Wednesday, August 31, 2005



I hate to take right-wing psycho talk show host Michael Savage's word on anything but sometimes even a deranged maniac like Savage stumbles on the truth. So when Savage says Sean Hannity is one of the most ignorant broadcasters in the nation and that he is incapable of thought-patterns beyond a normal 12 year old, you might want to pay attention. With Bush's approval ratings plummeting, the right-wing Propaganda attack machine is in full gear trying to tear the country apart. And Hannity came up with a doozy today. A great website, If This Be Treason, called this to my attention ( for the actual clip). On his pathetic show on Fox "News" today, Hannity worked himself into a fit of righteous indignation of liberals protesting at a soldier's funeral in Martinsville, Indiana. Referring to the protesters as “ultra left-wing liberals,” Hannity went wild on his typical divisive approach to our national community. But with a little simple Google research, If This Be Treason got to the bottom of Hannity's faux-rage. Turns out the protesters were right-wing bozos just like himself-- the so-called "Reverend" Fred Phelps, founder of the extremist hate organization masquerading as a (non-tax-paying) "church" in Topeka, Kansas, the Westboro Baptist Church, home of, and his flock.

"Six members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, picketed outside Neal and Summers Mortuary during Staff Sgt. Jeremy Doyle’s funeral services, chanting messages that members of the military are being punished by God for not opposing homosexuality, and that their deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are America’s punishment."

Looking at the beautiful and very moving memorial to slain American soldiers at Camp Casey in Crawford last week, and thinking about the right-wing Bush-supporter who drove his pick-up truck into it, knocking over hundreds and hundreds of American flags and memorial crosses with departed soldiers names on them, I have no doubt which side owns the hatred, the violence and the disrespect.



With Bush's approval rating in Florida slipping this week to their lowest levels ever, local Republicans are starting to worry that Katherine Harris will drag down the whole party's electoral chances in 2006. She seems unstoppable in the GOP primary-- and a sure loser up against Nelson, who once looked vulnerable. The new Quinnipiac Poll out today shows Nelson widening his lead over Harris substantially. If the election were held today he would swamp her 57% to 33%. According to the poll director, Clay Richards, "It's easy to see why Republicans in the White House and in the State House are skeptical about running U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris as their candidate for Senate next year. Many Florida voters say she is divisive and too partisan and even Republicans say 41% to 38% that Nelson will win re-election if Harris is their candidate."



My pal Danny sent this quote along today. It's from Walter Maestri, head of Emergency Management for Jefferson Parish. It was printed in New Orleans' big daily newspaper, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE. Please keep in mind that it was published June 8, 2004 (14 months ago):

"It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us."



"INCOME, POVERTY, AND HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE IN THE UNITED STATES: 2004" is the name of a just-released report from the U.S. Census Bureau. The Bush Regime, never too interested in what normal people call "reality," is, in all likelihood, looking for some heads to chop off at that agency. The report is a clear-eyed, dry and completely devastating indictment of Bush's stewardship of the American economy. With the GOP propaganda machine working on overtime to convince the saps that pay it any heed that the economy is flying high-- Limbaugh claims that Bush's record is better than Clinton's almost every single day-- this by-the-numbers assessment shows that between 2003 and 2004 real median earnings dropped-- 2.3% among men and 1% among women. In 2004, there were 1,100,000 more people living in poverty than in 2003 and most of this downward movement took place in the Midwest and the worst-hit ethnic group was white people. Since Bush took office his approach to the economy-- once called "Voodoo Economics" by his father, also called "trickle down"-- which is based on heavily cutting taxes of the rich and on corporations (ie- drastically rejigging the distribution of wealth in favor of wealthy individuals), has seen the poverty level increase EACH OF THE FOUR YEARS he's had his hand on the national till.

Regardless of what out-of-touch Republicans will tell you about how great the economy is, the cold hard facts show us 37 million of our fellow Americans living in poverty, almost a third of them children. The other day some wealthy Republicans were sitting around on CNBC or CNN discussing Bush Supreme Court nominee Robert's stock portfolio. I was stunned to hear one of the analysts refer to it as a "typical $10,000,000 middle class portfolio." How out of touch are these people from reality to conjure up the notion than a typical middle class person has a $10,000,000 stock portfolio? But people with these kinds of delusional attitudes are making economic policies for this nation based on this kinds of premises. I suppose it's more pleasant to think about a humming economy for happy, smiling John Robertses with $10,000,000 stock portfolios than it is to think about the statistics in the Census Bureau report that show the number of people in our country with no health insurance has climbed by nearly a million people last year alone to a grand total of 45.8 people. (Of course if they all have typical $10,000,000 stock portfolios they might not need health insurance.)

Since Bush took office 6 million more people have slipped below the poverty line. I'm no big fan of Bill Clinton's policies, which were too pro-corporation and too dependent of the good-will of a sane and fair Administration, but what can't be denied is that during the Clinton Administration poverty rates were steadily decreasing. Bush has managed to reverse that-- and he has reversed it by design. (By the way, the definition of poverty is pretty dismal. For a family of 4 to be considered below the poverty line, their annual income would have to be below $19,307 and for a family of two, it would be $12,334. Think about those numbers for a minute and consider what they mean in terms of standard of living in YOUR community.)

Job creation under Bush has been dismal. There were overall job losses in 2001 and in 2002. In 2003 there was an anemic growth in jobs (94,000), not even close to the number needed to keep up with new entrants into the jobs market. And last year-- with people desperate and willing to work for less and to work in dead-end, low-wage jobs-- slightly over 2 million new jobs were created. Despite ignorant nativists and bigots like Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO), official GOP policy has always been-- and has been further strengthened under Bush-- to allow for unlimited (undocumented) immigration in order to drive wage levels down and create an inexpensive labor market for American corporations. The median household income in the U.S. now stands at $44,389. Think about it for a minute or two, not as an abstract number but as what an American family needs to maintain an adequate standard of living.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005



One of the most enjoyable things on my trip to Austin, after visiting Cindy in Crawford, was meeting some really great folks there. I saw my old friend Nancy, who formerly kept Warner Bros Records running-- look what happened after she left-- and is now a rancher in the Texas hill country and I made some fantastic new friends like Deece and Joy from People For the American Way and Deena, an attorney who does a lot of work for progressive non-profits, and Casey, the Director of the Texas Music Office, to name just a few. One you'll be reading more about on this blog is Mark Strama, a dynamic and charismatic young state legislator from just outside Austin. Last year Mark defeated a reactionary Republican incumbent, Jack Stick. After graduating from Brown, he worked on Ann Richards' successful gubernatorial campaign in 1990, then became chief of staff for much-admired Senator Rodney Ellis, and later headed up Texas' Rock the Vote. Taking on Stick was a tough proposition and even after Mark won the election Stick refused to give up the seat he felt was his by some kind of right-wing entitlement. Among other things Stick filed a petition in court to overturn the will of the voters of his (former) district by saying: "Contestant alleges the registration of 2,300 voters on the last possible registration date, and 8,000 voters within the 90 days prior to the election, is so implausible that it represents violations of [...] the Texas Election Code and is part of a pattern of conduct designed to alter the outcome of the election."

Doesn't that sound just like what the GOP is all about? How dare these people register to vote and where do they get the temerity to vote against ME??? Of course, in one way Stick was completely correct. As Mark said "You bet it was part of a pattern of conduct to alter the outcome of the election! But there's nothing illegal about getting new people to the polls – it's the right thing to do, and it made the difference in this election. Those of you who worked so hard in our grassroots effort to turn out the vote in this election should consider Stick's protest the highest compliment! Stick also alleged that the high number of straight-ticket voters indicated some sort of fraud. He failed to check that in House District 50, there were actually hundreds more Republican straight-ticket voters than Democratic straight-ticket voters! As hard as it may be for him to believe, Stick lost because voters wanted a state representative who would focus on the issues that are important to the people, rather than on partisan political power struggles-- like last session's redistricting fiasco. And instead of absorbing that lesson and moving on, Stick launched yet another partisan power play."

The other Texas legislator I discovered in Texas is someone, mercifully, I didn't meet. His story though was so compelling that I want to share it with y'all. The name of this particular posterchild for Republicrook corruption and hypocrisy is Ray Allen and he's the long time State Representative of a suburban Dallas area that takes in part of Irving and part of Grand Prairie. The 55 year old Allen, who claims to have a degree in "Bible Studies," more-or-less has a wife, Debbie, 5 children (with her) and 9 grandchildren. Until the last electoral cycle Allen was best known for using state resources for his private business interests and crossing the line between public and private work he assigned state-paid employees. And a weird little habit of showing his high tech prowess by sending Instant Messages to female employees with the question "What color panties are you wearing?" Well, you can't shoot a man for that in Texas-- even if he does claim to have a degree in "Bible Studies" and even if he was a co-sponsor of the Texas Constitutional Amendment to "Protect the Sanctity of Marriage."

But then a peculiar thing happened to Mr. Sanctity of Marriage. In the final weeks of the election his daughter, Melissa Christian, endorsed his opponent and denounced her father claiming he had "gone against his Christian values and has resorted to lying about his personal life, his ethical violations" and the woman running against him. She seemed particularly upset that her father had supported measures to wreck Texas' public school system and that he had helped deprive 150,000 formerly eligible school children of health insurance-- including her own. "My children were among the thousands in this community who lost their coverage under the Children's Health Insurance Program when my father -- their grandfather -- decided it was more important to serve his party leaders than his own constituents," Christian said. But was that really what turned her against her father so strongly? Wonderers wondered. Suddenly people started talking about how Allen was conducting an affair with a female staffer younger than his own children, something few in Austin could deny. What was denied, however-- and vehemently-- was that the young staffer was pregnant and that Allen was about to become a father again. He went bonkers and, of course, blamed the Democrats, screaming his head off that it was all a partisan lie. His wife of 23 years, Debbie didn't think so and she kicked him out. Now wonderers are wondering if dirty old Ray Allen will be campaigning with his brand new infant in arms. (He hasn't apologized to the voters for lying about the whole thing but, of course, what Republican hypocrite ever does? And why should he? Ray Allen was given the "Christian of the Year" award during last year's Texas Republican Party state convention. Right on!) But every single person I actually met in Texas was really nice and just like an American.



