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Political Books






Religious Books -- Not Fundamentalist!

The Fundamentalist Xtians should not be allowed to hijack the language of Christianity. They are at least as much heretics to Christianity as the Arians and Gnostics of early Christian days.




Biblical inerrancy is not possible.


The books both above and below show the limitations of language and the impossibility of Biblical Inerrancy.

How can language be misused? Using General Semantics, this book was Written to explain Nazi propaganda and still used as a textbook


Books - Popular Math, Post Enlightenment & Science

This book explains why the above books on Christian Fundamentalism are politically important in America today.


Modern Society measures risk & predicts possible futures. The book below is a higly readable history of insurance, statistics and modern financial instruments.

Compare this to religion, in which it is presumed that the perfect society was known in the past and all that is necessary to do is to return to that perfect society.


Fascinating, highly readable and fun book on modern mathematics and its limitations. If you are interested in ideas, this is your book!

This is a collection of Hofstader's Scientific American articles. Again, a very fascinationg and highly readable book, requiring no mathematical background. (Buy it used - it is one of the books that will keep disappearing.)

Older, very fascinating book on mathematical ideas. Did you know there are three kinds of infinity?


Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Study - All Bush job growth from government spending
The Economic Policy Institute reports:
Changes in tax law since 2001 reduced federal government revenue by $870 billion through September 2005. Supporters of these tax cuts have touted them as great contributors to growth in jobs and pay. But, in reality, private-sector job growth since 2001 has been disappointing, and a closer look at the new jobs created shows that federal spending—not tax cuts—are responsible for the jobs created in the past five years.
That means that the additional trillions in national debt that Bush has saddled our children with to give tax cuts to the super wealthy has done absolutely nothing to grow the economy.

This is class warfare with a vengence. The rich feed off the middle class and the poor. and give nothing back.
posted by Richard @ 4:58 PM   0 comments
The Enron Trial
Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling, the two top executives of Enron, are on trial in Houston starting yesterday. Today the Houston Chronicle offers us a Special Report on the trial. This is their take on what it is about, who the principle characters are, and links to three Chronicle-hosted blogs on the trial. It is worth looking over closely.
posted by Richard @ 10:12 AM   0 comments
Monday, January 30, 2006
Preview of the SOTU
Hey, this one has some funny parts. When the real one is given tomorrow night, there won't be much to keep you awake.

Click Here
posted by Richard @ 6:50 AM   0 comments
Sunday, January 29, 2006
"All they want is their land back"
The big election win by Hamas in Palestine has caused a lot of naval gazing and comments by the punditocracy trying to decipher or explain what it means. Patrick Lang gives us his interpretation. The Palestinians just want their land back.

Not just Gaza and all of the West Bank. They want all of it. All of Palestine. All the way to the water's edge at the Mediterranean.

"We will continue to fight against the occupation..." Hamas speaker in Gaza.

Occupation---- Interesting word. The sweet in nature and soft of head have heard that kind of language a lot from Palestinians (and generally heard in it what they wished). "All we want is our land back.." It took me some time to understand that what is really meant is all of Palestine, all of it, maybe a piece now, a sliver later. Maybe it will take more generations of struggle and death. "I will struggle and live in misery and pain, but my grandson will live free in his own land." I have heard that many times, from Muslims, from Palestinian Christians.

The "occupied" have a certain right to be deceptive and disingenuous in pursuit of what they see as FREEDOM.

The Palestinians know they can't eliminate Israel by conventional war, so they are involved in an extremely sophisticated political process. Terrorist actions keep the pot boiling, political actions gain the ground. Add to this a regular increase in population in the occupied Palestine territories and Gaza. That racks up the pressure on the Israelis and those who support them.

The one thing that will lose the battle to regain all their land is to accept an agreement that there will be two states, side-by-side. That will close off further gains through political actions. But negotiations towards such an agreement set the conditions within which they can continue to get more concessions. There needs to be an illusion that progress is possible and is being made.

Arafat refused to accept a "final" agreement when it was offered to him. This closed down the illusion of progress, and resulted in the West refusing to negotiate with him further. So Hamas escalated the terrorism. The Palestinians made no more progress in their long term goal until Arafat died, changing the situation. But the long term appearance of progress in negotiations remained. So Fatah also had to go.

The election of Hamas to replace Fatah in the Palestinian Parliament means that the previous negotiations are dead. All progress is gone. Reset to "Go."

Except that "Go" will start from a point of all concessions already made to the Palestinians. The most recent concessions will be the new starting position from which future negotiations will be worked out.

But don't worry. Hamas can be dealt with. They'll negotiate.

All they want is their land back.



[See earlier article Hamas win - only ignorant Americans are surprised.]
posted by Richard @ 11:41 PM   0 comments
Conservatives have fought White House power since 9/11
It isn't just Democrats who think that the Bush/Cheney White House has been working hard to destroy the American Rule of Law. Newsweek has a lengthy article describing how many conservative political appointees in the Executive Branch have been fighting against White House overreach and lawlessness for several years now.

Then Technorati links (at this time 01 29 2005 10:40 PM CDT) 65 blog comments on this article.
posted by Richard @ 10:41 PM   0 comments
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Analysis shows that Abramoff gave a lot less to Democrats.
New research show that Abramoff lowered donatiois from his clients to Democrats and increased donations to Republicans. See here.. When do Deberoh Howell and Tim Russert get the facts?
posted by Richard @ 1:01 AM   0 comments
Friday, January 27, 2006
Hamas win - Only ignorant Americans are surprised
Shock! Horror! Hamas has taken over the Palestinian Parliament and no one was expecting it!

Yeah, right. Maybe the Bush administration wasn't expecting it. These, of course, are the same guys who according to Jerry Bremer didn't expect an insurgency in Iraq, either.

Here is the view of the Hamas election win from a Syrian who now lives in Silver Springs, Md.:
"Hamas’ electoral victory, although billed as a “surprise” or a “shock” by many newspapers, did not really come as a major surprise to most observers of Palestinian politics. In fact, the whole reason why Abu Mazin seemed to have entertained postponing the elections for a while was directly related to his firm conviction that holding the elections at this point in time will result in a surrounding victory by Hamas.

