Thursday, April 12, 2012

New Letter to the EditorTool

I'm excited to announce the launch of a great new campaign tool on my website, Democratic Muse. The Letter to the Editor tool has contact information for 87 newspapers. If you register for the site you will be able to contact the newspapers using the form in the center of the page, that receive LTEs by email.

The list on the left side of the page is links to all the newspapers that require LTEs be entered on their own web form.

Please give it a try and let me know what you think.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Empty Gestures, Empty Promises from Empty Wig

Senator Elizabeth Dole, R-NC, has proven that she stinks at raising money for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, so she's giving diplomacy a try. Chances are, her lack of sincerity is going to cause her some troubles in her new endeavor.

The Charlotte Observer is running the story of Dole's Memorial Day trip to Iraq. She was the first member of Congress to meet with the new Iraqi Prime Minister. So, I'm guessing she gets a prize for being first? This is important to us, how? Why?

According to the article:
The Salisbury Republican, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the two discussed a range of topics: keeping Iran out of Iraqi politics, getting Iraqis' more schools and more hours of electricity, and al-Maliki's delay in naming ministers of defense (over the army) and interior (over the police).
Great! So Senator Dole, who represents a state with one of the lowest rankings in education promises more schools to Iraq? Hellooooo, Liddy! What do we get? We have trailers parked outside most schools. There aren't enough text books or teachers. When are you going to sit down with Governor Easley and talk about more schools for the children of the people who put you in office?

Ah, but wait! It gets better.

Dole, the first woman to head the U.S. Transportation Department, also sat down at a Baghdad cafe to trade notes with three of the four women serving as ministers in the Iraqi Cabinet.

In a country where many Muslims oppose such leadership roles for women, the three ministers -- of human rights, housing and women's affairs -- told Dole they worried that the still-evolving Iraqi constitution could leave Iraqi women with few rights.

Unless amended, the constitution would allow Iraqi families to choose to apply Islamic law or civil law on such matters as divorce, property rights and inheritance -- key areas in the push for equality by Iraqi women.

"The women (ministers) felt that (allowing that choice) could be a burden on families," Dole said, "and that it would be better to just have one system: the ... civil law."

Riiiiiight. A Republican worried about women's rights, or better yet, civil rights. Now this is getting good. All this story needs is to start with , "Once upon and time" and you have your basic fairy tale.

Dole was so concerned about what she heard from the women that she reported their issues back to the Prime Minister. This oughta get interesting. I'm sensing an assassination attempt. I'm sure the fundamentalists (in Iraq) feel that four women cabinet members is far too many. But wasn't that nice of Liddy to act as go-between, because I'm sure that these women had no access whatsoever to the Prime Minister themselves...being a part of his cabinet and living in Iraq and all.

Maybe I shouldn't be too harsh on the old bat. I mean, at least she followed through on some promises to phone families of soldiers she flew with on the C-130 over to Iraq. I'm just wondering though....remember the unsolicited survey/fundraiser she mailed out a couple of months ago? You know, the one where she required that it be returned while giving no other option other than to send money back with the survey....yeah,
that one. I'm just wondering....did she bill the soldiers for her minutes, or just charge them a flat fee?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Hastert on the Hot Seat

Those of you who have been following the escapades of the feds lately know that they raided the House offices of Democrat William Jefferson as part of their investigation into his extraHouse activities.

If you were following that, then you are aware that Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert
vehemently opposed these actions by the feds. It made you wonder why he was so up in arms over a raid on the office of a corrupt Democrat. You would think he'd be delighted to have the focus off of corrupt Republicans.

Yesterday, in a comment on a diary at
ePluribusMedia by wmtriallawyer, I wrote that the reaction had nothing to do with feelings for Jefferson, but was more a fear for their own sorry fannies.

ABC is now confirming that the FBI is investigating Speaker Hastert based on information received from lobbyists Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon. There was mention of a letter:
Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago, urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with other tribes.
I've kept a working timeline of the Abramoff scandal. I haven't worked on it in a while, but it is fairly comprehensive. Quite a few Republicans and a handful of Democrats also wrote letters. Sue Myrick and Charles Taylor were among them. It will be interesting as time goes on to see just how quickly the investigation spreads to others who penned missives for the Indian tribe clients of Jack Abramoff.

Earlier I was wondering why Sue Myrick made an announcment completely out of the blue that she would not run for Governor in 2008. It's just one of those things that makes you go hmmmmmm.

Hastert's office is denying this is true. Still...makes you go hmmmmmm.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Con Men, Liars and Thieves - Abramoff Timeline III

No person named in this timeline is guilty of any crime unless or until they plead guilty or are convicted.

