Friday, September 30, 2005



Moments after GOP House whip Roy Blunt, a crooked GOP pol from Missouri, went screaming all over Capitol Hill that David Dreier (R-CA) sucks you-know-what for real, Denny Hastert backed down on making Dreier Congress' first flamboyantly gay Majority Leader. So now, as my most literate friend, "D" (not the right-wing Depeche Mode fan from Dallas/Normal, the other one) says, "we have Blunt, the erstwhile whip (whips, hammers...we're waiting for high-heel boots, probably a pair of them) who has always fit in well with the Repug House heirarchy's Encyclopedia of Ethics--no jokes please about the world's thinnest book."

Today's L.A. TIMES points out that the new Majority Leader may be almost as tainted by corruption as the indicted one. The TIMES says that "records on file with the Federal Election Commission show that since 2003, Blunt's political action committee has paid $94,000 in salary to the consulting firm of Jim Ellis, a longtime associate of DeLay. Ellis has been indicted in the same case as DeLay, for allegedly conspiring to illegally influence the outcome of Texas legislative elections by channeling corporate money to Republican candidates." Actually Ellis has been indicted in more than just this one instance. He is facing several indictments for his criminal behavior on behalf of the GOP leadership. Blunt admits that Ellis, who was indicted last year, is still on his payroll. According to the TIMES, "One DeLay ally, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Blunt's employment of Ellis was seen as a gesture of support for a DeLay associate that DeLay and his allies believed had been unfairly under attack by Ronnie Earle, the Democratic district attorney of Travis County, Texas, who sought the DeLay indictment." But paying criminals like Ellis to work for the GOP, isn't the only ethical questions Blunt is facing.

"The Washington Post reported in June 2003 that hours after DeLay elevated Blunt to be whip, Blunt tried to insert into a bill creating the Department of Homeland Security a provision that would have benefited Philip Morris USA Inc. Blunt had close ties to the tobacco company, which contributed heavily to his campaign PAC and was at the time dating one of its lobbyists, whom he later made into a-- relatively-- honest woman by marrying her. Even someone as ethically-challenged* as House Speaker Denny Hastert (with DeLay's OK, of course) was embarrassed enough by Blunt's stunt to pull the provision as soon as he saw it.

*Do a Google search by typing in the 3 words "Hastert," "Turkey," and "corruption." I got over 44,000 articles, many talking about Hastert being bribed by Turkey to screw the Armenian-Americans, their bitter enemies. The best explanation of why Hastert should be in prison instead on in the House of Representatives is in the VANITY FAIR article. As "D" points out, "today we like Turkey for a few minutes because a caucus of that nation's most prominent politcal women (an audience FINALLY not chosen by the US Ambassador) to meet Karen Hughes, now traveling with a huge entourage through the Middle East to make the world a place of cultural cuddliness, gave such hell about Iraq to our goodwill Ambassadress to The Muslim world, that she gurgled, flushed and blushed, and fled from the meeting. The excuse, we hear, was either something about caves in Afghanistan where her strategic expertise was urgently needed, or cramps from a lunch of Black Sea sardine mousse."



You have a kid who likes music? The Army wants him (or her). Check this out:



This morning I woke up and turned on CNN. I listen to it for a couple minutes between opening my eyes and urinating. Their was a talking (air) head on the screen, babbling pleasantly that now that "Scooter" Libby was going to be named as Judith Miller's source, Karl Rove was in the clear. Could Fox be any more effective in getting out the Regime's talking points? Well, Fox needs help because they're working 24/7 on getting out indicted former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's talking points. DeLay and his spokesmen and spinning up yarn after yarn and when Fox's own propagandists aren't the ones doing the spinning, they're just spewing the lies out for DeLay day and night. My pal Jim, who lives in DeLay's district, sent me a great press clip today that something tells me Fox "News" won't bother to run (nor, regrettably, will CNN nor anyone else in corporate mass media). In DeLay Lie #384 (on Chris Matthews' pathetic MSNBC GOP infomercial last Wednesday) he claimed that Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle never talked to him or asked him to testify. "Never asking me to testify, never doing anything for two years," DeLay said in the interview. "And then, on the last day of his fourth or sixth grand jury, he indicts me. Why? Because his goal was to make me step down as majority leader." He told the AP that "I have not testified before the grand jury to present my side of the case, and they indicted me."

However, DeLay's own attorney, Dick DeGuerin, corrected his truth-impaired client's claim on Thursday, admitting that DeLay actually was invited to appear before the grand jury, where he would have been under oath. ("under oath" and "DeLay," of course, is something they have every intention of avoiding, just like DeLay's pals in the Mafia do.) DeGuerin says The Hammer didn't appear in front of the Grand Jury, not because he wasn't invited or because he was afraid of being "under oath" but because he was afraid of being "brow-beaten." (I'm not making this up. DeGuerin said if DeLay had appeared before the grand jury, he could not have been accompanied by his lawyer inside the hearing and there would have been "no judge to prevent prosecutors from brow-beating" him. "The prosecutor has all of the advantages in a grand jury setting. The prosecutor controls the information a grand jury gets. The defense has no right to call witnesses, to cross-examine or to be present to be sure that the rules are followed.") And here I always thought DeLay was a law-and-order man! I guess he meant law-and-order for poor people, not for the rich and powerful.

Meanwhile the Grand Jury foreman, William Gibson, Jr., also contradicted DeLay's lie. Gibson, a retired state insurance investigator, said the Travis County grand jury waited until Wednesday, the final day of its term, to indict him because it was hoping he would accept jurors' invitation to testify.
Gibson also said that District Attorney Earle did not pressure the panel to vote to indict: "He wanted us to listen to the facts presented. If we needed additional information they presented it. But he did not in any way say, 'We want this done.'"

But if you want to hear more DeLay lies and how the vast right-wing propaganda machine is spinning this, just turn on Limbaugh or O'Liely or anyone on Fox-- or most anywhere on corporate mass media.



Texas A&M is the nexus of radical right-wing ideology and... alcoholism. You probably remember it as the school with so many engineering students and yet with an inability to build a bonfire that doesn't kill people. Recently the faith-based Aggies prepared for Hurricane Rita.



It was making me crazy to hear the religionist loons-- the national televangelist crackpots selling- salvation-praising-Bush phonies, not the earnest, hard-working local churches-- blaming Katrina on God's wrath against gays and sinners and women who expose their boobs at Mardi Gras and on over-advertised videos WHILE these same pious hucksters applied for federal taxpayer dollars for their faith-based-fraud operations. Local pastors and church groups all over Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas, regardless of politics, have been on the ground offering every kind of assistance man can offer to the victims of Katrina and Rita. To the Pat Robertsons, Jerry Falwells, James Dobsons, RJ Rushdoonys, Fred Phelpses and all the other little Republican Elmer Gantries, these tragedies were simply opportunities to pursue their missions of hatred and bigotry and, most important, self-enrichment. They did nothing to help the victims, just talked smack about them and applied for grants from BushCo. But the hucksters and maniacs aren't all behind pulpits either. Hank Erwin serves in the Alabama State Senate (instead of a state mental institution where he clearly belongs). The extreme right wing Republican with a "degree" from Southwestern Bible "College" was widely considered to be certifiably psychotic when he was a hate-talk radio host. This week he wrote a column about Hurricane Katrina after wasting taxpayer dollars of a trip through the devastated areas of his state and neighboring Mississippi. Erwin, who is best known in Alabama for his obsessive and vicious homophobia, claims that Katrina was God's punishment for its "gambling, sin and wickedness." Of course he didn't mean that God was punishing the people for their support of the satanic BushCo. "Warnings year after year by godly evangelists and preachers went unheeded. So why were we surprised when finally the hand of judgment fell? ... Sadly, innocents suffered along with the guilty. Sin always brings suffering to good people as well as the bad ... New Orleans has always been known for sin ... The wages of sin is death." (Funny how these lunatics always fail to mention that the heart of their idea of sin, the very gay, very libertine French Quarter, was the least effected part of New Orleans-- obviously spared by "God.") According to a poll yesterday on Alabama's NBC-TV affiliate one third of the state agrees with him. And remember, these primitive reactionaries each has a vote-- just like you do-- and, even worse, they live in our country.

Thursday, September 29, 2005



Recently I spent some time with a roomful of well-connected Democrats. We pretty much see eye-to-eye on most stuff-- although hardly any of them would agree with me that Inside-the-Beltway Democrats are as useless and harmful to America as Republicans. And when something pops up that we DON'T agree on, I KNOW they're getting their bad ideas from those Inside-the-Beltway connections. The pathetic DCCC seems to have already written off Chris Cox's old Orange County seat, even though a Special Election could well see a progressive Democrat triumph. If the DCCC would pull it's head out of its ass long enough to take a look at the rules of this election they'd realize why their counterparts at the GOP are freaking out. In fact, the only thing calming Republicans down about the race is how lame the DCCC is! Take a look in the Archives at the story I wrote on September 15-- "CAN A DEMOCRAT WIN IN ONE OF CALIFORNIA'S REDDEST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS?" The answer was yes and it's the story of how Steve Young is going to become a Congressman from Orange County. The DCCC should be out in full force for this. But they're even more pathetic and into proving what complete losers they are for this one than they were in Ohio's 2nd district where Paul Hackett's grassroots campaign surprised them as much as it did Republicans!

