Sunday, January 29, 2006

Liberal Media Piles on Doolittle

This afternoon the AP reported that it had obtained documents linking Representative John Doolittle (CA-4) to Jack Abramoff.

"A California congressman who accepted campaign cash from disgraced ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and used his sports box for a fundraiser interceded on behalf of two American Indian tribes that were represented by Abramoff's firm, documents show.

GOP Rep. John Doolittle wrote Interior Secretary Gale Norton in June 2003 criticizing the Bush administration's response to a tribal government dispute involving the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa. In October 2003, Doolittle appealed in a letter to the secretary for quicker action for a Massachusetts tribe, the Mashpee Wampanoag, that was seeking federal recognition.

Both tribes signed on with Abramoff's lobbying firm, Greenberg Traurig, that year. Sac & Fox hired the firm in May, the Wampanoags in November. Neither tribe appears tied to Doolittle's rural Northern California district, and Doolittle is not on the House committee that handles Indian issues."

Doolittle who claims to be against Indian gaming, in fact gambling of any kind, certainly went out of his way to lobby the Interior Department in support not only of Indian gaming, but in support of Indian gaming that was directly linked to Jack Abramoff.

More lies from the liberal media, John?

John Doolittle - Only You Can Stop the Liberal Media Attacks

Representative John Doolittle (CA-4) refuses to speak to the "liberal" media concerning the firestorm of allegations exploding around him. According to today's Auburn Journal, Doolittle is turning to his most loyal supporters and asking them for financial assistance so that he can fight against "the same Beltway powerbrokers who have targeted me in the past - the labor union bosses, radical feminists and extreme environmentalists."

The jack booted bosses, feminazi and tree huggers apparently have made up all sorts of lies about Doolittle's connections with Jack Abramoff. I'm not sure what connections those evil liberals are lying about. Certainly it is true that Doolittle received over $50,000 from Abramoff and his Indian gaming clients. Certainly it is true that Doolittle's wife worked for Abramoff and did fund raising for Abramoff's money laundering Capital Athletic Foundation. And, certainly it is true that several of Doolittle's staffers, including his former chief of staff, Kevin Ring, moved between his congressional office and Abramoff's lobbying office.

According to Doolittle the efforts to tie him to Abramoff and other unethical or illegal activities are all a plot. A plot by "the liberal media [that] wants the Democrats back in control of Congress. They don't like conservatives. They don't like President Bush, and they don't like what we stand for. They will stop at nothing to accomplish their goal."

Yes, it is the "liberal media" that is making up all of these allegations of Doolittle's impropriety. Take for example the big deal that the San Diego Union Tribune is making of Doolittle's relationship to Brent Wilkes' (Cunningham co-conspirator #1) little company, PerfectWave Technology.

"PerfectWave, which specializes in acoustical technology, won more than $40 million in federal contracts between 2003 and 2005, according to congressional budget reports. Meanwhile, it donated money to DeLay and other key Republicans overseeing the appropriations process in Congress, including Rep. Jerry Lewis of Redlands, who is chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and Rep. John T. Doolittle, a committee member who represents a district in the Sierra foothills near Sacramento.

The money was not requested by the Navy but was instead inserted by the Appropriations Committee as part of the closed-door congressional earmarking process.

PerfectWave was co-founded in early 2002 by Poway entrepreneur Max Gelwix and came under Wilkes' corporate umbrella that June. As Wilkes was taking over, he hired the Alexander Strategy Group – a lobbying firm with close ties to DeLay – to press Congress for defense contracts.


On Oct. 24 [2002], Wilkes also wrote a $10,000 check to one of Doolittle's political action committees, according to records filed with the California Secretary of State.

Over the next several months, Wilkes, Gelwix, Adams and their associates donated $55,000 more to Doolittle's political action committees. As Wilkes lobbied for contracts for PerfectWave, he and Gelwix also feted Doolittle with a lavish dinner at their corporate headquarters."

Started in 2002 at the same address as Wilkes' ADCS Incorporated, PerfectWave received tens of millions in Department of Defense contracts, through the "earmarking" process that was implemented and approved by committees upon which Doolittle sat. Knowing those facts, how can anyone, but the stinking liberal press, suggest that there is any relationship between the $65,000 in campaign contributions that Doolittle received in 2002 and 2003 and the $40 million in contracts awarded to Perfec Wave for technology and software that was not requested by the Department of Defense? Damn liberal media.

But, there's more. Not only does is that left wing rag in San Diego attacking John Doolittle, but so is the Workers World Daily a.k.a. The Washington Post out to get Doolittle.

"Wilkes, the California businessman linked to the Cunningham corruption case, began tapping federal spending sources in the mid-1990s, after Cunningham helped him win at least $80 million in Pentagon earmarks for a company he ran that converted paper documents to digital images.

In mid-2002, Wilkes became involved with a new company, PerfectWave Technologies LLC. He then retained the Alexander Strategy Group, a high-powered firm operated by former aides to then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), to lobby for defense appropriations. Wilkes was seeking funding for the development of an "automated speech recognition technology."

Shortly thereafter, individuals related to Wilkes and PerfectWave made large campaign donations to members of the GOP leadership, Doolittle and Lewis, who was then chairman of the Appropriations defense subcommittee. PerfectWave is housed in Wilkes's office building in Poway, Calif.

Doolittle and his leadership PAC received at least $85,000 from 2002 to 2005 from Wilkes, PerfectWave associates and their wives, and from Alexander Strategy lobbyists Edwin A. Buckham and Tony C. Rudy and their wives.

Wilkes was successful. Congress approved the first earmark for PerfectWave as part of the fiscal 2003 defense bill, which was passed in October 2002. That $1 million earmark was followed by an installment of $18 million in 2003 and another $18 million in 2004. Doolittle, whose district is in Northern California, was a guest at a fundraising dinner at Wilkes's office in San Diego in the fall of 2003."

Why does the press insist on suggesting that there is a quid pro quo here?

Finally, there are the personal attacks on Julie Doolittle, the congressman's hard working wife. Yes, the damn liberal media apparently thinks that a woman's place is in the home. Cooking, scrubbing and raising children. Not, running a business. Certainly, not running a successful fund raising business for her husband's political action committee.

That stinking liberal fishwrap The Sacramento Bee drags poor Julie Doolittle, businesswoman, into the muck.

"Julie Doolittle's company has been paid commissions amounting to about 15 percent of the $905,000 the congressman's PAC has received in contributions over the last three years, a figure the congressman's office did not dispute. At that rate, more than $10,000 of her company's earnings would have come from a handful of large contributors linked to ongoing corruption investigations."

So what if Julie Doolittle took home $136,000 in commissions over the last few years? What could possibly be suspicious about a congressman's wife getting 15% of every dollar she raises for her husband's political action committee? After all it's not like the money from special interests and lobbyists with business before the congressman's committees was going directly to Representative Doolittle. The liberal media, with its labor boss pals, its radical feminist (surely lesbian) enablers and its eco-terrorist allies is out to get John Doolittle no matter how much stuff it has to make up about him.

And, even if the stuff that the liberal media makes up about him is true, shouldn't we support him anyway? It's not like he took a bribe or anything, they were just campaign contributions (and free private jet travel, and expensive vacations -fact finding trips, and great meals and skybox tickets, and crap like that). Anyway, it was just the taxpayers money that was wasted, so who really cares?

I'm so tired of the liberal media picking on America's patriots and heroes.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Jenna and Barbara - Do the Royal Thing

Over at One Pissed Off Veteran, Farnsworth, takes a different approach in his weekly Bush Twins In Uniform Watch. Instead of shaming the Bush princesses for their apparent interest in drinking, partying and hanging out with coke dealers, Farnsworth gives them the example of Britian's little princes, William and Harry.

