Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Oil Robber Barons - Don't Back Burner The Story

There's a whole lot going on in the world today - Mrs. King's death, shooting in California, Bush and his State of Denial tonight, oscar nominations, and on and on.

So in the midst of all of that, people might be forgiven for not seeing that Exxon posted the highest profit in U.S. history: $10.71 billion for the fourth quarter of 2005 and $36.13 billion for the entire year.

The other oil companies are not far behind. Where did all that money come from? Remember all that administration & oil company nonsense about them suffering as much as the rest of us because of Katrina/Rita and the Iraqi war? How they only passed on increases us to us because their costs had gone up?


Chevron's 4th quarter profit was up 20% from year before. Conoco Phillips 51% and Marathon Oil Corp's 4th quarter profit nearly trippled the size of the previous year's.

These people are the scum of the earth, and their best friends are in the highest offices in our government. I'll tell you want you can say at your state of the union tonight Mr. President, you can admit once and for all to all of us that your administration doesn't care about anything or anyone except your oil buddies.

Monday, January 30, 2006

If This Had Happened in US - Would They Have Lived?

72 miners were trapped in their mine underground by fire. All but have have been rescued as of now, and those other five are on their way up. 72!

According to a CNN report, "Mine officials initially said they had lost radio contact with 30 of the miners, who were working about half a mile beneath the surface. But they later found them safe in a refuge room, which is specially built for emergencies. 'In those refuge stations, the workers can seal themselves in and be safe with enough oxygen, food and water to be comfortable for 36 hours at the least,' Hamilton said."

I just can't help thinking that if the US mines were as prepared as this one was, would those deaths from the past weeks in West Virginia still have happened? Mine safety, Bush administration, Mine safety!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Oops, Republican Senators Take Some Hits

Survey USA has a poll out that shows a "net approval rating" of US senators (that's approval rating minus disapproval rating).

Of the 10 Senators at the top of the net approval rating, only 4 are Republicans (Snowe, Maine at 54%; Collins, Maine, at 54%, John McCaine, Az, at 52%, and Domenici, NM at 39%).

Of the 10 Senator at the bottom of the net approval rating, only 2 are Democrats (both from New Jersey).

The bottom 10? From the bottom up:
Conrad Burns, Montana, -9%
Frank Lautenberg, NJ, -4%
Rick Santorum, PA, -2%
Jim Bunning, KY, -1%
M. Martinez, FL, -1
Jon Kyl, AZ, 5%
Bill Frist, TN, 5%
M. DeWine, OH, 5%
Jon Corzine, NJ, 8%
G. Voinovich, OH, 9%

Bush is an Idiot, and Other Obvious Observations

From the Washington Post-ABC News poll -- Jan. 23-26, 2006

Percentage of those who disapprove of the way Bush has handled:
Iraq - 60%, federal budget deficit - 64%, ethics in government 56%, prescription drugs 51%, economy 52%, health care 60%, taxes 52%. The one issue he scored a majority of approval on was US campaign against terrorism (52% approved; 45% disapproved, 2% were watching tv).

52% approve of his campaign against terrorism? The same campaign that brought us the war in iraq that 60% disapprove of and helped the deficit that 64% disapprove of. We need to start connecting the dots here people!

But in spite of this, he still scores as a strong leader (52% vs. 48 who think he's a moron). Then again only 46% think he's honest and trustworth, vs. 53% who are right. My favorite is the old "he understands the problems of people like you" - 61% think, what, are you NUTS, he doesn't have a clue. And 38% apparently are the wealthy children of ex-presidents and friends of big oil interests.

George W. Bush - Almost as Hated as Nixon?

Days before Geo's State of the Union address, polls show that the only president who had a lower approval and higher disapproval rating at this point in his presidency was Nixon. And that was January 1974, hip-deep in watergate and just 9 months before his resignation.

Reagan 2/86 31% disapproval; 65% approval
Clinton 1/98 27% disapproval; 59% approval
Ike 1/58 27% disapproval; 58% approval
Nixon 1/74 64% disapproval; 26% approval
and Geo W?
January 2006 - 56% disapproval; 42% approval.

Some may take this to mean that 58% of the population disapproves of what Bush is doing. I take it to mean that 42% of the population was busy watching American Idol and didn't hear the question.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

All I Want for My Birthday

Yes, today is my birthday. And my birthday wish for this year is -

The American public gets up from their reality tv shows, starts paying attention to the news and realizes that we're all getting screwed by this administration. Maybe if people start paying attention to what's going on they'll start holding their government reps accountable from top to bottom.

Who Gets to Spy on You?

We're all familiar with FISA now, (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act). But how many of you knew about TALON and CIFA? CIFA is the Counterintelligence Field Activity crew created by the DOD to track threats against military installations & personal in the US. TALON (Threat and Local Observation Notice) is a DOD authorized operation that collects info about "suspicious incidents" and provides it to CIFA.

So, now that we have our initials straight, who is spying who and where? Well Newsweek's January 30th issue has an interesting story to tell about that. Have you been in a peaceful march against the war? Welcome to CIFA & TALON record books. Did you protest against Cheney's beloved Halliburton? Welcome aboard the CIFA record train.

Newsweek notes that TALON's targets included "nearly four dozen antiwar meetings or protests, including one at a Quaker meetinghouse in Lake Worth, Fla., and a Students Against War demonstration at a military recruiting fair at the University of California, Santa Cruz."

Well as history shows us, if there's one group that you have to watch closely because of their violent tendancies and terrorists ties, it's the Quakers!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Let's Take a Look at Some of the Oinkers, Shall We?

Ok, so the Conservative Republicans in Congress have been wasting our money at levels that would make Barry Goldwater choke.

But who are some of the stars of this free-wheeling, grab and spending spree?

Well, there's our old Abramoff friend, Dennis Hastert of Illinois, who earmarked $207 million for the Illinois "Prairie Parkway."Oh, but wait, the IL Dept. of Transportation hasn't decided whether or not they need it yet. Oh well, at least if they do decide to need it, they'll have the money. Any bets on whether or not it'll be renamed the Hastert Parkway?

Then there are the fun House Appropriations Committee members whose political action committees are run by lobbyists and former lobbyists. No big deal? Well, except for these are lobbyists who are still lobbying or have business before the committee. But I'm sure that House Appropriations Chairman Republican Jerry Lewis of California and his committee members, Ernest Istook, Jr. (Repub - OK), Kay Granter (Repub - Texas), Dennis Rehberg (Repub - Montana), John Sweeney (Repub - NY), Rosa DeLauro (Dem - Conn) and Ed Pastor (Dem - Arizona) would never put the interests of those who are raising money for them ahead of the American public.


It's Got All the Earmarks of Rampant Corruption

Why? Because it IS rampant corruption. Earmarks, that is. If you didn't know what they were before (and I sure was one who didn't), we all know now. These little back room deals that result in even more bloated appropriation pork than usual are quite the rage right now. In 1994, the Republicans took control of Congress. And all that wasted federal pork barrel projects were of course dumped, because conservatives are, if nothing else, bullish on spending issues. Cut taxes and stop spending our hard earned dollars. That's been their motto forever, right?

oops. Somebody forgot to tell them. Their first year in control, in 1994, they steared through 4,155 earmarks of pork for a nice total of $29 billion. Well they were just finding their way around, being new and all. So certainly that number went down once they had solid control and knew where their offices were.

