Tuli Can't Stop Talking

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

My Photo
Location: New York City

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

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Curious Case of Debra Yang and Jerry Lewis

My interest has been peeked by this report about U. S. Attorney Debra Yang’s situation. She had been investigating Jerry Lewis, the Republican Chairman of the Congressional Appropriation Committee and his ties to bribery and your everyday Republican corruption charges. So, once her office zeros in on him and right before the U. S. Attorney Purge she abruptly resigns and takes a signing bonus of $1.5 Million from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP who coincidentally just happens to be the firm who is defending Jerry Lewis (R-CA) from bribery and your everyday Republican corruption charges. Hummm! Could be a coincidence but then maybe not.

TMP reports you decide.

I have to tell you that I don’t know anyone in the legal beagle world who has heard of this type of arrangement with a signing bonus, partnership is usually lucrative enough. Now it is possible that this does happen all the time and just isn’t disclosed. But wouldn’t someone in the White Shoe and Lesser Firms have at the very least heard of it?

Just Saying!

Chemo Brain, No Shit!

Yes, finally someone is writing about it! The NYT’s has an article titled “Chemotherapy Fog is No Longer Ignored as Illusion.” Chemo Brain is a reality and anyone who has had it knows how real it is. Oncologists, not all but most from what I know, ignore its importance and effects.

It is bad enough that you are dealing with the debilitating physical effects of chemo, and there are so many, but to have chemo brain dismissed is a further insult to whatever little bit of dignity a patient needs to survive.

I couldn’t read, I couldn’t listen to music, I couldn’t watch television, and I had such a hard time trying to converse on a level which I was use to. I also had the unfortunate problem of having had a stroke during surgery so everything was relegated to that as the causal basis for my problems. But, chemo is accumulative and my symptoms were accumulating with each chemo. Now, it wasn’t just chemo brain that was dismissed as my treatments progressed. Those of us sitting in the waiting room waiting for our appointments also discussed our increasing pain in joints and bones, fingers and toes. These pains were also dismissed and individualized. No connection here to the treatment! But, we all had the same complaints. We had Chemo brain and Neuropathy.

Now, I have to say that I am thrilled to have survived so far from the radical treatment I received to fight my cancer. But, that said, those of us sitting in the waiting room all had the same stories, only different by level, and we were ignored and our experience belittled in our fight for survival.

So, even though it is 17 years after I had experienced chemo brain I am glad that someone, anyone, is taking it seriously and explaining to the future victims what they will experience.

When can the discussion on Neuropathy begin?

Generals Accused of Intellectual and Moral Failures

As I read this report from the Washington Post I was skeptical of Ricks’ reporting so I decided to read exactly what Yingling had written. His piece is indeed a scathing indictment of the Generals’ inability to convince the civilian policymakers to do the right thing. It is also a scathing indictment of the status quo and the bureaucratic nature of the Military Institution.

However, short of a mass mutiny I am at a loss as to what the “Generals” could have done given the actors who make up this Civilian Leadership. The Chiefs of Staff do actually work for the Commander-in-Chief and are suppose to follow orders. That is their job. Shinseki and Zinni did stand up and were tossed aside like so much flotsam and jetsam.

The message was sent and the message was received. The Military is after all a bureaucratic institution and pensions, etc., are hanging in the balance. Also, you don’t get that extra star by bucking the institution. You get that extra star by being a “Good German.” Shinseki and Zinni are the rare Americans. Let us not forget that even once it was obvious what a disaster this Civilian Administration was it was returned to office in 2004. The “Generals” are no different from the Average American.

So, as I read Yingling’s article it became clear to me that though he is blaming the “Generals” it is also quite clear that his article is a stinging rebuke of the Institution as a whole and the Civilian Leadership in particular.

You can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink.

The moral failure took place at the water’s edge.

David Halberstam


1934 - 2007

Friday, April 27, 2007

Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich


1927 - 2007

And here he is with Seiji Ozawa, who I have loved forever, and Rostropovich was the Russian Don Quixote.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Back in the day this was, and still is, one of my favorites. It has just the right combination of melody, rhythm, lyrics and jazz “improvisation.” Naturally the genius Van Morrison does it best.

I love this tune and the images in this video are beautiful.

Here he is in Ireland live in ’79. What a great arrangement. Check out the riffs.

And now for a totally different take and following up on the Irish thing: Van Morrison and the Chieftains’ do Moondance.

Ah, yes, back in the day. I am nostalgic today. Wonder why?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Wolfowitz May Go Down!

I have to tell you that I am so loving this. Please let it happen.

AGAG’s Truth or Dare!

Much to my dismay I was unable to watch the carnage at the Senate Hearing Thursday. However, two of my cohorts reported remarks that they heard about the Senate inquiry into AGAG’s and DOJ’s sacking of the U.S. Attorneys.

One remark relayed was apparently made to CNN by an “Anonymous Whitehouse Official” who remarked that it was like watching “Someone clubbing a baby seal.” My cohort also relayed that Sen. Coburn, not exactly your left-leaning pol, told AGAG that he should resign.

Another of my cohorts, who was glued to C-Span, said that after AGAG had been dismissed a remark was overheard from someone sitting right behind Abu (whose mike had been left on) that they “couldn’t understand how he ever made it through law school.”

I have since then watched the painful videos and it is clear that Abu has to go, if not for the whole debacle, just for the sacking of Carol Lam alone. But as we all know his departure wouldn’t solve a thing. First, anyone with any integrity wouldn’t take the job, based on the requirements of being a “Loyal Bushie.” And anyone that was a “Loyal Bushie” and would take the job couldn’t get confirmed. So, we are left with Abu standing in front of the closet that has all of this administration’s skeletons. Abu needs to go but isn’t going anywhere and we need to come to grips with this, speaking of painful.

Well, folks, I hate to say we told you so, but we told you so!

Oh, and after all those hours of testimony and grilling we still don’t have any idea as to why those U.S. Attorneys were really fired and whose idea it was.

Well I guess that clears up everything doesn’t it?

Heck of a job Abu!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Thank You Gwen Ifill.

Gwen Ifill was on the MTP panel with Gene Robinson, David Brooks and John Harwood and she sets the boys straight. Well, some of the boys. Mr. Robinson, the Sunday Morning designated driver, already knows the deal. Gee I wonder why? Read his piece “Misogyny in the Morning” from earlier this week.

Here is the Crooks and Liars link to Ms. Ifill calling out the boys for their “Radio Silence.” And boy do they deserve to be called out.

The Non-Mea Culpa Mea Culpa

I am so disappointed in Mr. Rich.