These young men, also not strangers to the party and social scene, have both attended Sandhurst, the British equivalent of West Point, and both accepted posting in the active duty military. Prince Harry is very likely to be shipped off to Iraq later this year.

Duty, honor, country, service - just words to the Bush family.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Morrow Jumps Ship

Last week we highlighted California state senator Bill Morrow's involvement with the right wing McCarthyite organizations known as the Bruin Alumni Association.

Well, Bill, who is running for Randy "Duke" Cunningham's vacated congressional seat in the CA-50, has decided that his support the Bruin Alumni Associations was a bit to controversial. Morrow has resigned from the groups "advisory board".

"The Bruin Alumni Association-which consists of a single employee, 2003 UCLA graduate Andrew Jones--posted a Web site earlier this month which said it is "dedicated to exposing UCLA's most radical professors."� The Association made headlines with an offer to pay students for recordings of lectures and other class materials that could be used of evidence of such radicalism. The offer was withdrawn Sunday due to legal pressure from UCLA, though the site said the Association will still accept materials on a "volunteer"� basis. Jones declined to comment for this story.

Wade Teasdale, Morrow's chief of staff, said that the Senator agreed to become a member of the advisory board several months ago when contacted by Jones. However, he said, Jones "never asked for advice on anything." He added that the Morrow was "out of the loop" on the offer to pay students. The Senator's name disappeared from the Bruin Alumni Association website
midday Wednesday.

Morrow, who is also a candidate in the upcoming special election to replace former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham in the 50th Congressional district, is currently preparing new legislation designed to help guarantee diversity of opinion on college campuses. This follows two stalled attempts at similar legislation: SB 1335 in 2004 and SB 5 last year. Both failed to make it out
of committee, Teasdale said."

Keep in mind, Morrow doesn't have a problem with stiffling free speech on college campuses, he just wants to do it his (and Dovid Horowitz's) way and not have to pay bounties for professor's lecture notes.

It is interesting that Morrow was so willing to lend his name to the Bruin organization, without any effort to find out what the group expoused or what tactics they intended to use. Then when the organization began to garner negative publicity, Morrow ran away from it. Obviously, Morrow is a very principled Republican.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

CA-50 Busby Polling Data

Francine Busby's campaign released polling data today that supports Busby's contention that the voters in the Republican leaning district are ready and willing to listen to a Democratic voice. The poll conducted in late December gives the Busby campaign even more momentum as it moves toward the April 11 special election to fill Randy "Duke" Cunningham's seat. Here are the conclusions that, according to the Busby campaign, can be drawn from the poll:

"Busby leads every Republican candidate, some by as much as 14 points. When voters were asked who they would support in one-one one races among many of the most likely candidates (Francine Busby, Brian Bilbray, Bill Morrow, Howard Kaloogian, Pam Slater-Price, and Alan Uke), Francine Busby received significantly greater support than any of the other candidates.

Francine Busby is more familiar to the voters than most of the Republican candidates. Demonstrating the effectiveness of her early campaigning and her race last time, Francine Busby is known to a higher percentage of the voters than any of the incumbent Republican officeholders, and is better known than any Republicans candidate other than Brian Bilbray.

Voters want change. A majority of voters (53%) say that things in the country are pretty seriously off on the wrong track, with just over one- third (37%)suggesting things in the country are on the right track. Voters will be looking for change to get things back on track.

Republicans do not hold a lock on the district. Only 35% of the voters indicate they will probably or definitely vote for the Republican candidate for U.S. Congress. Moreover, voters are seeking checks and balances in congress, with 43% saying they want a candidate who would provide a balance to President Bush’s agenda, while only 34% prefer a candidate who will consistently support the Bush agenda."

With 77 days to go until the special election, Busby is well positioned. But, she needs all the resources she can get to fight the battle against a group of well financed Republicans, who are all committed to business as usual if they can get a ticket to their party's congress of corruption.

Corruption, symbolized by Duke Cunningham, is troubling to the voters. The voters are very focused on corruption among elected officials; it is named as the second-ranking issue facing the area. More than 90% of the voters familiar with Duke Cunningham, more than 9 in 10 voters have an unfavorable view of him, with the vast majority having a VERY unfavorable view of him. Voters will be seeking a non-traditional candidate whom they clearly believe will be honest and have integrity."

With 77 days to go until the special election, Busby is well positioned. But, she needs all the resources she can get to fight the battle against a group of well financed Republicans, who are all committed to business as usual if they can get a ticket to their party's congress of corruption.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Good ol' Jerry Lewis

A couple of weeks ago we reported when the first local piece on what a good ol' boy John Doolittle hit the streets. At the time, we noted that the respectful tone of the piece and the positive nature of the comments was remarkable similar to articles that hit the local San Diego press regarding then Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham last July.

In both the Doolittle and Cunningham stories, we heard what honest, ethical public servants both men were and had always been. "Honest, straight shooters, trusted, etc...." Neither their associates in Congress nor their constituents on the streets at home could believe that "their" congressman could be unethical or a crook.

Today the first Jerry Lewis is not a crook story came out in the San Bernardino Sun. Admitting that Lewis is "in a crucible as questions about his ethics surface amid a string of congressional scandals," the Sun bails him out with testimonial after testimonial as to what a good and great man Lewis is.

"Supporters back home say they stand firmly behind him.

"In my book, if you wanted to find the word integrity in the dictionary," said Jack Brown, Stater Bros. Markets chairman of the board and CEO, "it would say, 'See Jerry Lewis.' "

Brown has known Lewis for 55 years.

"I have every confidence in the congressman," he said."

A few months ago that's what Cunningham's supporters were saying about the Duke.

The Sun does spend some time exposing its readers to the possibility that Lewis may be involved in some sort of hanky-panky in congress.

"Lewis is under scrutiny for his help in securing funding for a $1.6 billion Navy-Marine Corps Intranet. An investment group held a major fund-raiser for a committee headed by Lewis one day before the project's funding was secured. The group, Cerberus Capital Management, received plum benefits from the project.

But the Cerberus revelation - along with questions about Lewis' close ties to lobbyist Bill Lowery, a former San Diego congressman - has some crying foul. San Diego attorney Stanley F. Zubel, head of a group called Californians for a Cleaner Congress, said Friday that four California congressmen should return money Lewis' committee gave them."

That's the only mention of Bill Lowery in the whole story. Not even a note that the San Diego Union Tribune found the relationship between Lewis and Lowery to be worthy of a front page feature story.

The Sun mentions Lewis' relationship with Cunningham, but refrains from suggesting that Lewis' lack of oversight of Cunningham on his own committee played a substantial role in allowing Cunningham to "earmark" funds for the companies who were bribing him. Nor does the Sun spend any time exploring Lewis' direct connection to Cunningham co-conspirator #1, Brent Wilkes.

Maybe after the truth begins to come out, someone from the Sun will begin to look for it.

Duke's New Home

Today's North County Times profiles former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham's likely new home - the federal minimum security prison at Lompoc. The article by William Finn Bennett, takes at look at what life is like at the facility and what kind of reception Duke is likely to receive by his fellow inmates.

"As Randy "Duke" Cunningham puts his affairs in order for his scheduled Feb. 27 sentencing hearing and what could be a 10-year prison stint... the disgraced former congressman had best get ready for the rocky road that lies ahead.

Before his fall from grace, Cunningham lived a life of luxury in an 8,000-square-foot Rancho Santa Fe mansion and enjoyed private jet travel, the finest restaurants and five-star hotels, while earning a $162,100 a year salary ---- plus perks. He was recently convicted of bribery charges for taking additional money, a Rolls-Royce, antiques and other illicit gifts from contractors who wanted congressional favors.

