Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Oh No....Another Intelligence Failure

Once again there has been a serious intelligence failure in Washington. Just as cherry picked information regarding Iraqi WMD's and Saddam's links to Osama bin Lader turned out to be false, so to was the information regarding the Iraqi insurgency that the Bush Administration passed on to the American people.

Knight Ridder has the story, which documents the willful and egregious misinformation spread by President Bush and his cronies and their complete and utter failure to heed warnings of the clear and present danger that the Iraqi insurgency posed to American soldiers and to the stablity of the region itself.

Among the warnings, Knight Ridder has learned, was a major study, called a National Intelligence Estimate, completed in October 2003 that concluded that the insurgency was fueled by local conditions - not foreign terrorists- and drew strength from deep grievances, including the presence of U.S. troops.


Robert Hutchings, the chairman of the National Intelligence Council from 2003 to 2005, said the October 2003 study was part of a "steady stream" of dozens of intelligence reports warning Bush and his top lieutenants that the insurgency was intensifying and expanding.

"Frankly, senior officials simply weren't ready to pay attention to analysis that didn't conform to their own optimistic scenarios," Hutchings

Somehow the Bush Administration has gotten a complete pass for failing to comprehend a briefing that suggested that Osama bin Laden was pursuing a strategy of attacks on the United States. Somehow the Bush Administration has gotten a partial pass for totally skewing the pre-invasion intelligence to fit their desire to attack Iraq at all costs, without provocation or rationale.

Now we discover that within months of the invasion of Iraq, a variety of intelligence agencies were concerned that the Bush Administration was clueless regarding the nature and potency of the emerging insurgency.

A former senior U.S. official who participated in the process said that analysts at the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the State Department's intelligence bureau all agreed that the insurgency posed a growing threat to stability in Iraq and to U.S. hopes for forming a new government and rebuilding the economy.

The Bush Administration didn't just have a different perspective on the information being developed by intelligence agencies. They simply didn't want to hear anything that might contradict or question their assessments that things were getting better in Iraq.

"This was stuff the White House and the Pentagon did not want to hear," the former official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They were constantly grumbling that the people who were writing these kind of downbeat assessments `needed to get on the team,' `were not team players' and were `sitting up there (at CIA headquarters) in Langley sucking their thumbs.'"

Tell me again why our best young men and women are being sacrificed in Iraq?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Why Would Anyone Give to Santorum's "Charity"?

Down With Tyranny minces few words in speaking of Republican Senator Rick Santorum's little charity, the Operation Good Neighbor Foundation.
But on top of all this, we now find out, courtesy of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, that Santorum was running one of those fake Republican charities (just like Abramoff, DeLay, Frist and other crooks currently in limbo between plea bargaining and prison terms).

What Little Ricky Man-on-Dog was doing, while we thought all he cared about was trying to ruin the lives of gay men and women, was collecting money (tax-free, of course; the Republican way) that was supposed to go to charity but instead using the bulk of it as political pay-offs for his aides and cronies.
I spent some time looking at the Operation Good Neighbor Foundation's IRS Form 990's and frankly, I can't figure why anyone would give money to this scam. Santorum's "charity" has a nearly 60% overhead ratio, leaving just 40% of the million plus it has taken in to distribute to organizations in need of contributions.

If Santorum believes in these charities, why doesn't he just use his office to encourage contributions? That would certainly insure that a lot more money would get to these organizations than it would laundering the money through Santorum.

Of course if Santorum simply endorsed these organizations, then he wouldn't be able to participate in the photo opportunities created when he calls a press conference to hand a check over to that organization. And, the charity never misses the 60% cut that Santorum takes to supplement his political aides' pay. The charity never misses the huge cut that Santorum's fund raiser takes from the charity proceeds despite the fact that the main contributors to Operation Good Neighbor are the same contributors that give to Santorum either directly or through his PAC.

Why would anyone concerned for the welfare of the organizations that Operation Good Neighbor supports pass their contributions to those organizations through Santorum's little scam? Unless, the charity they were really supporting was Senator Rick Santorum. Then, all of a sudden, Operation Good Neighbor has a 60% pass-through rate, which is acceptable for a charity and not bad for a money laundry.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Magic Trick Revealed

As mid-term elections loom, all that Republicans have to run on is their projection of a "tough on terror" image. An image that is based on illusion. The last week has demonstrated that their "tough on terror" image is simply a parlor trick. It has no substance or reality. Like all tricks it relies on the desire of it audience to suspend belief, to be easily distracted and accept what they are shown without question.

The UAE port deal has torn away the veil of illusion and exposed the Bush Administration and its Republican enablers for the frauds they are.

Over at AmericaBlog, John Aravosis takes away the Bushite's shiny distractions and shows us why Bush and his cronies keep using the same trick to fool the American people.

The Republican leadership in Washington, that controls the US Senate, the US House and the White House, believes that money comes before safety, that helping corporate interests is more important than keeping America safe.

Just look at Iraq. It's been one big corporate feeding frenzy from the beginning, and who has benefitted the most, Dick Cheney's energy company. And now that it's a choice between protecting America's ports from terrorists trying to sneak in nuclear bombs, a deal that even the US Department of Homeland Security objected to, George Bush steps in with his Republican congressional enablers and says there's suddenly no problem handing over the safety of our families, our children, our nation to a middle eastern country that had ties to, and financially enabled, the September 11 attacks.
But, BushCo and his illusions have more problems than illumination from progressives. The nearly extinct species of Republican known as "conservatives" has decided to stop pretending to enjoy watching Bush and Karl Rove pull the same dead rabit out of the same old hat and are suggesting the the whole Iraqi distraction has been a blunder from the beginning.

On Friday, the head wizard of conservativism, William F. Buckley (no, he's still alive) said of Iraq that
"our mission has failed."

This morning, Bill Kristol, chief shill of the Bush Administration, told Fox News that
"we have not had a serious three-year effort to fight a war in Iraq."

When the two blind Bills begin to see through you illusions, it is time to fold up the magic show and move to another town.

Question to John Doolittle - What About the People Who Elected You?

The Sacramento Bee asks a couple of tough question of Representative John Doolittle (CA-4).
Where does zeal to help friends from all corners of the nation leave the mass of his constituents - people who aren't his friends, but are owed his time and representation? How does he square his notions of limited government with his willingness to open the federal trough to a favored few?
Today's editorial describes how Doolittle was unfailing in his support of "friends" such as Jack Abramoff and Brent Wilkes. In fact, considering Doolittle's crusade for limited government, the Bee editorialist admits confusion over Doolittle's willingness to lavish federal tax dollars on his "friends."

Two things stand out in Doolittle's Feb. 18 interview with The Bee's David Whitney. One is his view of politics as a matter of friends helping friends. The other is that while he professes a "philosophy of limited government," he is willing to help his friends prosper through congressionally earmarked government contracts.


He is particularly revealing about his friendship with Jack Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to fraud, public corruption and tax evasion: "And if you had a friend who was a lobbyist like that and he liked you, he was able to procure quite a bit of support for you from the clients he represented. So I was in the fortunate position then of benefiting from his friendship and his willingness to help me."


Doolittle is shameless in going out of his way to seek federal government handouts for his friends. Here's an example from the interview. Through lobbyist Ed Buckham, Doolittle met Brent Wilkes, who specializes in using his lobbyist and congressional connections to seek defense contracts. Doolittle was impressed that Wilkes was "quite the Republican" and toured Wilkes' new business headquarters in San Diego.


