used racism and religious intolerance to gain and hold onto power. Nixon was cynical about it--taking the party of Lincoln and reaching out to disaffected southern racists, drumming up a backlash against the Civil Rights movement for the sake of votes, but none of you has been any less vicious. Racism might have died an unlamented death in this country, but you kept it alive with phrases like "welfare queen" and your resistance to affirmative action and taxation for programs to help people in our country with nothing, or very little. You opted not to take the moral high ground and recognize that the whole nation would be better off without racism, but rather to increase class divisions and racial divisions for the sake of your own comfort, pleasure, and profit. You have used religion in exactly the same way. Instead of strongly defending the constitutional separation of church and state, you have encouraged radical fundamentalist sects to believe that they can take power in the US and mold our secular government to their own image, and get rich doing it. The US could have become a moderating force in what seems now to be an inevitable battle among the three monotheistic Abrahamic religions, but you have made that impossible by flattering and empowering our own violent and intolerant Christian right.

You have created an imperium, heedless of the most basic wisdom of the Founding Fathers--that at the very least, no man is competent enough or far-seeing enough to rule imperially. Checks and balances were instituted by Madison, Jefferson, Franklin, and the rest of them not because of some abstract distrust of power, but because they had witnessed the screw-ups and idiocies of unchecked power. You yourselves have demonstrated the failures of unchecked power--in an effort to achieve it, you have repeatedly contravened the expressed wishes of most Americans, who favor a moderate foreign policy, reasonable domestic programs, a goverrnment that works, environmental preservation, women's rights to contraception, abortion, and a level playing field. Somehow you thought you could mold the imperium to reflect your wishes, but guess what--that's what an imperium is--one man rule. If you fear the madness of King George, you have no recourse if you've given up the checks and balances that you inherited and that were meant to protect you.

Your ideas and your policies have promoted selfishness, greed, short-term solutions, bullying, and pain for others. You have looked in the faces of children and denied the existence of a "common good". You have disdained and denied the idea of "altruism". At one time, our bureaucracy was full of people who had gone into government service or scientific research for altruistic reasons--I knew, because I knew some of them. You have driven them out and replaced them with vindictive ignoramuses. You have lied over and over about your motives, for example, making laws that hurt people and calling it "originalist interpretations of the Constitution" (conveniently ignoring the Ninth Amendment). You have increased the powers of corporations at the expense of every other sector in the nation and actively defied any sort of regulation that would require these corporations to treat our world with care and respect. You have made economic growth your deity, and in doing so, you have accelerated the power of the corporations to destroy the atmosphere, the oceans, the ice caps, the rainforests, and the climate. You have produced CEOs in charge of lots of resources and lots of people who have no more sense of reciprocity or connection or responsibility than George W. Bush.

Now you are fleeing him, but it's only because he's got the earmarks of a loser. Your problem is that you don't know why he's losing. You think he's made mistakes. But no. He's losing because the ideas that you taught him and demonstrated for him are bad ideas, self-destructive ideas, and even suicidal ideas. And they are immoral ideas. You should be ashamed of yourselves because not only have your ideas not worked to make the world a better place, they were inhumane and cruel to begin with, and they have served to cultivate and excuse the inhumane and cruel character traits of those who profess them.

6. As Bad as Bush is, Cheney is Worse.

So, six years ago where were these shrieking and shocked critics? Why they were cheering this administration on in everything they did and backed their efforts to divide the electorate, start an illegal war, destroy the economy and the constitution.

Maybe I am being too harsh and they were merely afraid like so many others of dissenting and being labeled treasonous.

Not everyone however was afraid to be called a traitor and call this administration out.

Calling Frank Rich from behind the wall in December 2001:

Confessions of a Traitor

By FRANK RICH (NYT) 1524 words
Published: December 8, 2001

It's no longer just politically incorrect to criticize George W. Bush or anyone in his administration these days -- now it's treason.

John Ashcroft, testifying before the Senate on Thursday, declared that those who challenge his wisdom ''only aid terrorists'' and will ''give ammunition to America's enemies.'' Tough words. They make you wonder what the guy who's charged with helping us whip Al Qaeda is afraid of. The only prominent traitors in sight are the usual civil-liberties watchdogs and a milque-toast senator or two barely known beyond the Beltway and their own constituencies. Polls find the public squarely on the attorney general's side, and even the few pundits who knock him are ridiculed by their journalistic colleagues as hysterics so busy fussing about civil liberties that they forget ''there's a war going on.''