Now, he faces the distinct possibility of a very different lifestyle: sleeping in a barracks with other inmates, tasting prison food and earning pennies an hour for what could well be a job painting walls, mopping floors or cleaning bathrooms.

...minimum security camps may have no fences or armed guard towers, and inmates may have access to libraries, newspapers and magazines, organized sports and television. But offenders are still incarcerated and every phase of each inmate's life is controlled.

"They are told where to be 24 hours a day, they have to work and live in a barracks-style (building) with little privacy," prison spokesman Erwin Meinberg said in a Wednesday phone interview. "It's still a prison, not a free ride, not a vacation."

Inmates work at a variety of jobs, many involving manual labor, 7 1/2 hours a day, five days a week, Meinberg said. For their toil, prisoners are paid 12 cents to 45 cents an hour, he added."

Cunningham's stay at Lompoc or an equivalent federal facility is going to be further aggravated by his cooperation with investigators. Cunningham will enter the facility with the title "snitch" already appended to his name.

"Regardless of where Cunningham serves his time, the biggest problem he could face may come from his plea agreement to fully cooperate with federal prosecutors ---- an agreement that could mean he'll be perceived as a snitch, said former [Lompoc] inmate Mike Morze [a convicted white collar criminal from San Diego].

Morze said those reports and the court records showing that Cunningham agreed to help the government build a case against others means that he will be tagged as a snitch when he enters the federal penal system. And that stands to make his prison life less pleasant, Morze added.

"I feel badly for Cunningham because he is in for a real rough time with fellow inmates," Morze said. "I don't mean physically harmed, but he will be shunned. You eat alone, play alone, do everything alone, because everybody hates you."

Corrections expert Alvin W. Cohn suggests that his fellow inmates' reaction to him will be based on how Cunningham relates to them. Cunningham has a reputation for bluster and as a bully. Those traits are not likely to endear him to drug dealers and while collar criminals who will surround him at Lompoc.

"Somebody who is abrasive or arrogant is likely to get some form of come-uppance," Cohn said.

Judging by some of Cunningham's actions over the 15 years he spent in Congress ----- making a crude comment about an openly gay congressman, challenging another member to a fist fight, saying that Democratic congressional leaders should be "lined up and shot" ----- showing his kinder, gentler side may prove a challenge."

Randy Cunningham used his position of power and public trust to steal $2.4 million. He repeated lied about his involvement in criminal activities and he consistently told his constituents, associates and friends that he was innocent of any wrong doing, right up to the moment he plead guilty.

It is a tragedy that his life has come to this, but it is a tragedy based upon flaws in Cunningham's own character. It is hard to have sympathy for him. His choices were clear and conscious. No one held a gun to his head. His family was not starving. Cunningham chose his own path. Now he must pay for his choices.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Wilkes, DeLay, Lewis, Doolittle, Blunt, Cunningham, etc.

The Austin American-Statesman expands on the growing investigatory interest in the links between Tom DeLay and Cunningham co-conspirator #1, Brent Wilkes.

"Last month, prosecutors subpoenaed bank records of PerfectWave Technologies, a company that builds technology for battlefield communications, plus documents from San Diego military contractor Brent Wilkes, a big donor to Republicans. Wilkes owns PerfectWave and several other defense-related companies, as well as a Washington-based lobbying firm, Group W.


It was the fall of 2002, and Texans for a Republican Majority was scouring for corporate money when it found an unlikely donor — a California defense technology firm willing to send part of its $40,000 startup money to help U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's political committee.

PerfectWave Technologies, a San Diego-area firm, gave DeLay's committee $15,000 to help elect Republicans to the Texas Legislature. It sent the rest of the $40,000 to a gala tribute to Randy "Duke" Cunningham, the San Diego-area congressman who resigned after pleading guilty last year to taking bribes from military contractors.

On Thursday, Travis County prosecutors dug deeper into the Southern California connections to DeLay and Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee, subpoenaing a second round of records of any "negotiations or agreements" that prompted the donation. They also asked for any communications about pending federal legislation that would have affected the firm."

PerfectWave Technologies, a Wilkes company, sent $40,000 in money ostensibly provided to it for start-up expenses directly to Tom DeLay's PAC and to Duke Cunningham. It is illustrative that the Wilkes pattern of business development is to first insure that the business has high level political support, then to develop products. It may seem backwards, but it certainly has been profitable for Wilkes.

The PerfectWave political connections were first publicized in December by the San Diego Union Tribune. The UT pointed out that PerfectWave's business was based upon a sound pattern/noise reduction technology developed by the Scripps Research Institute.

"According to attorney Pat Shea, a former San Diego mayoral candidate who served as PerfectWave's outside counsel in 2002 and 2003, the company spent the first year of its existence engaged in patent disputes with other firms and engineers who received rights to similar technologies developed by Scripps Research Institute.

Shea said the disputes were resolved in late 2003. Within months, PerfectWave won a Navy contract to improve voice communications and speech recognition. The Navy was unable to provide details of the contract yesterday.

Even before PerfectWave's patent disputes were resolved, it was donating money to key politicians in Washington."

And, oh my, what an interesting collection of "key politicians in Washington" were on the PerfectWave donations list. Besides the $15,000 to DeLay's PAC and the $25,000 to Cunningham; Wilkes' longtime business associate, Max Gelwix, Chief Operation Officer of PerfectWave was generously pinpointing donations to critical members of congress and their PACs.

"...By the end of 2003, Max and Ellen Gelwix made more than $50,000 in political contributions, mostly to key Republican officials in the House leadership or the House Appropriations Committee.

Among other contributions, the Gelwixes donated $10,000 to DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority PAC; $11,000 to Future Leaders PAC, headed by Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee; $10,000 to Rely on Your Beliefs PAC, headed by acting House Majority Leader Roy Blunt of Missouri; and $10,000 to Superior California Federal Leadership Fund, headed by Rep. John Doolittle, R-Granite Bay, who is on the Appropriations Committee."

With the Gelwixes gaining the attention of the key Republican leaders who would insure that PerfectWave would get the appropriate "earmarking" attention, Wilkes worked to make sure that his companies would enjoy top level Republican support.

"The same month that Wilkes launched PerfectWave, he hired Alexander Strategy Group – composed of DeLay insiders – as his lobbying group on Capitol Hill.

The group, which is headed by DeLay's former chief of staff Ed Buckham, staffed with former DeLay employees and included DeLay's wife as a consultant, has a reputation in Washington as a conduit to DeLay's office.

Over the next three years, Wilkes paid about $630,000 in lobbying fees to the group. Although Wilkes' own two-man lobbying group – Group W Advisors – officially represented PerfectWave in Washington, Group W Advisors was represented by the Alexander Strategy Group.

During 2003 and 2004, as Wilkes pushed for contracts for PerfectWave and his other companies, DeLay was a frequent flier on a corporate jet partly owned by Wilkes and was often seen in his company at Southern California golf courses."

Is it any surprise that investigators in Texas are interested in the connections between Wilkes and DeLay. The relationship between Wilkes, PerfectWave's Navy contract and the Gelwixes' generosity to Cunningham, Lewis and Doolittle must be of interest to federal investigators looking at the activities of Wilkes as co-conspirator #1 in the Cunningham investigation.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Jerry Lewis - Retirement Looms

USA Today has the goods on Representative Jerry Lewis (CA-41). This may be the straw that breaks Jerry's back and sends the 71 year old into retirement, not to mention jail.

Lewis is up to his neck in the Cunningham/Wilkes scandal. The San Diego Union Tribune has questioned his links to lobbyist, Bill Lowery, a guy who seems to be a perpetual rain maker for his clients and Lewis. Of course then there is the CREW complaint. But, this pay-for-play special is so eggregious that it puts his other activities to shame.