Still, we have to realize that Hamas’s victory does not come as mandate for holy war against Israel. Rather, the holy war that the majority of the Palestinians want is one against corruption and inefficient rule and for improving the quality of life and the living standards of the average Palestinian.

As such, should Hamas attempts to use this victory to increase its hostile activities against Israel, it will in fact be shooting itself in the foot, though this is indeed the kind of course that many Hamas leaders seem disposed to advocate at this stage, especially those currently living outside the territories (who do have quite a few backers inside as well)."
THIS ELECTION RESULT WAS NOT A SURPRISE!

The apparent "shock" with which the American news community has taken the result seems to me to be a super simplistic propaganda technique designed to inflame American opinion against the Palestanians and their backers, Muslims in general.

No, I am not proposing that this is a plot being advanced by a propaganda coup of some kind. It is worse. This is a systemic failure of American ratings-driven so-called news to even comprehend the events they are attempting to report.

Americans don't speak foreign languages - and in the media this includes Spanish. TV news has to bring in ad revenue just like entertainment, and whichever item attracts more ad revenue wins. Winning means you get more resources to present your product to the public with.

Foreign "news" only brings in ad revenue when it is extreme and shocking, so the cost of keeping foreign bureaus where specialists actually understand thjose cultures and what is really going on does not pay. It doesn't attract enough eyeballs to cause resource to be given to expand it.

For similar reasons, newspapers themselves carry less total non-entertainment news, and the rules of news start with providing the local news first. The further way an event is from the potential reader, the less likely it is to be offered to that reader. Something arcane from a foreign culture, worse, something in a foreign language, quickly drops off the radar. It doesn't get published.

The result is a massive number of distant news events that are available to jingoists and politicians who personally gain by frightening people. Such people can easily "explain" the events they publicize in simplistic, frightening soundbites.

While the jingoists can use foreign events to advance their causes, the general news media no longer support the experts who understand the real, complex social events that caused those events. There are no opponents to the ideology-driven jingoists who can provide the news media with contrasting, nuanced, and more realistic understanding of what is really going on. That is, they don't give us a view of the Islamic Middle East that doesn't depend (as in this case) on stereotypes of crazy suicidal myscogynistic camel-riders in turbins who hate us because of our freedoms.
This is less a plot by the "masters of the media" than it is a case of people who are using the systemic weaknesses of the mass media to benefit their own causes. This is actually worse than an easy-to-comprehend plot by some cartoon hidden-masters-of-the-media. Guys like that coult easily be identified, caught and exposed. The reality is a series of rats who exploit weaknesses in the existing mass media and its rather poor fit with the culture it supposedly informs.

Take some time to investigate the causes of the Hamas wins in the Palestinian Parliament. Find out (as a small part of your investigation) how the Israelis have been using Hamas to weaken Araffat's al Fatah. Look at how the American right-wing has been using the Muslim threat against the Israelis to inflame American public opinion. [And don't entirely buy that, either!]

How is this effecting Amerian national politics? Consider how would Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld interact.

Assume that Dick Cheney has a limited understanding of the complexity that is going on in international relations, and Bush doesn't. Bush, as the dynastic heir to the Presidency, is the mouthpiece for soundbites. Unfortunately, he is also making his decisions based on that simplistic sound-bite view. Cheney can suggest that his decisions may be wrong, but only does so if it meets his needs. Then step over to look at Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld is fascinated by the organization and use of the military, and Cheney's manipulations help him to do what he wants done. As long as Cheney supports him, Rumsfeld will stay in the immensley powerful position of Secretary of Defense.

Bush gets what he wants because his needs are purely psychological. He winds up being considered as the superior being that his mere abilities do not allow him to be in reality. Instead of continually failing in everything he does, his position permits him to believe he is out-doing his father. [Since it isn't working well, he no longer communicates with his father. That would present his world-view to the very criticism he fears so much]

All three get what they each personally want by selling the oversimplification of international relations to the Americans who are otherwise poorly served by the systemic inability of American news media to accurately portray international relations to the American public.

The problem with the media is that in effectthey are presenting a cartoon model and expecting surgeons to make the decisions required to perform surgery on a real person. Cartoons don't present enough information with which to do that.

The blogosphere may help us to add the complexity that makes international relations possible. So go read SOJ, Amarji and perhaps Haaretz. And don't stop there. Keep looking for other non-American sources of information. We are much too restricted here in the real information that is available.
posted by Richard @ 8:15 PM   0 comments
Haaretz on the Hamas election
Forget what Bush says about the election that Hamas just won in Palestine. Bushg is watching from the sidelines just like everyone else in the world outside Israel and Palestine.

The key to the way the world will react is going to be how Israel reacts. So says Nazir Majali in the English on-line version of Haaretz. The problem is that the Israelis, like everyone else including the members of Hamas, are still stunned and don't know how they are going to react.
It is worthwhile to examine, for example, who established Hamas and who encouraged it, and why those who did this have not been called to account for it. And it is worthwhile to ask whether the strategy of "getting rid of (Yasser) Arafat" was correct and did not make a crucial contribution to the situation today.
[Boldfacing mine] This refers to the fact that Hamas was created and supported by Israelis as a counterweight to Arrafat's al Fatah.

This could be a good situation and it could be bad. There are as yet no real indicators that suggest what will happen next.
posted by Richard @ 7:59 AM   0 comments
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Alito vote gives Chafee heartburn
Lincoln Chafee, the Liberal Republican Senator from Democratic Rhode Island, is in a quandry on how to vote on Alito. This is from the Washington Post:

Chafee faces a primary challenge from Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey (R). Should he get through that race, he will face off against either former state Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse (D) or Secretary of State Matt Brown (D) in a state that went for the Democratic presidential candidate by 20 points in 2004.

A Chafee vote for Alito will make for considerable fodder for either Brown or Whitehouse. But a vote against Alito could give Laffey the GOP nomination.