On July 7 I had a small piece in the blog called "IS THERE AN HONEST REPUBLICAN ANYWHERE? MORE GOP INDICTMENTS!" about the rampant corruption in Kentucky. As the Grand Jury investigations proceeded it started looking worse and worse for the abysmally corrupt administration of Governor Ernie Fletcher. Then last night something amazing happened. Fletcher called a press conference and announced he was issuing blanket criminal pardons to 9 of his top aides, several of whom have already been indicted on charges of political corruption. Fletcher called it "amnesty" but the state provision he cited (Section 77 of the state constitution) makes it clear he was granting pardons to anyone who "might have violated" or was involved in violating the state's Merit Hiring System laws. There is even talk in Kentucky that he plans to pardon himself! Fletcher has finally agreed to appear before the grand jury and that will happen today, but he already says he will refuse to answer any questions -- presumably by taking the fifth.

Fletcher and his aides sought to illegally purge the state's civil service system of Democrats simply because they were Democrats. And although there have been over a dozen indictments already, Fletcher has been trying to minimize the seriousness of the charges by likening them to fishing out of season. Many in Kentucky are thinking back to 2003 when outgoing Kentucky Governor Paul Patton pardoned 4 campaign workers before they were tried and Fletcher's Lieutenant Governor-elect said "Things like that are not going to happen in a Fletcher-Pence administration." They just did-- but much much worse. And Pence is hiding out and refusing to comment.

Meanwhile there is a lot of talk in Frankfort about impeachment. The very admired State Rep from Lexington, Kathy Stein, said "He is showing a broad disrespect for the criminal justice system that every other citizen in the commonwealth must live with" and she says flatly that the pardons are grounds for the General Assembly to consider impeachment. Former Governor Julian Carroll, now a state senator, said "certainly the General Assembly should hold hearings on whether or not his conduct in the granting of these pardons is conduct that rises to the level of consideration for impeachment."
Louisville State Rep Mary Lou Marzian is also calling for impeachment hearings, claiming Fletcher "betrayed the public trust" and that "Ultimately, it's the taxpayers that are going to pay, and this is what makes people hate politics -- the same old scratch-your-back, good-old-boy bull. Clearly we can't just sit here and do nothing. He wasted taxpayer money by hiring political cronies in violation of the merit law, and now he has obstructed justice by trying to cover it up." And Kentucky's crusading Attorney General Greg Stumbo said "Gov. Fletcher broke his promise to the people of Kentucky to cooperate fully with the investigation. It will be up to the members of the General Assembly to decide whether this conduct merits impeachment proceedings." He thinks Federal prosecution is now likely.
Gubernatorial pardons are no shield against federal charges.

Monday, August 29, 2005



I like writing checks for Democrats who run against right-wing incumbents. I feel patriotic when I do it. I'm usually less forthcoming when it comes to Democrats already in office-- unless they've been spectacular. Today I got a fund-raising letter from Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) who I've sent contributions to in the past. She has been spectacular and I plan to contribute to her again. But thinking about Tammy's request made me think about how pissed off I am at Democratic senators who support Bush's atrocious war in Iraq, ass-backwards losers who are either too small to admit they made a mistake when they supported him originally-- I mean he did lie his ass off and that could almost be a valid excuse-- or who actually do support the war, usually at the behest of Israel's far right Likkud Party. The chances of me writing checks for the Bidens, Liebermans, CLINTONS, Feinsteins, Kerrys of the world are pretty remote.

But going back to the House, there are a number of Democratic Representatives who are not complicit in Bush's war crimes and who deserve support. Congresswoman Barbara Lee of Oakland has introduced a Resolution of Inquiry in the House of Representatives (H. Res 375) which, if passed, will require the White House and the State Department to "transmit all information relating to communication with officials of the United Kingdom between January 1, 2002, and October 16, 2002, relating to the policy of the United States with respect to Iraq." She's talking about the Downing Street Memo. There are now 53 co-sponsors (including one Republican, Jim Leach of Iowa, who signed on last week). If some congresscritter is asking you for money for his or her campaign and they're not on this list... well make them tell you why before you give them any dough. These are the other supporters as of today: Tammy Baldwin, Corrine Brown (FL), Sherrod Brown (OH), William Clay (MO), John Conyers (MI), Joseph Crowley (NY), Elijah Cummings (MD), Danny Davis (IL), Pete Defazio (OR), William Delahunt (MA), Lane Evans (IL), Sam Farr (CA), Bob Filner (CA), Barney Frank (MA), Raul Grijalva (AZ), Luis Gutierrez (IL), Maurice Hinchey (NY), Rush Holt (NJ), Michael Honda (CA), Steve Israel (NY), Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX), Stephanie Tubbs Jones (OH), Marcy Kaptur (OH), Carolyn Kilpatrick (MI), Dennis Kucinich (OH), John Lewis (GA), Carolyn Maloney (NY), Gregory Meeks (NY), Jim McDermott (WA), James McGovern (MA), George Miller (CA), James Oberstar (MN), John Olver (MA), Major Owens (NY), Frank Pallone, Jr (NJ), Donald Payne (NJ), Charles Rangel (NY), Bernie Sanders (VT), Janice Schakowsky (IL), Jose Serrano (NY), Brad Sherman (CA), Adam Smith (WA), Pete Stark (CA), Bennie Thompson (MS), Edolphus Towns (NY), Chris Van Hollen (MD), Maxine Waters (CA), Diane Watson (CA, my congresswoman), Robert Wexler (FL), Lynn Woolsey (CA), David Wu (OR), and Albert Wynn (MD). This should probably come to a vote in committee in the next two weeks.

Sunday, August 28, 2005



My friend Harry had a unique response to my little story about visiting Cindy Sheehan in Crawford the other day. Most people who called or e-mailed, commented on the emotional (or political) impact it had on them. Harry, however, wanted to know all about the Bush compound. "Why would he live out there in the middle of nowhere?" he wondered. I did a little diggin' around and I want to tell you about the Bush Compound. My favorite L.A. band is actually a Texas band living in L.A. I can't reveal their name because the drummer told me a story in confidence. His great grandfather was the local grand-something-or-other of the Ku Klux Klan in that part of Texas. And he owned a pig farm. And that pig farm is now "the Western White House."

Bush bought the pig farm-- the KKK fella had long departed for the Great Klavern in the sky... or wherever-- in 1999, soon after reaping a $14.3 million dollar profit in the sweetheart deal he got by selling the Texas Rangers. (Bush's value-add on the deal was the brilliant move to trade away Sammy Sosa just before he became a household name.) Bush bought it as a prop. It isn't a real ranch and he's afraid of horses anyway. It really and truly is just a photo-op backdrop for the "reality" tv show, "The Tragic Presidency of George W. Bush," that masks the biggest theft in the history of our nation.

Harry wants to know why Bush chose a place so remote from civilization and in so desolate and barren an area. It is more than just a choice to avoid reality-- something Cindy completely shattered anyway (ruined the whole damn vacation and pissed him off no end!). Back in 2001, before 9-11 made anyone pay any serious attention to Bush, complainers were already complaining that he was spending as much time out of D.C. as he was in D.C. He was looking like he was going to preside over a very hands-off, passive presidency (wow-- did we ever get that wrong!). "I think it is so important for a president to spend some time away from Washington, in the heartland of America," Bush explained.

Is Crawford "the heartland?" Before Cindy even said anything when I met her last week, she brushed a fire ant off my face. Crawford's environs are crawling with 'em. If the area doesn't insulate the inhabitants from aggressive, stinging insects, it does insulate them from people, the kind, presumably, that represents "the heartland" (unless "the heartland" is just about geography and not about the American community). The roads are narrow, unmarked, some are rutted; a stretch is dirt. And the re-done pig farm sits behind electronic fencing. KOS made some very good observations about Bush's pig farm: "The world of Crawford insulates travelers in another way as they leave the shopping malls of Waco behind. An invisible ideological cocoon seems woven around mid-Texas. Its threads consist of strong strands of conservatism knotted together with strings of distrust of all things from the outside world. Simply put, 'If you're not from here, you don't belong here.' But membership can, it seems, be bought. The president isn't a long-time resident of this community, having moved into his new digs on Election Day, 2000, but his picture, as well as that of the First Lady, grace a tall billboard welcoming travelers to the area. He literally gives all who enter a 'thumbs up'." (My pal Andy has written me some instructions for how to insert a photo and if it works you see that billboard at the edge of town with me standing in front of it.)

Cheryl Seal wrote a well-researched piece in 2003 that goes into a lot of details about the pig farm Bush revamped and had ready for action on the exact day he, his brother, Katherine Harris and the U.S. Supreme Court stole the 2000 election. "Have you seen all those article and pictures of Bush 'at home on the ranch' in Crawford-- the ones that imply that he is 'just an ole ranch hand' more comfortable on the family homestead than in the 'Big City,' be it Austin or D.C.? Well, if you bought this image, you've been royally snookered. The Bush family homestead in Crawford is nothing more than an elaborate set," she wrote. "The whole idea behind the ranch set, of course, was so that the public could be treated to footage of Bush seeking a quiet 'retreat' at the family ranch. Americans would thus assume that the ranch was a rooted family homestead or compound like the one Kennedy's had in Martha's Vineyard or FDR had at Campobello. But when Bush retreated into his 'homestead' in November, 2000, he was merely walking onto a prepared set upon which the paint had barely dried, let alone even the barest of roots put down! Until Bush and handlers decided that a rural ranch would be a slick bit of PR for the presidential campaign, Bush had no interest in a 'home on the range.' Instead, his preferred weekend retreat was to the Rainbo Club, an exclusive lakeside hunting club in Henderson County, about an hour south of Dallas."