Well, with the smell of victory over the Taliban crowding out the scent of mass murder from the World Trade Center, the Ashcroft defenders have half a point: some people are indeed forgetting that a war is still going on. But it is not those questioning the administration who are slipping into this amnesia so much as those who rubber stamp its every whim.

While I wouldn't dare call it treason, it hardly serves the country to look the other way when the Ashcroft-Ridge-Thompson-Mineta team proves as inept at home as the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Powell-Rice team has proved adept abroad. In the Afghan aftermath, the home front is just as likely to be the next theater of war as Somalia or Iraq. Giving a free pass to Mr. Ashcroft and the other slackers in the Bush administration isn't patriotism -- it's complacency, which sometimes comes with a stiff price.

Just how deep that complacency runs could be seen on Monday, when Tom Ridge issued the administration's third urgent announcement to date of a heightened terror alert. Why even bother? His vague doomsday warning didn't lead every newscast and didn't rouse the public or even law enforcement. On ABC, John Miller reported that the three F.B.I. field offices he canvassed had neither been advised of the threat nor ''told to batten down the hatches any more than they were.'' What's that about? Under Mr. Ashcroft's dictum, asking such follow-up questions is aiding and abetting the enemy. In any event, no one did.

Surely it's also treason to indulge in blunt talk about airline security. Norman Mineta, the transportation secretary, waited only one week after President Bush signed the security bill to abandon all hope of meeting its 60-day deadline for screening checked baggage for explosives. Nor did he call for any stopgap measures to help in the meantime (like enlisting the cosmetically deployed airport national guardsmen to do at least some such screening). Give Mr. Mineta credit for candor, but he might as well have just painted a big target on the back of the nation's commercial airline system as we segue from Ramadan into Christmas. Of course it would be un-American to say so.

I asked Allan Gerson, the George Washington University professor who co-wrote the new and definitive book on Pan Am Flight 103, ''The Price of Terror,'' if our approach to airline security is still preposterous all these weeks after Sept. 11. His answer: ''It's preposterous that we're stupid enough to fly. It's sick.'' On the vast majority of America's domestic flights, he noted, a suitcase containing a bomb (perhaps a bomb planted in an innocent passenger's bag while it lingered at a hotel's bell desk) can be checked curbside with little fear of detection as long as you give the correct answer to the skycap's two security questions while handing over a tip. Paul Hudson, executive director of the Aviation Consumer Action Project, adds that even when the new law goes into effect (or is purported to go into effect), it polices only the country's airlines, not the 240,000 private, charter and corporate planes that terrorists can turn into missiles.

As for the screening of passengers, Mr. Mineta proudly said in answer to a question from Steve Kroft on ''60 Minutes'' last Sunday that he wanted to give the same level of scrutiny to a 70-year-old white woman from Vero Beach as he would to a young Muslim man from Jersey City. (And based on my own air security experiences, he's getting what he wants.) To use Mr. Gerson's language, it's sick that amid a Justice Department crackdown that indiscriminately (and often pointlessly) rounds up young men for questioning on the basis of their ethnicity, the administration is not practicing such profiling at the venue where the strongest case can be made for it -- the airports where 19 hijackers jump-started their crime. Such inconsistency of law enforcement is beyond the Keystone Kops -- it's absurdity worthy of the Marx Brothers.

That would make our attorney general the bumbling Chico of the outfit. But don't count me among those who quake that Mr. Ashcroft is shredding the Constitution. He does respect some rights, after all, like that of illegal immigrants and terrorists to buy guns in the U.S. without fear of government intrusion. And he just doesn't seem clever enough to undo the Bill of Rights, even with the president's backing. You have to have more command of the law than he does to subvert it.

Mr. Ashcroft said that he wouldn't release the names of the hundreds of people he's detained since Sept. 11 because the law forbade it, even though, as his own deputy later pointed out, the detainees have the right to publicize their names on their own through their family or counsel. His other excuse for keeping the names secret was to prevent Al Qaeda from learning if any of its operatives might be locked up, as if our enemy were not cunning enough to figure out on its own which members he might have apprehended (if any). Then, when he couldn't take the heat, he released some of the names anyway. Mr. Ashcroft doesn't even have the courage of his own wrong convictions.