Doolittle has been the beneficiary of political contributions from Wilkes, his family and business partners. Doolittle has supported government appropriations for Wilkes' projects. For one of Wilkes' companies, PerfectWave, Doolittle helped win earmarks worth $37 million for a technology not requested by the military. Doolittle tried to get a House contract for digital document conversion for another Wilkes company, ADCS.

On Friday Doolittle announced his intention to run for his 9th term in congress. If he is lucky, not all of his "friends" will have been indicted by Election Day.


This is a person my company would (and did) hire 50,000 times. Most of our executive band managers would be able to use this document, virtually unchanged.

I am seeking a position that will utilize many years experience taking the blame for things that don't go as planned.
I wish my resume read like this.

Breaking.....Don Young to Support Hillary Clinton

Alaska's Earmarker in Chief, Representative Don Young, will support a Hillary Clinton presidential bid.....if John McCain is his party's presidential nominee. Check out Pam's report.
"I will never work for John McCain. Ever. I may support Hillary Clinton if he gets the nomination."
Young is still pissed at McCain for dissing his "bridge to nowhere."

Pentagon Math Lesson

Over at the Political Animal, Kevin Drum tries to figure out how to do the math on Iraqi military readiness.
Four months ago the Pentagon reported that the number of "level one" Iraqi battalions had dropped from three to one. On Friday they reported that although that number has now dropped to zero, 53 battalions are at level two, up from 36 in October. There's reason to be skeptical that this is good news, though. Note the definitions:

"Level one" means the battalion is able to fight on its own; "level two" means it requires support from U.S. troops; and "level three" means it must fight alongside U.S. troops.
The real training issue here may be that, as there is no real Iraqi state, there may not be a real Iraqi army. In fact, we may simple be insuring a higher level of military skill for Iraq's religious militias.
...given the fact that Iraqi troops appear to be mostly private armies run by local theocrats anyway, you have to half wonder if all this training is even doing any good. Are we just guaranteeing a more efficient civil war?
Good question. We are leaving our troops in harms way, while asking them to train the troops who are going to help insure the lethality of Iraq's civil war.

Ambassador Harris

Representative Katherine Harris (FL-13) has been sucked into the vortex of the Cunningham scandal. Harris' senatorial bid, a source of embarrassment for Republicans, may be completely derailed by new and more detailed revelations of her relationship with Mitchell Wade and his MZM Inc.

Harris' 2004 congressional campaign received $50,000 from Wade and other MZM employees. The vast majority of MZM employee contributions were "straw" contributions. MZM's employees were given the money to contribute to Harris by Mitchell Wade in order to circumvent campaign finance laws.

According to a local paper from Harris' Florida district, The Ledger, Harris understands that their might be a problem when $50,000 rains down on your campaign from the employees of a single company, on the same day.

Harris' understanding of the potential perception problem wasn't mitigated by the fact that this same sort of "perception" problem dogged her 1994 state senate campaign.
It's not the first time the Longboat Key Republican has had to defend herself for accepting illegal contributions from a company. In 1994, while running for the state senate, Harris collected $30,000 from a Sarasota company called Riscorp which, like MZM, was investigated for violating campaign laws.
The more significant problem dogging Harris is the fact that not long after MZM showered her with cash, she had a cozy dinner with Mitchell Wade to discuss what she could do for Wade in return for the $50,000.
...new information disclosed Friday by the U.S. Justice Department shows Harris failed to mention one key detail back then -- the company's president had asked her to put in a request for federal funding for his company.

That money would have helped build a Navy counterintelligence facility in Sarasota.

Mitchell Wade, now at the center of a federal bribery investigation, took Harris to dinner at a posh Washington restaurant to make his pitch, according to records from the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C.
Harris made the request, but apparently didn't have the pull to get her earmark approved.

Harris' connection to Wade has been as side note in the Cunningham story, but Harris has been running for cover knowing that at some point in time the details of her flirtation with Mitchell Wade would surface. Two years after their receipt of the "straw" MZM conributions, Harris gave $50,000 to charity.

George Bush wouldn't be president if it wasn't for Katherine Harris. I'm sure that, barring a jail sentence, she is going to be offered an ambassadorship when she looses her senatorial bid. In fact, I suspect that the Bush Administration will work hard to get Harris out of town as soon as possible. Maybe some quail hunting with the VP?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Sign Up Now

Deadeye Dick's Gun Club. Sign-up here. Only one more week left to bag a trial lawyer.
Jan 1 - Feb 4: Grouse, Partridge Feb 1 - Mar 7: Quail, Trial Attorneys
Mar 1 - Mar 29: Possum, Stray Cat Aug 20 - Sep 20: New Orleans Looters
ALWAYS IN SEASON: Bald Eagle, Tree-Huggers, Cindy Sheehan(s)

Postulates and Other BS From the Master

Everyone is posting that arch-conservative William F. Buckley has declared the U.S. efforts in Iraq to be a failure.
Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. The great human reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No doubt they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols.
I'm sure that all of the neo-cons over at the White House and across the river at the Pentagon have thrown in the towel. If Bill Buckley says its over, its over! Rightttt.

I doubt if George Bush has a clue as to who William F. Buckley is or was. And, the reason that we put the neo before the con is simple. The generation of so called "conservatives" that engineered the debacle in Iraq have virtually nothing in common with their nearly extinct predecessors. To put it in evolutionary teams, the relationship of today's neo-cons to their Buckley ancestors is much like the relationship of dinosaurs to birds. The have a lot of DNA in common, but functionally, tactically and strategically they are millions of years apart.

Buckley attempts wrap his bad news in the pretentious drivel that convinced a whole generation that the guy was an intellectual, instead of a right wing, racist ideologue with a good vocabulary.

Be that as it may, Buckley attributes the United States failure in Iraq to its failure to achieve the requirements inherent in two, what Buckley ascribes as, global American postulates. According to Buckley these postulates have been demonstrated all over the world and he urges the Bush Administration to hold true to them even in the face of this current set back.

Postulate #1 "was that the Iraqi people, whatever their tribal differences, would suspend internal divisions in order to get on with life in a political structure that guaranteed them religious freedom." Buckley fails to mention that virtually anyone with experience in the region was highly skeptical that this postulate was valid. Buckley simply assumes that it is.

Postulate #2 "was that the invading American army would succeed in training Iraqi soldiers and policymakers to cope with insurgents bent on violence." The failure to achieve the requirements of this postulate resulted in the failure of Postulate #1 in Buckley's version of the fall of Iraq.

Unfortunately, Buckley provides no evidence that the Bush Administration ever considered Postulate #2. Virtually every decision made before the invasion and after demonstrates that the Bush Administration was completely blindsided by the existence of an insurgency. The Bush Administration did not listen to a single voice that suggested that any Iraqis would resist an American invasion and take-over of their country.

Buckley admission of failure is really a weak attempt at justifying the goals of the Bush Administration while looking past the Administrations complete and utter failure to understand the actually policies and actions necessary to accomplish those goals.
The failure in Iraq does not force us to generalize that violence and antidemocratic movements always prevail. It does call on us to adjust to the question, What do we do when we see that the postulates do not prevail — in the absence of interventionist measures (we used these against Hirohito and Hitler) which we simply are not prepared to take? It is healthier for the disillusioned American to concede that in one theater in the Mideast, the postulates didn't work. The alternative would be to abandon the postulates. To do that would be to register a kind of philosophical despair. The killer insurgents are not entitled to blow up the shrine of American idealism.
The first and last sentences are key here. Buckley sets up a straw man argument that contends that those who oppose the Bush Administration will assume that "violence and antidemocratic movements always prevail." In Buckley's mind that's what us liberals will be thinking and saying. While Buckley reminds us that the neo-cons and Bushites are American idealists.