From my position as an outsider, this looks like a good chance of a Democratic pickup in the Senate.
posted by Richard @ 7:28 PM   0 comments
Abramoff has White House running scared.
The White House has said that pictures of Bush together with Abramoff are not particularly important, and the Press is making too much of the story. Yet as of today, January 26, 2006, photos of Abramoff with G. W. Bush are being removed from the files. Josh Marshall at TPM is on the story:

TPM 11:59 AM.
The White House appears to be actively scrubbing files of pictures that show Bush and Abramoff together. Not only have such photos clearly been removed from the on-line catalog of Reflections Photography, they have also been deleted from the archive CD’s the company keeps as back-up. The evidence is clear that the pictures were there previously and are now gone. The President of Reflections admits that she has been removing the pictures from the files.

TPM - 2:49 PM
The photos that are missing are not stored in Google or The Wayback Machine. Probably never were.

TPM - 4:05 PM
Josh Marshall reports that it is not a single photo that has been removed from Reflections Photography’s files. It is multiple photos.

TPM - 5:10 PM
Reflections Photography is now pulling entire events from the archives.

The White House is trying to down-play the importance of pictures of Abramoff together with G. W. Bush. Their behavior clearly belies their words -- as usual.
posted by Richard @ 7:07 PM   0 comments
I don't mind my cat sleeping on the top of the monitor
In fact, I think it is cute. It is a warm place (important to cats) and it is close to me. The latter surprises me.

Knowing that cats are NOT pack animals, I was surprised how social this one is. I must admit that I wonder if my monitor is under warranty if it gets full of cat hair and suddently does the smoking - sparking - blank thing.

But one thing I really don't like.

She wants to get up to the monitor top, so she leaps from the floor to my knee to the monitor. Always starting from behind me where I don't see her coming. My first warning is a heavy weight on my knee. It is always a surprise, and over before I get a chance to even move.

I wonder if she can be trained to use a ladder? If she someday gives me a heart attack from the surprise, she'll be sorry.

Oh, yeah. I almost forgot. She's a cat. She'll be sorry. For maybe ten seconds until she figures another route to the top of the monitor.
posted by Richard @ 7:06 AM   0 comments
Filibuster Alito - sign a petition here
Alito favors entrenched power over the average American. Roberts has already added his vote to that of Scalia and Scalia-lite, Thomas. Alito will shift the Supreme Court far to the right and damage America for the next 40 years or so.
People for the American way has already gotten 65,000 signatures on a petition to stop Alito. Add your name to the list here.

Then write the following Senators to ask them to vote "NO" on Alito! and to filibuster the final vote.

DEMOCRATS
Daniel Akaka,
Max Baucus,
Joe Biden,
Robert Byrd,
Kent Conrad,
Tom Harkin,
Jim Jeffords,
Ted Kennedy,
John Kerry,
Frank Lautenberg,
Patrick Leahy,
Carl Levin,
Joe Lieberman,
Barbara Mikulski,
Harry Reid,
Jay Rockefeller, and
Paul Sarbanes.

EPUBLICANS
Lamar Alexander,
Lincoln Chafee,
Susan Collins,
Olympia Snowe, and
Ted Stevens.

Add your own names.
posted by Richard @ 6:31 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Are you allowed to fly? How do you know?
Are you allowed to fly in the United States or Europe anymore? Most of us will not know until we try. Read this from Capital Hill Blue. Some 80,000 people, including Senator U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., U.S. Rep. John Lewis D-Ga., and even actor David Nelson from The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet are on the list.

Once you are on the list, you will not be told why and you cannot get off (unless you are a Senator.)

No reason for you to be on the list? Tell that to Edward Allen of Houston, Texas. Or to his parents. Edward is four years old and was stopped along with his mother when they tried to board of plane over the 2005 Christmas holidays.

The problem isn't so much that some people should not be allowed on planes. The problem is that the reason you were placed on the list is secret and there are no procedures for correcting obvious errors.

But this is the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld administration. Secrecy and tyranny are their reason to exist.
posted by Richard @ 2:41 PM   0 comments
Inside Bush's head
Here is a letter to the editor from the Spokesman Review that really points to the failed Bush "Presidency."
Letters to the editor
A look inside Bush's head

Let's imagine a candidate for president of the United States with the following psychological tendencies.

He views the world in absolutes and opposites – good or evil, right or wrong, friend or enemy, victory or defeat.

Believing he is always right, he is unmoved by evidence to the contrary. So he won't compromise, pay attention to critics, or consider changing his mind.

He thinks political slogans can explain away objective realities, so he cherry-picks his facts and knowingly misrepresents the true situation.

Certain that a higher power guides him, he assumes his government would naturally have the approval of the higher power. He thinks some religious beliefs should hold sway over science.

Wishing to become a great historical figure in world affairs, he longs for an evangelical mission of international deliverance.

Knowing his motives are pure, he would break the laws he is sworn to uphold, and favor unlimited executive powers to be exercised in secret.

These tendencies are anti-democratic and dysfunctional, so a person who has them ought to be last in line for consideration as president, wouldn't you think? Or, if such a person already were the president, you would hasten to shorten his tenure, wouldn't you?


Lee Freese
Pullman
posted by Richard @ 2:11 PM   0 comments
Monday, January 23, 2006
Watch the Economy react to the November election.
You can fool all of the people some of the time ... (fill in the rest for yourself.)

Bush approval has fallen to 36% according to ARG (American research Group.)

Why has Bush fallen back to record lows? Here is a hint:
A total of 14% of Americans say the national economy is getting better, which is down from 30% in December and 52% say the national economy is getting worse, which is up from 40% in December. When asked about the national economy a year from now, 15% say it will be better, which is down from 28% in December, and 62% say it will be worse, which is up from 39% in December.
The anticipated economy more than the ecurrent one is key to such very low approval ratings for Bush, but it won't effect only Bush. This has to really concern the Congressional Republicans, especially those running for Congress in November.

Expect the Federal Reserve to start lowering interest rates again to influence the election, and they'll have to do it soon. (This prediction is based on my belief that the Federal Reserve prefers to see Republicans elected to Congress and the Presidency.)

The timing of such rate lowering must allow for the delay between the time lowered rates are announced and the time the results of the announcement begins to actually effect the economy. Lowered rates in March will start improving housing starts and real estate sales over the Summer when people move to avoid forcing their children to change schools in the middle of a schooly year. If the rate change is any later than March the delays between getting a home loan and actually moving will be too late to hit the Summer deadline. After August economic improvement will be too late to convince voters that the economy has really changed by the election in early November.