The following is my working timeline on the events and the lies surrounding these events in the Jack Abramoff/Senate/Congress scandals. My plan is to continue to fill the timeline and to research and write on the characters. Please let me know if you see any corrections I need to make or any items that need to be added to the timeline. Dates from the Abramoff plea agreement are in blue, dates from the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearings are in green and those from the media are in red.

1994 - Abramoff uses his connections with Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay to help him get hired with Preston Gates & Ellis as a lobbyist. "Abramoff developed and maintains strong ties to Speaker Newt Gingrich, Majority Leader Dick Armey, Majority Whip Tom Delay and Republican Policy Committee Chairman Chris Cox and their staffs." [Source: Preston, Gates & Ellis Press Release, 12/30/94] via David Sirota

1994 - 2001 - Abramoff worked for the D.C. lobbying office of the law firm Preston Gates & Ellis. Also at the firm were former DeLay aides Michael Scanlon and William Jarrell, David Safavian, and former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, then a Preston Gates contractor.

1995 - Abramoff was hired by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

1999 - Political lobbyists, Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist contact Jack Abramoff separately to say they want to do business.

July 1999 - Abramoff establishes a private foundation, The Capital Athletic Foundation. He sought tax-exempt status for CAF saying it was in part providing funding for a non-profit school, Eshkol Academy. In reality, Abramoff used this fund and Kaygold, LLC (set up in 2001) to receive funds for his personal benefit, to conceal the true destination of the funds and to avoid paying income taxes.

Feb. 2000 - Boulis begins to negotiate the sale of SunCruz To Abramoff and Kidan.

Feb. 7, 2000 - Abramoff warned Reed that an initial payment for anti-lottery radio ads would be less than Reed expected because Abramoff needed to give Norquist some money.

Feb. 22, 2000 - Abramoff noted that Norquist had kept an additional 25k. Norquist later said he had permission.

2000 - Abramoff forced the Choctaws to give the Alabama Christian Coalition $1.15 million in installments. Norquist agreed to pass the money on to the Coalition and another Alabama anti-gambling group, both of which Reed was mobilizing for the fight against a proposed Alabama state lottery.

March 2000 - Bob Ney denounces owners of SunCruz (Gus Boulis) on the floor of Congress and accuses SunCruz of cheating customers.

March 2000 through 2001 - Michael Scanlon goes to work for Preston Gates and then Greenberg Traurig as a public relations specialist. Abramoff was influential in Scanlon being hired at both firms.

2000 - Ney goes on all-expense-paid trip to Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands paid for by Abramoff.

May 2000 - Golf trip #1 - Tom DeLay flew to London and Scotland. The trip was charged to Abramoff's credit card. Trip included Abramoff, DeLay and Tony Rudy.

June 9, 2000 - DeLay's office gives Boulis a flag that has flown over the Capitol.

June 15, 2000 - Abramoff, Kidan, Rudy and SunCruz executive, Joan Wagner and her husband flew to Pebble Beach for the U.S. Open. They flew from D.C. in the SunCruz corporate jet.

June wk 3, 2000 - Boulis agrees to sell SunCruz to Abramoff and Kidan for $145 million.

Sept. 18, 2000 - SunCruz principles meet in New York City to begin finalizing the sale of the cruise casinos.

Sept. 18, 2000 - Kidan and Greg Walker of Foothill Capital travel to D.C. to join Abramoff and DeLay for a DeLay event in Abramoff's luxury box during a Redskins vs. Cowboys football game.

Sept. 26, 2000 - Final terms of SunCruz sale determined.

Sept. 27, 2000 - Kidan and partner, Waldman each fax a document to lenders offering proof that a $23 million wire transfer had been executed sending the money to Boulis's bank.

Oct. 26, 2000 - Ney praises Kidan and Abramoff as new owners of SunCruz in a speech in the House.

Dec. 5, 2000 - Boulis and Kidan fight at a business meeting. Kidan refuses to pay his debt to Boulis saying that problems with SunCruz were not disclosed prior to the sale.

Dec. 13, 2000 - Kidan begins sending payments totaling $145,000 to Anthony Moscatiello and his daughter for food and beverage services. Moscatiello has ties to the Gambino crime family.

2001-2004 - Senator Charles Grassley received over $62,000 in donations from Abramoff related groups.

Jan. 2001 - Abramoff goes to work for Greenberg Traurig law firm.

2001 - Tony Rudy goes to work with Abramoff at Greenberg Traurig law firm.

