Friday, July 29, 2005



The 2006 midterm elections are still far away-- unless you're an incumbent, or trying to run against one. Then they're right around the corner. And all the brouhaha over the Republicans' chief political strategist, Karl Rove and his part in leaking the name of an undercover agent to the press to exact cheap political revenge against her husband, is not playing well in the heartland. GOP incumbents and candidates are getting a lot of flack from hometown papers and from voters. So far only one GOP candidate, Dennis Morrisseau of Vermont, is ready to call for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, but others are starting to distance themselves from the White House and Rove's "Treasongate" scandal.

You don't get more garden-variety conservative than Peter Hoekstra, since 1993 (think Gingrich and the Contract On America) he has represented Michigan's 2nd congressional district. A very partisan political hack, Hoekstra became the chairman of he House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last year. Born in Holland, Hoekstra is best known as a poorly educated (Buy Bull school) die-hard corporate shill who represents large corporations more than the interests of the constituents of his western Michigan district (which has the nation's largest concentration of Dutch-Americans). Yet even a hack like Hoekstra is feeling the heat.

He and other Repugs are starting to become unhinged as Democrats call for congressional investigations into the headline-generating leak of Valerie Plame's identity by Rove and Cheney's chief operator, "Scooter" Libby during the run-up to the Iraq war. Now Hoekstra, in a desperate attempt to try to get ahead of the story and save his own neck, says his House Intelligence Committee will consider crafting legislation to help the Justice Department prosecute individuals who leak classified information. He told an audience of far right-wing loons at the Heritage Foundation that deliberate leaks of classified information have "probably done more damage to the intelligence community'' than espionage. Although he isn't advocating a treason trial for Rove and Libby yet-- let alone impeachment proceedings against Bush and Cheney-- he said he wants to create a culture where "zero tolerance'' is the norm. "It's time there is a comprehensive law that will make it easier for the government to prosecute wrongdoers and increase the penalties, which hopefully will act as a deterrent for people thinking about sharing information,'' he added.

A couple days ago Democrats sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, both right wing hacks and Bush-enablers, requesting that Congress investigate. "Americans deserve a Congress that holds Washington accountable for the truth about our national security,'' said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., one of the signatories. Meanwhile Americans are growing increasingly restive with the constant stream of lies-- big and small-- emanating from the White House and the degree of wariness voters have towards Republicans is growing palpably. Republican candidates in 2006 will be running away from Bush/Rove and, at the same time, trying to distance themselves from all the corruption swirling around their own leadership, not just in Ohio, but from a string of crooked legislators from Tom DeLay, Richard Pombo, Charlie Taylor, Robert Ney, Randy "Duke" Cunningham (who has already announced retirement before indictment), Jerry Lewis, to Conrad Burns and at least a dozen other Republicans in both Houses facing indictment and possibly prison.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005



I don't know much about the Newark Star-Ledger, only that I have a house in PA and whenever I ask the agent who's trying to sell it for me to advertise in the NY Times or Wall Street Journal, she always insists on the Star-Ledger. It's been 3 years and the house is still unsold and she's still talking about the Star-Ledger. We're about to get an eviction order for the current tenants--who haven't paid any rent in 3 months or so (after paying past rent with forged checks and counterfeit hundred dollar bills!) so, I figured, maybe I should check out the Newark Star-Ledger myself. I looked online and the first thing I found was a series of columns by some whacked out, drooling fascist named Paul Mulshine. I had never heard of this raving loon before but, wow!, I loved what he was writing. I mean this loon is so far right that he hates Bush. He hates Limbaugh. He hates Hannity! I don't know if he runs around the house in sheets and pillowcases or if he has photos of Adolph over the mantelpiece, but this is definitely the less-friendly side-- the non-bland, non-John Roberts side-- of the extreme right.

Last week Mulshine was almost as pissed off at the Bushes as real Americans are. "As anyone who reads this column knows, I have never been a fan of the Bush family," he started, earning my interest. "The father was a bumbler who came into office in the afterglow of Ronald Reagan and was gone the moment the glow faded. The sons, meanwhile, are blatant panderers who will do anything to get and hold power." I mean this guy sounds right on, right? Um... keep reading. "If veering to the right on abortion will get them the pro-life vote, they dutifully veer to the right. If veering to the left on immigration will get them the Hispanic vote, then it's open borders and amnesty for all." All OK, so far, but then the giveaway: "You may argue that many Democrats are worse. True, but I'm not a Democrat. I'm a loyal Republican voter, except on those rare occasions when I'll pull the Libertarian lever for laughs. And as a Republican, what bothers me about the Bushes is their penchant for creating the impression that the very lowest sorts of people represent the essence of the Grand Old Party."

OK, so he admits two things: being a Republican and an inability to realize something that is as plain to most people these days as anything can be: that the Bushes penchant for creating the impression that the very lowest sorts of people represent the essence of the Grand Old Party is EXACTLY accurate. Look at Rove; look at Frist; look at Cheney; look at DeLay; look at very single GOP leader in the state of Ohio!; look at Cunningham, Taylor, Pombo, Lewis... look up and down that side the aisle in either House and you'll see that George, Jeb, the bankrobber brother, the mother, the father, they've all created a completely accurate impression-- in Moonshine's own words "THE LOWEST SORTS OF PEOPLE REPRESENT THE ESSENCE OF THE GRAND OLD PARTY." Oh, and it gets better. This week the lunatic attacked viciously right-wing beasts Limbaugh and Hannity on behalf on an even more vicious right-wing beast, Michael Savage. In a July 21 column called "The Savage Nation vs. the Bushbots
Thursday," he lays it all out, claiming Bush's right flank is weak and that is where he is best attacked.
"Savage is the most right- wing of the right-wing talkers on the national airwaves at the moment." Now THAT is saying a lot if you've ever surveyed the competition! But Moonshine calls him a "welcome change from those Karl Rove clones Hush Bimbo and Sean Vanity. 'Hush Bimbo' and 'Sean Vanity' are the names Savage has pinned on Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity of WABC. In doing so, he has sparked a war between the members of his 'Savage Nation' (slogan: 'Borders, language, culture') and the so-called 'Bushbots,' that sizable number of gullible Americans who can be convinced that whatever policy Bush adopts is a conservative policy."

Moonshine may be a freak, but it's cool he's getting out the message that Bush is the worst U.S. leader in history. He and Savage claim Bush isn't even a conservative (spends too much, lets government expand too much, incompetent warrior on terror... Savage, of course, wants an all out Crusade against the world's billion Muslims and claims even the French are better than Bush.) "Instead of reducing the reach of Islamic fundamentalism, Bush has managed in Iraq to get 1,700 Americans killed in a war that will create yet another Islamic republic. Just yesterday we learned that the new constitution in Iraq will incorporate sharia, Islamic law. That's why we right-wing commentators believe the Iraq war has been the biggest blunder in America military history. As for Bimbo and Vanity, if I may employ Savage's labels, they are simply too uneducated to realize that the Iraq war represents a failed liberal exercise in nation-building." LIBERAL? I know it would be coming sooner or later. Savage, though, doesn't elaborate how the neo-conservative agenda is part of a liberal exercise. Instead he goes on to talk about what utter asses Limbaugh and Hannity are.
"There is no college in Rush. There is no college in Hannity. He's a high school dropout. It's like listening to an uneducated, unthinking man on the radio." True, true, but on the other hand Savage is educated, even got a Ph.D before he went mad, and he sounds even more pathetic than the other 2 loons (if there's a measurable degree of pathetic this far down the scale).

Meanwhile Moonshine goes on to defend his hero, crying that the far right-wing (as opposed to the far far right-wing) websites "call Savage a bigot and a racist, two terms the employment of which generally indicate that the speaker is losing an argument" (although in this case they are 100% accurate). He claims that attacks on Limbaugh, Hannity and Bush are a "good barometer of the nation's mood. And the nation is slowly figuring out that the Bush-neoconservative-Troskyite-internationalist view of foreign affairs has not worked out so swimmingly for the good old U.S. of A. "'Bush is melting down our borders and making us into a polyglot nation in which no one speaks the language,' says Savage." Savage claims that all the other right-wing talk show hosts "may as well work for the Republican Party. There's nothing interesting if you can predict what a man's going to say by just going to the GOP Web site." And Moonshine backs him up: "He's certainly got that right. Listening to an endless rehash of Karl Rove's talking points, leavened by a few Teddy Kennedy- is-a-drunk jokes, is not very entertaining." He then goes on to conclude that "when you attack the Bush- Rove spin from the right, however, you realize that the neocons' grand social experiment has been tried most visibly in Iraq and has failed most visibly there. People are starting to notice. Eventually even the Bushbots may get a clue.

I think I'll keep running the ad in the Star-Ledger. It's as good as the Sunday comics!



Everyone I talk to about corrupt right-wing congressmen Jerry Lewis' and Randy "Duke" Cunningham's sweetheart deals with campaign contributors (and bribers) that saw the exchange of large amounts of cash for Pentagon contracts (greased thru by their House Defense Appropriations SubCommittee), wants to know if the materials sold to the military were faulty (everyone BUT the L.A. TIMES). Yesterday a Jacksonville paper, the Florida Times-Union, reported on a case that doesn't touch on the Cheney/Halliburton corruption or the Cunningham/MZM corruption, but is nonetheless noteworthy for what is bound to show up more and more as time goes by and more and more war-profiteering scams are uncovered.

In an article called "Bogus military suppliers sentenced," Paul Pinkham reports that "2 Florida men who bid on hundreds of military supply contracts were sentenced Monday to federal prison for providing the military with at least $4 million in fraudulent electronic parts -- many of which government officials said impeded U.S. troops at war in Iraq." The 2 criminals, Horace Christopher Daughtrey, 28, and George Searcy, 36, of St. Johns County had "pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the Department of Defense after discovering it doesn't check backgrounds and accepts bids online for supply contracts worth less than $100,000, prosecutors said. They admitted shipping thousands of non-working parts for various military equipment to the Defense Supply Center in Columbus, Ohio. When military officials discovered a problem with one of their shipments, Daughtrey and Searcy simply changed company names and kept bidding, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dale Campion said. The fraud interfered with military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, where troops waited for components for broken equipment such as night-vision goggles and aircraft instruments, only to face further delays when the non-working parts arrived, said Thomas Goad a quality assurance specialist at the Columbus center."