As always, Bill Buckley is full of crap. The neo-cons wanted Iraq to be a show of power - a projection of American military might into the heart of the Middle East. Iraqis' political structure was and is of no importance to them. There was no idealism in the Bush Approach, only imperialism.

Jerry Lewis Staffer....err... Marine Officer Recalled

California Congressman Jerry Lewis (CA-41) is the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. As such, he had oversight responsibility for members of his committee. Members such as Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who was using his position on the committee to ensure that his "friends" Mitchell Wade (pled guilty Friday) and Brent Wilkes (soon to be pleading) could steal millions from U.S. taxpayers.

Turns out that Lewis was stealing from U.S. taxpayers as well. According to The Hill, Lewis was utilizing a Marine officer, Lt. Col. Carl Kime, as a staffer in his congressional office to help manage earmark and defense appropriations. The very tools that Cunningham used to run his bribery scam.
Kime held an influential position in Lewis’s personal office and had oversight on requests for earmarked funds in the defense appropriations bill, the largest of the annual spending bills, according to sources familiar with the workings of the House Appropriations Committee. Kime held the title of appropriations associate, the only aide to hold that title in Lewis’s personal office, according to the House directory.


Kime’s service for Lewis appeared to violate the Members’ Congressional Handbook issued by the Committee for House Administration, which defines a detailee as a “non-congressional federal employee assigned to a committee for a period of up to one year.” The handbook also states that “detailees may not be assigned to a member office” and cites the relevant section of U.S. law: 2 USC Section 72a(f).

Lewis defended his aide when alerted about the apparent violation.

“I’ve had military detailees since I’ve been in the Congress, almost every year, and they’ve been responsive to me,” he said. “I don’t read the handbooks, but I know who they work for and they respond to my interests.”

Kime’s service also appeared to violate a Department of Defense regulation that mandates that detailees “be limited to performing duties for a specific duration, in a specific project and as a member of a staff of a committee of the Congress.”

Jerry Lewis apparently thinks that he doesn't have to follow the rules in Congress. Just like Duke Cunningham, he places his interests ahead of the American people.

No wonder Lewis and his "free" staffer didn't find anything wrong with Duke's earmarks. Duke was following the "Lewis Rule" - take everything you can get.

6 Ports, 21 Ports - Who Knows How Many?

The erstwhile King of Zembia has an excellent post up regarding the Bush Administration's decision to turn over the operation of 21 (yes - 21) United States ports to the royal family of Dubai.

The UAE is not only the center of financial dealings in the Persian Gulf, it is switching central for dope and arms dealing.
This haven for drug smuggling and arms dealing is run by the same royal family whose picnic with Osama bin Laden in 1999 shielded bin Laden from a U.S. missile attack.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Another Warning Ignored

Once again, they were warned. And did nothing.
Government documents declassified today reveal that President Bush was briefed last summer of "a substantial risk" that Vice President Dick Cheney would shoot an elderly male in the face sometime in the next several months.

Cunningham's Military Training Led Him to Lie, Cheat and Steal

Convicted felon (and former San Diego) congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham's propensity to lie, cheat and steal were, in part, the result of his military training. That's the theme of a psychological report on Cunningham prepared for and distributed by his legal defense team.

The full report is here. The summary from the San Diego Union Tribune is here.

A psychiatrist says Randy “Duke” Cunningham's fall from Vietnam War hero to corrupt politician grew out of “an outsized ego and a mantle of invulnerability” that allowed him to rationalize his behavior.

That mindset evolved from a military career in which Cunningham was taught to embrace aggressive tactics and ignore danger signs and enabled him to perform heroically during the Vietnam War, the doctor said.

Those traits, imperative for fighter pilots, were so engrained in Cunningham that although he was expected to behave differently in Congress “the psyche cannot make such a U-turn easily,” said Dr. Saul Faerstein.

Faerstein said Cunningham's “extraordinary deeds in the service planted a subconscious sense of entitlement which fed his rationalization to accept these gifts for his sacrifices.”


“He recognizes now that Wade and others in Washington were part of a culture of corruption and that good motives may lead to bad decisions when that corruption infuses the relationships of the people involved in the process,” he said.
OK. Here's the deal. Everyone in the military - every branch and every military occupation specialty is trained first as part of a fighting force. And, fighting in the military sense is all about doing things that your brain say are bad ideas - avoiding "danger signs" (being shot at and bombed) and "aggressive tactics" (attacking instead of running away).

If the psych report on Cunningham is accurate, then why are we not in the midst of an extraordinary crime wave as former soldiers, sailors, marines, airman, etc. run wild exercising their "subconscious sense of entitlement?"

I'll tell you why. Because, every office and non-commissioned office in our military is trained to accept responsibility, both for their own actions and for the actions of their subordinates. Second, because every officer and non-commisioned understands that the welfare of their subordinates is their primary duty.

Duke Cunningham was a good fighter pilot. He was not a good officer. He never understood the part about taking responsibility and, in congress, he put his personal welfare above those he was elected to serve.

Mitchell Wade Pleads Guilty

Cunningham co-conspirator, Mitchell Wade, plead out before a federal judge today. Here are the charges. The San Diego Union Tribune has the summary. Wade's plea suggests that an additional member of congress was involved in the bribery deal and that the conspiracy extended into the Department of Defense.

Wade pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy and single counts of using interstate facilities to promote bribery and of election fraud. He faces a possible 11-year prison sentence, and the judge also outlined a formula for what would appear to a huge fine.

In a summary of the prosecution's case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard R. Sklamberg disclosed that Wade made about $80,000 in illegal campaign contributions in 2004 and 2006 to two members of Congress he did not name. The lawmakers were targeted because they had the potential to steer federal contracts to MZM.

Wade apparently tried to skirt federal restrictions on campaign contributions in at least a couple of instances by reimbursing his own employees and their spouses for campaign gifts, the prosecutor said.

Sklamberg also said that Wade had discussions with a Defense Department official Sklamberg did not identify about projects that would benefit his firm.

More to come as Wade and Cunningham continue to cooperate with the feds.

Another Domino Falls

Mitchell Wade, one of former congressman and soon to be incarcerated felon, Randy "Duke" Cunningham, partners in crime is expected to plead guilty today in a plea bargain deal with federal prosecutors. The San Diego Union Tribune carries this AP story on Wade's expected plea.

Mitchell Wade was expected to enter his guilty plea Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington, the officials said. They spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity because the charges against Wade and the plea agreement have not been made public.


Among Wade's gifts to Cunningham was the purchase of the congressman's California home for a price inflated by $700,000. Cunningham, 64, used the money
to move into a $2.55 million, seven-bath mansion in the exclusive San Diego County community of Rancho Santa Fe.

A bribe of a $140,000 in the form of a 42-foot yacht, the Duke-Stir, brought Wade an offer of $16 million in contracts, according to Cunningham's sentencing memorandum, which calls for a 10-year prison term.

Wade bought Cunningham $190,000 in antiques over two years from one store alone, records show. Cunningham used the antiques “to feather his nest in San Diego,” prosecutors said.


Besides Wade, the three other coconspirators are: Brent Wilkes, founder of San Diego-based ADCS Inc.; New York businessman Thomas Kontogiannis; and John T. Michael, Kontogiannis' nephew.