April 15, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

Everybody Hates Don Imus


FAMILIAR as I am with the warp speed of media, I was still taken aback by the velocity of Don Imus’s fall after he uttered an indefensible racist and sexist slur about the Rutgers women’s basketball team. Even in that short span, there’s been an astounding display of hypocrisy, sanctimony and self-congratulation from nearly every side of the debate, starting with Al Sharpton, who has yet to apologize for his leading role in the Tawana Brawley case, the 1980s racial melee prompted by unproven charges much like those that soiled the Duke lacrosse players.

It’s possible that the only people in this whole sorry story who are not hypocrites are the Rutgers teammates and their coach, C. Vivian Stringer. And perhaps even Don Imus himself, who, while talking way too much about black people he has known and ill children he has helped, took full responsibility for his own catastrophic remarks and didn’t try to blame the ensuing media lynching on the press, bloggers or YouTube. Unlike Mel Gibson, Michael Richards and Isaiah Washington, to take just three entertainers who have recently delivered loud religious, racial or sexual slurs, Imus didn’t hire a P.R. crisis manager and ostentatiously enter rehab or undergo psychiatric counseling. “I dished it out for a long time,” he said on his show last week, “and now it’s my time to take it.”

Among the hypocrites surrounding Imus, I’ll include myself. I’ve been a guest on his show many times since he first invited me in the early 1990s, when I was a theater critic. I’ve almost always considered him among the smarter and more authentic conversationalists I’ve encountered as an interviewee. As a book author, I could always use the publicity.

Of course I was aware of many of his obnoxious comments about minority groups, including my own, Jews. Sometimes he aimed invective at me personally. I wasn’t seriously bothered by much of it, even when it was unfunny or made me wince, because I saw him as equally offensive to everyone. The show’s crudest interludes struck me as burlesque.

I do not know Imus off the air and have no idea whether he is a good person, any more than I know whether Jerry Lewis, another entertainer who raises millions for sick children, is a good person. But as a listener and sometime guest, I didn’t judge Imus to be a bigot. Perhaps I felt this way in part because Imus vehemently inveighed against racism in real life, most recently in decrying the political ads in last year’s Senate campaign linking a black Tennessee congressman, Harold Ford, to white women. Perhaps I gave Imus a pass because the insults were almost always aimed at people in the public eye, whether politicians, celebrities or journalists — targets with the forums to defend themselves.

And perhaps I was kidding myself. What Imus said about the Rutgers team landed differently, not least because his slur was aimed at young women who had no standing in the world of celebrity, and who had done nothing in public except behave as exemplary student athletes. The spectacle of a media star verbally assaulting them, and with a creepy, dismissive laugh, as if the whole thing were merely a disposable joke, was ugly. You couldn’t watch it without feeling that some kind of crime had been committed. That was true even before the world met his victims. So while I still don’t know whether Imus is a bigot, there was an inhuman contempt in the moment that sounded like hate to me. You can see it and hear it in the video clip in a way that isn’t conveyed by his words alone.

Does that mean he should be silenced? The Rutgers team pointedly never asked for that, and I don’t think the punishment fits the crime. First, as a longtime Imus listener rather than someone who tuned in for the first time last week, I heard not only hate in his wisecrack but also honesty in his repeated vows to learn from it. Second, as a free-speech near-absolutist, I don’t believe that even Mel Gibson, to me an unambiguous anti-Semite, should be deprived of his right to say whatever the hell he wants to say. The answer to his free speech is more free speech — mine and yours. Let Bill O’Reilly talk about “wetbacks” or Rush Limbaugh accuse Michael J. Fox of exaggerating his Parkinson’s symptoms, and let the rest of us answer back.

Liberals are kidding themselves if they think the Imus firing won’t have a potentially chilling effect on comics who push the line. Let’s not forget that Bill Maher, an Imus defender last week, was dropped by FedEx, Sears, ABC affiliates and eventually ABC itself after he broke the P.C. code of 9/11. Conservatives are kidding themselves if they think the Imus execution won’t impede Ann Coulter’s nasty invective on the public airwaves. As Al Franken pointed out to Larry King on Wednesday night, CNN harbors Glenn Beck, who has insinuated that the first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, is a terrorist (and who has also declared that “faggot” is nothing more than “a naughty name”). Will Time Warner and its advertisers be called to account? Already in the Imus aftermath, the born-again blogger Tom DeLay has called for the firing of Rosie O’Donnell because of her “hateful” views on Chinese-Americans, conservative Christians and President Bush.

That said, corporations, whether television or radio networks or movie studios or commercial sponsors, are free to edit or cancel any content. No one has an inalienable right to be broadcast or published or given a movie or music contract. Whether MSNBC and CBS acted out of genuine principle or economic necessity is a debate already raging. Just as Imus’s show defied easy political definition — he has both kissed up to Dick Cheney as a guest and called him a war criminal — so does the chatter about what happened over the past week. MSNBC, forever unsure of its identity, seems to have found a new calling by turning that debate into a running series, and I say, go for it.

The biggest cliché of the debate so far is the constant reiteration that this will be a moment for a national “conversation” about race and sex and culture. Do people really want to have this conversation, or just talk about having it? If they really want to, it means we have to ask ourselves why this debacle has given permission to talking heads on television to repeat Imus’s offensive words so insistently that cable news could hardly take time out to note the shocking bombing in the Baghdad Green Zone. Some even upped the ante: Donna Brazile managed to drag “jigaboo” into Wolf Blitzer’s sedate “Situation Room” on CNN.

If we really want to have this conversation, it also means we have to have a nonposturing talk about hip-hop lyrics, “Borat,” “South Park” and maybe Larry David, too. As James Poniewozik pointed out in his smart cover article for Time last week, an important question emerged from an Imus on-air soliloquy as he tried to defend himself: “This phrase that I use, it originated in the black community. That didn’t give me a right to use it, but that’s where it originated. Who calls who that and why? We need to know that. I need to know that.”

My 22-year-old son, a humor writer who finds Imus an anachronistic and unfunny throwback to the racial-insult humor of the Frank Sinatra-Sammy Davis Jr. Rat Pack ilk, raises a complementary issue. He argues that when Sacha Baron Cohen makes fun of Jews and gays, he can do so because he’s not doing it as himself but as a fictional character. But try telling that to the Anti-Defamation League, which criticized Mr. Baron Cohen, an observant Jew, for making sport of a real country (Kazakhstan) and worried that the “Borat” audience “may not always be sophisticated enough to get the joke, and that some may even find it reinforcing their bigotry.”

So if we really want to have this national “conversation” about race and culture and all the rest of it that everyone keeps telling us that this incident has prompted, let’s get it on, no holds barred. And the fewer moralizing pundits and politicians, the better. Hillary Clinton, an Imus denouncer who has also called for federal regulation of violent television and video games, counts among her Hollywood fat cats Haim Saban, who made his fortune from “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.”