Since the most recent increases of interest rates by the Fed have been a minimal quarter percent each month, I would expect them to reduce rates by a half percentage point in March. Rate increases were minimal but regular in order to not spook the real estate and bond markets. The decrease will be intended to surprise those markets favorably, so I think that a half-percent decrease is likely.

If the Fed decides to stay neutral for the November 2006 election then this will not occur. I don't think the Fed has been neutral since Greenspan took over, and now that he is leaving nothing changes that.
posted by Richard @ 1:39 PM   0 comments
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Dean highly successful in fundraising for Dems.
Reddhead at FireDogLake has an excellent analysis of how effective Howard Dean has been in fund raising for the Democratic Party.

Don't buy the Republican talking points that Dean is a failure. In fact he has successfully increased (Yep. increased) Democratic fundraising enough to make the Republicans quite nervous. That's why the Republicans are bad-mounting him.

Of course, the corporate-owned so-called mainstream media is reporting the Republoican talking points without investigating their accuracy or motivation. That's so the Republican screamers won't accuse them of being the Liberal media - or, as Debrah Howell who is "ombudsman" for the Washingon Post has recently proven, the so-called objetive media is in fact in bed with the Republicans and don't report unbiased news. (See Washington Post Ombudman Deborah Howell Says "Uncle!") by Brad DeLong at TPM Cafe. Be sure to check the links and read the comments to get the whole story.)
posted by Richard @ 8:58 PM   0 comments
Bloomberg reports facts - Republican talking point killed
The talking point is that Abramoff donated "campaign contributions" to both Democrats and Republicans. Bloomberg crunched numbers and reported the following:
U.S. President George W. Bush calls indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff ``an equal money dispenser'' who helped politicians of both parties. Campaign donation records show Republicans were a lot more equal than Democrats.

Between 2001 and 2004, Abramoff gave more than $127,000 to Republican candidates and committees and nothing to Democrats, federal records show. At the same time, his Indian clients were the only ones among the top 10 tribal donors in the U.S. to donate more money to Republicans than Democrats.

Bush, in the Fox News interview, said of Abramoff: ``It seems to me that he was an equal money dispenser, that he was giving money to people in both political parties.''

White House spokeswoman Erin Healy said yesterday that Bush was making the point that Abramoff's links weren't exclusively Republican. ``The president was referring to press reports showing Mr. Abramoff, his clients and associates have contributed to both Democrats and Republicans alike,'' Healy said.

``Republicans are bending over backwards to exaggerate the links'' between Democrats and Abramoff, said Phil Singer, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

``This is a Republican scandal that involves Republican lawmakers doing favors for a Republican lobbyist.''

Bush's comment about Abramoff in a Dec. 14 Fox News interview was aimed at countering Democratic accusations that Republicans have brought a ``culture of corruption'' to Washington. Even so, the numbers show that ``Abramoff's big connections were with the Republicans,'' said Larry Noble, the former top lawyer for the Federal Election Commission, who directs the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics.

[Snip]

Between 2001 and 2004, Abramoff joined with his former partner, Michael Scanlon, and tribal clients to give money to a third of the members of Congress, including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, according to records of the Federal Election Commission and Internal Revenue Service. At least 171 lawmakers got $1.4 million in campaign donations from the group. Republicans took in most of the money, with 110 lawmakers getting $942,275, or 66 percent of the total.

Of the top 10 political donors among Indian tribes in that period, three are former clients of Abramoff and Scanlon: the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians of California. All three gave most of their donations to Republicans -- by margins of 30 percentage points or more -- while the rest favored Democrats.

[Snip]

The Saginaw Chippewas gave $500,500 to Republicans between 2001 and 2004 and $277,210 to Democrats, according to a review of data compiled by Dwight L. Morris & Associates, a Bristow, Virginia-based company that tracks campaign-finance reports. Between 1997 and 2000, the tribe gave just $158,000 to Republicans and $279,000 to Democrats.

[Snip]

The other names most frequently mentioned in connection with Abramoff are both Republicans: DeLay, a one-time friend who has cut off contact with the lobbyist, and Senator Conrad Burns of Montana. Burns, who is facing criticism in his home state for being the top recipient of Abramoff-related donations, said on Dec. 16 he planned to give back to the tribes about $150,000 in contributions from Abramoff, his associates and tribal clients.
Sure does looks like a Republican-only scandal.
posted by Richard @ 7:36 PM   0 comments
Where are the real Democrats? Not in Washingtion, that's for sure.
I have wondered why the Republicans keep winning elections with their clearly out-of-the-mainstream positions, and now Mollie Ivins explains it. The Republicans have generally bad policies to run on, but they have leaders in Washington who actually lead their party instead of pandering to the "center" or the latest focus-group-tested talking point.
There are times when regular politics will not do, and this is one of those times.

What kind of courage does it take, for mercy's sake? The majority of the American people think the war in Iraq is a mistake and we should get out. The majority (65 percent) of the American people want single-payer health care and are willing to pay more taxes to get it. The majority (86 percent) favor raising the minimum wage. The majority (60 percent) favor repealing Bush's tax cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. The majority (66 percent) want to reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes.

The majority (77 percent) think we should do "whatever it takes" to protect the environment. The majority (87 percent) think big oil companies are gouging consumers and would support a windfall profits tax. That is the center, you fools. Whom are you afraid of?

I listen to people like Rahm Emanuel superciliously explaining elementary politics to us clueless naifs outside the Beltway ("First, you have to win elections"). Can't you even read the damn polls?

Here's a prize example by someone named Barry Casselman, who writes, "There is an invisible civil war in the Democratic Party, and it is between those who are attempting to satisfy the defeatist and pacifist left base of the party and those who are attempting to prepare the party for successful elections in 2006 and 2008."
Oh come on, people — get a grip on the concept of leadership. Look at this war — from the lies that led us into it, to the lies they continue to dump on us daily.

You sit there in Washington so frightened of the big, bad Republican machine you have no idea what people are thinking. I'm telling you right now, Tom DeLay is going to lose in his district. If Democrats in Washington haven't got enough sense to own the issue of political reform, I give up on them entirely.