"One day after a New York investment group raised $110,000 for Republican Rep. Jerry Lewis, the House passed a defense spending bill that preserved $160 million for a Navy project critical to the firm. The man who protected the Navy money? Lewis.


Created in 1992, Cerberus is a hedge fund, a type of private investment group that's not regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. It's named after the mythical, three-headed dog guarding the gates of Hades.

In 2003, Cerberus owned more than $140 million in stock and bonds of the bankrupt telecommunications giant WorldCom, financial records show. Its stake in the company, which had filed for bankruptcy protection the previous year, was large enough that a Cerberus executive joined the board of directors of MCI, the company's post-bankruptcy name.

MCI has been a major subcontractor since 2000 on an $8.8 billion project to build a secure computer network for the Navy and Marines. According to a House Appropriations Committee report in 2002, the program had "been unstable since its inception in 1999."


Lewis himself had criticized the Navy-Marine computer project in October 2002, telling The Washington Post he was not satisfied with its progress. He also said he was concerned about MCI's involvement. "When you have a big piece of the pie in trouble, it just gums up a process that already has great difficulty," he said.

Other members of Congress were pushing the federal government to ban MCI from any future contracts because of the $11 billion accounting scandal, which eventually landed former WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers a 25-year prison term. MCI now has about $2 billion in annual revenue from government contracts, and the Navy project remains one of its biggest.


On May 16, 2003, the House Armed Services Committee voted to cut 10% of the Navy project's $1.6 billion budget for the upcoming year. Federal lobbying records show that two months earlier, Cerberus hired its first lobbyist, the powerhouse firm Patton Boggs.


In the early summer of 2003, Lewis said, he heard that "some business people in New York" were interested in giving money to his political action committee, the Future Leaders PAC. At the same time, the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee, which Lewis led and which oversees Pentagon spending, was considering the 2004 defense budget.

On June 16, the Defense Appropriations subcommittee preserved the money for the Navy-Marine Corps network. Lewis said he changed his mind and supported full funding for the program because the Navy maintained that management of the program had improved. On June 26, the full committee followed suit.

On July 7, Lewis traveled to New York for a fundraising dinner with Cerberus executives and their spouses, lawyers and business associates. They gave the Future Leaders PAC more than $110,000 that night and more in the following weeks, bringing the total to nearly $133,000 that month."

Lewis, of course, never discussed any quid pro quo with Cerberus, but the article details the high powered nature of the lobbyists that Cerberus hired and leaves it to this quote to connect the dots between Cerberus' needs, Lewis' funds and the Cerberus' lobbyist team.

"In the opinion of Larry Noble, executive director of the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, the timing of the fundraiser within days of a favorable vote "looks like influence buying." Noble is a former chief lawyer for the Federal Election Commission.

None of the people connected to Cerberus had ever given money to either Lewis or his political action committee before the fundraiser or the vote on the bill Lewis sponsored, a USA TODAY analysis of their political contributions shows.


People who want favors from Congress usually don't talk about that business during fundraisers, Noble said. "They don't have to. That's what lobbyists are for."

And Jerry Lewis knows how to work with lobbyist.

Body Armor

I don't have anything to add to Commander Huber's review of DHB Industries and Point Blank Body Armor. His two part analysis here and here, show us another example of war profiteering at its Republican finest.

"In 1999, DHB Industries, whose Point Blank division accounts for most of its revenue, lost $22.3 million on $35.1 million in revenue. The next year, the company eked out a $5.7 million profit on $70 million in sales. Then came 9/11, and DHB/Point Blank's profits soared. In 2001 and 2002, thanks to several multimillion-dollar contracts from the Department of Defense, which was reacting to a well-publicized shortage of body armor in the military, the company earned $10.1 million and $16 million, respectively, on a combined $228.3 million in revenue."

Point Blank's financial resurgence allowed it to pay its CEO David Brooks $70 million in 2004
plus an additional $180 million in stock.

Brooks wasted little time giving something back though. In 2005, he cut a $25,000 check to the Republican Senatorial Committee. Small change considering the $10 millon party he threw for his daughters bat mitzvah the same year.

Read the whole thing at the Pen and Sword.

John Doolittle - Historically Challenged

When Republican members of congress find themselves facing increasing public and prosecutorial scrutiny for their backroom antics they tend to find a patriotic cause around which to wrap themselves. For Duke Cunningham it was his flag burning amendment to the Constitution. So it is for Representative John Doolittle (CA-4) who must be feeling the noose of the Abramoff investigation beginning to tighten.

Doolittle is sponsoring a resolution supporting our national motto, "In God We Trust." Mottos being in much danger lately, Doolittle's concern stems from the possibility that some atheist will force the government to remove said motto from U.S. currency. How evil. What would Jesus say about that. Perhaps his response was captured in John 2: 13-16.

I digress. Back to Doolittle and his completely inaccurate claim that:

"'In God We Trust' is as old as the Republic itself and is an integral part of the Constitution and our religious liberties," Doolittle said. "Our national motto reflects the traditional sentiment that the recognition of God is deeply interwoven into the fabric of our daily lives."

Yes, trust in God does indeed predate the Republic. But, the national motto, "In God We Trust" was not recognized until 1956. Hardly, the birth of the Republic, John. Our nation's founders selected a far more inclusive motto for our country: E pluribus unum - "From many, one" or "Out of many, one." That would have been a good motto to save, John.

Relative to United States coinage, the phrase, "In God We Trust," was not utilized until close to the end of the Civil War. At that time, Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase responded to public appeals and an understandable upsurge in religious sentiment during this nation's most bloody conflict. Chase suggested several variations including "Our Country; Our God," "God, Our Trust", etc. before finally settling on "In God We Trust."

The first U.S. coin with that motto appeared in 1864. The motto appeared on and off on different denominations of coinage until around 1916 when it had become a feature on all denominations.

It wasn't until after the 1956 change of the national motto that "In God We Trust" was used on United States paper money.

Wrapped in the flag, John Doolittle still has to change the facts to make his story work. At least if he is going to mis-speak about something, he should avoid an issue so clearly part of the public record that the United State Treasure web site has the complete details and history of the use of "In God We Trust."

We certainly can't place any trust in Doolittle.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Water Sports

Just when you think that the Duke Cunningham saga can't take another twist, something comes at you from left field. Larry Johnson over at TPM Cafe follows the latest revelation regarding Duke, Brent Wilkes (co-conspirator #1) and.....the number 3 guy at the CIA, Kyle Dustin (Dusty) Foggo.

"Kyle Dustin (Dusty) Foggo, is currently the Executive Director of the CIA. According to friends still working on the inside, tongues are wagging about the peril that may be on the horizon for Dusty. Specifically, Dusty is alleged to have played a role in helping Brent Wilkes, a co-conspirator with Duke Cunningham, get the contract to supply bottled water to the CIA in Iraq. A buddy of mine who was on the ground in Iraq back in 2003 says that rumors were swirling then that Dusty was a player in the water deal. Dusty, who reportedly got the job as Executive Director thanks to "helpful" suggestions from Duke Cunningham to his congressional buddy, CIA Director Porter Goss, is now under the microscope."

Why is Brent Wilkes, who ran a gaggle of technology based business, selling water to the CIA in Iraq? Where does the bottled water business fit in the Wilkes empire? Republicans working hard to squeeze as much out of the war on terror as possible. It's a free lunch, come and get it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Free Speech

Saw this diary at the Daily Kos. Essentially, it highlights a group called the Bruin Alumni Association, not to be confused with the official UCLA Alumni Association. The Bruin Alumni Association is basically a Young Republicans meet David Horowitz nightmare with the stated goal to:

"Fully document the overwhelming policitization of the undergraduate experience – by professors, radical student groups and leaders, partisan academic centers and majors, and the administrative offices which tolerate these abuses. It’s not going to be enough to talk in anecdotes. Only methodical, comprehensive documentation can fully pinpoint the problems and their solutions."