Listening to Les Moonves of CBS speak with such apparent sincerity of how his network was helping to change the culture by firing Imus, I couldn’t help but remember that one of CBS’s own cultural gifts to America has been “Big Brother,” the reality game show that cloisters a dozen or so strangers in a house for weeks to see how they get along. Maybe Mr. Moonves could put his prime-time schedule where his mouth is and stop milking that format merely for the fun of humiliation, voyeurism and sexual high jinks. If locking Imus and his team in a house with Coach Stringer and her team 24/7 isn’t must-see TV that moves this conversation forward, then I don’t know what is.

I don’t think that the majority of White Men will ever be able to get this. This includes “Liberal” White Men. They have never had to see themselves as the “Other” as defined by those in power. I guess that would be because those who have the power to do the defining are White Men, not the “Other.”

To quote a voice recently lost: so it goes.

Roscoe Lee Brown



So much more than just the voice.

So True!

I love Keb’ Mo’ and Suitcase is one of his best. We all have luggage (baggage), and sometimes it is so heavy!

Nuff said.

And for those in the Criminal Justice System, such as it is, or just those who are keeping track of this Administration there is this favorite:

Listen up Abu G., this is good advice!

Thanks to Pat T.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Thoughts on Wolfowitz.


You can make a misleading case for war, support a secret internal Pentagon effort to manipulate and hype intelligence that supports the case for war, invade another country without preparing for what comes after the invasion. ... And nothing happens. In fact, you are subsequently awarded with a medal and a plum job. But if you use your influence to get a pay raise for your girlfriend, well, then, you’re in big, big trouble. It’s sort of like nabbing Al Capone on tax evasion.

David Corn, Washington editor, The Nation, at DavidCorn.com

Ironic, no?

Atrios on the Imus Flap.

Thank you Duncan!

Our Peeps

A couple of days ago I wrote:

Various corners of the wingnutosphere are trying to claim Imus is a liberal (he isn't), that if he was a conservative he'd be fired (he wouldn't be), and that liberals are giving him a pass. Sadly, to the extent that "liberals" are represented by people likes James Carville and Tom Oliphant, on that last point they're actually correct.

And, sadly, that is apparently more true than I imagined. I don't claim to be representative of anything personally, but these people don't represent me, people I know, the general sentiment in left blogistan, etc. That perspective is almost entirely missing from our media. It's part generational, part cultural, part insiderism, part the general "no liberals on the teevee" rule. Whatever it is, it's troubling.

Carville is a paid shill, and Oliphant is a sycophant!

And yes, Imus is not a “Liberal” and never was.

Though I am opposed as a general rule to censoring speech, I can’t help but think: one down!

My Bad!

Lessons from Back in the Day!

Just because it seems so right:

Back when I was one of those dirty-hippies, this was an anthem.

You know sometimes we actually know what we are talking about, based on experience that is!

If only Wolfowitz, et al., had read the Seven Pillars of Wisdom when they were 13 years old.

Okay, I know bashing Paul Wolfowitz is so easy today, and actually it was pretty easy back in 2002 as well, but think how different things would be if he actually was the “scholar” he is suppose to be? As apposed to the obvious self-serving political hack he actually is!

More Likely Anti-American Propaganda.

I saw this over at Seeing the Forest posted as “Anti-Islam Propaganda. The GOP Swiftboaters are obviously getting desperate as Americans across the board are aligning themselves with the Democrats' ideals and goals.

And example of their desperation is this pathetic attempt, to quote G.W. Bush, to “catapult the propaganda”:

This reeks of desperation, and I don’t mean just poor production quality. Though, poor production quality is a hallmark of the GOP and the Administration in recent years (see Afghanistan and Iraq, oh, and lest we forget Katrina).

The irony involved in this advertisement for the GOP and Bush Brand is too rich. The smearing of Zbigniew Brzezinski as part of the plan says it all. I think that the smoking gun as the “Mushroom Cloud,” which calls to mind Dr. Rice and the missing WMD, is so telling. I guess the GOP really is a “one note” party.

And as to that “Feel the Love” generation of dirty-hippies, though we were right about Iraq and so much else about this administration, who would have thought that Zbig was one of us! Does he know this?

Does this crap really work anymore? Beside with the knuckle-dragging 30% that is?

Because you know the Founding Fathers thought that “Dissent” was so unpatriotic that they actually incorporated it into the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

Well not so much, this is what they actually said:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

I am thinking that November 2006 was an attempt to alter and abolish that government which had become so destructive.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut



So it goes.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

McCain is Toast and Possibly Insane!

Just watched St. John on 60 Minutes. Don’t have a transcript yet, but he admitted to lying, pandering and a basic willingness to do anything to further his campaign for President. I am sure that this Straight Talk will get those stray Republican and Independent voters’ support!

I have often said that anyone who wants to be President is someone you should never vote for. St. John is now exhibit A.

Update from C&L.


Really folks this is astounding! I formerly worked for a Federal Circuit Appeals Court. For a Circuit Court, and the 7th Circuit at that, and panel that includes the Chief Judge Easterbrook (a Reagan appointee), to reverse a U.S. District Court Jury Conviction and U.S. Attorney Prosecution, from the bench, right after Oral Argument, is pretty much unprecedented. Not only did they reverse the Jury conviction of the U.S. District Court, they didn’t remand for retrial. They acquitted the defendant from the bench and ordered her set free immediately. The written decision is yet to come. WOW!

Now, I wonder if this has anything to do with the USApurgegate? Nah, I really know that it has everything to do with USApurgegate. It also has to do with what the “Loyal Bushies,” such as U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic, were doing and why some of them are being retained. You know, not exactly “Voter Fraud,” but possibly “Election Fraud.” Because for this Administration it is all about “Voter Fraud (read: voting while black),” as apposed to “Election Fraud (read: rigging elections),” which they are not so opposed to (see Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire and now Wisconsin).

Read this for yourself and you decide:

Georgia Thompson acquitted, set free

In a stunning reversal, a federal court of appeals struck down a state worker's fraud conviction that Wisconsin Republicans used in efforts to paint Gov. Jim Doyle's administration as corrupt.

Attorneys on both sides of the case said the three-judge panel likely overruled the trial jury's conviction of former state purchasing officer Georgia Thompson within hours of oral arguments due to a simple lack of evidence.

The decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, which will explain the judges' reasoning, was not immediately available.

During oral arguments Thursday, one of the members the three-judge panel said the charges against Thompson were unfounded.

"I have to say it strikes me that your evidence is beyond thin," federal Appeals Judge Diane Wood told prosecutors. "I'm not sure what your actual theory in this case is."

The court heard arguments in the case Thursday morning and then ordered a trial judge to free Thompson from a federal prison in Illinois, which she entered in November.