So of course noone should be surprised that ten years later, the Republican-controlled Congress had chopped that pork down to . . . oh, wait. No, it looks like the numbers went up. Hmmm. In fact, they added over 10,000 earmarks of pork for a 2004 total of 14,211. And that $29 billion wasted federal money? Peanuts compared to the $53 billion of our money that went down the drain in 2004.

Yup, Conservatives and fiscal responsibility go hand in hand.

Except, of course, when they've chopped off our hands in their wild spree to grab our money.

Pork, Lies, but no Videotape

Like water finding any crack it can to slip through, lobbyists and their Congressional buddies have so many ways to exchange money for favors or influence that it's going to take more than any legislation out there to plug the holes in these dikes.

Remember ex Republican representative "Duke" Cunningham? One of the coconspirators in the charges against Duke was Brent Wilkes, Director of PerfectWave Technologies LLC. PerfectWave has donated tons of bucks to Duke and other republicans, and Wilkes' company helped raise at least $85,000 for Republican rep John T. Doolittle of California in the past 3 years. Regular readers of this column will remember dear Mr. Doolittle from the list of Abramoff money recipients as well. Is there anyone Johnny Doolittle won't take money from?

Well, at least Doolittle probably didn't give Wilkes & Co. anything for their money, did he. Oh wait. Yes, he did. He helped push defense funding worth $37 million to Wilkes' company. Now that's a nice thank you for your efforts. Oh, and that support? According to Johnny, it was "based completely on the project's merits and the written support of the military."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Republican Hypocracy - aka Business as Usual

Bush and Abramoff. Abramoff and Bush. They go together like . . . what, exactly? That's what folks would like to know. The worst for the administration is that Bush was personally giving Abramoff anything he wanted, when even I don't think is likely. The best is that Bush said hello to 35 guys in a row and one of them was Abramoff.

So why not just release all White House pics of the two together and say what happened at each? Because, of course, the perception of scandal is more than the administration can take right now, with their approval numbers still in the toilet.

But instead of saying, "hey, everybody already hates us, we don't want to take another hit right now, even if it's just a perception," they come out with the unnamed top White House aid saying " it would set a terrible precedent if the president were to release photos from private events."

Uh, it might. Except, it's NOT a precedent. Republican and public pressure in 1997 forced Clinton's White House to release videotapes of Bill Clinton hosting meet-and-greet coffees with big contributors.

Where's that Republican outrage at a White House's actions now guys.

Man, that's silence. I could hear a pin drop.

How Long is the Republican Learning Curve?

Pretty darn long, if they are capable of learning at all. I know, I know, it's hard to give up the goodies, even when you've been caught with your hand in the cookie jar. But here we are, weeks into the Abramoff scandal, and just now Senate Repbulicans have decided that they won't pass out their K Street Jobs list at meetings.

What is the K Street Jobs list, you ask? Well since Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn) isn't here to answer, I'll take it. It's a list of consultant job openings (our famed K Street area). The House and Senate Republicans, armed with each new list, would use them when meeting with lobbyists. "Say, John Doe," they might say to these lobbyists who are trying to do anything to please the people with power, "I see there's a job opening in your organization. Who are you going to hire? A democrat and never be taken seriously again as a lobbyist in my office? Or a Republican, and by the way, I think we can get that bill of yours passed this year."

Oh yeah, and anybody who thinks that this announcement that they won't pass the list around at meetings means the list won't still make the rounds, please take two steps into the air, 'cause you're living in a dream world.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

MD & VA State Capitals Flooded With Stupid Gas

I mean, really, can't that just be the only explanation for this gay marriage ban hysteria?

In Maryland, the concept of gay marriage has some folks so riled up that they think they've got to vote on it, even if they may lose. Senate Minority Whip Andrew P. Harris (Republican from Baltimore County) and apparently experiencing some sort of psychotic episode, said, "I think they know we can't take the risk of sitting it out and doing nothing."

Can't take the risk of sitting it out? We're not talking thermonuclear war here Andy, we're talking gay marriage.

And Maryland's Republican governor? ""We're going to protect marriage. Traditional marriage."

Loons! These state capitals have been taken over by loons! What on earth are they protecting marriage from? Two people who love each other actually GETTING married?

Somebody, somewhere, has got to explain this psychosis to me, because I honestly can't figure out what on earth their problem is. Were they all just dropped on their heads as children?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

No, I Meant the SECRET Fourth Amendment

Poor General Hayden. In his press conference, Knight Ridder reporter Jonathan Landay pressed him on fourth amendment issues, asking about probable cause. Here's the exchange:

HAYDEN: Actually, the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure. That's what it says.

LANDAY: But the measure is probable cause, I believe.

HAYDEN: The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.

LANDAY: But does it not say probable --


LANDAY: The court standard, the legal standard --

HAYDEN: The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.

Just as an FYI to our friend the General, a copy of the 4th amendment for his reading pleasure.

Amendment IV.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

It's Not Illegal Unless We Say it's Illegal

General Hayden met the press to talk about state sanctioned spying. His response to the question of why not just use FISA since it lets you do pretty much whatever you want and forget about the warrant for 72 hours if you need to. And if FISA doesn't work, why not start working to amend it?

The General's response (ignoring the 2nd part of the question completely):

"There is an operational impact here. And I have two -- two paths in front of me, both of them lawful: one, FISA; one, the President's authorization. And we go down this path because our operational judgment is: It is much more effective. So we do it for that reason. "

When asked if FISA states that it will be the EXCLUSIVE means by which electronic surveillance can be done, aren't you breaking the law?

Hayden responds that he should probably let the Dept. of Justice answer (no kidding), but then goes ahead anyway with my favorite answer of the day, "I have an order whose lawfulness has been attested to by the Attorney General, an order whose lawfulness has been attested to by N.S.A. lawyers who do this for a living. No, we're not violating the law."

Yes indeed. The people on our side say we're ok, so we're ok. End of story.

Man, why didn't that excuse ever work when I was late with my homework?

No Fair, Now Even Our Good Torture Jobs Are Going Overseas!

Well this is the last straw. Textile jobs fleeing overseas. Computer jobs fleeing overseas. Automotive jobs fleeing overseas. But now those darned foreigners are stealing our torturing jobs! Is nothing sacred?

According to the Washington Post, "evidence pointed to the existence of a system of 'outsourcing' of torture by the United States, and that it was highly likely European governments were aware of it. . . . There is a great deal of coherent, convergent evidence pointing to the existence of a system of 'relocation' or 'outsourcing' of torture," [Swiss Sen. Dick] Marty said in the report to the Council of Europe, the human rights watchdog on whose behalf he is investigating.

"Acts of torture or severe violation of detainees' dignity through the administration of inhuman or degrading treatment are carried outside national territory and beyond the authority of national intelligence services," Marty said. He added that more than 100 suspects may have been transferred to countries where they faced torture or ill treatment in recent years. "The entire continent is involved," Marty told the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly, a body comprising several hundred national lawmakers. "It is highly unlikely that European governments, or at least their intelligence services, were unaware."

