Monday, April 18, 2005

Pride Before the Fall

Tom DeLay 3, originally uploaded by Wazdat!.

This Man Must Go!

“Swan Lake in Sugar Land Anyone?”

Now it seems that Tom DeLay may have begun his swan song.
It seems that Republicans of the neocon ilk prefer to fund themselves by a more or less parasitically predatory means. They worldview appears to be that they are the lords and kings, and the rest of us are the serfs that must serve them. They operate by the simple rule that the best way to pay – is with other people’s of money. And as far as funneling cash is concerned, the best way is circuitously indirect. Tom DeLay’s trip to Russia is a perfect example of how this might be done, and a perfect example of why they don’t want you to know about it.

Now DeLay says that his office spent $57,238 for 6 days in Moscow. He met with Russian oilmen, church leaders, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, - oilmen. He played some golf with those oilmen, went to dinner with them, and discussed important business with them. The whole thing would be mutually beneficial, and would prove how influential big oil is on both sides of the Atlantic. According to Russia’s Blotter:

“The scandal illuminates the rather sensitive sphere of interaction between our countries. Not surprisingly, it is discovered that the Russian oil business could carry out that which was never before possible to official Moscow, - to create a pro-Russian lobby in Washington.”

Among the entourage was Jack Abramoff.

If ever there was a man who was tied to a particular junket more than Abramoff, let him be a rainmaker in the Sahara desert. Abramoff was the perfect lobbyist-liaison who had clients and friends on both sides. His firm Preston Gates Rouvelas & Meed, lobbies for two firms. One Chelsea Commerce Enterprises is based in the Bahamas. It is said that Chelsea has ties to a Russian oil company – Naftasib. The other company Preston Gates has as a client is a Russian firm Soyuzkontrakt, that is into many things, among them oil field equipment. Could there also be a connection between Soyuzkontrakt and Naftasib?

The Russian paper gives credence to The Washington Post’s assertion that there is definitely a connection between Naftasib and Chelsea Commercial Enterprises:

“Today's Washington Post in particular is interested in a six-day visit by DeLay to Moscow in 1997. According to the influential newspaper, the Moscow tour of the congressman was ostensibly financed by "Chelsea, the obscure Bahamian-registered company.” To nobody known in the USA and Russia Chelsea, among whose founders was also a citizen of the Russian Federation, has ostensibly paid DeLay’s expenses on the visit to Moscow (officially the nongovernmental organization was engaged in the organization of trip, but the Post proves with the facts, that behind it was Chelsea’s lobbying firm). According to the report submitted by the congressman, the trip (including crossing, dining and hotel accommodation) has cost him and his four subordinates $57 thousand. But, as asserted by four smaller sources of the newspaper, DeLay has received from Chelsea not only $57 thousand on travel expenses, but also $440 thousand as the certain encouragement for lobbying activity in Congress. However, even payment of the congressman’s of travel expenses by lobbyists is enough to begin an internal investigation concerning the republican (under the rules it is forbidden to members of the congress to accept payment for official trips from lobby groups and agents of foreign states).”

Not only can’t representatives accept junkets from lobbyists and foreign agents, but also it is incumbent upon them to check and see if any trip is legit.

The Post article quoted by Gazeta goes on to state:

“Chelsea was coordinating the effort with a Russian oil and gas company -- Naftasib -- that has business ties with Russian security institutions, the sources said.”

According to in 1997, Chelsea was in fact a client of Preston Gates et al. at the same time when they had Soyuzkontrakt as a client. With Abramoff’s reputed ability to launder money through many legitimate organizations, I’d like to know if money from Naftasib could have been laundered through Chelsea, and through Soyuzkontrakt. If anyone from the Post, or New York Times reads this, I wouldn’t mind an answer in your publications.

Now DeLay claims that he thought the money came from the National Center for Public Policy Research. The NCPPR organized the trip.

Trouble is in a party as networked as the Republican one apparently is everyone separated from one another by only three degrees. If Abramoff wanted someone to launder his, he might know whom to approach. Abramoff is acquainted with F. Andrew Messing Jr., executive director of the National Defense Council Foundation. He is acquainted with (a) Amy Moritz Ridenour Chairman and President of the NCPPR, and David A. Ridenour, Vice-President and Secretary of the NCPPR. Also Abramoff and the Ridenours know Bruce Eberle whos boss was Morton C. Blackwell is an executive director of the RNC, head of GOPUSA, and it's mother outfit The Leadership Institute,“ and was publisher” of Jeff Gannon’s Talon News where Eberle worked as editor, and Executive director of the Council for National Policy, an organization to which most of the Republican pantheon has belonged to at one time or another.

So here’s my theory to what may have happened to give Tom DeLay the royal treatment in Moscow:

Everyone wanted to have their needs met. People in the Russian government Naftasib and Soyuz Kontrakt wanted an American market for Siberian oil. Chelsea Commerce Enterprises would no doubt be the distributor. Tom DeLay wants the kind of pull that shepherding and brokering such a deal would confer. Abramoff dealings with Chelsea and Soyuz made him the perfect middleman who would make money from every direction. Naftasib contacted Abramoff through Chelsea, or Soyuz. Abramoff had a connection to the Ridenours and the NCPPR either through Messing or Blackwell. Now how does a rich Russian oil company circumvent House ethics rules on influence peddling? By secretly transferring the money to a decoy, and having the representative in question take his payoff from there. It’s done all the time here through dummy corporations. Or, you can do it through affiliated companies and organizations that your lobbyist is connected to. If I were devoid of morals, I’d want to be that lobbyist. And maybe Jack Abramoff was.