Thompson was a civil service employee last year when she was convicted of fraud after being accused of steering a state travel contract to a firm whose top officials were major campaign contributors to Doyle.

Her attorney, Stephen Hurley of Madison, argued that prosecutors never proved Thompson had been pressured by her superiors to deliver the contract to a company run by a major contributor to Doyle.

Hurley noted that the appeals court acquitted Thompson rather than sending her case back to a trial court.

Federal prosecutors could appeal the decision - the acquittal was stayed for 14 days to allow them to ask for a rehearing - but said they probably would not do so.

"It's extraordinary for a U.S. Court of Appeals to issue a decision on the day of oral arguments without a written opinion," Hurley said. "What they're saying is, 'There's no evidence, she's acquitted.'"

Doyle comments

Thompson's conviction was used to batter Doyle during his successful re-election campaign last year. Republican challenger Mark Green and allies blasted the governor for the case in television ads.

Thursday, Doyle praised the appeals court ruling but saved his strongest words for what he called "sensationalized media reports and partisan attacks" on his administration that turned Thompson into a "political football."

"This conviction was a terrible injustice," Doyle said. "Georgia Thompson is an innocent woman who was imprisoned for more than four months just for doing her job. It is great for her that the Court of Appeals has taken this extraordinary action so she does not have to spend one more night in prison."

Doyle said Thompson was entitled to return to her $77,300-a-year job, along with back pay and state assistance covering her legal expenses.

Hurley called that "very cool," but said he hadn't spoken with Thompson since the acquittal and didn't know if she would accept. Hurley said his client wouldn't speak with reporters about her case, calling her "the most private person I've ever met." He declined to state the amount of her legal bills.

A man answering the phone at the home of Valerie Priebe, Thompson's sister, said Priebe was on her way to pick up Thompson from the prison in Pekin, Ill., Thursday night and was not available to comment.

Lawyers commended

Michelle Jacobs, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic in Milwaukee, said it was difficult to comment without seeing the written decision.

But she agreed it would be difficult to ask the court to rehear the case - the next step for any appeal by prosecutors. That's because the decision appeared to hinge on the facts presented at trial, which wouldn't change, she said.

"We convinced a . . . jury, and we convinced (U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph T.) Randa but I think we're going to see that we didn't convince the three-judge court of appeals," Jacobs said. "I think it's very unlikely that we'll petition for a rehearing."

In a statement, Biskupic himself said simply: "We commend the work of Thompson's lawyers."

Tammy Jones, spokeswoman for the federal prison in Pekin, about 230 miles south of Madison, said Thursday afternoon that Thompson "will be released shortly."

Michael O'Hear, a law professor at Marquette University, said the Court of Appeals decision is unusual.

First, he said appeals court judges typically issue decisions weeks or months after hearing oral arguments, rather than on the same day. Second, instead of ordering a new trial - typically how appeals panels rule in favor of defendants - the judges acquitted Thompson.

"If this was a finding of insufficient evidence, what they're saying is it's unjust that Georgia Thompson has been in prison the last few months," O'Hear said.

'Zero tolerance' Following her conviction in June, Thompson resigned from her state job.

At the time, Doyle said, "I have zero tolerance for ethical lapses in government. When public servants abuse the public's trust, they forfeit their rights to continue in the state's employ."

Hurley said he thought Doyle's statements have been consistent. "I think the governor on each occasion accepted the court's decision."

At the news conference Thursday, Doyle lashed out at political opponents and news organizations for coverage of the Thompson case. But Doyle, a Democrat, declined to criticize the federal prosecutor, a Republican appointee.

Biskupic and Republic state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen have both said the investigation into the travel contract remains open. Neither commented on it Thursday.

Mark Jefferson, executive director of the state Republican Party, defended past statements by the GOP, and said the court ruling didn't end the questions the case raised.

"The fact remains that when presented with the evidence, the jury thought there was a case here," Jefferson said.

UW-Madison political science professor Charles Franklin called the ruling "amazing" and said it was fortunate that Thompson's conviction didn't ultimately affect the outcome of the election.

"We kind of dodged a bullet," Franklin said.

But Thompson's trial raised "perfectly legitimate issues" that political opponents and the news media were right to focus on, Franklin said.

18-month sentence Hurley said Thompson's appeal focused on two claims - that there was insufficient evidence presented at trial, and that the grand jury indictment failed to show a crime.

Acting on the appeals court's order, Randa in Milwaukee ordered Thompson's immediate release in a one-page order that said Thompson would be released on her own recognizance and could move back to Wisconsin.

After her conviction, Thompson was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. Randa rejected her pleas to stay out of prison during her appeal. Until Thursday, Thompson had a projected release date of March 2008, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons.

Prosecutors argued that Thompson rigged the bidding process to ensure a contract worth up to $750,000 to book travel for state employees went to Adelman Travel Group of Glendale, whose top executive and a board member contributed $10,000 each to Doyle's campaign before and after winning the contract. Prosecutors tried to paint a cozy relationship between Doyle's administration and Adelman that led to pressure on Thompson.

Thompson maintained her innocence, arguing she didn't know about those political connections, did not gain financially from the deal and was only trying to save taxpayers money.

In a statement, Hurley said the government should accept responsibility for its actions, although he said there was no legal redress Thompson could take at the state or federal level.

"The government charged Thompson with conduct that did not constitute a crime," he said. "It cost Georgia her job, her life savings, her home and her liberty, and it cost Georgia her good name."

So, what have we got here? We have a hotly contested gubernatorial contest with a Democratic Governor seeking re-election and a Bush appointed U.S. Attorney wielding the power of the Federal Government, so it seems, on behalf of the Republican Candidate! Doesn’t exactly sound like that pesky “Voter Fraud” this Administration is so hot to prosecute, but it sure does sound like the “Election Fraud” they are not, so much, hot to prosecute. This is all connected folks. Just like the recent GSA Hatch Amendment Scandal it is about the use of the Federal Government to rape our democratic process.

This is one 7th Circuit decision that I can’t wait to read!

I am thinking High Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Lithwick on Goodling, et al.

Dahlia Lithwick is, I think, quite generous to the Holy Hires. But not so generous to those who hired them.

Justice's Holy Hires

By Dahlia Lithwick
Sunday, April 8, 2007; B02

Monica Goodling had a problem. As senior counsel to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and Justice Department liaison to the White House, she no longer seemed to know what the truth was. She also must have been increasingly unclear about who her superiors were. This didn't used to be a problem for Goodling. Everything was once very certain: Her boss's truth was always the same as God's truth. Her boss was always either God or one of His staffers.

Last week, through counsel, Goodling again refused to testify about her role in the firings of several U.S. attorneys for what appear to be partisan reasons. Asserting her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, she somehow thought she might be on the hook for criminal obstruction. Then on Friday, she resigned, giving no reason.