Do it all, go long, go for public campaign financing for Congress. That is the only reform that will work, and you know it, as well as everyone else who's ever studied this. Do all the goo-goo stuff everybody has made fun of all these years: embrace redistricting reform, House rules changes, the whole package. Put up or shut up. Own this issue, or let Jack Abramoff politics continue to run your town.

Bush, Cheney and Co. will continue to play the patriotic bully card just as long as you let them. War brings out the patriotic bullies. In World War I, they went around kicking dachshunds because they were "German dogs." They did not, however, go around kicking German shepherds. The minute someone impugns your patriotism for opposing this war, turn on them like a snarling dog and explain what loving your country really means. Or eviscerate them with wit (look up Mark Twain on the war in the Philippines). Or point out the latest in the endless "string of bad news."

Do not sit there cowering and pretending the only way to win is as Republican-lite. If the Washington-based party can't get up and fight, we'll find someone who can.
The Democrats in Washington have imported a single leader. Howard Dean. And he gets silenced more often than not because when he stands up and tells the truth (67% or so of Republican voters really are extremist so-called Christians) no one else in that city stands up to support him, and no one outside the beltway is considered to matter.

The only person in the media punditocracy that stands up for Democratic and Progressive causes is Mollie Ivins.

So that gives Democrats and Progressives one person inside the beltway and one who is syndicated in the corporate mainstream media willing to lead and give voice to our positions - even though the majority of American agree with us.
posted by Richard @ 6:42 PM   0 comments
Saturday, January 21, 2006
What is a newpaper?
A newspaper is a social institution that provides information needed by its customers.

At its most basic, a newspaper is the greensheet. People who want to sell something advertise. People who want to buy will pick up the paper and find the product they want. The payment for the advertisement pays for the cost of assembling and organizing the ads and delivering them to the potential buyers.

Sellers get wide distribution of their products at low cost. The greensheet offers them a forum in which to advertise and potential buyers pick it up in order to se what is available to meet their desires and compare prices and locations. But this is pure advertising. What is news for?

If someone wants to buy news, there are a number of newletters available. They are generally rather expensive and have limited distributions.

But general news can be used to attract potential customers and give them advertisements to browse. So advertisers, the potential sellers, pay in advance to try to change your behavior. If you get news that might effect your decisions for free, generally you will spend the time to read it. Or watch it if it is news on TV. Most of us find that gettng money is harder than getting time, so we'll spend time reading or viewing advertisements before we spend money.

The price of a newpaper, normally $.50, is so low as to be irrelevant. USA Today charges $0.75 per day, but it sells largely to travelers who are expected to pay more than the price they pay at home. It goes back to the idea that money you spend while travelling is not worth as much as money you spend at home.

So what makes a normal newspaper different from the greensheet where customers read it purely to get the advertisments? It gets people to read the news because they need that information, they then are (as a side effect) given access to the advertisements provided and paid for by the sellers. Such advertisements present information to the potential purchaser that induce them to buy products or services they otherwise would have been unaware of.

It is this provision of unanticipated information to individuals looking for new information (not related to the products or services being sold) which makes newspapers or most television profitable. Unfortunately, both newspapers and TV are losing the eye-ball time to the internet.

The internet provides the information many of us are looking for without the garbage data we don't want to waste time on. Advertisers are no longer willing to waste their money on Newspapers and TV as much.

So what is a newspaper?

It is an information media that attracts an audience becaue of the value of the information it provides to its readers. That's the greemsheet and other such free advertiser paid information.

Providing the same information to more readers lowers total cost per reader/viewer. That is, there is a lower cost per reader/viewer if you provide the same informatiom to more people. That also lowers to cost per eyeball to each advertiser. This is why "news" is attached to the reader - advertiser connection. The important element is to get more readers or viewer to watch the same advertisements. "News" is the way to do this.

"News" is whatever causes more eyeballs to pass over the same advertisements. It is in competion with entertainment at all times.

Newspapers (and by extension free TV stations) exist by attracting eyeballs to more advertisements. That is the primary function of such institutions. Not news, and not entertainment. Purely eyeballs to advertisements.

Is it any wonder that we get less and less real news over recent years?
posted by Richard @ 8:18 PM   0 comments
Friday, January 20, 2006
Rove to make security the top issue in November 2006
Karl Rove has stated that Republicans should make Security the top issue in the up-coming election in November 2006. This is to counter the effort of Democrats to emphasize the Republican culture of corruption which is clearly growing more visible daily to anyone who reads the news.

Good move on Rove's part. He got Bush barely reelected based on the security issue and when times get tough, the tough fall back on tried-and-true methods.

Reed Hundt at TPM Cafe describes Rove's routine technique. Rove normally takes a weakness of the candidates he supports and turns that weakness into an attack on his candidate's opponents. But has he gone to the well with this technique too often?

Hundt points out several ways the Democrats can turn this attack back on to the Republicans by strongly and repeatedly making the point that protecting American security is a major failure of Bush and the Republicans. Do this by first emphazing:
  • the failure to catch Osama bin Laden (as well as Mullah Omar and Zarkawi.)
  • the failure to train Iraqi soldiers and police (as well as the failure to foresee the insurgency and prepare for it, particularly the failure to listen to Gen. Shinseki who predicted the need for more troops during the occupation.
  • The failure to bring in Peacekeepers (which is an outgrowth of failure to get international support for the invasion in the first place and the anti-diplomatic methods of punishing international opponents of the invasion of Iraq.)
  • the failure to stop the violence in iraq (see failure to foresee the insurgency above as well as the failures to provide enough troops to actually occupy Iraq once it was conquered.) and
  • the failure to promise to leave Iraq, even if the date is not made clear in advance.
[Items above in parenthesis are my opinion, not Hundt's.]

Second, the Democrats need to defuse the Republican attack that the Democrats are the party of wealth redistribution by taking from the wealthy and giving the resulting to the poor. This can be done by demonstrating that the Republicans are the party of redistrubution. They take from the poor and middle class and give the results to the wealthy and super-wealthy.

Third, attack the Republican culture of corruption, not be claiming to be better than the congressional Republicans but by presenting a series of remedies that would correct the Executive's behavior.

