Monday, November 22, 2004

More Tales of The Prairie

Originally uploaded by elston.
Our friends on K Street are circling the wagons.

I will try to tell the tale as best as I can, but you must understand that I am new to the ways of blogging and have yet to fully develope my research skills, and so I must allow for many voices to help me tell my tale.

The game is Political Machine. Because DeLay helped kill a tax bill against Indian casinos, Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon, says the Texas Observer, knew they could use their friendship with him to attract Indian Casino clients. As a matter of fact the Coushatta tribe of Louisiana gave most of their campaign contributions to Tom DeLay. Because DeLay is friends with Abramoff and Scanlon he is now a person of interest to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. DeLay moved to center stage after 3 of his fundraisers were indicted on the TRMPAC Texas Legislature matter. That little peccadillo has given Mr. DeLay 3 admonishments from the Ethics Committee.

The Texas Observer says that the whole Norquist to Coushatta paper trail shows how easy it was for Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon to funnel money to Republican political interests as well as enrich themselves. By engineering the downfall of Indian casinos and masquerading as their saviours they could fool the tribes into thinking that through them the tribes could buy political influence and reopen their casinos. Of course exorbitant fees and contributions were "required". Despite that, the Indians would get nothing. And so according to some, Abramoff, Scanlon, and Ralph Reed enriched themselves and helped their cause and their friends at the Native American's expense.

Grover Norquist wields a great deal of influence on K Street in Washington DC. On top of being head of Americans for Tax Reform, he is the manager for the K Street Project, whose goal some say, is to force corporate special interests to hire only Republican lobbyists for their business before Congress and the Executive. A kind of feudalism is in place. In such a situation it is wise to be grateful to those who befriend you. Abramoff and Scanlon understood this very well. Any net profits they had were compounded with contributions to right-wing Republican PACs and candidates. Abramoff himself became a Bush Pioneer and gave to DeLay's PACs $40,000. Scanlon, only a few years after paying off his college loans, gave $500,000 to the Republican governor's fund. And all of this was included with the money that they got from their Indian clients according to the Observer. This was what would interest the Indian Affairs Committee. The pipeline would last for 3 years, and Abramoff and Scanlon were the middlemen. The Observer states that there were emails regarding the ATR, and meeting politician's requests for money with Indian casino contributions.

The Observer states that Abramoff was an ideologue. He came to Washington DC from Hollywood where he worked as president of the right-wing Regency Entertainment, a very "politically incorrect" film production company. He went to college with Karl Rove, Ralph Reed, and Norquist. All knew each other from the College Republicans in Georgetown Lawschool. Norquist even worked for Abramoff on the College Republican National Committee. From college through Hollywwod to Washington, Abramoff worked for Ronald Reagan. He also took time for the International Freedom Alliance. Then he came back to the Potomac in Washington DC.

His friendship with DeLay began when he was introduced by Rabbi Daniel Lapin with whom he founded Towards Tradition, a Jewish-Christian interreligious understanding group. Soon he was helping Delay run for whip in the House of Representatives. DeLay's victory was very much Abramoff's doing. When the Republicans took over the House in 1994, lobbyists who knew Republican representatives were very valuable. Abramoff's first lobbying job was at Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds. He soon was to do better.

Again the Texas Observer:

"At a 1998 New Year’s dinner at the Saipan Hyatt Regency, held in honor of the Chinese owner of Saipan’s largest worker compound, DeLay recognized Abramoff as “one of my closest and dearest friends and your most able representative in Washington, D.C.” The two men, bound together by ideology and mutual hires, were a team. Abramoff later told a crowd of cheering College Republicans that “Tom DeLay is who we all want to be when we grow up.” The Marianas account brought in more than $6 million for Preston Gates, and the company seemed to go into mourning in 2001 when Abramoff was lured away by Greenberg Traurig, and Scanlon moved on to start his own public relations shop. It was Preston Gates’ good fortune that the two men moved on before they started working the Indian casino circuit."

Scanlon's rise was faster than Abramoff's. Once again the Observer states that Scanlon went straight out the army to a job as a Republican staffer. He joined the National Republican Congressional Committee. Then he became Tom DeLay's communications director. During the impeachment he headed up DeLay's war room. He was such a partisan that despite DeLay's promise not to whip the impeachment vote, Scanlon unofficially continued a rogue whipping operation.

It looks like Abramoff wanted to make use of Scanlon to make millions. It seems that a plan slowly hatched where Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon would make their own chances to scam relatively innocent but money-laden Indian casinos by cynically entrapping them by shut downs, and then offering their services and their access to Tom DeLay for a small fee, plus a few contributions to the G.O.P., and a few "foundations" and "charities". A total of $34 million in the case of the Coushattas. It would be a way to enrich themselves, and enrich their party. To create the situation that they could exploit, they needed someone who had the creditentials to create a grassroots anti-gambling movement. They needed someone whose reputation could persuade you that he was an anti-gambling crusader in earnest. That person was Ralph Reed.

As the former executive chairman of the Christian Coalition, he made a name for himself as a person who could get things done, and could use his influence to push the political agenda of the religious right. According to the CRNC:

"As Executive Director of the College Republican National Committee in from 1983-1985, Ralph assisted in managing one of the largest grassroots efforts in the history of the committee. Ronald Reagan’s reelection effort in 1984 saw more college students voting and working for a Republican in modern memory. Ralph founded Students for America after leaving the College Republican National Committee and immediately found success. The organization grew to one of the largest grassroots groups in the nation seemingly overnight.

As Executive Director of the Christian Coalition, he built one of the most effective grassroots organizations in modern American politics. During his tenure, the organization’s budget grew from $200,000 in 1989 to $27 million in 1996. Its support base grew from two thousand members to two million members and supporters."

Afterward, he went into the lobbying business after being set up for it by Karl Rove who was trying to recruit him for the upcoming Bush Jr. presidential campaign. Rove connected Reed to Enron. According to The Nation:

"Reed's involvement with the casino effort followed his departure from the Christian Coalition in 1997 and his reinvention of himself as a corporate lobbyist and campaign hatchet man. One of his first clients was the Enron Corporation--a deal arranged by Karl Rove when George W. Bush was starting to think about running for President in 2000. Rove wasn't ready to put Reed directly on a campaign payroll but presumably wanted to cultivate good will from Reed toward the coming Bush candidacy. Enron paid Reed's Century Strategies more than $300,000 to generate support for energy deregulation. In the 2000 GOP presidential primary, Reed justified his big Enron fee by helping to smear John McCain during the South Carolina primary. "

Most agree that he was just the man to help set up the hapless suckers for Abramoff and Scanlon.

An example of how the scam would work is the tale of the Tigua Indians of Texas. The story goes that in 2002, Reed worked to close down the Tigua's Speaking Rock casino. Attorney C. Bryant Rogers referred them to Abramoff who then brought in Scanlon. Now if a tribal council was reticent about hiring them, it's alleged that Abramoff and Scanlon were not above fixing the elections, although it hasn't been mentioned that this happened with the Tiguas. After being "hired" by the new council, Abramoff told them that he would work for free until the Tiguas received federal recognition and could open the casino, but persuaded them that Scanlon must be paid $4.2 million, and Abramoff's work must be secret.

After the "hiring" the fleecing began.

They asked the tribe to take out life insurance policies on tribal elders with death benefits going to the Eshkol Academy founded by Scanlon. More on that place later. The Tiguas were then asked to pay for a golf trip to Scotland for them and (unknown to them), Ralph Reed. The tribe refused. That junket would be the Choctaw's problem. Abramoff and Scanlon then got the Tiguas to contribute to various PACs and politicians.

Afterward it would be time to go through the motions. When Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) and Representative Robert Ney (R- Ohio) were sponsoring the Help America Vote Act. Abramoff asked Ney to sponsor an amendment opening the Tigua's casino. He told Ney that Dodd supported such an amendment. In fact according to the Washington Post:

"Dodd issued a statement saying he never agreed to help the Tiguas. Ney, who has been close to Abramoff but now says he was duped by him, said he agreed to help the Tiguas only because Abramoff told him it was something Dodd wanted. The two men were chairmen of a House-Senate conference committee finalizing the election reform bill."

Ney denies any culpability. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

"Ney expressed outrage about the whole affair.

He issued a statement Wednesday saying that he felt 'duped' by Abramoff, whom he had known since the 1970s when both were active in Republican circles during college.

'Jack Abramoff repeatedly lied to advance his own financial interests. I, too, was misled, and I regret that I put faith in the representations that he made to me.'

Larry Noble of the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign finance and lobbying watchdog group, said it is not unusual for lobbyists to suggest that clients make political donations to lawmakers they hope to influence.

But the fact that the scheme went this far shows that Ney presumably 'would have been perfectly happy taking money from the tribes and trying to shepherd their provision through,' Noble said. 'This is not the way people like to think that legislation is done, but the reality is that it is all too common.'"