Oh great, THIS is where the nations of Europe want to help us out. Good grief!

Those Are Some Pretty Healthy Lobbyists

When all those Members of Congress rushed the mic to proclaim their freedom from backroom deals, did they think that meant we'd stop looking at their backroom deals and take them at their word?

Silly MCs. It seems the HMO community would like to give a big shout out to those members of congress who backed up on their own legislation so fast you could hear the tires squeal. Apparently once they were reminded by HMO lobbyists that HMOs don't LIKE to be bothered with regulations or financial controls, Our now reformed MCs reworked their legislation in a nice private deal. Hey HMO community, I think a big basket of roses are in line for House member Bill Thomas (Republican from California) and Senator Charles Grassley (Republican from Iowa) for their role in working out a deal that benefits HMOs, screws taxpayers, and was pulled off without any of those pesky Democrats in the room.

A health care lobbyist who chose not to commit suicide by commenting by name on the issue called it a 22 billion dollar difference in favor of the HMO community.

$22 billion? Not a bad chunk of change. As a taxpayer, I know I sure don't mind giving up my taxes so the HMOs can grant some million dollar bonuses to their executives and pay off a few Members of Congress.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Retro History, it's soooooo in!

The latest Bushie to speak out for Bush's spy on Americans plan is Air Force General Michael Hayden, ex-head of NSA. Hayden's comments, "Had this program been in effect prior to 9/11, it is my professional judgment that we would have detected some of the 9/11 al Qaeda operatives in the United States and we would have identified them as such."

Uh . . . I thought we HAD recording after recording, tape after tape, clue after clue about 9/11 but nobody who was able to put it all together, because when we troll for all the info we can get, we get more than we're capable of understanding and piecing together. How about if we spend a little less time trying to gather in every last piece of data we can find and a little more time on teaching Arabic and other needed languages to the folks doing the piecing together. How about focusing instead of just grabbing everything and hoping something needed is in the bag?

I know, how about going back in time and after invading Afghanistan, work to ensure that the al Qaeda operatives are captured and that country is put back on its feet so they can't use it again the way they did instead of letting the Afghan operation rot while Bush takes out the guy who insulted daddy.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Mining Reform? Not in This Administration

Were you shocked to learn that the Sago mine (where a dozen miners died last week) had been sited for over 200 health and safety violations in the last year alone? That of the 46 citations issued in the 3 months before the tragedy 18 citations were considered "serious and substantial?" or that 16 violations over the last 8 months were "unwarrantable failures?"

Of course not. Because you probably that mining companies are great and generous contributors to the "no regulations" Republicans.

From 1999-2005, coal companies gave $9 million to federal candidates (mostly republicans). In a remarkably predicatable move, the Bush administration cut funding for mine safety by $15 million.

Oh, and the Mine Safety and Health Administration? Who has the Bush administration placed on it? Well of course reps of the mining companies and their friends. The MSHA review commission, for instance, in 2002 was saddled with Stanley Suboleski. Stanley's creditials? Well he wasn't judging arabian horses, he has a long history in coal mining. He's a former official of Massey Energy, one of the largest coal companies in the US, and one that's been cited for many many violations.

And the head of the agency until last year? David Lauriski, who prior to heading up the Mine Safety & Health Admin., was a mining industry executive - he's left Bush's world though, to go work in the Peace Corps. Ah, almost caught you napping. Of course not! Lauriski went back to work in the mining world, this time as a consultant. Lauriski was replaced by Richard Stickler. And Stickler's background? Oh, if you haven't guessed by now, you haven't been paying attention. Of course he used to manage Beth Energy mines.

Supporting Torture? What Us? Nah!

You probably haven't had a chance to read Craig Murray's new book. Murray was the British ambassador to Uzbekistan. He was fired after criticizing the Bush & Major administrations for their support of torture in Uzbekistan. He was charged with defying Britain's "Official Secrets Act" by posting memos he wrote from Uzbekistan on his website. Just in case the government moved to shut down his site, other webmasters stepped in to post them on their sites. Oh, and the book? Well of course there isn't one. Major's government stepped in to stop any publication.

Murray's story was covered recently on Democracy Now and can be heard / read at the Pacifica website here. These memos are a treasure trove of insight into the freaked out world of the Bush administration.

There's even a 1987 letter to Gov. Geo W. Bush from Ken Lay of Enron, talking about a $2 million natural gas deal Enron is looking for that will be good for Texas, Enron, and no doubt Bush's campaign war chest.

But back to torture, Murray also had a memo written by a British legal adviser that argues that "using information extracted through torture is not technically a violation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture."

Maybe that's the loophole we used when on September 8, 2005 the US State Department certified that Uzbekistan was improving in human rights treatment (maybe we count improving as they tortured 4% fewer people last year?) and so could get their $140 million of US aid.

Yup, you read right. WE - you and I, our TAX DOLLARS, are going to pay Uzbekistan's torture policies.

Well the administration is probably right. I mean, all those poor kids in the US would probably just use that money for food or clothing.

A Party of the Rich, For the Rich, Won't Reform itself

With all of the hand-wringing over Abramoff and the rush by House Republicans to scream reform from the rafters now that they are shocked, SHOCKED, to learn that pandering has been going on in their halls, will they stop being the party of the rich?

Of course not.

The Republican National Committee raised $102 million in 2005 and has $34 million in the bank.
The Democratic National Committee raised $51 million in 2005 and has only $5.5 million in the bank.

Does anybody really think that the water that is the rich taking care of themselves won't keep running through whatever cracks it can find into Republican coffers?

Earwigs, Eeewwwwww!

Does absolute power corrupts absolutely? Surely it can't turn a conservative, someone who thinks government spends too much of our money, corrupt, can it? (ok, so I'm almost giggling too much right now to finish the sentence).

When Reagan (no hero of mine, but surely one of our resident Republicans) vetoed the spending bill of 1987 because 121 earmarks were in it.

Congress' most recent spending legislation has 13,998 earmarks (115 times more, btw) in it.

Does that mean that today's Congress is 115 times more corrupt than the 1987 Congress?

Ok, so I'm no math major, but this sounds about right to me.

Mary Matalin's Dream World?

This morning on Meet the Press, her answer to Abramoff scandals of the future -- is that too much power is in the federal government, and it should be returned to the states.

Apparently because she thinks that state and local governments are less prone to bribery?

Has she ever SEEN a local or state government in action? LOL oh Lordy. This is a good one Mary.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

You Could Always Spit on the Kids as You Pass By

Each spring there's an open to all Easter egg roll on the White House lawn (ok, well not each year, some years we hide because terrorists could be using eggs and children to ... oh, whatever). Anyhow, this year, the Family Pride Coalition has announced that they'd like to participate. Well since family pride is what we're all about here, should be a slam dunk (oops, sorry Bushies).

Ah, but no. Apparently the pride of these families is that they've managed to raise kids in gay or lesbian households. And without the kids apparently growing horns and chanting 666! Who could have imagined such a thing was possible!

So in honor of these successful families, the reaction to this announcement has, of course, been one of excitement and welcome.