What's more chilling than the potential threats to civil liberties posed by the emergency powers he is grabbing on behalf of the president are the immediate practical threats these quick-fix legal schemes pose to the war effort. The mere prospect of military tribunals is already hobbling our battle against Al Qaeda. Spain, which, unlike Mr. Ashcroft, has actually charged men said to have helped plan the Sept. 11 attacks, is balking at extraditing them to the U.S. if a military trial is in store. Floyd Abrams, the constitutional lawyer, says this could have a ''multiplying effect'' as other European Union countries with similarly valuable Al Qaeda quarry, like Germany and Britain, follow Spain's example, whether because of their aversion to military tribunals or to capital punishment.

While we bog down in negotiating these roadblocks, our lack of easy access to crucial suspects could slow our intelligence gathering. Meanwhile, says Mr. Abrams, ''the practical effect could well be that we may not be able to try the people we want to try the most, and the countries that do try them could lose the case.''

Mr. Ashcroft's detentions and roundups may backfire as well. Eight former F.B.I. officials, including a former director, William Webster, went on the record to The Washington Post to criticize the blanket arrests -- not because they compromise the Bill of Rights but because they defy law-enforcement common sense. By nabbing possible terrorists prematurely, the government loses the ability to track them as they implicate the rest of their cells. The F.B.I. veterans also scoffed at the attorney general's attempted 5,000 interviews of Middle Eastern men. Kenneth Walton, who established the bureau's first Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York, said: ''It's the Perry Mason school of law enforcement, where you get them in there and they confess. . . . It is ridiculous.'' Already early reports tell us that most of the invited interviewees aren't turning up anyway, and that those who do need only reply by rote to yes or no questions from a four-page script.

The attorney general keeps boasting that he is winning the war on terrorism at home and keeping us safe. But he provides no evidence to support his claim, even as there's much evidence that he's antagonizing his own troops (the F.B.I., local police departments) and wasting their finite time and resources on wild goose chases that have pumped up arrest numbers without yielding many (or any) terrorists.

If questioning our leaders' competence at a time of war is treason, take me to the nearest military tribunal. But the one thing we learned on that Tuesday morning, I had thought, is that it's better to raise these questions today than the morning after.

And thanks to all the other traitors out there who have raised their voices and lead the cacophony and charge against this the “Worst President and Administration Ever.”

I remember being shocked in 1972 when the American Public re-elected Nixon because I knew what was coming. I was likewise shocked when in 2004 the American Public elected George W. Bush and I knew then what was coming would be worse than what unfolded in the 70’s.

Hell, I knew what was coming down the road on December 12, 2000.

Sometimes I hate being right.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Abramoff Subpoenaed in Mafia Murder Case!

Well, it’s not like we didn’t think this was going to happen. And, I don’t think this is particularly good for the GOP. But, once again the prospect for a best selling Carl Hiaasen novel is getting better and better.

The prosecution isn’t subpoenaing these guys, that would be Abramoff and Kidan, because they would have to give them some level of immunity for their testimony. But, the defense doesn’t really care about that because if they subpoena them immunity isn’t an issue. This latest move means to me that the prosecution of Abramoff and Kidan wins and the defense of the “mafia hit men” maybe winning.

Here is what is happening:

FORT LAUDERDALE - Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his ex-partner in the ill-fated SunCruz Casinos deal will likely be subpoenaed to give statements in the case against three men charged with killing the gambling fleet's former owner.

According to court documents, the lawyer for murder defendant Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello wants to question Abramoff and Adam Kidan about the 2001 mob-style slaying of Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis. Broward Circuit Judge Michael Kaplan approved the request for subpoenas, though none have been issued.

Boulis was ambushed in his car by a gunman on a Fort Lauderdale street a few months after Abramoff and Kidan bought the SunCruz fleet from him. Boulis was feuding with Kidan, claiming he had reneged on parts of the deal.