Jan. 2001 - Michael Scanlon establishes Capital Campaign Strategies, LLC to perform grass roots work, public relations services and election campaign support. Scanlon also established other companies, collectively known as CCS, which mainly received money for work performed by others.

2001 - Abramoff and Scanlon agree that Abramoff will encourage his clients, four Indian tribes, to obtain grass roots and public relations assistance through company CCS. CCS charged the clients an amount that was significantly more than it cost CCS to perform this function. Abramoff and Scanlon agreed that Abramoff would receive 50% of the net profits made on these four clients.

Early 2001 - Abramoff convinces Mississippi Tribe to hire CCS without informing them that he would receive 50% of the profits.

June 2001 to 2004 - The Mississippi Tribe paid CCS $14,765,000 with Abramoff secretly receiving almost half.

Jan. 19, 2001 - Boulis seeks injunction against Kidan ordering him to pay what he owes and preventing him from operating the cruise line.

Jan. 20, 2001 - George W. Bush is sworn in as President.

Jan 20, 2001 - Kidan and Scanlon fly to D.C. and attend Inauguration Day reception in DeLay's office.

Jan 28, 2001 - SunCruz leases jet to take current and former aides to DeLay and Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), to Super Bowl in Tampa and for a night of gambling aboard SunCruz ship.

Feb. 6, 2001 - Boulis shot and killed while driving from work in Fort Lauderdale.

March 15, 2001 - At a fundraiser at MCI Center For Bob Ney $1000 contributions are made to Ney by Abramoff, Kidan and three other SunCruz executives.

March 2001 - Abramoff and Scanlon solicit Louisiana Tribe to hire them as lobbyists. After being paid for the first project, Abramoff convinced the Tribe to rehire CCS hiding the fact that he would receive 50% of the net profit.

March 2001 to May 2003 - The Louisiana Tribe paid CCS approximately $30,510,000 with Abramoff pocketing almost $11,450,000.

June 5, 2001 - Michael Scanlon contacts "Jeremy" (large PDF file, page 1) for financial advise about his company, CCS or Capitol Campaign Strategies. He states that his main source of referral business(Abramoff) is practically forcing him to participate in paying for the sky boxes at Red Skins Stadium and the MCI Center. Scanlon wants to make sure this is deductible as a business expense.

June 18, 2001 - Scanlon broaches subject of building CCS business revenues to $3 million. He tells Abramoff he has found a buyer who will pay 3x revenue. Says he will split profit with Abramoff if he helps Scanlon build his client base. Abramoff replies that it sounds like a plan.(PDF, pp 2&3)

June 22, 2001 - SunCruz files for bankruptcy.

Oct. 4 & 5, 2001 - Scanlon and Abramoff email each other about Saginaw Chippewah tribe elections. Abramoff tells Scanlon he has pitched Scanlon/CCS to the tribe. (PDF, p. 4) Abramoff says he discussed a $4-5 million program and Reed responds with, "THE PRICE HAS JUST GONE UP TP 10 MIL!!" (Reference to their Gimme Five plan.)

Oct. 30,2001 - Scanlon and Abramoff exchange emails about Scanlons plans to help their contacts at Saginaw Chippewah Tribe win in upcoming tribal elections. (PDF, p. 5)

Nov. 8, 2001 - Scanlon sends out email detailing their win in Saginaw Chippewah Tribe elections. Their guys are in control. Also mentions there is a Louisiana referendom to work on. (PDF, P.6)

Nov. 12, 2001 - Reed sent Abramoff an email asking for details so he(Reed) can let Cornyn know what they would be doing to help him.

Nov. 2001 - Abramoff establishes Kaygold, LLC, a solely owned entity. Kaygold was used along with the Capital Athletic Foundation to receive funds for his personal benefit and to hide the true destination of money received.

Dec. 17 & 18, 2001 - Abramoff and Scanlon exchange emails about whether Saginaw Chippewah Tribe will hire Scanlon and sign on to the program. Abramoff refers to the tribal leaders as troglodytes, Scanlon asks what a troglodyte is and Abramoff responds that it is a lower form of existence. (PDF pp. 7 & 8)

Jan. 2002 - Abramoff and Scanlon solicit "Michigan Tribe" (Saginaw Chippewah) to hire them to provide lobbying and grass roots services.

Jan. 4, 2002 - Abramoff sends email to Scanlon saying “[Reed] is a bad version of us! No more money for him.” In the email Abramoff was questioning whether Ralph Reed had properly accounted for funds spent on Indian gambling projects.

Jan. 7, 2002 - Reed sends an email to Abramoff telling him they need to budget for an "attaboy" for Cornyn.