This is a strategy that the relatively unified Republican political machine could easily implement. Democrats, with their traditional tolerence for mavericks, will find it difficult to get everyone on the same sheet of music because the mavericks get the press, not the majority. Reid and Pelosi will need to herd their democratic cats to prevent the failure mavericks offer to the Republicans. Biden, Lieberman and Ben Nelson of Nebraska all need to take careful note.
posted by Richard @ 9:04 PM   0 comments
Texas investigation of DeLay finds "Duke" Cunningham money
It's a small world surrounding the disgraced and resigned-from-Congress Duke Cunningham and the indicted Tom DeLay. Travis County District Attorney, Ronnie Early, is following the trail of money that flowed into Texas prior to the election of 2002, and what did he find?

$15,000 from a company owned by Brent Wilked, the briber of Cunningham, was sent to DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority PAC (TRMPAC.) The source of the money is another suspicious transaction which took $40,000 from a Republican "investor(?)", William Bain Adams, into one of Brent wilkes' companies (Perfectwave Technologies), then two days later transfered $15,000 to TRMPAC and $25,000 to fund a "Tribute to Heroes" gala, organized by Wilkes, that feted Cunningham with a trophy naming him a hero.

This is of interest to Ronnie Early because Texas Law prohibits the use of corporate contributions for purposes of campaiging in Texas elections, and TRMPAC has been the source of contributions used by Republican candidates for the Legislator in the 2002 election. This is also of interest to the rest of us because it ties the disgraced and convicted "Duke" Cunningham directly to Tom DeLay's TRMPAM.

[Source the Austin-American Statesman (registration required.)]
posted by Richard @ 5:20 PM   0 comments
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Frist, DeLay had day traders working in their offices to trade on inside political information
Based on stories in The Hill and in Business Week Josh Orton has written a dKos Diary describing how both Tom DeLay and Bill Frist have had individuals working inside their offices to do day trading to take advantage of inside information on pending legislation.

Americablog reports that this has been reported on Air America (in Windows Media format or mp3.) Josh Marshall at TPM reports that Rep. Louise Slaughter (D - NY, 28th District) says this is true.

This practice may or may not be illegal according to the SEC. Whatever else it is, it is a violation of ethics by Frist and DeLay, and should lead to the voters removing them from office.
posted by Richard @ 7:17 PM   0 comments
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Brother of Grover Norquist appointed as DHS chief financial officer
According to Washington Technology David L. Norquist will be appointed as chief financial officer of the Homeland Security Department by Bush. David L. Norquist is the brother of Grover G. Norquist.

Grover Norquist is one of less than a handfull of key advisors to George W. Bush. He is a well-known advocate for massive reduction of the size of government as well as an advocate of tax cuts for the purpose of starving government of funds.

Grover Norquist is famed for saying (among other things) that he wants to see government shrunk so small that it can be drowned in a bathtub.

Once again we see how cronyism runs rampant through the Bush White House.
posted by Richard @ 10:05 PM   0 comments
More "Duke" Cunningham fallout
San Diego Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham resigned from Congress late last year afther pleading guilty to charges of accepting over $2 million in bribes. Shortly after his tearful exit, it was pointed out that for a year and a half he has been wearing a wire as he went around doing Republican business as usual.

Many of the government contracts that "Duke" handed to his friends were classified, so we aren't likely to learn much about them. But one thing he apparently did was to arrange for Kyle Dustin (Dusty) Foggo, a long time close friend of contractor and briber Brent Wilkes, to be promoted to the third ranking position in the CIA when Cunningham's Congressional friend, Porter Goss, was appointed from Congress to the position of CIA Director.

Foggo had been the chief of the agency's regional support base in Frankfurt from 2001 to 2004 before being promoted. In that position Foggo was apparently instrumental in getting a CIA contract given to to one of Wilkes's corporations to supply water to CIA personnel in Iraq during the U.S. invasion in 2003.

Since Cunningham must now testify against the people he dealt with in order to reduce his own federal sentence, Wilkes is in real trouble and Foggo is likely to join him. What's going to be interesting is how much further the criminality goes. I just want to see it all exposed prior to the election in November.

[Source Larry Johnson published at Booman Tribune.]

Additional Sources provided by SusanHu:

"Duke of Deception: The Overlooked Security Implications of the Cunningham Scandal," The American Prospect, February 2006.

"Black Contracts," The American Prospect online, December 10, 2005.

"Cunningham Inquiries Not Finished," (sub. req.) National Journal, December 10, 2005.

"Conflicts of Interest: Cunningham, Wilkes and the CIA, Cont'd," Tapped, December 5, 2005.

"Duke Cunningham and CIA Contracts" Tapped, November 29, 2005.
posted by Richard @ 3:51 PM   0 comments
Silence and Isolation becomes painful ignorance
This article would seem to step outside of my normal focus here on politics, but that is not the case. This is about the the political repression of the discussion and understanding of who each of us are as sexual beings.

We citizens of America presently face a federal government (and here in Texas a state government) which is controlled by people who want us to shut-up and quit talking to each other about our beliefs, our desires and our bodies. Instead of finding our own groups and learning what matters to each of us, we are supposed to listent to our government leaders and their fake religious supporters and hew closely to whatever party line they find most comfortable for themselves.

Go read Susie Bright on Daphne Merkins' latest piece of garbage.
posted by Richard @ 1:36 PM   0 comments
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Bush WH knew Niger Uranium story was false from the beginning
The New York Times exposes the lie Bush told in the 2003 State of the Union speech.
January 18, 2006

2002 Memo Doubted Uranium Sale Claim


By ERIC LICHTBLAU

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 - A high-level intelligence assessment by the Bush administration concluded in early 2002 that the sale of uranium from Niger to Iraq was "unlikely" because of a host of economic, diplomatic and logistical obstacles, according to a secret memo that was recently declassified by the State Department.

Among other problems that made such a sale improbable, the assessment by the State Department's intelligence analysts concluded, was that it would have required Niger to send "25 hard-to-conceal 10-ton tractor-trailers" filled with uranium across 1,000 miles and at least one international border.