Two down, three to go.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Republicans Hate Conservation

Down With Tyranny has an excellent post up concerning Republicans and the environment. Specifically, the poor environmental record of state senator Bill Morrow, who is running against Democrat Francine Busby for Duke Cunningham's seat in the CA-50.
Meanwhile, today's NORTH COUNTY TIMES, the local newspaper for the 50th Congressional District, has a pathetic report on the environmental records of the Republicans in the area. Conservationists in California are particularly unhappy with the extreme right-wing state senator from Oceanside, Bill Morrow, who is running against Busby. He had a grade of just 4 out of 100-- even worse than Pombo's!!! According to Rico Mastrodonato of the California League of Conservation Voters, "from an environmental perspective, we get very little support from representatives in that area."
Morrow is just another Pombo Republican. Hates the environment and anything or anyone who might actually consider conserving and protecting it.

What's Good for GWB Enterprises is Good for the Country

The political firestorm that the Dubai port management issues has ignited appears to me to be all smoke and virtually no flame.

Of this country's 100s of port facilities, how many are operated by foreign companies? Anybody have any idea? Most US ports have some aspect of foreign corporate management, either at the port or terminal level.

How many of the thousands of cargo ships that deliver goods to US ports are US flag carriers? Virtually none.

How many of the originating ports for ships and containers delivering goods to the US are operated by US companies? A tiny fraction.

The largest companies in the port operations business are all foreign. The single largest corporate entity is Chinese. Number 2, Singaporian.

Container cargos are shipped much like airline passengers in the US. Containers are shipped to hubs and combined with containters from other ships for shipment to US ports. That is what makes ports like Singapore and Dubai among the world's largest. They are hubs in a global transportation system.

All this bluster from both sides can't change the way the global shipping world works.

Nor will this bluster from Republican in congress cover up the fact that they have repeatedly voted against improving port security in the US. I guess you could say that they were against port security, before they were for it.

The political problem here is that this deal exposes the Bush Administration for what it really is. Not the protectors of Americans from terrorists. Not the deliverers of democracy to a world hungering for freedom. No, the Bush Administration has only one mission - to free the world's corporations to make as much money as possible.

Where members of congress dream only of currying lobbyist favor and the perks that go with it, in the White House the dreams are of expanding corporate wealth beyond any reasonable bounds. It was in the corporate world that Bush and Cheney became rich. That is their real constituency, not the religious right, Reagan Republicans or NASCAR fans.

George Bush reminds me of the character, Milo Minderbinder in Joseph Heller's classic novel, Catch-22. Minderbinder was a character so immoral and obsessed with his corporate mission that he contracted with the Germans to use American planes to bomb his own Air Force base (as I write this, the parallel with 9/11 strikes me).

This is a business deal. In George Bush's mind that trumps any other national interests or sensibilities. The war on terror is important, but business is business. That's why Bush is so unwilling to bend on this issue. Corporate profits are at stake.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

WaPo Rehash

Yesterday, we touted Raw Story's tease of today's Washington Post story about Brent Wilkes. It's good to see the Post stick with the Wilkes' story and the connections between Wilkes and Representatives John Doolittle (CA-4), Jerry Lewis (CA-41) and Duncan Hunter (CA-52).

That said, the Post story is pretty much a rehash of work already done by the reporting team of the San Diego Union Tribune and Copley New Service.

Here are three articles from the UT to which we have linked in the past several weeks.

1. Case vs. DeLay Extends to Poway

Even before PerfectWave's patent disputes were resolved, it was donating money to key politicians in Washington. On Sept. 20, 2002, three months after the company was founded, it donated $15,000 to Delay's Texas PAC. 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.

2. Four linked to area firm subpoenaed

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.

3. The power of persuasion

From 1995 to 2005, as Wilkes got federal funding for his family of small defense companies, he steered more than $600,000 in contributions to lawmakers and their political action committees. The biggest beneficiary was House ppropriations Committee member John Doolittle from the Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay, who received at least $82,000 from Wilkes, his close relatives, employees and business partners. Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis of Redlands received $60,000. Rep. Duncan Hunter of Alpine, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, got $39,200.

The last article noted, is a much better read than today's WaPo story, which covers all of the same ground that the UT was working over a month ago.

Of course, the key points are the same in all of these articles. Doolittle, Lewis, Hunter, DeLay and Cunningham helped "earmark" millions to companies that made contributions to them. They traded out tax dollars for products and technologies that no one else in the government wanted or needed for contributions to their political campaigns and political action committees.

These "representatives of the people" established a corporate welfare plan for rich Republicans, who bribed them with money, private jet travel, lavish fact finding trips, and more money.

I hope the "liberal media" keeps digging. Although the smell is getting pretty bad.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Raw Story's WaPo Preview

Raw Story gives us a preview of tomorrow's Washington Post. It's not going to be a good day for Representative John Doolittle (CA-4).

The article fingers Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-CA).

In July 2002, Wilkes hired the Alexander Strategy Group, a lobby shop run by former aides of then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas. Wilkes, Gelwix and their wives and associates then began donating to DeLay, Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Rep. John T. Doolittle, R-Calif., a member of the Appropriations Committee, among others.

They donated more than $85,000 to Doolittle's campaign and political action committee between 2002 and 2005. Doolittle acknowledged to The Washington Post recently that he sponsored earmarks, totaling $37 million, in defense funding bills for PerfectWave Technologies, beginning in 2002. Wilkes divested his majority interest in PerfectWave late last year after the Cunningham charges and his role in them became public.

This is all old news if you've been paying attention here at Words Have Power, but still it isn't going to help Doolittle to have the Post digging into the story.

Little Ricky

The American Prospect has some serious allegations regarding Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Will Bunch takes the often sanctimonious Santorum to tasks for a couple of interesting financial items.
...we found is that Santorum’s exurban lifestyle is financed in ways that aren’t available to the average voter back home in Pennsylvania -- namely a political action committee that lists payments for such unorthodox items as dozens of trips to the Starbucks in Leesburg, a number of stops at fast-food joints, and purchases at Target, Wal-Mart, and a Giant supermarket in northern Virginia.
OK. Santorum is apparently using his leadership PAC as an ATM for groceries, Big Macs and lattes. Maybe that's why only 18% of the money flowing into his PAC, flows out to other Republican candidates - which is the purpose of the PAC.

While using his PAC revenue as tax free spending money is questionable, Bunch found Santorum's home financing to be even more remarkable.
Initially, according to Loudoun County property records, the purchase was financed with a $405,000 mortgage from a conventional lender, Westminster Mortgage Company. But a year later, the couple refinanced for $500,000. That was not unusual in the fall of 2002, when many homeowners were refinancing to take advantage of plunging interest rates, while also cashing in on the rising equity in their homes. What was curious was the source of the increased mortgage. It was a new private bank catering to “affluent investors and institutions” -- whose officers have contributed $24,000 to Santorum’s political action committees and re-election campaign -- called Philadelphia Trust Company.

Rick and Karen Santorum do not appear to fit the profile of customers to whom the financial institution would normally issue a loan of any kind. According to information currently posted on Philadelphia Trust’s Web site, banking services “are offered at no additional charge to our clients” and “are available only to investment advisory clients whose portfolios we manage, oversee or administer. Interest rates on loans and deposits are competitive. Loan payments will be customized to match each client’s specific needs. Approved loans will be collateralized by your investment portfolio.”

The Santorum's didn't have an investment portfolio at the Philadelphia Trust Company. But, they got a "market rate" five year, $500,000 loan anyway. Go figure.

This is just the 40,000 foot view of the article. As you get closer to ground levels many of our old friends seem to pop into view. The Alexander Strategy Group, R.J. Reynolds, Altria, and U.S. Tobacco Corporation just to name a few.