Abramoff and Kidan are scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday in federal court after pleading guilty earlier this year to fraud charges stemming from the purchase. As part of their plea deals, they are required to cooperate with prosecutors in any state or federal investigation. Through their attorneys, both men have repeatedly denied any role in or knowledge of the Boulis slaying. Abramoff, once a prominent Republican lobbyist and fundraiser, has also pleaded guilty to federal charges in a Washington corruption investigation and agreed to assist prosecutors in that case.

Moscatiello attorney Dave Bogenschutz said in an interview Friday that testimony from Abramoff and Kidan is critical in showing the bitter feelings and power struggle that followed their purchase of SunCruz from Boulis in September 2000. He said Abramoff has never been implicated in the slaying.

"He knows the inside workings of SunCruz Casinos," Bogenschutz said, adding that it was not certain Abramoff would testify in person at trial. "It depends on what he says."

The chief prosecutor in the case, Brian Cavanagh, said his office had not intended to call Abramoff as a witness in part because he would be given immunity from prosecution for anything he says under those conditions. Cavanagh also said Kidan has not been cleared as a suspect in the Boulis slaying.

Moscatiello, 67, who allegedly has ties to New York's Gambino crime family, worked as a consultant for Kidan at SunCruz. He is charged along with Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari, 49, and James "Pudgy" Fiorillo, 28, in the Boulis killing. All three could face the death penalty if convicted.

The noose tightens.

Is there anyone out there who has followed this story that believes that Abramoff and Kidan didn’t have anything to do with Gus Boulis’s death?

I’d be shocked.

UPDATE: The Defense, and probably also the Prosecution, gets their wish.

Court Grants Request to Question Abramoff in SunCruz Slaying Trial

Associated Press
Saturday, March 25, 2006

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., March 24 -- A judge has approved subpoenas for ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a former business partner to answer questions about the mob-style slaying of the owner of a gambling fleet they bought.

Abramoff and Adam Kidan have insisted, through their attorneys, that they know nothing about the slaying of Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, who was ambushed in his car by a gunman in Fort Lauderdale a few months after the pair bought SunCruz Casinos from him.

An attorney for Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello, one of three men charged in the 2001 slaying, wants to question Abramoff and Kidan, according to court documents. Circuit Judge Michael Kaplan approved the request Thursday, but the subpoenas had not been issued as of Friday.

Abramoff and Kidan are not charged in the slaying. Their attorneys did not return telephone calls or e-mails seeking comment Friday.

I am quite sure that Mr. Hiaasen clipped this from the paper. I wonder how his story will end? Hell, I bet that Rep. Ney and Senator Burns really, really, want to know how it ends too!

Maybe they should be asking Randy “Duke” Cunningham for a few tips.

Dixie Chicks Send the Right Message!

They are “not ready to make nice.” They are “not ready to back down!” Not only is this the right message, but it is also a great song.

For all of you out there who have been accused of not being patriots because you differ with the Bush Administration this is the song for you.

Listen Up!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Get Grover, Yes!

I have wanted Grover Norquist taken down for as long as I can remember. I know some out there, we won’t name names, want to take down Karl Rove and I agree. But, I really, really, want to see Grover frog-marched and in shackles. He is the BAG MAN!

As part of the College Republicans with Abramoff and Reed and their scorched earth policy toward Democrats, Liberals, democracy as a whole and the entrenchment of the Oligarchy, I have wanted this money grubbing bastard shown to the door, and preferably the door which is the entrance to a penitentiary, since I first started following his escapades and adventures to destroy the American Dream.

His most eloquent, and quotable remark is about shrinking the government to where we (meaning Republicans) “can drown it in a bathtub.” That’s right, Social Security, etc., all of the things that American’s rely on like say those terrible liberal ideas like clean drinking water, or how about a safe food supply, or even electricity for the country! These are all “Librul” programs and policies enacted and promulgated by Liberal philosophy and legislators. Grover is opposed to all of those “Librul” programs because they take tax money and wealth away from those who are the truly deserving: the Oligarchy!

And he does support the Oligarchy and their philosophy of “let them eat cake.”

That he is involved in the Republican Slush Fund Scandal with Abramoff is not a shock. What would be shocking is if he wasn’t one of the players involved.

So, that CREW is going after him, and his sham 501(c) (3), is heartening, but where is the Justice Department? Oh, yeah, I forgot, they work for the Oligarchy now!