The analysts' doubts were registered nearly a year before President Bush, in what became known as the infamous "16 words" in his 2003 State of the Union address, said that Saddam Hussein had sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

The White House later acknowledged that the charge, which played a part in the decision to invade Iraq in the belief that Baghdad was reconstituting its nuclear program, relied on faulty intelligence and should not have been included in the speech. Two months ago, Italian intelligence officials concluded that a set of documents at the center of the supposed Iraq-Niger link had been forged by an occasional Italian spy.

A handful of news reports, along with the Robb-Silberman report last year on intelligence failures in Iraq, have previously made reference to the early doubts expressed by the State Department's bureau of intelligence and research in 2002 concerning the reliability of the Iraq-Niger uranium link.

But the intelligence assessment itself - including the analysts' full arguments in raising wide-ranging doubts about the credence of the uranium claim - was only recently declassified as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group that has sought access to government documents on terrorism and intelligence matters. The group, which received a copy of the 2002 memo among several hundred pages of other documents, provided a copy of the memo to The New York Times.

The White House declined to discuss details of the declassified memo, saying the Niger question had already been explored at length since the president's State of the Union address.

"This matter was examined fully by the bipartisan Silberman-Robb commission, and the president acted on their broad recommendations to reform our intelligence apparatus," said Frederick Jones, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

The public release of the State Department assessment, with some sections blacked out, adds another level of detail to an episode that was central not only to the debate over the invasion of Iraq, but also in the perjury indictment of I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

In early 2002, the Central Intelligence Agency sent the former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV to Niger to investigate possible attempts to sell uranium to Iraq. The next year, after Mr. Wilson became a vocal critic of the Bush administration's Iraqi intelligence, the identity of his wife, Valerie Wilson, a C.I.A. officer who suggested him for the Niger trip, was made public. The investigation into the leak led to criminal charges in October against Mr. Libby, who is accused of misleading investigators and a grand jury.

The review by the State Department's intelligence bureau was one of a number of reviews undertaken in early 2002 at the State Department in response to secret intelligence pointing to the possibility that Iraq was seeking to buy yellowcake, a processed uranium ore, from Niger to reconstitute its nuclear program.

A four-star general, Carlton W. Fulford Jr., was also sent to Niger to investigate the claims of a uranium purchase. He, too, came away with doubts about the reliability of the report and believed Niger's yellowcake supply to be secure. But the State Department's review, which looked at the political, economic and logistical factors in such a purchase, seems to have produced wider-ranging doubts than other reviews about the likelihood that Niger would try to sell uranium to Baghdad.

The review concluded that Niger was "probably not planning to sell uranium to Iraq," in part because France controlled the uranium industry in the country and could block such a sale. It also cast doubt on an intelligence report indicating that Niger's president, Mamadou Tandja, might have negotiated a sales agreement with Iraq in 2000. Mr. Tandja and his government were reluctant to do anything to endanger their foreign aid from the United States and other allies, the review concluded. The State Department review also cast doubt on the logistics of Niger being able to deliver 500 tons of uranium even if the sale were attempted. "Moving such a quantity secretly over such a distance would be very difficult, particularly because the French would be indisposed to approve or cloak this arrangement," the review said.

Chris Farrell, the director of investigations at Judicial Watch and a former military intelligence officer, said he found the State Department's analysis to be "a very strong, well-thought-out argument that looks at the whole playing field in Niger, and it makes a compelling case for why the uranium sale was so unlikely."

The memo, dated March 4, 2002, was distributed at senior levels by the office of Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and by the Defense Intelligence Agency.

A Bush administration official, who requested anonymity because the issue involved partly classified documents, would not say whether President Bush had seen the State Department's memo before his State of the Union address on Jan. 28, 2003.

But the official added: "The White House is not an intelligence-gathering operation. The president based his remarks in the State of the Union address on the intelligence that was presented to him by the intelligence community and cleared by the intelligence community. The president has said the intelligence was wrong, and we have reorganized our intelligence agencies so we can do better in the future."

Mr. Wilson said in an interview that he did not remember ever seeing the memo but that its analysis should raise further questions about why the White House remained convinced for so long that Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Africa.

"All the people understood that there was documentary evidence" suggesting that the intelligence about the sale was faulty, he said.
posted by Richard @ 11:13 PM   0 comments
How many Republicans to change a light bulb?
How many Bush Administration officials does it take to screw in a light bulb?

None. Nothing is wrong with the light bulb; its conditions are improving every day. Any reports of its lack of incandescence are a delusional spin from the liberal media. That light bulb has served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effect and dishonors every light bulb that has ever burned out on us. Do you actually want the old light bulb back? Why do you hate freedom?


This joke has a secondarily funny aspect.

I've gotten the Google advertisments that try to link the ads to the content of my magazine. (Hey! Any money will go into improving the website!) I don't know what you see, but the advertisments I just found with this "How many Republicans needed to change a light bulb" are ads trying to sell you light bulbs.

I know, I know, computerized web crawlers aren't supposed to have a sense of humor -- and, of course, they don't. That's why I find this juxtiposition of content and advertising so funny.
posted by Richard @ 8:14 PM   0 comments
Evolution - What is next for Humans?
MSNBC has an interesting article. Evolutionists are fond of describing where humans came from, but they are hesitant to guess the future. Who - or what - will our descendents be?

That is, of course, assuming that we have any.

Here is a brief graphical summary. I think that I can safely predict a really nasty reaction to the event from fundamentalists, be they Xtian or other religions.
posted by Richard @ 4:29 PM   0 comments
Monday, January 16, 2006
Al Gore's speech today
Raw Story has the transcript of Al Gore's speech today.

It is a call to Congress and the American people to fight to defend America's Constitution.

We can hope someone is listening (none of the networks covered it) and we can hope that it isn't too late.
posted by Richard @ 7:29 PM   0 comments
Want to see oil prices doubled?
If you do, then embargoing Iranian oil is a way to do it. Here is Kevin Drum's take on it.

Double the price of oil and you watch a massive inflation occur. It's that simple.
posted by Richard @ 12:25 PM   0 comments
Ralph Reed ingulfed in the Abramoff scandal.
Looks like Ralph Reed is running into problems because of his relationships with Jack Abramoff. He is currently running for Lt. Governor of Georgia, his first step towards his not-well-disguised effort to run for President.