Oh, wait, the Republicans are still in charge. Change that reaction to one of white-hot reactionary spittle spouting rage that is filling conservative chat rooms across the country. One group suggested that the Bushies go back to the 2003 tradition, which was invite only for military families (although in this case I think the invites would be for non-gay families only, I'd love to see how THAT would be worded). Another said that conservatives should rush to DC in an attempt to outnumber gay families. Good grief, Charlie Brown, what tools these fools be.

As of yesterday, Laura Bush's office was telling the press that everybody is welcome.

So will the nation's conservatives say "hey, fine, we're all parents in this together, trying to raise our kids in a scary, sometimes hostile world?"

I'll let you know just as soon as I manage to get those darned flying pigs off of my balcony!

Karl's Coven

Karl Rove is back, and out dodging reporters to bring his message straight to the people (ok, well the people who are GOP loyalists and top committee members). He got the National Committee crowd going with by calling those of us who criticize Bush's spy on your own people plan as "wild and reckless and false charges," called the "grilling" (THAT was grilling?) of Alito "mean-spirited and small-minded," then going for the hat trick, said that Republicans should become complacent in power, because then they'd become like the Democratic Party, "when its thinking becomes ossified, when its energy begins to drain, when an entitlement mentality takes over, and when political power becomes an end in itself rather than a means to achieve the common good."

Uh, Karl, nice shot for that final goal, but ... um.... has anybodyy told him that HE'S TOO LATE. The Republicans passed that point a long time ago. Has he even MET Tom "if you're not a Republican you can't lobby me" DeLay?

Friday, January 20, 2006

The People Made Him do it

You see, President Bush really DIDN'T want to spy on American citizens, but the Constitution and a post 9/11 Congress gave him the power to do it. So really, it's our fault (you know, the people who are represented through the Constitution and Congress?). Of course, now that Bin Laden's out there blabbing about coming after us again, (and by us, I really mean us - why does everyone keep saying he'll come back to DC because it's unfinished business. Oh well, that's what I get for living and working here), it's a great opportunity for Bush and his buddies to get out there and stump for domestic spying. After all, aren't we all just rushing to give up our freedoms?

I keep coming back to the fact that there IS a domestic spying program the administration can use. It's been in place for decades. As for complaints that they need to spy first and get warrants later? It lets them do that! FISA isn't coddling terrorists or even every day average Americans who get spied on just because their email or phone call caught somebody's attention. FISA lets you go after them without a warrant, "hey," it says, "just come ask for one later. We trust you."

Stay tuned. Gonzales will be defending all of this 2/6 before Senate Judicary.

Mine Safety, Anyone?

I know we have many more important things on our list right now, finding more money for the richest Americans and helping to bring the neo-con new world vision into reality. But do you think that someone, somewhere, might NOW, after yet another mine tragedy, might want to step up and say, "hmmm ... worker safety. That's something we might want to work on."

What are the odds that instead of making the mines safer, mine owners will find Abramoff-like companies to funnel money to Congress in exchange for more latitude in operations.

Or am I just being a cynic?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Not so Gentle Ben

Well, well, well, guess who's back on the air. None other than everybody's favorite Islamic holy warrier, cum bizarro world member, Bin Laden. His new tape is out and the madman hasn't lost any of his psycho rage. Apparently now they're going to attack us, or maybe call a truce based on "just conditions" that they will stick to. And just so we'll know they'll stick to them, he tells us that they "are a nation that God banned from lying and stabbing others in the back."

Ok, well not being personally acquainted with Bin or other holy warriers from the bizarro planet of jihad, I can't say whether or not they actually stick to the ban on lying or not. But the stabbing others in the back thing? Uh... hmmm. I think that one pretty much got blown away.

Sorry Bin, you and your truce don't seem to hold water. But don't let that stop you from playing another round of this game. Have you ever tried to see what might happen if you tied a noose around your neck and jumped off a tall building? Oh heck, just try the jumping off a tall building part. We'll get back to you on the other.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Careful, it's a Stampede Out There

Is there ANYONE in the House or Senate who hasn't fought his or her way to the microphone this week to demand new ethics rules for Congress? My favorites are those who refer to the system we've got now as corrupt.

ATTENTION HOUSE AND SENATE MEMBERS - you have been LIVING in this culture for ages now. And you've just now noticed it's corrupt?

Talk about a slow learning curve. LOL This is almost too amusing for words to watch.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

WTG Supreme Court! Oregon's Assisted Suicide Ruling Stands

This is so exciting. The Court voted 6 to 3 on this. The bad news is that new justice Roberts was in the 3 member minority.

Hopefully this is NOT a vision of things to come.

Teflon Dennis? Hastert Just Keeps Rolling Along

Remember Jack Abramoff and his magical bribe money? And who on the hill got more of it than just about anyone? Dennis Hastert, of course. $69,000. But of course he did not know where the money came from or what it was for, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Certainly his behavior has been above reproach aside from the Abramoff funds? Wait, wasn't it Hastert who tried to bail DeLay out of his problems by trying to alter House rules (to permit indicted leaders to stay leaders) and working around those pesky ethics issues (by changing the leadership of the ethics committee)?

Apparently not. Hastert's hanging in there. Although there are some rumblings from the floor. Like questions about Hastert's fundraiser at Abramoff's restaurant (including funds raised from the famous Abramoff tribial clients). The very next week, Hastert sends a letter to the Secretary of the Interior asking her to reject a rival tribe's request for a new casino. Hastert's people insist it's what he would have done anyway.

They May be Evil, but at Least They're Vile

On May 5, 2004, Army Specialist Jesse Buryj was killed in Iraq. Just one more name on the list. His family was told he died in a crash. After asking for more information, they were told he had also been shot. Jesse's mother kept pressing. Even asking Bush during one of his "meet the grieving parents" meetings during a campaign stop if he could find out what happened. He said he would.

So you might think that the next this family would hear from the Administration is an answer to just how Jesse died. But no. Bush's campaign called and asked her to appear in a commercial for him.

They said no.

And Jesse? It turns out he'd been shot by Polish soldiers operating with his unit. Josh White of the Washington Post, which ran this story on today's front page, says that Jesse's death "had the potential to cause a rift with a coalition partner right before the 2004 presidential election. They asked friends in Jesse's platoon what had happened, but the soldiers had been told not to discuss the incident until the investigation was complete."

White and Jesse's family compared his case to Pat Tillman, ex-Arizona Cardinals player who died from friendly fire in Afghanistan.

Buryj's death had international ramifications. U.S. officials alleged within internal channels that Polish troops killed him with reckless shots. Polish officials said Polish troops could not have killed him. Tests that could have determined the truth were not conducted.

"If they can lie to Pat Tillman's family, what do you think they're going to do to Ma and Pop in Middle America here?" asked Peggy Buryj, who had supported her son's decision to join the Army after his high school graduation in 2002. "The story changes. You can't believe anything."

Peggy and Amber Buryj believe they were strung along because Jesse's death became a diplomatic embarrassment. Documents obtained by The Washington Post reveal one investigation that was abruptly terminated because of diplomatic concerns, another that was not shared with Polish allies, and delays in the release of official reports about Buryj's death. Those documents were not issued until after Bush was reelected -- with the help of a slim margin in Buryj's home state of Ohio.