It is widely assumed that when Bush is finally out of the White House he'll sell the pig farm and move to Dallas. The pig farm compound is closer to Waco than the Branch Davidian Compound was but no one ever mentions that for some reason. And, of course, Bush doesn't own any of the cattle on his "ranch". They are the cattle of the previous owner, who still lives there and actually runs Bush's little movie set for him. As for the horses you see in the backdrops... Bush is afraid of them and has never ridden any; like so much in his anti-reality-based presidency, it's all window dressing and all for show).



Republicrook and rightwing extremist Randy "Duke" Cunningham still hasn't resigned from Congress, although he announced he wouldn't run for re-election. Cunnigham is still sitting on the ultra-sensitive Defense Appropriations Sub-Committee and the Intelligence Committee, although it was his positions on these two committees that have brought him millions of dollars in bribes from defense contractors and others to whom he was able to peddle his influence. Tom DeLay's completely and seriously crooked Ethics Committee Chairman, "Doc" Hastings (R-WA) still hasn't opened an inquiry into Cunningham's unbelievably corrupt practices, although federal prosecutors seem to be on the verge on handcuffing him and dragging him off to jail. And Cunningham still isn't in prison but that is clearly coming. One must wonder if Bush will pardon Cunningham who was also selling presidential pardons to corrupt Republican donors for Bush ($400,000 a pop).

According to court documents filed yesterday by federal prosecutors, ol' "Duke" demanded and received a bribe from Mitchell Wade, owner of defense contractor MZM, Inc who seems to have funnelled millions of dollars Cunningham's way in return for an opportunity for the type of major war profiteering that better Americans were shot for in the not so distant past. The court papers filed in this case, the result of a grand jury investigation, is only the first of many probes into Cunningham's criminal corruption. It is clear Cunningham will soon be facing serious formal charges.

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Saturday, August 27, 2005



John Stewart's "comedy show" is the most relevant news program on TV. My friend Andy sent me a website that has video clips of the most important parts of the show. It's worth accessing every day. No one is able to so viscerally and starkly and undeniably show the hypocrisy of the Right as John Stewart. (Whenever he decides to expose a Bush Regime talking point, it's better than a car chase scene in a movie.) The url:



A few weeks ago a rumor was circulating that the first time Bush's motorcade passed Cindy, then standing in a ditch on the side of the road near the pig farm that was turned into a kind of a prop for his "reality show" presidency, he tossed a beer can at her through a window. It turned out to be false. But what wasn't false is that when aides suggested he could make the whole Cindy Sheehan nightmare disappear by inviting her into the compound and meeting with her over some iced-tea for 5 minutes, Bush had a tizzy fit and screamed at them that “I’m not meeting with that goddamned bitch. She can go to hell as far as I’m concerned!”

With Karl Rove preoccupied with his own serious legal problems, Bush is depending on other aides who scramble hither and thither behind the scenes trying to hide the bad vibes and poisonous mood that has enveloped the Crawford Compound (which people in Austin refer to as "the pig farm") as Bush
unleashes obscenity-filled outbursts at anyone who dares disagree with him. He routinely refers to anyone opposing his disastrous war in Iraq as “motherfucking traitors" (including Republican Senator Chuck Hagel). Yesterday a Gallup poll showed that approximately 90% of people surveyed feel Americans should feel free to protest the war. Last week polls showed his approval rating (36%) below Nixon's at the height of Watergate (39%) and other polls showed a majority of Americans now feel Bush is a liar and distrust anything he says. Bizarre outbursts have convinced many around him that he could be back on drugs or alcohol again. “Who gives a flying fuck what the polls say,” he screamed at a recent strategy meeting. “I’m the President and I’ll do whatever I goddamned please. They don’t know shit.”

When elderly WWII veterans showed up at a speech wearing "bullshit protectors" over their ears, he practically had to be restrained. He demanded that his henchmen find the Veterans of Foreign Wars officials and he told them to “tell those VFW assholes that I’ll never speak to them again is they can’t keep their members under control.” He's also been flipping the birdie a lot again lately when any little thing ticks him off and he tells aides who don't agree with him to "go fuck yourself."

According to prominent Washington psychiatrist, Dr. Justin Frank, author of “Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President,” this kind of behavior is all too typical of an alcohol-abusing bully who is ruled by fear. "George W. Bush remains an untreated alcoholic," writes Frank. "The untreated alcoholic who has simply stopped drinking treats anxiety as an enemy. Bush’s current enemy, the primary cause of his anxiety, is Cindy Sheehan. Nobody talks about it – the press is afraid of it — but we are all enabling a man whose grasp of reality is tenuous at best. Anxiety is always challenging; but when an untreated alcoholic’s behavior is challenged, his anxiety increases dramatically - and with it, the need to numb its sting. Anxiety is then a threat to his abstinence. Instead of learning new means to manage feelings, he has to spend energy fighting his fears. In Bush’s case, he fiercely rides his mountain bike."

Friday, August 26, 2005



Mahatma Gandhi wasn't a priest or a minister or any kind of religionist figure. His selfless, non-violent message-through-living-example of love, peace and universal brotherhood transforms the rigid (and exclusionary) boundaries of the sectarian religionism of the hate-filled, demonic and primitive Pat Robertsons, Jerry Falwells, Fred Phelpses and Osama bin-Ladens of our world. Through example, Gandhi, like Buddha and Jesus before him, contrasted, starkly, selflessness with selfishness.

I prepared for my trip to Crawford not by digging out the "F Dubya" t-shirt Roland brought back from Bolivia or Cuba or England. Instead I went into abstinence mode. I meditated on the writing on Bishop John Shelby Spong in THE SINS OF SCRIPTURE. I purged my consciousness as best I could, of the profane and worldly preoccupations that dwell there. I fasted for 48 hours, eating nothing and drinking only water, and even forgoing my dozens of herbal supplements. Cindy Sheehan was in my hometown taking care of her mother. But I was fasting and meditating and getting ready to travel to the hometown of George Bush (surely the most detested person in the world, probably the person most hated by the largest number of people anytime in history-- more reviled in his time by more of our fellow human beings than Hitler or Stalin or Genghis Khan were in their times!) and the temporary residence, albeit one she wasn't in as I prepared for my trip, of Cindy Sheehan, a grief-stricken and purposeful mother of immense conviction, integrity and courage, who wants to make sense of the tragic-- and senseless-- death of her beloved 23 year old son Casey in Bush's Iraqi misadventure last year. Bush was not on my mind at all, not even when I saw a billboard of him "welcoming" people to Crawford (not even when I posed for a photo with my friends Jim and Deece in front of it!) and not even when I bounced and bumped down the rutted road to Camp Casey II and glimpsed the Bush Compound and the buildings in it.

Cindy and Casey, on the other hand, or their beautiful spirit with which I sought to commune, were very much on my mind, and in my heart. As the vitriolic, salivating attack dogs and propaganda whores of the Far Right set out, on cue, to savage Cindy and their vicious and hideous personal attacks, so contrary to Jesus' message of Love and to our most cherished American values, she explained that what was happening at the former pig farm that now serves as Bush's made for TV "ranch" prop was not about herself (an imperfect, developing human being like each and every one of us) but about a simple idea. Are we required as citizens of our republic to sacrifice without question our precious children on the bloody alter of deceptions, avarice, power and boundless ambition?

The clear, shining light of Cindy's question to Bush-- "what noble cause required Casey's death (and, by implication, the deaths of thousands of innocent sons and daughters of American and Iraqi citizens)?"-- terrifies the Forces of Darkness and drives them into a maddened frenzy of torrential, unabashed loathing and rage. The Limbaughs and Coulters and O'Reillys and Hannitys and Robertsons are ill-equipped to deal with the kind of simple, straight-forward unadorned Truth and Beauty Cindy Sheehan is manifesting not just in front of Bush's compound but inside the collective humanity of the American soul.

So I flew to Austin, met two Texas friends I only knew electronically (Jim, a long-time internet compadre, and Deece, the leader of Texas' People For the American Way branch) and the 3 of us drove 2 hours to Crawford. At Camp Casey, Camp Casey II and at the Crawford Peace House we met open, friendly people, instant brothers and sisters. The rows and rows of simple white crosses (as well as some Muslim crescents and Jewish stars of David-- each with the name of someone's killed son or daughter, many with flowers and American flags next to them-- made for an inspiring and profoundly touching experience, an opportunity for prayer and meditation.

When we got to the field where a good-hearted Texas patriot had invited Cindy and her growing number of supporters to camp, we found a peaceful hippie-like/communal scene-- lots of easy-going people from all over Texas and all over America. And lots of media (mostly from other countries). And we found Cindy in the middle of it all; she had just returned from California. I walked over and introduced myself, told her how grateful I felt towards her for sharing her grief and her inspiration with the whole country, and gave her a big hug. I felt I was in a special presence, with someone who represents the very best in all of us. Her strength and equanimity amazed me. Her mind is clear as she transforms the greatest tragedy a parent can undergo into a blessing for our country and for all humanity. Cindy Sheehan speaks for me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005



Henry Waxman is one of the best congressmen in America. Waxman is smart and he's fierce and he is an indefatigable worker. If the Democrats take back the House in '06, I expect Waxman will have bills of impeachment against Bush and Cheney ready to go. I was proud when he represented my district. A slight redistricting gave my neighborhood to Diane Watson. She doesn't make fireworks but she's a good solid Democrat who never votes wrong. Unlike Waxman. Oddly enough ALL the L.A. area congressmen of the Jewish persuasion abandoned their erstwhile progressive allies to join forces with Tom DeLay, Randy "Duke" Cunningham, Richard Pombo, Bob Ney... and every extreme right-wing proto-fascist in the House of Representatives when it came to voting on the little war (in Iraq) cooked up by the neo-cons and the Likkud. It was very disheartening to see otherwise dependable progressives like Waxman and Howard Berman and Brad Sherman (as well as a somewhat less progressive Adam Schiff) abandon fellow progressives like Nancy Pelosi, George Miller, John Conyers, Maxine Waters, Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kucinich, Jim McDermott, Barbara Lee, John Lewis... and a MAJORITY of Democrats in the House to support Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, DeLay, Frist and the other war criminals. I wrote Waxman a letter and said I'd never forgive him (although my anger towards him has since subsided). There are, however, plenty of Democratic supporters of this disastrous war for whom my anger has only grown.

