Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I’ll drink to that

Our prison system is completely upside down. It is time to turn out the good people convicted of petty drug crimes, and lock up the true evil bastards who are totally f__king up our communities.

Click here for a glimpse of pure EVIL.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Abramoff Probe May Threaten Leading Republicans as It Expands

Sept. 22 (Bloomberg) --

The widening investigation of lobbyist Jack Abramoff is moving beyond the confines of tawdry influence-peddling to threaten leading figures in the Republican hierarchy that dominates Washington.

This week's arrest of David Safavian, the former head of procurement at the Office of Management and Budget, in connection with a land deal involving Abramoff brings the probe to the White House for the first time.

Safavian once worked with Abramoff at one lobbying firm and was a partner of Grover Norquist, a national Republican strategist with close ties to the White House, at another. Safavian traveled to Scotland in 2002 with Abramoff, Representative Robert Ney of Ohio and another top Republican organizer, Ralph Reed, southeast regional head of President George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who once called Abramoff ``one of my closest and dearest friends,'' already figures prominently in the investigation of the lobbyist's links to Republicans. The probe may singe other lawmakers with ties to Abramoff, such as Republican Senator Conrad Burns of Montana, as well as Ney.

``These people all shared transactions together,'' said former House Democratic counsel Stan Brand, now a partner in the Washington-based Brand Law Group. ``That's always something that worries defense lawyers.''

Nervous Republicans

Some Republicans acknowledge they are nervous. ``Sure there's a concern,'' said former Representative Jack Quinn of New York, who's now president of Cassidy & Associates, a Washington lobbying firm. ``But like everyone else, we have to wait and see where the investigation goes.''

Abramoff, 46, a top fund-raiser for Bush's re-election campaign, is under investigation by a government task force consisting of the Justice Department's public integrity section, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and the Interior Department's inspector general. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee is conducting another inquiry.

Safavian, 38, who in the 1990s worked with Abramoff at the Washington-based lobbying firm of Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds, was charged Sept. 19 by the Justice Department with making false statements about whether he had any dealings with the lobbyist in the course of Abramoff's attempts to obtain government land. He was also charged with obstructing an investigation. His lawyer, Barbara Van Gelder, told the Washington Post he would vigorously contest the charges.

Safavian took the Scotland trip three years ago aboard a chartered jet. Abramoff was paying for the plane, Safavian said in an e-mail to the ethics office of his employer at the time, the U.S. General Services Administration.

Abramoff's Network

Abramoff's web of connections runs deep in the Republican Party. DeLay, 58, has participated in at least three overseas trips he sponsored; Democrats have demanded that the House ethics committee investigate whether DeLay violated House rules prohibiting lawmakers from accepting trips financed by lobbyists.

One of those trips was to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory. DeLay has opposed legislation requiring the Marianas to follow U.S. minimum wage and labor laws. Abramoff was lobbying for the Marianas at the time.

Two former DeLay aides, spokesman Michael Scanlon and deputy chief of staff William Jarrell, worked with Abramoff. Jarrell later was part of Bush's transition team focusing on the Interior Department, the parent agency for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, at a time when Abramoff was representing casino-owning tribes. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee is investigating Abramoff's and Scanlon's work for the tribes.

Diverted Funds

Abramoff diverted funds paid to him by Indian tribe clients that were supposed to be used on lobbying activities to a variety of personal projects, according to testimony and e-mails released at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing. The personal projects ranged from an Orthodox Jewish academy to an Israeli sniper school; some money also went to pay off a personal debt, according to the testimony and e-mails.

Abramoff and Scanlon took in more than $66 million in fees from 2001 to 2004 from tribal clients, according to Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who chairs the Indian affairs panel. In one e-mail released by the Senate committee, Abramoff wrote to Scanlon, ``I have to meet with the monkeys from the Choctaw tribal counsel.''

Abramoff also has a relationship with Ney, the Ohio congressman. Ney's former chief of staff, Neil Volz, worked with Abramoff at the Miami-based law firm of Greenberg Traurig LLP.