Jan. 14, 2002 - Abramoff and Scanlon exchange emails about lack of business from Saginaw Chippewah Tribe. Scanlon expected business after helping get council members elected. Abramoff assures him business will come. They also discuss visit of David Otto (Sag Chip Council Member) and Chris Petras (Sag Chip Legislative Director). (PDF p. 9)

Jan. 16, 2002 - Abramoff emails Scanlon encouraging him to set up meeting with Otto as soon as possible. "We need that moolah", he says. (PDF p.10)

Jan. 29, 2002 - Abramoff sends Scanlon an email about the dinner with Otto of Saginaw Chippewah Tribe and then refers to the Choctaw Tribal Council as monkeys. (PDF p. 11)

Feb. 2002 - Abramoff and Scanlon solicit Texas Tribe as clients. The Texas Tribe gaming business had been closed by the state of Texas because the tribe did not have federal or state permission to run a gambling casino. Abramoff and Scanlon told the tribe they would work for them to reopen the casino and then expand it to a more lucrative facility. In return for doing this it was agreed that the Texas Tribe would pay $4,200,000 and they agreed to make substantial political campaign contributions at the direction of Abramoff. The two men did not disclose to the Texas tribe that they had already been paid millions by the Louisiana Tribe to work against all gaming in the Texas legislature.

Feb. 6-7, 2002 - Abramoff and Scanlon exchange emails discussing lack of payment from the Choctaws. Abramoff refers to the tribe as monkeys. (PDF - Indian Affairs Hearings)

March 5, 2002 - Scanlon and Abramoff exchange emails discussing solicitation of business with Agua Caliente Tribe. (PDF - large download)

June 2002 - Abramoff convinces Michigan Tribe, Saginaw Chippewah, to expand the services they receive from CCS. (Capital Campaign Strategies - Scanlon's company)

June 2002 - Oct. 2003 - Michigan Tribe pays CCS about $3,500,000 with Abramoff receiving about $500,000.

July 22, 2002 - Abramoff sent David Safavian an email outlining a letter to be sent by at least 2 congressmen to the General Services Administration supporting a lease for office space for some of Abramoff's clients in an old post office building downtown.

2002 - Safavian asks GSA permission to attend golf trip to Scotland with Abramoff assuring them that Abramoff had no business in front of the GSA.

Aug. 2002 - Golf trip #2 - Robert Ney, David Safavian, Ralph Reed, Neil Volz fly to Scotland with Abramoff. Trip cost more than $120,000 and was paid for mostly by a charity that had been started and was run by Abramoff, the Capital Athletic Foundation.

2002 - Abramoff was retained under a secret contract by the Guam Superior Court to lobby against a bill proposing to put Superior Court under the authority of the Guam Supreme Court. The $324,000 was paid to Abramoff through a Laguna Beach, California, lawyer by means of 36 checks of $9,000 each. If done to avoid the federal reporting requirements for payment transfers this would constitute illegal structuring under 31 USC 5324(a). The form of payment might also be illegal if it was used to evade federal contracting rules requiring an open tender for contracts over $10,000.

2002 - After Abramoff worked with Reed to close the casino of the Tigua tribe, he persuaded the tribe to hire him to lobby Congress to reopen the casino.

2002 - After persuading the Tigua to hire him Abramoff met with Robert Ney to ask him to push the legislation, the Tigua (by overnight mail) sent three checks to Ney's political committees, totaling $32,000. The apparent exchange of campaign contributions in return for Ney's support of an amendment to reopen the Tigua's casino could constitute bribery.

Nov. 18, 2002 - a grand jury issued a subpoena demanding that the administrator of the Guam Superior Court release all records relating to the contract.

Nov. 19, 2002 - U.S. Atty. Frederick A. Black, the chief prosecutor for Guam and the instigator of the indictment, was unexpectedly demoted and removed from the office he had held since 1991. The federal grand jury investigation was ended abruptly.

Nov. 2002 - U.S. Attorney in Florida begins investigating sale of SunCruz concentrating on missing $23 million.

2003 - David Safavian lies to the GSA during an investigation by its Ispector General about his relationship with Abramoff.

May 2003 - U.S. Atty. Frederick Black who had been demoted unexpectedly and thus removed from an investigation into Abramoff's involvement in the Guam courts

May 2003 - Abramoff establishes GrassRoots Interactive (GRI) saying it would provide grass roots work, public relations services and election campaign support.