Once again, we see a key Republican leader using lobbyist money to feather his nest and improve his life style. Once again, we see a key Republican leader getting special treatment from the representative of an industry that he is responsible to regulate.

Business as usual for the congress of corruption.

Doolittle Mucking About

Over at the Daily Muck, Paul Kiel breaks down Representative John Doolittle's (CA-4) recent newspaper interview.

Paul finds it noteworthy that so many of Doolittle's "friends" turned out to be crooks and poor John Doolittle can't figure out what happened. Afterall, according to Doolittle they were all his "friends" and all were "good Republicans."

John Doolittle, in fact, provides an excellent tutorial in the K Street Project, which was all about friendship. He is unabashed about his shilling for the Mississippi Choctaw, an Abramoff client, because the Chief was “a Republican” who “supports Republicans.” Unaware of any apparent tension with his touted ideals, here he lauds the Choctaw for being “very free-enterprise oriented.” Never mind that Doolittle, according to his spokesperson, has a "longheld anti-gaming position." All such high-minded principles go out the window when friendship is involved.

The same goes for Brent Wilkes, who would have been just another defense contractor if he had not showed such friendship to his representatives ($82,000 to Doolittle, which won him $37M in earmarked appropriations for a technology the military never asked for). As Doolittle charmingly puts it, “[Wilkes] was, you know, really quite the Republican in San Diego.”

Just like Duke Cunningham, John Doolittle will do anything for his Republican friends, particularly if some money changes hands. That's what friends are for, isn't it?

Doolittle's Rat PAC

Representative John Doolittle (CA-4) is, by all reports, a devote Mormon. He doesn't drink. He doesn't smoke. And, he is vehemently anti-gambling. Except, apparently, when being pro-gambling helps out his friend Jack Abramoff's clients.

Why would a straight-laced guy like Doolittle hold a Republican Party fund raiser in Las Vegas? Why do people rob banks? That's where the money is says Doolittle in the Sacramento Bee.

According to Doolittle, Las Vegas "is a place that our target audience, namely these $5,000 donors, would like to go."

The Bee focuses on a major Doolittle fund raising event held at the exclusive and expensive Venetian Resort Hotel Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. The 2005 event was designed to haul in big bucks for Doolittle and the Republicans.

Behind the need for fundraisers such as Doolittle's is the increased demand for money to fuel political campaigns. As a member of the House leadership, Doolittle is required to raise $250,000 for House Republicans each year.

When asked about that, Doolittle said he had just been told he needed to raise an additional $100,000 for an upcoming House Republican dinner.

So, in essence Doolittle was sent out by his party's leadership to raise money so that the crew in Washington could have a nice meal.

We don't know what kind of deals had to be struck to insure that congressional Republicans were able to eat filet mignon instead of hamburger, but we do know that Doolittle's event featured a stellar cast of co-conspirators and potential government witnesses.

...the biggest draw of all for the Doolittle event - then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

DeLay, now facing a trial in Texas for campaign finance irregularities, knew them all. Under pressure from House Republicans worried about the growing Abramoff scandal, DeLay permanently surrendered his commanding leadership job in December.

Former DeLay staffers who started the now-infamous Alexander Strategy Group lobbying firm were there with DeLay.

The firm, which closed its doors last month as a result of the scandals, employed DeLay's wife. Among its clients were those connected both to Abramoff and to defense contractors whose cash payments to Cunningham brought down the Vietnam War hero.

DeLay flew into Las Vegas on the private corporate jet of Group W, one of the companies owned by Brent Wilkes. Doolittle's PAC paid $358.50 for DeLay's privileged seat.

Doolittle pays the standard commercial airfare and DeLay rides out to Vegas on Brent Wilkes' private jet. Just business as usual for Doolittle. But, not only did Wilkes provide DeLay with a $20,000 private jet ride, Wilkes also had some sugar for his pal Doolittle.

Wilkes also attended Doolittle's event, giving Doolittle $10,000 in personal and PAC checks, almost certainly unaware that his businesses would be raided about two months later as federal agents built their bribery case against Cunningham.

Also attending was Ed Buckham, DeLay's former chief of staff and a founder of the Alexander Strategy Group. Buckham was Wilkes' lobbyist.

Doolittle said it may have been Buckham who first introduced him to Wilkes, setting up a relationship that the congressman says he still cannot believe was tainted by corruption.

Karl Gallant, another Alexander Strategy Group lobbyist, was there. He also ran DeLay's political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority.

Not since the days of Sinatra has Vegas seen a "rat pack" to equal this crowd. Although, now days the "pack" has been replaced by "PAC". And speaking of PACs, Julie Doolittle was in attendance with her husband.

By the time of the fundraiser - Doolittle's second at the Las Vegas complex - his wife, Julie, already had been subpoenaed by the Justice Department for business records related to work she had done for an Abramoff interest, the Capital Athletic Foundation.

John Doolittle continues to insist that he has done nothing wrong. Yet, it is hard to understand how a man who claims to have such a strong moral compass could surround himself with so much corruption and remain untainted by it.

Doolittle's personal morality may not have been compromised by his association with Abramoff, Wilkes, DeLay and their retainers, but his public morality certainly seems to have been sold to the highest bidder.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cheering Allies

From Reuters:

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will face resistance from Arab allies on a trip this week to enlist their support for a campaign to isolate two U.S. adversaries, Hamas and Iran. Rice, who will visit Egypt on Tuesday and travel to Saudi Arabia and to a regional meeting in the United Arab Emirates, will lobby states to deny aid to a Hamas-led Palestinian government and push Iran to curb its nuclear plans.

The Bush Administration has managed to isolate the most dangerous totalitarian regime in the world - itself.

All We Have Is Fear and We're Afraid You'll Take That From Us

The King of Zemba links up to the San Francisco Chronicle and has the audacity to suggest that what we really should be afraid of is the Hyping of Fear and more Fear and finally lots more Fear.

Folks what we need in this country is more blind, put your neighbors in a concentration camp and form howling mobs, fear.

Being afraid makes us so much easier to control.

Are you afraid? You better be!

"Doolittle shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here! "

Over at MyDD, Jonathan Singer takes a look at John Doolittle's extended interview with the Sacramento Bee.

The interview is a series of Doolittle doing Captain Renault impersonations. Doolittle is shocked that his "friends" Abramoff and Wilkes are crooks.

Doolittle is shocked that anyone would consider his financial arrangement with his wife's fund raising company as questionable.

Doolittle is shocked to find that he has been supporting gambling all these years.




Rumor is that the Bush Administration is going to be outsourcing lots more functions.

Port security - United Arab Emirates.

Airport security - Pakistan.

Department of Education - Saudi Arabia.

Congression ethics investigations - Nigeria.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration - Iran.

Ministry of Silly Walks - Bush and Cheney are keeping this one.

We Don't Deserve Dick Cheney

Frankly, no democratic nation deserves to be led by someone like Dick Cheney. Newsweek opens the door a crack and let's us look into the world of Dick Cheney. Dick Cheney's America is not the one envisioned by our Founding Fathers. It is far more like the world against which they rebelled.
Has he been transformed, warped, perhaps corrupted—by stress, wealth, aging, illness, the real terrors of the world or possibly some inner goblins? The few who know him (and few really do) aren't saying much, except to argue that he takes a longer view than the mean politics of the moment. But there is no doubt that Cheney has become less amiable, less open, less willing to conciliate and seek common ground than he was as a younger politician. A man who was shepherded by the Secret Service to his bunker during 9/11 has stayed there—even when that has not been helpful to the president.