A 1995 graduate of Messiah College, an evangelical Christian school, and a 1999 graduate of Pat Robertson's Regent University Law School, Goodling is an improbable character for a political scandal. Her chief claim to professional fame appears to have been loyalty to the president and to the process of reshaping the Justice Department in his image (and, thus, His image). A former career official there told The Washington Post that Goodling "forced many very talented career people out of main Justice so she could replace them with junior people that were either loyal to the administration or would score her some points." And as she rose at Justice, a former classmate said, Goodling "developed a very positive reputation for people coming from Christian schools into Washington looking for employment in government, always ready to offer encouragement and be a sounding board."

Start digging, and Goodling also looks to be the Forrest Gump of no comments: Here she is in 1997 fielding calls from reporters to the admissions office of Regent's School of Government. Asked whether non-Christians were admitted, she explained that "we admit all students without discrimination. We are a Christian institution; it is assumed that everyone in the classes are Christians." Here, in 2004, she's answering calls at the Justice Department about whether then-Deputy Solicitor General Paul D. Clement knew about the abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison when he told the Supreme Court that the United States does not torture. Said Goodling, in lieu of taking the Fifth: "We wouldn't have any comment."

Goodling is one of 150 graduates of Regent University who have served in this administration, as Regent's Web site proudly proclaims. Pretty impressive for a 29-year-old school. The university says that "approximately one out of every six Regent alumni is employed in some form of government work." And that's precisely what its founder desired. The school's motto is "Christian Leadership to Change the World." Former attorney general John Ashcroft teaches at Regent, and graduates have obtained senior positions in the Bush administration. The express goal is not only to tear down the wall between church and state in America but also to enmesh the two.

Jeffrey A. Brauch, the law school's dean, urges that students reflect upon "the critical role the Christian faith should play in our legal system." Jason Eige (Class of '99), senior assistant to Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell, puts it pithily in the alumni newsletter: "Your Résumé Is God's Instrument."

This legal worldview meshed perfectly with that of Ashcroft -- a devout Pentecostal who forbade use of the word "pride," as well as the phrase "no higher calling than public service," on documents bearing his signature. No surprise that, as he began transforming the Justice Department, the Goodlings looked good to him.

One of Ashcroft's most profound changes was to the Civil Rights Division, started in 1957 to fight racial discrimination in voting. Under Ashcroft, career lawyers were systematically fired or forced out and replaced by members of conservative or Christian groups or folks with no civil rights experience. In the five years after 2001, the Civil Rights Division brought no voting cases -- and only one employment case -- on behalf of an African American. Instead, the division took up the "civil rights" abuses of reverse discrimination -- claims of voter fraud or discrimination against Christians. On Feb. 20, Gonzales announced a new initiative called the First Freedom Project to carry out "even greater enforcement of religious rights for all Americans." In his view, the fight for a student's right to read a Bible in school is as urgent as the right to vote.

We may agree or disagree on that proposition, but it certainly explains how Goodling came to confuse working to advance Gonzales's agenda with working to advance God's. But while God may well want more prayer in public schools, it's not clear that He wanted David Iglesias fired on a pretext.

Is there anything wrong with legal scholarship from a Christian perspective? Not that I see. Is there anything wrong with a Bush administration that disproportionately uses graduates from Christian law schools to fill its staffing needs? Not that I see. It's a shorthand, no better or worse than cherry-picking the Federalist Society or the American Bar Association. I can't even get exercised over the fact that Gonzales, Karl Rove and Harriet Miers had their baby lawyers making critical staffing decisions. The baby lawyers had extremely clear marching orders.

No, the real concern here is that Goodling and her ilk somehow began to conflate God's work with the president's. Probably not a lesson she learned in law school. The dream of Regent and its counterparts, such as Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, is to redress perceived wrongs to Christians, to reclaim the public square and reassert Christian political authority. And while that may have been a part of the Bush/Rove plan, it was only a small part. Their real zeal was for earthly power. And Goodling was left holding the earthly bag.

In the end, Goodling and the other young foot soldiers for God may simply have run afoul of the first rule of politics, codified in Psalm 146: "Put not your trust in princes, in mere mortals in whom there is no help."


UPDATE: Christy has comments on Lithwick’s piece at Firedoglake. Needless to say she is not as kind as Lithwick. But she is right!

Mr. Rich

From behind the Wall:

Sunday in the Market With McCain


JOHN McCAIN’S April Fools’ Day stroll through Baghdad’s Shorja market last weekend was instantly acclaimed as a classic political pratfall. Protected by more than a hundred American soldiers, three Black Hawk helicopters, two Apache gunships and a bulletproof vest, the senator extolled the “progress” and “good news” in Iraq. Befitting this loopy brand of comedy — reminiscent of “Wedding Crashers,” in which Mr. McCain gamely made a cameo appearance — the star had a crackerjack cast of supporting buffoons: Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who told reporters “I bought five rugs for five bucks!,” and Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, who likened the scene to “a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime.”

Five rugs for five bucks: boy, we’ve really got that Iraq economy up and running now! No wonder the McCain show was quickly dubbed “McCain’s Mission Accomplished” and “McCain’s Dukakis-in-the-Tank Photo Op.” But at a certain point the laughter curdled. Reporters rudely pointed out there were 60-plus casualties in this market from one February attack alone and that six Americans were killed in the Baghdad environs on the day of his visit. “Your heart goes out to just the typical Iraqi because they can’t have that kind of entourage,” said Kyra Phillips of CNN. The day after Mr. McCain’s stroll, The Times of London reported that 21 of the Shorja market’s merchants and workers were ambushed and murdered.

The political press has stepped up its sotto voce deathwatch on the McCain presidential campaign ever since, a drumbeat enhanced by last week’s announcement of Mr. McCain’s third-place finish in the Republican field’s fund-raising sweepstakes. (He is scheduled to restate his commitment to the race on “60 Minutes” tonight.) But his campaign was sagging well before he went to Baghdad. In retrospect, his disastrous trip may be less significant as yet another downturn in a faltering presidential candidacy than as a turning point in hastening the inevitable American exit from Iraq.

Mr. McCain is no Michael Dukakis. Unlike the 1988 Democratic standard-bearer, who was trying to counter accusations that he was weak on national defense, the Arizona senator has more military cred than any current presidential aspirant, let alone the current president. Every American knows that Mr. McCain is a genuine hero who survived torture during more than five years of captivity at the Hanoi Hilton. That’s why when he squandered that credibility on an embarrassing propaganda stunt, he didn’t hurt only himself but also inflicted collateral damage on lesser Washington mortals who still claim that the “surge” can bring “victory” in Iraq.