2003 - Golf trip #3 Congressman Tom Feeney III,

July 2003 - Abramoff asked for $9 million from the President of Gabon, Omar Bongo, in exchange for a face to face meeting with President Bush. Bush later met with Bongo. There is no evidence Abramoff actually arranged the meeting.

Nov. 4, 2003 - David Safavian nominated by President Bush to become the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. His confirmation ran into trouble when he was listed as one of five lobbyists working for a man with ties to terrorists.

May 26, 2004 - The President of Gabon, Omar Bongo met with President Bush. It is unknown whether this was as a result of Abramoff's influence.

April 2004 - Safavian presented a letter to the Senate Government Affairs Committee from Janus-Merritt claiming they had named the wrong person as their contact when naming Almoudi.

2004 - Abramoff resigned from Greenberg Traurig

March 17, 2005 - David Safavian lies to the Senate committee on Indian affairs about his relationship with Jack Abramoff.

2005 - Edward Miller, Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Robert Ehrlich, Jr. (R-MD)

May 26, 2005 - David Safavian lies to the FBI about his relationship to Jack Abramoff.

Aug. 11, 2005 - Jack Abramoff, a powerful Republican lobbyist, and his partner at Suncruzwas Adam Kidan were indicted on August 11, on bank fraud charges related to his purchase of the cruise line.

Aug. 12, 2005 - Abramoff released on bail of $2.25 million. He had to give up his passport and his travel was restricted to California, Florida and Maryland. He also has to continue mental health treatments.

Sept., 2005 - Three men arrested in the murder of Konstantinos Boulis. He owned Suncruz before it was purchased by Abramoff and Kidan. Anthony Moscatiello, Anthony Ferrari and James Fiorillo were arrested on murder and conspiracy charges. Moscatiello has been linked to the Gambino crime family.

Sept. 19, 2005 - David Safavian, head of federal procurement policy at the Office of management and the Budget, was arrested and charged with lying to investigators and obstructing the federal investigation into Abramoff.

Dec. 1, 2005 - three Texas public interest groups filed a complaint with Travis County Attorney David Escamilla alleging that Reed failed to register as a lobbyist in 2001 or 2002 when he was working for Abramoff.

Jan. 3, 2006 - Jack Abramoff pleads guilty to Conspiracy, Honest Services Mail Fraud and Tax Evasion.

Update 1/25/06 - I will be adding more to the timeline throughout the day. It was time to bump it and bring it back to the front page. I'm hoping investigators will be making announcements about more of the key players in this scandal soon.

Update and bump....... I will be adding the information from the Abramoff plea deal in Blue as it is the factual basis for the plea and should be distinguished from dates obtained from news sources.

Update and bump 2/12 - more links and dates added.

Update 2/15/06 - I will be adding the dates and information from the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in green. These dates are a result of sworn testimony and evidentiary documents and should be distinguised from information received from media accounts.

Update: I failed to source this. I apologize. I will give a full bibliography as soon as I can. It is quite long as I used every source on the net and in the MSM that I could find. One of my favorite and first stops on the web is Wikipedia. I also use Sourcewatch, The Washington Post and The New York Times. The exact web pages and articles will be posted later today. All sources should now be posted below.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Tom DeLay's Delay to End?

Yesterday Tom DeLay's attorney represented him in court while DeLay had lunch at the Rotary Club. Before the court is Ronnie Earle's appeal of the judge's ruling in December that one of the charges be dropped against DeLay.

DeLay and his attorney want this case to progress quickly so he can move forward with his campaign to keep his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. From
The Washington Post:
DeGuerin later told reporters the criminal case against DeLay has clearly affected not only his reign as majority leader but also his quest to win a 12th term to Congress this year. DeLay was forced to step down from his leadership post upon being indicted in September on charges stemming from the 2002 election cycle.

Not only do they want to speed the process along to benefit Mr. DeLay, but they also want to move the trial to Sugarland. I've heard of change of venue requests, but this is ridiculous.
It was unclear when the appeals court will rule. Priest is awaiting resolution of the appeal until proceeding with DeLay's trial on the money-laundering charge. Also before the trial starts, Priest will have to decide several motions by DeLay's lawyer, including a request to move the trial out of Austin to the congressman's home town of Sugar Land.
I don't anticipate this going well for Ronnie Earle. Texas is a lawless place where people can shoot a friend in the face and get away with it. They aren't going to be too concerned about elections laws after that.

Secret Service Arrest Package Thrower

The headline is pretty much the entire story. This lunatic who has been arrested before for throwing a package over the fence toward the White House. It was not an explosive. The funny thing is, this guy has been arrested before for doing exactly the same thing. Hmmm. Something tells me either he or his daddy is a Republican, because if he was a Democrat he'd be in the pokey.