...in 1995, Cheney became CEO of Halliburton Co., the giant military contractor. He entered the exclusive preserve of very rich men who could, by and large, get their way. The new role suited Cheney. He began going on frequent hunting trips, partaking of a sport he had enjoyed since youth. (His partners in recent years have included various tycoons and sports heroes including oilman T. Boone Pickens and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach.) He flew around on corporate jets; aides and retainers attended to his whims. His political ties were to True Believer conservatives...
Rich, secretive, true believer. A man who believes in the undiluted power of the imperial presidency. A man who places himself and above the law and has no problem with spying on Americans and torturing anyone he damn well pleases. Yes, that's what American needs.

Housekeeping Time

Every so often, we try to do a little clean-up of Words Have Power. Today's efforts included trimming some links (mostly to blogs that aren't posting much) and adding a couple of blogs that we try and read routinely to our links. Today's additions to the links include The Mahablog and Pam's House Blend.

We also moved Calitics to a Featured Site position along with our Democracy for America link that was added last week.

One more thing to note for Words Have Power. Tell your friends to drop in and give us a look. We have a loyal group who check us out daily, but it would be great to grow our readership.

Republicans Won't Clean Up Corruption

Today's Washington Post describes the slow pace that lobbying reform has taken just weeks after the Abramoff plea.
A month ago, Republican leaders in Congress called legislation on the topic their first priority, and promised quick action on a measure that would alter the rules governing the interaction between lawmakers and lobbyists.
Well, not really "quick action".

Their progress was slowed by the election two weeks ago of a new majority leader, Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who has a different notion of what "reform" should entail and who challenged parts of Hastert's plan.

In mid-January, Hastert proposed broad new restrictions on lobbying, including a ban on privately funded travel for lawmakers and tight limits on meals and other gifts.

And, not really "action".

But Boehner and many rank-and-file Republicans objected to his recommendations and have said they would prefer beefing up disclosure of lobbyists' activities rather than imposing new restrictions.

As a result, House Republicans are still talking about where to begin. "The speaker wants to gain a consensus on this legislation, introduce it . . . and complete it by the end of March so he can get onto other business," said Ronald D. Bonjean Jr., Hastert's spokesman.

Republicans don't want to change the lobbying rules. They like the money, they like the private jets, fancy meal and lavish trips. They're going to make some small changes, but the lobbyist will keep doing business as usual and Republican members of congress will keep hauling in big campaign contributions and living the high life for doing the lobbyist work instead of the public's.

If Americans want lobbyist reform, they are going to have to toss out the corrupt Republican and demand that their replacements do the right thing. After all we can toss them out, too.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Millionaires' Amendment In Play in CA-50

The "millionaires' amendment" may be into play in the race to replace former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Republican candidate, Eric Roach, notified the Federal Election Commission that his self-funded congressional campaign had crossed over the notification threshold required by the Campaign Reform Act of 2002.

According to the North County Times, millionaire Roach has already loaned his campaign much of the over $750,000 it has spent on the special election campaign.
In Roach's notification, he reports that as of Thursday, he had spent $750,000 on the April 11 special election where voters will pick a replacement for former U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who resigned from office in November after pleading guilty in federal court to receiving more than $2.4 million in bribes.

A spokesman for Roach said in a phone interview Friday that in a hotly contested election, with 23 candidates already in the running, Roach had little choice but to spend generously from his own pocket.
Roach is one of three millionaire Republicans in the race who are self-funding the vast majority of their campaign costs. Of this club, Roach is the most recent and least know of the three. He is spending heavily just to earn some name recognition against entrenched and well know Republicans politicians who are in the 50th race.

Roach's tripping of the "millionaires' amendment" potentially allows the 20 or so non-millionaire candidates in the race to dramatically increase their fund raising both from individual donors and, in the case of Democrat Francine Busby, the state and national Democratic Party.

All of the non-millionaire candidates are studying the provisions of the complex law to insure that they understand how Roach's self-funding opens the door to increased fund raising for their individual campaigns.

The top three Republican candidates in the 50th race are now going to have to scramble to get more money flowing into their campaigns. Bill Morrow, Brian Bilbray and Howard Kaloogian have been getting most of their money from outside of the districts and from right wing issues organizations.

Busby, with Democratic Party support in place and the only true grassroots campaign in the race, is in an excellent position thanks to Roach. A Busby spokesman talked about the impact of the "millionaire amendment" on Busby's grassroots campaign and the financing of her Republican opponents.
"It's more confirmation that Francine is running against a group of career politicians and millionaires trying to buy this election," Busby spokesman Brennan Bilberry said. "It means that a grass-roots candidate with support from the community will still be able to run a strong race against a mega-millionaire."
Busby needs your support now more than ever to take on the right wing nut jobs and the millionaires who want to insure that its business as usual in Washington.

Friday, February 17, 2006

10 Years Isn't Enough For Cunningham

Federal prosecutors presented a San Diego court with a recommended sentence for former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham. You can read the entire sentencing memorandum here or check out the San Diego Union Tribune's shorter version here.
Having admitted unparalleled corruption, defendant Randall H. Cunningham now comes before the Count to be sentenced for his stunning betrayal of the public trust. Cunningham used his status as a war hero to get into Congress, and then he used his Congressional office to get rich. In doing so, Cunningham reneged on his obligation to execute his office with conscientious, loyal, faithful, disinterested, and unbiased service. The length, breadth, and depth of Cunningham's crimes against the people of the United States are unprecedented for a sitting Member of Congress. So too, should be his sentence.
With that as an introduction, prosecutors asked the court to sentence Cunningham to the maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

What the details in the sentencing memorandum make abundantly clear is that Randy Cunningham sold his influence and used his office to make himself rich. Cunningham was not caught up in the schemes of others, he was the prime instigator of this criminal endeavor. A copy of a bribe payment schedule (bribe menu) was included in documents filed by the prosecution.

In this "bribe menu," the left column represented the millions in government contracts that could be "ordered" from Cunningham. The right column was the amount of the bribes that the contractor giving up his title to a boat ("BY) for which Coconspirator No. 2 had initially paid $140,000 ("140"). The next four rows indicate that an additional million dollars in funding was “for sale" in exchange for every additional $50,000 that Coconspirator No. 2 was willing to pay Cunningham. Once Coconspirator No. 2 had paid Cunningham $340,000 in bribes, the rates dropped; and, as the final five rows reflect, Cunningham would charge only $25,000 for each additional million dollars that was awarded in additional government contracts.

The federal documents lay out an incredibly damning case. Cunningham was literally selling government business to his co-conspirators. No wink and nudge stuff, but tit for tat - you give me money and I'll give you government contracts for a specific amount. It is breathtaking.

In order to completely pay off his Rancho Santa Fe home, Cunningham turned to Brent Wilkes and Mitchell Wade.

...Cunningham demanded that Co-conspirator No. 1 (Brent Wilkes) give him $525,000. Coconspirator No. 1 agreed, but on condition that he receive an additional $6,000,000 in government funds. Shortly after receiving this money (through a DoD subcontract), Coconspirator No. 1 wired the $525,000 (thinly disguised as an "investment") to Coconspirator No. 3's financial services company. Cunningham never made another payment on his second mortgage.