Reopening a Casino

Ney, 51, in 2002 agreed to insert language in federal legislation to allow an Abramoff client, the Tigua Indians of El Paso, Texas, to reopen a casino closed by state authorities. The provision didn't make it into the final measure.

In 2000, Ney placed two statements in the Congressional Record in support of Abramoff's purchase of SunCruz Casino Ltd., a casino ship company. Abramoff was indicted by a federal grand jury in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in August on wire fraud charges in connection with the purchase.

Burns, 70, who is up for re-election in 2006, has been the subject of an advertising campaign by the Montana Democratic Party criticizing him for receiving $136,500 in donations from Indian tribe clients of Abramoff and Scanlon from 2001 to 2004. Burns in 2003 pushed for a wealthy Michigan Indian tribe, one of Abramoff's clients, to receive a $3 million federal grant.
Two former aides of Burns, Will Brooke and Shawn Vasell, went to work with Abramoff at Greenberg Traurig.
Burns spokesman Grant Toomey said the request for the grant came from the Michigan congressional delegation.

An Offer to Meet

Ney spokesman Brian Walsh said, ``The congressman has sent two letters to the House ethics committee as far back as last year offering to meet with them. To date, there has been no response.'' Walsh said there have been no inquiries from the Justice Department ``on any matter related to Mr. Abramoff.''

DeLay spokesman Kevin Madden said the majority leader has asked the ethics committee ``to look into everything in order to exonerate him.''

Norquist declined through a spokesman to comment. Reed didn't respond to a request for comment.

Ed Patru, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Abramoff won't be an issue in next year's mid-term congressional elections. ``No member of Congress has ever been kicked out of office because of an allegation against another member or another lobbyist,'' Patru said. ``Democrats are trying to nationalize the 2006 elections. Their approach has been to throw everything up against the wall and hope something sticks.''

Gambling in Alabama

Abramoff's links to the party go beyond lawmakers. He worked with Reed, a former director of the Republican-oriented Christian Coalition, and Norquist to kill an effort to bring legalized gambling to Alabama.

At Abramoff's behest, one of his tribal clients, whose casino could have been hurt by the competition, sent money to Norquist's anti-tax group, Americans for Tax Reform, which in turn wrote a check to help Reed's effort.

One of Norquist's former partners in another venture was Safavian. The two men worked at Janus-Merritt Strategies LLC, a Washington lobbying firm that was later sold to a Richmond, Virginia-based law firm, Williams Mullen.

``Safavian is a small fish, but in combination with Abramoff and his ties to Norquist and DeLay, it presents a very inviting target to Democrats,'' said Ross Baker, a political scientist who studies congressional politics at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Safavian was one of three former Abramoff associates who joined the Bush administration. Another was Patrick Pizzella, assistant secretary of labor for administration and management. The third was Susan Ralston, special assistant to White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Jonathan D. Salant in Washington
Last Updated: September 22, 2005 00:05 EDT

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Getting caught up

It just doesn’t seem like it is ever going to happen.

In addition to the daily promises I make to myself regarding housekeeping, repair and improvement, I have had an unusual number of commitments to my extended family, some of which I have been unable to keep on schedule. It isn’t often that my friends and family call on me for help, so don’t take this as a complaint…it isn’t.

The result of my diverted attention is a routine that has become nonexistent for the time being. Not only am I neglecting my blog writing, I am also neglecting my blog reading and personal writing, which really bites a big one. I have long depended on Katharine, Mr. Natural, and Karlo to get my day started with an intellectual and informative twist, and I have really missed that these past couple weeks. Hopefully, the black holes in my gray matter will self repair when I resume some type of routine.
In the meantime, I will continue to listen to Air America Radio and hope for the best.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Liberal humor from a Conservative friend







Thursday, September 15, 2005

Pissing into a swirling wind

Right-Wing Myths About Katrina, Debunked
There are a lot of right-wing myths about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. ThinkProgress has created this guide to help you set the record straight.