In fact, Steve Young, is getting great news about his race-- not from the professional losers at the DCCC, but from a most unlikely source. One of the Republicans' craziest and most extreme elected officials-- and, believe me, with that lot that is saying A GREAT DEAL-- could have just made Young's job of getting elected (without DCCC help) quite a bit easier. (Fortunately Young has plenty of money, being personally wealthy, and plenty of expertise, having virtually Hackett's whole team working for him.) Anyway, Congressloon Tom Tancredo (R-CO), a 2008 presidential aspirant from the Party of Hatred and Bigotry and a leading congressional advocate of imposing a radical crackdown on immigration, broke with the GOP and formally endorsed his pal, the American Independent Party nominee Jim Gilchrist. There are 10 Republican candidates in the race but Gilchrist is the founder of the Minuteman Project (citizen border patrols/vigilantes). "I need Jim Gilchrist with me in Congress. Together Jim and I can fight to stop illegal immigration," said Tancredo. Tancredo has pretty much guaranteed a 3-way run-off in the GOP district that will pit Young against a right wing Republican and this KKK imbecile, who will cannibalize each other's bases. Go, Tom, go!


If Orange County neo-fascists and xenophobes were still unconvinced that Gilchrist is an even better bet than the corporate GOP has to offer, another off-the-edge Republican extremist has weighed in. The always whacky wing-nut Alan Keyes, currently collecting unemployment but still hopeful that someone will find him something someday somewhere, somehow managed to get himself to California and is about to endorse Gilchrist in Tuesday's primary.



Back on July 15 I did a blog entry called "IF YOU THOUGHT "DUKE" CUNNINGHAM WAS BAD, WAIT TIL YOU MEET RICHARD POMBO." These days more and more humans are becoming aware of who-- and what-- Richard Pombo is, and what a danger he is to America. A couple nights ago I was celebrating Tom DeLay's resignation from the fascist hierarchy with some friends. Almost half thought that Pombo can now be considered the single worst Republican on Capitol Hill. And apparently, it isn't only Democrats who see what Pombo is.

This week Nick Juliano wrote a story for the San Joaquin News Service explaining that revulsion for Pombo crosses party lines. "Richard Pombo may have a sooner-than-expected fight to keep his seat in the US House of Representatives, as a former congressman announced his intention Monday to find a primary challenger for the Tracy Republican in next year's election." Pete McCloskey, another Bay Area congressman (1967-'83), prior to the Republican Party becoming an out-and-out fascist organization, says "The Republican values that I grew up with, Pombo is not espousing."

"The former Congressman, according to Juliano, "said he's been working for three months to find a primary challenger. If one doesn't emerge, the 77-year-old Republican said he may move to the district to challenge Pombo himself. McCloskey, a co-author of the 1973 Endangered Species Act, was among a panel of farmers, fishermen and environmentalists at a press conference who criticized Pombo's proposed overhaul of the landmark environmental legislation. Pombo has lost touch with his Republican roots, McCloskey charged, and is now more concerned with supporting his campaign contributors than his constituents in California's 11th Congressional District." McCloskey may not have been paying attention as the GOP itself lost touch with its roots and has become a party working strictly for the interests of huge corporations and big campaign contributors. Pombo claims not to be worried and one of his "consultants" laughed when told of McCloskey's potential candidacy, calling McCloskey a liberal. "It's not correct to say that he represents moderate Republicans because he doesn't," said Wayne Johnson, Pombo's campaign consultant.

"At Monday's press conference," according to Juliano, "McCloskey said Pombo's bill undercuts and reverses the most important facets of the legislation he helped write 32 years ago. One change could remove the government's ability to designate 'critical habitat' so species that are declining in number can recover. Another suggested change to the law would give the Interior Secretary authority to decide on what is the 'best available science' when it makes a decision that involves an endangered species. McCloskey complained that could lead to politics muddying scientific data. 'This is an administration which has repeatedly derogated or suppressed scientific opinion which opposed the agenda of the politicians,' McCloskey said. McCloskey also criticized an idea floated by Pombo last week to sell off national parks, slap advertisements on the sides of parks service vehicles and drill for oil off the California coast. 'It's so transparent ... these guys are selling the store,' McCloskey said."



Roberts was confirmed today, 78-22 vote. 23 Dems voted yes, 22 Dems voted no. The Democrats who voted to confirm should be remembered when they solicit contributions. Here's the list:

Max Baucus of Montana
Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico
Robert Byrd of West Virginia
Kent Conrad of North Dakota
Russ Feingold of Wisconsin
Tim Johnson of South Dakota
Herb Kohl of Wisconsin
Mary Landrieu of Louisiana
Patrick Leahy of Vermont
Ben Nelson of Nebraska
Bill Nelson of Florida
Mark Pryor of Arkansas
Ken Salazar of Colorado
Christopher Dodd of Connecticut
Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut
Byron Dorgan of North Dakota
Carl Levin of Michigan
Ron Wyden of Oregon
Tom Carper of Delaware
Patty Murray of Washington
Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas
James Jeffords (I) of Vermont
Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia

Needless to say, every single member of the fascist-oriented Republican Party voted to confirm the right-wing corporatist operative.



When you look at the lists of likely Democratic wins in the 2006 midterm congressional elections, Wisconsin's 5th District doesn't show up. When you hear about the worst congressmen in America, Wisconsin's 5th District ALWAYS shows up. The mid-Wisconsin district is represented by Jim Sensenbrenner, a vicious and partisan fascist. Before he became famous as one of only 11 congressmen to vote "no" on relief aid for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, he was famous for his narrow-minded and dictatorial manner of chairing the House Judiciary Committee. A huge amorphous blog of a man and an unabashed glutton, Sensenbrenner brooked no debate on his so-called Patriot Act, demanding C-Span cameras be shut off, gaveling a meeting over and running out of the room with the gavel when Democrats started asking questions about violations of free speech, freedom of the press, human rights and the right to privacy. (Even earlier Sensenbrenner got a national reputation as one of the House managers of the impeachment of Bill Clinton.) Earlier this year Sensenbrenner again made national news when it was widely reported that he has had lobbyists pay for his transportation, a violation of congressional rules. His total travel expenses are higher than any other congressman (and that isn't because he's charged by the pound).

This year Bryan Kennedy is taking on Sensenbrenner again. (In 2004, the corpulent right-winger beat him with 66.6% of the vote.) Kennedy has just started running his first ad targeting his opponent, probably the first TV ad for the midterms. The ad is pretty aggressive but insurgent Democrats need to be aggressive against powerful, corporately-funded and well-entrenched incumbents like Sensenbrenner.

You can view Kennedy's ad (WMP, Real and QT) here:



You know how I'm always railing against the Inside-the-Beltway folks? Well my pal Willard doesn't count. He's not only smart, he's also completely dependable and will never lose touch with who he is and why he's involved in politics. Willard is also one of the most astute observers of politics I know. A couple days ago he mentioned a possible Senate seat change no one is thinking about. Imagine Mississippi with a Democratic U.S. Senator! It's pretty public that Trent Lott is thinking about retiring next year. He needs to make money and thinks going into lobbying is the key to his financial well-being. If he does, how does the GOP go about appealing to African-Americans, who now make up 38% of the voting population? Is the Republican candidate going to run on their core issues of "gay marriage" and abortion when people are desperate about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina? Do you think someone who can't declare bankruptcy even though his former house and business are at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico is going to want to hear about how 2 lesbians getting married is going to be more of a threat to him than GOP policies have been? Will the GOP be at the polls to intimidate poor voters who will have problems identifying themselves? These voters will be both black and white and many in southern Mississippi have lost everything, including all their ID. And will Bush be able to come down and campaign for this open seat? Remember Cheney was told to go fuck himself in Gulfport, MS not in New Orleans, LA.

Mississippi could be a big sleeper race in 2006.



Since I don't even remotely consider Zell Miller a Democrat, if there's one Democrat upon whom I would call down otherworldly wrath, were I given the opportunity, it would be the pious crook from Connecticut, Joe Lieberman, not just an arch hypocrite and the face of EVERYTHING that is wrong with today's Democratic Party, but also someone who craves the corporate media spotlight and wins it by always being ready to attack other Democrats. Like many progressives I was sickened to find out that there would be no primary challenge for the DLC asshole from Stamford. So wasn't I delighted today when my copy of the NEW HAVEN INDEPENDENT arrived before morning coffee and I saw that Lowell Weicker is mulling over a challenge to the right-wing, war-mongering piece of shit!
Paul Bass reports in a story called "Sleeping Bear Grudge Match?" that Weicker is considering an independent run for his old U.S. Senate seat next. 74 year old Weicker, a former liberal Republican and true progressive, who turned independent in 1990 after he left the Senate to run successfully for governor, was viciously attacked by Lieberman from the Right in their 1988 Senate match-up.

"If he does run," says Bass, "he'll need the support of progressive Democrats to beat Lieberman, the way progressive Democrats catapulted him to the governor's office in 1990. And statewide progressive Dems have been scouring the state for someone to challenge the conservative-leaning Lieberman. There already had been rumblings in the southern part of the state about Weicker possibly running. A Weicker candidacy would focus on the war in Iraq. Lieberman has been a leading supporter of that war from the outset. If Weicker does run, he'll at least have a chance for revenge on a sore point about that nasty 1988 race. Lieberman attacked Weicker then for missing votes in the Senate; he aired a TV commercial of a sleeping bear, an effective personal shot that ushered in a new era of nasty political campaigning in Connecticut. Lieberman's point was that Weicker had become too cavalier about voting and doing his job after three terms in office. Yet Lieberman ended up repeating that record in his third term as a U.S. senator. He spent much of 2003 running for president--and away from his job as senator. He skipped 54 percent of all Senate votes that year. He was absent for every vote on 63 of the 115 days in which the Senate cast votes. According to one estimate, that meant the taxpayers overpaid Lieberman $38,828.79 in salary that year."

