Friday, September 30, 2005

Tom, Tom,'ve been a bad boy !

Tom Delay (R-TX), has been ordered to appear in a Texas courtroom on October 21st to face the conspiracy charge that has forced him to step down as House Majority Leader.
DeLay was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee.

The indictment in part states;

"The defendants entered into an agreement with each other or with TRMPAC (Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee) to make a political contribution in violation of the Texas election code," ………. "The contribution was made directly to the Republican National Committee within 60 days of a general election."

So why you may ask is Tom DeLay being indicted ? Well, TRMPAC is a PAC that was organized or established if you will , by Tom DeLay. Therefore, the indictment accused DeLay of a conspiracy to "knowingly make a political contribution" in violation of Texas law outlawing corporate contributions.

The charge relates to campaign finance improprieties regarding monies given by corporate donors. In simple terms, it is alleged that Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC) accepted donations from multiple corporate donors. TRMPAC turned around and allegedly gave this money to an arm of the RNC and gave the RNC a list of names of Texas State House candidates and the amounts that each was supposed to in turn receive in donations from the RNC.

In his defense, DeLay has declared that he is innocent of the charge filed against him and that it is the result of “an act of blatant political partisanship”. Essentially he seems to be saying that this is a “witchhunt”

This is not Tom DeLay’s first brush with allegedly illegal or questionable activities. After reading through the following list you will ask yourself (if you have an open mind…) ‘Why is this guy still in office?”

December 2000
Article- NY Times : “DeLay Tries to Intimidate Supreme Court Judges to Fix Election Outcome”

Washington Post: Photo of Florida rioters that showed among others, member(s) of DeLays staff. These people were rioting in Florida in order to disrupt the Presidential Election Recount. Some of these rioters had their trips financed by DeLay.

April 2001
DeLay 'sells' meetings with President Bush to very high level GOP donors

July 2001
Article- Washington Post: DeLay wants to allow undisclosed use of pesticides in Elementary Schools

DeLay helps Speaker of the House Hastert in a republican push to block the Patient’s Bill of Rights.

January 2002
Discovery that DeLay used Enron money to fund political activities

February 2002
DeLay fights Campaign Finance Reform measure

DeLay refuses to return money to Enron employees

April 2002
Article- Washington Post: DeLay claims that only Christians know what is 'best' for the nation

May 2003
It is alledged that DeLay utilized Homeland Security and State Police resources to spy on and harass political opponents

July 2003
DeLay blocks efforts to restore tax cuts to poor families left out of the Bush Tax Plan

August 2003
DeLay ridicules and blocks Democratic attempts to upgrade the nations electrical grid that would prevent blackouts similar to those that plagued the northeast.

October 2003
A memo is found that gives proof of DeLay’s involvement with Enron executives

November 2003
Subpoenae issued to DeLay to appear as a witness in a lawsuit that seeks to overturn a congressional redistricting map that DeLay had previously helped get passed in the Texas legislature.

OK that is enough for now, my fingers hurt from typing that much !! Thanks to the DNC, various news organizations, and other political organizations for supportive information.

MSNBC reported on the results of a recent poll which showed that 28% of respondents thought that the indictment was the result of "political opponents trying to embarrass" Mr. DeLay. Sorry, but he doesn't need any help being embarrassed, he has done enough all by himself.

So, do we need continue?

This indictment is causing conservatives to say, “why such a big deal over something that has absolutely no effect on how Tom DeLay governs?”

Hmmmmm…. Let me think, I believe that liberals were also saying the same thing about the fuss that was made over Monica Lewinsky. So what is the difference? (Don’t tell me that it’s a moral difference, cause frankly that’s crap..)

If one had no bearing on an ability to govern then neither does the other.

By that same train of thought, if we as a nation condemned one, then we should by all means and with unchecked speed, condemn the other as well.

George Ryan, Part 2

Part 2

The main prosecution lawyer, in his opening, called Warner, Ryan’s co-defendant, "George Ryan's fixer," alleging that as secretary of state, Ryan gave his friend "the keys to the state government kingdom" and knowingly allowed him to shake down vendors for kickbacks. In return, Warner provided a $145,000 loan to shore up a business co-owned by Ryan's brother, helped repair flood damage at the home of a Ryan relative and even paid for the band at the wedding of a Ryan daughter. (Everybody Polka!)