Unlike the House Democrats, a majority of Senate Democrats voted FOR Bush's war in Iraq (29 for, 21 against). They've been in the awkward position since then of either defending Bush and his abysmal policies or of admitting that they were naive enough to fall for Bush's lies (a tough thing to do for an ego-centric mini-president). Having stood up to Bush and seen through his gross deceptions, the anti-war Democrats have a lot to feel good about. Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer, Russ Feingold, Robert Byrd, Paul Wellstone (facing a tough re-election campaign), Patrick Leahy, Richard Durbin, Carl Levin, Kent Conrad (from North Dakota, one of the reddest states in the Union) represented what Howard Dean called the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party. Progressivish senators like Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Tom Daschle, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Chris Dodd, not to mention more reactionaries like Dianne Feinstein, Joe Biden, Evan Bayh, Joe Lieberman, represented Israel's Likkud Party and the American corporate interests pushing this war.

Three years and one month have passed since that wrenching vote. Progressives were repulsed when Kerry announced if he had it to do all over again-- knowing then what he later found out about all the lies from the Bush Regime-- he would still vote in favor of the war. When the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden, a major Bush-enabler, announced his intention to make a run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 he kicked off his campaign with a major speech at the Brookings Institution in which he criticized rising calls for withdrawal as a "gigantic mistake." Now that a growing majority of Americans see what a disaster Bush's war is and have awakened to the lies and deceptions behind it, Inside the Beltway corporate careerists like Biden have embraced the war. When Nebraska Republican Chuck Hagel calls for reduction, Biden calls for a troop build-up. Biden says Iraq is like the Viet Nam quagmire. Biden is playing his tragic, hawkish role as so many Democratic politicians did in the 60s and 70s. Biden, however, is not widely admired or even taken seriously outside of the Beltway. The corporate media builds him up and calls him an "expert" and "respected." Most Americans who even know who he is, know he's someone who was caught cheating on a college paper and who can always be counted on to support the corporate interests over the people's interests. No one, except DLC reactionaries, takes his bid for the presidency seriously. Hillary Clinton is another matter.

Hillary Clinton is the hands down favorite, at this point, to win the Democratic nomination. A U.S.A TODAY poll also showed her beating EVERY prospective Republican candidate-- even John McCain. Her attitude towards Iraq is almost identical to Biden's and Joe Lieberman's (the Likkud's senior representative in the U.S. Senate). A member of the Armed Services Committee, she's been calling for enlarging the Army by nearly 100,000 troops and is adamantly opposed to what most Democrats and most Americans want: a plan to extricate ourselves from Bush's Iraqi quagmire which includes a deadline. At a time when the American people are turning against Bush's war (by between 60 and 70%) and favor a withdrawal of U.S. troops, and some British and U.S. leaders are publicly discussing a partial pullback, the leading Democratic presidential candidate is a hawk (as are other several prospective lesser candidates like Biden and Bayh). The vast majority of Americans understand, either intellectually or intuitively, that the U.S. military presence in Iraq is doing more harm than good-- for Iraq and for our own security concerns. The DLC position, adhered to by Clinton and a gaggle of Inside the Beltway careerists along with the whole pathetic class of professional losers calling themselves political advisors and foreign policy "experts," is that this position is too unsophisticated to be taken seriously. These people had it wrong-- DISASTROUSLY WRONG-- in July 2002 and they still have it wrong today. They don't represent me. These never-elected-to-anything Democratic foreign policy "experts" (Richard Holbrooke, Madeleine Albright, Ken Pollack, Jamie Rubin...) are catastrophes for America and catastrophes for the Democratic Party. Holbrooke and his horrible advice probably had as much to do with Kerry losing the 2004 election as did Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell.

In a essay Ari Berman has a quote from former Colorado Senator Gary Hart: "There's an approach which says, 'Let's raise the stakes and call.' That if Republicans want a ten-division Army, let's be for a 12-division Army. I think that's just nonsense, frankly. It's stupid policy. Trying to get on the other side of the Republicans is folly, both politically and substantively." So far the only voices in the Senate (seriously considering a run for the presidency in '08) representing Americans who want this war over are Russ Feingold (who voted against it originally) and, ironically, Republican Hagel (who supported it originally). Both are considered long long-shots. If the primary were held today, I'd be voting for Feingold. If it were between Clinton and Hagel I'd have to think carefully.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005



This evening's blog entry is a short, poignant video. Please give it a look-see. I'm flying to Crawford tomorrow for a couple days.



Howard Dean's strategy of fighting the Right's power structure in every district and every state has been making waves, big ones, in places which the professional losers who have been in control of the Democratic Party inside the Beltway have long written off. In the past couple of months I've had articles of Dean-inspired Democratic shake-ups in North Carolina, Ohio and Montana. And now... Mississippi.

by Rose Aguilar, AlterNet
August 23, 2005

Mississippi Democrats are showing the potential power of Howard Dean's '50-state strategy' to take back national politics.

It's been six months since Howard Dean visited Jackson, Mississippi, but locals are still talking about his fiery speech in which he criticized President Bush's plan for social security and said Republicans are doing nothing to help the people of Mississippi.
"Every seat was filled. There were people standing around the room and people outside who couldn't get in," says Joanne Morris, an editor and writer living in Jackson. "He got an absolutely fantastic reception. I'm sure he must have been surprised. I was surprised myself. People were just jubilant."
Dean's speech revitalized scores of Mississippi Democrats who are sick of being ignored by the national party. "We're also written off in the media; they either skip over us or stereotype us," says Dorothy Triplett, secretary of the Mississippi Democratic Club, a group of progressive Mississippians. "We're finally saying, 'Hey, wait a minute, we're here and we're not going anywhere.' I think we can be a real asset to the national party and I'm delighted that they're finally giving us some attention."
As part of Dean's 50-state strategy, the Democratic National Committee is hiring staffers to join state party offices that typically run on shoestring budgets with few employees, including in Mississippi, North Carolina and Oklahoma.
"Because of his commitment, we'll be able to increase our staff by 300 percent, so to speak," says Keelan Sanders, executive director of the Mississippi Democratic Party. Before the new hires showed up, Sanders was the party's only staffer. "It is definitely helping the state party with needed resources so we can begin organizing and getting the message out."
Constructing that message won't be easy. It's been 28 years since Mississippi gave its six electoral votes to a Democrat; Bush got 60 percent of the vote in Mississippi. Democrats hold more county elected positions and legislative seats than Republicans, but the governor, lieutenant governor and the state's two senators are members of the GOP.
"Mississippi is ripe for the picking. They're either 49th or 50th in every statistical category. Per capita income is low. Poverty levels are high. Medicaid is a huge issue here," says Jay Parmley, former chair of Oklahoma's Democratic Party.
Parmley is spending a few months in Jackson helping the Mississippi Democratic Party. "What I'm finding here is that the message of our party, if delivered right, is what people want to hear. Can it be done quickly? No, but at least I can try to get people talking to each other again. So much of our party is that we all think we're important and we all have our own issues."
Parmley was one of the first state Democratic chairs to endorse Howard Dean. The announcement drew criticism from all sides of the political spectrum in Oklahoma, a state where John Kerry failed to win one county. "I started out thinking Dean was not what we needed. But the more I kept talking to him, the more I realized that this guy gets it. He understands that it's a 50-state strategy. He understands that those of us in Oklahoma and Mississippi aren't getting any help," says Parmley. "We need to build stronger state parties. He found out that most state parties only have one or two staffers, they're in dilapidated buildings and they're not raising any money. How are you supposed to communicate with people? Yahoo may be free, but you've got to build an infrastructure."
Sam Hall, a newly hired communications director for the Mississippi Democratic Party, is working with the state legislature on crafting policy messages. "Neither the House nor the Senate has a large communications apparatus," says Hall, a former journalist and political columnist. "After years of being a one-party state, we are now a two-party state and we need to start organizing."
In many Southern states, Democrats rarely take a strong stance on issues like abortion and gay rights, and end up delivering muddled messages that fail to distinguish them from Republicans. "My personal frustration with Democratic candidates is that they're always afraid they're going to offend someone. In the South, we run from pro-choice positions," says Parmley. "What we're doing is basically telling the electorate that we don't believe in anything and they don't vote for us. I'm not discouraged, but I get real upset with candidates. If you're a Democrat, I expect you to be able to say why you're a Democrat."
"One of the problems with Mississippi is so many of the state's Democrats aren't really Democrats," says Robert Hooks, President of Mississippi's Young Democrats. "Democrats in Mississippi need to take Howard Dean's lead and stand up for what they believe in."
Three years ago, Mississippi's Young Democrat group only existed on paper. Today it has 64 organized chapters in high schools, colleges and counties across the state. The state's young voters led the South, and much of the nation, in the percentage that voted for Kerry (63 percent) over Bush (37 percent). "We're a new generation of young voters that identifies ourselves as national Democrats, not southern Democrats," says Hooks.
Hooks says Dean's visit in March struck a nerve with college students. "The Democratic Party went from being stagnant for 10 years to finally moving forward," he says. "The DNC's financial effort is the last chance we have. If the state party can modernize, we have a tremendous chance of drop-kicking the Republicans. If it chooses to hold on with a death grip and is not willing to change, this movement will be for nothing."
Jay Parmley agrees. "I see this as a one shot deal. Does it mean if we miss the shot, it'll be over? I don't know, but I do know it'll be a long, long time before we win if that happens. Now is the perfect time to recreate the party."

Monday, August 22, 2005



Well, it's official now. Americans now think Bush is doing a worse job than Nixon-- IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WATERGATE SCANDAL. Where will Bush's ratings go if one of the Houses of Congress falls to the Democrats and serious investigations begin?

Last time this blog examined Bush's poll numbers-- like a week or two ago-- they were pathetic but looked like they had bottomed out. I was wrong. Bush's overall job approval ratings have dropped further from last month-- when a majority of Americans finally were willing to admit that he's a liar. Today the American Research Group reports that only 36% of Americans approve of the way Bush is doing his job; 60% disapprove. They point out that in the summer of 1973, with Nixon's Watergate scandal at full tilt boogie and the extremely distrusted and disliked Nixon about to resign to avoid certain impeachment, his approval rating was a full 3% higher than Bush's is today, 39%.