I'd expect Independent Weicker to vote to organize the Senate with the Democratic caucus, the way Jeffords has, and I wouldn't hesitate for one second to support him.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005



Last Friday I introduced to two names, and, coincidentally... or maybe inevitably, they came together this evening. First was Francine Busby, the Democratic candidate who may be able to capture the "red" congressional seat "Duke" Cunningham will be resigning from in the next few weeks --after he gets indicted (see "GRASSROOTS, NON-DLC DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES FOR CONGRESS IN '06"). And the other is my old bud, Rick-- see "FABIAN NUNEZ-- THE REAL DEAL." Rick had hosted the shindig for California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez at his home, and tonight he invited me to meet Francine Busby at a small get-together in B Hills.

You may recall that last week I thought Francine's statement for Democracy For America was outstanding and made me eager to write her a check. Rick's invite saved me the postage. And in person Francine was even better than the statement! Even though she's not an Iraq War vet, she comes across as a perfect candidate for the Democratic Party-- passionate, intelligent, well-spoken, VERY knowledgeable, great sense of humor... and she positively EXUDES "winner." You can check out her state of the art website at

If Howard Dean and the DNC and the DCCC, all of whom are backing her race, find more candidates of Busby's calibre, the Democrats will be looking at a major take-over of the House of Representatives in November, 2006. This is a race I'll be covering here at Down With Tyranny as events unfold.



Bill Bennett: "[Y]ou could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down"

Before Bill Bennett was unmasked as a compulsive gambling addict he was widely considered the GOP's point man on morality. Now he is less widely considered that but still beloved by the True Believers on the extreme fringes of the neo-Nazi right. Over a million people listen to his hate-filled talk show on one of the Bush propaganda networks, Salem Radio's BILL BENNETT'S MORNING IN AMERICA. The America Bennett pushes, though, is a very different America from the real one we live in. His is firmly rooted in some kind of distorted dream/nightmare from the 1950's. Any KKK member from those glory days of Republicanism would feel right at home. Today Media Matters caught Bennett in one of his hate-filled screeds.

"Addressing a caller's suggestion that the 'lost revenue from the people who have been aborted in the last 30 years' would be enough to preserve Social Security's solvency, radio host and former Reagan administration Secretary of Education Bill Bennett dismissed such 'far-reaching, extensive extrapolations' by declaring that if 'you wanted to reduce crime ... if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.' Bennett conceded that aborting all African-American babies 'would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do,' then added again, 'but the crime rate would go down.'"

What's in these people's hearts?



Tom DeLay, the former exterminator turned extreme right-wing Republican congressman and ultra-authoritarian House Majority Leader, is the unquestioned posterboy for over-the-top corruption, graft and political strong-arm tactics. When the Republican-controlled House Ethics Committee reprimanded him-- THEIR OWN LEADER-- for glaring ethics violations he simply replaced the Republicans who voted against him with GOP hacks who are nearly as corrupt as he is. DeLay's handpicked new chairman, Baby-Doc Hastings (R-WA), promptly maneuvered the Ethics Committee shut, which suited DeLay's needs perfectly. But with more and more DeLay "associates" being arrested and with his crime family crumbling all around him, the beleaguered Sugar Land, Texas Republicrook is being hounded by an incorruptible District Attorney in Austin. (DeLay's screams of "partisan witch hunt" ring completely hollow since this particular D.A. has gone after more Democratic pols than Republicans in his crime-fighting career.)

The biggest fish hauled off to jail from DeLay's mammoth crime organization so far was Jack Abramoff, DeLay's consiglieri. Abramoff will face a myriad of changes involving corruption and various degrees of financial manipulations. And possibly murder. Tuesday Fort Lauderdale police charged 3 hitmen in the 2001 gangland-style murder of Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, a Florida businessman who was gunned down in his car months after selling a casino cruise line to Abramoff, his crooked partner Adam Kidan and some other shady Abramoff/DeLay "associates." Kidan claims the gunmen (Gambino crime family member Anthony Moscatiello, Anthony Ferrari, and James Fiorillo) were only hired as "consultants," not as murderers. Abramoff and Kidan had bought the cruise line from Boulis in 2000 while Abramoff was one of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington and well-known to be DeLay's #1 bagman. Abramoff and Kidan were indicted in August in relation to a $60 million fraud involving a casino purchase. Abramoff's casino ventures, which includes defrauding American Indians out of tens of millions of dollars that made their way into GOP campaign coffers, have entangled Senators Conrad Burns (R-MT), John Cornyn (R-TX), and David Vitter (R-LA) and Congressmen Bob Ney (R-OH), Richard Pombo (R-CA), Tom Feeney (R-FL), Mike Ferguson (R-NJ), Jim Saxton (R-NJ), and Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), as well as Bush operatives David Safavian (arrested last week) and Ralph Reed. Fellow Republican legislator, John McCain was so shocked by Abramoff's wheeling and dealing on behalf of DeLay that he was moved to comment: "Even in this town, where huge sums are routinely paid as the price of political access, the figures are astonishing."

Both DeLay and Ney were involved with Kidan and Abramoff's cruise line deal, Ney even placing comments in the Congressional Record about it! Kidan and Abramoff, old pals from that always sterling organization, College Young Republicans, made sure to be conveniently out of the country when they had Boulis killed and claim not to know anything about the murder. Abramoff has avoided the Florida police, who want to interview him for his role in the killing, for several years. Although DeLay was a key component in the financing of the deal, he now says he doesn't remember anything and won't even confirm that he hosted a key money lender in his skybox at a Redskins-Cowboys game (although there are plenty of witnesses). Kidan claims the $145,000 he paid Moscatiello to kill Boulis wasn't for murder, just for consulting and catering and site inspections. According to court documents there is no evidence that food or drink was provided or that any consulting documents were prepared. This wasn't the first time Abramoff's and Kidan's "consultant" made the news. In 1983 Moscatiello was indicted on federal heroin-trafficking charges along with Gene Gotti, brother of John Gotti, then head of the Gambino family. DeLay and Ney are both supporters of the War of Drugs (of course).

Meanwhile, today the Texas Grand Jury finally indicted DeLay, along with 2 of his associates, with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme. DeLay hasn't been directly linked to the murder yet. An AOL poll shows that 92% of people voting have an overall negative impression of DeLay and that 5% have a positive impression. (3% are neutral or haven't made up their minds yet.) DeLay will probably have to step down as House Minority Leader, although with BushCo in charge, who knows what will happen!


"I have notified the speaker that I will temporarily step aside from my position as majority leader pursuant to rules of the House Republican Conference and the actions of the Travis County district attorney today," DeLay said. GOP congressional officials said Speaker Denny ("bulldoze New Orleans") Hastert (R-IL) will recommend that flamboyant gay California congressman David Dreier step into those duties. (For the full story on the GOP hypocrite and closet queen taking over from DeLay, take a look at my Saturday, Sept 17th blog: "SELF-LOATHING GAY HOMOPHOBE DAVID DREIER STRIKES AGAIN.") The Republican House caucus may meet tonight to act on Hastert's recommendation. Last November this same caucus, in a sign of blind obeisance to DeLay after the grand jury returned indictments against three of his criminal associates, repealed a rule requiring any of their leaders to step aside if indicted. The rule was reinstituted in January after chastened lawmakers returned to Washington where grassroots supporters had gone ape-shit and threatened to sit on their hands in the 2006 elections if DeLay was allowed to continue to run roughshod over the Congress. Since the charge carries a potential two-year sentence, House rules force DeLay to step down.


With Roy Blunt running all over Capitol Hill screaming "Fag!!!" ex-wrestling teacher Denny Hastert backed down from recommending a gay man (albeit a partially closeted one) as the new Republican Majority Leader. The about-to-be-annointed-Blunt-- who is burdened with his own record of corruption and ethics violations up the wazoo-- is the father of one of the country's most corrupt (and least popular) governors, Matt Blunt, another crooked Missouri pol. Meanwhile a CNN poll is showing that a full 18% of Americans do not think DeLay should resign from Congress. Presumably if he is found guilty of murder a few of those people might change their "minds" (unless Limbaugh and O'Liely tell them not to).


You can read the actual indictment on this .pdf file. It's very simple and straight-forward:



You know how every now and then I recommend a movie? Not many-- like 2 in fact: THE CONSTANT GARDENER and CRASH were the only ones this year. Well, here's a little tiny film that my pal Vicky sent me and I LOVE it... and you will too. It's only a couple minutes long and a sure crowd pleaser-- unless the crowd consists of people who think fascism is the way to go. Here's the movie:



Yesterday California Democratic Congresspersons Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman introduced the Anti-Cronyism and Public Safety Act, which would prohibit the President from appointing more unqualified individuals to critical public safety positions in the government. Waxman, who many people think is the sharpest knife in the congressional draw, opined that "President Bush has handed out some of the country's most difficult and important jobs-- leadership positions in public safety and emergency response-- to politically well-connected individuals with no experience or qualifications. This common sense legislation will end this practice and ensure that public safety is back in the hands of those who are trained and experienced in protecting the public."

The bill, which has zero chance of passing in DeLay's fascist Congress, would require any presidential appointee for a public safety position to have proven, relevant credentials for that position. In addition, the legislation bars from appointment to an agency any individual who has been a lobbyist for an industry subject to the agency's authority during the preceding two years. This, of course, completely flies in the face of DeLay's and Bush's whole crony strategy of rewarding donors with big jobs that they will fail at, thereby further eroding the citizens' confidence in government.

"As Hurricane Katrina tragically demonstrated, serious consequences result when unqualified cronies are appointed to federal public safety positions," added House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. "The Bush Administration's culture of cronyism comes at the expense of public safety. It is unconscionable and must stop immediately - it is literally a matter of life and death. This legislation is critically needed, and I thank Mr. Waxman for his strong leadership in protecting the American people."