Warner's attorney, Terence Gillespie, scoffed that his client wasn't a "cartoon character called Fixer" and instead described Warner as an opportunistic (Come on now, is that word really that much better?) businessman who pursued lucrative but legitimate state business. The attorney went on to say that the alleged kickbacks to the former governor were nothing more than gifts from a longtime friend. (Yeah, right, whatever.) "He followed the American dream, not some secret, dark conspiracy," Gillespie added. (Yes, it’s an American dream if you do it within the parameters of the law and NOT step on people while doing it…wait a minute…that IS the American way, isn’t it? Never mind.)

But Fardon, the prosecution attorney, insisted that even before Ryan took office as secretary of state in 1991, he and Warner were plotting to fleece the agency along with companies that wanted its business.

After a lobbyist warned Ryan of the shakedowns by Warner and others, Ryan tried to blame that lobbyist for misunderstanding. Ryan consistently "used the power entrusted to him by the taxpayers of Illinois to unfairly dole out taxpayer money to a chosen few of his friends and associates," Fardon said.

Essentially, Warner and others "took care" of Ryan, who rarely withdrew money from his personal bank account while in office but was known to carry fat wads of cash with him wherever he went. “With all the corrupt dollars flying around, George Ryan lived large," Fardon said, adding "This is not a case about unsophisticated defendants who stand out in the open under crystal blue skies and hand each other cash.”Another Ryan friend, Springfield lobbyist Ron Swanson, also benefited in the scheme, Fardon said. After he was elected governor, Ryan appointed Swanson to a $5,000-a-month no-show job as a lobbyist for the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (McPier – which operates Chicago’s McCormick Place and Navy Pier).

On Thursday, Ryan’s former Chief of Staff, Scott Fawell, took the stand for the prosecution. The odd thing about Fawell is that his smirky, too-cool-for-school, wise-ass, frat boy act (if indeed it is an act) comes off as truthful and honest.

True, Fawell is a politician that, in all essence, exemplifies a lot of what’s wrong with Illinois politics.

Is he a bad guy? Sure. He was yanked out of federal prison by prosecutors so he could testify against his former employer, George Ryan. Who was also his friend and mentor. Fawell also made it abundantly clear in the first hours of testimony that he’s a reluctant witness, a very, very reluctant witness, stating "you guys have my head in a vice, basically." (Better that than having his head in some other place in prison – don’t bend over for the soap)

Everything about Fawell’s performance suggests that Fawell is a straight shooter, even while he repeatedly slips in cocky and jovial asides, some of the best I have read are:

- "We beat Quinn like a tom-tom," he said, after Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Collins asked about his role in an early Ryan campaign against current Illinois Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn.

- "I was looking at the high-tech system you have here (in the courtroom), I didn’t have that for my trial."

He swiped at political consultant Paul Lis, labeling him “a loudmouth, pompous ass". He attacked the media, stating, "They’re not the brightest bulbs." He even spoke ill of the prosecutors when asked if he had strong negative views of the U.S. Attorney’s office, Fawell said "that would be putting it mildly."

Nice. Sounds like someone who, were it your child, you would smack upside the head. But this is not a child, this is, supposedly, an adult.

Fawell’s attitude is not the attitude one might expect from someone who was betraying an old friend to serve his own selfish interests, though that is what he is doing. He is the key witness in a trial that could do one of two things.

- Severely damage Illinois politics and send it back a dozen years or so
- Totally realign the state and alter not only the way we allow politicians to act in this state, but also the way we choose our politicians.

You’re asking yourself, really? Probably not, at best, this will decide if a seventy-something father and grandfather is going to serve any prison time.

Ask yourself this question; if George Ryan is found guilty and sent to prison, will it have any effect on how Illinois and National politicians act? I answer cryptically… we still have a Tom DeLay and Stephen Frist in politics, so what do you think?

Illinois' own Georgie-boy

Due to the length of this column, it will be broken out into two, or possibly three parts, I haven’t decided yet…when I know, you’ll know.

Part 1 of 3 (or I could go the Douglas Adams route and do a 4-part Trilogy…ok, only a quarter of the people reading this entry got that joke, but that’s ok, they are the smarter, liberal ones anyway)

While my esteemed colleague has decided to write about Rep. Tom DeLay’s indictment, I’ve decided to write about another Republican, who some of you may know –even if you live outside of Illinois. I am talking about former Illinois governor, George Ryan. Today’s entry will focus on the defense and it’s position/view. The second will focus on the prosecution’s case, and part three will explore Ryan and his relationships with his ‘inner circle’. Exciting? Maybe. A must-read? Sure.