The story is from The Washington Post.

Wednesday Afternoon Action Plan

First, my apologies for being so tardy with the action plan today. I am trudging along through the slightly medicated stupor and very groggy from not being able to sleep through the pain. My lack of coherence today will be explained away by the above statement. My lack of coherence any other day defies explanation.

We have had good news from both of our Senators. Mr. Burr and Mrs. Dole have both come out against selling our National Forest lands. Since I don't trust either one of them any further than I can throw them we are going to email them today to thank them for coming out against the sale and register our position. They still need to hear from us so they know how many will work against them in the next election if they vote with the President on this one. (Yeah, like we would ever work to get them elected!)

We also are going to email our House Representative. If you are feeling particularly spunky you can email them all. It is always best if you are a constituent, but that hasn't stopped me from filling their in boxes in the past.

Lance has made all of this very easy by providing us with a take action section
here. Please make good use of the Take Action section and send those emails.

Tomorrow we work on state level elected officials.

Tim Dunn Steps out of Race in the 8th District

Tim Dunn has chosen to back away from race in North Carolina's 8th Congressional District. He cites difficulty in meeting family obligations. Sadly, many people wait to give financially to a campaign after the primary races are over. This can make running a primary campaign very difficult. You wind up running two campaigns at once.

Larry Kissell, is now the frontrunner in the primary race against Mark Ortiz, who runs an internet based campaign.

Thank you,Tim, for stepping up and recognizing the need for leadership in the 8th and in Washington. While we are sorry that you are leaving the race we feel confident that Larry Kissell will be able to beat Hayes this fall.

News Review 3/22

From The Washington Post: So which Bush is telling the truth? The one who said we would have a majority of troops home by the end of the year or the one who says they will stay until after '08. Typical Bush style - leave your mess for someone else to clean up. You've been doing it your entire worthless life you whiney little (*$)(%^#$*#(%)($&#$^*^. Bushies buddies get all the cash. They are doing their damndest to rip the Constitution to bypassing the process that turns a bill into a law. Chertoff endorsing security at chemical plants, but is he going far enough?

I apologize for the venom this morning. I have a very bad migraine and I'm just not feeling very generous toward the Bush and his bots.

From The New York Times: Bush concedes his political capital has been eroded by Iraq about it has depleted it completely! Can we please help get these people home already? Enough is enough. Our government is abusing its own laws? This is news, now?

From The Chicago Tribune:
Duckworth wins the nod over Cegelis. We have a Fighting Dem! Now we will hear the excuses from the FBI about why they didn't let their agent pursue him further.

From BlueNC:
Tim Dunn, Iraq War vet, drops out of 8th District race citing financial issues.
Excellent article informing us about IDEA and why the Republicans won't fully fund programs for disabled children. Take Action and bring Jerome and Markos to North Carolina.

From Newsweek: Revisiting this because it looks like
Clift is going to be proven wrong. The longer this goes on, the more bad things happen to Bush, the more likely it is the American people will be behind censure and it won't matter what Congress says. Bush administration so incompetent, they can't even decide on a scapegoat for the Katrina debacle.

From Time: I SO want to join the
Raging Grannies, but why was the FBI investigating this peaceful group? Are kids too wired for their own good - my 12-yr-old says she isn't as she read the Time article with her Ipod in her ears. (Actually, she doesn't IM during homework)

Thanks for joining us for the news roundup. I'm searching for some local papers and local blogs to highlight every now and then. Please submit your favorites in the comments. Go
here for original content on this blog.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Simple Request

A friend has written an excellent diary at DailyKos about the Indiviuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA). If you aren't aware with the many hurdles parents must overcome to get basic services for their children with disabilities this is a great article on just one of these.

You will find it here. If you think it should receive wider attention, please recommend it. Thank you.

Tuesday Morning Action Plan to Save our National Forests

This morning we have one thing and only one thing to do. This is the day that every single one of us will email or fax the US Department of Agriculture and tell them we do NOT think that selling off 300,000 acres of our National Forests is a good idea.