It can’t be lost on those dwindling die-hards, particularly those on the 2008 ballot, that if defending the indefensible can reduce even a politician of Mr. McCain’s heroic stature to that of Dukakis-in-the-tank, they have nowhere to go but down. They’ll cut and run soon enough. For starters, just watch as Mr. McCain’s G.O.P. presidential rivals add more caveats to their support for the administration’s Iraq policy. Already, in a Tuesday interview on “Good Morning America,” Mitt Romney inched toward concrete “timetables and milestones” for Iraq, with the nonsensical proviso they shouldn’t be published “for the enemy.”

As if to confirm we’re in the last throes, President Bush threw any remaining caution to the winds during his news conference in the Rose Garden that same morning. Almost everything he said was patently misleading or an outright lie, a sure sign of a leader so entombed in his bunker (he couldn’t even emerge for the Washington Nationals’ ceremonial first pitch last week) that he feels he has nothing left to lose.

Incredibly, he chided his adversaries on the Hill for going on vacation just as he was heading off for his own vacation in Crawford. Then he attacked Congress for taking 57 days to “pass emergency funds for our troops” even though the previous, Republican-led Congress took 119 days on the same bill in 2006. He ridiculed the House bill for “pork and other spending that has nothing to do with the war,” though last year’s war-spending bill was also larded with unrelated pork, from Congressional efforts to add agricultural subsidies to the president’s own request for money for bird-flu preparation.

Mr. Bush’s claim that military equipment would be shortchanged if he couldn’t sign a spending bill by mid-April was contradicted by not one but two government agencies. A Government Accountability Office report faulted poor Pentagon planning for endemic existing equipment shortages in the National Guard. The Congressional Research Service found that the Pentagon could pay for the war until well into July. Since by that point we’ll already be on the threshold of our own commanders’ late-summer deadline for judging the surge, what’s the crisis?

The president then ratcheted up his habitual exploitation of the suffering of the troops and their families — a button he had pushed five days earlier when making his six-weeks-tardy visit to pose for photos at scandal-ridden Walter Reed. “Congress’s failure to fund our troops on the front lines will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines,” he said. “And others could see their loved ones headed back to the war sooner than they need to.”

His own failures had already foreordained exactly these grim results. Only the day before this news conference, the Pentagon said that the first unit tossed into the Baghdad surge would stay in Iraq a full year rather than the expected nine months, and that three other units had been ordered back there without the usual yearlong stay at home. By week’s end, we would learn the story of the suspected friendly-fire death of 18-year-old Pvt. Matthew Zeimer, just two hours after assuming his first combat post. He had been among those who had been shipped to war with a vastly stripped-down training regimen, 10 days instead of four weeks, forced by the relentless need for new troops in Iraq.

Meanwhile the Iraqi “democracy” that Mr. Zeimer died for was given yet another free pass. Mr. Bush applauded the Iraqi government for “working on an oil law,” though it languishes in Parliament, and for having named a commander for its Baghdad troops. Much of this was a replay of Mr. Bush’s sunny Rose Garden news conference in June, only then he claimed Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was taking charge of Baghdad security on his own. Now it’s not even clear whom the newly named Iraqi commander is commanding. The number of military operations with Iraqis in the lead is falling, not rising, according to the Pentagon. Even as the administration claims that Iraqis are leading the Baghdad crackdown, American military losses were double those of the Iraqi Army in March.

Mr. Bush or anyone else who sees progress in the surge is correct only in the most literal and temporary sense. Yes, an influx of American troops is depressing some Baghdad violence. But any falloff in the capital is being offset by increased violence in the rest of the country; the civilian death toll rose 15 percent from February to March. Mosul, which was supposedly secured in 2003 by the current American commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, is now a safe haven for terrorists, according to an Iraqi government spokesman. The once-pacified Tal Afar, which Mr. Bush declared “a free city that gives reason for hope for a free Iraq” in 2006, is a cauldron of bloodshed.

If Baghdad isn’t going to repeat Tal Afar’s history, we will have to send many more American troops than promised and keep them there until Mr. Maliki presides over a stable coalition government providing its own security. Hell is more likely to freeze over first. Yet if American troops don’t start to leave far sooner than that — by the beginning of next year, according to the retired general and sometime White House consultant Barry McCaffrey — the American Army will start to unravel. The National Guard, whose own new involuntary deployments to Iraq were uncovered last week by NBC News, can’t ride to the rescue indefinitely.

The center will not hold, no matter what happens in the Washington standoff over war funding. Surely no one understands better than Mr. McCain that American lives are being wasted in the war’s escalation. That is what he said on David Letterman’s show in an unguarded moment some five weeks ago — though he recanted the word wasted after taking flak the morning after.

Like his Letterman gaffe, Mr. McCain’s ludicrous market stunt was at least in the tradition of his old brand of straight talk, in that it revealed the truth, however unintentionally. But many more have watched the constantly recycled and ridiculed spectacle of his “safe” walk in Baghdad than heard him on a late-night talk show. This incident has the staying power of the Howard Dean scream. Should it speed America’s disengagement from Iraq, what looks today like John McCain’s farcical act of political suicide may some day loom large as a patriot’s final act of sacrifice for his country.

One can only hope. That is why I just had to share.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Endocrinologist Alert!

Anyone out there know of a really good and thoughtful endocrinologist? And they should also be part of the Oxford Freedom Plan.

Thanks for any help with this!

Love the Song, Hate the Video!

Not the worst version. But, do you have a better one?

The Rude One has it Right!

Once again:

In Brief: Cheney, Iraq, and Al-Qaeda: What Kind of Fuckery Is This?:
Could someone please, once and for fuckin' all, define "harboring terrorists"? Because, see, if all we're really talkin' here is that some terrorist's ass is seated on a chair at the local Starbucks, then what goddamned country ain't harboring them? And if said terrorist, with his ass in a Starbucks, downing the sweet American devil of frappuccino, makes a cell phone call to another Starbucks-ass-squatting terrorist across town to say something like, "Hey, wanna blow some shit up," does that meet the threshold of "operating" within a country? As the Rude Pundit has said, can we not assert that America was harboring the very terrorists operating and planning the very attacks that started the great and mighty war? And nobody suggested bombing Florida. Although...

When Dick Cheney says, as he did yesterday on Rush Limbaugh's Extravaganza o' Scrips and Sausage, "Rush, remember Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist, al Qaeda affiliate; ran a training camp in Afghanistan for al Qaeda, then migrated -- after we went into Afghanistan and shut him down there, he went to Baghdad, took up residence there before we ever launched into Iraq; organized the al Qaeda operations inside Iraq before we even arrived on the scene, and then, of course, led the charge for Iraq until we killed him last June...this is al Qaeda operating in Iraq," well, what the fuck does that have to do with the mighty invasion and occupation we're involved in? 'Cause, see, if Zarqawi had fucked with Sunnis while Saddam was in power and he was caught, motherfucker would have been chained in a dungeon while rat kibble was glued to his nutsack.