(Now, I am a Liberal, which I am fairly sure all of you reading this blog knew. I am also a registered Democrat. But, when Ryan ran for Governor years ago, and I want you all to know I could be excommunicated from my family AND this blog for telling you this, I voted for him…yes, me, the conservative-chasing, GOP ‘making-fun-of,' liberal. I just thought he would do a better job than the democratic nominee…I was wrong. VERY wrong. And I regret it to this day)

Ryan and a co-defendant, Lawrence Warner, are charged in a 22-count indictment with racketeering, mail and tax fraud and making false statements (a politician making false statements? Well – I am shocked and appalled.)

(For years, since Ryan left office people have been asking, is he a scheming politician who used his position to help himself and his friends? Or is he, as his defense attorney contends, an overly trusting friend who was unaware of the criminal activity sometimes occurring around him? So unaware that it was happening right under his nose)

Ryan strode into court with the same confidence and poise he exhibited as governor. He greeted the packed gallery of spectators with warm hellos and handshakes before taking his seat at the defense table.

During opening statements, the prosecutor portrayed Ryan as a politician who betrayed the publics trust by doling out a slew of state contracts and leases to friends who rewarded Ryan and his family with gifts, vacations and money. (A politician taking kickbacks and gifts in return for political favors? Again, I am shocked and appalled!)

The defense portrayed Ryan as a simple (their word – not mine) family man who never took a corrupt nickel in his political life (a politician who NEVER took a corrupt nickel? Now that I cannot believe).

Dan Webb, Ryan's chief lawyer, pounded away at the perceived Achilles' heel of the government's case, telling jurors that "not a single, solitary witness" will testify that Ryan ever pocketed a corrupt dollar while in office.

The trial--the first of a former governor in Illinois in three decades--opened in a courtroom packed with spectators and reporters, many of who waited more than 1 1/2 hours to get a seat. (Much like the Michael Jackson trial…though that one featured someone who can be classified as “flamboyant”, to put it nicely. Ryan on the other hand, looks, and is, somebody’s grandpa. Granted, he’s a grandpa who is on trial and could be forced to go to prison, but a grandpa all the same.)

One thing that is becoming clear in the early days of the trial is the fact that this case is shaping up to be the hardest fought trial in Illinois’ Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in years. So much in fact that after the jury had been sent home for the day, lawyers from both sides over concerns about the testimony of the government's first star witness, Ryan's former right-hand man, Scott Fawell.Webb pushed five major themes in his opening statement:

1 . That no witness would implicate Ryan in corrupt payoffs. (We’ll see about this one, I think the state may have a ‘secret weapon’, read: a surprise witness, waiting in the wings)

2. The state wasn't cheated in the contract and lease deals. (Again, we’ll see…)

3. Ryan's financial status belies a life of corruption. (This one may cause the prosecution the largest problem. Mr. Ryan lives, and was born, in the town I currently live in, so I have seen him around town and he goes to my church. His house is not huge, he doesn’t have big, expensive cars, and he doesn’t, necessarily, dress like he has a lot of money. My problem with that argument though is that he is a smart man and has a sharp political mind and would know better to not flaunt that type of financial status in order to not create a look of impropriety) Webb has stated that his modest lifestyle (he has lived with wife, Lura Lynn, in the same house for 40 years and owns no stocks or vacation home) isn't the picture of a corrupt politician "taking money hand over fist," Webb said. However, the prosecution stated that Ryan always carried a wad of cash, even though he rarely withdrew money from his banking account. (ala William Gibson: Verrrryyyyy interesting….)

4. Key government witnesses have major credibility problems. (Who doesn’t when talking about a political trial? And that goes for both sides)

5. Helping out political supporters isn't a crime. (Not technically, and it’s done by almost every other politician in almost every other country – so that could derail the prosecutions case)

Ryan’s attorney also alleges that the government put enormous pressure on Fawell and other witnesses to implicate Ryan in wrongdoing, raising concerns that witnesses might slant or exaggerate their testimony as a result. (That, I do not believe would happen…do you?)Webb also displayed excerpts of newspaper accounts from the day of Fawell's sentencing. At that time, Fawell stated he wouldn't make up lies about Ryan to save his own skin. (Of course not, no one ever has or ever would say lies in order to save their own skin, right? [rolls eyes]) Webb continued on by saying that Fawell decided to cooperate in a bid to spare fiancĂ©e Alexandra Coutretsis, a former Fawell aide (with privileges…), a prison sentence.Fawell's only view out of his Terre Haute, Indiana prison cell was of the death chambers