This is only one of many Florida-based scam operations seeking to profiteer by cheating the military that is under investigation, according to the Defense Department. Of course this is small potatoes compared to what has been coming out of Halliburton, where BILLIONS of dollars are being ripped off by major GOP donors. Presumably at some point when DeLay and Jerry Lewis and other arch criminals are removed from power, Congressman Henry Waxman will be able to get on with the job of investigating the major war profiteers, and their political partners, are bringing them to Justice.



I don't feel like I'm special for realizing right from the get go what a lowlife George Bush was. It didn't take much to see this insular little hypocrite was a fraud with no clue. They used to ask of Nixon, "Would you buy a used car from this man?" I took one look at Bush and thought "If this guy became your stockbroker would you withdraw all your money and put it in the bank?" So I wound up voting for tepid, compromised corporate Democrats like Gore/Lieberman (I mean, be real, if someone's first crucial executive decision is to choose the most right-wing, uptight, Republican-lite Democrat on the national stage as vice president is he the best candidate progressives can find?) and Kerry. Forget for a minute that Lieberman represents almost EVERYTHING that makes Republicans unfit to govern and just let's look at Gore and Kerry. They were so nuanced and ran such execrable campaigns that no one knew exactly where they stood on anything! Did they even stand for ANYTHING? They made me sick. And how many Democrats sound just like them-- talking out of both sides of their mouths, trying not to offend anyone by not taking a principled stand on anything? That's why progressive activists went wild when Howard Dean showed up on the screen and why people still support him wholeheartedly even after the Right Wing smear machine has ripped him apart so mercilessly. (They're smart enough to see a real danger to their little status quo.) So wasn't I a happy camper when Dean's brother Jim turned me on to Paul Hackett, the guy running for Congress in the special election this Tuesday in Ohio!

Here's a guy who doesn't do nuance, at least not on the campaign trail. Where Kerry and Gore were out there ducking, bobbing and weaving, Hackett comes out swinging. When the campaign of the right-wing clone the Republicans have put up against him tried to "swift boat" the just-back-from-volunteering-in-Fallujah Marine colonel, this is what Hackett had to say about the Republican chicken hawks who scream about fighting, after having ducked military service (think Bush, Cheney, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, DeLay... all of 'em) and think it's fine for OUR kids to go over and get killed but whose own have..., like Cheney, "other priorities." According to Colonel Hackett, "All the chicken hawks back here who said, 'Oh, Iraq is talking bad about us. They're going to threaten us' -- look, if you really believe that, you leave your wife and three kids and go sign up for the Army or Marines and go over there and fight. Otherwise, shut your mouth." And that's what he did.

He looked at the issue square in the eye and took it on in a way anybody could understand. What about the Far Right's most divisive hot-button issue, the one they have been using most successfully to frighten working people into voting for them (and thereby for their policies that are so damaging to the vast majority of people who don't make millions of dollars a year)-- the "gay issue." With a viciously homophobic opponent who eagerly voted against gays' rights in the Ohio legislature, Hackett took this issue on in his typically forthright way. "Gay marriage -- who the hell cares?"
Hackett is married and has 3 kids and unlike half the GOP officials in Washington, isn't worried about hiding a secret life. He says he doesn't feel the need to defend his marriage through the national Defense of Marriage Act, or any other anti-gay marriage legislation. "If you're gay you're gay -- more power to you," he said. "What you want is to be treated fairly by the law and any American who doesn't think that should be the case is, frankly, un-American." More Democrats talking good common sense like this and we wouldn't be on the verge of a fascism in this country.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005



With all the dirt about James Guckert (aka- Jeff Gannon) circulating around D.C., wonderers have been wondering who exactly gave the gay male prostitute (who, according to his own website, specialized in urination) so much access to the White House. Although the whole country watched in horror as he asked Bush, at a nationally televised press conference, a nonsensical question to the effect of "Mr. President, how can a great hero like you stand what those horrible, traitorous Democrats are doing?" only C-Span addicts saw him day after day after day always ready with an equally inane softball for Scott McClellan. Most DC insiders assumed that it was McClellan, a closet homosexual who was a regular at Austin gay pick-up joints for years, who got Guckert/Gannon, the gay prostitute posing as a journalist, his White House passes. But once it came out that Guckert/Gannon had signed into the White House several times late at night and didn't sign out until early morning... well, wonderers REALLY started wondering. Does Scotty McClellan have that kind of authority to have a gay tryst in the White House??? Did they use plastic sheets? Or was someone else responsible?

And, the "someone else" is usually thought to be Karl Rove. The self-loathing gays who have come to dominate the upper echelons of the GOP (Gay Old Party)-- from uncloseted ones like Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman to semi-undercover gays like McClellan and Congressman Mark Foley to deeply undercover gays like Rove-- form a kind of secretive "gay Republican Mafia" to protect eachother and advance eachother's careers.

Al Martin, author of "The Conspirators: Secrets of an Iran Contra Insider," has done a lot of research on Rove and he seems pretty certain that Rove is a don of this "gay Mafia." Before Rove found a beard to marry to help throw off suspicions, Martin remembers him all the way back in the mid-80's. "He doesn't look all that much different now than he did 20 years ago. But here's a guy that looks like a cross between Humpty Dumpty and the Pillsbury Doughboy. I never saw him with a woman. He was never friendly with any women and never seemed to have any girlfriends or go out on a date or anything. Karl would always hang around at the Rooftop Bar at the Mayflower, which is directly across the street from the White House where all the 'DOJ Pretty Boys,' as they used to call them, would go after work for a drink. And that's always where Karl was...It's odd that this guy has never married. He's a bachelor. Usually in Bushonian circles, particularly when you're close to the religious right, which Karl is and raises money from them, it's almost obligatory that you be married and have kids."

The stories about Rove being gay have swirled around Bush for years and years and recently there have been stories about him frequenting M2M peepshows. But it is the Guckert/Gannon connection that has tongues wagging. Is it Rove's (understandable) self-loathing, rather than garden variety homophobia that has him encouraging Bush and Cheney to pursue such harsh anti-gay strategies?

Well, now the White House is surreptitiously circulating a rumor that Humpty Dumpty is not only not gay, but also a ladies' man of sorts! The gist of the rumor is that an old beard that Rove used to use as his cover before he got "married," GOP lobbyist Karen Johnson, was/is actually his lover. Everyone who knows this is laughing. "Rove's as gay as wrapping paper," one Texas Republican with one to many drinks in him told us. "Believe me, he and Karen are professional 'friends;' that's it." Officially a White House spokesman (Scotty?) had "no comment," wink, wink, nod, nod.



Even as conservative a paper as the Cincinnati Post can't look at the race for Congress in southern Ohio with a straight face and not see what is clear: a great progressive Democrat with fresh ideas and strength running against a hack Repug pol who can only say "I support the president." More and more Americans are seeing "the president" for the vicious little guttersnipe he has always been-- a crook and a cheat whose loyalties are to his class and his contributors, not to his (our) country. It may have been difficult for the Post to ween itself away from automatically endorsing GOP robots in the 2nd congressional district, but today they came out four-square for Paul Hackett and against the anti-choice fanatic the GOP has put up against him. Apparently Schmidt's crude attempts to denigrate Hackett's military service in a style similar to what Bush and his "swift boat" pals did to John Kerry, did not work at the Cincinnati Post. Here is the entire endorsement:

For more than three decades, Ohio's 2nd Congressional District has been represented by men who may be fairly described as Republican patricians. We don't mean that in a pejorative sense. Rob Portman, like Willis Gradison and William Keating before him, adhered to standards all too rare in Congress. They were policy-oriented pragmatists inclined toward the money issues: tax policy, health care, retirement security, economics.

Next Tuesday voters in the 2nd District will go to the polls in a special election to decide who will fill the unexpired term of Portman, who resigned to become the U.S. trade representative.

The June 14 primary produced two capable, and competitive, candidates: Jean Schmidt, a Republican, and Paul Hackett, a Democrat.

They share certain similarities.

Both are products of financially secure families - Schmidt's father was a builder and entrepreneur in Clermont County; Hackett's father was an engineer and manufacturer's representative who settled in Indian Hill.

Both are athletes - Schmidt is an accomplished marathon runner, Hackett ran track before he became a U.S. Marine.

Both also have long records of public service, albeit in different ways.

Schmidt served as a township trustee for 10 years before winning election in 2000 to the Ohio House of Representatives. There she served for four years before giving up the seat to run for the Ohio Senate - a race she lost, in a recount, by just 22 votes.

Schmidt has also held a variety of civic and political posts, and serves on the governing boards of such entities as the Clermont County Library, Clermont Mercy Hospital Foundation, the Live Oaks/Great Oaks Business Industry Partnership Council and Greater Cincinnati Right to Life.

Hackett's public service revolves around the Marine Corps. In 1982 he enlisted in a reserve officers program while he was a student at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He completed law school at Cleveland State before starting full-time active duty in 1989. He continued in the active reserves after returning in 1992 to Cincinnati, where he practiced law in a small firm before launching a solo practice in 1994. Hackett served on Milford City Council from 1995-98; he stepped down after purchasing what he describes as the oldest house in Indian Hill - a recently-renovated, 200-year-old stone structure on the banks of the Little Miami River.

Last year Hackett re-enlisted in the Marine active reserves; he went in with the rank of major and served in Iraq with a governance support team, where part of his job involved organizing convoys to bring money and supplies from Baghdad to Iraqis serving in the regional government.

In terms of their ideology and their approach to issues, Schmidt and Hackett present sharp differences.