...Cunningham demanded that Coconspirator No. 2 (Mitchell Wade) pay him $500,000, to eliminate the remaining mortgage burdens for his Rancho Santa Fe mansion. In return, Cunningham promised to support a specific defense appropriations request. Coconspirator No. 2 agreed. To disguise this bribe, Coconspirator No. 2 divided the $500,000 into two unequal checks (one for $329.000 and one for $171,000), both made out to Top Gun Enterprises. Although both checks were made out at the same time, Coconspirator No. 2 sought to further disguise the illegal activity by utilizing different dates and non-consecutive check numbers. He added false notations on both checks that suggested a legitimate purpose.
It's all here in the government documents. The big bribes, the little bribes, the furniture, the cars, all of it laid out in stunning detail.

What is clear from this evidence is that Randy Cunningham is a crook and a liar. He broke his oaths and he betrayed his office. Randy Cunningham is a disgrace and deserves to go to jail for the rest of his life.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Jerry Lewis, Never Met An Earmark He Didn't Like

Time is just out with an article on the relationship between Representative Jerry Lewis (CA-41) and Jeffrey Shockley. Shockley's lobbying firm is none other than Copeland, Lowery, Jacquez. The San Diego Union Tribune highlighted the intimate relationship between Lewis and Bill Lowery back in December.
Before Jeffrey Shockey worked for one of the most powerful committees in Congress, he was a lobbyist at one of the more successful boutique lobbying firms in Washington. Before that, you guessed it, he worked for one of the most powerful committees in Congress. In fact, Shockey, 40, has breezed so smoothly through the revolving door between Congress and the lobbying world that, critics say, it's hard to tell where one job begins and the other ends.
Shockley's career is a series of moves between jobs in Congressman Lewis' office and jobs lobbying Congressman Lewis' office.
Shockey's career is a case study in how the game works. When he left Capitol Hill for the lobbying world in 1999 — after spending more than eight years working for Rep. Jerry Lewis, a Republican from California who had chaired key subcommittees — many of his new clients, including muncipalities, hospitals and lesser-known universities, were from Lewis's district. After years of getting paid to represent them on the Hill, he was now getting paid a lot more to represent them on the Hill.
Shockley's record as a lobbyist is staggering. Though his efforts, he was able to direct over $150 million in pork barrel projects to his clients, earning himself $1.5 million in his first year as a lobbyist. And, Shockley was able to insure that his grateful clients directed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Representative Lewis and his political action committee.

Last year, Lewis' largess within the party, thanks to the efforts of lobbyists like Shockley helped Lewis achieve the chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee. Lewis asked Shockey to work for the committee. Shockley accepted the job despite a 10 fold reduction in salary. But, the Shockley family won't go hungry.
Copeland, Lowery, Jacquez — where Lewis’s close friend Bill Lowery, a former California congressman, is a partner — gave Shockey a $600,000 going-away buyout, according to Shockey’s financial disclosure form. He was to receive his buyout in three $200,000 payments scheduled for February, May and August 2005 — even as he was in his committee post. The firm would also keep Shockey in the family by hiring his wife, Alexandra — another former Lewis aide — as a consulting lobbyist.
What a sweet deal this is for Lewis. No matter where Shockey works, he ends up helping raise funds for Lewis. From Shockley's perspective, no matter where he works, his take home pay is going to be substantial. It's a win, win, win situation. Well, except for the taxpayers who are covering the cost of all of Lewis' earmarks to companies that Shockley used to represent, but which are now represented by someone else, who also used to work for Lewis.
With the help of another former Lewis aide who took over some Shockey accounts at his lobbying firm, many of Shockey's more than 50 former clients have continued to land tens of millions of dollars in earmarks, courtesy of the panel Shockey now helps Lewis run.
Jerry Lewis sure knows how to rig the game in his favor.

Kaloogian Alert - Toxic - Full Protective Gear Required

Down With Tyranny holds its nose and links to Howard Kaloogian’s most recent fund raising appeal in his campaign for Randy Cunningham’s vacated congressional seat in CA-50.

I won’t link directly to Kaloogian’s document for fear of contamination.

Kaloogian is a puzzle to me. He is either a right wing nut case with little conception of the real issues in this country; OR his is a tool of right wing puppet masters who want to make sure that the real issues in this country are kept hidden from its citizens.

Frankly, I don’t care into which of the two categories Kaloogian falls. In either case he is a dangerous politician.

Kaloogian tars anyone who disagrees with his position, any position held by the extreme neo-con right or King George Bush as a “liberal.” That is the worst criticism that members of Kaloogian’s cult can come up with to use against an opponent. And, it is the one word that so scares the far right-wingers who support politicians like Kaloogian that they will immediately write a check to his campaign.

The fact that more than 60% of Americans disagree with President Bush’s policies and direction for the country means nothing to Kaloogian. All those people are either “liberals” or the victim of “liberal media lies.”

Kaloogian wants to make sure that the ultra-rich and big corporations avoid paying taxes. He has no problems with “earmarks” as a form of corporate welfare or as a means of rewarding campaign contributors. Kaloogian has no real coherent political position. He can only define himself by what he is against, not by any policies or positions that he advocates.

He has no interest in the issues that are important to the people living in California’s 50th Congressional District. He has no position on education. He has no position on lobbyist reform. He has no position on the environment. He has no position on transportation policy. He has no position on senior drug benefits. He has no position on support for military veterans.

Kaloogian’s most recent political positions have been against the United Nations, against national politicians who disagree with George Bush and against the concept of a free press telling the truth to Americans.

As I said, Kaloogian is either the willing tool of the American hating extremist on the right wing fringe of our society or he is one of the leaders of these fringe extremists. Take your pick.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Explain It To Me......Use Small Words

OK. Why does it matter to me if Dick Cheney wants to go around shooting old fart, right wing, Republican lawyers?

I know we have laws and stuff, and it’s pretty messy and inconvenient to have a bunch of old lawyer bodies cluttering up the place, but still..... what's the big deal?

Yeah, collateral damage is a possibility. This becomes a larger issue, if Dick decides to ask his pal Rummy for something a little more lethal than his hand made Italian shotgun. I mean, we don't want Dick to have access to any WMDs, now do we?

Still, I say, if it makes Big Dick happy to pop a cap in one of his homies, go for it.

Is Dick Pombo a Liar? You Decide.

Dick Pombo (CA-11) is the most anti-environment legislator to pass through the United States Congress in a generation. His legislative iniatitives include gutting the Endangered Special Act, proposing the sale to private interests of millions of acres of public land - including several national parks and providing unbridled access to public land and resources to timber and mining interests.

Pombo claims that his anti-environmental positions are driven by a highly developed sense of property rights, the need for American energy independence and an acute empathy for farmers and ranchers who have their land usage dictated by the federal government.

Pombo's story plays well in the rural sections of his district. His family has owned vast tracts of property in and around the city of Tracy for a century. His extended family lives on a 500 acre ranch on the outskirts of Tracy. And, Pombo uses his cowboy image to garner agricultural votes and support.

What Pombo isn't so forthcoming in sharing with his neighbors at the feed store is the source of most of his campaign funds. The Los Angeles Times isn't so reticent.
According to data compiled by the Campaign Finance Analysis Project, Pombo has, during his congressional career, collected more than $800,000 from agriculture, timber and fishing interests. The building industry has given him $205,000; oil and gas, $169,000; mining, $55,000; and casinos and gambling, $147,000.
Virtually none of these big campaign donors reside in the CA-11. But, Dick Pombo has certainly done a lot for the big corporate interests that want more access to public land and to see environmental laws relaxed or repealed.