The online magazine went to state that Ney's former staffer Ned Volz worked with Abramoff, and now has a job at Greenberg & Traurig, Abramoff's old firm.

Needless to say, the Tiguas still don't have an operating casino today.

And this appears to have happened over a period of 3 years to five other tribes, all using the same formula. For instance, when they encountered opposition to their employment from a few members of the Coushatta council, the story is that they manipulated the elections and got a council that hired them. The Observer states that Bertney Langley, a council member who was suspicious of Abramoff and Scanlon lost an election:

"Langley believes the two D.C. lobbyists made him a lame duck. He was defeated in 2003, after serving two terms. He suspects that Abramoff and Scanlon manipulated the election to keep their majority on the council. 'Seventeen candidates ran in that election,' Langley said. In past tribal elections, he said, four to six candidates would vie for the open seats. 'They were diluting the vote by running all those candidates.' Another member of the tribe observed that several members of the same family were on the ballot: 'We’re a small tribe and we usually get together and decide which member of a family will run.' Documents released by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee include detailed accounts of Abramoff and Scanlon running other tribal elections to install administrations they could control. ('Last night was amazing,' Abramoff writes in an e-mail sent the day after the Saginaw Chippewa 2001 election in Michigan. 'The slate of 8 kicked ass…We had less than three weeks to take 8 guys we never met before and get theme (sic) elected.')"

Now the money of the tribes was dealt with by 2 individuals on the council: Chief Lovelin Poncho and William G. Worfel. The other member, Leonard Battise usually voted with them. As said earlier, the Coushattas approved the contribution of $1 million to the Eshkol Academy, Scanlon's Yeshiva-like prep school that folded soon after Greenberg & Traurig asked Abramoff to resign.

Not including contributions almost $34,000,000 were paid to Abramoff and Scanlon. $24,000,000 was taken from vital services. $1,000,000 were given in questionable loans. The Observer said that Langley brought this to the attention of the council. Nothing came of this other than Langley gaining an ally in David Sickey a new council member.

Next came the issue of the Mississippi Choctaws being asked to refinance their casino the Golden Moon. According to the Clarion-Ledger, Council members Mack Jimmie and Alvin Ben opposed it, but Chief Phillip Martin said that there would be no consequences.

The Clarion-Ledger goes further:

"Jimmie and other tribal members petitioned the Tribal Election Committee for a referendum on the new loan but were turned down. An appeal of that ruling was rejected by the Choctaw's Supreme Court on Oct. 18. But challenges to Martin aren't expected to stop.

Melba Smith, president of the Pearl River Development Club, wrote Martin last month asking why Abramoff was hired without the tribal council's permission.

In her letter, Smith also asked what Choctaw programs would have been affected if the Golden Moon had not been refinanced. "How much of the tribal and tribal council's salaries (would) be cut?" Smith asked. She said she did not receive a reply to her letter."

Next, according to the Ledger, the Choctaws were asked to pay the $50,000 that the Tiguas wouldn't for the golfing trip to
Scotland, which they did.

And then Abramoff's and Scanlon's and maybe DeLay's and Reed's luck turned sour.

The Coushatta tribe's comptroller's memo got into the hands of of a reporter from Louisiana's Lake Charles American Press, and months later the Washington Post broke the story nationally.

According to the Observer the story of excessive lobbying and PR fees was confirmed by invoices from Capitol Campaign Strategies. Each invoice has very little information just the amount, date, and it was for "professional services":

American Press accounts of excessive lobbying and PR fees are confirmed by a set of Capitol Campaign Strategies invoices obtained by the Observer, which total $7,155,000—for a period between January and October of 2002:

"Capitol Campaign Strategies is the public relations firm owned by Scanlon; however, the company’s address—611 Pennsylvania Avenue SE—is a mail drop. As a public relations firm it is not subject to disclosure laws that would have pertained to Abramoff, a registered lobbyist. Each CCS invoice, four approved by Poncho and one by Worfel, is as stunning in its lack of itemized detail as in its amount. Entered on each invoice is only the date submitted, the description “professional services,” and the amount owed. The largest single billing, dated March 13, 2002, is $3,405,000.00. When Abramoff’s monthly retainer of $150,000 is added to the total, the Coushattas paid $8,655,000 for ten months of lobbying and public relations. To put that figure into perspective, General Electric paid two dozen lobbying firms $30.4 million, according to federal records compiled by The Washington Post, over the same three-year period that the Coushattas contracted with Abramoff and Scanlon, . In the ten-month period for which we found records, the 813-member Coushatta tribe was paying approximately the same amount of money for lobbying as one of the world’s largest corporations. At the end of their three-year relationship with Abramoff and Scanlon, the Coushattas actually outspent GE by about $3 million."

That the Indian casinos were being used for the benefit of the swindlers and their party is illustrated by the story that most of the "charities" and "foundations" that the tribes were asked to contribute to that were other than Republican political organizations, were basically front organizations. Says the Observer, everyone would get paid from these venues;

"The Coushattas had done considerably better with the lobbying firm of former Louisiana Senator Bennet Johnson, which charged them approximately $152,000 a year before Abramoff took over. The portly former senator also stuck to the basics of lobbying, avoiding the redistribution of wealth brought in by the $300 million-a-year casino operation that attracted Abramoff and Scanlon to the tiny sovereign nation in southwest Louisiana. If (Coushatta's lawyer) Kent Hance’s accountants never find the $1 million reportedly sent to the Eshkol Academy, they and the forensic accountants working for the federal task force in D.C. will find many other questionable entries. Some of the checks drawn on the Coushatta accounts are written to organizations that make Abramoff and Scanlon look like a regular Washington laugh riot.

When I asked Hance about the $566,000 'contribution' to the American International Center, he said it is probably considerably larger “perhaps more than one million.” The center was a “think tank” housed in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, in a house owned by Scanlon. It was operated by a former yoga instructor and a former lifeguard, both beach buddies of Scanlon. It apparently served as a conduit to move money from Scanlon to Abramoff, with at least $1.5 million in Indian client money moving through the center to Greenberg Traurig. A separate $2.4 million in Indian gaming lobby fees was passed through the center to Ralph Reed, the political consultant who once directed the Christian Coalition. Reed was also hired by Abramoff and Scanlon. To keep these huge sums off the lobbyist disclosure pages in the Senate clerk’s office, Scanlon’s PR firm did the billing then moved half the money to Abramoff, through companies or non-profit foundations they controlled."

So the fronts were used not only to fleece the money from the marks, but to launder the money and get it to the scam partners.

At least $2.4 million went to Ralph Reed, and though I'd give Greenberg & Traurig the benefit of a doubt because they at least behave as if they weren't aware of Abramoff's shenanigans by firing him, they supposedly got $1.5 million. Abramoff is said to have made so much money out of the Coushattas that in an embarrassing email to his accountant he couldn't explain $5 million.

Tom DeLay says the Observer. In a $283,000 list of "Coushatta Requests" approved by chief Poncho, $32,000 went to DeLay's two PACs TRMPAC and ARMPAC, though Abramoff later voided the TRMPAC check and it went to America 21 of Tenessee.

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee's investigation is headed by outgoing Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell and by Senator John McCain, the same John McCain that was smeared with the help of Ralph Reed, and also bears a grudge on Tom DeLay for opposing his campaign reform bill. Abramoff's and Scanlon's emails are said to be in the Committee's hands, and they are singing an opera!

The victims of this fraud were preyed upon in 3 ways. First they were attacked by a false shut-down intended to set them up. Then they were fleeced, and the lifelines of otherwise impoverished tribal economies were destroyed, and their infrastructures greatly crippled. The total monetary damage is said to be $66,000,000.

Texas Observer - "K Street Croupiers"

Las Vegas Sun - Indian lobbying mess thickens in Louisiana

Mississippi Clarion-Ledger - Senate committee probes lobbyist's ties

Gambling Magazine - Rep. Ney Says He Was 'Duped' By Abramoff

College Republican's National Committee - Alumni

Friday, November 19, 2004

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Coushatta Redux

Originally uploaded by NMCIL ortiz domney.
Well, there have been a few new wrinkles in the story of Ralphie, Jackie and Mikey.

Michael Scanlon has been corraled finally and put under oath by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. And lo and behold his friends in the Coushatta Tribe aren't so friendly any more! Seems Mikey bit the hand that fed him! Scanlon, along with Jack Abramoff, Abramoff's former lawfirm Greenberg Traurig are being sued for the $32 million they paid to keep the Jena Choctaws from setting up their casino in Louisiana.

Even sharks don't like being lunchmeat. According to NewsFlash, "Abramoff and Scanlon are being sued for overbilling, fraud, taking tribal money for personal use, negligent misrepresentation and unfair trade practices." Along with the money being repaid they are asking for damages.

Greenberg and Traurig are being accused of "failing to supervise Abramoff adequately.

I will leave it up to the Coushattas to say if they they knew just how these men went about getting rid of the competition for them, they didn't own up to it on the summons, they just know that they were being defrauded in the process.