Schmidt, from what we can discern, would likely be a dependable vote for the Bush administration, particularly its foreign policy and Iraq. In this campaign she has allied herself with the president, as she did earlier to Ohio Gov. Bob Taft and before that to former House Speaker Larry Householder. Her approach to policy issues is incremental, except perhaps concerning taxes. She seems generally to favor supply side economics, and wants to make President Bush's personal income taxes permanent and get rid of the estate, capital gains and alternative minimum taxes entirely. She supports incentives to encourage small businesses to offer health insurance, greater reliance on ethanol as a fuel source and a prohibition against Congress' use of Social Security funds for general government operations.

Hackett, in our view, is a gust of fresh air. If we had to put a label on him, it would be Libertarian Democrat. He says what he thinks and doesn't seem to have much use for the orthodoxy, or the partisanship, of either party. He doesn't want the government telling him what kinds of guns he can own, nor does he want it interfering in family or medical decisions or taking away civil liberties in the name of fighting terror. He regards Social Security more as an insurance program than a retirement savings plan, but wants to put it on a sound footing and would raise the earnings ceiling if necessary to do so.

If elected, he notes, he would be the only member of Congress with direct military experience in Iraq - which, he says, is a fight we should end as soon as possible. He wants to finish the job and get out, and he wants the United States to stop holding hands with Pakistan and to get serious about tracking down those responsible for the 9-11 attacks.

We like Hackett's candor. We're impressed with the freshness of his ideas. We believe his experience shows him to be someone who is action-oriented.

We endorse Hackett for the 2nd District seat.



I am. Well I want to see a frog-march and a trial first. (And an impeachment.) And THEN the firing squad. But I'm ready. I know most of us aren't. But I think what ALL Americans ARE ready is for the leakers to have their access to sensitive documents stopped RIGHT NOW. I don't see how you can stop Cheney and Bush from having access to sensitive documents, short of an impeachment (which certainly isn't going to happen while neo-fascists like DeLay and Frist control the Congress). BUT, I'd say, and I think most Americans would join me in saying, that Rove and Liddy should, at the minimum, not be allowed to see anything whose revelation-- for WHATEVER reasons-- will compromise this country's security. Can we all agree on that?

Obviously Bush and the criminal regime he and Cheney have surrounded themselves with in the White House can't. Take a look at this transcript from yesterday's (7-25-05) White House Press Briefing:

Q: Do Karl Rove and Scooter Libby still have top secret clearance here, access to classified documents?

McCLELLAN: You asked this question last week, and...

Q: I did. And I'm asking again.

McCLELLAN: ...the President has said what our answer is to these questions. We'll be glad to talk about all these issues once the investigation is complete.

Q: Do they have a clearance?

McCLELLAN: We'll be glad to talk about all the issues relating to the investigation once it's complete.

Q: Why can't you talk about it now?

McCLELLAN: Well, that question I addressed a couple weeks ago.

No matter what else this Regime will be known for, forthrightness, straight-talking, honesty and
anything to do with Truth will NEVER be part of it.



I've been arguing with my friend Johnny about the 2006 elections. He thinks Americans are getting fed up with Bush and his neo-fascists and that the Republikanische Partei, as he puts it on his amazing radio show (KTLK-AM, Los Angeles), may get swamped. Obviously I hope he's correct, but what we've been arguing about is not the House of Representatives, but the U.S. Senate. I gladly concede that between all the corruption scandals erupting about DeLay, "Duke" Cunningham, Pombo, Taylor, Jerry Lewis, Bob Ney, Doc Hastings (DeLay's crooked head of the Ethics Committee who keeps all this bottled up), and at least a dozen others, voters are ready to make some big switches in the House. But the Senate? Where? We both agree that Santorum is probably going to be working full time for Opus Dei after November, 2006. (Or maybe I should say he will be working for them full time ON THE BOOKS, since he's been working for them full time ever since he was elected.) But beyond that, his unbridled optimism has been met by my grumpy skepticism. He sees Democratic wins in Rhode Island, Tennessee, Nevada, Arizona, Maine, Montana, Ohio, Missouri and maybe Virginia. WOW! As I often yell when he's on the air and I'm driving in my car, "Go, Johnny, Go!"

I was recently at a progressive think tank session in DC and the only toss-ups they saw were for a Democratic seat in Minnesota (being vacated by Dayton), Santorum's Pennsylvania seat, Chafee's Rhode Island seat and the seat Frist is giving up in Tennessee. Since the meeting, DeWine's Ohio seat is looking very vulnerable because the state GOP is in shambles and he has some connection to the scheme that looted the State Workmen's Compensation Fund for Republican campaign funds.

But today I started checking out some of the races Johnny was so passionate about and I want to start with Montana, a seemingly unlikely target that I'm now convinced can be wrested out of the hands of a bumbling unpopular wing-nut and won by the President of the State Senate, Jon Tester.
Let's start with the incumbent, Conrad Burns, who almost lost last time against someone far less known than Tester. The well-financed Conrad was barely re-elected with 51% of the vote. Recently Montanans have turned back towards their populist roots and elected a Democratic governor and even if Burns isn't indicted in the DeLay/Abramoff corruption scandals-- and he may be-- Montanans are pissed off about his close ties to these crooks. Public records seem to point to Burns accepting over $135,000 in bribes from Abramoff. Abramoff, like Bush, Cheney and DeLay, has hired an attorney to help him evade justice. As chairman of the Interior Appropriations subcommittee, Burns controls funding for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and is in a key position for tribes seeking special projects. The Washington Post reported that Burns diverted a $3 million grant meant for impoverished Indian schools to the Saginaw Chippewas in Michigan, one of the richest tribes in the nation. That tribe, of course, was a client of GOP super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff (the funneler of illegal bribes to Tom DeLay), both of whom are under investigation by the FBI for buying legislative favors with campaign contributions and bribing Congressional aides. Maybe that has something to do with Burns' pathetic polling numbers recently. Only 36% of the voters in Montana are currently planning to vote to send him back to DC. His votes against Social Security and Veteran's health care as well as for voting against Montanans' interests to support corporate fat cats in regard to the Farm Bill have turned more and more voters against him. Almost half of his campaign money comes from PACs (special interest groups) and rich Republicans from outside the state. He raises very little money in Montana any longer.

Last year was an amazing year for Democrats in Montana. Yes, the state stuck with Bush but Montana also elected a Democratic governor and swept the Repugs out of the leadership of both houses of the state legislature. And who are the Democrats going to run against this corrupt sack of shit-- who, by the way, promised that he'd never be corrupted by DC because he'd only ever accept 2 terms (he's trying for his 4th)? Meet Jon Tester, an organic wheat farmer from Big Sandy, who served as the Montana Senate President in 2005. (The citizen legislature meets for 90 days every other year, so he spends more time farming than politicking.) He's a 48 years old straight talkin' populist who first won his State Senate seat in a very Republican district. Tester announced his candidacy driving his tractor-trailer rig around the state. Between now and when he becomes a U.S. Senator in 2006, I'll be following his campaign on these pages. Stay tuned.

A LITTLE UPDATE (Monday, August 8)-
The Montana State Democratic party just started running this TV ad today. Take
a look-- it looks like it will be very effective to me. It makes it abundantly clear that Burns is a crooked pol and it's the kind of information the mass media so-called "news" organizations have no room for between the updates from Aruba and runaway brides.

Monday, July 25, 2005



My old friend Ellen sent me this today and I thought it was worthy of passing on since I don't see any chance that CNN will stop talking about trivial, sensationalistic and thoughtless crap long enough to consider a story like this. (In fact a couple weeks ago I was watching CNN and some blow-dried talking head was reading the news and transitioned out of a story about a church voting overwhelmingly to recognize gay marriages with words to the effect of "On a brighter note..." or something equally homophobic. My letter to CNN remains unanswered.) A few weeks ago when the Spanish parliament took its historic vote legalizing both gay marriage and adoption of children by gay couples, Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero-- who put the full prestige of his office and party behind passage of the gay human rights legislation-- made probably the most remarkable speech in favor of full equality for those with same-sex hearts ever delivered by a head of government anywhere, in which he quoted two of the most illustrious gay poets in history. Here are excerpts from Zapatero's speech:

"We are not legislating, honorable members, for people far away and not known by us. We are enlarging the opportunity for happiness to our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends and, our families: at the same time we are making a more decent society, because a decent society is one that does not humiliate its members. In the poem 'The Family,' our [gay] poet Luis Cernuda was sorry because, 'How does man live in denial in vain / by giving rules that prohibit and condemn?' Today, the Spanish society answers to a group of people who, during many years have, been humiliated, whose rights have been ignored, whose dignity has been offended, their identity denied, and their liberty oppressed. Today the Spanish society grants them the respect they deserve, recognizes their rights, restores their dignity, affirms their identity, and restores their liberty. It is true that they are only a minority, but their triumph is everyone's triumph. It is also the triumph of those who oppose this law, even though they do not know this yet: because it is the triumph of Liberty. Their victory makes all of us (even those who oppose the law) better people, it makes our society better. Honorable members, There is no damage to marriage or to the concept of family in allowing two people of the same sex to get married. To the contrary, what happens is this class of Spanish citizens get the potential to organize their lives with the rights and privileges of marriage and family. There is no danger to the institution of marriage, but precisely the opposite: this law enhances and respects marriage. Today, conscious that some people and institutions are in a profound disagreement with this change in our civil law, I wish to express that, like other reforms to the marriage code that preceded this one, this law will generate no evil, that its only consequence will be the avoiding of senseless suffering of decent human beings. A society that avoids senseless suffering of decent human beings is a better society. With the approval of this Bill, our country takes another step in the path of liberty and tolerance that was begun by the democratic change of government. Our children will look at us incredulously if we tell them that many years ago, our mothers had less rights than our fathers, or if we tell them that people had to stay married against their will even though they were unable to share their lives. Today we can offer them a beautiful lesson: every right gained, each access to liberty has been the result of the struggle and sacrifice of many people that deserve our recognition and praise. Today we demonstrate with this Bill that societies can better themselves and can cross barriers and create tolerance by putting a stop to the unhappiness and humiliation of some of our citizens. Today, for many of our countrymen, comes the day predicted by Kavafis [the great Greek gay poet] one century ago: 'Later 'twas said of the most perfect society / someone else, made like me / certainly will come out and act freely.' "



Every outside-the-Beltway poll I see, shows the vast majority of Americans open but wary about Bush's nomination of arch-conservative John Roberts to the Supreme Court. People are starting to wise up about what BushCheney are up to and how it is destroying our country. At the same time, every inside-the-Beltway prognosticator shows Roberts sailing through confirmation. According to an AOL poll today over 70% of respondents think ALL the documents Roberts wrote for past Administrations should be released as part of his confirmation hearings, something the Bush Regime knows will unmask him as a fanatic extremist at a time when they're trying to pass him off as a middle-of-the-road-garden-variety-conservative. A large majority also wants Roberts to answer the question about overturning Roe v Wade, something about as likely as George Bush going for 24 hours without telling a lie.