What Pelosi, Waxman and the media are entirely missing is that BushCo MEANS to screw things up. They WANT disasters and failures and they want people to say, "See the government sucks. Norquist was right. They should shrink it down and drown it in a bathtub." Could the Bush Regime, teaming with eager little authoritarians who DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOVERNMENT, but who do believe in their divine mission to dismantle it, actually be subverting the government? With his unending, now desperate, rounds of tax cuts, always skewed to the wealthiest Americans, in tandem with a 37% increase in federal expenditures and Bush's refusal to veto a single spending bill from the GOP-controlled Congress, so far the Bush Regime has managed to boost the national debt by 12% (with 3 years to go, unless he's impeached after the 2006 elections), to almost $8 trillion. America is increasingly a hostage of its foreign-- some of whom are not especially friendly to America and America's interests or values-- creditors. Aside from making the country less secure with his ill-conceived, arrogant, mishandled little adventure in Iraq (on top of his incompetent half-baked job in Afghanistan), Bush's economic policies have seriously eroded the foundations of American strength and security. And, on top of that, he persists in pushing forward insane programs which benefit his donors and cause hardship and misery to the neediest of citizens. Think only of his thoroughly moronic new prescription drug "benefit" for seniors-- a $139 billion handout to Big Pharma that actually does virtually nothing to help the elderly, other than elderly billionaires who own stock in the big drug companies. One might think that in light of Katrina and Rita, and the HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS taxpayers will have to fork over to cover BushCo's gross negligence and incompetence, a leader (rotflmao) might say, "Hey, let's downsize that pork-laden $290 BILLION "highway" bill (the most expensive ever and the most pork barrel-oriented piece of legislation ever signed by any American president), which features, among other shameful boondoggles, $220 million for a road extension in Alaska that conservative REPUBLICAN Senator John McCain despairingly called as "a highway to nowhere."

In the TIME Magazine piece by Karen Tumulty that I referred to Sunday, "How Many More Mike Browns Are Out There?" (and this was before we found out he's not even OUT THERE, but still IN HERE, re-retained by BushCo to try to cast blame on Democrats and shield Bush from responsibility), AMERICANS PAYING A HEAVY PRICE FOR BUSH'S INCOMPETENCE AND IDEOLOGICAL DECISION-MAKING, she begins with the Realpolitik observation that "in Presidential politics, the victor always gets the spoils, and chief among them is the vast warren of offices that make up the federal bureaucracy. Historically, the U.S. public has never paid much attention to the people the President chooses to sit behind those thousands of desks. A benign cronyism is more or less presumed, with old friends and big donors getting comfortable positions and impressive titles, and with few real consequences for the nation. But then came Michael Brown. When President Bush's former point man on disasters was discovered to have more expertise about the rules of Arabian horse competition than about the management of a catastrophe, it was a reminder that the competence of government officials who are not household names can have a life or death impact. The Brown debacle has raised pointed questions about whether political connections, not qualifications, have helped an unusually high number of Bush appointees land vitally important jobs in the Federal Government."

According to TIME, career civil servants, from senior administrators to clerk-typists, are being ill-treated and, even in serious matters-- matters that have allowed catastrophes like 9-11 (remember Coleen Rowley's bombshell memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller about Al-Qaeda BEFORE 9-11?) and the breaching of the New Orleans levees-- completely ignored. In Sunday's article I went into how Bush's cronyism has resulted in extremely serious consequences at the FDA. According to Tumulty "some of the appointments are raising serious concerns in the agencies themselves and on Capitol Hill about the competence and independence of agencies that the country relies on to keep us safe, healthy and secure. Internal e-mail messages obtained by TIME show that scientists' drug-safety decisions at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are being second-guessed by a 33-year-old doctor turned stock picker. At the Office of Management and Budget, an ex-lobbyist with minimal purchasing experience oversaw $300 billion in spending, until his arrest last week. At the Department of Homeland Security, an agency the Administration initially resisted, a well-connected White House aide with minimal experience is poised to take over what many consider the single most crucial post in ensuring that terrorists do not enter the country again. And who is acting as watchdog at every federal agency? A corps of inspectors general who may be increasingly chosen more for their political credentials than their investigative ones."

I hope you've been keeping up with the news about the highly-placed Bush aide who was hauled away by the FBI last week, David Safavian, a political hack with virtually no hands-on experience in government contracting who BushCo tapped 2 years ago to be its chief procurement officer. Tumulty points out that with no real experience, other than a college internship, the 38 year old Safavian was given a lucrative job as administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, putting him in charge of "the $300 billion the government spends each year on everything from paper clips to nuclear submarines, as well as the $62 billion already earmarked for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts." Ostensibly, "it was his job to ensure that the government got the most for its money and that competition for federal contracts—among companies as well as between government workers and private contractors—was fair." In reality it was a job to help steal and coerce money from contracting firms into GOP campaign coffers. And "it was his job until he resigned on Sept. 16 and was subsequently arrested and charged with lying and obstructing a criminal investigation into Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff's dealings with the Federal Government."

According to TIME, "Safavian spent the bulk of his pre-government career as a lobbyist, and his nomination to a top oversight position stunned the tightly knit federal procurement community. A dozen procurement experts interviewed by TIME said he was the most unqualified person to hold the job since its creation in 1974. Most of those who held the post before Safavian were well-versed in the arcane world of federal contracts. 'Safavian is a good example of a person who had great party credentials but no substantive credentials,' says Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit Washington watchdog group. 'It's one of the most powerful positions in terms of impacting what the government does, and the kind of job—like FEMA director—that needs to be filled by a professional.' Nevertheless, Safavian's April 2004 confirmation hearing before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee (attended by only five of the panel's 17 members) lasted just 67 minutes, and not a single question was asked about his qualifications.
The committee did hold up Safavian's confirmation for a year, in part because of concerns about work his lobbying firm, Janus-Merritt Strategies, had done that he was required to divulge to the panel but failed to. The firm's filings showed that it represented two men suspected of links to terrorism (Safavian said one of the men was 'erroneously listed,' and the other's omission was an 'inadvertent error') as well as two suspect African regimes. Ultimately, the committee and the full Senate unanimously approved Safavian for the post.
His political clout, federal procurement experts say privately, came from his late-1990s lobbying partnership with Grover Norquist, now head of Americans for Tax Reform and a close ally of the Bush Administration. Norquist is an antitax advocate who once famously declared that his goal was to shrink the Federal Government so he could 'drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.' As the U.S. procurement czar, Safavian was pushing in that direction by seeking to shift government work to private contractors, contending it was cheaper. Federal procurement insiders say his relationship with Norquist gave Safavian the edge in snaring the procurement post. But Norquist has 'no memory' of urging the Administration to put Safavian in the post, says an associate speaking on Norquist's behalf. A White House official said Norquist 'didn't influence the decision.' Clay Johnson, who was designated by the White House to answer all of TIME'S questions about administration staffing issues and who oversaw the procurement post, says Safavian was 'by far the most qualified person' for the job. Perhaps it also didn't hurt that Safavian's wife Jennifer works as a lawyer for the House Government Reform Committee, which oversees federal contracting.
In addition, Safavian had worked at a law firm in the mid-'90s with Jack Abramoff, one of the capital's highest-paid lobbyists, a top GOP fund raiser and a close friend of House majority leader Tom DeLay. Abramoff was indicted last month on unrelated fraud and conspiracy charges. In 2002, Abramoff invited Safavian on a weeklong golf outing to Scotland's famed St. Andrews course (as Abramoff had done with DeLay in 2000). Seven months after the trip, an anonymous call to a government hotline said lobbyists had picked up the tab for the jaunt. That wasn't true; Safavian paid $3,100 for the trip. But the government alleges that he lied when he repeatedly told investigators that Abramoff had no business dealings with the General Services Administration, where Safavian worked at the time. Prosecutors alleged last week, however, that Safavian worked closely with Abramoff—identified only as 'Lobbyist A' in the criminal complaint against Safavian—to give Abramoff an inside track in his efforts to acquire control of two pieces of federal property in the Washington area."

TIME then goes into the disturbing story of another unqualified Bush nominee, Julie Myers, to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a crucial job in Bush's bogus "War" Against Terror. (I'm not going to go into the details of this one here. Let it just suffice to say that REPUBLICAN Senator George Voinovich of Ohio, after Meyers made an idiot of herself at a confirmation hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, looked the president's nominee straight in the eye and said "I'd really like to have him (Homeland Security Secretary Mike Chertoff) spend some time with us, telling us personally why he thinks you're qualified for the job. Because based on the resume, I don't think you are." And she's not, but was she supposed to be?

On September 9th Paul Krugman wrote a column called "Point Those Fingers" in the NY TIMES. He mentioned Mike Brown's ex-college roommate and predecessor as FEMA chief, Joe Allbaugh, and how he emphasized two words-- RESPONSIBILITY and ACCOUNTABILITY-- in a 2001 Congressional hearing. "What Mr. Allbaugh seems to have meant was that state and local government officials shouldn't count on FEMA to bail them out if they didn't prepare adequately for disasters. They should accept responsibility for protecting their constituents, and be held accountable if they don't." He went on to point out the unfortunate similarities about the grotesque incompetence displayed in the way BushCo handled Iraq and the way they screwed up in the aftermath of Katrina. "In Iraq, the administration displayed a combination of paralysis and denial after the fall of Baghdad, as uncontrolled looting destroyed much of Iraq's infrastructure. The same deer-in-the-headlights immobility prevailed as Katrina approached and struck the Gulf Coast. The storm gave plenty of warning. By the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 29, the flooding of New Orleans was well under way - city officials publicly confirmed a breach in the 17th Street Canal at 2 p.m. Yet on Tuesday federal officials were still playing down the problem, and large-scale federal aid didn't arrive until last Friday. In Iraq the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran the country during the crucial first year after Saddam's fall - the period when an effective government might have forestalled the nascent insurgency - was staffed on the basis of ideological correctness and personal connections rather than qualifications. At one point Ari Fleischer's brother was in charge of private-sector development. The administration followed the same principles in staffing FEMA. The agency had become a highly professional organization during the Clinton years, but under Mr. Bush it reverted to its former status as a 'turkey farm,' a source of patronage jobs. As Bloomberg News puts it, the agency's 'upper ranks are mostly staffed with people who share two traits: loyalty to President George W. Bush and little or no background in emergency management.' All that's missing from the Katrina story is an expensive reconstruction effort, with lucrative deals for politically connected companies, that fails to deliver essential services. But give it time - they're working on that, too."