There process of documentation is to record professors as the teach and research professors backgrounds and associations to find
"Marxoid theory, “critical pedagogy,” and an overwhelming dose of anti-Bush hatred."

So, a group of right wing Republican alumni and students are taking it on themselves to root out anyone with whom they disagree on the UCLA campus. Why is it that the right wing is so concerned over a "liberal arts education" that they have to resort to Stalinist tactics to suppress any freely expressed idea that doesn't meet their approval?

Oh, just to close the circle, CA-50 Republican candidate, Bill Morrow, is on the advisory board of this organization. Last year Morrow sponsored a bill in the state legislature to make David Horowitz "student bill of rights" law in California. His proposal was defeated. Now he is helping to find a back door way to attack free speech and terrorize anyone who has an "anti-Bush" perspective of the world.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Pelosi is a Dingbat

Last week, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (CA-8), House Democratic Leader, condemned Rep. Dick Pombo (CA-11) as being one of four House Republicans worthy (unworthy) of review by the as yet moribund House Ethics Committee. Pelosi suggested to the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert (R-Corruptville) ....ok (IL-14)

"I urge you to join me in clearly stating to the Ethics Committee that it is our strong expectation that the committee will take all steps necessary to quickly initiate a fair and robust investigation of the alleged violations of criminal laws and the rules of the House by several Members, beginning with Congressmen Tom DeLay, Bob Ney, Richard Pombo, and John Doolittle. Media stories have contained allegations that each of these Members committed egregious violations of House rules."

Strong words from a weak leader. With each revelation of unethical conduct and illegal activity, Pelosi has refused to file or allow other to file the necessary ethics complaint that would force the Ethics Committee to go to work. It is understandable that Pelosi is concerned over a nuclear debate in the House regarding which party is the most unethical. That debate will break out when the first Democrat points a finger at a Republican and states, "j'accuse." What if Nancy first pointed her finger at Louisiana Democrat (LA-2) or fellow California represenative, Maxine Waters (CA-35). Maybe if the Democrats started to clean their own house Republicans would be shamed into doing the same.

But, back to Pelosi and her letter. When Pelosi was asked to back up here alligations regarding Pombo, she waffled. With the "bully pulpit" and a list containing the names of four of the most corrupt legislators in congressional history, Pelosi could only suggest that she was “not familiar with the facts of the case,” and “I only know what I have read in the paper.”

Wow. That's building a strong case against corruption. Of course that lack of precision and knowledge has now allowed Pombo to go on the offensive. According to the AP via the Tracy Press,

“Perhaps the only thing I find more contemptible is the kind of baseless, politically motivated character assassination tactics Congresswoman Pelosi has engaged in today,” Pombo said. Furthermore, “it serves to give the entire Congress a bigger black eye than the unfortunate and unscrupulous actions of a few of its members.”

Good job, Nancy. Instead of having to answer to his constituents for his associations with Tom DeLay and Charles Hurwitz, Pombo is lecturing Pelosi on ethics. Instead of answer questions raised by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, who listed Pombo as one of the 13 most corrupt members of congress, Pombo is lecturing Pelosi on ethics.

The Democratic Party is so effective at screwing things up, you would almost think their incompetence is deliberate.

Who Started This Food Fight?

This morning an innocuous post appeared on San Diego Politics (an excellent blog). The post announced that the candidates for Duke Cunningham's old seat in the CA-50 would be holding a debate under the auspices of California State University at San Marcos (CSUSM) in March. Just an informational post.

An hour after the initial post a lengthy comment was posted by someone claiming to represent the Concerned Republicans in the CA-50 District. You might suspect that the Concerned Republicans would be going after Democrat Francine Busby. You would be wrong. The Concerned Republicans posted went after Republican candidate Brain Bilbray. In Republican teams, it was ugly.

The post accused Bilbray of everything from supporting gun control to being in bed with Jack Abramoff. Bilbray is apparently pro-choice, too.

It almost went so far as to accuse Bilbray of being a liberal. Fightin' words in the CA-50.

The Republican fight in CA-50 is going to be ugly.

Fishing With the Duke

At the American Prospect, Laura Rozen, gives us a piece titled, The Duke of Deception.

Rozen says that there is more to come from the on-going federal investigation of Cunningham's bribery and corruption case.

"But in the Cunningham case nothing is quite what it seems. Two months have passed since he pled guilty to taking more bribes than any other legislator in U.S. history, yet no more indictments have been issued, not even against the four people described as “co-conspirators” in the Cunningham plea agreement. No other shoes have dropped -- until now."

Rozen goes on to talk about the contention from Time that Cunningham wore a wire and that he may have recorded conversations with some of the corporate types involved in his bribery conspiracy.

"The implication ... is clear: Prosecutors have further targets in their crosshairs beyond Cunningham. In law enforcement, the standard procedure is for prosecutors to haul in the little fish first in order to net the big fish later. So there was something peculiar about the Cunningham case, where such normal logic had seemingly been turned on its head. Here the big fish -- a ranking Representative -- had pled guilty before the businessmen from whom he had admitted taking bribes. What the Time report suggests was that Cunningham might not be the biggest fish in this case after all."

A bigger fish than Cunningham? Duke Cunningham was a political bottom-feeder, but he certainly seems like a pretty big fish. Who could be a bigger fish than the Duke, Laura?

"The Cunningham case has revealed several lawmakers worthy of investigative scrutiny. Two men described but not named as co-conspirators in the original indictment -- Brent Wilkes, the chairman of San Diego-based defense contractor ADCS Inc., and Mitchell J. Wade, the founder and until recently chairman and president of defense and intelligence contractor MZM Inc. -- donated “more than a million dollars in the last ten years to a roster of politicians,” including contributions from their employees and company political action committees (PACs), according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In some instances, those donations seemed to track closely with appropriations recommendations from politicians that benefited Wilkes’ and Wade’s companies."

Who got money from Wilkes and Wade? Lots of people.

"Among the pols of potential interest to investigators is Representative Tom DeLay, whose Texans for a Republican Majority fund-raising committee received a $15,000 donation in September 2002 from Perfect Wave Technologies, a subsidiary of Wilkes’ corporate umbrella, the Wilkes Corporation. Through another Wilkes’ subsidiary, Perfect Wave also hired a lobbying firm, Alexander Strategy Group, set up by DeLay’s former Chief of Staff Ed Buckham, and which employed DeLay’s wife Christine, to lobby successfully for Perfect Wave to receive a Navy contract. In December, the Austin, Texas, District Attorney Ronnie Earle -- already pursuing a campaign-finance case against DeLay -- subpoenaed documents from Wilkes, Perfect Wave Technologies, ADCS, and associated companies. Popping up again on the radar as well is Congressman Bob Ney, the Ohio Republican who, like DeLay, is simultaneously under investigation in the rapidly expanding Indian gaming case that has led to guilty pleas by lobbyist Jack Abramoff and PR Executive Michael Scanlon. On October 1, 2002, Ney inexplicably entered praise of a San Diego-based charity headed by Wilkes, the Tribute to Heroes Foundation, into the Congressional Record -- the same kind of service Ney performed for his benefactor Abramoff on more than one occasion."

Tom DeLay and Bob Ney, with the Alexander Strategy Group as a side dish? Those are bigger fish than the Duke. But wait, there are more fish to fry here.