(My Comments)

It breaks my heart that I am getting e-mail (from some of the people whom I care for very much) that depicts the stranded school buses in New Orleans after Katrina struck and the levees failed. These indicate that Mayor Nagin should have used the inoperable vehicles to transport the poor and infirm out of the affected area.

Now the same people are sending me talking points about how the blame should be assigned to the local officials of the storm ravaged area. I am beyond shaking my head at this point…I am full of wonder that intelligent people will pass on this type of e-mail without doing a lick of research before hand.

In the hope that some will take the initiative to click on the link above, and read the material with an open mind…I hereby promise to throw water on any politician that happens to burst into flame in my proximity with an equal sense of urgency to that recently displayed by FEMA in the Gulf Coast region.

Monday, September 12, 2005

From The Democratic Underground

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots (No. 213)
September 12, 2005What didn't go right? Edition

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Clueless George wants to know "What didn't go right?" The list of screw-ups is too long to list in one place, but we've got ten of 'em right here. At the top of the list we've got George W. Bush (1) himself, who messed everything up, but somehow (as usual) doesn't seem to realize it. FEMA (2) and its director Michael Brown (3) are also here, as their incompetence equaled that of Dubya himself. Barbara Bush (4) said something royally stupid, and Dick Cheney (5) went mansion shopping. And once again, the "blame America first" crowd (10) turns out to be conservative. Enjoy (if you can) and don't forget the key!

George W. Bush The last two weeks have been pretty rough on poor old Dubya. Apparently his mythical crisis-management skills, honed during the aftermath of 9/11, have turned out to be just a myth (see cartoon here), as he and his administration completely bungled the relief effort. But apparently no one told Bush, as this cringe-inducing discussion with House Minority Leader

Nancy Pelosi illustrates:

Pelosi: Tells Bush to fire FEMA director Michael Brown

Bush: "Why would I do that?"

Pelosi: "Because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right last week."

Bush: "What didn't go right?"

Mind you, this is the President of the United States, who is supposed to be the most powerful man on earth, with access to the greatest intelligence-gathering infrastructure ever created -- but somehow he doesn't know what went wrong. If I were Nancy Pelosi, I would have punched Bush right in the smirk right there. (Which, incidentally, is pretty much what Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu threatened to do. Oh, man, I would pay good money to see that.) Of course, it was obvious to everyone who wasn't the President of the United States that damn near everything didn't go right. All I can figure is that Bush's advisors have been so successful in keeping him in his hermetically sealed cocoon that he actually isn't aware of the massive human tragedy. Or else he doesn't give a shit, which is also possible. All he knows is that everything went swell when they had 50 firefighters flown in from Atlanta for that presidential photo op. And the other photo op with the two black ladies was great too, except for that whole having to interact with black people part. And he really showed a lot of compassion when he learned that his friend Trent Lott had lost his house in the storm. Said Bush: "Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house ... there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch."

CLICK HERE for the rest of the top ten

Thursday, September 08, 2005

A Letter From Move On

Dear MoveOn member,

It has been a week since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, leveled New Orleans and left hundreds of thousands of Americans homeless. We saw the best of America during that time—millions of people stepped forward to offer help. Meanwhile, the Bush administration failed at their most important job: keeping America safe. The federal effort was too little, too late and it is now becoming obvious that hundreds or even thousands of people died as a result.

Then, starting Friday, in a Karl Rove-led campaign, the White House started to blame state and local officials and even the victims who were stranded without transportation when the Hurricane arrived.

Sign our petition demanding that the Bush administration stop blaming victims, including state and local officials, and focus on helping them.

We'll begin to deliver the earliest signatures to the White House tomorrow, Thursday, when a delegation of MoveOn members from New Orleans, who are now homeless and will come to Washington and join other MoveOn members outside the White House at a petition delivery and protest. The petition is one important way to demonstrate that the public wants more action to help hurricane victims and is getting angry about this blame-shifting game the Bush administration is playing.