'Course, nothing fucks with a good cover story like facts. Although, certainly, that's never stopped Cheney before. If that vile bastard was shot in the face with the facts, he'd just stand there bleeding and deny that buckshot exists.

What can one say other than he is right!

Duplicity, Again!

Via Susie at Suburban Guerrilla :

The New York Times’ Michael Gordon and Bushco. Glenn Greenwald:

On Saturday, The New York Times published a front page story by Gordon which did nothing other than mindlessly convey highly provocative (and completely unproven) claims by anonymous Bush officials that “the most lethal weapon directed against American troops in Iran is an explosive-packed cylinder that United States intelligence asserts is being supplied by Iran.”

As I documented on Saturday (as did Juan Cole and others), Gordon’s article replicated every mistake made by the media which enabled the administration to deceive the country with respect to the “threat” posed by Iraq — specifically, it granted anonymity to Bush officials to make highly dubious, war-inflaming claims, and then simply passed those claims along on the front page with no scrutiny or investigation, and without any mention of the ample evidence which undermines those claims.

Go read the rest for details on how Gordon derides his critics for not understanding journalism… Boy, and people think I’m crazy for saying the Bushies have resurrected Operation Mockingbird!

I don’t know about you but I am getting so tired of this shit!

The Other (Good) Roger Ailes on McCain

Remember when we all thought St. John would be the Repub front runner? Well, that was “back in the day” before anyone suggested that he should undergo an EEG (Electroencephalography).

Here is Roger’s quick take:

Drivin' That Train, High on Insane

The Straight Talk Choo-Choo has derailed yet again, spilling toxic chemicals and causing the evacuation of the tri-state area. And what does Casey McJones have to say for himself?

"Trust me to lie to you."

"Of course I am going to misspeak and I've done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do it in the future," says McCain. "I regret that when I divert attention to something I said from my message, but you know, that's just life," he tells Pelley, adding, "I'm happy, frankly, with the way I operate, otherwise it would be a lot less fun."

The topic, of course, is McCain's lie about life and death in Baghdad. As long as McCain had fun spouting off, well, that's all that matters.

With or without an EEG, for the record, I think St. John may be toast.

Just saying!

A Different Take on Pelosi in the Middle East

Robin Givhan is a favorite of mine. How many black female fashion writers are awarded the Pulitzer Prize folks? Not many, in fact only Ms. Givhan!

Here she is on Speaker Pelosi in Middle East:

Over the past week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi toured the Middle East with a congressional entourage and a generous collection of scarves. The scarves provided her with an additional bit of sartorial modesty when the situation required it and she was also able to use them to cover her head when protocol dictated -- such as when she visited the tomb of John the Baptist inside a mosque in Damascus and tied one around her head in the manner of a Hitchcock heroine.

Other Western women have visited the Middle East and have had to cover their heads, but they often looked as though that requirement came as a surprise and in a pinch they reached for the nearest available square of fabric. Being respectful demands a certain mindfulness in order not to look like one is wearing a tablecloth.


Clothing can evoke authority, but at the most basic level it is an expression of control. Prison coveralls wrest autonomy from convicts. School uniforms attempt to level the playing field so that no clique can dominate the student body. In both cases, individuals fight to reclaim a sense of self, whether by shortening the hem of a skirt or accessorizing the body with tattoos.

When the recently released British detainees were trotted in front of the media in Iran, the men were not in the uniform of their country, which would have been a reminder of their international stature, but rather in look-alike shabby suits and no ties. They were dressed in the image of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Western mufti was appropriated and served as a stand-in for an emasculating uniform, making the seamen appear small and uncertain. The lone woman looked like she had been overpowered by someone else's cultural traditions.

Pelosi, with her carefully coordinated scarves, respected her foreign surroundings without ceding any control. She assiduously avoided leaving a trail of cringe-inducing photographs in which she looked so uncomfortable she might as well have been dressed in a coat of porcupine quills. Her multipurpose, culturally adaptable scarves underscored the reality that sometimes it not only matters who you are, but also what you wear.

Nuff said!

Best Quote for the Holiday!

Without comment from Norwegianity:

I've always been surprised that Good Friday isn't the occasion for lots of big heavy metal concerts. Nothing says black leather and Black Sabbath riffs like a good old-fashioned crucifixion.

Screwing Labor and the U. S. of A. Continues!

You really want to see this from Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest. Here is the link!

Brad DeLong: I love him!

Why, indeed, hasn’t David Broder been forcibly retired? Oh, yeah I forgot, Fred Hiatt!

The CC in DC is so unhinged from reality that it has become an embarrassment to any reality-based political discourse. They are living “back in the day” when they were the only WORD. Times have changed. Talkingpointsmemo.com is only one example.

Wake-up guys we are watching you and calling you on your self-serving bullshit!

What is your point: truthiness and/or access?



You have to scroll down as DeLong’s permalink is a bit wacky!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Who is Bush Kidding?

Why not just another Signing Statement? You know, the way President Bush justifies his decision to not follow Laws which are passed by Congress.

President Bush on [Tuesday] offered no compromise in his standoff with Congress over funding for the Iraq war, saying lawmakers should pass any Iraq legislation they want -- but do it "as quickly as possible" so he can move ahead with a promised veto.

"If Congress fails to act in the next few weeks, it will have significant consequences for our men and women in the Armed Forces," Bush said at a White House news conference.

Congressional Democrats quickly accused Bush of refusing to change course in a four-year-old war that has killed more than 3,200 U.S. service members.

"It's disheartening that the President does not see that his policy in Iraq is a failure," Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.) said in a statement.

Both the House and the Senate have approved supplemental war funding bills that envision troops being pulled out on different timetables over the next year -- and threatened that if Bush does not accept some version of that language it could lead to even tougher legislation.

In remarks at the Rose Garden today, Bush said he thinks he has the support to sustain a veto, and that if Congress is intent on putting troop withdrawal requirements in the funding bill they should do it soon so the process can move forward.

Ultimately, he said, Congress will need to approve money to fund the war effort, or risk a situation where troops in the field are left without necessary equipment or the rotation of different units is thrown off schedule. Military leaders have said that by mid-May funding restraints could force them to leave some troops in the field longer than planned because the money would not be available to equip and train replacements.

I have highlighted the last paragraph as it is to me the most disingenuous part of his argument. The troops have been consistently left in the field without the necessary equipment and the rotation schedule is totally off schedule, many of the troops are left in the field longer than planned and this is because of Bush’s lack of planning not by any legislation of the Democratic Congress.