CREW’s allegations are:

The complaint alleges that Norquist used either or both ATR and ATR Foundation as commercial enterprises by laundering money derived from Indian casino clients of former lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff. The casinos made contributions to ATR, which then skimmed a fee off the top before passing the money on to former Christian activist Ralph Reed and other anti-gambling activists. In this way, Norquist, Reed and Abramoff were able to disguise the fact that the money used to fund anti-gambling activities was generated through Indian gambling. The point of the anti-gambling campaigns was to prevent competition to the Indian casinos.


The complaint also alleges that the money ATR received from the Indian casinos constitutes taxable business income because ATR was providing services unrelated to its tax-exempt purpose: to increase public awareness about the size and regulations of government and rally support for lower taxes and smaller government. Charging a fee for serving as a pass-through for money used to finance anti-gambling campaigns bears no relation to ATR's stated tax-exempt purpose.

Go Melanie Sloan and CREW!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Is There a Pattern Here?

Via Josh at TPM this disturbing development:

The prosecutor who has headed the office at the center of a number of high-profile GOP corruption investigations - Jack Abramoff, David Safavian, Michael Scanlon, and Mitchell Wade - is moving on. He's been there since May of 2004.

This follows on the heels of this administrations nomination of the head prosecutor in the Abramoff case to the Federal Judiciary. The Administration thereby removed him from the investigation and prosecution that he had been so successful on.

So, it is not surprising that this would happen:

Kenneth Wainstein, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, has been tapped to be Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

Put that together with the Hillman nomination to the Federal Judiciary and I say that we are starting to see a pattern.

I guess anything to get the dogs off the scent of the case. And, I guess if you are a very ambitious, and not the public service, kind of guy you will bite.

Outrageous and Blatant!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Listen to your Mama!

The lesson here is that Mothers apparently do know best! Here is the first graph from the WAPO report on how shocked his associates are:

Claude A. Allen has said his mother warned him that as a black man he risked ruining his life, or at least his career, by becoming a Republican. As it turned out, nothing could have been farther from the truth [emphasis mine].

Really! I guess as a black man rising to a pinnacle of power whose salary was the same as Rove’s, though probably not his influence, and being charged with stealing approximately $5,000.00 doesn’t ruin your life or career? In what universe do these reporters live?

But then, reality sort of sets in at the WAPO and the next couple of graphs defy the assertion made in the first:

But Allen's once-soaring career has taken a bizarre turn with his arrest Thursday on theft charges for allegedly ripping off two department stores in a phony refund scheme.

The arrest of Allen, who suddenly resigned last month as President Bush's top domestic policy adviser, startled those in his big-ticket Gaithersburg neighborhood and at the White House who knew him as a soft-spoken and collegial aide who was loyal to his young family and devoted to his church.

"When I heard the story last night, I was shocked, and my first reaction was one of disappointment, deep disappointment," Bush said yesterday.

Allen is accused of swindling Hecht's and Target stores out of more than $5,000 in refunds for items he did not buy. His lawyer, Mallon Snyder, denied the charges. "His returns and refunds were exactly what they should have been," Snyder said yesterday, saying that the charges stem from a series of misunderstandings.

Apparently Claude Allen should have listened to his Mama. When playing with the Big Boys, and in this case I mean the Republican Swindlers, you should at the very least go for the big bucks, not chump-change, and by all means make sure you swindle the Federal Government.

Take Custer Battles for instance. They have recently been found guilty of swindling our Federal Government in Iraq of over $3 million dollars and this administration didn’t even join the civil suit of the whistleblowers. See, crime and swindling the government out of big money isn’t a problem. However, it seems that Target and Hecht’s take a different view as does the State when it comes to larceny, theft and criminal justice.

According to our President:

"If the allegations are true, something went wrong in Claude Allen's life," Bush said. "And that is really sad."

Yes, Mr. Presdient it is very sad, and I am sure we can count on you, and your administration, and cohorts to be fully supportive of Mr. Allen in his sad time of need.

But, probably not. I would be willing to bet that because Mr. Allen chose to engage in low-end, and chump-change, crime Barbara Comstock will not be heading up a “Legal Defense Fund” for him anytime soon. After all, I don’t think his crime was committed in the furtherance of this administration’s policies. I am also willing to bet that the Hudson Institute doesn’t have a chair, or desk, or anything, to offer him so that he can work along side Scooter Libby, either!