"I'm angry, I'm so angry," Peggy Buryj said. "I gave them my son, and he served proudly. He didn't deserve this. His family didn't deserve this. I just want to know the truth."

Rumsfeld Loses the Blame Game

Good article by Andrew Sullivan in the London Times from Sunday. Sullivan talks about two recent books on the Administration and Iraq, Fred Barnes' Bush biography and Paul Bremer's "My First Year in Iraq." Rumsfeld does not come out of either book looking good. Although I have to say, Bremer pointing fingers at Rumsfeld is a bit odd, since Bremer himself has a good deal to answer for, and although I haven't read his book yet, I doubt very much that he owns up to his massive failings in Iraq.

From the Times' piece:

Back in the spring of 2003 it had seemed obvious to most rational observers that we had too few troops to maintain order in Iraq. A mere 170,000 to control a country of 25m in a power vacuum was a joke. Towns and cities could be cleared of insurgents but never retained, because we had too few troops to stay put.

The borders were porous. We didnÂ’t have enough troops to secure the weapons sites that the war had been designed to eradicate. General (Eric K) Shinseki famously argued before the war that we needed 500,000 troops to do the job. He was fired. Many pro-Bush military analysts, besotted with Donald RumsfeldÂ’s vision of a lean, mean fighting machine, told us we knew nothing about military strategy. They planned on about 40,000 troops remaining a few months after the fall of Saddam. . . .

Back in Washington, according to Barnes’s pro-Bush book, the president found his weekly teleconferences with the generals irritatingly long. According to Barnes, “Bush liked crisp sessions without whining or complaints. Once he had to interrupt a discussion of troop rotation to say, ‘Stop the hand-wringing!’ ” This is not a management style designed to expose problems and solve them. It’s a style designed to squelch dissent. . . .

Rumsfeld had a fixed idea that a smaller military could accomplish anything, and had absolutely no sense of responsibility for the chaos his war plan had unleashed.

His famous “stuff happens” remark in response to the early looting in Baghdad stands as the leitmotif for his entire view of the war. While Colin Powell had insisted that once you invaded Iraq you were responsible for its security, Rumsfeld thought that the Iraqis should fend for themselves.

Some people believe that Bush will cut Rummy loose this year. I don't. I think he knows he needs to lightening rods like Rummy and Cheney out there to try and deflect from his mistakes.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Too Many Deaths

As of yesterday 2,208 American men and women have died in the Iraq/Afghanistan wars. This does not include the people who died when a helicopter was shot down today. It does include the three young men who have died from my home town of Pendleton, Oregon.

RIP all of those 2,208, including Pendleton's own, Ryan Walker, Adrian Stump and Tane Baum.

No Child Left Behind . . . Except Those Living in George Bush's America

First, a shout out to Marian Wright Edelman for all her years of working for America's kids.

Want to know what Cheney and crew gave America's kids for Christmas this year? I don't think the White House is advertising it. Cheney provided the tie breaking vote in the Senate on a budget bill that rips deep into programs for poor and low-income families. Cuts in Medicaid, child support, child care, and foster care among other things. But things aren't done yet. The House actually has a chance to vote on the budget bill again this month. A chance NOT TO give more money to the richest Americans by stealing it from the poorest and the children. Does the House have the balls to protect our kids?

Come on guys, do the right thing. Just this once. Maybe it'll start to be a habit.

Bye, Bye Ralph Reed, Wasn't Nice Knowing You

The one thing I've always thought was honest about the name Christian Coalition is that they are, yes, probably a coalition. Christian? Not by a long shot. At least not if they're referring to themselves as those who follow the path of Christ. They do have a great way of following the path of ignorance and intolerance, but I guess the Ignorant and Intolerant Coalition just doesn't have a good ring to it.

Ralph Reed, a CC stalwart, is running for Lt. Gov. down in Georgia. And the Republican party seems to be fleeing from him. Why? Maybe it's because of Ralphie's good friend, Jack Abramoff. What do Ralphie's CC friends think? Well one of them, Phil Dacosta, said that after reading emails between Ralphie & Jack, "it became pretty obvious he was putting money before God. We are righteously casting him out."

What could possibly have been in those emails that would make people think Ralphie preferred money to God (on the other hand, what possibly could any CC member have been thinking to watch Ralphie and NOT get that fact)?

Ralphie to Jack, 1998: "I need to start humping in corporate accounts! . . . I'm counting on you to help me with some contacts."

And in 1999 after giving Jack a bill for $120,000 and saying he needs $300,000 more: "We are opening the bomb bays and holding nothing back."

Ok, so RR likes money. But Ralphie said a couple of years ago, he didn't know who Jack's clients were, or what they were doing. So surely he can't be part of the current scandal? Oh wait, what's that 1999 email from Jack to Ralphie? "It would be really helpful if you could get me invoices as soon as possible so I can get Choctaw to get us checks ASAP."

Oh well, at least Ralphie had the love and respect of Jack & his boys. . . . . Oh, wait, maybe not.
Jack's email to his partner Scanlon referencing Ralphie: "He is a bad version of us! No more money for him."

Bye bye Ralphie, it's been fun. Go find a rock to hide under. And don't bother coming back.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

10 Reasons Gay Marriage is Wrong

Thanks to two different people who found this floating around and forwarded it to me.

1. Being gay is not natural. And as you know Americans have always rejected unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

2. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

3. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because, as you know, a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

4. Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

5. Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed. The sanctity of Britany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

6. Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

7. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

8. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.

9. Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

A Moment of Sad Silence for ...

My beloved 'Skins, who came from a losing schedule in the middle of this season to getting into the playoffs. Cheers to Joe & the boys for getting as far as they did. Unfortunately, we couldn't make it past Seattle.

Then again, coming from the pacific northwest originally, I look forward to seeing how far Seattle can take this.
Who Will be Next on . . .

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Who's Afraid of Virginia's Gays?

The Virginia House and Senate are moving overwhelmingly (73-22 in the house yesterday) towards a proposal for a vote in November on amending the state's constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

Wake up Virginia, same-sex marriage doesn't mean men HAVE to marry guys; or that we HAVE to marry women. So if we're not being forced to marry someone of the same gender. WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM? And don't give me Bible quotes, unless you're willing start stoning family members for various infractions that you don't bother remembering from the Bible anymore.

And to those 73 members of the Virginia House, take a chill pill, pull up a chair to the 21st century and get over yourselves. Last time I was across the river, I noticed a whole lot of issues Virginia needs to address (gridlock, anyone?). Wake up and take care of the things that need to be taken care of.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Who's Watching What Again?

From a Washington Post report on Inspectors General - their history and what they do. An interesting factoid on the Bush Administration IGs.

"A 2004 report by the Democratic staff of the House Government Reform Committee found that fewer than 20 percent of inspectors general appointed by Bush had audit experience, while nearly two-thirds had held political positions, such as working for a GOP member of Congress or in a Republican White House. Under President Bill Clinton, more than 60 percent had audit experience and fewer than one-quarter had held political positions, the report said."

Doesn't that just give you the warm fuzzies all over about how well the public's interests are being cared for.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Remind Me Again What Conservatives Stand For?

Didn't it use to be cautious fiscal spending?