So, I have to wonder, why not just a signing statement? Why is Bush threatening to use his very FIRST VETO on this bill? Is it because it even mentions withdrawal from Iraq and the possibility that there is never going to be, under Bush, any withdrawal from the "Sovereign" Country of Iraq?

Why the threat of a VETO when a SIGNING STATEMENT has worked for him in the past? All I can think of is 2008 and blaming defeat on the "Defeatocrats" (Democrats that is).

Because, you know, this Bush Administration really supports our troops.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Food Supply is Under a Mystery Attack Folks!

Okay now we know that this administration’s attack on USDA and FDA regulation has destabilized our food supply’s reliability: E Coli, Salmonella, Mad Cow, not to mention outsourcing to China for gluten filler. However, what is happening to the bees in this agronomist’s nightmare and mystery is very scary for our food supply’s future. Bee Colonies are just simply disappearing and no one knows why. Lot’s of guesses, but no actual answers. The disappearing colonies are having a devastating effect, and will have an even more devastating impact on our food supply’s future. Pollination by bees is essential to our agricultural solvency.

It’s a mystery why U.S honeybees are abandoning hives in alarming numbers. But it’s happening and if answers to the mass exodus — called colony collapse disorder — aren’t found soon, the implications for agriculture will be huge.

Last summer, calls and reports from beekeepers began reaching Gary Hayes.

“Unfortunately, beekeepers have struggled over the last few years from colonies dying from introduced parasitic mites and other things,” says the president of the Apiary Inspectors of America from his Gainesville, Fla., office. “They’re already kind of numb because of all the problems. But last summer, beekeepers began losing colonies for reasons that weren’t quite in line with the other problems.”

Over the course of a few weeks, beekeepers noticed colony bee numbers would dwindle as the insects simply disappeared. Foragers would go out to find flowers and wouldn’t come back.

“With affected hives, there are no dead or dying bees on the ground as we see with pesticide exposures or other diseases. No one can explain this behavior.”

Over time, the gradual abandonment means all that’s left in a colony is a queen, a few attendants, eggs and brood (baby bees). Bees are an extremely social insects and for them to leave a colony in great numbers is very odd.

And often the few bees left behind appear to suffer from an immune system collapse. The bees seem to be susceptible to bacteria and fungi that normally would cause no bother.

“That, too, is highly unusual, and we’ve been trying to find the cause for several months. It seems to indicate some sort of mass immune deficiency. There are some very smart people looking for an answer, but we still haven’t come up with a smoking gun that we can combat through management practices or something else. It’s quite frustrating.”

Beekeeper services are vital for U.S. agriculture because there are no longer many wild honeybees.

The wild honeybee population is repopulating “a bit,” says Ed Levi, of the Arkansas State Plant Board. “But we lost a huge number of wild bees when the tracheal mite and Varroa mite came into the country. In the last 20 years, or so, we’re down to less than 5 percent of the feral colonies we used to have.

I remember hearing vague stories about this a while ago and I have been thinking “this is not good.” Now the only way I was even slightly tuned into this mystery and its possible ramifications is that we used to raise bees. They were an integral part of our pollination plan for apples, raspberries, blueberries, asparagus and rhubarb, not to mention our supply of honey. We didn’t exactly have a full fledged agricultural situation but we knew it was all dependant on our bees.

The mystery of the Colony Collapse Disorder has now gotten the MSM’s attention. On April 4th, Anne Thompson on NBC’s Evening News had a story about this situation. Even the Congress has figured out that this might be a problem:

For reasons yet unknown, the U.S. honeybee population is experiencing its most serious decline in history. First reported by beekeepers along the East Coast in late 2006, the phenomenon now called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) quickly spread across the nation and has now drawn the attention of the U.S. Congress.

If you think this problem is just about the honey, forget it. Far beyond honey, agricultural crops pollinated by honeybees accounts for about one-third of the U.S. diet. No bees, no crops. The monetary value of honey bees as commercial pollinators in the United States is estimated at about $15 billion annually. Worldwide, three-quarters of all flowering plants require pollination to reproduce.

While honeybee declines have come and gone in the past, Colony Collapse Disorder is unsettlingly different. In it's March 26, 2007 report Recent Honeybee Colony Declines (.pdf), the Congressional Research Service (CRS) found that current bee colony losses differ from past situations in that:

  • colony losses are occurring mostly because bees are failing to return to the hive (a behavior uncharacteristic of bees),
  • bee colony losses have been rapid,
  • colony losses are occurring in large numbers, and
  • the reason the losses are occurring remains largely unknown.

Among food crops considered to be from 90-100 percent dependent on bee pollination are almonds, apples, avocados, blueberries, cranberries, cherries, kiwi fruit, macadamia nuts, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, onions, legume seeds, pumpkins, squash, and sunflowers. Other important crops, including many fruits and citrus fruits, peanuts, cotton and soybeans are dependent on honeybees to a lesser degree, according to the CRS report.

Possible causes of CCD identified so far by researchers, include pesticides, parasites and diseases, stress, poor nutrition, lack of genetic diversity among bees and "a combination of several factors."

Something is going on here folks and it doesn’t look pretty. Global Warming perhaps?

Who knows, no one so far has a grip on this and it does not portend well for the future of agriculture.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

GSA: Another Administration OOPS!

The drip, drip, drip of malfeasance has become so overwhelming that one is almost unable to put their mind around the constant revelations that this administration’s actions have undermined democracy. The latest is of Lurita Doan, the Administration’s head of GSA, and she should be toast! Now many of us thought she was several weeks ago when the problem with her no bid contract for a friend came to light.

But, her testimony before the congress recently makes it clear that not only is she malevolent but totally incompetent. She comes across as a total lunatic. She has given the title of Political Hack a really bad name. She has raised the level of Sergeant Schultz “I know nothing,” to new levels.

Here is part of her testimony and it is devastating.

So, just in case you didn’t know that the Bush Administration has been using the United States Government and Treasury to advance the Rovain GOP agenda of total control of the Political Process this latest scandal, and there are so many, makes it perfectly clear that Rove. etc., is using the arms of the government and tax payer dollars to ensure Republican control of the government.

When will the term “Impeachment” become part of the normal dialogue which relates to this administrations actions?

The U.S. Government is not a partisan operation and it is actually, I believe, illegal (say the Hatch Amendment) for it to be part of a partisan operation whether it is the use of the Department of Justice or the General Service Administration to a particular political parties ends.

I am so naive.

Where do they get these people from?

And, yes folks, we are building teams here. Not U.S. Teams, but GOP teams. And with taxpayer monies.

Because these folks have money, and contribute it to the “Right” party, they are thought to be worthy of governing. This is the face of Oligarchy folks!