After all this was just a chump-change crime, not big enough for this administration. And take notice that I didn’t talk about Cheney and Halliburton, okay, well now I did!

But then maybe I am just a Mama, and think that I know better!

Monday, March 06, 2006

NOLA: Our Shame!

Well, it is now going on 7 months since Katrina and the 9th Ward of NOLA and much of the rest of the Gulf Coast looks much the same as it did the day after Katrina and again after Rita. The United States and its citizens should be ashamed!

Scout over at Scout Prime and also at First Draft has been blogging about what is going on, or not going on at NOLA. She also has a devastating video of a “tour” she took around the 9th Ward. It is to say the least a condemnation of our government’s response to the destruction of a major city in our country and a National Treasure. Watch this video and think and feel what it would mean to you and your community if this was the response of your fellow Americans to your life and community being destroyed.

But wait, what if the Congress was going to have a fact finding visit to see just how our government was working to help alleviate the devastation that had destroyed your home, life and community. Well, Scout documents that as well. Apparently our Congressional leaders can’t handle the truth of their actions. So, what happens? The area that the Congressional delegation is going to visit is cleaned up and sanitized.

Well, we wouldn’t want their minds contaminated like your neighborhood and life has been contaminated would we? We wouldn’t want those duly elected representatives to have to face the reality of what they have done, or not done would we? No, they must be protected from the consequences of their actions. Our Government Officials are unlike the Diaspora that is NOLA which cannot escape the consequences of our elected officials negligence, or worse.

Shame, shame and shame!

GOP in Jeopardy

Via Holden (who has been collecting ponies lately) at First Draft is this great site which has a very relevant and humorous take on the latest news events. You may have already seen the Quail News Conference.

One of my favorites is the GOP in Jeopardy!

Fortunately, or unfortunately, for us this administration provides so much material it is hard to believe. So, though we may despair at what is happening in the U.S. of A. we can at least be entertained by the absurdity of it all.

Take a look and enjoy.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

I am Such a Whore to Fabulousness!

Cliff’s Corner is so fabulous. Is he wonderful or what? I know that way more people read Americablog than this little entry into the blogosphere but I can’t help but put Cliff here. He is so wonderful that I can’t help it.

Mixing Cliff with listening to Alison Krauss is the best. I guess I am “Old Time,” and it is okay with me.

Here he is in all his glory:

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Cliff's Corner

by Cliff in DC - 3/04/2006 10:15:00 AM

The Week That Was 3/3/06

Another week. More preposterousness to report.

This week The Failed One learned a lesson. It’s one he probably should have cribbed from daddy’s service as RNC Chairman during the days when another petulant, paranoid and permanently frightened president named Nixon was lording over a Republican criminal enterprise. Lying about things that are available on tape is kind of dumb. Like taking your pre-pubescent kid to the Neverland Ranch for a game of strip Duck Duck Goose kinda dumb.

Yes, President Bush lied…again. And he got caught…again. This time it’s the “we never could have anticipated the breaching of the levees” line, which sounded so much like the never anticipating an airplane crashing into a building monologue, you knew it had to be crap. I mean can’t these guys at least come up with creative mendacity to make it a bit more interesting? You know, like it’s the media who’s pretending there’s a civil war in Iraq or Ken Mehlman’s secluded dinner outing with David Dreier was to discuss the merits of the Laffer Curve?

Thus we found out from a videotape released by the AP this week that El Presidente, contrary to his previous claim, was fully briefed about the potential Katrina carnage well before it made landfall. According to the AP, “Bush didn't ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: ‘We are fully prepared.’” While that statement in itself should have been as suspect at Tom Cruise’s capacity to aid in Katie’s reproducing, I think we should just appreciate that during this particular crisis the president didn’t hop-scotch around the country, hiding in every corner he thought least likely to be demolished.

He-he, Kansas, that sounds safe, he-he. We should be able to hide among the slaves there.”