It is important that the Bush administration not get away with shifting their responsibility to local officials. Here is what actually happened.


Friday, Aug. 26: Gov. Kathleen Blanco declares a state of emergency in Louisiana and requests troop assistance.

Saturday, Aug. 27: Gov. Blanco asks for federal state of emergency. A federal emergency is declared giving federal officials the authority to get involved.

Sunday, Aug. 28: Mayor Ray Nagin orders mandatory evacuation of New Orleans. President Bush warned of Levee failure by National Hurricane Center. National Weather Service predicts area will be "uninhabitable" after Hurricane arrives. First reports of water toppling over the levee appear in local paper.

Monday, Aug. 29: Levee breaches and New Orleans begins to fill with water, Bush travels to Arizona and California to discuss Medicare. FEMA chief finally responds to federal emergency, dispatching employees but giving them two days to arrive on site.

Tuesday, Aug. 30: Mass looting reported, security shortage cited in New Orleans. Pentagon says that local authorities have adequate National Guard units to handle hurricane needs despite governor's earlier request. Bush returns to Crawford for final day of vacation. TV coverage is around-the-clock Hurricane news.

Wednesday, Aug. 31: Tens of thousands trapped in New Orleans including at Convention Center and Superdome in "medieval" conditions. President Bush finally returns to Washington to establish a task force to coordinate federal response. Local authorities run out of food and water supplies.

Thursday, Sept. 1: New Orleans descends into anarchy. New Orleans Mayor issues a "Desperate SOS" to federal government. Bush claims nobody predicted the breach of the levees despite multiple warnings and his earlier briefing.

Friday, Sept. 2: Karl Rove begins Bush administration campaign to blame state and local officials—despite their repeated requests for help. Bush stages a photo-op—diverting Coast Guard helicopters and crew to act as backdrop for cameras. Levee repair work orchestrated for president's visit and White House press corps.

Saturday, Sept. 3: Bush blames state and local officials. Senior administration official (possibly Rove) caught in a lie claiming Gov. Blanco had not declared a state of emergency or asked for help.

Monday, Sept. 5: New Orleans officials begin to collect their dead.

(Adapted from: Katrina Timeline, )

Those are the facts. State and local officials BEGGED for help as people in their city suffered. The Bush administration didn't get the job done and when their failure became an embarrassment they attacked those asking for help.

The New York Times reported on Friday that Karl Rove and White House communications director Dan Bartlett "rolled out a contain the political damage from the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina." The core of the strategy is "to shift the blame away from the White House and toward officials of New Orleans and Louisiana."

This is the same pattern of smearing that the Bush political machine has used for a decade. John McCain and John Kerry had their war records smeared. The CIA cover of Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife was blown after he criticized the Bush Iraq policy. Now, Hurricane victims are attacked when the Bush administration failed to do their duty to help them.

It isn't just the Bush administration. Republican Senator Rick Santorum blamed victims in a TV interview and House Speaker Dennis Hastert suggested New Orleans should not be rebuilt.

We can't let them get away with this. Please sign our petition today and do your part.

This is just the first step. We need to continue to help those in need directly and make sure our government does their job. There will be a time to figure out who specifically to blame and what to change. In the meantime, the Bush administration needs to get to work helping those in need.

Thanks for all you do,
–Tom, Tanya, Joan, Jennifer and the Political Action Team Wednesday, September 7th, 2005

P.S. Check out these links for more on the Hurricane relief efforts.

Katrina Timeline,

Editorial: No time for turf wars.
The Times-Picayune, September 7, 2005.

Editorial blasts federal response. CNN, September 4, 2005.

The big disconnect on New Orleans. CNN, September 2, 2005.

PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG POLITICAL ACTIONNot authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Eloquent Comments

The following is an excerpt from a post by Shakespeare’s Sister. I find it absolutely eloquent:

There are those now calling for Bush’s impeachment. Fuck impeachment. The whole lot of them—every last conservative ideologue who has advocated “starving the beast,” every last one of those selfish, soulless, anti-American bastards—ought to be rounded up and sent to the Superdome to live in the river of shit and piss until every single refugee has been provided safe sanctuary and a warm meal. Then Bush and his gang of cretins can clean up the trail of scattered corpses. Let the blood that belongs on their hands be a literal lesson for these pitiless pieces of human refuse. It’s long overdue.

Mr. Natural at Left Edge North has posted an excellent round-up of more eloquent comments put together by Shakespeare’s Sister.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Changing Plans

For a variety of reasons, I decided to cancel a planned trip to Eastern Washington with a couple of my fishing friends over the Labor Day Week-end. This trip was to be a combination of trout fishing, visiting distant friends, and hanging out at the property … one of my all-time favorite things to do in these wind-down years.

Instead of traveling, I am going to spend the week-end going through my belongings to sort out the useable items (especially clothing) that are in good shape, but no longer as useful to me as they will be to someone currently doing without because of Hurricane Katrina. By the end of the week-end, I expect to have a donation set aside that I can be proud of.

I am not currently in a position to donate cash, but I will be in a few months…so I am trying to figure out exactly when and how much I will be able to tithe to my less fortunate Brothers and Sisters each month. I know that tithing is usually done through the Church a person chooses to attend, but too many Churches support Ministerial Enterprise that touches the few rather than the many, so my tithing will be done through the Red Cross, Salvation Army, or one of the Medical Mercy Organizations (Mercy Corps) that are operated through and by the doctors dedicated to bringing health and hope to the poverty stricken of the world.

Another thing I intend to do in the future (not so distant) is put together ten to twenty kits that contain batteries, flashlights, small propane canisters, toiletries, bottled water, and other survival items as I can afford to do so, and let my Family, friends and neighbors know how to access them if the need should arise. It is hard to envision a situation as dire as that taking place in New Orleans ever happening in my community, but I can easily see the wisdom of being better prepared than I am now. It is also easy to see the wisdom of putting extra items aside for those who are unable…or just don’t do so.

I am thankful that my change of plans is due to choice rather than necessity, and my thoughts and prayers are with those suffering the tragedy of Katrina.

Gooood Morning U. S. A.

I wonder how many pre-holiday-week-end incidents, events, and catastrophies have caused the rise of gasoline prices over the past thirty-five years...

Friday, September 02, 2005

Absolutely Useless

If integrity were gasoline, these people wouldn't have enough to prime a piss ant's motor scooter downhill.

Absolutely Senseless

This situation is absolutely senseless.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Who could have known?

"No One Can Say they Didn't See it Coming"

(Excerpt) Read the entire article

The Bush administration's policy of turning over wetlands to developers almost certainly also contributed to the heightened level of the storm surge. In 1990, a federal task force began restoring lost wetlands surrounding New Orleans. Every two miles of wetland between the Crescent City and the Gulf reduces a surge by half a foot. Bush had promised "no net loss" of wetlands, a policy launched by his father's administration and bolstered by President Clinton. But he reversed his approach in 2003, unleashing the developers. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency then announced they could no longer protect wetlands unless they were somehow related to interstate commerce.

In response to this potential crisis, four leading environmental groups conducted a joint expert study, concluding in 2004 that without wetlands protection New Orleans could be devastated by an ordinary, much less a Category 4 or 5, hurricane. "There's no way to describe how mindless a policy that is when it comes to wetlands protection," said one of the report's authors. The chairman of the White House's Council on Environmental Quality dismissed the study as "highly questionable," and boasted, "Everybody loves what we're doing."

"My administration's climate change policy will be science based," President Bush declared in June 2001. But in 2002, when the Environmental Protection Agency submitted a study on global warming to the United Nations reflecting its expert research, Bush derided it as "a report put out by a bureaucracy," and excised the climate change assessment from the agency's annual report. The next year, when the EPA issued its first comprehensive "Report on the Environment," stating, "Climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment," the White House simply demanded removal of the line and all similar conclusions. At the G-8 meeting in Scotland this year, Bush successfully stymied any common action on global warming. Scientists, meanwhile, have continued to accumulate impressive data on the rising temperature of the oceans, which has produced more severe hurricanes.