(Do people really think this was a factor in Fawell’s decision? If so, are these people morons? He took bribes, kickbacks, gifts, etc., for helping certain people get jobs or contracts. It is NOT, especially in this country, something someone would be put to death for. If it were, there would be a LOT fewer politicians in this country right about now – and Tom DeLay, Karl Rove and Stephen Frist would all be sweating bullets. I am almost positive Fawell would have known that, If he didn’t, then the case is going to fall apart anyway because Fawell is too stupid live, much less lie)

Webb stated that he hopes to prove that the contracts and leases in question were not good old-fashioned political boondoggles, but were actually sound, legitimate deals that benefited the state and were awarded properly with input from others in the secretary of state's office.

Come back tomorrow for part 2...

Political Contemplation of the Day

“Politics is the entertainment industry for ugly people.”
– Mark Turpin

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

More words of wisdom?

"We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."

-Richard Baker (R-LA) to lobbyists, as quoted in the Wall Street Journal

Half-Baked Brownie

I thought about writing about Anna Nicole Smith and her impending visit to the US Supreme Court today, mainly because the situation would have allowed me to use the title: Ms. Smith Goes to Washington…(my deepest and sincerest apologies to Jimmy Stewart)

Decorum and knowledge won out though and I decided to write about something else…lucky you.

Michael Brown was in Washington DC yesterday, defending his and FEMA’s actions following Hurricane Katrina. Naturally, for someone as talented (cough –cough) and knowledgeable (cough-cough) as ‘Brownie’ played a rousing rendition of The Blame Game, admitting few errors of his own and laying most of the blame for the debacle of early relief efforts on local officials in Louisiana.

His testimony can best be described as…






No, I got it...his testimony was that of a 5 year old.

Brownie, as I will now be calling him, stated several times that the federal government is not "a first responder" to such disasters and waved off any suggestions that the federal government should assist with gasoline supplies for mass evacuations.

(I’m sorry, what? If you look at FEMA’s website it states “Helping People Before, During and After Disasters.” They even have a section of their website devoted to their first responders unit. The site states that the agency is tasked with responding to, planning for, recovering from and mitigating against disasters. Apparently Brownie cannot read)

At another point in his testimony, Brownie stated that FEMA should end its practice of providing ice for disaster evacuees. (I… I don’t know what to say to that, I just, I. …Schmuck…)

Brownie laid much of the blame on Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, (who, it should be noted, are both Democrats – but this isn’t a partisan issue, right?) saying his "biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday [two days before the storm roared ashore] that Louisiana was dysfunctional." (Two words Brownie – Glass Houses…)

But Brown's attempt to shift blame was met with derision from Republicans and Democrats alike on the Republican-controlled House panel investigating the federal, state and local responses (or lack thereof) to the hurricane. And met with mockery from pundits, bloggers (like me) late-night talk show hosts and, well, anyone with a brain.

"I very strongly personally (huh?) regret that I was unable to persuade Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin to sit down, get over their differences, and work together. I just couldn't pull that off." (Yeah, well, shoving oats into their mouths, giving them a sugar cube and smacking their rumps probably wasn't the best way to do it.)

After Brownie was done blaming local and state officials, he decided to blame his bosses and the Federal government. He presented a picture of a federal disaster response system that had been hindered in recent years by funding shortfalls and a demoralized staff. He continued to state that he had privately warned administration officials well in advance of the hurricane that the agency was dangerously overstretched, but, The Department of Homeland Security (New Slogan: Now with Brighter and Richer Color in the Terror Alert Level Chart), FEMA's parent agency, rebuffed his efforts to fund improvements in the agency’s capabilities in New Orleans.

(These capabilities were identified as necessary in an exercise conducted about a year ago that simulated in quite a foreboding way, a scenario eerily prophetic of Katrina: that is, a catastrophic hurricane slamming into New Orleans that would breach the city's levees and flood many parishes.)

Brownie also stated that FEMA had lost 500 staff positions in recent years. And he said that the Homeland Security Department had diverted $30 million from money appropriated this year for FEMA and redirected it to other agencies. Homeland Security is unique among Cabinet departments in possessing authority to redirect congressional appropriations.

(Brownie's criticism of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's stewardship of his department was a rare departure in an administration that, for the most part, avoids public criticism of one official by another – so you know that Brownie is trying to distance himself from the rest of the Bush-League Administration.)