Barely two weeks have passed and BushCo has already begun shipping BILLIONS of dollars-- what will ultimately amount to $200 billion, not counting billions more for the devastation caused by Hurricane Rita-- in the form of no-bid, cost-plus contracts to egregiously crooked BushCo campaign donors, the same crooks who have stolen billions-- from American taxpayers-- in Iraq. FEMA, of course, is administering this, especially now that Safavian has been arrested. In last week's WALL STREET JOURNAL George Washington University contracting expert, Steven Schooner explained that one "can easily compare FEMA's internal resources to what you saw in the early days of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq: a small, underfunded organization taking on a Herculian task under tremendous time pressure. That is almost by definition a recipe for disaster." But not a disaster for Bush cronies and uber-generous donors at companies like Halliburton, Bechtel, and Fluor, at least two of which are being investigated for cheating and bilking the government on Iraqi reconstruction contracts. Another great example of how BushCo works (for itself and against America) is shown by FEMA's hiring Kenyon Worldwide Disaster Management, a subsidiary of funeral operator and longtime Bush Family contributor Service Corp. International (SCI). The Bush Brothers states of Texas and Florida settled class action lawsuits against SCI which had been digging up bodies and tossing them in the woods so the plots could be resold. FEMA hired them to collect human remains in the Katrina-stricken region.

And as wonderful as the disasters have been for Bush donor corporations, Bush's policies have been absolutely catastrophic for the non-rich-- catastrophic for young American men and women fighting in Iraq (not to mention the poor Iraqis) and catastrophic for working men and women in the states hit by the hurricanes. The head of the AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Department, Edward Sullivan, referred to Bush's regard for the working poor as "legalized looting of these workers who will be cleaning up toxic sites and struggling to rebuild their communities, while favored contractors rake in huge profits." After he pulled his head out of his ass, put down the guitar and golf clubs and skittered back to the White House, one of Bush's very first responses to Katrina was to sign an executive order suspending contractors on Katrina-related work from federal law requiring employees be paid the local prevailing wage, which means many will be toiling for a minimum wage of $5.15 an hour.

Bush and Cheney pride themselves about-- used to publicly brag about-- being CEOs and running a CEO type government. But like Bush and Cheney most of the prominent CEOs hired by the current regime aren't actual business people at all, but fake CEOs who after a life of partisan politics cashed in on brief stints as trophy CEOs at big firms looking for political connections before returning to pilfer public assets in BushCo. Cheney wasn't a businessman; he was an ideologue and hack. Ditto for Treasury Secretary Snow. And Bush, himself... what a complete joke. Every real business he ever touched went belly-up and when he was set up to make a fortune in baseball he wound up trading Sammy Sosa for someone no one ever heard about again. Unless you want to count plotting and conniving, George W. Bush has never done an honest day's work in his entire miserable life. Yet he's on a mission to tear down government and replace it with crony-capitalism, a business model that can ONLY bring about more 9-11's and more unrepaired levees and dead Americans.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hagel's Electronic Theft Of A U.S. Senate Seat Was A Dress Rehearsal For Bush's Theft Of The Presidency


I kind of like Chuck Hagel-- for a Republican, and for someone I've never met. I especially like that Hagel has been speaking out, far more strongly than any cowardly Democrat careerist pols in the Senate, about what a catastrophe Bush has turned Iraq into. BUT... that doesn't lessen the gravity of the still un-investigated charges about how Hagel and the voting machine company he partially owns were able to steal elections for him and, eventually, pioneer the technological destruction of American democracy leading up to Bush's theft of the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004, respectively in Florida and Ohio.

Dr. Dennis Loo from Cal Poly in Pomona recently published an article, No Paper Trail Left Behind: The Theft Of The 2004 Presidential Election, which I want to summarize before getting to the specifics of the Hagel case. Dr. Loo starts out prosaically enough, with 16 propositions. According to Loo in order "to believe that George Bush won the November 2, 2004 presidential election, you must also believe all of the following extremely improbable or outright impossible things.

1) A big turnout and a highly energized and motivated electorate favored the GOP instead of the Democrats for the first time in history.

2) Even though first-time voters, lapsed voters (those who didn’t vote in 2000), and undecideds went for John Kerry by big margins, and Bush lost people who voted for him in the cliffhanger 2000 election, Bush still received a 3.5 million vote surplus nationally.

3) The fact that Bush far exceeded the 85% of registered Florida Republicans’ votes that he got in 2000, receiving in 2004 more than 100% of the registered Republican votes in 47 out of 67 Florida counties, 200% of registered Republicans in 15 counties, and over 300% of registered Republicans in 4 counties, merely shows Floridians’ enthusiasm for Bush. He managed to do this despite the fact that his share of the crossover votes by registered Democrats in Florida did not increase over 2000 and he lost ground among registered Independents, dropping 15 points.

4) The fact that Bush got more votes than registered voters, and the fact that by stark contrast participation rates in many Democratic strongholds in Ohio and Florida fell to as low as 8%, do not indicate a rigged election.

5) Bush won re-election despite approval ratings below 50%-- the first time in history this has happened. Truman has been cited as having also done this, but Truman’s polling numbers were trailing so much behind his challenger, Thomas Dewey, pollsters stopped surveying two months before the 1948 elections, thus missing the late surge of support for Truman. Unlike Truman, Bush’s support was clearly eroding on the eve of the election.

6) Harris' last-minute polling indicating a Kerry victory was wrong (even though Harris was exactly on the mark in their 2000 election final poll).

7) The “challenger rule”-- an incumbent’s final results won’t be better than his final polling-- was wrong;

8) On election day the early-day voters picked up by early exit polls (showing Kerry with a wide lead) were heavily Democratic instead of the traditional pattern of early voters being mainly Republican.

9) The fact that Bush “won” Ohio by 51-48%, but this was not matched by the court-supervised hand count of the 147,400 absentee and provisional ballots in which Kerry received 54.46% of the vote doesn’t cast any suspicion upon the official tally.

10) Florida computer programmer Clinton Curtis (a life-long registered Republican) must be lying when he said in a sworn affidavit that his employers at Yang Enterprises, Inc. (YEI) and Tom Feeney (general counsel and lobbyist for YEI, GOP state legislator and Jeb Bush’s 1994 running mate for Florida Lt. Governor) asked him in 2000 to create a computer program to undetectably alter vote totals. Curtis, under the initial impression that he was creating this software in order to forestall possible fraud, handed over the program to his employer Mrs. Li Woan Yang, and was told: “You don’t understand, in order to get the contract we have to hide the manipulation in the source code. This program is needed to control the vote in south Florida.”

11) Diebold CEO Walden O’Dell’s declaration in a August 14, 2003 letter to GOP fundraisers that he was "committed to helping Ohio to deliver its electoral votes to the president next year" and the fact that Diebold is one of the three major suppliers of the electronic voting machines in Ohio and nationally, didn’t result in any fraud by Diebold.

12) There was no fraud in Cuyahoga County Ohio where they admitted counting the votes in secret before bringing them out in public to count.

13) CNN reported at 9 p.m. EST on election evening that Kerry was leading by 3 points in the national exit polls based on well over 13,000 respondents. Several hours later at 1:36 a.m. CNN reported that the exit polls, now based on a few hundred more-- 13,531 respondents-- were showing Bush leading by 2 points, a 5-point swing. In other words, a swing of 5 percentage points from a tiny increase in the number of respondents somehow occurred despite it being mathematically impossible.

14) Exit polls in the November 2004 Ukrainian presidential elections, paid for in part by the Bush administration, were right, but exit polls in the U.S., where exit polling was invented, were very wrong.

15) The National Election Pool’s exit polls were so far off that since their inception twenty years ago, they have never been this wrong, more wrong than statistical probability indicates is possible.

16) In every single instance where exit polls were wrong the discrepancy favored Bush, even though statistical probability tells us that any survey errors should show up in both directions. Half a century of polling and centuries of mathematics must be wrong."
Dr Loo points out this list is far from exhaustive and doesn't take into account all the other irregularities, documented vote tampering, and all the tried and true methods the Right uses to discourage minority voters from exercising their franchise. He concludes that "a plethora of reasons clearly exists to conclude that widespread and historic levels of fraud were committed in this election" and then shows how public officials with the connivance of the corporate mass media covered the whole thing up. First off, they labeled the exit polls as spectacularly wrong and then claimed that the recently dubbed "moral values" voters in the so-called "red states" were the reason for Bush's so-called victory (even though the conservative-leaning Economist pointed out that the percentage of American voters citing moral and ethical values as their prime concern (22%) is actually down from 2000 (35%) and 1996 (40%). "And third, people who brought forth any of the evidence of fraud were dismissed as 'spreadsheet-wielding conspiracy theorists' while mainstream media censored the vast majority of the evidence of fraud so that most Americans to this day have never heard a fraction of what was amiss."