You can get things done two ways. One sic "anti-gambling crusader" Ralph Reed on them, then come in as the white knights promising come hell or high water to get back that gambling license, or helping money rich tribes get rid of competition - by sicing "anti-gambling crusader" Ralph Reed on it. Along the way shake down the client for every cent you can.

Word is that Abramoff and Scanlon shook tribes down by methods like asking them to take out life insurance on tribal elders with death benefits going to a private academy supported by Scanlon, asking to pay for $50,000 golfing trip to Scotland for messrs Abramoff, Scanlon,Reed, and congressman Rob Ney. More about him later.

Of course, they'd go through the motions. No doubt results would in the end matter. After all the scam must have some longevity. So you find the easiest way to get he job done, and pad the bill. And so they'd cut corners by double crossing congressional representatives when in advocacy mode, and create false anti-gambling movements å la Mr. Reed.

This is where the Senate Indian Affairs Committee comes in. They were investigating an instance of this scam done to the Tigua Indians of Texas. Chairman Ben Nighthorse Campbell R-Colorado was livid. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

"'For 400 years people have cheating Indians,so you are not the first one,' Campbell, R-Colo., told Scanlon. 'But you are the problem with what's happening to American Indians.'

Carlos Hisa, the lieutenant governor of the Tigua said he was outraged when he learned Scanlon was paying moneu to Reed's anti-gambling group and then billing himself as the key to helping the tribe get it's casino back. ' A rattlesnake will warn you before it strikes. They did everything behind our backs'"

After the "righteous wrath" of Ralph Reed, came the "rescue" from Jack Abramoff, whom the Tigua contacted after their casino closed down. He introduced Scanlon who took $4.2 million for lobbying federal support for the license. Then he gave half of this to Abramoff.

Our two enterprising swindlers then promised the legislation would be attached to an election reform bill and had the support of the two chief sponsors Sen. Chris Dodd D-Conn, and Rep Rob Ney, R-Ohio. This is where the double cross comes in.

Ney says that he backed the Indian measure only because he was told that Dodd supported it. Dodd says he was never contacted. Someone was lying. Ney says he was duped.

If so then he wasn't the only politico to get fooled. We started this story with the Coushatta case and we will end this chapter of it there. Back to Louisiana.

When Abramoff and Scanlon and Reed were taking down the Jenas for the Coushattas, they made use of Rep. David Vitter's fight with then Governor Mike Foster who signed a compact with the Jenas on their casino. Vitter succeeded in shutting down the casino with what he thought was a legitimate anti-gambling committee called the Committee Against Gambling Expansion. But according to the Las Vegas Sun: "An attorney for the Coushattas said he was told by tribal leaders that the group was formed to stop casino projects that threatened the profits of tribes that already has casinos - in other word, anti-competition rather than anti-gambling." Then it was revealed that Ralph Reed and his company Century Strategies had raised money and support for this organization.

Reed of course, claims that his involvement was to simply to stop the gambling.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Watz Dat! News

Street Painting
Originally uploaded by Jetman Jake.
Guess what folks? I've decided to make my post titles links to sites or articles that are relevant to the subject of my daily post. Starting from my stuff on Alberto Gonzales on, just click on the post title to get the article or site! Neat huh?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Consequences Could Be Devastating!

Your opinion about Alberto Gonzales sounds well and good at the beginning. A rags to riches story we all want our politicians to have. It's the second half of the story that bothers me.

You mention that Judge Gonzales got his start in government when he "came to work" for George W. Bush. Then you gloss over his first job to go on to the Texas Supreme Court. Why is that sir? Tell me then, what did he do while he was general Counsel? Wasn't he the one who made clemency recommendations to help Bush decide which inmate deserves execution? And how did he carry out his charge when he made all those "bad people" go away to that undiscovered country called death? Was he in any way thoughtful? Did he look to see if just once there may not have been at least once a miscarriage of justice taking place?

So when Terry Washington was executed it did not matter to Mr. Gonzales in the least to inform the governor that the jury on his case was not informed that he was a man of diminished mental capacity, and was not told this when he was condemned to die? Surely he must have had enough paper and ink to do it since he devoted a third of the report to describing the details of the case. No matter how grisly the governor must know right? Yet he could not spare a single syllable on the simple phrase "diminished capacity"!

This case was typical of the short shrift Gonzales would give each capital case, spending no more than a half an hour on each case leaving gaping holes of evidence and information from the eyes of the governor. In capital cases, every bit of information matters, since after the execution there is no further appeal. Yet in forty nine out of fifty death-row cases clemency was denied, let alone not recommended. And who was the beneficiary of Gonzales' one and only recommendation of clemency? Henry Lee Lucas. I suppose you’d need to be a serial killer of Lucas' type to prove that there was something "not right". with you!

And if you think that this was a fluke, that peruse the Atlantic Monthly :

"Consider the case of Billy Conn Gardner, whose death-penalty case was plagued by issues of incompetent counsel, dubious witness testimony, and unheard mitigating evidence.

Gonzales's report to Bush gave no sense of these circumstances. It matter-of-factly described the robbery of a high school cafeteria in Dallas, during which Gardner, wearing a stocking to obscure his face, allegedly shot and fatally wounded Thelma Row, sixty-four, a cafeteria worker. Also in the cafeteria at the time was Paula Sanders, a co-worker who had told her husband, Melvin, that several thousand dollars in daily cafeteria receipts were processed in a back room at the school. Melvin, who drove the getaway car, claimed that he had persuaded Gardner to participate.

Paula, who knew Gardner, said that she could provide no description of the assailant, because her back was turned. Before Row died, however, she had been able to describe a man with a 'bony face ... and a two-inch goatee.' Gonzales didn't tell Bush that the state was unable to produce a single witness who recalled ever seeing Gardner with a goatee, or that two witnesses to the shooting'Carolyn Sims and the school custodian, Lester Matthews' described a man with reddish-blond hair, whereas Gardner's hair was black."

And this from the Center For American Progress:

'As chief legal counsel for then-Gov. Bush in Texas, Gonzales was responsible for writing a memo on the facts of each death penalty case.' Bush decided whether a defendant should live or die based on the memos. An examination of the Gonzales memoranda by the Atlantic Monthly concluded, "Gonzales repeatedly failed to apprise the governor of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence." His memos caused Bush frequently to approve executions based on "only the most cursory briefings on the issues in dispute." Rather than informing the governor of the conflicting circumstances in a case, "The memoranda seem attuned to a radically different posture, assumed by Bush from the earliest days of his administration 'one in which he sought to minimize his sense of legal and moral responsibility for executions."

As a Justice of the Texas Supreme Court Justice Gonzales was a man of dubious morality. The allegations of judicial bribery are numerous according to Texans for Public Justice:

" the weeks between February oral arguments and this month's decision in Henson v. Texas Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance, Justices Nathan Hecht and Alberto Gonzales each collected a $2,000 contribution premium from the Texas Farm Bureau (which runs the defendant insurance company in this case).

Just before January oral arguments in the other case, Embrey v. Royal Insurance, Justice Gonzales picked up a $2,500 contribution premium from the law firm defending that insurer. Justices Gonzales, Hecht and Owen also received another $2,500 each from Thompson Coe Cousins & Irons last fall.

Defending the insurance industry contribution in the Henson case, Justice Gonzales said, 'In the whole scheme of things, $2,000 isn't going to have any kind of influence on me.'

'In the whole scheme of things' Justice Gonzales did not need the conflict-ridden money that he took from the Texas Farm Bureau. Gonzales raised $1,047 for every dollar his opponent raised.

If $2,000 won't influence a justice, try $55,000. This is how much money Texans for Lawsuit Reform rounded up for Gonzales. TLR money accounts for 10 percent of all the money in Gonzales' $539,000 war chest.

For whatever reason, insurance companies continue to clean up before the high court. Insurers won 71 percent of the cases that they had before the Texas Supreme Court in the 1990s."

Everything seems to point to a man who is simply corrupt. Let us not mince words. He is corrupt and sociopathic. Let us further examine instances of his corruption and his sociopathy:

The rules of warfare seemed to change for the Bush administration after 9/11. This became quite evident when the FBI and National Security Council lost the battle of the treatment of al-Qaeda prisoners. Suddenly the traditional but effective methods of interrogation were not enough. More intense techniques such as “water-boarding” where water is dripped into wet cloth over a suspect’s face. This can feel like drowning. These methods were found to be acceptable, so long as they did not result in permanent or lethal injuries. According to Newsweek:

"The handling of al-Libi touched off a long-running battle over interrogation tactics inside the administration. It is a struggle that continued right up until the Abu Ghraib scandal broke in April—and it extended into the White House, with Condoleezza Rice's National Security Council pitted against lawyers for the White House counsel and the vice president. Indeed, one reason the prison abuse scandal won't go away—two months after gruesome photos were published worldwide—is that a long paper trail of memos and directives from inside the administration has emerged, often leaked by those who disagreed with rougher means of questioning.