I still find it hard to believe Bush even has that many Americans who think well of him. I was shocked to see an AOL poll today that shows 27% of the people responding answered "Yes" to the question "Has the war in Iraq been worth the cost?" Who the hell is answering like that? Are Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Joe Lieberman sitting around with a bunch of Republican legislators and making up multiple screen names so they can keep voting? Hillary-- get a clue. A lot of Democrats would vote for Hagel instead of you today and no matter how much fascist ass you kiss, Republicans ain't voting for you.



The Bush propaganda machine-- you know, the one that includes Clear Channel not covering Cindy Sheehan and not even allowing their TV station in Salt Lake City to run a PAID (polite) advertisement-- is constantly harping on how the mass media is just telling the negative side of what's happening in Iraq. That would be a joke if it weren't so sad-- sad that willing imbeciles fall for it and sad to contemplate the conception of a positive side. What's the positive side? A happy Likkud in Israel? I can't think of anything else. EVEN SADDAM'S HIDEOUS BRUTAL UNSPEAKABLE DICTATORSHIP WAS BETTER FOR IRAQ AND BETTER FOR AMERICA THAN WHAT BUSH HAS CREATED-- AND IS CREATING-- THERE!

I still remember Bush or one of the pious hypocrites who works with him-- Cheney or Rumsfeld or one of those little fascist turds-- solemnly intoning the importance of making Iraq a better place for women. Iraq's aggressively anti-theocratic, totally secular society was probably the least discriminatory against women of any Arab country-- and certainly HUNDREDS OF YEARS AHEAD of Bush's #1 ally in the region: Saudi Arabia. This weekend the Bush Regime announced that women's rights aren't that important to democracy in Iraq. That MUST be impeachable in someone's book!

Anyway, yesterday the INDEPENDENT in London ran a story from Iraq by Robert Fisk that very much jibes with the accounts I've gotten from the military guys I know who have served there. The title is PEOPLE TORN TO PIECES, RELATIVES SCREAM-- ANOTHER WEEK IN THE THEME PARK OF DEATH. It's worth reading if you want to know what your taxes are paying for and what our collective karma is buying us:

There are now two Baghdads. One is the Green Zone, where US and Iraqi officials live in a protected realm; the other is the danger zone, where everyone else lives. 
Robert Fisk reports from beyond the Coalition's concrete walls 

On Monday, George Bush was praising the greedy sectarian politicians here - who had totally failed to meet the new Iraqi constitution deadline - for their "heroic" efforts for "democracy". At about the same time, I came across a friend at one of Baghdad's best-known hotels. He is the deputy manager and I've known him for more than three years, but he now looked twice his age. He grasped my arm and looked into my face. "Mr Robert," he said, "do you realise I was kidnapped?" Every day now, I come across Iraqi acquaintances - or friends who have cousins or fathers or sons - who have been kidnapped. Often they are released. Sometimes they are murdered and I go to their families to express those condolences which are especially painful for me - because I am a Westerner, arriving to say how sorry I am to relatives who blame the West for the anarchy that killed their loved ones. This time my friend survived, just. 

Another good friend, a university professor, visits me for coffee the next day. The absence of identities in this report tells you all you need to know about the terror which embraces Baghdad. "I was invigilating the last exams of term in the linguistics department and I saw a mature student cheating. I walked up to him and said I believed he was cribbing. He said he wasn't. I told him I would take his papers away and he leant towards me and made it clear I would be murdered if I prevented him completing his exams. I went to the head of department. I thought he would discipline this man and take away his papers. But he talked to him and then said that he could continue the exam. My own head of department failed me completely." My professor friend loves English literature, but he has new problems. 

"Many of the students are now very Islamically oriented. They want their classes taught through the prism of their religion. But what can I do? I can't teach existentialism any more because it would be seen as anti-Islamic - which means no more Sartre. These same people ask me for the religious message in Eugene O'Neill's plays. What can I say? I can't teach any more. Do you understand this? I can't teach." Since Baghdad's " liberation" in April 2003, 180 professors and schoolteachers have been assassinated in Iraq, and shortly after my professor's visit, I receive a call from one of his colleagues. 

"They kidnapped old Amin Yassin and his son two days ago. We don't know where they are." Amin Yassin was not, like some of his colleagues, an ex-Baathist. He was a retired linguist who taught grammar in the English department of Baghdad University. His 30-year-old son is a secondary school teacher. The two were seized in the Khavraha neighbourhood, seven miles west of Baghdad. 

On Thursday, in the an-Nahda bus station, two bombs tear 43 people to pieces - almost all of them Shia Muslims - and at the al-Kindi hospital, which also receives a bomb close by, relatives of the missing are screaming as they try to identify the dead. The problem is that the morticians can't fit the limbs to the right bodies and, in some cases, the right heads to the right torsos. I head off to the Palestine Hotel where one of the largest Western news agencies has its headquarters. I take the lift to an upper floor only to be met by a guard and a vast steel wall which blocks off the hotel corridor. He searches me, sends in my card and after a few minutes an Iraqi guard stares at me through a grille and opens an iron door. 

I enter to find another vast steel wall in front of me. Once he has clanged the outer door shut, the inner door is opened and I am in the grotty old hotel corridor. 

The reporters are sitting in a fuggy room with a small window from which they can see the Tigris river. One of the American staff admits he has not been outside "for months". An Arab reporter does their street reporting; an American travels around Iraq - but only as an "embed" with US troops. No American journalists from this bureau travel the streets of Baghdad. This is not hotel journalism, as I once described it. This is prison journalism. 

One of the Americans, an old and brave friend of mine from Beirut days, walks over. "Have a look at this, Fisky," he says. "This is the kind of crap we get from the Americans these days - this is what they want us to write about." It is a news release from the Coalition press office, the spin doctors of the occupation troops here. "Comics Bring Barrels of Laughs to Task Force Baghdad," it says. 

I drive back across Baghdad. There is a massive traffic jam because the Iraqi National Guard - the American-trained Iraqis who are supposed to save Donald Rumsfeld's career and let the US forces reduce their troop strength here - have mounted a checkpoint. Most of them are so frightened that they are wearing ski-masks over their mouths. Like every Iraqi I meet, I do not trust the Iraqi National Guard. They have been infiltrated by both Sunni and Shia insurgents and now have a nasty propensity to carry out house raids on Sunni areas, to arrest the menfolk and then to steal as much money as they can find in the house. "First they arrest my son and then they take all my jewellery," a woman complained on an Arabic satellite channel that was investigating this venal militia. 

I go home and switch on my television to find the BBC reporting on an " elite" force of Iraqi troops who are receiving anti-terrorism training in Britain. And there they are, foliage attached to their helmets, leaping over hedges and cooling streams. In the Welsh mountains. 

Friday night. In the heart of this vast and oven-like city stands the Green Zone, 10 square kilometres of barricaded, walled, sealed-off palaces, villas and gardens - once the Raj-like centre of Saddam's regime wherein now dwell the Iraqi government, the constitutional committee, the US embassy, the British embassy and many hundreds of Western mercenaries. Many of them never meet Iraqis. Women in shorts jog past the rose beds; armed men and women " contractors" lie by the pool. There were at least three restaurants - until one of them was blown up by suicide bombers. You can buy phone accessories in a local shop, newspapers, pornographic DVDs. For tactical reasons, the Americans were forced to include dozens of middle-class Iraqi homes inside the Green Zone, a decision that has outraged many of the householders. They often have to wait four hours to pass through the security checkpoints. Irony of ironies, the tomb of Michel Aflaq, founder of the Baath party that once included both Iraq and Syria, lies inside the Green Zone. 

On Friday night, this crusader castle was bathed in its usual floodlights. I was looking up at the stars over the city when there was a dull sound and a flash of light from within the Green Zone. Somewhere not far from me, someone had launched a mortar at the illuminated fishbowl that has become the symbol of occupation for all Iraqis. Many ask what will become of it when the whole Western edifice here collapses. Some say it will become insurgent headquarters, others the next parliament. My guess is that whoever runs Iraq once the occupation collapses will turn the whole thing into a theme park. Or maybe just a museum. 

Sunday, August 21, 2005



Mainstream media has reported that Ohio Governor Bob Taft has been found guilty of 4 counts of criminal golf-playing. Outside of Ohio it's hard for average media consumers to understand about the Republican Party's culture of corruption and how Taft led his state's GOP into the biggest scandal in American history, culminating in the theft of the 2004 presidential election. The information is all there but CBS, NBC, ABC CNN, let alone Fox "News," are never going to report it. Instead you have a clown like former Gingrich spokesperson Tony Blankley (now an editor of the Moonie Times) making light of Taft's conviction with golf jokes on NPR's "Left Right and Center." But there is still a good chance that the depths of the whole Republican scandal will blow wide open-- and from a very unlikely source: Thomas Noe.

After practically denying for months that he ever even knew one of his closest political supporters (Noe), Taft is now making the equally absurd claim that he never had a conversation with Noe about the $50 million boondoggle the Ohio Workmen's Compensation Fund gave Noe to "invest" in rare coins (and baseball cards and other collectibles), the "investment" that was used by Taft and the Ohio GOP to finance campaigns for every state and federal office in Ohio (and to corrupt the 2004 presidential election). Through his attorney, William Wilkinson, Noe is calling Taft a liar. Noe flipped out when Taft claimed that he (Noe, one of the people whose gifts caused Taft to be found guilty of 4 criminal counts last week) had worked hard to conceal his involvement in the funds. Wilkinson said what everyone in the state of Ohio already suspects, that this is just another in a long list of Taft cover-ups and that the very idea is an "absurdity." Taft is now claiming he doesn't remember, although he appointed the ill-educated school drop-out Noe to the Ohio Board of Regents and to the Ohio Turnpike Commission. (Noe served as chairman of each.)