People are starting to wake up to what the Republicans are up to. The most blatant and avaricious corruption in the history of our nation-- with at least a dozen GOP congressmen looking towards serious indictments for accepting bribes for votes and a whole state's (Ohio's) Republican Party
mired in a scandal that turned the Workmen's Compensation Fund into a honeypot for GOP campaigns, dirty tricks and vote rigging financing and, of course, for individual enrichment of Republican bigshots-- is starting to make an impression. Add to that Rove's, Libby's Cheney's, BUSH'S, Gonzalez', McClennan's constant string of twisted half-truths and out-and-out lies about the outing of a secret service agent for cheap political revenge, as well as a too-long-in-coming dawning on most of us that Bush has been lying about his incompetent and ill-fated attack on Iraq from Day 1, and there is a definite stirring in the country. Is BUSH and his crew fit to name a Supreme Court judge? The Democrats in the U.S. Senate will be the last to figure it out. Hopefully they'll get a message from the very Republican Ohio 2nd Congressional District in about a week that regular people do not think so.

(If Roberts gets confirmed, which is likely, will he recuse himself in cases involving the treasonous Rove, who was publically instrumental in appointing him? And if Democrats sweep Congress in 2006 and Bush gets impeached will Roberts be allowed to vote?)



A few days ago I wrote a little something about Col. Paul Hackett, a progressive Democrat recently returned from fighting in Iraq, running against a vicious right-wing anti-choice fanatic, Jean Schmidt, for an open congressional seat in southern Ohio. Normally this is a VERY safe Republican seat. But with the state GOP having just been caught stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the Ohio Workmen's Compensation Fund and with the diminishing popularity of Bush' policies and with the blatant differences between the two candidates, this race looks very winnable.

Schmidt and the Far Right forces behind her are panicking as small contributions pour into Hackett's campaign. An examination of the FEC records show that the average contribution to Hackett is $51.17. The average contribution to Schmidt is $1,785. If that looks scary, don't worry yet. Hackett had 2,873 donors and Schmidt had 14. His are all concerned citizens; hers are all PACs (special interests).

And if you didn't find a good enough reason to support Paul Hackett in what I had to say about him last week, consider this: Paul is pissed off that Democrats have let the GOP define the debate on what they've named the “death tax.” Hackett says we should be calling it the "anti-aristocracy tax.” We need more congressmen with that kind of attitude!

Election day: August 2. If you want to contribute on line you can go to

Sunday, July 24, 2005



1777 was so long ago. I mean they had those long funny guns that took forever to reload and were pretty inaccurate to boot. And how many weeks did it take to get a message from the battlefield to headquarters? But some of the lessons those of us paying attention in junior high history classes learned about the Revolutionary War actually are relevant to George's (the Bush one) war in Iraq. The first time I started thinking about the comparison between the U.S. War of Independence and the Iraqi insurgency was when I started seeing the stories on CNN about the "U.S. civilian contractors" hanging under a bridge. It didn't take me too long to figure out that the "civilian contractors" weren't engineers and architects building driveways and new hospitals, but mercenaries, paid killers from all over the world operating outside of the U.S. military's rules and codes of behavior (ie- "What Geneva Conventions?"). And what did we learn about the Revolution and mercenaries? The Hessians were hated-- and rightfully so-- and people fighting for their homes and families will put up a very bloody, costly struggle against mercenaries.

In the late 1700s Great Britain was the world's military superpower. The disorganized, squabbling 13 colonies, a full third of whose citizens were pro-Britain (there were times when more citizens of the colonies were joining the British Army than Washington's U.S. Army!), were no match, on paper, for the might and power of George III's military. But what did our Junior High American History teachers tell us about defending one's homes from foreigners, especially from foreigners with very long supply lines? Washington's genius was not for winning battles-- he almost never did-- but for managing to retreat and keep his forces alive and slowly wear the British out.

Although George II (the U.S. one) probably paid no attention-- whether by inability or inclination-- to his school teachers, there was also a bit they taught about morality and who was "right," who has Justice on their side. The prevaricators and propagandists in the Bush Regime are technologically sophisticated and spend an awful lot of time and money spinning the Iraq story but the whole world (outside of the most backward parts of the Old Confederacy and the other parts of America where the concept of a theocracy is attractive) feels the side of Right is with the Iraqis, not with the Americans and their Iraqi collaborators. Wherever you go in the world, The Americans are seen as the bad guys in this war, not as liberators or freedom fighters but as jack-booted fascists trying to impose its will on another country.

Today the New York Times ran a story on how the Iraqi insurrgency keeps getting stronger, "Defying U.S. Efforts, Guerrillas in Iraq Refocus and Strengthen." Right from the beginning, it sounds bad for the pro-war Bush Regime. Despite the constant barrage of lies from Cheney and Rumsfeld and the other fanatics inside the government and from all the paid shills working full time at brainwashing the public-- be it the Times' own Judith Miller (a Cheney sipher) or the entire Fox "News" operation or individual right-wing propagandists like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, etc-- outside the government, that the Iraqi "terrorists" (just what George III called the American patriots) were failing "the guerrillas and terrorists battling the American-backed enterprise here appear to be growing more violent, more resilient and more sophisticated than ever."

The Iraqi collaborators and their American patrons are not winning the war. "American commanders say the number of attacks against American and Iraqi forces has held steady over the last year, averaging about 65 a day. But the Americans concede the growing sophistication of insurgent attacks and the insurgents' ability to replenish their ranks as fast as they are killed."

"'We are capturing or killing a lot of insurgents,' said a senior Army intelligence officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make his assessments public. 'But they're being replaced quicker than we can interdict their operations. There is always another insurgent ready to step up and take charge.'" That sounds like 1770s America too.

Saturday, July 23, 2005



To be honest, Dennis Morrisseau, 62, of West Pawlet, VT, doesn't smell like a Republican to me. But, of course, Vermont is different from anyplace else so you have to stay open-minded when you hear about their politics. Morrisseau is running for Vermont's one Congressional seat, the one being vacated by America's only Socialist Party congressman, Bernie Sanders (who is running for-- and heavily favored to win-- the Senate seat being given up by Jim Jeffords, the Senate's only Independent). Morrisseau, who, like Ronald Reagan, started political life as a Democrat, is a small businessman and environmentalist and, he insists, a Republican. But he's a Republican disgusted with Bush and willing to run on a platform calling for Bush's and Cheney's impeachment. In fact, he promises to bring the articles of impeachment against Bush himself if he wins. A lot has to break his way before that happens. First off his GOP competition is Maj. Gen. Martha Rainville, head of the Vermont National Guard. And even if he overcomes her, he's got to contend with Vermont's popular Senate president pro-tempore, Peter Welch, the likely Democratic candidate.

Morrisseau claims to be more of a true Republican than Bush, and he says he thinks a lot of Vermont Republicans agree with his assessment of the Bush Regime. "Republicans in this state tend to be mind-your-own-business people, keep taxes low and government small." Morrisseau's Republicanism is still about the concerns of small town businessmen (rather than multinationals and corporations like WalMart) and protecting the environment (instead of "developing" it out of existence). In 2004 Vermont was one of Bush's weakest states, one of the few where he couldn't even get 40% of the vote-- although who knows how many other states would have had similar numbers had voting tallies not be so badly corrupted. Morrisseau, who is completely disdainful of the Vermont GOP leadership, largely Bush clones, claims that "If you're an old and decent Republican and politics takes a 180 in your country, it sometimes takes a while to tell what you ought to do. It took me a while." The former Vietnam War vet hopes it won't take them too long. He voted for Reagan and in 2000 he admits to having voted for Bush. By 2004, he couldn't bring himself to do it. "I held my nose and voted for Kerry," he claims.

Like more and more Americans, Morrisseau said he sees an administration flagrantly abusing the powers of the executive branch and a national party leadership gaining dominance over the entire government. "I'm a Republican," he reiterates. "I'm not a Brown Shirt. I've never, in any contemplation of U.S. history, seen anything like that asserted at any time. I don't think we're going to get much done in the way of standard politics until we clean this neo-con nest out."

Bush, Cheney, McClellan, Rove and Libby, all huddling with private attorneys in regard to "Treasongate," have not commented.



I'm not a paranoid guy. I can let just about anything slide. (I mean I was never on a space ship but I had a couple of close encounters-- once with a witness-- and I'm totally NOT obsessed with it, never think about it, rarely talk about and can't believe I'm mentioning it now. Easy to let it slide.) But if I were a paranoid guy I'd be wondering why the L.A. Times is giving the Randy "Duke" Cunningham/Thomas Kontogiannis story a pass. AFTER the first (easy) part of Cunningham's bribery story was so done that it was ready to have a fork stuck in it, the L.A. Times half-heartedly mentioned that one of the most prominent local politicians was being investigated on bribery charges and wouldn't be running for re-election. But there was no mention of Thomas Kontogiannis or that Cunningham, besides being a conduit to the Pentagon's no-bid contracts department was also accused of being a conduit to the White House's any-felons-out-there-wanna-pay-now-for-a-pardon-later department.