Last week the White House dismissed news accounts of one such memo, an explosive August 2002 brief from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel disclosed by The Washington Post. The memo, drafted by former OLC lawyer John Yoo, has been widely criticized for seeming to flout conventions against torture. It defends most interrogation methods short of severe, intentionally inflicted pain and permanent damage. White House officials told reporters that such abstract legal reasoning was insignificant and did not reflect the president's orders. But NEWSWEEK has learned that Yoo's August 2002 memo was prompted by CIA questions about what to do with a top Qaeda captive, Abu Zubaydah, who had turned uncooperative. And it was drafted after White House meetings convened by George W. Bush's chief counsel, Alberto Gonzales, along with Defense Department general counsel William Haynes and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's counsel, who discussed specific interrogation techniques, says a source familiar with the discussions. Among the methods they found acceptable: "water-boarding," or dripping water into a wet cloth over a suspect's face, which can feel like drowning; and threatening to bring in more-brutal interrogators from other nations."

Any man or woman whose entire career shows a callous disregard for even the most basic rights of a human being, friend or foe, does not understand the most basic of tenets of justice which ironically can be found, (for those who wish to blur the lines between church and state) in these words:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Oppose Alberto Gonzales!

Originally uploaded by williac.
It's as if the Enabling Act of 1933 Germany was in force.

Bush seems to behave like someone who doesn't know, or doesn't care how people feel about his administration. His appointment of Alberto Gonzales the author of those infamous memos declaring the use of torture and humiliation to be acceptable in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the post of Attorney General of the United States, indicates a gross disregard of the Constitution, International law, and of the concept of human dignity!

Firstly, all of the Geneva Convention treaties that this country signed and ratified, were done so according to the Constitution, and therefore have the force of law. The third and fourth Geneva Conventions make no exceptions of any kind regarding torture and mistreatment. Even if a captive does not qualify for good treatment as a POW in the Third Geneva Convention, he does as a civilian of the occupied country under the Fourth GC. Article 3 of both conventions prohibits torture and humiliating and degrading treatment of any subdued and disarmed former combatant.

Both the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions were ratified by the United States Senate, and have the force of law, federal law, in this country, and anywhere this country's military is deployed. Any violation of them is not only against international law, but is also unconstitutional. Now, if Mr. Gonzales in his memos seems to think that in the present circumstances the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions are "quaint", then he must think that the articles of the Constitution dealing with international treaties and foreign relations are also "quaint". Is the Constitution "quaint"? Mr. Gonzales makes light of the Constitution, and of basic human rights. And he qualifies as an Attorney General?

And how will Gonzales' appointment play in foreign capitals? Although Gonzales in his January 25, 2002 memo concludes that the Secretary of State would agree that "al Qaeda and Taliban fighters could be determined not to be prisoners of war (POWs) but only on a case-by-case following individual hearings before a military board." Colin Powell himself opposed the content of those memos. According to his memo in response:

"It will reverse over a century of U.S. policy and practice in supporting the Geneva conventions and undermine the protections of the law of war for our troops, both in this specific conflict and in general.

It has a high cost in terms of negative international reaction, with immediate adverse consequences for our conduct of foreign policy.

It will undermine public support among critical allies, making military cooperation more difficult to sustain.

Europeans and others will likely have legal problems with extradition or other forms of cooperation in law enforcement, including in bringing terrorists to justice.

It may provoke some individual foreign prosecutors to investigate and prosecute our officials and troops."

The memo goes on to say that we would be vulnerable to "domestic and international legal challenge", that is everything from undermining the President's Military Order by removing a legal basis for trying detainees before Military Commissions, to depriving us of "a winning argument to oppose habeas corpus actions in U.S. courts".

And what about human dignity? According to "Powell was right. The Geneva Conventions contain no loopholes that would allow the torture and inhuman treatment of prisoners. Even if a captive did not qualify for prisoner-of-war status under the Third Geneva Convention, he would be protected by the Fourth Geneva Convention on the treatment of civilians during wartime. And article 3 of both conventions prohibits torture, and humiliating and degrading treatment against anyone who is no longer fighting. It is well-established that article 3 applies to international, as well as internal, conflicts."

What can I say? The entire reason for this country's existence is the protection of human rights. An Attorney General that cannot protect the human rights of anyone, let alone an American, contradicts the very ideals that may have allowed a man of Gonzales' minority heritage to rise to such a post. A lot of Freedom Riders and CORE members went under the cudgel to give Hispanics the freedom, and a lot of citizens faced the firehoses and dogs to them the dignity. They must have thought it important enough to lay their lives on the line for these ideals, and for Gonzales to be nonchalant about them, and casually deprive others of the rights those ideals guarrantee is a sacrilege.

What is more chilling is that this man has already demonstrated the kind of AG he would be by his casual cruelty towards fellow Texans. As General Counsel to then Governor Bush his recommendations on clemency wer essential for Bush when it came to stays of executions for death-row inmates. In his reports to the governor, he would inexcusably omit any instance of vital evidence not disclosed to the jury that could have mitigated the case of the defendant. In 50 reports, he was able to recommend execution on 49 of them. And who got the lucky 50th? Serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. More usual was the case of Terry Washington according to Allen Burlow in the Atlantic Monthly:

"The case of Terry Washington was typical. Gonzales devoted nearly a third of his three-page report on Washington to the gruesome details of the crime. He informed Bush that the victim, Beatrice Huling, was a twenty-nine-year-old restaurant manager, and wrote, "An autopsy determined she suffered 85 stab wounds, seven of which were fatal, and was eviscerated." But the summary refers only fleetingly to the central issue in Washington's clemency appeal—his limited mental capacity, which was never disputed by the State of Texas—and presents it as part of a discussion of "conflicting information" about the condemned man's childhood. (The page containing this discussion is missing from the copy of the summary signed by Bush, raising the possibility that he never actually saw it before authorizing Washington's execution.) Most important, Gonzales failed to mention that Washington's mental limitations, and the fact that he and his ten siblings were regularly beaten with whips, water hoses, extension cords, wire hangers, and fan belts, were never made known to the jury, although both the district attorney and Washington's trial lawyer knew of this potentially mitigating evidence. (Washington did not testify at his trial or his sentencing.)

Gonzales's lack of attention to Washington's mental retardation is particularly surprising because demand was growing nationwide to ban executions of the retarded, and because the most highly publicized case of a retarded defendant, that of Johnny Paul Penry, was even then playing itself out in Texas courts. The miscarriages in the Washington case were also precisely the kind of thing Bush claimed to want to be told about. "I don't believe my role is to replace the verdict of a jury with my own," he wrote in his autobiography, A Charge to Keep (1999), "unless there are new facts or evidence of which a jury was unaware, or evidence that the trial was somehow unfair." Such information had indeed come to light in Washington's case, yet Gonzales's memorandum did not tell Bush about it.

Not only did Gonzales ignore Washington's mental limitations, but he didn't mention that Washington's trial lawyer had failed to enlist a mental-health expert to testify on Washington's behalf (although he was entitled to one under a 1985 Supreme Court ruling), which in a death-penalty case clearly suggests ineffective counsel. Nor did he mention that ineffective counsel and mental retardation were in fact the central issues raised in the thirty-page clemency petition. Gonzales noted only that the petition had been rejected by the Board of Pardons and Paroles, a body that one federal judge condemned in 1998 for its tendency to rule on clemency appeals without any investigation or discussion among its members.

Gonzales declined to be interviewed for this story, but during the 2000 presidential campaign I asked him if Bush ever read the clemency petitions of death-row inmates, and he equivocated. "I wouldn't say that was done in every case," he told me. "But if we felt there was something he should look at specifically—yes, he did look from time to time at what had been filed." I have found no evidence that Gonzales ever sent Bush a clemency petition—or any document—that summarized in a concise and coherent fashion a condemned defendant's best argument against execution in a case involving serious questions of innocence or due process. Bush relied on Gonzales's summaries, which never made such arguments.

Did Gonzales reserve the most important issues and documents in the Washington case for a more extensive oral briefing of the governor? Only he and Bush know. It is highly unlikely, however, given that Gonzales usually presented an execution summary to the governor on the day of an execution and that, as he has acknowledged, his briefings typically lasted no more than thirty minutes—far too little time for a serious discussion of a complex clemency plea. Bush's appointment calendar for the morning of Washington's execution shows a half-hour slot marked "Al G—Execution."

Gonzales is so typical of the gung-ho prosecutor-martinet who seeks the maximum punishment no matter what mitigating circumstances may favor the defendant, the kind that has sent many a defendant to a punishment they may not have deserved. Anyone who doesn't understand the spirit of justice, has no business enforcing it.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Ok, Tell Me What's "Moral" Here!

Originally uploaded by pabulum.
K Street has taken over Austin Texas!