Meanwhile, when it comes to the UAE Port scandal—oops, he did it again. President Bush, while pretending to wait 45 days for a review by the Senate, you know that human appendix to our Constitution, decided what the hell, he’s had personal business relations with these guys, so why not just lie and go forward with the transaction? What’s this crap about a representative Republic? And it’s not like “anybody could anticipate” a dirty-bomb attack coming via a falsely labeled shipment container in Miami.

Next I hear in a blockbuster deal we’re selling our police departments to the Crips, firehouses to Hezbollah and EMT units to Jack Kevorkian. White House Security meet your new Capo: John Hinckley. Hey, this president is a leader and unificator, so don’t you friggin question him! America Hater! Terrorist Lover! Will & Grace Watcher! Get on your knees like you’re Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter just whipped it out!

And really how could you question The Courageous One? At least 34%-38% of Americans approve of his performance. Which just goes to show you, one-third of Americans could support a flare-up of genital herpes if it self-identified as Republican and spent days with an Xbox in the Oval Office. Yet, Mr. Bush, it does mean a majority of people now think your anti-terrorism strategy is failing, your Medicare plan is as nasty as your mother and you've got such enormous boobs on your economic team that Pam Anderson’s getting envious.

It’s ok though. You needn't worry. Republicans in Congress have repeatedly shown after much false bravado, that they are very simply wimps. They won’t swear in witnesses, hold real hearings into treason or forcefully examine your lawbreaking Peeping Tom Act. They’re vestigial, like a whale’s legs, Tom Delay’s conscience or Bob Dole’s penis. I’m sure they’ll find some way to back off doing any oversight and once again cut and run from holding you accountable for any of your myriad transgressions against our Democracy.

NOTE: Cliff's Corner will be on hiatus next week, off to the warmer environs of Longboat Key, Florida. Will say hi to Katherine Harris (it's old runny face's district) and pass on vote-buying cash for anyone in need of electoral assistance.

I just love him and will miss him for the next couple of weeks.

Thank you Cliff.

I Was Afraid of This!

When Jane pointed this out at firedoglake and with the subsequent nomination of the lead prosecutor to the Federal Judiciary I got such a chill up my spine. But apparently it only gets worse on the conflict of interest stage as Jane points out in this post.

Here it is:

And you thought we'd forgotten Barbara Comstock. Fat chance. She may be busy doing opposition research into Patrick Fitzgerald and his witness list on behalf of Scooter and the bear, but people like Valley Girl and Alison K. have been doing opposition research into her.

Turns out she's bosom buddies with none other than fellow wingnut ogress Alice Fisher. From Roll Call, January 9, 2006 (Lexis/Nexis):

It's Washington. Eyebrows were raised last month at just how cozy things were at the Justice Department's Christmas party. Most notably, between Alice Fisher, the newly installed head of the Criminal Division, and her old buddy Barbara Comstock, a strategic public relations and lobbying consultant who represents two of the biggest Republican fish caught up in the corruption scandals engulfing Washington.

This is just a snipit. Read the whole thing.

As I said, though the many Fat Ladies may be singing, if no one is listening we are in deep doo-doo. And so is our system of government.


Ironic Isn’t It!

Here we have the “War on Terra” President who is threatening Hamas (which was democratically elected) with the elimination of funding, because it doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist. And yet he is totally behind the bidness deal (thanks Ms. Molly for the Texas term) approving the purchase of a British ports management company by a UAE (which is a monarchy/dictatorship and totally undemocratic country,) state owned company that likewise doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist.

So, it would seem, just on the face of it, that Corporatism does indeed outweigh what this administration euphemistically calls “National Security” or foreign policy consistency or coherency.

So, while I am not making any claims as to the legitimacy, or not, of this particular bidness deal, it gives me great pleasure to watch the Bush/Rove team get their collective asses chewed out over it. They have used, and abused, the fear of the “Brown Skinned Arab” to justify every assault on the U.S. Constitution, the citizenry and the world (see Iraq) since 9/11. It is only justice that they now have to justify their position on giving carte blanche to an Arabic Israeli hating regime to the most sensitive area of port security which the GOP has repeatedly under-funded.

Yes indeed, I love it when the roosters come home to roost.

And that seems to be happening as Ms. America Rice tries to strong arm the rest of the Middle East.

It would be a bummer for her, except that unfortunately she and the rest of these folks represent us in the world

Oy Vay!