It's not that hard to find the information about things like Cunningham and Kontogiannis online-- which is how bloggers got the dope on the first part of the story out in the first place (newspapers like the L.A. Times dragging along 4-5 weeks later), but just in case the L.A. Times was as asleep as it appears, I called them and told them about the Kontogiannis connection and sent them the info by e-mail. They claim that the story has legs and that it won't go away and that they'll run more later. We'll see. Meanwhile though, Congressman Randy "Duke livin' large free of charge" Cunningham, is playing victim, as all right wingers always do when caught with their hands in the cookie jar. It's not enough to get these crooks to slither out the back door; you can't stop 'til you've driven a silver stake into their villainous hearts. Cunningham's still not in prison; in fact, he's still in Congress. In fact, he's still sitting on the House Defense Appropriations Sub-Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, the 2 bodies to which he was selling access! Of course with people like Tom DeLay's pet duck, Doc Hastings, heading the House Ethics Committee, ole "Duke" could be selling nuclear secrets to bin-Laden and not get in any trouble-- as long as the dons of the GOP get their taste!

Before I go into the Kontogiannis story, the one the L.A. Times is sitting on (I guess a racket to sell convicted felons presidential pardons isn't that big a deal), let me reiterate Cunningham's modus operandi. Although no one ever accused him of being an intellectual or even one of the smarter members of a pretty brain dead caucus, Cunningham was smart enough-- unlike Rove's attorney-- not to take gold bars for his favours. Oh, no, "Duke" was too smart for that! If you wanted in on some Cunningham action, aside from giving free-flowing campaign contributions, you had to buy something from him at an exorbitant price. That's how he had the bribe money funneled his way. So smart, isn't he? The mechanics were so simple. Duke has a house for sale. It's worth x dollars so he lets someone who wants to bribe him know to buy it for x + $700,000 or he has a boat worth y dollars and the briber pays him y + $400,000. Isn't that slick? (Those are the real figures, by the way.) Meanwhile, the shrewdy has gotten an appraisal for these properties for the high prices so when he's caught he can say "But that was the price the independent appraiser said it was worth." It only took 5 minutes for investigators (not the L.A. Times) to discover that the "independent appraiser" was a loyal contributor to the far right congressman's campaigns. On top of all that, the defense contractor who Cunningham helped rake in hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars for defense equipment, allowed ole Duke to live on his fancy yacht-- coincidentally named "The Duke-ster"-- FOR FREE. Almost any reputable Ethics Committee chairman short of so blatant a crook as Doc Hastings would have acted on that by now. (Why do all these corrupt corporate shills call themselves cute nicknames like "Duke" and "Doc?" and "Hammer?" What do they think they are, a Mafia Family? Soon we'll be hearing about some heavy called "Mikey Suits.") Anyway, the L.A. Times reporter was right about one thing-- on the phone; not mentioned in his story-- it will take a LONG time to unravel all the nefarious goings-on "Duke" was involved in-- crooked real estate deals wherever you look, all sorts of craziness with boats, financial manipulations that would even get the Ohio GOP Establishment dizzy! So let's leave that in the hands of the State Attorney and move on to Cunningham's comfy relationship with Thomas Kontogiannis.

Kontogiannis, a Long Island Republican real estate developer, could have his picture in a dictionary next to the definition of "sleaze." And he knew just where to turn for a presidential pardon after pleading guilty in a serious bribery, kickback and contract-rigging scandal that cheated Queens school students out of $5 million dollars worth of computers: Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Kontogiannis' partner in crime-- who also plead guilty, was the District School Superintendent and a failed Republican candidate for Congress (financed, of course, by Kontogiannis), Celestine Miller who wound up with 4 houses (worth approximately $1 million) + $80,000 in campaign contributions for her participation in the felony. Kontogiannis bought a boat, now abandoned and worthless, from ole "Duke," the "Kelly C." for at least $400,000 more than it was worth to obtain Duke's help in getting Bush to pardon him. The question the L.A. Times and other news outlets should be asking is who at the White House was Duke's liaison with the pardon-granting apparatus? Or was this just a cozy little deal between Duke and Bush? And if so, how much of the $400,000 was Bush's cut? (Kontogiannis was paying off Duke in many other ways besides the outright $400,000 bribe-- which means that could have ALL been for Bush-- by giving him a series of discount loans (to the tune of at least another half million dollars) for real estate deals, one for a quick turn-around condo venture in Arlington, VA (which netted "Duke" a comfy $150,000 profit and involved another criminal associate of Cunningham's, a Joseph M. Della Ratta, a crooked real estate developer recently nailed for stealing from an asset management plan of which he was a trustee).

The L.A. Times has left all of this out of their coverage and don't expect to find any mention of it on CNN (let alone Fox). Meanwhile The Pentagon voided their 5 year contract with the defense contractor who was bribing Cunningham, Mitchell Wade's MZM. The Pentagon's inspector general found the $163 million dollar no-bid deal did not satisfy rules on competitiveness. Cunningham's long-time crony-- another extreme right-wing notorious bribe-taker, Jerry Lewis, (not the funny one, a California Republican who chaired the defense appropriations subcommittee until this year), tried covering his own ass by claiming, absurdly, that programs approved under his leadership had military value and "passed the smell test." Lewis is lying his ass off and ought to be hauled in front of a grand jury and charged with bribery and wartime profiteering. This piece of human filth should spend the rest of his miserable life behind bars-- with Cunningham, DeLay, Hastings and the rest of the GOP Congressional Crime Syndicate.

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I don't spend a lot of time in front of the boob-tube. I try to catch SOUTH PARK on weekday nights and sometimes I wind up watching RENO 911 if it's on before or after SOUTH PARK and I flip on the tv. Once in a while I'll see what's cooking on the History Channel and when I wake up in the mornings I turn on CNN and see what damage Bush has caused to the world overnight. Sometimes I'll have CNN on when I'm getting dressed and sometimes someone else, usually Roland, will crank up the set in the living room adjacent to my office and I'll hear snatches of something on CNN or, if he's looking for a fight with me, he'll have put on Fox "News." Once in a while Roland will shout, "hey look at this C-Span thing" and I'll walk over and take a look. But one execrable creature I have managed to catch more and more frequently is some ubiquitous Republican talking head. I'm not exactly clear what he is exactly although he seems to be a right-wing propagandist embedded with the CNN operation. His name is Clifford May and I've never heard him say anything remotely true. They just have him come on CNN and spin out some blatant lies and then they move on to talk about the missing Alabama girl in Aruba and her family or maybe update America on what's new with the Runaway Bride from Georgia or any of the Infotainment-manufactured fake "news" stories created to titillate and excite and take up time between the advertisements. But this May guy has been on a lot lately, just spewing all kinds of trash about "Treasongate." Someone listening to him give out the Rove-authored Far Right's party line would probably think that Valerie Plame and her former ambassador husband were traitors to our country and that stalwart, heroic Karl Rove had unmasked them after catching them red handed trying to undermine the Cucumber-in-Chief and turn the country over to Saddam Hussein. At the very least you would be convinced that Valerie Plame was an inconsequential CIA desk jockey with no undercover status and that certainly no crimes or even misdeeds ever occurred in relation to the tempest in a teapot the unpatriotic Democrats have brewed up to undermine America and turn it over to Saddam Hussein and colored people. Clifford May makes me ill. He's a lying sack of shit with a smug, ugly, well-fed Republican face. Americans passing him on the street should be allowed to spit on him for his desecration of our national honor.

For people who may have missed former CIA officer (and former prosecutor) James Marcinkowski's testimony on C-Span yesterday, I'm posting most of what he had to say. Next time you hear Clifford May (or any of the other professional liars employed by the Republicans to deceive, confuse or obfuscate (think Ken Mehlman, William Safire, Bill O'Reilly, the amen chorus of phony "send-in-your-checks-today" so-called "preachers," Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Eskew...), just remember what a real on-the-line patriot like Marcinkowski had to say about this.

July 22, 2005

What is important now is not who wins or loses the political battle or who may or may not be indicted; rather, it is a question of how we will go about protecting the citizens of this country in a very dangerous world. The undisputed fact is that we have irreparably damaged our capability to collect human intelligence and thereby significantly diminished our capability to protect the American people.

Understandable to all Americans is a simple, incontrovertible, but damning truth: the United States government exposed the identity of a clandestine officer working for the CIA. This is not just another partisan "dust-up" between political parties. This unprecedented act will have far-reaching consequences for covert operations around the world. Equally disastrous is that from the time of that first damning act, we have continued on a course of self-inflicted wounds by government officials who have refused to take any responsibility, have played hide-and-seek with the truth and engaged in semantic parlor games for more than two years, all at the expense of the safety of the American people. No government official has that right.

For an understanding of what is at stake it is important to understand some fundamental principles. No country or hostile group, from al Qaeda to any drug rings operating in our cities, likes to be infiltrated or spied upon. The CIA, much like any police department in any city, has undercover officers--spies, that use "cover."

To operate under "cover" means you use some ruse to cloak both your identity and your intentions. The degree of cover needed to carry out any operation varies depending on the target of the investigation. A police officer performing "street buys" uses a "light" cover, meaning he or she could pose as something as simple as a drug user, operate only at night and during the day and, believe it or not, have a desk job in the police station. On the other hand, if an attempt were made to infiltrate a crime syndicate, visiting the local police station or drinking with fellow FBI agents after work may be out of the question. In any scenario, your cover, no matter what the degree, provides personal protection and safety. But it does not end there. Cover is also used to protect collection methodology as well as any innocent persons a CIA officer may have regular contact with, such as overseas acquaintances, friends, and even other U.S. government officials.

While cover provides a degree of safety for the case officer, it also provides security for that officer's informants or agents. In most human intelligence operations, the confidentiality of the cover used by a CIA officer and the personal security of the agent or asset is mutually dependent. A case officer cannot be identified as working for the CIA, just as the informant/agent cannot be identified as working for the CIA through the case officer. If an informant or agent is exposed as working for the CIA, there is a good chance that the CIA officer has been identified as well. Similarly, if the CIA officer is exposed, his or her agents or informants are exposed. In all cases, the cover of a case officer ensures not only his or her own personal safety but that of the agents or assets as well.