The Hagel case was covered spectacularly well by Thom Hartmann for in a piece he wrote January 31, 2003, If You Want To Win An Election, Just Control The Voting Machines. Please bear in mind that Hagel's theft of the Nebraska senate seat was not the only dress rehearsal for Bush's Ohio grand finale's of 2004. Loo also points out that on "Nov. 3, 2002, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll showed Democratic Sen. Max Cleland with a 49-to-44 point lead over Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss. The next day, Chambliss, despite trailing by 5 points, ended up winning by a margin of 53 to 46 percent. This was, in other words, an unbelievable 12-point turn around over the course of one day!

In the Georgia governor's race Republican Sonny Perdue upset incumbent Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes by a margin of 52 to 45 percent. This was especially strange given that the October 16-17, 2002 Mason Dixon Poll (Mason Dixon Polling and Research, Inc. of Washington, D.C.) had shown Democratic Governor Barnes ahead 48 to 39 percent, with a margin of error of ± 4 points. The final tally was, in other words, a jaw dropping 16-point turn-around! What the Cleland 'defeat' by Saxby and the Barnes 'defeat' by Perdue both have in common is that nearly all the Georgia votes were recorded on computerized voting machines, which produce no paper trail.

In Minnesota, after Democrat Sen. Paul Wellstone's plane crash death, ex-vice-president Walter Mondale took Wellstone’s place and was leading Republican Norm Coleman in the days before the election by 47 to 39 percent. Despite the fact that he was trailing just days before the race by 8 points, Coleman beat Mondale by 50 to 47 percent. This was an 11-point turn around! The Minnesota race was also conducted on electronic voting machines with no paper trail.

Welcome to a world where statistical probability and normal arithmetic no longer apply! The Democrats, rather than vigorously pursuing these patently obvious signs of election fraud in 2004, have nearly all decided that being gracious losers is better than being winners, probably because-- and this may be the most important reason for the Democrat’s relative silence-- a full-scale uncovering of the fraud runs the risk of mobilizing and unleashing popular forces that the Democrats find just as threatening as the GOP does."

Hartmann postulates that it is possible that Nebraska radio talk show host Chuck Hagel honestly won both U.S. Senate elections (and that "maybe it's true that the citizens of Georgia simply decided that incumbent Democratic Senator Max Cleland, a wildly popular war veteran who lost three limbs in Vietnam, was, as his successful Republican challenger suggested in his campaign ads, too unpatriotic to remain in the Senate. Maybe George W. Bush, Alabama's new Republican governor Bob Riley, and a small but congressionally decisive handful of other long-shot Republican candidates really did win those states where conventional wisdom and straw polls showed them losing in the last few election cycles.") But his article for CommonDreams doesn't make it sound probable.

He points out that "perhaps, after a half-century of fine-tuning exit polling to such a science that it's now sometimes used to verify how clean elections are in Third World countries, it really did suddenly become inaccurate in the United States in the past six years and just won't work here anymore. Perhaps it's just a coincidence that the sudden rise of inaccurate exit polls happened around the same time corporate-programmed, computer-controlled, modem-capable voting machines began recording and tabulating ballots.

But if any of this is true, there's not much of a paper trail from the voters' hand to prove it.

You'd think in an open democracy that the government-- answerable to all its citizens rather than a handful of corporate officers and stockholders-- would program, repair, and control the voting machines. You'd think the computers that handle our cherished ballots would be open and their software and programming available for public scrutiny. You'd think there would be a paper trail of the vote, which could be followed and audited if a there was evidence of voting fraud or if exit polls disagreed with computerized vote counts." But, he concludes, "You'd be wrong."

And now, as promised, the dope on Hagel. Hartmann draws on research from The Hill to confirm that former conservative radio talk-show host, Senator Chuck Hagel was the head of, and continues to own part interest in, the company that owns the company that installed, programmed, and largely ran the voting machines that were used by most of the citizens of Nebraska. "Back when Hagel first ran there for the U.S. Senate in 1996, his company's computer-controlled voting machines showed he'd won stunning upsets in both the primaries and the general election. The Washington Post (1/13/1997) said Hagel's 'Senate victory against an incumbent Democratic governor was the major Republican upset in the November election.' According to Bev Harris of, Hagel won virtually every demographic group, including many largely Black communities that had never before voted Republican. Hagel was the first Republican in 24 years to win a Senate seat in Nebraska. Six years later Hagel ran again, this time against Democrat Charlie Matulka in 2002, and won in a landslide. As his website says, Hagel 'was re-elected to his second term in the United States Senate on November 5, 2002 with 83% of the vote. That represents the biggest political victory in the history of Nebraska.'

What Hagel's website fails to disclose is that about 80 percent of those votes were counted by computer-controlled voting machines put in place by the company affiliated with Hagel. Built by that company. Programmed by that company.

'This is a big story, bigger than Watergate ever was,' said Hagel's Democratic opponent in the 2002 Senate race, Charlie Matulka. 'They say Hagel shocked the world, but he didn't shock me.' Is Matulka the sore loser the Hagel campaign paints him as, or is he democracy's proverbial canary in the mineshaft?

'The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which all other rights are protected,' wrote Thomas Paine over 200 years ago. 'To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery...'

That slavery, according to Hagel's last opponent Charlie Matulka, is at our doorstep.

'They can take over our country without firing a shot,' Matulka said, 'just by taking over our election systems.'

Taking over our election systems? Is that really possible in the USA?

Bev Harris of and has looked into the situation in depth and thinks Matulka may be on to something. The company tied to Hagel even threatened her with legal action when she went public about his company having built the machines that counted his landslide votes. (Her response was to put the law firm's threat letter on her website and send a press release to 4000 editors, inviting them to check it out.

'I suspect they're getting ready to do this all across all the states,' Matulka said in a January 30, 2003 interview. 'God help us if Bush gets his touch screens all across the country,' he added, 'because they leave no paper trail. These corporations are taking over America, and they just about have control of our voting machines.'

In the meantime, exit-polling organizations have quietly gone out of business, and the news arms of the huge multinational corporations that own our networks are suggesting the days of exit polls are over. Virtually none were reported in 2002, creating an odd and unsettling silence that caused unease for the many American voters who had come to view exit polls as proof of the integrity of their election systems.

As all this comes to light, many citizens and even a few politicians are wondering if it's a good idea for corporations to be so involved in the guts of our voting systems. The whole idea of a democratic republic was to create a common institution (the government itself) owned by its citizens, answerable to its citizens, and authorized to exist and continue existing solely 'by the consent of the governed.'

Prior to 1886-- when, law schools incorrectly tell law students, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations are 'persons' with equal protection and other 'human rights'-- it was illegal in most states for corporations to involve themselves in politics at all, much less to service the core mechanism of politics. And during the era of Teddy Roosevelt, who said, 'There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains,' numerous additional laws were passed to restrain corporations from involvement in politics.

Wisconsin, for example, had a law that explicitly stated:
No corporation doing business in this state shall pay or contribute, or offer consent or agree to pay or contribute, directly or indirectly, any money, property, free service of its officers or employees or thing of value to any political party, organization, committee or individual for any political purpose whatsoever, or for the purpose of influencing legislation of any kind, or to promote or defeat the candidacy of any person for nomination, appointment or election to any political office.
The penalty for violating that law was dissolution of the corporation, and 'any officer, employee, agent or attorney or other representative of any corporation, acting for and in behalf of such corporation' would be subject to 'imprisonment in the state prison for a period of not less than one nor more than five years' and a substantial fine.

However, the recent political trend has moved us in the opposite direction, with governments answerable to 'We, The People' turning over administration of our commons to corporations answerable only to CEOs, boards, and stockholders. The result is the enrichment of corporations and the appearance that democracy in America has started to resemble its parody in banana republics.

But if America still is a democratic republic, then We, The People still own our government. And the way our ownership and management of our common government (and its assets) is asserted is through the vote.

On most levels, privatization is only a 'small sin' against democracy. Turning a nation's or community's water, septic, roadway, prisons, airwaves, or health care commons over to private corporations has so far demonstrably degraded the quality of life for average citizens and enriched a few of the most powerful campaign contributors. But it hasn't been the end of democracy (although some wonder about what the FCC is preparing to do-- but that's a separate story).

Many citizens believe, however, that turning the programming and maintenance of voting over to private, for-profit corporations, answerable only to their owners, officers, and stockholders, puts democracy itself at peril.

And, argues Charlie Matulka, for a former officer of one of those corporations to then place himself into an election without disclosing such an apparent conflict of interest is to create a parody of democracy.

Perhaps Matulka's been reading too many conspiracy theory tracts. Or maybe he's on to something. We won't know until a truly independent government agency looks into the matter. When Bev Harris and The Hill's Alexander Bolton pressed the Chief Counsel and Director of the Senate Ethics Committee, the man responsible for ensuring that FEC disclosures are complete, asking him why he'd not questioned Hagel's 1995, 1996, and 2001 failures to disclose the details of his ownership in the company that owned the voting machine company when he ran for the Senate, the Director reportedly met with Hagel's office on Friday, January 25, 2003 and Monday, January 27, 2003. After the second meeting, on the afternoon of January 27th, the Director of the Senate Ethics Committee resigned his job.

Meanwhile, back in Nebraska, Charlie Matulka had requested a hand count of the vote in the election he lost to Hagel. He just learned his request was denied because, he said, Nebraska has a just-passed law that prohibits government-employee election workers from looking at the ballots, even in a recount. The only machines permitted to count votes in Nebraska, he said, are those made and programmed by the corporation formerly run by Hagel.

Matulka shared his news with me, then sighed loud and long on the phone, as if he were watching his children's future evaporate.

'If you want to win the election,' he finally said, 'just control the machines.'"