Ohioans who are not part of the GOP machine claim that Taft is the one working hard-- working on covering-up his systematic criminal activities and working hard to convince people he had nothing to do with Lucas County GOP Chairman Thomas Noe and Lucas County GOP Chairwoman Bernadette Noe, two of the biggest financial contributors to the Ohio GOP (and to Taft's campaigns). Democratic elected officials point out that giving Noe $50 million to "invest" in the highly speculative and completely unregulated rain coins and collectibles market, is pure political payback and part of the "pay-to-play" system the Ohio Republican Machine uses to enrich itself.

Continuing to lie his ass off in a pathetic attempt to distance himself from Noe and his operation, Taft claims Noe "appeared to me to be a businessman who was in a business where he would not have dealings with the state of Ohio. He's someone I've known for 20 years, but we didn't know who Tom Noe really was." It's outrageous bullshit like this that is convincing more and more Ohioans that Taft must resign immediately. For his part, Noe says he will not let Taft walk away from it and make false accusations. Noe's attorney launched a not so subtle shot over Taft's bow Friday by saying that "what people say about what they know and remember is one thing, but to make a false accusation that he concealed information is something that Mr. Noe could not allow. The whole idea that the governor says that this was concealed is an absurdity, in light of the fact that his appointment as the coin-fund manager has been a public record at the bureau since 1998. Ethics Commission filings he was required to make beginning in 2003, when he was appointed to the Turnpike Commission, lists his involvement with the coin funds and all their subsidiaries."

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Saturday, August 20, 2005



Today my friend Marc told me about how he got fired from a 6-figure job at a corporate record label. There was one of those endlessly re-occurring shake-ups at the company and the CEO put his arm around Marc and said "Don't worry; you're my guy." Three days later he was called into a conference room and fired by a functionary from the Human Resources Dept. That's the corporate way-- and the George Bush way as well. George Bush claims to be all about LOYALTY, right? Let's forget for a moment how he and Rumsfeld shit on the armed forces and how he and his party have eviscerated veterans benefits. Who should Bush be more loyal to than his former Florida campaign chairman, then Secretary of State Katherine Harris? She took her state's election returns, in which Al Gore, the sitting Vice President, won an irrefutably substantial victory and handed Florida's electoral votes, and the presidency, to Bush. It has made her one of the most hated and derided figures in contemporary American politics. She ran for Congress in a staunchly GOP district and won-- but not resoundingly. And now she wants to be senator. Is Bush supporting her? No way, Jose! Is his brother Governor Jeb (rumored to have been her lover once) supporting her? Even less so. Polls show she is far more popular--inside the GOP-- than any potential Republican challenger. A poll released last week by the GOP firm Strategic Vision highlights questions about Harris' prospects. In the poll, Harris trounces all the other Republicans considering a Senate bid, capturing 52% of the vote, compared to 16% for former Gen. Tommy Franks and 7% for Allen Bense. The right-wing base LOVES her; she's as ignorant, small-minded and bigoted as they are. But the same polls also show she is the least likely Republican to win against the less-than-popular Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson. The Bushes have been frantically beating the bushes to drum up a candidate-- any candidate-- to take her on in the Republican primary. Jeb was betting on House Speaker Allan Bense who withdrew his name from consideration a couple of weeks ago. Other people they've tried to start boomlets for include Lt Governor Toni Jennings, General Franks, CFO Tom Gallagher and Attorney General Charlie Crist. None of them are interested. When semi-closeted gay Congressman Mark Foley tried to get something going for himself, Bush and the Republicans passed (better to go down in flames with a dim-bulb fascist than support a homo, even a closeted one). And their latest bright idea-- to run Pensacola right-wing talk show host Joe Scarborough-- got shot down by Scarborough himself today. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, headed by Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, had tried to talk Scarborough into challenging Harris. "When party leaders approached me three weeks ago, I told them how difficult a campaign would be this year considering my personal and professional commitments," Scarborough said. "Besides, I never cared for candidates who had to be coaxed into a political battle. Either you feel it in your gut or you don't."

Republicans are noisily fretting about Harris' chances of beating Nelson mostly because early polling shows Nelson may have as much as 85% of independent voters on his side, according to Strategic Vision. Her name recognition is as high as can be and her negatives are prohibitive. The August 20 issue of THE HILL sums it up clearly: "Leading Republicans in Washington — including President Bush’s deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, and NRSC Chairwoman Elizabeth Dole (N.C.) — oppose Harris' candidacy, saying she cannot beat Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) next year, Republicans sources say." In the same article, the disgruntled closet case Foley points out that "White House opposition can be veiled. People plant these little stories attributable to ‘unidentified Republican sources,’ ‘people close to the White House.’ … You don’t get a phone call, ‘Mark, it’s Karl.’ It’s this subtle, parlor game that nobody can put fingerprints on.”

Why is this so important to Bush? If the Democrats take the Senate-- and with DeWine (OH), Santorum (PA), Burns (MT), and Talent (MO) all floundering badly while competitive races loom for GOP seats in Arizona, Rhode Island, Tennessee and possibly Nevada (if Reid gets off his ass and recruits a candidate), this is not out of reach-- Bush's last 2 years in office will be all about investigations of the unprecedented corruption, mismanagement and malfeasance of his ill-starred administration. So they have to try to pick off a couple of weak Democratic seats. Nelson, who is not loved by progressives because of his right-of-center position on virtually everything-- is one of two vulnerable Democratic incumbents. Polls show that widespread and passionate antipathy for Harris will unite progressives and moderates to turn out overwhelmingly for Nelson, something that would not happen with a less polarizing Republican candidate. That's the conventional wisdom. Is there more?

Follow the money. The GOP is sitting on a volcano of corruption charges everywhere. And wherever there are corruption investigations, with dirty money changing hands, Katherine Harris' name always surfaces. For instance, if you've been reading this blog you know how defense contractor MZM and it's CEO Wade Mitchell have been caught bribing Randy "Duke" Cunningham of San Diego and how Cunningham-- who will soon be headed for federal prison-- has agreed not to run for Congress again. Well, guess who Katherine Harris' #1 donor was in her 2004 re-election bid. According to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics, MZM gave her $50,000. What makes it worse is that individual MZM employees have complained to the FBI that they were coerced into contributing to Harris (which is clearly illegal). Harris has made an extremely half-assed offer to refund the money. There is a LOT of Harris dirt that will be coming up as her Senate race unfolds.



Every right wing loon in the land, from drug addict/hypocrite Rush Limbaugh to me-too fascists Sean Hannity and Bill O'Lie-ly, has something vicious and mean to say about the mother who wants to know what Bush means when he says her son Casey died in Iraq for a "noble cause." The latest right-wing fanatic trying to answer for Bush (who is currently hiding under his bed from Cindy) is the so-called "Reverend" Fred Phelps, a Bush kind of politico-religionist hate-monger from Kansas. Blogger DC Media Girl shared a typical Phelps statement (Bear in mind that this excrement claims to be talking for Jesus Christ's ministry.)

"Why did your son die in Iraq? Because you raised him for the devil and Hell. You hated him. You taught him 'It’s OK to be gay,' and other God-rejecting lies, that brought the wrath of God Down upon this evil nation.
Why did your son die in Iraq? Because God hates America and has purposed to destroy her. They turned America over to fats; they’re coming home in body bags."

Today Cindy Sheehan has an answer for the Bill O'Lie-lys, the Sean Hannitys, the Fred Phelps, the Rush Limbaughs and the George Bushes:

"Contrary to what the main stream media thinks, I did not just fall off a pumpkin truck in Crawford, TX on that scorchingly hot day two weeks ago. I have been writing, speaking, testifying in front of Congressional committees, lobbying Congress, and doing interviews for over a year now. I have been pretty well known in the progressive, peace community and I had many, many supporters before I even left California. The people who supported me did so because they know that I uncompromisingly tell the truth about this war. I have stood up and said: 'My son died for NOTHING, and George Bush and his evil cabal and their reckless policies killed him. My son was sent to fight in a war that had no basis in reality and was killed for it.' I have never said 'pretty please' or 'thank you.' I have never said anything wishy-washy like he uses 'Patriotic Rhetoric.' I say my son died for LIES. George Bush LIED to us and he knew he was LYING. The Downing Street Memos dated 23 July, 2002 prove that he knew that Saddam didn't have WMD's or any ties to Al Qaeda. I believe that George lied and he knew he was lying. He didn't use patriotic rhetoric. He lied and made us afraid of ghosts that weren't there. Now he is using patriotic rhetoric to keep the US military presence in Iraq: Patriotic rhetoric that is based on greed and nothing else.
    Now I am being vilified and dragged through the mud by the righties and so-called 'fair and balanced' main stream media who are afraid of the truth and can't face someone who tells it by telling any truth of their own. Now they have to twist, distort, lie, and scrutinize anything I have ever said when they never scrutinize anything that George Bush said or is saying. Instead of asking George or Scotty McClellan if he will meet with me, why aren't they asking the questions they should have been asking all along: 'Why are our young people fighting, dying, and killing in Iraq? What is this noble cause you are sending our young people to Iraq for? What do you hope to accomplish there? Why did you tell us there were WMD's and ties to Al Qaeda when you knew there weren't? Why did you lie to us? Why did you lie to the American people? Why did you lie to the world? Why are our nation's children still in harm's way and dying everyday when we all know you lied? Why do you continually say we have to 'complete the mission' when you know damn well you have no idea what that mission is and you can change it at will like you change your cowboy shirts?'