The exposure of Valerie Plame's cover by the White House is the same as the local chief of police announcing to the media the identity of its undercover drug officers. In both cases, the ability of the officer to operate is destroyed, but there is also an added dimension. An informant in a major sophisticated crime network, or a CIA asset working in a foreign government, if exposed, has a rather good chance of losing more than just their ability to operate.

Any undercover officer, whether in the police department or the CIA, will tell you that the major concern of their informant or agent is their personal safety and that of their family. Cover is safety. If you cannot guarantee that safety in some form or other, the person will not work for you and the source of important information will be lost.

So how is the Valerie Plame incident perceived by any current or potential agent of the CIA? I will guarantee you that if the local police chief identified the names of the department's undercover officers, any half-way sophisticated undercover operation would come to a halt and if he survived that accidental discharge of a weapon in police headquarters, would be asked to retire.

And so the real issues before this Congress and this country today is not partisan politics, not even the loss of secrets. The secrets of Valerie Plame's cover are long gone. What has suffered perhaps irreversible damage is the credibility of our case officers when they try to convince our overseas contact that their safety is of primary importance to us. How are our case officers supposed to build and maintain that confidence when their own government cannot even guarantee the personal protection of the home team? While the loss of secrets in the world of espionage may be damaging, the stealing of the credibility of our CIA officers is unforgivable....

And so we are left with only one fundamental truth, the U.S. government exposed the identity of a covert operative. I am not convinced that the toothpaste can be put back into the tube. Great damage has been done and that damage has been increasing every single day for more than two years. The problem of the refusal to accept responsibility by senior government officials is ongoing and causing greater damage to our national security and our ability to collect human intelligence. But the problem lies not only with government officials but also with the media, commentators and other apologists who have no clue as to the workings of the intelligence community. Think about what we are doing from the perspective of our overseas human intelligence assets or potential assets.

I believe Bob Novak when he credited senior administration officials for the initial leak, or the simple, but not insignificant confirmation of that secret information, as I believe a CIA officer in some far away country will lose an opportunity to recruit an asset that may be of invaluable service to our covert war on terror because "promises of protection" will no longer carry the level of trust they once had.

Each time the leader of a political party opens his mouth in public to deflect responsibility, the word overseas is loud and clear--politics in this country does in fact trump national security.

Each time a distinguished ambassador is ruthlessly attacked for the information he provided, a foreign asset will contemplate why he should risk his life when his information will not be taken seriously.

Each time there is a perceived political "success" in deflecting responsibility by debating or re-debating some minutia, such actions are equally effective in undermining the ability of this country to protect itself against its enemies, because the two are indeed related. Each time the political machine made up of prime-time patriots and partisan ninnies display their ignorance by deriding Valerie Plame as a mere "paper-pusher," or belittling the varying degrees of cover used to protect our officers, or continuing to play partisan politics with our national security, it is a disservice to this country. By ridiculing, for example, the "degree" of cover or the use of post office boxes, you lessen the level of confidence that foreign nationals place in our covert capabilities.

Those who would advocate the "I'm ok, you're ok" politics of non-responsibility, should probably think about the impact of those actions on our foreign agents. Non-responsibility means we don't care. Not caring means a loss of security. A loss of security means a loss of an agent. The loss of an agent means the loss of information. The loss of information means an increase in the risk to the people of the United States.

There is a very serious message here. Before you shine up your American flag lapel pin and affix your patriotism to your sleeve, think about what the impact your actions will have on the security of the American people. Think about whether your partisan obfuscation is creating confidence in the United States in general and the CIA in particular. If not, a true patriot would shut up.

Those who take pride in their political ability to divert the issue from the fundamental truth ought to be prepared to take their share of the responsibility for the continuing damage done to our national security.

When this unprecedented act first occurred, the president could have immediately demanded the resignation of all persons even tangentially involved. Or, at a minimum, he could have suspended the security clearances of these persons and placed them on administrative leave. Such methods are routine with police forces throughout the country. That would have at least sent the right message around the globe, that we take the security of those risking their lives on behalf of the United States seriously. Instead, we have flooded the foreign airwaves with two years of inaction, political rhetoric, ignorance, and partisan bickering. That's the wrong message. In doing so we have not lessened, but increased the threat to the security and safety of the people of the United States.

Let me add one more thing. Can anyone read what this man has to say and NOT think
about impeaching Bush and cleaning up the myriad of stains on the honor of our country by getting rid of the corrupt and vicious gang of criminals he has running the government? Citizens MUST demand the voting process is fair and clean and that Republicans can never again thwart the will of the majority and seize power the way they did in 2000 and 2004. The midterm elections of 2006 will give patriotic Americans an opportunity to elect a Congress that will investigate the Bush Regime's crimes, impeach him and start the long hard process back to normalcy.

Friday, July 22, 2005



Waxman: 11 Security Breaches in Plame Case
Author: Rep. Henry Waxman
Published on July 22, 2005, 14:25

The disclosure of the covert identity of Valerie Plame Wilson in a July 14, 2003, column by Robert Novak has triggered a criminal investigation and led to calls for congressional investigations. The Novak column, however, appears to be only one of multiple leaks of Ms. Wilson's identity. A new fact sheet released today by Rep. Waxman documents that there appear to be at least 11 separate instances in which Administration officials disclosed information about Ms. Wilson's identity and association with the CIA.

New Fact Sheet Details Multiple Administration Security Breaches Involving Valerie Plame Wilson

On July 14, 2003, columnist Robert Novak revealed that the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, Valerie Plame Wilson, was a covert CIA agent. This disclosure of classified information has triggered a criminal investigation by a Special Counsel and led to calls for congressional investigations.

The Novak column, however, appears to be only one of multiple leaks of Ms. Wilson's identity. As this fact sheet documents, there appear to be at least 11 separate instances in which Administration officials disclosed information about Ms. Wilson's identity and association with the CIA.

Under Executive Order 12958, the White House is required to investigate any reports of security breaches and take "prompt corrective action," such as suspending the security clearances of those involved. Unlike prosecutions for criminal violations, which require "knowing" and "intentional" disclosures, the executive order covers a wider range of unauthorized breaches, including the "negligent" release of classified information. There is no evidence that the White House has complied with its obligation to investigate any of the 11 reported instances of security breaches relating to Ms. Wilson or to apply administrative sanctions to those involved.

The Disclosures of Valerie Wilson's Identity

1. The Disclosure by Karl Rove to Columnist Robert Novak
In a column dated July 14, 2003, Robert Novak first reported that Valerie Plame Wilson was "an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction."1 Mr. Novak cited "two senior administration officials" as his sources.2 According to multiple news reports, one of these two sources was Karl Rove, the Deputy White House Chief of Staff and the President's top political advisor.3 During a phone call on July 8, 2003, Mr. Rove confirmed for Mr. Novak that Ms. Wilson worked at the CIA. During this conversation, Mr. Novak referred to Ms. Wilson "by her maiden name, Valerie Plame," and said he had heard she was involved in "the circumstances in which her husband … traveled to Africa."4 Mr. Rove responded, "I heard that, too."5 Mr. Novak's name also appeared "on a White House call log as having telephoned Mr. Rove in the week before the publication of the July 2003 column."6

2. The Disclosure by a "Senior Administration Official" to Columnist Robert Novak
In addition to his communications with Mr. Rove, Mr. Novak learned about Ms. Wilson's identity through communications with a second "senior administration official."7 Mr. Novak's second source has not yet been publicly identified. Mr. Novak has stated, however, that the source provided him with Ms. Wilson's identity. As he stated: "I didn't dig it out, it was given to me."8 He added: "They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it."9

3. The Disclosure by Karl Rove to TIME Reporter Matt Cooper
During a phone call on July 11, 2003, Mr. Rove revealed to TIME reporter Matt Cooper that Ms. Wilson worked at the CIA on weapons of mass destruction.10 Mr. Cooper reported that this "was the first time I had heard anything about Wilson's wife."11 Mr. Rove provided this information on "deep background," said that "things would be declassified soon," and stated, "I've already said too much."12

4. The Disclosure by Scooter Libby to TIME Reporter Matt Cooper
During a phone call on July 12, 2003, TIME reporter Matt Cooper asked the Vice President's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby "if he had heard anything about Wilson's wife sending her husband to Niger." 13 Mr. Libby replied, "Yeah, I've heard that too," or words to that effect.14 Mr. Libby provided this information "on background."15

5. The Disclosure by an "Administration Official" to Washington Post Reporter Walter Pincus
On July 12, 2003, an "administration official" told Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus that "Wilson's trip to Niger was set up as a boondoggle by his CIA-employed wife."16 Mr. Pincus has not publicly identified his source, but has stated that it "was not Libby."17

6. The Disclosure by a "Top White House Official" to an Unidentified Reporter
In addition making disclosures to Mr. Novak, Mr. Cooper, and Mr. Pincus, White House officials may have had conversations about Ms. Wilson with three other reporters about Ms. Wilson's identity. According to the Washington Post, a "senior administration official" confirmed that "before Novak's column ran on July 14, 2003, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife."18 According to this official, "Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge."19 Press reports suggest that one of these unidentified reporters may be NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell.20

7. The Disclosure by a "Top White House Official" to an Unidentified Reporter
In addition making disclosures to Mr. Novak, Mr. Cooper, and Mr. Pincus, White House officials may have had conversations about Ms. Wilson with three other reporters about Ms. Wilson's identity. According to the Washington Post, a "senior administration official" confirmed that "before Novak's column ran on July 14, 2003, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife."21 According to this official, "Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge."22 Press reports suggest that one of these unidentified reporters may be NBC Meet the Press host Tim Russert.23

8. The Disclosure by a "Top White House Official" to an Unidentified Reporter
In addition making disclosures to Mr. Novak, Mr. Cooper, and Mr. Pincus, White House officials may have had conversations about Ms. Wilson with three other reporters about Ms. Wilson's identity. According to the Washington Post, a "senior administration official" confirmed that "before Novak's column ran on July 14, 2003, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife."24 According to this official, "Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge."25 Press reports suggest that one of these unidentified reporters may be MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews.26