The Federal budget deficit is expected to hit $400 billion by the end of this fiscal year in September. Horrible number, you say? Well, the administration boasted of pretty horrible numbers last year and the year before about this time. Why?

So that when the deficit hits $380 billion in September, they'll be able to boast that it was "not as bad as anticipated."

And so, after being fooled by this two years in a row, are we going to fall for it again this year?

Time will tell.

How Much Bad Press Does it Take to Do the Right Thing?

Apparently just enough. The army will start producing 230,000 sets of side armor plates and send them to the troops in Iraq & Afghanistan through the year. The Marines will have 9,000 sets delivered to Iraq, and 30,000 there by April. Maybe they'll get with the program on armor for the vehicles one of these days as well. And in the meantime? Prayers and a whole lot of luck.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Let's be Blount

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), would like to be the next Majority Leader of the House. Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and a couple of others would prefer the job themselves. They'll probably have a shot at it if too many people start to look at the Blount - Phillip Morris connection. Some fun there.

According to the Washington Post, "Just hours after Blunt was named to the House's third-highest leadership job in 2002, he unsuccessfully tried to insert a measure benefiting Philip Morris into the 475-page bill creating the Department of Homeland Security. Blunt's ties to the company are thick: He was very close to a company lobbyist, Abigail Perlman, at the time, and married her in 2003. She does not lobby Congress. One of his sons, Andrew B. Blunt, lobbies the Missouri legislature for Philip Morris."

Tony, We Hardly Knew 'Ye

Tony Rudy, BTW, may be better known to those following the Abramoff case as "Staffer A.”

In addition to the fun family connections, Rudy was approached to help convince DeLay to kill an Internet gambling prohibition bill (thank you eLottery, Inc.) and also the help knock down a rate increase on magazines (and thank you Magazine Publishers of America). Oh yeah, and Howard Rubenstein of the publisher’s group told the Washington Post that its directors "had absolutely no knowledge of how the money would be used."

It's All in the Family

Alexander Strategy Group was Tom DeLay’s wife’s employer for four years, and DeLay aide Rudy who ended up at ASG spent time working for Abramoff first. What a tight little group of friends and family we are here. Oh yeah, and Rudy’s wife’s political consulting firm allegedly got $50,000 in exchange for Rudy’s work on their behalf while he was in DeLay’s office.

It’s practically incestuous!

One Down, How Many to Go?

When the Alexander Strategy Group opened up shop in DC in 1998, they had a good friend’s connections to thank for new business (step up to the plate, Tom DeLay). Now that Tommy is in a bit of an ethical sand trap, and ASG & DeLays friend Abramoff taking a plea in his bribery case, ASG’s fortunes seem to be on the downturn. So the company is closing up most of its operations. As it’s owner Edwin Buckham (oh, yeah, and ex DeLay aide) told the Washington Post, “Reports in the press have made it difficult to continue as a lobbying/political entity." Damn that press for exposing unethical behavior in the first place, who do they think they are?!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Alito on Bush's Spy Plan

<>In response to a question from Leahy, Alito said "no person in this country is above the law." And immediately qualified that with the following, that some issues related to executive powers fall into "a twilight zone." When Leahy asked Alito if Bush broke the law with that domestic spy plan, he didn't answer yes or no, but did predict the future, saying that the issue was"very likely to result in litigation in the federal courts."

Oh yeah, and of course, he can't answer yes or no on any case that might end up in federal courts. The great out for all nominees.

And What Role Will He Play on the Court?

Alito on forced pregancy in 1985 as an attorney in Reagan administration -- the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.

Alito on forced pregnancy in 2006 - "that the Constitution protects a right to privacy," the main underpinning of Roe v. Wade. He also agreed with Specter that stare decisis, meaning to stand by that which is already decided, "is a very important doctrine" that must be considered.

When asked to explain the evolution of his views, Alito said, "That was a statement that I made at a prior period of time when I was performing a different role, and as I said yesterday, when someone becomes a judge you really have to put aside the things you did as a lawyer at prior points in your legal career."

Monday, January 09, 2006

Americans Are Near Sighted

We can't see what's in front of our faces, but we can see all the way to DC and others. A new CNN/Gallup pole from this weekend shows that most people think corruption is a major issue. But that their own lawmakers aren't corrupt.

Only 42% think most members of Congress should be re-elected. But 60% think their own member of Congress should be re-elected. 38% of the people thought most Congress folk are corrupt. And only 22% said they thought their member of Congress was. Well either nobody's looking too close to home, or all those 22% respondents were from DeLay's district.

Bush, btw, retained his disapproval rating of 54% vs approval at 43%. Apparently nobody thought to ask if they believed him and/or his administration to be corrupt.

Alito's Opinions

Honestly, I'm nervous about this appointment based on some of the findings people have been digging up from his Reagan years. But I'm going to cross my fingers and hope that he might not be the antichrist.

In the meantime, the Washington Post has a nice series of charts of Alito rulings that's an interesting piece to check out.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

In the Proud Tradition of Brownie

Bush fills another seat with someone who is utterly unfit for the job. Ever wonder if maybe Bush just has more faith than the rest of us on folks' ability to learn on the job? On the other hand, I'm not that comfortable with people making national decisions learning on the job. I'd like to think those folks had a bit of experience going in.

But back to the new post, all hail Julie L. Myers. Bush is moving Ms. Myers up from her job as the president's special assistant for personnel to heading the bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, (which has 15,000 employees and a budget of about $4 billion). Well done Ms. Myers. From special assistant to personnel to running Immigration and Customs Enforcement. And before you ask, no, she has no experience in running such a bureau anywhere in her resume. But she has been a special assistant for personnel.

I nominate Julie L. Myers for the "Heckuv a Job You've Been Doing There" award for 2006 (under the hope that please, PLEASE, let there not be anyone given a job who is even less qualified for it).

Ethics? I Think I've Heard that Word Somewhere ...

Hmmm, methinks Tom DeLay has a bit more trouble on his hands than we knew. Sure he has all those problems down in Texas and sure he's on the list of Abramoff donations. But it seems that isn't all that Tommy's been up to.

According to today's New York Times, "Having secured a guilty plea from the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, prosecutors are entering a new phase of the corruption investigation in Washington and are focusing on a lobbying firm that has even closer ties to Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader who is under scrutiny in the scandal.

The firm, Alexander Strategy Group, is of particular interest to investigators because it was founded by Edwin A. Buckham, a close friend of Mr. DeLay's and his former chief of staff, and has been a lucrative landing spot for several former members of the DeLay staff, people who are directly involved in the case have said.

Although the firm's name has circulated in connection with the case for many months, prosecutors' questions about Mr. Buckham and Alexander Strategy - which did not respond to requests for comment - have intensified recently, participants in the case said. . . . While doing business with lobbyists is routine for most lawmakers, investigators are looking at the extent to which Mr. DeLay and other lawmakers may have accepted trips, campaign donations and other favors from Alexander Strategy, and in turn tried to help the business. . . .

Details of the ties between Alexander Strategy, Mr. DeLay and Mr. Abramoff - who pleaded guilty last week in federal court and is cooperating with investigators - have already begun to trickle out. Alexander Strategy paid Mr. DeLay's wife $115,000 in consulting fees while conducting business with Mr. Abramoff's firm. Mr. Abramoff also referred clients to Mr. Buckham."