So Ralph Reed's friend's friend Tom DeLay must love public relations very much to have such good friends in salesmen! In his effort to "exterminate" the Democrats via TRMPAC and ARMPAC, DeLay has created a "kitchen cabinet" (Could there be delusions of Presidency?), that includes lobbyists, whose help he used to create the "K Street Project" in the 1990s.

And what is the "K Street Project" pray tell? ,It is a racket to help the Republicans grab more special-interest money. "K Street" does it's work by threatening companies with political reprisals if they hired lobbying firms with Democrats at the head. Republicans get more corporate money if a Republican headed the lobby.

It was a bonanza! the "K Street Project" was highly effective. One case in particular was the the delay of an intellectual property vote on behalf of the Electronic Industries Alliance because they used a Democrat lobby. All they got was an admonishment from the slumbering House Ethics Committee.

"K Street Project" hit Austin in 2002 when a DC firm by DeLay's friend Drew Maloney got $360,000 state contract to promote Texas' interests in Washington. They got so cozy that after the 2002 election, Governor Rick Perry and Lieutenant Governor-elect David Dewhurst and speaker-elect Tom Craddick all used lobbyists in their transition teams or staffs. Two of Craddicks' men Bill Miller and Bill Messer hatched a plan where they would make lobbyists members of the "Speaker's Team", in exchange for material or financial support.

According to "Texans for Public Justice", there were 11 Washington lobby firms and 11 Texas firms and solo lobbyists working for multiple donors to TRMPAC in 2002. These firms and individuals lobbied for 15 corporations that gave TRMPAC $389,250 to TRMPAC, 65% or TRM's total corporate funding.

So tell me what's "moral" here? "K Street"'s job is to strong arm people into supporting the Republican party.

Friday, November 12, 2004

What We Know About Alberto Gonzales

Post-Mortem Self Portrait
Originally uploaded by akook.
We cannot expect a sense of justice of any kind from Gonzales, because his moral ambivalence concerning POWs is part of a pattern that he has displayed throughout his legal carreer. He is accused by some of being cursory in clemency examinations as Bush's General Counsel in Texas when it came to death penalty cases.

Gonzales' assertion that this war is not the same as a conventional war is called into question by the fact that he is behaving according to a norm established as General Counsel to Bush when he was Governor of Texas. Many cases that were not very well handled by the defense, or unethically dealt with by the prosecution, were not reported as such to the governor by Gonzales. This is very troubling, as it shows a two-fisted attitude of a man who has no regard for the reasons for time-consuming procedures of just adjudication and verification. Alibis were ignored. Plea bargains were not looked into. Evidence that the jury was unaware of not reported. The quality of prosecution witnesses wasn't looked into.

The case of David Wayne Stoker is an example. In his clemency examination Gonzales gives only 18 sentences to a highly complex case according to "Fight the Death Penalty in USA". He failed to mention the deals, recantations, and perjuries that took place in the course of Stoker's case. He also failed to mention that a psychiatrist, Dr. James Grigson, whose testimony was used, was expelled form the American Psychiatric Association two years before the case was reviewed by Gonzales. Another medical witness against Stoker, Ralph Erdman relinquished his license, and pleaded no contest to 7 felonies tied to falsified evidence. Later investigation found that Erdman did the same in 27 other cases and that he always made the evidence fit the prosecution's case.

As General Counsel to the President, Gonzales has taken a similar attitude towards "enemy combatants" from Afghanistan in his now famous memo. He rejects the idea that "enemy combatants" have the same rights as POWs under the Third Geneva Convention.

Argument number 1: Not treating them as POWs lessens chances of prosecution. Why?

Gonzales knows something.

According to Gonzales, treating al Qaeda or Taliban fighters as POWs makes it easier to be prosecuted for "vague" offenses prohibited by Geneva III like "outrages upon human dignity" and "inhuman treatment".

Is Gonzales laying the groundwork for torture?

The second reason given is it is a contingency for unforeseen circumstances that could arise from war. In other words torture should be kept handy!

The memo states that the President determined with OLC guidance that the President doesn't have to apply GPW to al Qaeda or Taliban.

He reasons that because Afghanistan was a failed state any protocols for the treatment of prisoners do not apply.

Taliban occupied a gray area at best. It was a terrorist group, but it controlled territory.

Something is wrong here. This guy is now to be our Attorney General? He makes me long for the good ol' days of Ashcroft already! Still, it is a perfect opportunity to point out to people the difference between the Bush agenda and morality. Gonzales is typical of the moral caliber or lack thereof, of a Bush operative. And they want to make him go through hearings? I'd like that! Let's get all the questions asked. Let's get some really good human rights lawyers from the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center involved. I hope the Democrats use the word "morality" a LOT!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Sunday, November 07, 2004

From "Common Dreams":

Published on Monday, October 25, 2004 by "Common Dreams"

No Longer a Christian

by Karen Horst Cobb

I was told in Sunday school the word "Christian" means to be Christ-like, but the message I hear daily on the airwaves from the “christian ” media are words of war, violence, and aggression. Throughout this article I will spell christian with a small c rather than a capital, since the term (as I usually hear it thrown about) does not refer to the teachings of the one I know as the Christ. I hear church goers call in to radio programs and explain that it was a mistake not to kill every living thing in Fallujah. They quote chapter and verse from the old testament about smiting the enemies of Israel. The fear of fighting the terrorists on our soil rather than across the globe causes the voices to be raised as they justify the latest prison scandal or other accounts of the horrors of war . The words they speak are words of destruction, aggression, dominance, revenge, fear and arrogance. The host and the callers echo the belief in the righteousness of our nation's killing. There are reminders to pray for our “christian” president who is doing the work of the Lord: Right to Life, Second Amendmendment, sanctity of marriage, welfare reform, war, kill, evil liberals. . . so much to fight, so much to destroy.

Let me tell you about the Christ I know. He was conceived by an unmarried woman. He was not born into a family of privilege. He was a radical. He said, “It was said an eye for and eye and a tooth of a tooth, but now I say love your enemies and bless those who curse you.” He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (Mattew 5: 3-9) He said, “All those who are called by my name will enter the kingdom of heaven." He said, "People will know true believers if they have the fruit of the spirit--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self control.“

He knew he would be led like a sheep to the slaughter. He responded with “Father forgive them.“ He explained that in Christ there is neither Jew nor gentile, slave or free male nor female. He explained that even to be angry is akin to murder. He said the temple of God is not a building, but is in the hearts of those are called by his name. He was called "the Prince of Peace." His final days were spent in prayer, so that he could endure what was set before him, not on how he could overpower the evil government of that day. When they came for him he was led away and didn’t resist his death sentence.

This is a stark contrast to the call of the religious christian right, who vote for war and weapons, and suggest towns and villages be leveled to bring freedom and peace to the people. They proudly boast this country’s superiority, suggesting God has blessed our nation. Today, as I listened to a popular christian news network, I was reminded that in the last days, even God’s elect will be deceived, (II Timothy 3:13). When the religious media moguls preaching prosperity spout their rhetoric, I am reminded of the difficulty Jesus described of a rich man’s ability to enter the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19: 24) ( Some who believe they are fighting evil will cry to the Lord, and he will say “I never knew you.“ (Matthew 22). They will have a form or godliness but will deny the power (II Timothy 3:5) to move mountains through prayer. (Matthew 17:20). Jesus explained that he has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. (II Timothy 1:17) I wonder if the innocent moms and dads, brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles, and grandmas and grandpas who were the victims of US military weapons (the never reported collateral damages we are protected from in the “liberal” nightly news) felt the love of Jesus with the shock and awe. I wonder if the surviving family members now understand His radical love and that they no longer have any need for weapons or defense.

The solutions to the social issues used to manipulate good, decent people have no resemblance to how Jesus responded to the social concerns of his time. He never once mentioned the “right to life” the year he was born King Herod ordered the execution of all babies. (Matthew 2:16). He knew that passing laws does not change the heart. As a follower of his teaching I believe in the right to life, including the children in Iraq who stumble onto land mines, cross the street at the wrong time, or who are snuggly tucked within the warm bellies of their wounded or grieving mothers as US fighter jets fly overhead. These are living, breathing children. The killing of these little ones are never even reported, and our tax dollars pay for these bombs. I believe in the right to life for those in the United States who are unwanted and impoversihed. I believe in the right to life of the naive kid who was promised by the recruiter they could choose a desk job and still get their education paid or could see the world or could accelerate their life or could play a very realistic video game from a cockpit.

I've worked at a shelter, and I know first hand the reality of unwanted children. I know the reality of this right wing rhetoric when week after week I begged and pleaded with people to give up only one night every three months to sit with these unwanted living children for a few hours while the overworked house parents had a night off. Of the few I found, many changed their minds when they discovered that they would need to wear rubber gloves to change the babies diapers. These “believers” stand on the street corners holding right to life signs and then vote against medical assistance for the mothers and their unwanted children creating an impossible existence for them. The few of these abortion activists who might adopt some of these unwanted children generally want the white and the healthy. The ones with hydrocephalous, tracheotomies, emotional/ mental problems and communicable diseases along with their life long medical expenses can be someone else’s problems.