9. The Disclosure by an Unidentified Source to Wall Street Journal Reporter David Cloud
On October 17, 2003, Wall Street Journal reporter David Cloud reported that an internal State Department memo prepared by U.S. intelligence personnel "details a meeting in early 2002 where CIA officer Valerie Plame and other intelligence officials gathered to brainstorm about how to verify reports that Iraq had sought uranium yellowcake from Niger."27 This "classified" document had "limited circulation," according to "two people familiar with the memo."28

10. The Disclosure by an Unidentified Source to James Guckert of Talon News
On October 28, 2003, Talon News posted on its website an interview with Ambassador Joseph Wilson in which the questioner asked: "An internal government memo prepared by U.S. intelligence personnel details a meeting in early 2002 where your wife, a member of the agency or clandestine service working on Iraqi weapons issues, suggested that you could be sent to investigate the reports. Do you dispute that?"29 Talon News is tied to a group called GOP USA30 and is operated by Texas Republican Robert Eberle.31 Its only reporter, James Guckert (also known as Jeff Gannon), resigned when it was revealed that he gained access to the White House using a false name after his press credentials were rejected by House and Senate press galleries.32 In a March 2004 interview with his own news service, Mr. Guckert stated that the classified document was "easily accessible."33 In a February 11, 2005, interview with Wolf Blitzer of CNN, Mr. Guckert said the FBI interviewed him about "how I knew or received a copy of a confidential CIA memo," but he refused to answer FBI questions because of his status as a "journalist."34 A week later, Mr. Guckert changed his account, claiming he "was given no special information by the White House or by anybody else."35

11. The Disclosure by a "Senior Administration Official" to Washington Post Reporters Mike Allen and Dana Milbank
On December 26, 2003, Washington Post reporters Mike Allen and Dana Milbank reported on details about the classified State Department memo, writing that it was authored by "a State Department official who works for its Bureau of Intelligence and Research."36 The Post story was attributed to "a senior administration official who has seen" the memo.37 The Post also reported that the CIA was "angry about the circulation of a still-classified document to conservative news outlets" and that the CIA "believes that people in the administration continue to release classified information to damage the figures at the center of the controversy, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV and his wife, Valerie Plame."38

1 Robert Novak, The Mission to Niger, Chicago Sun-Times (July 14, 2003).
2 Id.
3 Rove Reportedly Held Phone Talk on CIA Officer, New York Times (July 15, 2005). See also Rove Confirmed Plame Indirectly, Lawyer Says, Washington Post (July 15, 2005).
4 Id.
5 Id.
6 Rove Confirmed Plame Indirectly, Lawyer Says, Washington Post (July 15, 2005).
7 Robert Novak, The Mission to Niger, Chicago Sun-Times (July 14, 2003).
8 Columnist Blows CIA Agent's Cover, Newsday (July 22, 2003).
9 Id.
10 Matt Cooper, What I Told the Grand Jury, TIME (July 25, 2005).
11 Id.
12 Id.
13 Id.
14 Id.
15 Id.
16 The When and How of Leak Being Probed, Washington Post (Nov. 26, 2004).
17 Id.
18 Bush Administration Is Focus of Inquiry; CIA Agent's Identity Was Leaked to Media, Washington Post (Sept. 28, 2003).
19 Id.
20 Secrets and Leaks, Newsweek (Oct. 13, 2003) (stating that she "heard in the White House that people were touting the Novak column and that that was the real story").
21 Bush Administration Is Focus of Inquiry; CIA Agent's Identity Was Leaked to Media, Washington Post (Sept. 28, 2003).
22 Id.
23 Reporter Held in Contempt in CIA Leak Case, Washington Post (Aug. 10, 2004) (describing a July 2003 telephone conversation between Mr. Russert and Mr. Libby).
24 Bush Administration Is Focus of Inquiry; CIA Agent's Identity Was Leaked to Media, Washington Post (Sept. 28, 2003).
25 Id.
26 Secrets and Leaks, Newsweek (Oct. 13, 2003) (reportedly stating to Mr. Wilson, "I just got off the phone with Karl Rove, who said your wife was fair game").
27 Memo May Aid Leak Probe, Wall Street Journal (Oct. 17, 2003).
28 Id.
29 Leaks Probe Is Gathering Momentum, Washington Post (Dec. 26, 2003). See also Senate Intel Report Discredits Wilson's Claims About Iraq, Niger, Talon News (July 13, 2004) (confirming that Talon reported on the memo in October 2003).
30 Leaks Probe Is Gathering Momentum, Washington Post (Dec. 26, 2003).
31 Democrats Want Investigation of Reporter Using Fake Name, New York Times (Feb. 11, 2005).
32 Id.
33 Id.
34 Rumsfeld Visits Iraq, CNN (Feb. 11, 2005).
35 Anderson Cooper 360, CNN (Feb. 18, 2005). See also Web Site Owner Says He Knew of Reporter's 2 Identities, New York Times (Feb. 20, 2005) (claiming that referring to the memo as though he had it was "merely an interview technique").
36 Leaks Probe Is Gathering Momentum, Washington Post (Dec. 26, 2003).
37 Id.
38 Id.



After giving his close friend and campaign contributor, Ohio GOP kingmaker Tom Noe, several months to destroy evidence, convert valuables bought with stolen money into untraceable assets, and cover his trail, Ohio's crooked Attorney General, Jim Petro, has finally gotten around to accusing Noe of stealing millions of dollars from the Ohio Workmen's Compensation Fund. Petro, who is almost laughably trying to succeed Ohio's hated not-yet-indicted-Governor Bob Taft, accused his former partner-in-crime of using a "Ponzi scheme" to defraud the state.

The one party state of Ohio (all statewide officials and both U.S. Senators are Republicans) is notorious for allowing favored GOP campaign contributors illegal access to taxpayer funds. Noe's scurrilous Coingate scandal-- which includes the loss of approximately $13 million dollars, split between Noe and GOP officials including Attorney General Petro-- pales in comparison to the $215 million dollar loss of the "investment" the GOP Establishment made with Workmen's Compensation money in another crooked Republican firm, MDL Capital Management in Pittsburgh, PA.

When The Toledo Blade and Cleveland Plain Dealer started publishing stories about this corruption, Petro, Taft, Betty Montgomery (the State Auditor) and Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who used stolen funds to finance GOP dirty tricks to steal Ohio's electoral votes for the BushCheney campaign (of which he was Ohio chairman), all attacked the newspapers viciously and fought like cornered beasts to protect Noe. As more and more evidence mounted, Taft and his criminal administration never stopped-- not to this day-- trying to derail investigations and protect the criminals (ie- themselves). Now that Petro is trying to run for governor he's making a lame attempt to separate himself from Noe and is trying to make it appear that he is vigorously prosecuting him; he isn't.

According to Petro (who was the State Auditor when Noe started stealing), the theft began on March 31, 1998, the day Ohio's corrupt then-Governor/now-Senator George Voinovich gave his pal Noe, a powerful Republican County Chairman and major campaign contributor, the first of two $25 million payments from the workers' compensation bureau. Today, Petro ingenuously revealed that "On Day One, Tom Noe took $1.375 million and put it in his personal or his business account," and immediately began using state money for his personal use. For some bizarre reason (an oversight?) Attorney General Petro fails to mention the connection between all the stolen millions and the contributions to state GOP officials' campaigns-- and to the BushCheney campaign, of at least $100,000, but probably much more, as well as to California's money-grubbing crook of a governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The week after Noe got his hands on the Workmen's Compensation Fund money, some of it started flowing back into Republican officials' campaigns. He and his wife, Bernadette, another crook, handed over $4,500 to then-Secretary of State Bob Taft's campaign for governor. Even if Petro is hoping to cover it up, the Toledo Blade points out that "In the three months after the $1.375 million transfer of state funds, Mr. Noe made thousands of dollars in political contributions, including an additional $2,500 to Mr. Taft, $2,000 to then-Gov. George Voinovich's Senate campaign, and $500 to Mr. Petro's campaign for re-election to the state auditor post he held before becoming attorney general." Over the next 6 years the money never stopped flowing into GOP coffers. And when Secretary of State Ken Blackwell needed ready money to subvert Ohio's 2004 election and hand the presidency over to George Bush, he turned to Bush "Pioneer" Tom Noe for the cash. But when the Toledo Blade asked Petro to admit that stolen state money was used to finance the Republican Party he demurred. "I don't see that," the sleaze-ball piece of shit Attorney General lied. "I mean, clearly, Tom Noe personally contributed to campaigns and the source of his funds could very well be public money." The reporter managed to keep a straight face while Petro, whose career is probably over and who will in all likelihood be spending a good deal of time in prison, danced on. Even if Petro couldn't bring himself to admit Noe used the stolen funds to finance the GOP, he did manage to admit that Noe used public money to acquire millions of dollars worth of homes, cars, and boats, many of which he has sold for large profits while Taft, Blackwell, Montgomery and, of course, the sleazy Petro, defended him and accused the newspapers of making it all up. The Federal Government, the State government and The Lucas County government are all pursuing criminal probes into Noe's looting of the Workmen's Compensation Fund and his illegal donations to Bush, Taft, Petro, Blackwell, et al.

Meanwhile Noe is hiding out and incommunicado in one of the million dollar plus homes he bought with stolen funds in Key West, Florida, no doubt under the protection of that state's highly corrupt governor (name starts with a "B"). Ohio House Minority Leader Chris Redfern, points out that Petro waited way too long after everyone in the state knew Noe had been stealing state funds and kicking a percentage back to the GOP. "Had the attorney general actually started to take action on April 4 after reading the first article-- rather than initially pooh-poohing any thought that Tom Noe could be a crook-- we could have secured what already had been sold, and that includes a $1 million house" Noe was able to sell.