And if You Close Your Eyes, They Can't See You

Bush continues to defend his policy on illegal spying on American citizens by claiming it's not illegal and that it's necessary.

Congressional Research Service (CRS), a part of the Library of Congress responsible for doing Congress' research, did some research on Bush and his claims.

Their report concluded that the administration's justification "conflicts with existing law and hinges on weak legal arguments." According to the Washington Post, the report argues that Bush probably cannot claim the broad presidential powers he has relied upon as authority to order the secret monitoring of calls made by U.S. citizens since the fall of 2001. Congress expressly intended for the government to seek warrants from a special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before engaging in such surveillance when it passed legislation creating the court in 1978.

The Post report continues, "Bush's assertion that Congress authorized such eavesdropping to detect and fight terrorists does not appear to be supported by the special resolution that Congress approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which focused on authorizing the president to use military force. It appears unlikely that a court would hold that Congress has expressly or impliedly authorized the NSA electronic surveillance operations here.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Bush and Rumsfeld are Letting These Kids Die!

This is beyond my usual wise-ass remarks or sarcasm. This is just damned sick and disgusting.

Today's New York Times points out a secret pentagon finding that "as many as 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to the upper body could have survived if they had had extra body armor. Such armor has been available since 2003, but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials."

Here's a link to that article
. There's more in there to make your blood boil.

Schadenfreude Not the Only Benefit of Congressional Bribes

With everyone publically dropping Ambramoff money all over town (it's not dropped until the press knows it's dropped, apparently), charities are benefiting.

Rep. Thomas Davis III (R-VA) - $4,500 to Annandale Christian Community for Action child-development center

Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) - $1,000 from the Tigua Indian tribe to the Pentagon Memorial Fund

Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) - $2,000 from the Saginaw Chippewa Indian tribe back to the tribe

Sen. George Allen (R-Va) - also donating $2,000 from Abramoff and an associate to the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Richmond

Rep. Eric I. Cantor (R-Va.) - $10,000 to the William Byrd Community House

And oops - Maryland Gov. Ehrlich (R) - announced he'd give $16,000 from Abramoff to a Baltimore charity. But apparently Maryland laws forbid donating campaign funds to charities, so now that money is being returned to Abramoff (who no doubt needs it for legal fees)

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) - $5,000 in contributions from Indian tribes to the American Indian College Fund

Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.) - $35,000 to Salvation Army

Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.) - $2,250 to Salvation Army

In Honor of Ben Franklin's 300th Birthday

Bushie boy & crew, Ben Franklin has a few words for you and your "patriot act". Try and remember them this year.

"They that give up essential liberty for a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety"
Ben Franklin
Founding Father

Conflicted! Conflicted!

On the one hand, I'm glad to see that one of the freakiest of the old line right wing groups out there has a poll where the vast majority of its people think that Bushie should be removed from office.

On the other hand, do I really want anyone from the John Birch Society on my side in any argument? I grew up with a few of these freaks scattered about my small town. They were not the sharpest knives in the drawer, but were astoundingly quick to find a communist conspiracy behind any rock.

And now the John Birch Society is advocating that we get out of Iraq because it's an "unconstitutional, unjustifable conflict devouring innocent lives" Can this be THE real John Birch Society? Or has there been some sort of unpublicized coup?

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Now Playing - Everyone's Favorite Game Show!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Pat Robertson Decides to Speak for God Again

Pat, you wacky nut, when you finally get smitted for daring to speak for God, I only hope it's captured on live tv for the rest of us to enjoy.

Pat's latest channeling of the Almighty? Why Sharon's stroke, of course. A big thanks to Bucky for this tidbit. "[Sharon] was dividing God’s land,” Robertson said. “And I would say, Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the E.U., the United Nations or the United States of America. God says, This land belongs to me. You better leave it alone.”

If Pat feels he can speak for God, I'm going to step up and claim to speak for Pat's doctor. Pat, you goose, you haven't been taking your medicine again, have you?

Who Got Abramoff's Money?

J.D. Hayworth, (R-Ariz) is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. His PAC got $115,500. Hayworth has returned $13,880 of it. Enjoy that $101,620 JD.

Here's a few more
Dennis Hastert, R-ILL - $69,000
Thad Cochran, R-MS - $65,500
Conrad Burns, R-MT - $59,590
Richard Pombo, R-CA - $54,500
Jim McCrery, R-LA - $52,750
John T. Doolittle, R-CA - $50,000
Patrick J. Kennedy, D-RI - $42,500
Patty Murray, D-WA - $40,980
Don Nickles, R-OK - $40,000
Charles Rangel, D-NY - $36,000
Dave Camp, R-MI - $35,500
John Boehner, R-OH - $32,500
Hal Rogers, R-KY - $32,000
Bob Ney, R-OH - $30,500
Tom Daschle, D-SD - $26,500
Nick Rahall, D-WV - $10,000
Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV - $4,000

Keep yourself updated as to who took what here at Capital Eye.

I'm Shocked, SHOCKED, to Know That Money Was Tainted

As of this morning, 24 politicans have taken the pledge. You know the pledge. It begins with, "my campaign did receive money from Abramoff, BUT THERE WAS NO UNDERSTANDING OF A QUID PRO QUO, and I did NOTHING WRONG, but to avoid even the slightest taint of wrongdoing, I'm giving the money to charity."

So far, various charities will be receiving $515,199. Which, given the millions that Abramoff fed into the coffers of various politicians, is chicken feed. But hey, as the investigation continues, I have a feeling a lot more chickens will be giving up their feed.

The Charitable Politicians:
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) will donate at least $60,000 to charity
Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader, has pledged to donate $57,000 to charity
Acting House Majority Leader Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) has pledged $8,500 to charity.

I know, I know, it looks as though Abramoff gave all his money to Republicans. Nah, there were a few dems. Of the 24 giving up their money now, 3 were Dems - Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Richard J. Durbin (Ill.) and Byron L. Dorgan (N.D.) are donating their combined $97,000 to charity.

On the other hand, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (Dem from Nevada) isn't giving up his $47,000 from Abramoff. And why not. He's from Nevada. This kind of exchange is just considered good business.

Is Yours One of the 60?

Abramoff apparently claims to have given the feds dirt on 60 dirty Congressmen & Senators and/or their staff. Those of you who live outside the district have 2 senators & one rep. That's 3 chances to be represented by someone who has been bought off not to represent you. Congratulations!

The run to dump (oh wait, I mean donate to charity) Abramoff-tainted money has been fun to watch. For instance, Bush gave up $6,000 - but retained $100,000 (because it was said to have come from an untainted Abramoff fund-- there's an untainted Abramoff fund?) Gee, and this stuff hasn't even been investigated yet. What does Bushie know that we don't?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

IQ Tests All Around - My Treat!

So the same guys who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to convince us to elect them because they are the best and the brightest (ok, usually because the other guy is worse, honestly there isn't a lot of positive campaigning anymore) suddenly begin claiming to be the worst and the stupidest. "Why no, sir, I didn't realize that man was trying to bribe me."

Oh please let their constituents be paying attention this time. Do NOT send these people back here, ok? Can we have that deal?