I cringe as many christians vote for policies that deny help to the poor in our own county, who vote to support the war and military strength, assuring the latest weapons are developed and that the heavens will be dominated by the military of the United States. We develop electromagnetic weapons to shatter skulls , split the earth ( and silently destroy a body as a thief in the night. Studies are even now searching for the frequencies to override the freewill. These unbelievable technologies are a reality and DNA specific weapons can or soon will target a specific nationality ( ).I weep as the waters Jesus walked on become contaminated with uranium. ( I grieve as the missiles fly through the atmosphere on the continent where Jesus rose into the sky, defying death and the grave and where the Holy Sprit first descended. I cry out at the horrors of war and the indignity of the prisons so close to where He took captivity captive. So I am no longer a christian if Christianity has become what is presented to us by our christian president and christian media. Icannot support the right of the United States and Israel to develop and use the most heinous weapons ever imagined. I want no part of a temple built on the blood of the innocent. The sheep have been lead astray by the teachings of prosperity and misinterpretation of the final battle between good and evil. Many no longer can recognize the voice of the good Shepard.

Some “good christians” even work at weapons facilities. It is not a stretch to say that a woman who tightens a last rivet on a shiny new missile just off the assembly line might be the same woman who licks the gold star on the attendance chart in morning Sunday school. The missile could be launched by the kid in the youth group who reads the invocation and it will find it’s destiny at a “target of interest” which might or might not have been a result of good intelligence. The collection plate circulates children are taught to love their enemies and bless those who curse them.

The statements and lifestyle of Jesus are difficult for me to understand. What would he say to evil dictators? This God would not justify 15,000 or more deaths. Even the wrathful jealous God of the old testament spared whole cities for a few righteous souls. For christians, to support mass killings as a way to prevent future deaths is not at all like Christ. He would not say,"When I am talking about war I am really talking about peace," like the self professed christian President proudly states. Who but God has the right to determine what price a people should pay for their freedom? The religious leaders on the airwaves today respond to the voices of the few brave peacemakers who dare to speak out. They say that pacifism is insane, and that it doesn’t make sense, but what is forgotten is that logic and faith are separate entities. I believe in the example of Jesus and his admonition to love your enemies and bless those who curse you . Do I understand how this works on the global scale? Do I know what Jesus would say to all the world’s leaders? No, nor do I totally understand how the example of Christ’s life and his message of love works in the world today. That’s why I need faith. Am I always correct in my assessments and actions? No, that’s why I need grace. Am I brave and unafraid? No, that’s why I need the perfect love that casts out fear. Some put trust in Chariots and some in horses but I will remember the name of the lord our God--the Prince of Peace. Perhaps politics has no place for imitators of Christ.

Who will show the face of Christ to the world? Who will speak His radical message? I hear from these so called imitators of Christ that the pacifists are a collection of kids, hippies, socialists and communists who haven’t got a clue. Some of us, however, have come to our beliefs as a result of careful and prayerful study of the scriptures and admonishment from our elders. Many are Mennonite, Amish, Quaker and other Anabaptists, whose ancestors did not resist their torturers and were drowned, burnt at the stake and flogged for their pacifist stand. They truly followed the example of Christ, and their resistance against the catastrophic effects of the merging of church and state cost them a great price. Churches today have signed onto the government plan and have agreed to look the other way in exchange for tax free privileges. The true message of Christ still exists to some degree in the quiet of the land to peacemakers, but sadly these good people have been deceived by the angry words from a righteous sounding religious media majority broadcasting in cars and trucks and tractors all over our land ironically preaching the “good news of war for peace“ and convincing 24-7 “liberal“ bashing. I suspect there are many who share my sorrow at the loss of what it means to be Christ-like, but our voice is seldom heard. The blaring rhetoric drowns out the still small voice of the mighty God. Peace used be the opposite of war, Conservative used to mean the tendency to conserve resources. Liberal used to mean kind and generous, and Christian used to mean like Christ.

So I am no longer a christian but just a person who continues trying to follow the example of Christ. I’ll let him call me what he wants when I see him face to face. Until then, I will pray that someday people like me will be able to reclaim the meaning of Christ’s identity, and the world will see the effects of the radical message of Christ‘s love--the perfect love that casts out fear.

Karen Cobb is a freelance writer and artist in Santa Fe, NM and can be contacted at
link to "Common Dreams":

All Politics is Local

Time for a little local news. The concept is the criteria: I choose a story from my local press that would exemplify and amplify the national situation. I'm hoping that all commentators would reciprocate with a story from their local presses, and that I may then post that story on the blog so others may read it. A sort of "Stone Soup" to portray the national situation on a local level.

We have a funny situation involving something called "Destiny USA". It sounds like a great idea. the city of Syracuse, NY sure needs all the help it can get as for as it's economy is concerned. A good deal of downtown is empty. One thing that seems to be working is our Carousel Center, a mall owned by the Pyramid Companies. So one of the senior partners of Pyramid Robert Congel one day came to Syracuse and said "Let's expand the mall complex, add on a few hotels, resorts, well and okay. a democratic administration accepted it. But then Congel started arguing that he needed bonds and wanted the taxpayers of Syracuse to pay for it. The next administration, Republican didn't want to raise taxes, and the one after that, the present one, Democratic, is disillusioned with Destiny USA and is seeking other venues for jobs and revenue. They've withdrawn a few acres the "Empire Zone" in which Destiny is to be built, to put elsewhere. This makes Congel and Destiny backers steaming mad.

Now here's where Bush's Corporate Tax Cut of 2004 comes in.

From the St. Petersburg Times:

"A key part of the tax bill trims the top tax rate on manufacturers by 3 percentage points to 32 percent. And it offers a tax amnesty to encourage manufacturing corporations to bring offshore profits back to this country and - hopefully - invest those funds in new jobs. Reinvesting may occur, analysts warn, but creating substantial numbers of new jobs in the process may be wishful thinking.

A lack of corporate cash is not the problem. Major U.S. corporations already are sitting on enormous piles of money, but they are not choosing to invest and expand. U.S. CEOs still are not confident enough in the economy to add large numbers of new jobs. Besides, it has become far easier for companies to grow through gains in productivity - not people - or to outsource jobs to cheaper workers in low-wage countries.

A repatriation of overseas profits during a window (through 2005) of low tax rates may boost the U.S. economy through stock buy-backs or investments in new technology. But it seems an unlikely tool for significant job creation. There's a more fundamental change under way in the job market - I think it's called globalization - that additional investment here will not completely solve.

The tax package is a whopper both in size and in vague language that helps obscure the specific business winners. Among the lucky recipients of favorable provisions are the energy, tobacco, restaurant, technology, pharmaceutical, shipping, gambling, liquor, shopping mall, fishing, real estate, filmmaking and timber industries."

One of the beneficiaries of this would be Robert Congel, a "Ranger".

Don't get me wrong. Personally I'd like to see Destiny built. It means jobs and if done right will bring in revenue as the "biggest mall in America". Already Carousel Center is a regional giant. And it'll be fuuuuun! I like malls! And Syracuse would do great as a tourist city. And we will see if the "Green Bonds" live up to their hype.

It's just that I don't like the idea of people buying bonds tax free, because this means that the taxpayer is the one who basically has to buy the bond, and when do we get paid back?

Now we get word from a leading architect tha the whole plan's a mess, and people might not necessarily come to the place. The city will take a bath, and maybe the county taxpayer will be forced to pay taxes.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Friday, November 05, 2004

Slouching Towards the Primrose Path

In her latest column for Son Myung Moon's paper, Ms. Fields seems to get the idea that Bush has actually won the hearts and minds of the nation. Oh really! Which coast is that on Ms Fields? You see, both times it was mainly the electoral vote that Bush won, and while today he may have nominally won the popular vote, he just couldn't bring himself to mention the word "mandate' could he? It's just lucky for you that one half of this nation refuses to be blinded by the lies that the other half believes. It is unfortunate that we lost, but it isn’t because we don’t have values Ms. Fields, it is because the other half is too ignorant to understand when they are being lied and pandered to. It is unfortunate, but this ignorance will take them (and us ) down the Primrose Path to perdition. It will take harsh lessons for people to understand that those same values are really threatened by the very men you think epitomize them. It’s understandable that you can’t make the connection. Look who your boss is.

Europe is surviving very well without us thank you, after all we were just as dependent on foreign oil as they were before the war. They have found other markets, like Russia, Venezuela, certainly Syria and Libya. There are booming markets in Asia for their goods and services. And by the way Bush does have the IQ of a carrot, when it comes to running the country. He messed up the free lunch Clinton gave him.

Hollywood will be just fine, just as when you wish to relieve your humdrum life in Nebraska you’ll have to come to one of the coasts to find refreshment, we will be there to take your money. And while we don’t control all of the media we still own enough of the part that’s heard. And now we have Air America, and Sirius Left, our own “Radio Free Midwests” so to speak. And just like in the days when farms were being sold left and right under Reagan, we will ask you in two years: “Are you better of than you were 6 years ago”?