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One of my favorite websites, Ron Gunzburger's Politics 1 has a summary this morning called "A WAR HERO FOR THE LEFT." He explains that "If those progressives who oppose the Iraq War want a fallen military hero to adopt as a martyr, the soldier should clearly be Pat Tillman. Check out the detailed new profile ( from the San Francisco Chronicle, in which Tillman's immediate parents, close friends, and fellow Rangers all cooperate to present a detailed look at the life and death of this former pro football star. It turns out Tillman gave up the NFL and joined the Army post-9/11 in his hope to fight Al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan." Gunzburger goes on to explain that while the neo-fascist and raving maniac Ann Coulter praised him after his death as "an American original -- virtuous, pure and masculine like only an American male can be" (although he doesn't mention anything about Coulter's adam's apple of sex change operation), it turns out Tillman was a liberal. "He opposed the Iraq war as 'illegal,' urged his fellow Rangers to support John Kerry for President, and leftist Noam Chomsky was his favorite author. His family is still pressing for a truthful full-scale investigation into his death by friendly fire and the resulting cover-up. The Pentagon just launched a fourth formal review of his death, agreeing the previous three were highly flawed and misleading. 'Pat was a real hero, not what they used him as,' said Tillman's mother, referring to the Bush Administration."

DownWithTyranny has obtained an e-mail sent from Mike Hawk ("Special Officer: GOP- The Christian Unit; 101 st Laptop Division" in Econdido, California) to Bill O'Reilly at the Fox "News" Corporation's O'Reilly Factor. Don't ask me how I got it.

Dear Mr. O'Reilly,

My name is Mike Hawk and my life has been a real tough go the last few years. A real living hell! No matter what I do, I can't seem to get myself completely right with the lord or....with anyone really. It's not that I'm a bad guy. Heck, I'm just like you a walking, talking, breathing poster child/man for good clean traditional living and for fighting the right fight when its right to fight the right fight for the right to fight for the right!
I'm righting to you today Bill because I'm a big fan of your "no spin zone" and I believe deep down that I know the perfect way for us both to avenge ourselves from the latest beat downs we've taken from those hate filled lefties. One strong man of values, helping another strong man. Mike Hawk and you! (I love the sound of that phrase.) Can you hear it?
Recently, I was attacked by some skanky liberals in my neighborhood for trying to recruit young, able bodied men to go fight in this war, our leaders triumphant war in Iraq. Yet, I was accused of lurking and loitering near young able bodied men even though I support this war day in and night out with my red, white and blue flashing lights and with my life size paper mache commander Bush "mission accomplished " statue which stands in front of my condo.
Bill, I want to make it clear to you that I am not a lurker of young men. Heck, I'm a conservative GOP patriotic warrior fighter just like you. A man! A masculine mean wild boar of a man! And just like you Bill, I can give a woman an orgasm like she'll never forget and just like you I enjoy to loofa a woman and rub her boobs at the same time!
Anyway, I'm 100 percent Republicanista but gosh darndit I'm having a real rough time with my tough guy image like you are these days. And Bill also like you my image in the eyes of the lord Jesus has gone to hell in a poop holder.
Now, for instance I saw you take a beating from that Phil Donahue guy the other night and it made me realize how you have to be fair and balanced sometimes and let them rip you to shreds now and again. I understand!
But now Bill its really time to attack again and I know the perfect target. Pat Tillman! I'm sure you know that he and his followers are now against our war in Iraq and slamming our Bush just like that Islamic woman Cindy Sheehan has done. When you attacked her on TV you shined bright and made it look easy. You showed her to be the greedy traitor that she is. We can both do the attacking now together against Tillman, his parents and his followers. I Mike Hawk want to help you start a divine smear campaign against him and his family.
His mother will be easy to shout down and your fancy technique of screaming at people to "shut up" on your show, which btw, I use at the mall all the time, it will be a real WMD! He he he!
I can coordinate the campaign from here in California or you can fly me to the Fox news studios in NYC and we can brainstorm together. I can also enlist The General JC Christian to fight from his compound in Utah. Gosh, you and me, two tough guys fighting evil for America!
Bill, I'm sure once we get rolling we'll even have Karl exacting his ROVENGE on these traitors and then God will no longer be angry at us both for having been taken down by liberal anti war wimps!
I wait for you now to plan this campaign with me.

Valiantly yours,

Mike Hawk



Did you already read your copy of today's JACKSON HOLE STAR-TRIBUNE? If you haven't gotten to it yet, I'll save you the trouble. Wyoming is a GOP bastion (to put it mildly)-- with Repugs controlling the state legislature and all the statewide offices including both Senate seats and the lone congressional seat-- but with a first term, and very popular, Democratic governor, Dave Freudenthal. Freudenthal was able to capitalize on a "time for a change" approach in the otherwise one-party state (where Bush got about 70% in 2004). This past weekend the state Democratic Party had a meeting; I guess in a state with more Democrats it would have been called a convention. Freudenthal said Wyoming Democrats "should distance themselves from liberal national party leaders whose agenda frequently differs from" Wyoming's. Wyoming Democrats should instead focus on local issues that relate to Wyoming residents... I don't care about Howard Dean."

All 75 Democrats in the state were there, as was DNC Vice Chairman Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA). "This is a party that's not afraid of firearms," Freudenthal blathered on, probably forgetting that Dean is not only an NRA member but also a candidate who was endorsed by the NRA. "It's a party where people are interested in whether the governor managed to shoot an antelope with one shot."

Honda, probably shocked by the yahoo Governor trying to make cheap points at Dean's expense, even though Dean is the Party's BIGGEST champion of state organizations, said Democrats have learned a lot of hard lessons in the last few years and are ready now to move forward. "We have a hard time deciding what our core values are and what are issues," he said. "Howard Dean gets that. He's going around the country talking to people." Local policy variances are also something that the DNC can accommodate, he said. "Different places have different culture, and we have to deal with it," Honda said. "Your politics are pretty good. They're down to earth." Freudenthal and Honda both agreed on how the party could gain more power: Focus on local elections and local issues.

However, when asked whether this is the year for big Democratic gains in Wyoming, Freudenthal, sounding like any of the DLC pols who have wrecked the Democratic Party before a grass roots anti-Establishment movement gave Dean the Party chairmanship, said: "I wouldn't hold your breath."
Two names surfaced at the meeting as potential congressional candidates next year: Dale Groutage, a Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District board member (U.S. Senate) and Gary Trauner, chairman of the Teton County School Board, (for the at-large House seat). The STAR-TRIBUNE reports that neither would go into any detail about their ideology or platform should they choose to run.

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Monday, September 26, 2005



The Bush Regime's designated fall guy for the catastrophic breakdown of government in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Michael Brown, was fired after a public outcry about his gross incompetence-- and that of his boss, George Bush. Originally hired because he was a college roommate of one of Bush's closest and most corrupt cronies, Joe Allbaugh, it was hoped Brown would take one for the team and fade quietly into the background. Rumors are flying in D.C. about what dirt the former Arabian horse contest judge has on the Bush crew and tonite CBS News is reporting that BushCo has rehired Brown as a "consultant," presumably to keep him quiescent. He spent the last 10 days shopping his resume and trying to peddle... his reputation?... in an unproductive attempt to find a job.



This weekend as many as 300,000 people showed up to protest Bush's illegal and disastrous occupation of Iraq. (And there was a very sad counter-demonstration by about 60 pro-war people, mostly young congressional staffers from Capitol Hill, the same kind of white collar hooligans who rioted while the Florida election commissioners were trying to count votes in 2000.) Today Cindy Sheehan, holding a photograph of Casey, was arrested and dragged away from the White House for leading the demonstration. According to the Associated Press, Scotty McClellan, Bush's press secretary and an employer of male prostitutes posing as journalists, mumbled that "it's the right of the American people to peacefully express their views. And that's what you're seeing here in Washington, D.C." There were too many people watching and too many television cameras (mostly from other countries) for Cindy to be roughed up or taken to Guantanamo for a little Rumsfeld torture. One of the criminals with whom Bush surrounds himself, Karl Rove, dismissed Cindy and called her "a clown." It's ironic that she's in prison for using the rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution and he's still not in prison for High Treason. But, then again, none of the Bush Crime Family associates-- from Kenny-boy Lay to Tom DeLay and Bob Ney-- are in prison yet.



A few days ago I ran a little interview with "D" the Depeche Mode fanatic from Dallas (via Normal, IL) in a piece called "MORE WINDS THAN KATRINA AND RITA ARE BLOWING." It struck me as odd that even after all we've been through as a nation, "D" was still harkening back to GOP propaganda about Bush being good for business and being a swell guy who one ("D") could enjoy a beer with. Even if Bush HAS fallen off the wagon again and is back to being an uncontrollable lush, it's unlikely that he'll be drinking any brewskis with the "D"s of this country who have been so thoroughly suckered by his down-home image (complete with stage set homestead/KKK pig farm-turned-reality-show-backdrop). It still surprises me that "D," given the chance, would vote for Bush again instead of Gore. 27-year old "D," while acknowledging the U.S. is in the midst of tough times, is still regurgitating the impressions Limbaugh and O'Reilly and the rest of the Far Right Noise Machine etched into his mind. "Gore is like a robot...a president should have charisma...I feel like I could have a beer with Bush...with Gore...very stiff....very scripted." (All those "....s" were what he wrote to me, not me making him look like an idiot.)

One thing "D" and I agree on, though, is that Hillary Clinton is not a good idea for president. To him she's too far to the left. To me, on the contrary, she just seems a bit too corporately-oriented and kind of like a finger-to-the-wind opportunist, NOT A LEADER. I'm sure she'd be a better president than ANY Republican. But that doesn't do much for me. And I have no doubt that I'd vote for her in a general election, not just against a neo-fascist like Brownback or Barbour or Allen or Frist (RIP) or Gingrich, but even against a so-called "moderate" like McCain or Hagel or Guiliano. (How bizarre would it be for the Republicans to field someone like Hagel, talking sense about getting out of Iraq, against Clinton babbling in a mindless-macho manner that over-consulted/DLC Democrats like her think is de rigeur about "staying the course," as she does now?)