Another fascinating tidbit from the hearing? Brown's assertion that a late evacuation order placed lives at risk provoked a testy exchange with Mississippi Rep. Christopher Shays, who demanded to know what steps Brown took to bring additional resources to bear to assist the evacuation."So I guess you want me to be this superhero that is going to step in there and suddenly take everybody out of New Orleans," Brown said."No, what I wanted you to do was do your job of coordinating. And I want to know what you did to coordinate," Shays said.

After that, (with what I think was the best quote from one of the Representatives), Rep. Shay’s said: "That's why I'm happy you left, because that kind of, you know, look in the lights like a deer, tells me that you weren't capable to do the job.”

Evidently, he was not. And still isn’t. But, (and for this you gotta love politics) Brownie told lawmakers he is still being paid as a consultant to help FEMA assess what went wrong.

Ooookkkaaayyyyy. The person who dropped the ball, became the face of the government’s dropping of the ball, who was forced to resign, who was then brought to Washington DC and bad-mouthed the federal government and his own boss to US Congressmen, is still getting paid by FEMA… and probably at a higher rate than before…


Monday, September 26, 2005

"WOW, you sure got here quick!" or, "Hey what about us?"

The Gulf Coast was hit again this past weekend by another strong hurricane named Rita, and once again the people of this region were dealt another emotional and heartbreaking setback.

Thankfully, Rita hit landfall to the west of the area that was utterly devastated by Katrina. Even so, this did not spare New Orleans and the surrounding parishes from renewed flood waters that once again submerged the area and set-back the gains in rebuilding made in the weeks, since Katrina hit. However many areas in southeast Texas were flooded and now are also in need of a great deal of assistance.

Now, it is not this websites intention to make any lesser comparison of either of these terrible storms. But with journalistic curiosity we are forced to ask the question regarding the timing of the Presidents visits to each of the hard hit areas.

The government had advance notice of each storm, were aware of the potential massive devastation of each storm and had the opportunity to take quick action immediately following each. So why did the emergency response take almost a week for New Orleans and a matter of hours for the Gavelston area?

In the case of New Orleans, the federal governments right hand had no clue not only of what the left hand was doing, but was obviously unaware of the what the fingers on each hand were doing as well.

Now you may attribute this to the myriad of problems within FEMA under the leadership of former Director Michael Brown. You can also attribute this to a confusion of responsibilities between the local, state and federal officials.

But how do you explain the timing of the Presidents visit to the areas following each storm?

We are sure that the White House was in a state of political panic upon learning that Hurricane Rita was in the gulf and heading towards Galveston and Houston.

Of course the President would want to go down right way and show his support for the people of his beloved home state. But the West Wing had to be burning the oil (and ordering a lot of late night take out ) trying to think how they could go so quickly to Texas when it took 5 days for the President to visit the area devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Think about it, Karl Rove had to realize that if he let his boss go to Texas right away people would say “Look how fast he got to Texas, see we were right, he didn’t go to visit New Orleans and Biloxi for reasons of race and politics”.

However if he tells the President to wait a few days like after Katrina, people will say “Where’s the President at the time of another catastrophe?, wow he really is that stupid, he just doesn’t get it”

Well, someone must have thought they had a ‘light bulb’ moment as they let the President go to the area on Sunday, not more than 24 hours after Rita made landfall. What was this moment of brilliance? To catch it you must go back to Saturday.

As Rita was battering the Texas/Louisiana border, the President was at NORAD in Colorado Springs being briefed on the progress of Rita. Following which he told reporters that the federal government was “well prepared and organized to deal with Hurricane Rita.”

Can you imagine the brain trust that came up with that! Of course the organization was well prepared and ready to go, they were approximately 350 miles away with first responders, trucks and supplies at the ready after the debacle of getting down there following Katrina.

The question to ask is, what if the storms paths had been reversed? What if Katrina had gone west and struck Galveston, would the response have been quicker and better orchestrated? After which the government would have been “well prepared and organized “ (and faster) to respond to New Orleans after then being struck by Rita?

Perhaps, but we will never know.

What we do know is that the President himself acknowledged “serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government.”

Nice…did he figure that one out all by himself, or did someone in the West Wing have another ‘light bulb’ moment…

A Not so Exclusive Club...

Welcome to the club, Senator Frist...

It's a big club, a (not so much anymore) exclusive club (Delay, Rove, etc.)

But it's a club that is welcoming you with open arms…and daggers at the ready.