I found it funny that you should mention Internet bloggers. It sounded a whole lot like when Cheney swore by FactCheck.COM (.ORG anyway). Just as it was FactCheck that exposed the VP’s inaccuracy as to meeting John Edwards, so it pulled down his pants whenever he spoke of John Kerry being as weak on defense and intelligence as he himself was when he was Secretary of Defense. The same applies with all the other Internet outlets you so praise. Bloggers, and FactCheck did expose the dishonesty of the Swiftboat Veterans and any number of other distortions that any candidate might proffer. And that was long before any chain of evidence problems Dan Rather had with ANG. As for the pollsters, they were all over the place!

You see then problem is that in the end it is a “culture war” Ms. Fields, only you don’t want to see it! You don’t want to see that we really do have all the same values as Barak Obama said we have. You don’t see the discrepancy between the motives of those in power and the pablum they feed the dull masses. And in two or four years when they are disillusioned they will see how “easily led” they really were.

Yes there is a war, a war between those who are aware, and those who are not, between those who question, and those who do not, between those who think and feel, and those who only feel. And we have to resist, stick our boots in the ground and stop you, from leading us down the Primrose Path to Hell.


Your really don't know your facts. OSAMA BIN-LADEN HAS LOST NOTHING! GEORGE SOROS HAS LOST NOTHING!Thanks to George W. Bush's idiotic blundering, 1000 of our soldiers DIED NEEDLESSLY, 100,000 innocent Iraqi citizens DIED NEEDLESSLY. His basic military blunders in Iraq have left no security for a free election. As for confiscated explosives, it matters very little what the amount of that is. You yourself said that while we have to be right 100% of the time, terrorists have to be right just once. Now, they have thousands of recruits in Iraq alone, with 380 TONS OF HIGH EXPLOSIVES THAT YOU CANNOT ACCOUNT FOR. That gives them plenty of chances to be right. We are the elephant, they are the mosquitoes! And it's not good fpor the elephant if the mosquitoes can kill! And now 4 more years of the same policy! OSAMA BIN-LADEN THE LOSER? HARDLY! HE'S GOT THE PRESIDENT HE ALWAYS WANTED!!! BUSH HAS DELIVERED IRAQ TO HIM ON A PLATE!


Hollywood and Old Europe could really care. Hollywood has the money and the media, MTV is still on every TV, Old Europe has figured out how to make money without the U.S.A., and COULD CARE LESS ABOUT US THESE DAYS!

And get used to this, WE LIBERALS AREN'T GOING AWAY! We are where you were in the Goldwater years! And when the military, anti-human rights and economic thought of this administration are bankrupted, we will be there to regain the hearts and minds of the people! Poor farmers as well aspoor workers make lousy Republicans.


Is God Not For Kerry, or Who is Paul Kengor to Judge?

I just read what Dr. Paul Kengor of Grove City College wrote about an imagined religious hypocrisy on the part of John Kerry. He further accuses the media of a double standard. Dr. Kengor apparently doesn't command all the facts and seems to forget that the Right-wing fundamentalists set themselves up every time for a fall.

Liberals of any shape or color do not make any pretentions toward religion. They are either religious or they are not. Religion is looked upon as a private matter, and part and parcel of every human's right to free speech and belief. Thus we make room for a wider variety of faiths, and have a bigger tent. Liberals can afford to be more honest in their beliefs, that's just a fact. The fundamentalist Christian Right on the other set itself up on a higher pedestal,stricter in it's canon, and has taken on a very chiliastic and unrealistically authoritarian bent to it's beliefs. Therefore, the loftier the height, the more spectacular the fall, as Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker and Oral Roberts can attest. Any double standard that exists, is of their own creation. And it goes without saying that when right-wing politicians embrace the Christian Right for their support, their opponents have the same right to challenge them upon the discrepancies between their stated beliefs and their actions.

Kengor cites Kerry's use of James 2:14 in his essay. "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?" Tue. Doesn't it follow then that if Bush's own actions did not merit his stated beliefs, then did not Kerry have a right to call him upon it? "No Child Left Behind", "Clear Skies" and "Clean Forests" are fine titles yet the programs in practice turned out to be their very own antithesis. If Bush lied, is he not guilty of a mortal sin?

In the area of foreign relations and geopolitics where our leaders will invariably need an outwardly moral posture, the opposition clergy has a special right to call into question the moral character of our President's actions. We live in a world where in many places human life, liberty and happiness are not worth two cents. Wars, economic and environmental devastation and a still very potent nuclear threat are the ultimate badges of immoraltiy. Therefore when the President affects the role of saviour of Iraq, and then needlessly sacrifices the lives of 1000 of our men, and the lives of 100,000 civilians, why can't we call him on the carpet? Liberals went in to save lives in Kosovo, even in Somalia.

So let me ask Dr. Kengor this: Is it for Jesus that we killed 100,000 civilians? Is it for God that we wasted 1000 American lives? Lives of people who could have made their mark in their chosen callings instead of the one our President meted out to them? How does it help the church to have corrupt people like Ralph Reed. or Tom DeLay in the power structure? How did a campaign full of lies and deceit help the Christain Soldiers Onward? You flaunt your "morality" around not as article of faith. but as a political tool, because you do so. we have the right to question your dedication to it.

And, by the way, Jesus WAS a liberal, AND a Democrat!

Why Use the Mexican Border When We Have The Peace Bridge?

I got this from a friend of mine. I am plugged into but it was the virtues of emailing that got me this. Here goes:

"from of Philadelphia Daily News
Posted on Thu, Nov. 04, 2004

O Canada, we plead to cede to thee

ADOPT US, O Canada!

As a blue-red split continues in the Divided States of America, we note that
every blue state is contiguous to Canada or to a another blue state that is
contiguous to Canada, except Hawaii - that's not contiguous to anything but a
lot of blue water that's contiguous to Canada.

Therefore, we've got an idea. How about a sort of second American Revolution,
Canada, in which you annex all the blue states, liberate us from King George,
and thus become the world's sole superpower.

What Canada Gets:

* Higher education: All eight Ivy League universities, Stanford, U. Chicago
and Northwestern all just lowered their admissions standards for the kids from

* Serious sports: Forget the Super Bowl. With the Eagles, Patriots, Steelers,
Jets, Vikings and Packers, the Grey Cup is where it's at.

You get the Expos back as they're now in D.C. But who needs the Expos when
you've got the Red Sox, Yankees, Twins, Mariners, Giants, Dodgers, Angels,
Padres, Phillies and Pirates. The World Series is coming! The World Series is

The Raptors are Canada's favorite basketball team? We don't think so.

What about Flyers-Maple Leafs? Flyers-Canadiens? Settle the strike and drop
the puck.

* Warm-weather vacations: Sun yourselves whenever you want in Southern
California or Hawaii at Canada's beautiful beaches.

* The cultural arts: Tourists will love Canada's museums including the
Smithsonian, the Museum of Natural History and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Plus,
in addition to Broadway, the Kennedy Center and top regional theater, we're
throwing in our best orchestras -- Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and L.A.

* The entertainment industry: You already love our movies and TV shows more
than those red-staters. So now, when that rare production shoots in California
or New York instead of Vancouver or Toronto, you still get credit for the jobs
and the tax revenue.

* The automobile industry: Ohio can keep its Honda plant. GMs, Fords and
Chryslers are made in Canada.

* The biotech industry: With many of the world's top biotech firms located in
Massachusetts, New York, Washington and California (thanks to $6 billion in
new stem cell research funding), it is likely that Canadian scientists will
cure cancer and heart disease within the next 50 years.

* The computer industry: That's right, we keep Microsoft, Apple,
Hewlett-Packard and Silicon Valley. "America" gets Dell.

* A burgeoning tourist industry: You've now got a lot more to sell than
Toronto, the Cabot Trail and the glaciers in Banff. Even red-staters love to visit
Atlantic City, the Liberty Bell, Maui, the Space needle and Disneyland (now
Disney Canada).

* Fresher produce: Canada, the artichoke, garlic and strawberry capital of
the world. And Canadian wines just got a whole lot tastier.

* Arnold Schwarzenegger: He can't be president but he'd make a swell Canadian

What the Red-Staters get:

* Exactly what they want.

What Blue-Staters get:

* Canadian citizenship: And we don't even have to move.

* "O, Canada": A national anthem that's much easier to sing than "The Star
Spangled Banner."

* Free flu shots. (Not to mention free health care.)

You don't like our "values," red-staters. Well, you've got your wish -- we're
outta here.

But remember, the next time you want to see a Broadway show, visit wine
country, Hawaii or the birthplace of liberty, don't just bring your Visa card,
bring your visa.

You're in Canada now. And we're tightening our borders.