"Extensive reporting published by the San Diego Union-Tribune indicates that several other Republicans in southern California’s congressional delegation may have drawn the attention of investigators in the Cunningham case. Among them are Representative Duncan Hunter, identified by a Defense Department Inspector General report -- along with Cunningham -- as actively intervening with the Pentagon to try to award a contract to a document-conversion company that had given him tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions for a program the Pentagon did not request or consider a priority; Representative Jerry Lewis, chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, on which Cunningham sat; and former Congressman-turned-lobbyist Bill Lowery."

Duncan Hunter and Jerry Lewis, too. What kind of wine would do this meal justice?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Pombo's Chief of Staff - Steven Ding

Today's Contra Costa Times breaks a story concerning Representative Dick Pombo's (CA-11) chief of staff, Steven Ding. Mr. Ding is more than just Dick Pombo's right hand man. Ding is also the chief of staff of Pombo's House Resource Committe. But, wait, there's more, Ding is also a political consultant who runs a California based political action committee that supports candidates that Dick Pombo likes.

"Despite being chief of staff to the Washington-based Resources Committee, and being paid more than $150,000 a year from the committee's budget, Ding works primarily from California and commutes to Capitol Hill at taxpayers' expense when the committee is in session.

Congressional observers called the situation unusual, a waste of public money and a questionable interpretation of house rules. Pombo and Ding insist the travel expenses, which include lodging and meals in Washington, are legitimate.

House rules on travel and spending prohibit using a member's district budget for committee expenses. They also state that "living expenses and commuting expenses are not reimbursable when they are incurred at the staff member's duty station."

Ding has a full time job in Washington as the chief of staff of a major congressional committee. His compensation for that job is $150,000 a year.

"In addition to his committee post, Ding is also listed in records as chief of the congressman's personal staff, a position for which Pombo pays him $100 a month from his district office budget. The listing allows Ding to bill taxpayers for his frequent travel between Washington and California.

Even though he describes Ding as his chief of staff who controls all aspects of both his personal and committee operations, Pombo pays another staff member more than $120,000 a year from his district budget as deputy chief of staff. The two jobs don't overlap, Pombo said."

Ding get $150,000 per year for his full time job in WASHINGTON, DC. But, he is also Pombo's chief of staff, although another individual is employed in that function at the taxpayers expense.

Since Ding is on Pombo's California staff, his travel and expenses in WASHINGTON, DC, where his $150,000 a year job is located, are paid for by the American taxpayer.

"Ding's admission, in response to a Times investigation of his activities, raises questions about his outside work and a special arrangement under which Pombo has allowed him to spend more than $87,000 in taxpayer money on travel, meals and lodging during the past three years."

While living in California and working in WASHINGTON, DC, Ding has had a substantial income from political consulting. Consulting directly tied to his position with Pombo and the Resource Committee.

"...IRS documents show Ding is the director of a Sacramento-based federal political action committee, WestPac, that supports conservative congressional candidates and causes in Western states.Noble said Ding's outside work was troubling, in part, because many of Ding's payments come from people who receive political work from Pombo. In another instance, payments came from a candidate to whom Pombo gave money. That could lead to the impression that Ding is being compensated for steering work or money to them, rather than providing consulting services, Noble said.

In 2000, 2002 and 2003, Ding received fees from a state legislative candidate who had earlier received contributions from a state political action committee that Pombo controlled. According to state documents, Ding was in charge of that political action committee's expenditures, and it raised money from donors who also routinely gave to Pombo's federal re-election account."

In case you're having trouble keeping up with all of Mr. Ding's sources of income, the Times sums it up here:

"Documents show that Ding received $114,240 in outside income between 2000 and 2004, the last year for which records are available. (Disclosures for 2005 are due in May).

All the sources of that income are political campaigns and consultants with ties to Pombo.

Ding said Friday he would not have been able to continue that work after 2003 if he had moved to Washington when Pombo appointed him Resources Committee chief of staff.

Since then, records show he spent more than $87,000 from Pombo's district budget on travel, lodging and meals from January 2003 to July 2005. During that same period, he received more than $57,000 in consulting fees, according to documents.

Also during that time, Ding received nearly all his congressional salary - $417,933 - from the budget of the Washington-based Resources Committee."

Representative Pombo is completely aware of his chief of staff's situation. He apparently sees no conflict in Ding's consultancy, nor does he think that stiffing the taxpayers for both Ding's expenses and a second chief of staff to do Ding's work is out of line.

The Republican congress of corruption isn't just a few bad apple congressmen and some shady lobbyists. It is a disease that infects every part of Congress and Washington itself.

What Wouldn't Bob Ney Do?

I don't think that investigators are asking the right questions of Ohio Representative Bob Ney. Maybe they should be asking if there is anything Ney wouldn't do for money, or for a nice, all expense paid, foreign trip?

Newsweek say that Ney is under investigation for trying to help a con man named Nigel Winfield.

"... a thrice-convicted felon who ran a company in Cyprus called FN Aviation. Winfield was seeking to sell U.S.-made airplane spare parts to the Iranian government—a deal that would have needed special permits because of U.S. sanctions against Tehran."

After Winfield provided Ney and an aide an expense paid trip to Londay, "Ney personally lobbied the then Secretary of State Colin Powell to relax U.S. sanctions on Iran."

One of Ney's legal team says that their was nothing improper about Ney's actions.

"Ney's lawyer, Mark Tuohey, said Ney had no idea of Winfield's criminal past, which included a 1982 conviction for trying to swindle Elvis Presley in an airplane deal and two more in the late 1980s for tax evasion. Tuohey said there was "absolutely nothing improper" about Ney's raising the issue of Iranian sanctions with Powell and other Bush administration officials."

Who introduced Ney to Winfield? Good question.

"Ney was introduced to Winfield by lobbyists Roy Coffee, a former legislative aide to the then Gov. George W. Bush, and David DiStefano, who had previously been Ney's chief of staff. Coffee and DiStefano (who did not respond to requests for comment) arranged for Ney and a staff member to fly over to London, where Winfield and his Syrian-born business partner, Fouad Al-Zayat, pitched the congressman on their business plan. Back in Washington, Ney talked to Powell, Tuohey said."

Ney's pal tried to cheat Elvis. That's not going to play well in the Red States. More Republican corruption revelations to come.

(hat tip to Down With Tyranny)

Crossing the Line

Republicans have so blurred the line between politics and governing that it might take years to sort out the mess and undo the damage. Every action of the Bush Administration is based upon political consideration. At the White House and in Congress, lobbyist cronies of the Republicans write legislation and then provide financial incentives to members of congress to pass that legislation.

I guess with that sort of example in front of him, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has no problem blurring the distinction between public employees and political operatives. The LA Times reports that top Schwarzenegger aides are receiving paycheck from both the state of California and the Schwarzenegger campaign simultaneously.

"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has supplemented the salaries of at least four of his top government aides with private campaign money, a practice that means a piece of their overall pay has come from donations by corporations and others that do business in the Capitol.

Schwarzenegger set up a standing agreement in which three present and former aides received a monthly $5,000 check from his political accounts to moonlight as campaign aides, on top of what they earned in salary as government employees, the governor's office said.

The combination boosted their overall annual compensation rates from the $120,000-to-$130,000 range to $180,000 to $190,000. That's more than the governor's job pays, although Schwarzenegger waives his $175,000 state salary."

Having his chief government aides on his campaign payroll is just another case where the governor of our largest state can't seem to understand the distinction between governing and politics. A couple of months ago the Times highlighted the large number of dollars being donated to Schwarzenegger for his housing and expenses by some of his main campaign contributors. Then there was Arnold's multi-million dollar income from writing monthly columns in a body building magazine. And more recently, Arnold made a trip to China paid for by corporate interests.