Part II of this article will appear in the next post. I am taking a week off on vacation. But all the time I will be looking and reading. Have no fear. In the immortal words of De Govuernatah, "I'll be baaahck!"

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Blinded By The Right

Blinded By The Right, originally uploaded by Wazdat!.

Peggy Noonan And The "Life Fetishists".

They know the value of....nothing.

An interesting dichotomy appears on the side of the “pro lifers”, when it comes to their position on end of life choices. To pro lifers, it would seem an amoeba should have as many rights as a full-grown human being. When it comes to quality of life versus subsistence, they seem to know the price of everything, but the value of nothing. To them quality of life means nothing, and only a literal interpretation of the definition of life has any value. Take for instance Peggy Noonan’s March 24th article on Terri Schiavo in Wall Street, where she professes to understand the emotionalism of the “pro lifers” fighting for Terri’s “right to live”:

“They do not want an innocent human life ended for what appear to be primarily practical and worldly reasons--e.g., Mrs. Schiavo's quality of life is low, her life is pointless. They say: Who is to say it is pointless? And what does pointless even mean? Maybe life itself is the point.”

No Mrs. Noonan, not according to this motto: “Navigare necesse est, vivere non.” (To navigate is necessary, to live is not.) But to put it in less stark, more human terms, to navigate, to have a purpose, to give meaning to your life is more necessary than to simply just live.

If life itself was most important to Mrs. Noonan, to President Bush, to Tom DeLay, then why save only the life of Terri Schiavo? A little boy named Sun Hudson’s life also had value. But the doctors said that he had an incurable form of dwarfism that meant his heart was too small to sustain him. The condition could not be corrected. His mother was just as unwilling to let little Sun Hudson’s life be ended as were Terri’s parents, the Schindlers, yet it made little difference thanks to a state law in Texas that gave the hospital the right to pull the plug in hopeless cases, over the parent’s objection. Little Sun Hudson, in his blue pajamas, was in his mother’s arms as he looked up one last time, smacked his lips, and died. The law that allowed this to happen was enacted in 1999 by then Governor, now President George W. Bush.

Tom DeLay’s father’s life also had value. He was a 65-year-old drilling contractor who suffered an accident during a mishap on a home-built tram, that left him brain damaged. He never came out of his coma. His organs began to give out. An article from the LA Times said:

"There was no point to even really talking about it," Maxine DeLay, the congressman's 81-year-old widowed mother, recalled in an interview last week. "There was no way [Charles] wanted to live like that. Tom knew — we all knew — his father wouldn't have wanted to live that way.

Doctors advised that he would ‘basically be a vegetable,’ said the congressman's aunt, JoAnne DeLay."

The DeLay family had no problem with ending Charles Ray DeLay’s life when the “Do not resuscitate “order was given, and no dialysis was permitted for his failing kidneys.

Why was it alright to force brain atrophied Terri Schiavo to live, when so many other cases, equally as hopeless, equally as heartbreaking are allowed to end?

The answer can only found in the slavish “life fetish” of the “pro lifers”. It stands to reason, that if a zygote has the right to live, a non cognitive “entity” cannot die.

But just building materials themselves don’t make a skyscraper, the building blocks of existence do not themselves a life make.

We live our lives by fulfilling dreams. We live by having hope. “Cognito ergo sum”. I think therefore I am. We feel, therefore we are.

Wasn’t that the reason why George W. Bush enacted that law in Texas? Could it be that life with meaning and purpose is the only life worth living, and death with dignity is preferable if it is the only real choice?

E.J. Dionne would remind that everything that was put to the sustenance and rehabilitation of Terri Schiavo, Charles DeLay and Sun Hudson is now under threat by the very same Congress that “erred” so valiantly “on the side of life” to keep a tube inside Terri Schiavo.

Republican in both houses support cuts in Medicaid. Health care is a life issue. It requires money. Ah, but that is why we pay taxes. We all know how Republicans feel about taxes.

There is a disconnect between the “life fetish” of the right, and it’s devaluation of human beings. If people have value then why can’t Mrs. Noonan and the rest of the right treat people as if they had value at every second of their lives?

Keeping Terri Schiavo’s tube in would not be the same as making chemotherapy more affordable to a cancer patient, or rehabilitating a quadriplegic. And what about the severely retarded whose only wish is to gain some self-esteem? Would the right put as much value on their lives, as it would on the sperm and eggs of a future fetus?

Where is Noonan’s ire on the attempted sabotage of Social Security? Is she still the slightly confused yet supporting Bush cheerleader of February? Or has she seen how the “quality of life” will be made to suffer from the high costs, benefit cuts and suicidal private accounts that we would be afflicted with?

I find it sad to think that the “life fetish” of the “pro lifers” indeed only allows them to see the price of everything – and the value of nothing.

Wall Street Journal Online - Peggy Noonan - "In Love With Death"

LA Times - "Delay's Own Tragic Crossroads"

The Washington Post - E.J. Dionne - "A Thin View Of Life"

The Washington Post - "Counsel to GOP Senator Wrote Memo On Schiavo"

ChronWatch - "A Passion For Death"