I know that each of you read everything I linked to yesterday and we all have our reasons for opposing this sale ready to go. If not, I'm going to provide you with a few you can use. This is IMPORTANT! This is the MOST important step of this action plan. We will repeat it every day to make sure this email is sent! Before I provide a list, if you want to read the links from yesterday, here is Monday's Action Plan. Here are some reasons why we oppose this sale:

  • The proposal is skewed against the South, which has relatively little national forest land, a fast-growing population and increasing demand for backcountry recreation, yet would receive disproportionately fewer funds from the sell-off. For example, both North Carolina, with a total of 1.25 million acres of national forest, and Oregon, with a total of 15.55 million acres, have about 10,000 proposed for sale. Yet under the funding formula currently used, North Carolina would get just $1 million in 2006, while Oregon would get almost $163 million. (Southern Environmental Law Center)
  • ....selling off America’s natural heritage is not the way to fund government services. This move would set a dangerous precedent for years to come. It’s a reversal from the agency’s long-standing effort to add to the national forest system by acquiring important tracts that serve an ecological or recreational purpose. (SELC)
  • Selling off the land base does nothing to ensure adequate funding for rural schools in the future and does irreparable harm to our National Forests.

Copy and paste these points into an email if you haven't had time to write your own. Send your email to or your fax to (202) 205–1604. You may also mail a letter to USDA Forest Service, SRS Comments, Lands 4S, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Mailstop 1124, Washington, DC 20250–0003, however electronic submissions are preferred.

The directions from the USDA: If you submit your comments by e-mail or fax, you do not need to send a paper copy by mail. Your comments may address the entire list of parcels identified in the President’s proposal, or an individual parcel or parcels on that list. If you are commenting about a specific parcel on the list, it would be helpful to provide the parcel’s number from the list and all information specifically related to the sale of that parcel.

I would like to thank the Southern Environmental Law center, Scrutiny Hooligans and the Asheville Citizen-Times for providing excellent coverage of this issue and making my life easier by doing so.

Senator Burr: Less Money to Prepare for Bioterrorism

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness, has said there will be less money coming to the states to prepare for bioterror attacks, because some states misused the money allotted them in the past. He then went on to say there were fewer restrictions on how the money could be used than there will be on future legislation. In other words, the committee did a poor job writing the legislation and outlining exactly what expenses could be covered.

Is now the right time to cut back on the aid to states that helps them prepare for a terrorist attack? According to the AP report in the
Charlotte Observer,
"No single state, and no community within any state, has reached a full level of preparedness," Leah Devlin, North Carolina's top public health official, told the Senate committee last week in prepared remarks. "The act has made a tremendous difference, but the safety of the American public requires us to do more."
I guess it's a little confusing that this administration that has bullied a nation into fearing the next terrorist attack via a mushroom cloud (gee, thanks, Condi and Dick) is now going to cut back on the very spending that could prepare this nation for a terrorist attack. So, is the threat not real? I think most people feel there is a threat at some level for an attack. Most people also feel that the threat was never going to come from Iraq. Maybe this confuses those small minds in Washington.

Do they think that since most Americans don't want the war in Iraq that we also don't want to be prepared for terrorist attacks? Are they cutting spending in this area because they think we don't want it or as some juvenile punishment for spending previous money on what is now deemed to be nonessentials in the war on terror?

According to the AP article, Sen. Burr is taking the latter stance.

Federal money to prepare for bioterrorism attacks won't be as readily available as it has been in the past, in part because of the poor spending choices made in some states, Sen. Richard Burr said Monday.

This doesn't make the least little bit of sense to me. How on God's green earth can Senator Burr blame a shortage of funds on the fact that some states used previous monies to buy color printers and palm pilots. We don't have the money to prepare for a bioterror attack because President Bush has spent trillions fighting an insurgency that he helped create in Iraq and because he insists on giving his billionaire friends their tax cuts.

If the money was there the Senate Subcommittee on Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness would not be playing some lame blame game by trying to make it someone else's fault. Of course, Burr is close to the Bush administration and they are second to none when it comes to fingering someone else for something that is completely and totally their responsibility.

I'm not buying it Richard Burr. I had gained a bit of respect for you during your freshman year, but have lost just about all of it with this responsibility shift maneuver. You and your fellow committee members did a poor job writing the legislation. Grow up, accept responsibility and find the states the money they need to protect the American people.

National News Roundup 3/21

Happy Primary Election Day in Illinois. Good luck! I just love the excitement of election day!

From The Washington Post: Even the
President's success stories about the war are failures. Old forecasts about the war have been proven completely and utterly wrong - our soldiers were greeted with IEDs, not flowers - big, BIG difference. FBI wouldn't let one of their agents get a warrant to question Moussaoui before 9/11. Maybe he shouldn't be the only one on trial. Chertoff's a smart guy, but the wrong one for the job. Isn't the cow already out of the barn on this one?

From The New York Times: You just had to know the
insurance companies would find a way into the terror business, right? Republicans pitch to firefighter's union: "We know we stink, but the Democrats are worse." Western states facing droughts and flood - those red states musta ticked God off BIG TIME.