In February 2004, 60 of the nation's leading scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, warned in a statement, "Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policymaking": "Successful application of science has played a large part in the policies that have made the United States of America the world's most powerful nation and its citizens increasingly prosperous and healthy ... Indeed, this principle has long been adhered to by presidents and administrations of both parties in forming and implementing policies. The administration of George W. Bush has, however, disregarded this principle ... The distortion of scientific knowledge for partisan political ends must cease." Bush completely ignored this statement.

In the two weeks preceding the storm in the Gulf, the trumping of science by ideology and expertise by special interests accelerated. The Federal Drug Administration announced that it was postponing sale of the morning-after contraceptive pill, despite overwhelming scientific evidence of its safety and its approval by the FDA's scientific advisory board. The United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa accused the Bush administration of responsibility for a condom shortage in Uganda -- the result of the administration's evangelical Christian agenda of "abstinence." When the chief of the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the Justice Department was ordered by the White House to delete its study that African-Americans and other minorities are subject to racial profiling in police traffic stops and he refused to buckle under, he was forced out of his job. When the Army Corps of Engineers' chief contracting oversight analyst objected to a $7 billion no-bid contract awarded for work in Iraq to Halliburton (the firm at which Vice President Cheney was formerly CEO), she was demoted despite her superior professional ratings. At the National Park Service, a former Cheney aide, a political appointee lacking professional background, drew up a plan to overturn past environmental practices and prohibit any mention of evolution while allowing sale of religious materials through the Park Service.

On the day the levees burst in New Orleans, Bush delivered a speech in Colorado comparing the Iraq war to World War II and himself to Franklin D. Roosevelt: "And he knew that the best way to bring peace and stability to the region was by bringing freedom to Japan." Bush had boarded his very own "Streetcar Named Desire."

Confidence in Bush down to single digits

Bush's Role in the New Orleans Disaster

(Excerpt) Read the entire atricle

Days after Hurricane Katrina hit shore and became the worst natural disaster in American history, questions are being raised about how much of the death and destruction was avoidable and, more important, what effect did Bush Administration policy and budget cuts have in contributing to this Southern nightmare. The answer is, plenty. New Orleans has always been vulnerable to potentially devastating flooding and damage from a direct hurricane hit. Since the 1960's, the federal government has worked with local governments to bolster precautionary measures as well as relief efforts. In 1995, after a huge rainstorm that killed several people, Congress enacted the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA, and appointed the Army Corps of Engineers to oversee the task of fixing the area's hurricane protection levees and to build pumping stations. We now know that it was the breach of three levees, caused by the overflowing Lake Ponchartrain, that has caused the most death and destruction this week, one day after the hurricane itself appeared to spare the city the worst of the storm's impact. What's infuriating is that the levee repair projects were adequately funded until recently, when President Bush wrote out of his 2004 budget most of the spending which the Corps had been receiving. Further, Bush ignored desperate pleas by Corps officials for the additional funding it said was urgently needed to properly protect the city from the kind of horrific chaos that Katrina has now brought. And the reason for the cuts? The cost of the war--the unjustified, unnecessary, 1000% elective, makes-me-mad-as-hell war--in Iraq was spiraling out of control, and the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans took much needed revenue out of the Fed's coffers. Simply, Bush needed the dough to feed his neo-con macho war fantasy, as well as fatten the already swollen wallets of his rich Republican constituents. So, screw the poor and screw the vulnerable down in N'Orleans. The levees project was not completed, and they were never fully raised to levels that could adequately protect the city from a ruthless beast like Katrina. And from his 2005 budget, Bush cut all funding for the repair project as well as funding for much-needed research studies to determine better methods for safeguarding the area and minimizing future destruction from major hurricanes.