The good Doctor is being accused of violating federal laws regarding his recent sale of stock in HCA Inc. (which just happens to be his family's hospital corporation). A nice snippet of the AP story is below in red…

Blind trusts are designed to keep an arm's-length distance between federal
officials and their investments, to avoid conflicts of interest. But documents
show that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist knew quite a bit about his accounts
from nearly two dozen letters from the trust administrators.

Frist, R-Tennessee, received regular updates of transfers of assets to
his blind trusts and sales of assets. He also was able to initiate a stock sale
of a hospital chain founded by his family with perfect timing. Shortly after the
sale this summer, the stock price dived.

A possible presidential contender in 2008, Frist now faces dual
investigations by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and
the Securities and Exchange Commission into his stock sales.

The sale has raised questions about possible insider dealing. Frist aides confirmed Friday that the SEC was investigating. I am sure we can expect some inane statement from Frist’s people stating that since he received approval from the ethics committee, one can look at it not as a "blind" trust, but as a "legally blind" trust.

(News of Bill Frist's ethics troubles – you know, his well-timed dumping of family stock and subsequent probes by both the Justice Department and the SEC -- on top of his base-alienating stem-cell position shift has us wondering: At what point do Republicans pull the feeding tube from his presidential ambitions?)

Now, let’s be honest, only a complete and utter fool would do what Frist did; selling stock in a supposed blind trust, essentially getting his hand caught *in* the cookie jar while everyone was looking.

(Everyone sing: Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar? – Bill did! – Not me! – Then Who?)

Now there is a question out there that I have seen on a few other political websites. Was Frist given bad advice by someone he has unconditional trust in? Think about it, no way is the man that stupid on his own. Yes, the man is a mental furball, but he is an educated mental furball and has some Common Sense (though I could be giving him WAY too much credit)

He knows the law and he knows the rules of the Senate.

Maybe he was set up??? And let’s be honest, that would make a very interesting theory. Maybe someone did talk him into being totally stupid long enough to expose himself to an investigation by the SEC and breach Senate ethics rules (but one has to ask, do those things even exist??? – Senate Ethics Rules. Sounds like an oxymoron to me – like jumbo-shrimp or bittersweet or free-love)

Even a theory that has no basis in realty has to be looked at (that explains the WMD-Iraq theory)

So let’s look at it.

Who is the one guy that Frist listens to?

Easy: Karl Rove.

Maybe Karl is trying to clear the slate for the preferred neo-con candidates in 2008, meaning he’s trying to get rid of the nuisance candidates like Dr. Senator Frist (or is it Senator Dr. Frist??)

Somewhere in Mississippi, you have to wonder if Trent Lott is wearing a smile from ear to ear…

This rampant run of ethical lapses in DC is running amok. It’s a raging amok running, and it has no signs of slowing down. In fact, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) took a look at the most corrupt members of Congress that need to have an eye kept on them. The list?

• Rep. Roy Blunt – Republican, Missouri 7th
• Sen. Conrad Burns – Republican - Montana (Is his middle name Montgomery? As in C. Montgomery Burns.
• Rep. Bob Ney - Republican, Ohio 18th
• Rep. Tom Feeney – Republican, Florida 24th
• Rep. Richard W. Pombo – Republican, California 11th
• Rep. Maxine Waters – Democrat, California 35th
• Sen. Rick Santorum – Republican, Pennsylvania
• Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham – Republican, California 50th
• Rep. William J. Jefferson – Democrat, Louisiana 2nd
• Rep. Charles H. Taylor – Republican, North Carolina 11th
• Rep. Marilyn N. Musgrave – Republican, Colorado 4th
• Rep. Rick Renzi – Republican, Arizona 1st

I’ll forgo pointing out the obvious that all but two are Republicans (though I just did that by saying I wasn’t going to say that, didn’t I? Strange how things work out, isn’t it?) and just leave you, the reader with this thought:

“People say I steal. Well, all politicians steal.” – Huey P. Long

Political Contemplation of the Day

“Man is, by nature, a political animal.”
– Aristotle

Sunday, September 25, 2005

I'm sorry, can you repeat that please

I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe -- I believe what I believe is right.

-George W. Bush

Saturday, September 24, 2005

An Early Holiday Present

Since my esteemed colleague wrote about WMD's and such today, I thought I would speak of the past and the near future about something that will adversely effect a lot of people in this country.

Next month, Christmas will be coming a tad early for credit card companies. Why? Because back in March of this year the Republican controlled congress passed the bankruptcy reform bill.