Don't delay, Canada. This offer expires in four years. "

Thursday, November 04, 2004


Your really don't know your facts. OSAMA BIN-LADEN HAS LOST NOTHING! GEORGE SOROS HAS LOST NOTHING!Thanks to George W. Bush's idiotic blundering, 1000 of our soldiers DIED NEEDLESSLY, 100,000 innocent Iraqi citizens DIED NEEDLESSLY. His basic military blunders in Iraq have left no security for a free election. As for confiscated explosives, it matters very little what the amount of that is. You yourself said that while we have to be right 100% of the time, terrorists have to be right just once. Now, they have thousands of recruits in Iraq alone, with 380 TONS OF HIGH EXPLOSIVES THAT YOU CANNOT ACCOUNT FOR. That gives them plenty of chances to be right. We are the elephant, they are the mosquitoes! And it's not good fpor the elephant if the mosquitoes can kill! And now 4 more years of the same policy! OSAMA BIN-LADEN THE LOSER? HARDLY! HE'S GOT THE PRESIDENT HE ALWAYS WANTED!!! BUSH HAS DELIVERED IRAQ TO HIM ON A PLATE!


Hollywood and Old Europe could really care. Hollywood has the money and the media, MTV is still on every TV, Old Europe has figured out how to make money without the U.S.A., and COULD CARE LESS ABOUT US THESE DAYS!

And get used to this, WE LIBERALS AREN'T GOING AWAY! We are where you were in the Goldwater years! And when the military, anti-human rights and economic thought of this administration are bankrupted, we will be there to regain the hearts and minds of the people! Poor farmers as well as poor workers make lousy Republicans.


Waz Dat! News!

Just added new Soldier's Blogs

Boots On the Ground
American Soldier
My War

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Waz Dat! News!

Here's a list of some of the links I've put in!

The Nation
Google News
Diplomats and Commanders For Change
Foreign Affairs
Information Clearing House
Arianna Online
Operation Truth
John Kerry Downloads (I'll keep'em as long as they are up there)
Air America - Local News
Mother Jones
The Randi Rhodes Show Message Board
Kerry / Edwards Forum
Kerry Video Mailer
Iraqi Blogs:
Baghdad Burning
Raed In The Middle
A Family in Baghdad
Healing Iraq
Iraq the Model
The Messopotamian

America, this is what you own now!

America, this is what you voted for:

Men in power who consider your son's and daughter's life expendable.
Tax cuts for people who don't need them.
Voted your job away to India, or China
Lack of character in your President
More war and death in Iraq.
You said that 100,000 innocent lives erased in Iraq mean nothing to you.
Disgrace in front of the whole world
A cancerous corruption in the government.

And you did it all in the name of "Morality"!

America You voted for this!

You voted to take away your own birthright! Now more of your sons will die in Iraq for something no one understands. You allowed yourself to be believe a liar and a hypocrite take you down the primrose path.

What is this country made of now?

I don't understand why the concession speech, let's wait until Ohio is counted! Kerry should not concede. We need to organize.

What Do We Do Now?

For one thing we take back Congress. We also must connect to the blogs from Iraq so that we can get out the truth to people. Keep on exposing the crooks. Try to make the media take it's responsibility! Write to it everyday! Constantly! Only we have to do this as a group!

Still Fighting

So what are supposed to give up? Can't too many things to fight for.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Today's the Day!

So far it looks good for Kerry and the pundits are fighting last years war, talking about how if it rains citified Democrats won't vote! How dumb! If a postman can carry out his sworn duty any day of the week in any weather you can vote!

Story So Far!

Some people are calling it 290 electoral votes for Kerry to 230 for Bush, knock wood, cross my fingers!

Monday, November 01, 2004

Why Kerry?

Why indeed? Could it be that I appreciate the honesty he gives me, or is it the comon sense? I'd say common sense. Take for example taxes and jobs, two things vital to every American.

On taxes: How hard should it be to understand that in order to take something out, something has to go in? Or that you can't squeeze blood from a stone? John Kerry understands that yet Bush doesn't. Kerry would raise taxes on only the 1% of the country that earns $200,000 a year, and over. Only then would he think about spending. And his priorities would be the right ones. Bush's irresponsible behavior was to take a surplus, pander to the rich by lowering their taxes, and then raise spending in the first year by up to 13.1%! And of course this spending was not for domestic programs which would be more justifiable, but military and homeland security programs. And which of those programs secured our ports, equiped our fire departments and police? None.

Now Bush talks a good game. He'll lower taxes on the upper crust, and make you feel like you're the one with the windfall. He'll sing you the siren song of "No Child Left Behind", "Clear Skies" and "Clean Forest" and then stick you with the tab, and cut down your trees. (They DO belong to YOU by the way.) He's also great at blaming the other guy and passing the buck.

Kerry wants us to keep our jobs at home, so there would be no more more special breaks for companies that outsource jobs to cheap labor markets abroad. The savings would be used to cut corporate taxes and a tax credit could be created for companies and small businesses that create jobs. Kerry would raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.00 by 2007. Earnings for full-time workers would rise by about $3,800 a year. Bush cares only for what is good for the corporation. His Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors N. Gregory Mankiw said " Outsourcing is just another way of doing international trade... And that's a good thing." Then Bush eliminated overtime pay for 6 million workers. Registered nurses, nursery school teachers, computer operators, restaurant managers all don't get overtime pay.

And with Kerry you get the real deal. Since Bush likes to prattle about Kerry's voting record, look it up. You'll see that he never voted to raise taxes on anyone earning under $140,000 a year. He kept his word. He will keep his word.

The Two-Faced President

America think. You are allowing yourself to be bamboozled by a Pied Piper who has nothing more on his mind or in his heart than his own overblown and self-important ends of greed. He cares nothing for you though he fills you with visions of Jesus, Mom and apple pie. Everything he has done, was only for the benefit of his friends, the kind of friends he hopes he can count on to return him to power.

George W. Bush is not your friend. He will do things for his rich friends and fool you into thinking he did it for you, by using such broad phrases like "cut taxes" or "raise taxes" or "they hate us because we are free". Yet the devil is in the details, and he doesn't want you to see the details. He freed you from higher taxes - if you make more than $200,000 a year! Unemployment is down 7 points - if you don't stop to think of how many people gave up searching for work! He'll tell you the economy is thriving - if you ignore the loss of 1.6 million jobs! He'll warn you not to let the "government control your health care" - and hope you're not looking as health care costs go up, (50%) and median family income goes down ( by $1,535). He says that we will "leave no child behind" yet leaves every state behind by unfunded mandates and how will they pay? By sticking you - with the taxes!

Healthcare premiums are increased by $2630 per family! Five million citizens are without insurance. Four million of us are poor.

The spoiled brat in him allows him to spend like a sailor on pet projects, yet the politician in him will not let him raise the revenues for his profligacy. Hence a $422 billion deficit, and a recession!

He tells you he is a religious man yet he callously rolls back important programs. He cares for "Clear Skies" and Clean Forests", all the while poisoning the air and cutting down forests.

The world sees the duplicity of this man, and will not give him the time of day. He promised to seek the assistance of the world when he prattled on about WMDs in Iraq. He stood before the Senate and asked them for war powers. the Senate agreed on the condition that he will allow inspectors to prove or disprove the existence of WMDs in Iraq. He promised. Then he broke all of his promises.

He claimed to lead a great "Coalition of The Willing" which was nothing more than a gaggle of bribed and bullied military midgets that forced us to bear 90% of the cost and effort.

He calls himself the "Compassionate Conservative", and thinks of himself as religious, yet he allows such blots on humanity, stains on our good name such as "Camp X-Ray" at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

He calls himself the "War President" and "Commander-In-Chief"! We sent our boys in there undermanned, ill equiped and unprepared for the kind of war they would end up fighting. All other tactical developments that came are a direct result of this state of affairs. Now, in the midst of an insurgency there are not enough troops to maintain control over the whole country, terrorists feel free to gather in Iraq. Al-Qaeda has established itself in Iraq. Terrorists kidnap and execute hostages at will. And now, thanks to Bush's negligence they may have access to 400 tons of HMX, RDX and PETN, high explosives, a pound of which could blow up an airplane!

And you call this "fighting terrorism"? And you think Bush will handle security better than Kerry, who at least went to a war?

One thousand of your sons have died, four thousand were wounded some permanently injured. One hundred thousand innocent Iraq men women and children died this year, while this man who has a "special relationship with Jesus" turns a blind eye to this. It doesn't agree with his thinking. And what he is not comfortable with, he will ignore. He is not comfortable with YOU! He will ignore you!

America you are like an ostrich! Like Bush when something discomforts you, you stick your head in sands full of things only you want to hear. "Defense of Marriage", anti-abortion, "faith based charities". He fills your head and blinds you eyes with pipe dreams, while he picks your pockets, kills your sons, and drags your country's reputation through the mud.
Wake up America! take back what is rightfully yours and throw George W. Bush out! Only then will justice return to the world, and peace and prosperity return to our home!