So what are progressives to do? I was kind of excited about Wisconsin reformer/Iraq-sensible Russ Feingold-- until he voted to confirm Bush's nomination of Roberts last week. I hope he has a long career in the Senate-- and that when he learns the lesson about what that vote for Roberts meant it isn't a lesson too costly or catastrophic for ordinary Americans. A funny little tinge has been percolating in the recesses of my cranium over the last few months. The tinge-- don't twinge-- is named Al Gore. Look, I wasn't all that excited about him either. I positively detest that vicious censorious wife of his and it rankles me no end to think of that pious hypocrite as First Lady. And his selection of Joe Lieberman as his running mate was one of the worst betrayals of progressives by a Democrat in recent years. But... I really believe that Al Gore has gone through a gigantically character-building crisis in fire since the 2000 election was stolen from him by BushCo. EVERYTHING points to him being a very much better man and a very much better candidate.

Andy is another blogger ( and this week he did a couple of pieces on why he feels Gore may wind up our next president. Almost as though he were answering Dallas "D" he points out that "Back in 2000, to many, Al Gore was an uptight, wonkish bore. But the events of the last 5 1/2 years have greatly enhanced Gore's image. What Al Gore represents today is honesty, integrity and a continuance of the peace and prosperity of the 1990's that he and Bill Clinton masterminded. Bush may still be the guy some want to have a beer with, but Gore's the guy you want running the country... Since 2000, Gore's become an extremely passionate and rousing speaker. He's dropped the stiff wonkish routine and found his mojo. Plus, he's rested, he's confident... He's also squeaky-clean, with no skeletons in his closet, as 2000 proved." Andy feels Hillary appeals to the left of the Democratic Party (though every left-leaning Democrat who hears her positions on Iraq backs away from her really fast). He thinks, probably correctly, that Gore would unite the entire spectrum of Democrats and that he would be overwhelmingly embraced by independents. I think he's right. The only letter I ever had published in the L.A. TIMES was an explanation of why I couldn't vote for Gore in 2000. (A perceived, albeit untrue, tightening of the race forced me to vote for him-- and worse, Lieberman-- in the end.) Now I'm feeling fairly enthusiastic about him.

Unlike most of the other candidates-- including Clinton, the hapless Kerry, and arch-corporatist Biden, all of whom voted in favor of the war against Iraq, with Clinton and Biden still STRONGLY supporting it-- Gore, like Howard Dean, opposed it from the beginning, and for all the right reasons, reasons that have proven prescient (and should disqualify those who supported Bush). Over 60% of Americans now say attacking Iraq was a mistake and way more feel the occupation is a disaster and should end immediately. For many Democrats, Gore, a kind of president-in-exile who at minimum won the popular vote (and to virtually every person who pays attention also the electoral vote, before BushCo was able to steal Florida), is looking like a comeback kid. It plays into a piece of American mythology that voters will respond to very positively.

Sunday, September 25, 2005



A week or two ago I recommended a film, THE CONSTANT GARDENER. I didn't really talk much about the plot, just how much I liked the actors and the film-making itself. But just now, reading Karen Tumulty's piece in next week's TIME Magazine (HOW MANY MORE MIKE BROWNS ARE OUT THERE?), the story line from THE CONSTANT GARDENER came back to me... very strongly. (I won't give anything away, so if you haven't seen it yet, don't worry.) The movie takes place in West Africa (and England), and one of its themes concentrates on how Western pharmaceutical companies with high-up political (hand-and-hand with financial) connections can run rough-shod over the health and welfare of... the natives. Well, reading Tumulty's piece made me realize that it isn't only the Kenyans but also us Americanos who are "the natives" being (rough-)shod on. The film makes a point about how British/multi-national policy, a policy operating on the peripheries of what we like to think of in the West as our electoral democracy, leads very directly to abuses like murder, torture, maybe a little genocide. Of course with George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and people like that in charge, do we really have to worry about surreptitious murder, torture and genocide?

The story in TIME is about how Bush's appointments to the federal bureaucracy have been catastrophic in more ways than just Mike "Brownie" Brown's at FEMA. I've been working on doing a longer piece on that topic, and how the Bush Regime has become a dumping ground for incompetent cronies, political hacks and starry-eyed, faith-based neophytes, far right ideologues and a bizarre array of extremist misanthropes, and I hope to have it done soon. Meanwhile, though, I want to get right to a section of Tumulty's story on the Food and Drug Administration (which I dealt with recently because of Bush's tendency to appoint religionist nuts/veterinarians to jobs which seem to call for medical experts and people with mind's dedicated to the scientific process).

"Nowhere in the federal bureaucracy," explains Tumulty, "is it more important to insulate government experts from the influences of politics and special interests than at the Food and Drug Administration, the agency charged with assuring the safety of everything from new vaccines and dietary supplements to animal feed and hair dye. That is why many within the department, as well as in the broader scientific community, were startled when, in July, Scott Gottlieb was named deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs, one of three deputies in the agency's second-ranked post at FDA. His official FDA biography notes that Gottlieb, 33, who got his medical degree at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, did a previous stint providing policy advice at the agency, as well as at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and was a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. What the bio omits is that his most recent job was as editor of a popular Wall Street newsletter, the Forbes/Gottlieb Medical Technology Investor, in which he offered such tips as 'Three Biotech Stocks to Buy Now.' In declaring Gottlieb a 'noted authority' who had written more than 300 policy and medical articles, the biography neglects the fact that many of those articles criticized the FDA for being too slow to approve new drugs and too quick to issue warning letters when it suspects ones already on the market might be unsafe. FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford, who resigned suddenly and without explanation last Friday, wrote in response to e-mailed questions that Gottlieb is 'talented and smart, and I am delighted to have been able to recruit him back to the agency to help me fulfill our public-health goals.' But others, including Jimmy Carter-era FDA Commissioner Donald Kennedy, a former Stanford University president and now executive editor-in-chief of the journal Science, say Gottlieb breaks the mold of appointees at that level who are generally career FDA scientists or experts well known in their field. 'The appointment comes out of nowhere. I've never seen anything like that,' says Kennedy. Gottlieb's financial ties to the drug industry were at one time quite extensive. Upon taking his new job, he recused himself for up to a year from any deliberations involving nine companies that are regulated by the FDA and 'where a reasonable person would question my impartiality in the matter.' Among them are Eli Lilly, Roche and Proctor & Gamble, according to his Aug. 5 'Disqualification Statement Regarding Former Clients,' a copy of which was obtained by TIME. Gottlieb, though, insists that his role at the agency is limited to shaping broad policies, such as improving communication between the FDA, doctors and patients, and developing a strategy for dealing with pandemics of such diseases as flu, West Nile virus and SARS. Would he ever be involved in determining whether an individual drug should be on the market? 'Of course not,' Gottlieb told TIME. 'Not only wouldn't I be involved in that ... But I would not be in a situation where I would be adjudicating the scientific or medical expertise of the (FDA) on a review matter. That's not my role. It's not my expertise. We defer to the career staff to make scientific and medical decisions.'
Behind the scenes, however, Gottlieb has shown an interest in precisely those kinds of deliberations. One instance took place on Sept. 15, when the FDA decided to stop the trial of a drug for multiple sclerosis during which three people had developed an unusual disorder in which their bodies eliminated their blood platelets and one died of intracerebral bleeding as a result. In an e-mail obtained by Time, Gottlieb speculated that the complication might have been the result of the disease and not the drug. 'Just seems like an overreaction to place a clinical hold' on the trial, he wrote. An FDA scientist rejected his analysis and replied that the complication 'seems very clearly a drug-related event.' Two days prior, when word broke that the FDA had sent a 'non-approvable' letter to Pfizer Inc., formally rejecting its Oporia drug for osteoporosis, senior officials at the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research received copies of an e-mail from Gottlieb expressing his surprise that what he thought would be a routine approval had been turned down. Gottlieb asked for an explanation. Gottlieb defends his e-mails, which were circulated widely at the FDA. 'Part of my job is to ask questions both so I understand how the agency works, and how it reaches its decisions,' he told TIME. However, a scientist at the agency said they 'really confirmed people's worst fears that he was only going to be happy if we were acting in a way that would make the pharmaceutical industry happy.' The Oporia decision gave Pfizer plenty of reason to be unhappy: the drug had been expected to produce $1 billion a year in sales for the company. Pfizer's stock fell 1.4% the day the rejection was announced. The FDA has not revealed why it rejected the drug, and Pfizer has said it is 'considering various courses of action' that might resuscitate its application for approval. Health experts note that Gottlieb's appointment comes at a time of increased tension between the agency and drug companies, which are concerned that new drugs will have a more difficult time making it onto the market in the wake of the type of safety problems that persuaded Merck to pull its best-selling painkiller Vioxx from the market last year. The agency's independence has also come under question, most recently with its decision last month to prevent the emergency contraceptive known as Plan B from being sold over the counter, after an FDA advisory panel recommended it could be. That Gottlieb sits at the second tier of the agency, critics say, sends anything but a reassuring signal."

Many voters in this country laughed at Bush's studied goofiness in 1999 (and brushed off his long history of alcohol and cocaine abuse) and comforted themselves that his dad had found "adults"-- Cheney and Rumsfeld-- to watch him and help him understand things that were clearly beyond his ken. But we learned the hard way that a steep presidential learning curve comes with a price tag, a price tag paid for by the victims of 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina, two egregious examples. In both cases Bush and his Regime, including "the adults," were asleep at the wheel-- at best.

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