Well, actually, that headline might not be entirely accurate; a lot of Democrats thinking of running for various offices in Ohio are perfectly happy with a convicted criminal heading the state Republican Party reminding voters day after day about the state government's culture of corruption. But most of the GOP county chairmen and most Republican office-holders would like to see Taft, the least popular governor in the history of Ohio, step down and disappear. According to yesterday's COLUMBUS DISPATCH die Partei Republikanische acknowledging "making calls to GOP county chairmen to gauge the level of backing for Taft and whether there is a growing sentiment for him to resign — even as the governor vowed to complete his term." Jason Mauk, a lowlife slime-bucket who has consistently lied about GOP deprecations and criminality in Ohio, is the state party’s director of political operations. After defending Taft's cover-ups for months, he has now turned on Taft and seems to be rounding up support to force a resignation. Many of the county GOP chairman are saying that getting Taft to resign is the ONLY chance they have to avert a complete electoral catastrophe.
"The people I have talked to in Williams County said they feel he should step down for the sake of the party," says Mary Trausch, Chairwoman of the GOP in Williams County, a right-wing hotbed. She is echoed by Sandra Barber, longtime chairwoman of the Fulton County GOP: "people have told me on the street that perhaps he should consider stepping down. I don’t think it’s just this issue dealing with ethics filings — it’s a series of things, and this is the straw that broke the camel’s back."

Even in DC, Republican strategists, who once toasted Taft for conspiring with Secretary of State Ken Blackwell for stealing Ohio's electoral votes (and thereby the 2004 presidential election) for Bush, now want him out. "I think it’s time for Bob to start thinking about exit strategies," said a senior Republican functionary with ties to Rove (on condition, of course, of anonymity). "It’s going to be very difficult to campaign (next year) with him sitting in the governor’s mansion." You might read that as "The Republicans know they are gonna get their asses kicked in Ohio in 2006 no matter what happens. If Taft resigns it might only be a disaster and not a total catastrophe."

Meanwhile, everyone is wondering, now that Taft has been convicted of the first of the countless criminal charges against him, if his 17% approval rating can fall any further. People are betting on what it will take to get his approval rating into single digits. And it looks like we'll actually be able to find out!

Friday, August 19, 2005



Way back on May 28, I posted my first Coingate blog, "GOP COIN THIEVES IN OHIO... AND SOCIAL SECURITY" and a few days later, on June 3, followed up with one called WHAT'S KEEPING OHIO'S BOB NEY OUT OF PRISON? I've tried to keep everyone up on the GOP's-- and specifically Ohio GOP's-- mind-boggling culture of corruption. I was really excited today to find out that the worst, and most corrupt, of Ohio's dreadful Congressional delegation, Bob Ney, is now facing a serious Democratic challenger: Chillicothe Mayor Joe Sulzer.

After DeLay, Ney is probably the closer to indicted GOP criminal Jack Abramoff than any other congressman, and certainly one of the primary beneficiaries of the ill-gotten money Abramoff has been strong-arming people for (as part of DeLay's "Pay-for-Play" Congress). Like fellow right-wing extremist Randy "Duke" Cunningham, Ney is awash in bribes, not just from Thomas Noe but from corporate sources far and wide. His own website brags that he "is currently ranked the 11th Most Powerful Member of Congress" and he uses that power to enrich himself.

Joe confirmed on Wednesday what progressives and clean-government types all over Ohio's 18th Congressional District had been hoping for; he's in the race. Joe's going to be running on 3 main themes: fiscal responsibility, getting U.S. troops out of Iraq and ethics in Congress. A Vietnam veteran, Joe has a temporary website up already-- and a message about why he's running, as well as a couple of words about his disgraced opponent: "Bob Ney has spent far too long doing the bidding of his special interest donors and his party leadership has forgotten that he works for and speaks for us. At a time when Washington and Columbus is swept up in ethical charges and investigations, we need a congressman who will bring more integrity to Congress – one who will be getting headlines for providing better health care or better jobs for our district, not for ethics scandals and investigations."

Go, Joe, go! If you want to send him a donation: Joe Sulzer for Congress
P.O. Box 165
Chillicothe, Ohio 45601



Survey USA just released it's approval/disapproval ratings for all 100 U.S. Senators. You can view their chart at
The average approval rating is 56% and the average Net Approval (Approval minus Disapproval) is 24%. Only 4 senators have negative net approval ratings (ie- ratings where the disapprove numbers are higher than the approve numbers). Starting with the least approved, they are: Rick "Man-on-dog" Santorum (R-Opus Dei) with a -4% net approval (42% approve and 46%, the highest of any senator in any state, disapprove), Tom Coburn (R-OK) with a -2%, Mel Martinez (R-FL) with a -1%, and Mike DeWine (R-Coingate) with a -1%. Not coincidentally, Santorum and DeWine are considered to be the two most endangered senators running for re-election in 2006. (Coburn and Martinez were just elected last year and won't have to face the voters again until 2010.)

In total there are 29 Senators with a below 50% approval rating, 7 of whom are desperately campaigning for re-election in 2006 (2 others are retiring from the Senate, the delusional and much-hated-by-both-sides Bill Frist and Minnesota's Mark Dayton). Of the 29 senators with under 50% approval ratings, 21 are Republicans and 8 are Democrats. Only two of the Democrats, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Bill Nelson of Florida, are up for re-election (Stabenow's Net Approval is at +8%, 46% approving and 38% disapproving; and Nelson's Net Approval is a healthy 17% with 48% approving and only 31% disapproving). Five Repugs who have to face the voters have approval ratings below 50%. Aside from Santorum and DeWine, the other endangered Republicans are Conrad Burns (R-MT), who is mired in serious ethics charges, Jim Talent (R-MO), and John Kyl (R-AZ).

On the other end of the spectrum, there are 4 senators whose approval ratings are over 70%: the two moderate Republican women from Maine, Olympia Snowe (77% approval!) and Susan Collins, plus two moderately progressive Midwestern Democrats: Barack Obama (D-IL) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND).



I woke up around 5 this morning and put CNN on to see if anything had happened overnight. They were hyping an upcoming interview with Lila Lipscomb, the grieving mother from FAHRENHEIT 911, who they were claiming had changed her mind and disagreed with Cindy Sheehan. "Ugghhhh, I thought, "did the right wingers drive her crazy and brain wash her?" Meanwhile CNN was acting like they were hyping up a match between Lennox Lewis vs. Donovan Ruddock. Then they finally had Lila on screen and she shocked the pathetic host by being totally supportive of Cindy. He kept digging and suggesting that they disagreed and Lila stuck to her guns and said her son was killed in Iraq because of Bush's lies. Why does CNN always try to serve the interests of the Corporate Establishment and the White House? Why can't CNN just be a news channel the way Ted Turner meant it to be and leave the fascist propaganda to Fox and the comedy to Comedy Central?



If you studied the results of the new Suvery U.S.A. polling data you probably noticed that the one state where Bush's approval ratings have actually risen-- while falling dramatically nationally and catastrophically in states in EVERY region of the country-- was Texas. I don't want to get into a Texas-bashing session; and I won't. I don't know how many of the pathetic little fascist monkeys parading around Crawford in defense of their Chimp-in-Chief, chanting "We don't care" about Casey Sheehan's death in Iraq and his mother's grief here are actually Texans. But I will say that the Republican Party of Texas is as far to the right as you can be without be indicted for treason. Elements of the Texas GOP would have been too extreme for Hitler or Mussolini. That said, even this report from Austin's Channel 8 News shocked me. It's a story about a young marine back from Iraq, having served in the military for over 8 years. And it's a story about how the GOP-controlled Texas government views their obligations to him (and everyone else who needs a helping hand).

Allison Toepperwein wrote this story under the title: MARINE DOESN'T QUALIFY FOR TEXAS IN-STATE TUITION.

Former Marine Carl Basham remembers his two tours in Iraq like yesterday.

"Three mortars every single night that were landing within a couple feet of your living area. Pretty scary," he said.

Basham, now home with his parents, wants to start a new life with a quality education.

When he enrolled at Austin's Community College to become a paramedic, they told him he'd have to pay out-of-state tuition, because of his time in the military.

"I've tried my hardest, I've served my country for 8 1/2 glorious years. I enjoyed it, I would never look back and hate it, but this is how I get treated when I'm done," Basham said.

When Basham was a junior in high school, he and his parents moved from Waco to Louisiana. He joined the military from there. But after a year, his parents moved back to Texas. They've lived in Austin ever since.

"Any time that a student leaves the state of Texas, moves into another state, resides in that state, enters into the military in that new state, and claims that new state as their permanent home, then they loose their Texas residency," ACC spokesperson Veronica Obregon said.

Basham disputes that.

"After me being in the military for a year, coming from Louisiana, my parents moved back into Texas, making me an automatic resident, because I'm still their dependent," Basham said.

"We've explored every option for him. And we are still willing to work with him, if he can provide any evidence that shows that he is a Texas resident," Obregon said.

His drivers license, voter registration and the Austin American-Statesman say Basham is a Texas resident.

ACC says Basham would have the same problems if he went to any other public school in the state of Texas.

"We don't make the laws. The legislature makes the laws. We only adhere to them," Obregon said.

And the Texas Education Coordinating Board agrees with the ACC.

"Born in Texas, raised in Texas, gonna die in Texas, but I might not be a resident," Basham said.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

THE DUKE'S BACK IN THE NEWS-- Title 18, United States Code, Section 201


Title 18, United States Code, Section 201 is a federal law about bribery and conflicts of interest by government officials. Court records seen this week by a reporter from the San Diego Union Tribune show that the U.S. Attorney's Office is trying to seize Randy "Duke" Cunningham's $3.5 million home, alleging that he purchased it with bribe money. If you've been following this blog you know all about Cunningham and his incredibly corrupt record in Congress. And he's still there. He's promised to not run again but he hasn't resigned and he's still on the House Defense Appropriations Sub-Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, the two positions that allowed him to make millions of dollars in bribes from defense contractors.

Most Cunningham news has involved Mitchell Wade and his MZM Inc but Cunningham has been on the take from countless crooked businesses. In fact, his most interesting crime, the one no criminal agency seems to want to touch with a 10 foot pole-- and one the media is also keeping away from-- was selling a presidential pardon to a GOP operative for $400,000. Since he's not the president, wonderers are wondering what Bush's take was out of this transaction. Meanwhile, though, FBI agents searched the offices of a second federal contractor, this week, one located in Poway, CA.