Schadenfreude Runs Wild!

From today's Washington Post. Personally, I can't think of enough bad things that could happen to Tom DeLay to make up for what he's done to this country. But this is a start.

"The corruption scheme with Mr. Abramoff is very extensive and we will continue to follow it wherever it leads," said Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher, head of the Justice Department's criminal division.

Court papers in Abramoff's case refer to an aide to then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay who helped stop anti-gambling legislation regarding the Internet. Abramoff, the papers state, paid the staffer's wife $50,000 from clients that benefited from the actions of the staffer, identified by a person close to the investigation as Tony Rudy, DeLay's former deputy chief of staff.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe is ongoing. Rudy did not return a phone call Tuesday at his lobbying firm.

DeLay, R-Texas, voted against his party on the Internet anti-gambling legislation which was designed to make it easier for authorities to stop online gambling sites.

What's That Flushing Sound in the White House?

Ah yes, it's Abramoff money. As Congressmen slither around and run for cover and either give Abramoff money away or say they didn't know it was a bribe, the White House steps up to announce that:

President Bush's re-election campaign will give the American Heart Association thousands of dollars in campaign contributions connected to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the White House said Wednesday, as the government pressed forward with a broad-ranging corruption investigation.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Wednesday that Abramoff, his wife and the tribal associates that he helped win influence on Capitol Hill donated thousands to the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign. Donations to charities has been the policy in similar situations in the past, McClellan said.

Run Bushie, run.

Watch Them Run

Oh this Abramoff scandal is going to be too much fun! Since the announcement of Abramoff's plea deal yesterday, lobbyists and Congressmen have been scattering like cockroaches when the light's turned on.

The first Congressman to on the list is Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Administration Committee. And we wait with baited breath for the rest, 'cause Abramoff's been talking behind the scenes to prosecutors for months.

Dennis Hassart, step on up. Oh no, wait, Dennis says that he didn't know where the money was coming from, or what it was for (that's one badly done bribe if so Abramoff). Just hours after the plea annoucement, Dennis Hastert (you remember him, Speaker of the House, Republican from Illinois and, oh yeah, recepient of Abramoff money) announced that he will donate the tens of thousands of dollars he got from Abramoff to charity. He did not announce whether or not one of those charities would be Native Americans (whose tribal monies were used by Abramoff in his schemes).

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Most Promising Scandal of 2006

Forget Scooter and the CIA leak. Or Bushie's rant about who leaked the fact that he's spying on Americans without warrants (that retroactive warrant available under Patriot Act just wasn't good enough).

The scandal to pay attention to is Jack Abramoff, whose guilty plea is going to be setting up a whole lot of dominos. While Abramoff was passing around the bribe money, there were people taking it. And some of those people are in Congress.

There are some nervous nellies up there these days. Sleeping well these days, DeLay? (DeLay was given three overseas trips and more than $70,000 from Abramoff, his associates and tribal clients for his campaign committees.)

Monday, January 02, 2006

Dave Barry on 2005

Thank Goodness he's back for this, at least. His year in review is my favorite second only to Esquire's Dubious Achievement Awards.

You can find Barry's year review column here.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Freakiest Thing Heard All Day

First, contrats to 'skins for making the playoffs for the first time since 1999. We love you Joe Gibbs.

But I gotta say, listening to football all day long in the last week of regular season, there's one freaky thing that keeps coming up. I usually listen to the games out of the corner of my ear while doing other things. So I keep hearing bits of sentences like:

...so they'll have the best chance to have Bush
...everyone is going to want Bush
...They're doing to do all they can to secure Bush

Each time, I've had to pause for a moment and say, "say wha?" before I realize, "oh yeah, they're all talking about USC running back Reggie Bush" - he may be turning pro after the Rose Bowl and apparently a feather in the cap of Houston or San Fran or another of the bottom dwealing teams.

Still, constant Bush praising has been very strange to hear. It reinforces the fact that you just don't hear people praising the pres anymore.

How We Spy is Important Too

Great piece in today's Washington Post Outlook section on how the NSA operates, and questions whether or not it's the best way to do it. That NSA sticks too hard to operational tactics that worked in the 20th century and has done little to switch to communication methods of the 21st.

The NSA was designed to monitor a relatively contained number of official communications pipelines in nation-states -- for example, microwave transmissions from Moscow to an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) base in Siberia. But as Michael Hayden, then NSA director, told me in an interview in late 2002: "We've gone from chasing the telecommunications structure of a slow-moving, technologically inferior, resource-poor nation-state -- and we could do that pretty well -- to chasing a communications structure in which an al Qaeda member can go into a storefront in Istanbul and buy for $100 a communications device that is absolutely cutting edge, and for which he has had to make no investment for development."

The result is that the NSA is overwhelmed by millions of phone calls and e-mail contacts that it simply can't digest. . . . As a December 2002 report by the Senate Select Intelligence Committee noted, "Only a tiny fraction of the daily intercepts are actually ever reviewed by humans, and much of what is collected gets lost in the deluge of data."

Moreover, communications between terrorist groups today, says one intelligence official, is either "air-gapped" -- in which a document or computer disk is hand-delivered by messenger (as was seen in the letters allegedly exchanged between al Qaeda chieftain Ayman Zawahiri and Iraqi insurgent leader Abu Musab Zarqawi) -- or it occurs through Web sites. . . . What the NSA really needs to do, say Arquilla and others, is to . . . summon the Turings of our day -- mainly computer hackers -- to snare al Qaeda and other terrorists at the only place they still communicate electronically, on Web sites. An added benefit, Arquilla adds, is that "if we went the route of a much greater emphasis of intelligence collection on the Web and Net, we would learn a lot more and intrude less on civil liberties."

Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at the Rand Corp., notes that . . . the terrorists, wary of phone monitoring, are communicating through couriers on the ground and coordinating plots on the Web. When Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, a protege of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was arrested in July 2004, his laptop contained plans for simultaneous attacks on London and New York that were to have been transmitted electronically. Today, adds Hoffman, the most sophisticated terrorists have learned to evade the NSA altogether. "They keep their messages in a draft file on a Web site, then give someone the password and user name to get in. The NSA can't track that, because it's stationary."

. . . According to an NSA spokeswoman, . . . the agency began a campaign in 2004 to recruit about 7,500 new employees over the next five years. Among them will be close to 350 computer scientists, along with engineers, language analysts and a slew of new signals analysts, cryptologists and mathematicians. But, . . . many of the best people, some of whom are illicit hackers, simply cannot be vetted through today's security clearance process.

Safire on Meet the Press

William Safire on Meet the Press today had some interesting things to say (most notably his opposition to the President's spying program). But what I thought was interesting was while listing his support of the war, gave a call out to the bravery of the troops, who he said are there for principle and call to service, etc., not out for oil, "as some have said."

Bill, Bill, Bill. It's Bushie, Chenster and Rumsfeld (wait, none of them actually DID serve in a war, did they -- loved all those deferments Chenster) who are so willing to send our kids out to fight for oil and their neo-con bizarro-world view of foreign policy. Of course the kids are fighting for their country. That's what they sign up to do. It's those leaders who are so willing and eager to sell out those kids for their own bizarro interests who need to be taken to task.

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