What will this bill be doing? Well, I'm glad you asked.

The bill would force middle-class workers to pay some of the debt they owe even after they go bankrupt. You could make a good case for this bill if it were narrowly focused on those who truly abuse bankruptcy laws (and there are those type of people out there)

Instead, the bill sweeps away protections for unworthy debtors AND worthy debtors alike. This will make it much tougher for those who fall on hard times to escape burdens they confront through little fault of their own.

What effect will this bill have on the average person? Well, half of all bankruptcies occur because of unexpected medical expenses, even when most filers had health insurance.

For example: under this bill, an honest family driven to bankruptcy by the increased costs of caring for an elderly parent with Alzheimer's disease is treated the same as someone who maxed out his credit cards at a casino (apparently to a Republican, those are two in the same)

No one benefits from this bill except credit card companies and other common creditors. Senator Edward "Don't Mention Chappaquiddick" Kennedy gave an excellent detail of the case months ago on the Senate floor. A portion of those comments are below. Take a gander...

"This is supposed to be a bill about spendthrifts, about people
who abuse the credit system and abuse the bankruptcy system. If that were really
what the bill was about, maybe there would be some reason for us to be here.

If this were a bill that dealt with the truly incredible
abuses of the bankruptcy system that we have seen in the Enron case, in the
Worldcom case, in the Adelphia case and the Polaroid case in my own state, then
maybe there would be a reason to be spending out time working on this bill. . .

This bill does nothing to protect those hard-working Americans
who did everything they could to stave off bankruptcy, but were left with no
other choice after exhausting their own resources. Yet this Republican bill
actually makes it more difficult for good citizens like these to get the fresh
start that the bankruptcy laws are intended to offer.

The idea of a 'fresh start' lies at the heart of our bankruptcy
law. In 1833, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, one of the great legal
scholars in our history, explained why. Bankruptcy laws, he said, were intended
to divide debtors' remaining assets among their creditors, when they could not
pay all their debts. But the purpose was also 'to relieve unfortunate and honest
debtors from perpetual bondage to their creditors." Bankruptcy legislation, he
said, should relieve the debtor "from a slavery of mind and body, which … robs
his family of the fruits of his labor.'

One hundred years later, the Supreme Court emphasized Justice
Story's views. The Bankruptcy Act, it said, is intended to "relieve the honest
debtor from the weight of oppressive indebtedness, and permit him to start
afresh free from the obligations and responsibilities consequent upon business
misfortunes." The power to earn a living, the Court said, is a "personal
liberty," and "from the viewpoint of the wage-earner there is little difference
between not earning at all and earning wholly for a creditor.'

In short, the same fundamental values which led this nation to
abolish debtors' prisons, also led us to offer debtors a fresh start. They would
be required to use their available assets to pay as much of their debt as they
could, but no more. They would have full rights to their own future earnings, so
that they would not have to live in perpetual bondage to their past
Isn't it nice to know that there ARE members of Congress who are looking out for the average, everyday person. It's just too bad there aren't more of them...and by that, I mean it's too bad there aren't less Republicans...

Some facts on WMD's

Weapons of Mass Destruction or WMD’s as they are also known are defined in part by Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia as follows:
“Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) generally include nuclear, biological, chemical and, increasingly, radiological weapons……progressing through the Cold War, the term came to refer more to non-conventional weapons. “

Some people have claimed that Iraq possessed WMD’s and that is why we went to ‘war’. This is a theory that is held in strong belief by members of the conservative right as justification for our involvement in the invasion of Iraq. Now in that same vein, North Korea has self admitted WMD capability, but are we invading North Korea?

In a report to the Senate Armed Services Committee in October, 2004 our own CIA reported that Saddam Hussein did not possess stockpiles of illicit weapons at the time of the U.S. invasion in March 2003 and had not begun any program to produce them. The report also went on to state that Iraq’s WMD program was essentially destroyed in 1991. However Iraq worked hard to cheat on UN imposed sanctions and retain the capability to resume production of WMD’s at some time in the future.

Now it is known that Iraq possessed 350 tons (700,000 pounds ) of high explosives. But these high explosives do not themselves count as WMD. These explosives known as RDX and HMX were stolen from a facility in Iraq that had been found, stored and sealed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The United States knew about this facility.

When were they stolen? How about in the early days of the US led invasion in March 2003!! (Wow, we really had a game plan for this invasion in place didn’t we….)