Cunningham's sleazy attorney, who's been spewing lie after lie since Cunningham was caught in his myriad bribe schemes, is trying to keep the Feds from seizing the congressman's home by claiming his due process was violated. He's trying to claim that the official papers weren't properly served. This is what the Republicans have representing suburban San Diego County. Why hasn't Bush asked him to resign? Or Schwarzenegger? Why hasn't DeLay's crooked Ethics Committee Chairman, Doc Hastings, opened an investigation. It's unbelievable. But in the Age of Bush, ANYTHING should be believable.



In the first-- and most minor-- of the cases being brought against Ohio's criminal governor, Bob Taft, he got off very lightly. After pleading "no contest," the judge found him guilty of 4 criminal ethics violations and fined him $4,000 (the maximum $1,000 per charge). He could have been sentenced to 2 years in prison but he skipped out of the courthouse free as a bird-- until the more serious indictments start. Taft has forced others to resign from his corrupt administration for being caught in ethics lapses but he refuses to resign himself for reasons he is unwilling to share with the people of Ohio.

Taft, who is the great-grandson of mediocre President and less-than-mediocre Supreme Court Judge William Howard Taft and the son and grandson of 2 awful U.S. Senators, comes to Ohio politics with an incredible sense of entitlement, comparable to that of his ally George Bush. He is not only the least popular governor in the United States, his approval rating (which was 17% last week and could even sink lower after today's tacit -- though not technical-- admission of guilt) is the lowest recorded for any governor of any state ever. One of Taft's biggest supporters, Lucas County Republican Chairman and GOP kingmaker Thomas Noe, looted untold millions of dollars from the Ohio State Workmen's Compensation Fund with Taft's connivance. The stolen funds found their way into campaign coffers not just for Taft but for nearly every Republican official in Ohio, as well as into the campaigns of George Bush (Noe being a fatcat Bush "Pioneer") and Arnold Schwarzenegger. There are ongoing federal and state investigations into where exactly the stolen funds went since some seem to have found its way into the pockets of GOP pols and into an illegal campaign slush fund operated by Secretary of State Ken Blackwell to help undermine Ohio's 2004 presidential election. Taft and Blackwell were able to deliver Ohio (and thereby the election) to Bush by utterly destroying the Ohio democratic process. If you want the specifics of how they stole the election, please read the CONYERS REPORT.

Taft's 1998 election was the most expensive campaign in Ohio history and Taft was a captive to every big-spending special interest in the state (and outside the state). The culture of corruption that has enveloped the entire national Republican Party is so extreme in Ohio that even 7 tainted Ohio Supreme Court judges have been forced to recuse themselves from the cases involving Thomas Noe, who was a generous contributor to their campaigns! The cases being investigated now involving Taft and his administration are likely to keep him busy for the rest of his 16 month term, unless he winds up in prison before his term ends.



I'll never forget Molly Ivins warning everyone that Bush may not be enlightened and he may well be steeped in ignorance but that to think of him as stupid is done at one's own peril. As an Austin observer for many years, Molly saw Bush in action. And she saw many opponents laugh and refuse to take him seriously. But, she warned, he is crafty and not without some mental resources. He also knows how to take advice from his team (Rove). Anyway, my friend Bob sent me a great little video clip today that has an interesting take on this. Watch it when you're in a good mood. It'll make it gooder.



All the new polls show Bush's job approval rating continuing to fall. But it isn't until you look at the state by state numbers in each state, provided by Survey USA ( that you get a sense of how people have turned against the Bush Regime and his disastrous policies. Although his overall job approval rating is at 41% nationally, a quick look at the state-by-state results show that it is only a handful of backward states with low education standards in which primitive religious beliefs predominate where Bush is over 50%: Alabama, Texas, Idaho, Nebraska, Utah, North Dakota and Wyoming. In the heavily populated states which make the biggest contributions in terms of taxes, Bush's approval doesn't even approach a relatively lofty 41%. Ohio has just crossed the 60% mark in people who disapprove of his job performance. In New York 62% disapprove, same as in California, Maryland and Connecticut. In Massachusetts and Delaware the disapproval is 64% and in Rhode Island its 68%! Even states that strongly supported his 2004 re-election bid like Georgia, Arkansas, Mississippi, South Dakota, Kansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, South Carolina, Kentucky have turned against him! Compared to last month's poll, Bush's approval numbers dropped 5 or more points in 10 states. The single largest drop was in Minnesota, where it fell 10 points. Bush also fell 9 points in New Mexico. GOP politicians facing re-election in 2006 are starting to panic.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005



Many of my friends think that once we remove the fascists from office-- and with Bush's and the Republicans' approval ratings in free-fall, that does look like a reasonable proposition-- Justice will follow. Many think that if the Democrats win substantial congressional victories in 2006, impeachment proceedings against Bush and Cheney will commence within weeks. (Wow! President Nancy Pelosi!!) However, first is the not-so-little problem of them controlling the vote counting. Widespread vote count cheating in Florida and Ohio handed Bush, Inc two presidential elections. Are they willing to give up power? Why should they? But even if we put that colossal downer aside for the moment, does ANYONE think they'll ever find a shred of unshredded evidence against this nest of vipers?

Next week my friend Evan is going up to the Reagan Library to research the 40,000 documents just released involving John Roberts and Bush's attempt to get him ("steamroll" may be a better term) confirmed as the replacement for the "moderately" conservative Sandra Day O'Connor. Roberts is no "moderate" but is he enough of a raving fascist to get cowardly inclined-to-the-right Democrats like Feinstein, Biden, the Nelsons, et al to vote against him? Not likely. BUT we'll never know. We'll never know because the Bush Regime has already been doing some serious surgery on the evidence. The corporate-oriented Inside-the-Beltway Democrats (Hillary Clinton included) would have been happy to just rubber stamp him the day Bush nominated him. But polls-- not just among Democrats but among EVERYBODY-- showed massive majorities wanting to know more, MUCH more, about Roberts and his attitudes towards crucial issues (like Roe v Wade) before a confirmation vote. With a few progressive fighters like Leahy, Kennedy and Boxer in the lead, Democrats asked, politely, so see Roberts' relevant papers. This is pretty standard operating procedure for a Supreme Court nominee. Bush, reflexively, said no. And since then papers have been dribbling out-- all the non-controversial stuff no one is interested in.

Today, however, the Washington Post is reporting that a file full of papers pertaining to Roberts' anti-affirmative action work has "disappeared" after they were reviewed by 2 right-wing lawyers sent by the Bush Regime to make sure there would be nothing embarrassing falling into the "wrong" hands. Ronald Reagan Presidential Library archivists think that the 2 lawyers may have returned the file but that it went missing afterwards. No copies were made. One of the missing papers was a memo from Roberts recommended that the White House stonewall a complaint about Reagan's reactionary policies on affirmative action in the workplace. And that's only what they ADMIT they disappeared.

Yesterday the Texas branch of People For the American Way brought Bush some large empty packing boxes that they suggested he use to send all the relevant Roberts documents to the Senate. Leahy, who has kept an open mind on Roberts and has no comment until now, flipped out when he read the stuff that the Bush Regime allowed out-- so God only knows what kind of reaction would have ensued had they not destroyed the really hot evidence. Yesterday Leahy, the Judiciary Committee's ranking Democrat, said "Those papers that we have received paint a picture of John Roberts as an eager and aggressive advocate of policies that are deeply tinged with the ideology of the far right wing of his party then, and now. In influential White House and Department of Justice positions, John Roberts expressed views that were among the most radical being offered by a cadre intent on reversing decades of policies on civil rights, voting rights, women's rights, privacy, and access to justice."

Ralph Neas, the respected head of the non-partisan People for the American Way, and former Republican candidate for congress himself, as well as an aide to 2 GOP senators, noted that "there have been almost daily revelations from the Reagan Presidential Library" indicating that, as a young White House lawyer, Roberts "was a charter member of the Reagan-Bush legal policy team that had attempted to dismantle the civil rights remedies" embraced by previous GOP administrations. "I believe a significant number of progressive organizations will soon be coming out against the Roberts nomination."

According to the POST article, "the groups are now highlighting several items found in documents from Roberts's days as a lawyer in the Reagan White House and Justice Department. They include his calling a memorial service for aborted fetuses 'an entirely appropriate means of calling attention to the abortion tragedy,' and his reference to the legal underpinnings of the right to an abortion as the 'so-called "right to privacy."' The groups note that Roberts once wrote that a Supreme Court case on prohibiting silent prayer in public schools 'seems indefensible.' Roberts, they say, had also called a federal court decision that sought to guarantee women equal pay to men 'a radical redistributive concept.'"

Every gay person I know who is following the confirmation process mentions how Roberts once did some pro-bono work on a pro-gay case. The nation's most respected gay civil rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign, is unconvinced. "As we review more and more documents, I think we're finding more evidence that Roberts would vote with the far-right wing of the court and against civil rights protections," said Joe Solmonese, president of the HRC.



Ohio's disgraced Governor, Bob Taft, who has presided over the looting of the Ohio State Workmen's Compensation fund, allowing it to be turned into a honeypot for GOP politicians and donors, was finally indicted today, albeit on the least serious of all the investigations pending against him. And with no one charging him-- at least not yet-- with conspiring with Ohio's crooked Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell (who was also Bush's campaign chairman for Ohio) to fix the 2004 presidential election in favor of Bush. So far Taft is only facing 4 criminal charges, one for each of the last 4 years (not for each gift; there were unreported gifts which violated specific state laws, laws the Ohio Ethics Commission advised Taft and other Republicans about on May 15, 2001). Taft is required to appear in court with his lawyers tomorrow at 11 A.M.

The culture of corruption in Ohio, founded on long-term one party Republican rule, has ensnared the entire state GOP. Taft's disapproval rating-- AMONG CONSERVATIVES-- has skyrocketed and 71% of people who identify themselves as conservatives disapprove of him. His statewide approval rating, by FAR the lowest of any governor in America, is 17%. Republicans are in danger of losing a U.S. Senate seat, held by DeWine, who, like Taft and Blackwell, was also taking stolen money from GOP kingmaker/county chairman/looter Thomas Noe. Half a dozen House seats are also in danger and it is likely that the next Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General of Ohio will be Democrats.