Dick Pombo, the friend of the small rancher and famer, is also one of the chief architects of turning Tracy into a bedroom community for Silicon Valley. And, turning Tracy into a developer's paradise has been very good for the Pombo family.
During Pombo's two years as a local councilman before heading to Congress in 1992, he worked on a general plan that set the stage for Tracy's explosive growth. Today much of the farmland for sale on the town fringes is staked with the red and white signs of Pombo Real Estate, founded in the 1960s by his late uncle Ernie and carried on by relatives.
Now pretending to be one of the boys down at the 4H Club and at FFA meetings isn't lying, it just hypocracy. Running around in a cowboy hat isn't them same as being supportive of family farming, especially when you are developing plans to rezone the land those farms sit on and in the process insuring that members of your family make millions.

But, let's look at another case the Times lays out regarding Pombo.
The family lands figure prominently in Pombo lore. It was the government riding roughshod over the family's property rights, he says, that spurred him to get involved in national politics.

In 1994 he told a Senate subcommittee that he ran for Congress after the ranch was declared critical habitat for the endangered San Joaquin kit fox, stripping his land of its value and forcing his family to run the ranch "with an unwanted, unneeded, un-silent partner — the federal government."

The tale turns out to have been embroidered. Pombo's ranch is a corridor for the kit fox, the smallest fox in North America. But it is not critical habitat, which the government has never designated anywhere for the tiny fox. Pombo paid $5,137 into a regional habitat conservation plan to compensate for houses he and relatives were building on the ranch. But that was years after his congressional testimony.

Today, Pombo concedes his characterization was "mistaken" and says having kit fox habitat on his land "didn't prevent me from doing anything."
Hummm.... The intrusive federal government "stripped" Pombo's land of its value and forced itself upon Pombo as "unwanted, unneeded" partner in his business. Except, the whole story is a fabrication. It didn't happen. It allows Pombo to create a strawman - the evil Endangered Species Act - and tell first hand of the damage the act caused him and his family. A hypocritical act and an outright lie.

A few years ago, Pombo lent his expertise to a report critical of the Forest Services' handling of a fire in the Pacific Northwest. According to Pombo, four firefighters died because a fire fighting helicopter was denied access to river water because of regulations protecting fish in the river.

Again, a great story. Foolish, excessive enviromental laws caused a tragic loss of life.

Guess what? Another Pombo story that turns out to be .... untrue.
"Highly inaccurate…. The whole thing was a bunch of baloney," Jim Furnish, a former deputy chief of the U.S. Forest Service who headed an investigation of the deaths, said in an interview. The probe found that although there was some confusion about whether a helicopter could draw from the river, endangered species regulations did not forbid it and most of the delay in using the chopper was unrelated. Moreover, investigators concluded the four died because of command misjudgments and because the fire crew disregarded standard safety procedures.
Dick Pombo is a tool of special interests. He has found a perfect niche from which he can work to destroy generations of conservation and enviromental progess. The money pours in from corporations who interests Pombo serves. In his district. he can wear a cowboy hat, spit and load feed bags into the pick-up, but when he goes to Washington, Dick Pombo serves the special interests that fill his campaign coffers to overflowing.

To justify his support of these major corporate interests, Dick Pombo cultivates the image of a small town rancher fighting the intrusive federal government. That image is just that, an image. Manufactured to sell to the rubes back in his district so they will send him to Washington to serve the big money interests.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

What Do Bush Republicans Really Want?

Thom Hartman at Common Dreams gives us deja vu all over again. The same crew that brought you the "evil empire" bullshit while the Soviet Union was in full meltdown is the crew that is currently pushing the "long war" on terror. Hartman defines the players and their goals all the way back in 1972 when Richard Nixon began to engage the Soviet Union and detente became a geopolitical goal of the United States.
Ford's Secretary of Defense (Donald Rumsfeld) and Chief of Staff (Dick Cheney) believed it was intolerable that Americans might no longer be bound by fear. Without fear, how could Americans be manipulated? And how could billions of dollars taken as taxes from average working people be transferred to the companies that Rumsfeld and Cheney - and their cronies - would soon work for and/or run?

Rumsfeld and Cheney began a concerted effort - first secretly and then openly - to undermine Nixon's treaty for peace and to rebuild the state of fear.

Knowing the players, figuring out their real motivation isn't so hard.

We've seen this movie before. The last time, it cost our nation hundreds of billions of dollars, vastly enriched the cronies of these men, and ultimately helped bring Ronald Reagan to power. This time they've added on top of their crony enrichment program the burden of over 2200 dead American servicemen and women, tens of thousands wounded, as many as a hundred thousand dead Iraqis, and a level of worldwide instability not seen since the run-up to World War Two.
Crony enrichment. Isn't that what the Bush Administration is all about? Think about it. Everything the Bush led Republican Party does is designed to ease the burden of being rich and remove any stigma of accountability from those who run things either in politics or in business.

The "long war" on terror is just the newest tool of the same old anti-American conspirators.

Big hat tip to One Pissed Off Veteran.

Monday, February 13, 2006

More Than Just Indians

The major focus of the Abramoff Affair has been on Abramoff's cheating of various Indian tribes, but Abramoff did a lot of other lobbying business at Preston, Gates & Ellis and Greenberg Traurig.

Some of America's best know companies relied on Jack Abramoff's services. Included among his clients are companies such as Microsoft, Unisys and Business Software Alliance (BSA). Information Technology companies such as these spend tens of millions of dollars lobbying the government. In 2004 alone, the top ten IT contractors to the federal government spent $46 million on lobbyist expenses.

Software and IT services are extremely expensive and unlike hardware tend to require subjective judgments as to their effectiveness and efficiency. Don't forget that former congressman Randy Cunningham's major benefactors and co-conspirators were primarily IT/software companies.

The current issue of Washington Technology asks if the "party is over" for the IT lobbying industry.
In recent weeks, just as the Washington lobbying season begins, immediately after the president introduces the budget request, IT executives in Washington are being more cautious in inviting government officials and aides to corporate work sites and headquarters, dinners and special events until Congress clarifies lobbying rules, Grkavac and others said.

“We don’t want to make plans that may have to change because of new rules,” she said.

“People are hunkered down,” waiting for the other shoe to drop, said Chip Mather, partner in Acquisition Solutions Inc., a government contracting consulting firm in Arlington, Va. “People have noticed lower attendance by government people at parties. It’s the people in the trenches who are worried to death.”
So much money, so many members of congress. How can we bribe them all? Let's get Jack to help us.

According to government filings, Unisys in January 2003 hired Abramoff and others at the Greenberg, Traurig law firm, paying $640,000 through mid-2004. Unisys’ largest contract with DHS at that time was a $1 billion IT contract with the Transportation Security Administration, awarded in August 2002.

In a July 2005 article, The Washington Post named Greg Baroni, president of Unisys global public sector, as one of the buyers of Signatures, Abramoff’s restaurant in downtown Washington. Meyer said last week that Baroni has no financial interest in the restaurant, but she declined further comment. Baroni “has no involvement in it, whatsoever,” Meyer said.

Microsoft hired Abramoff and lobbying firm Preston, Gates & Ellis LLP in 1998, 1999 and 2000, paying $780,000 for those efforts, according to Senate records. Microsoft officials declined to comment.

Software developers industry group Business Software Alliance paid Abramoff and other Preston, Gates lobbyists $320,000 from 1998 to 2000.
None of these companies hired Abramoff directly and most of their accounts were handled by lobbyist other that Abramoff himself. However, the same firms that gave Jack Abramoff free reign to do whatever it took to generate business and profits, continue to lobby congress on behalf of corporations with little interest in promoting the public interest.