The median income in California is around $35,000 per year. This is for someone working full time at a job. Arnold's staffers were taking home four to five times the median pay and then getting the equivalent of nearly twice the median pay for work on his perpetual political campaign.

"Costigan, the legislative secretary, collected nearly $46,000 in income and expenses from the governor's campaign committees in 2004-05, campaign finance reports show. That was on top of his annual $123,230 state salary. His job is to help shepherd the governor's agenda through the Legislature and consult with him on which bills to sign or veto.

Since Schwarzenegger's election two years ago, Costigan has also been seen at some of the governor's fundraising events.

Clarey, who served as the governor's chief of staff at $131,412 annually until Kennedy replaced her last month, took in about $30,000 in salary and expenses from campaign accounts over the last two years, records show. A total of $4,114 of that reflected travel expenses incurred when she left the government payroll for two months last year to run the governor's special election campaign.

Clarey's duties included setting up the campaign organization and providing direction.

Stutzman earned about $56,000 in salary and expenses from the governor's campaign funds in 2004-05, records show. His state salary was $123,230 a year. He temporarily left the government payroll for about three months during that period to engage solely in campaign work."

It's illustrative that these government employees have such flexibility in their duties that they can leave their jobs for months at a time to support Arnold's political agenda. As with Bush, politics always comes first for Schwarzenegger.

Duke Then and Now - Nothing Changed

Months ago we passed on this observation regarding then Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham's 100 to 1, ego to common sense ratio. Well, the intervening months have certainly demonstrated the accuracy of that assessment from a naval officer who had a passing acquaintance with Cunningham during his Vietnam days.

Today the San Diego Union Tribune does more to deconstruct the Cunningham myth.

"Many of the aviators who served with him in the Navy say they're stunned at the scope of Cunningham's admitted misdeeds, though not necessarily surprised that he got himself into trouble in Washington, D.C. He was undone, they say, by the same qualities that made him an effective pilot: a cocky attitude, a sense of entitlement, a mind undistracted by complicated thoughts.

In the Navy there was always someone to keep Cunningham in line and save him from the excesses of his personality, a challenging task in the years after he shot down three enemy planes in a single day.

"It was almost like he was frozen in time right there," said Jack Ensch, 68, a fellow Navy pilot who was shot down over North Vietnam and spent seven months as a prisoner of war. "He hasn't grown up as a person from that day on."

Back in his naval aviator days, Cunningham did show two additional qualities that his bribery conviction confirm: a flair for self-promotion and the desire to trade on his reputation for profit.

"If there was one thing that did interest Cunningham, it was hawking copies of his autobiography. He would keep boxes of the books in his car, selling them at air shows and speaking engagements. On one occasion, Cunningham brought along Clement, one of his junior officers, to help him sell copies at an aviation conference in Long Beach, where Cunningham was scheduled to give a speech.

Hundreds of people bought the book that day, and afterward the two men loaded several bags filled with a few thousand dollars in cash into the car, Clement recalled in a recent interview.

Clement said they didn't get back to San Diego until after midnight. When he arrived for work at the base a few hours later, he found Cunningham waiting for him.

"I'm 50 bucks short," Cunningham said. Clement said Cunningham then ordered him to go back to his house and check his uniform to see if the missing money was in his pockets.

Clement concluded that Cunningham must have spent the wee hours of the morning counting every bill in every bag."

Cunningham's penchant for bullying others and his inability to distinguish fact from fiction were all on display during his navy career.

"He fell into the habit of telling stories that seemed exaggerated or embellished. One fellow Vietnam pilot, Matt Connelly, said he read Cunningham's autobiography and wound up writing notations such as "ridiculous" and "never happened" in the margins.

Connelly, 62, now a retired commercial airline pilot who lives outside San Francisco, called some of the assertions in Cunningham's book "fantasy."

Cunningham also became a fierce guardian of his own legend. During an interview with the "Scream of Eagles" author, Cunningham lost his temper at the suggestion that an enemy plane might have played a role in shooting down his F-4. Cunningham insisted he had been downed by a surface-to-air missile.

"If you print that, I'm coming after you," Cunningham told Wilcox.

For a fighter pilot, the difference between the two scenarios can be extremely significant. Getting shot down by an enemy plane means defeat at the hands of another man.

Connelly, who was flying a quarter-mile away when Cunningham's plane went down, said he never saw a surface-to-air missile in the area and thinks Cunningham was shot down by a MiG. He also disputes Cunningham's contention – contained in his autobiography – that he had to flee four pursuing MiGs while trying to fly back to the ship."

Duke Cunningham. A lazy, self-promoting bully with a strong desire to cash in on his position. It was true when he was in the Navy and it was true of his career in Congress.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Explain America In 10 Films

Picked up on this over at Lance Mannion and decided to take a shot. The challenge is to explain America and Americans to someone in ten movies.

"What you're trying to do is give them a sense of who we are---your take on our dreams, our attitudes, our idioms, what we think we are, what we are afraid we are, what we really might be."

Remember in The Princess Bride, when Inigo Montoya decided to take on the masked man left handed to make it more of a challenge. I decided to take on the movie challenge by selecting only black and white films.

Add your films to the comments below. Here are mine.

1. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - I was knocked out to see others put this John Ford classic on their list. "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

2. They Were Expendable - Sticking with Ford. This is the story of America's defeat in the Philippines at the start of WWII. "You and I are professionals. If the manager says sacrifice, we lay down the bunt and let somebody else hit the home run. That's what we were trained for and that's what we'll do."

3. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington - I was shocked that this wasn't on anyone's list. An idealist crushed by the corrupt political system. Smith is done until he makes a personal appeal to the one man who can save him. "All you people don't know about the lost causes. Mr. Paine does. He said once they were the only causes worth fighting for. And he fought for them once, for the only reason that any man ever fights for them. Because of just one plain simple rule: 'Love thy neighbor.' And in this world today, full of hatred, a man who knows that one rule has a great trust. You know that rule, Mr. Paine."

4. It's a Wonderful Life - Sticking with Capra. This film is dark and disturbing. George Bailey throws himself off a bridge and, instead of death, finds out that his small town life was indeed important. Some considered this film subversive, including the FBI. "Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings, Love Clarence."

5. Dr. Strangelove - This is Cold War America. This is the military industrial complex at full throttle. "But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, communist subversion, and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids."

6. To Kill A Mockingbird - Still the most powerful exploration of racial hatred and human decency. "Stand up your fathers passin'."

7. Lilies of the Field - Decency, commitment, faith. God works in mysterous ways and small miracles happen. "I'm gonna' build me a chapel."

8. Stalag 17 - Not in the same league as The Grand Illusion, but this is Americans under stress. Things aren't very noble and motives tend to be mixed. "Only in a democracy can a poor guy get his keister shot off with a rich guy.

9. His Gal Friday - The MSM like is was and still is. Howard Hawks' remake of the Front Page. Political corruption, greed, and the "gentlemen" of the press. "I wouldn't cover the burning of Rome for you if they were just lighting it up!"

10. Casablanca- The film only has one American in it, Richard Blaine aka Rick, and he is on the run for some unspecified reason. In the end, Rick does the right thing and that's what we hope all Americans will do. "I stick my neck out for nobody."

Give it a try.

"Did you hear the falling bombs?"

At Baghdad Burning, River gives us another glimpse at the human cost of our ill conceived and poorly executed liberation of Iraq.

"When I first heard about the abduction of Christian Science Monitor journalist Jill Carroll a week ago, I remember feeling regret. It was the same heavy feeling I get every time I hear of another journalist killed or abducted. The same heavy feeling that settles upon most Iraqis, I imagine, when they hear of acquaintances suffering under the current situation.