Now that the Feds are investigating, the foot-dragging Attorney General is warning that more bad news is coming (and he ought to know!!) "We think that as we go through ... more and more of the transaction records, March 31, 1998, until May 24, (2005) I think we're going to find more instances where assets could have been converted or abused in one way or another," said Petro, who has now given up at least some of his cut of the stolen funds. Now he talks about ponzi schemes and "a pattern of corruption." And, like I said, he ought to know. Petro went on to list millions of dollars of personal assets acquired by Noe with the stolen funds but he avoids talking about the money that was kicked back to the GOP officials, like himself, who made the funds accessible to Noe and watched as he systematically looted the fund for over 6 years. The furthest he'll go, when pressed, is to say there will be "some measure of suspicion" about Ohio GOP officials and their role in Mr. Noe's investment and, of course, he now wouldn't dare rule out the possibility that bureau employees and members of the governor's staff could be investigated (since everyone in the state of Ohio knows that is already happening).

The Ohio GOP spin machine has switched gears. They now no longer talk about Noe as though he were a state hero being framed by evil Democrats, which is what Taft and Petro and Blackwell and the entire powerful Party apparatus were doing while Noe was selling whatever he could and getting the cash out of the state and while he was destroying whatever evidence he could. Now they're trying to shift all blame onto Noe (remember Bush talking about his biggest campaign contributor, the even more corrupt Enron chief Ken Lay, who he used to call Kennyboy and now professes to barely remember?) and take the favored role of all Republicans: victims. "How could that evil horrible Tom Noe do this to us? Oh we've been so wronged!" Yesterday one of them, a Jason Mauk, oozed out from under his rock and assumed his official capacity as a spokesman for the Ohio GOP to try to blame... the Democrats!!! "it is unfortunate Democrats continue to politicize this issue while Republicans are providing the leadership necessary to address it," hissed the vile, barely human Mauk. "Attorney General Petro is providing outstanding leadership in getting to the bottom of these concerns as quickly as possible and we are extremely satisfied by the progress that is being made by all of our Republican elected officials," Mr. Mauk lied. The inner circle of the GOP may say they are extremely satisfied but no one else in the state of Ohio is. And with many of the very people who were the recipients of Noe's stolen funds running for re-election or for higher office (like Petro, Blackwell, Montgomery, as well as Senator DeWine and several Republican Congressman, including one of Tom DeLay's chief henchmen, said to be one of the most corrupt men on Capitol Hill, Robert Ney), there are likely to be some major changes in Ohio's political makeup in the next several years.

If the Democrats want to politicize it they could easily use a play on "Noe and Ney" as an effective slogan.



I must have had a lemonade stand at one time. I know for sure I delivered newspapers. I've been
a working man my whole life. In fact, the first thing I did when I BECAME a man, right after my
13th birthday, was to sign up, along with my friend Stuie Cohen, at the local schuel that was on the way to PS 197 for the morning prayer thing. In that religionist sect you need 10 men (over the age of
13; no females need apply) or God either can't or won't hear your prayers; I never asked which-- nor did I ever care, since I always saw organized religion for exactly what it is: a crock of shit for frightened dumbbells with weak minds, ladled out by hucksters looking to make a buck without working. I was willing to stop by and sit there for 30 minutes everyday on my way to PS 197 in some kind of exotic tasseled stole and wrap-around leather drag while the old men mumbled incoherently because they were paying us $5/week (each). All kinds of jobs came after that. I worked for my dad one summer at E.J. Korvette's, an earlier and smaller version of Wal-Mart where the task was to convince "schnooks" to buy stuff they neither needed nor could afford. SO not my line, that it gave me a phobia to ever walk into a department store again. I still get physically ill from the mall ordeal. Then I was an elevator operator in Bobby Kennedy's office and then I got a job with mucho retrospective bragging rights. At the time it was anything BUT something to brag about. I wound up at a farm in Millbrook, NY (upstate, which was like going to Wyoming or Alaska) for the summer digging ditches. The week turned into a complete nightmare when the ditches turned into cesspools and I was knee-deep in poop. The poop turned out to belong to Dr. Timothy Leary, not yet known outside extremely rarefied circles, who I later hired to speak at my college-- after he was known in less rarefied circles, but still rarefied enough for my Administration watchdog, Miss Couey (RIP) to not know I was getting away with something. He didn't know I had been digging ditches filled with poop on his farm but he did give me my first acid trip. I had one job where I joined a union, working in a print shop. That one I was really proud of-- a union man!!! After that I was pretty much an entrepreneur for a long, long time, first with an incredibly thriving "pharmaceutical" operation that dominated eastern Long Island for 3 or 4 years and then doing whatever it took as I worked my way across Europe, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, back through Europe, where I wound up working for almost 4 years in a meditation center in Amsterdam. I worked in restaurants (dish-washer, waiter, cook, manager), a p.r. firm, several magazines... teaching, taking photos, and so on and then started a record company. That lead to my first corporate job, working for Sire Records---> Warner Brothers Records---> TimeWarner---> AOL. A couple years ago I retired.

But I brought you all the way here so I could talk about airplanes. After I had been hired at Sire---> Warner Brothers but before I started the job, Murray, the CFO told me what my t&e (travel and expenses budget) would be. I almost fainted. I could easily live on that and save my entire salary. The t&e was more than I had ever made in my life (and the salary was more than I had ever dreamed I would make, not that I ever dreamed about making money really, but it was a helluva lot more than
my dad ever made). So anyway, Murray has knocked me on my ass by telling me I could use the company credit card to the tune of about 10 times more than I had ever made before and my head is spinning and he starts describing the LEVELS of hotels I was allowed to use and the classes of service I was allowed to fly in for international and domestic (and for limo service)... I mean ole Murray was blowing my mind. I slept on a blanket over a straw pallet for a whole winter in a mud building in Afghanistan in a tiny 2-family village where no one had ever heard of either the United States or electricity. And he was telling me I could spend more per night in a hotel than I had ever made in a week. And BUSINESS CLASS. OMG! Business Class! I never dreamed about making money but I have to admit that I did dream about business class. The first time I flew to Europe it was $99 on Icelandic Air. You had to stop in Reykjavik for at least one night to get the deal (I stayed for a week) and then they flew you to Luxemburg. I was happy to be crammed into the back of the plane with hundreds of other poor hippies like myself. But Murray was telling me I could fly in the front of the plane-- with the white folks.

It wasn't long before I was a Vice President and Business Class turned to First Class and then the President and First Class was a birthright to grumble about when not using the company jet (which I never initiated even one time... just seemed like an INCREDIBLE waste of money-- although I was always happy to tag along with any of my peers who were already using it).

I have so many frequent flyer miles that I still fly to London and Bangkok and Bali and Morocco, not to mention NYC, on first class. Murray knew better than I did (at the time) how addictive the corporate tit can become. I'm more weaned away from it than almost anyone I know. But I do love those First Class flights-- especially the British Air overnighter from L.A. to London. Or I did. Oh, I still love the one to London. But today I want to talk about domestic airlines. This week I'm doing something I haven't done since I was hired by Sire---> Warner Brothers: flying coach across country. I still have a billion frequent flyer miles but I bought a roundtrip ticket to fly from Burbank (20 minutes away from my house; no hassle parking and all that) to JFK on Jet Blue. That's what this blog is about today (and what I'm writing about instead of the smoking cannon they found in the Rove Treason case yesterday).

American Airlines, Delta and United have all turned into flying pigsties. Worker morale is so low at the companies-- albeit for VERY good reasons-- that service has fallen to a level far below tolerable. First Class is now a truncated bottom-end-of-business-class. And the ticket prices have gone up as the services have gone down. Why pay huge fares for not particularly comfortable accommodations and gratuitously rude service when you can get pretty much the same thing for much less money in the back of the plane? But all my friends tell me the classless Jet Blue is not only FAR less expensive than DeltaAmericanUnited but their seats are more spacious and comfortable and the service is much more gracious-- friendly and positive instead of sullen and pissed-off.

Meanwhile, the whole frequent flyer scam is a real joke. Do you know that Capitol One tv ad series with David Spade? The one where he plays the role of a phone operator getting requests for flights using accrued mileage and just says "NO" to every request. If you've tried to use your airline mileage you are probably aware that this is REALITY TV not a sit-com. If anything, Spade's ad is going easy on DeltaAmericanUnited. One travel talk show radio host recently exposed how Delta was bragging to investors that they had only allowed 8% of requested frequent flyer travel to go through. I'm surprised to hear they even allowed 8%!

Now you're probably wondering when I'm going to turn all this is an anti-Bush rant. I don't want to disappoint you. Bush's short-sighted national insecurity policies have destroyed the U.S. airline industry and made travel unnecessarily grueling and something everyone would just rather avoid. And his policies in favor of corporations and against the interests of consumers and the general public have accelerated the downward spiral. I never miss an opportunity to remind fellow travelers on lines at crowded airports that when we get rid of Bush, airline travel will go back towards being civilized again.



Someone from the Federalist Society, like Judge Roberts, is in all likelihood, going to be a reactionary judge who will always find in favor of big corporations as opposed to citizens. He will probably be someone who will vote to limited individual rights and liberty rather than strengthen and expand them. If he has an opportunity to overturn Roe v Wade, he will probably act on it. Should progressives demand their Senators filibuster him?

Probably not. First off, it's not a fight progressives can win. Unless someone finds some "smoking gun" in Roberts' closet, he's going to be confirmed anyway. This is a battle that should have been fought when BushCheney, with the help of the criminal GOP Administration in Ohio led by Governor Taft, Secretary of State Blackwell and kingmaker/looter Tom Noe, was stealing that state's electoral votes, and thereby the presidency, last year. How many Senators stood with Barbara Boxer to demand a joint session of Congress and an investigation into what happened in Ohio? Answer: none.
If Kerry and the rest of the elected Beltway Democrats were willing to concede the White House to this pack of thieves and scoundrels then, did they think there would be no consequences? Did they imagine that Bush was going to name Al Sharpton to the Supreme Court? Keep bending over, boys, and letting Bush and the fascists dismantle the New Deal and save your fire and your ire for the Democrat who wants to REALLY turn things around: Howard Dean, head of the DNC, the Democrat who is NOT Joe Lieberman, who is NOT Joe Biden, who is NOT some Beltway hack making believe he represents the interests of ordinary citizens against the overwhelming power of corporate fascism. Howard Dean's the real deal-- the only one I see on the horizon who can save this country from the direction Clinton and the Bushes have taken it.