The US Department of Defense had pressured the Iraqi Interim Government from releasing information on the theft to the IAEA as the US government did not allow the IAEA to re-enter Iraq after the invasion.

This points once again to the incompetence of the current administration (and this is a big one). The storage facility was high on the IAEA commissions list of facilities to secure as they knew the material was of such importance that they did not want it floating around.

And what happened to these explosives, no one really knows, but the experts believe that they are being used to make some of the roadside bombs that have been killing coalition troops.

There are also another 650 tons of lesser conventional munitions that have also gone missing and are also being used against our troops and Iraq police and freedom loving Iraqi people.

Many people will also state that we went to war with Iraq to fight against terrorism. Again, this is another theory that is held in strong belief by members of the conservative right. However the fact is that the terrorists that were responsible for 9/11 (one of the saddest days in our country) were not from, nor were they associated with Iraq. There are many other nations in the middle east who are also known or considered to be state sponsors of terrorism ; Libya, Sudan, Iran for instance , but have we invaded them, no.

I have served proudly in the U.S. Army. I have relatives who are currently in Iraq and have been there previously as well. I do whole-heartedly support our troops.

However I KNOW that you can support our troops but still question the validity of why they are there in the first place.

The reason that we invaded Iraq. Who knows? Maybe our ‘President’ felt the need. Why? Maybe for making daddy look bad after the first time we invaded and did not complete the job back then? Maybe to gain control of oil rights? (Although our prices have not gone down or remained steady) Again, who knows really, but the fact is that we now have close to 2000 american sons and daughters, husbands, fathers, wives and mothers that have died, and there is no clear consensus among the american people of why?

WMD ..another view

My thanks to COXAR for this on his/her website...

These Weapons of Mass Destruction cannot be displayed

The weapons you are looking for are currently unavailable. The country might be experiencing technical difficulties, or you may need to adjust your weapons inspectors mandate.

Please try the following:

  • Click the Regime change button, or try again later.
  • If you are George Bush and typed the country's name in the address bar, make sure that it is spelled correctly. (IRAQ).
  • To check your weapons inspector settings, click the UN menu, and then click Weapons Inspector Options. On the Security Council tab, click Consensus. The settings should match those provided by your government or NATO.
  • If the Security Council has enabled it, The United States of America can examine your country and automatically discover Weapons of Mass Destruction.If you would like to use the CIA to try and discover them, click Detect weapons
  • Some countries require 128 thousand troops to liberate them. Click the Panic menu and then click About US foreign policy to determine what regime they will install.
  • If you are an Old European Country trying to protect your interests, make sure your options are left wide open as long as possible. Click the Tools menu, and then click on League of Nations. On the Advanced tab, scroll to the Head in the Sand section and check settings for your exports to Iraq.
  • Click the Bomb button if you are Donald Rumsfeld.

Cannot find weapons or CIA Error
Iraqi Explorer
Bush went to Iraq to look for Weapons of Mass Destruction and all he found was this lousy T-shirt.

Political Contemplation

"Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything."
- Josef Stalin

Pretty much says it all RIGHT there, doesn't it?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Words of Wisdom?

"I've been to war. I've raised twins. If I had a choice, I'd rather go to war."
- George 'W.' Bush

WMD...yeah sure

Political Contemplation

“If pro is the opposite of con, then isn't progress the opposite of congress”
- Keith Avery

Hi there, come on in


Some of you may have been reading my personal blog, “Kemp’s Blog”, or my friend Scott’s blog, “Scott’s Rant Spot.”

This is a new blog, a joint venture if you will, between the two of us that will focus solely on politics.

Yes, you read that right: politics.

It will provide fair and balanced political thought. (And when I say fair and balanced, I’m lying – just like Fox News does. It will definitely have a liberal slant to it – unlike Fox News does)

No posts about our respective families (no matter how crazy the, or us, may be)

No posts about what’s going on in the entertainment world (as if we care that Britney had her baby)

No posts about pop culture or music (although I do recommend the new McCartney album)

Our other blogs will be for that.

This one will only be about politics.

All day – all night – 24/7

We will have occasional guest posters.

Some of whom may even be less Liberal than us…or worse yet, conservative Republicans (I know what some of you are saying, but, let’s practice some tolerance for those who disagree with us – are you listening Bush administration??)

Or maybe we can even get a member of the Whig party (help me bring back the Whigs) to post an entry.

You never know what can happen in the world of blogging.

So sit back, relax, open your eyes real wide and say, ‘Give it to me straight doc, I can take it….’