I read the news as a subtitle on tv. We haven't had an internet connection for several days so I couldn't really read about the details. All I knew was that a journalist had been abducted and that her Iraqi interpreter had been killed. He was shot in cold blood in Al Adil district earlier this month, when they took Jill Carroll... Theysay he didn't die immediately. It is said he lived long enough to talk to police and then he died.

I found out very recently that the interpreter killed was a good friend- Alan, of Alan's Melody, and I've spent the last two days crying.

Everyone knew him as simply 'Alan', or "Elin" as it is pronounced in Iraqi Arabic. Prior to the war, he owned a music shop in the best area in Baghdad, A'arasat. He sold some Arabic music and instrumental music, but he had his regular customers - those westernized Iraqis who craved foreign music. For those of us who listened to rock, adult alternative, jazz, etc. he had very few rivals.


He was an electrical engineer- but his passion was music. His dream was to be a music producer. He was always full of scorn for the usual boy bands - N'Sync, Backstreet Boys, etc. - but he was always trying to promote an Iraqi boy band he claimed he'd discovered,"Unknown to No One". "They're great- wallah they have potential." He'd say. E. would answer, "Alan, they're terrible." And Alan, with his usual Iraqi pride would lecture about how they were great, simply because they were Iraqi.

He was a Christian from Basrah and he had a lovely wife who adored him- F. We would tease him about how once he was married and had a family, he'd lose interest in music. It didn't happen. Conversations with Alan continued to revolve around Pink Floyd, Jimmy Hendrix, but they began to include F. his wife, M. his daughter and his little boy. My heart aches for his family- his wife and children...

You could walk into the shop and find no one behind the counter- everyone was in the other room, playing one version or another of FIFA soccer on the Play Station. He collected those old records, or 'vinyls'. The older they were, the better. While he promoted new musical technology, he always said that nothing could beat the soundof a vintage vinyl.


After the war, the area he had his shop in deteriorated. There were car bombs and shootings and the Badir people took over some of the houses there. People went to A'arasat less and less because it was too dangerous. His shop was closed up more than it was open. He shut it up permanently after getting death threats and a hand grenade through his shop window. His car was carjacked at some point and he was shot at so he started driving around in his fathers beaten-up old Toyota Cressida with a picture of Sistani on his back window, "To ward off the fanatics..." He winked and grinned.

E. and I would stop by his shop sometimes after the war, before he shut it down. We went in once and found that there was no electricity,and no generator. The shop was dimly lit with some sort of fuel lampand Alan was sitting behind the counter, sorting through CDs. He was ecstatic to see us. There was no way we could listen to music so he and E. sang through some of their favorite songs, stumbling upon the lyrics and making things up along the way. Then we started listening to various ring tones and swapping the latest jokes of the day. Before we knew it, two hours had slipped by and the world outside was forgotten, an occasional explosion bringing us back to reality.

It hit me then that it wasn't the music that made Alan's shop a haven- somewhere to forget problems and worries- it was Alan himself."

Now that the Iraqis have democracy, you'd think they'd be celebrating instead of complaining about people getting killed in the streets. Ingrates.

All Well, That Ends Well

OK. So now we find out that President Bush was behind NSA spying on Americans from the day he first came into office. Big deal. After all the Bush Team was able to pull together all the unexamined clues left behind by the weak and traitorous Clinton Administration and with the help of NSA data thwart an Al Queda plot to attack New York City. Wait that was a TV show. What really happened was that President Bush and his crew broke the law and have nothing to show for it. Unless you count thousands of dead Americans and the Constitution in tatters.

"But according to people who worked at the NSA as encryption specialists during this time, that's not what happened. On orders from Defense Department officials and President Bush, the agency kept a running list of the names of Americans in its system and made it readily available to a number of senior officials in the Bush administration, these sources said, which in essence meant the NSA was conducting a covert domestic surveillance operation in violation of the law.

James Risen, author of the book State of War and credited with first breaking the story about the NSA's domestic surveillance operations, said President Bush personally authorized a change in the agency's long-standing policies shortly after he was sworn in in 2001.

"The president personally and directly authorized new operations, like the NSA's domestic surveillance program, that almost certainly would never have been approved under normal circumstances and that raised serious legal or political questions," Risen wrote in the book. "Because of the fevered climate created throughout the government by the president and his senior advisers, Bush sent signals of what he wanted done, without explicit presidential orders" and "the most ambitious got the message."

We have a dictator in the White House, a subservent Congress and a Federal Judiciary that will blindly follow the emperor. Things have worked out well for Bush.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Feeling Superior

This was posted a couple of days ago, but the sentiment and the facts deserve to be understood. The divide between Red and Blue states isn't as stark as this presents, but the differences are real.

"We're ticked off at the way you've treated California (all the blue states for that matter*), and we've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us.

In case you aren't aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly:
You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states.
We get stem cell research and the best beaches.

We get Elliot Spitzer. You get Ken Lay.

We get the Statue of Liberty. You get OpryLand.

We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.

We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss.

We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs.

You get Alabama.

We get two-thirds of the tax revenue; you get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.


With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners) 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all
living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Caltech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.

We get Seattle, Hawaii and Yosemite, thank you."

This seems like a good Plan B, if the next election cycle returns the party of corruption and right wing religious hatred to power.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Jerry, Jerry, Jerry

It is getting to be nearly impossible for a Republican to get any press about his or her ethical lapses. The pace of disclosure is so rapid, that no one can stay in the spotlight long enough. Back in December, the San Diego Union Tribune took a close look at Lewis' relationship with ethically challenged (convictions count) lobbyist and former Congressman, Bill Lowery.

We wrote about the story at the time and expected that Lewis, who is up to his neck in the Cunningham scandal, was going to have a hard time with the scrutiny. Then came the Abramoff plea deal and poor Jerry couldn't get the time of day for his piddling little scam.

Well, the good folks at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) have gone and filled an ethics complaint against Congressman Lewis. I think the CREW crew is outstanding, but I'm not sure that anyone is listening to them when they generate their complaints. They demanded action from Congress in the Cunningham bribery case and were ignored by the entire Democratic leadership of Congress as well as every Republican.

Still, keep at it CREW. It does matter.

Abramoff's Family Plan

Tom DeLay's wife and daughter pulled down over $500K working for DeLay's various enterprises and lobbyist friends, including Jack Abramoff. John Doolittle's wife pulled down significant cash, working for Abramoff and providing fund raising for her husband's PAC. Now we have the wife of Arizona Congressman J. D. Hayworth, who apparently administers her husband's PAC, earning over $100K for her efforts. In each case the common thread is Jack Abramoff and a scam to insure that money paid into each congressman's PAC ends up directly in the congressman's pocket.

Down With Tyranny has the story with a big assist from Rum, Romanticism and Rebellion and the Arizona Republic.

"Hayworth's wife, Mary, has been the only employee of his T.E.A.M. PAC since December 1999. The fund does not support Hayworth's campaign but distributes money at his discretion to help finance other GOP candidates.

Through the end of 2004, the fund has paid $107,000 for Mary Hayworth's salary and payroll taxes, or nearly half as much as the $234,000 it has distributed to candidates in that period.

The PAC also has paid $70,000 to an outside political consultant and a California bookkeeper, bringing fund-raising and administrative expenses to three-fourths the level of candidate support."

Essentially, Hayworth PAC, which took in $83,500 from Abramoff and associates, paid out $234,000 to other Republican politicians. The costs to administer the PAC were $177,000. Of that $177,000, $107,000 went to Hayworth's wife and $70,000 went to a third party who actually did the accounting and administered the PAC.

All apparently legal. None of it ethical.