From The Chicago Tribune:
Cook County will be testing new high tech voting machines. Taliban gone or are the fundamentalists in Afghanistan just using another name.

From USA Today: First developers surround
National Parks, then they buy them. Experts saying bird flu pandemic will reach the US this year - a pandemic for birds, not humans. Is this an attack on reproductive choice, or just an attack on women?

From Newsweek:
Sharon Stone's just a nutcase....but I know you guys love to look anyway.
NRSC is digging for dirt in Dixie. (Their headline, not mine) AIPAC: the murk clears up a wee bit.

From Time: Are the
Iraqi police the problem or the cure? The politics of fat - first our livingrooms, then our bedrooms and now the kitchen?

If anyone has any suggestions for other media sources to check periodically please leave them in the comments and I will add them to the list. I would welcome the change. Please go
here for original content. Thanks and check back tomorrow.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Where Do We Stand After Texas?

For many of us the November elections aren't getting here fast enough. We've had enough corruption, lies, abuse of power and complete lunacy to last us a lifetime and we're eager to see the U.S. House of Representatives under new ownership...or at least new management. We'll take the Senate if we can manage it, but I'm willing to settle for just one house of Congress.

I've been following the primary elections in each state. Texas had its primary earlier this month and Illinois will hold its election tomorrow. What could possibly be exciting about primary elections to people living outside the state? Well, as I mentioned earlier, I'm desperate for good news and November can't get here fast enough.

After the Texas elections we have 6 guaranteed Representatives in the U.S. House. A few might have challenges from Independent or Libertarian candidates, but none are serious. The great news is four of these are Democrats, one is a Republican and one is a coward. Yes, you read that right. Henry Cuellar is a coward. He's a registered Democrat who is actually a Republican. He doesn't register with his true party because he would never get elected in his district if he did. Cuellar isn't a centrist Dem. He's a coward Republican who uses deceit to get elected. He won't be counted in with the Dems because he doesn't deserve it.

After tomorrow's election in Illinois we will add one more Democrat to the list who doesn't face an opponent in November. So for all practicle purposes we now have 5 Democrats and 2 Republicans who have won a seat in the U.S. House. It's absolutely meaningless, but it made me smile for a few minutes to think of it.

Where do we stand in Texas?

There are a handful of districts that are competitive. Many are hard to judge because opposition in the past hasn't had serious financial backing, which in turn makes it difficult to offer a serious challenge. From the numbers it looks like districts 2, 17 and 22 might be in play. One has a Democratic incumbent and two are Republicans. One of the Republicans is Tom DeLay.

If some of the Democratic challengers raise enough money more districts might become competitive. Some of the Republican incumbents won with a little more than 60% of the vote when they outraised their opponents by several hundred thousand dollars. When a Democrat can get 40% of the vote on $12,000 I tend to believe there's a chance. But then, I still believe in Santa Claus too.

Monday Morning Action Plan to Protect our National Forests

With everything else that is going on in the world many people haven't noticed the attack by the Bush administration on some of our most precious treasures. The President has planned to make up for a shortfall in funds for rural schools by selling off the logging lands in our National Forests to make up the difference. Yes, that's right. He's selling off the land base making it even more difficult to meet the demands satisfied by logging sales. Only an idiot, right?

Today's action plan requires that you educate yourself on this issue. This is the hardest part if you aren't aware of what is going on. I will provide the links to the information and all you have to do is read. We will be using this information for the rest of the action plan steps this week. This is an important action plan. The public has until March 30, to submit their comments to the Department of Agriculture. We need a public outcry to keep this unprecedented sale from taking place.

Step One: Read - As you read come up with what you feel are the three most important reasons why we should not sell off our National Forests.

Department of Agriculture request for comments (includes a summary)
* US
Department of Agriculture website with more links for information.
List of lands potentially eligible for sale.
Asheville Citizen-Times article
Charlotte Observer article
Southern Environmental Law Service

From the Blogs:
* S
crutiny Hooligans1, Scrutiny Hooligans2, Scrutiny Hooligans3
Common Dreams

This should be enough for you to feel fully informed about this issue. If you want more, though, you can follow this
link to a list of resources put together by a professor at UNC Asheville.

Britt Hume Goes Beserk

If you haven't seen Britt Hume's performance on Fox you have to visit Crooks and Liars to view the video. It is hilarious and obviously startled the other guests on the show. Hume not only spews White House talking points on the legality of the illegal wire taps approved by the President, he also spews some lies in the mix.

Hat Tip FDL.