He clearly needed a lot of money to advance his political career. So he went to Abramoff, the fount of all Republican money in large sums. Why not? All the other Republicans were doing it.

His effort to become a Presidential candidate may be ended as a result. Here, from the Washington Post is the question which will kill his prospects outside the limited realms of the right-wing Xtian conservatives.
"Did you accept any gifts, commissions or other payments of any kind from Mr. Abramoff, and are you likely to be a party in the unfolding investigation?"
Since it is clear that he has, [see Mother Jones, Washington Post, and his own home newspaper, The Atlanta Journal Constitution], the Republican corruption scandal has engulfed and derailed his hopes of making a Presidential run. He will probably not win the Georgia primary.

For which we Americans may all thank God!
posted by Richard @ 11:27 AM   0 comments
And now for Iran.
We had Iraq in which the WMD (especially nukes)and the connections with al Qaeda were phantoms hyped by the Bush administration to justify their reckless actions.

Now we have Iran. Their desire for nukes and connections to international terrorism appear to be more reality than hype. The Bush administration has wasted our military forces in an effort to open a nut with a sledgehammer in Iraq. The military tool is not now available to us because of its waste in Iraq. Similarly, the credibility of American claims of threat are in the toilette because of Bush and Cheney.

It appears that Iran is the real threat and we have wasted our capabilities on Iraq.

Can we really trust the Bush administration to handle Iran effectively?

I don't think so. Neither does Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo.
posted by Richard @ 10:59 AM   0 comments
Rep. Ney is toast. Email proves bribery
This is from TPM Cafe:
Time has a copy of the email that may hang Bob Ney. In late October of 2000, Abramoff and sleaze partner Michael Scanlon were trying to get Ney to read a statement into the Congressional Record that praised Adam Kidan, another business partner of Abramoff's (the two had just purchased SunCruz, a casino boat company). Apparently Ney needed a little nudge. "Would 10K for NRCC from Suncruz for Ney help?" Abramoff wrote to Scanlon. "Yes, alot [sic]! But would have to give them a definate [sic] answer--and they need it this week ..."

The $10K went to the National Republican Campaign Committee on Oct. 23rd. On Oct. 26th, Ney inserted the statement into the Congressional Record. Why would Ney have shilled so shamelessly? Because otherwise, the Hammer would come down:
"Abramoff has told the feds, according to [a source close to the Justice Department probe], that Ney, the chairman of the powerful Committee on House Administration, and his staff repeatedly demanded help in raising cash for the National Republican Campaign Committee--the "NRCC" of Abramoff's e-mail. Under then House majority leader Tom DeLay, Ney and his fellow G.O.P. chairmen had to meet steep fund-raising quotas or risk losing their plum positions."
[Snip]

The $10K went to the National Republican Campaign Committee on Oct. 23rd. On Oct. 26th, Ney inserted the statement into the Congressional Record.
This is a dream case for a prosecutor of official bribery. An email asking Ney "Will you perform an official act if I contribute $10,000 to the NRCC?" And a reply saying "Sure." Then the act is performed and the money is contributed.

Ney is toast.

Note also the way this is blamed on DeLay. DeLay's demand for funds in exchange for Ney keeping his job as a committee chairman demonstrates why this is a result of Republican systemic corruption, not just the actions of a rogue Congressman.

Then there is the way that this is a crime committed to obtain properly reported campaign contributions.
"Although refusing to comment on the specifics of the Ney case, a U.S. government expert on criminal law made the following point: "Contributions are lawful only if made in support of a lawmaker's policies. They are clearly illegal as part of a prenegotiated deal involving a quid pro quo."
Considering the rather loose "ethics" of many Congresspersons, this must leave any number of politicians feeling highly uncomfortable.
posted by Richard @ 10:21 AM   0 comments
Sunday, January 15, 2006
A post by Nick Lampson, running to defeat DeLay
Nick Lampson has posted a diary on dKos. Go read it and see if it describes the Texas District 22 election in the way I did here. I hadn't seen this before I posted.
posted by Richard @ 12:58 PM   0 comments
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Bush does not compromise
I read a good deal of history in the 60's trying to figure out how the Communists were taking over countries. One thing that jumped out at me was that countries who tried to compromise and take members of the Communist party into the government and give them a real role found that very shortly all the deals they thought they had with the Communists were reneged on, and the Communists had taken over the government and turned it into an authoritarian dictatorship.

We are watching the Bush administration and the Neocons perform the same actions. They use every effort to compromise with them as a further step to take total control. "Compromise" is a word that to the Republicans means another step towards conquest. They don't respect their opponents enough to honor their word.

From the NY Times:
You would think that Senators Carl Levin and John McCain would have learned by now that you cannot deal in good faith with a White House that does not act in good faith. Yet both men struck bargains intended to restore the rule of law to American prison camps. And President Bush tossed them aside at the first opportunity.
That is exactly the same pattern as the Communist Party when it wanted to take over the government and turn it into an authoritarian one-party dictatorship. The extreme anti-Communists during the Cold War were so afraid of the ability of the Communists to conquer the free world that they adopted their tactics. Now they are bringing those tactics home and applying them here in America.

The modern Republicans are the greatest danger the American Republic has faced since the Southern States rebelled in 1860. The only way to save America will be to remove the Republicans from government. They must be removed from all aspects of government at every level. They are more dangerous to America than the Communists ever were.
posted by Richard @ 10:44 PM   0 comments
Friday, January 13, 2006
Cunningham case ensnares DeLay and Blunt
This is interesting. Josh Marshall reports that Defense contractor Brent Wilkes who bribed San Diego, CA Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham also set up an airline that owned 16th share of a single executive jet. It's purpose was to fly Congressmen around the country.

The single greatest user of the plane was Cunningham, but both Tom DeLay and Roy Blunt also used the plane.

I wonder if that was the executive jet that DeLay used to fly back to Houston when he was indicted and booked?

[initial source - San Diego Union-Courier]
posted by Richard @ 10:51 PM   0 comments
This seems creepy to me
The Wall Street Journal reported January 5th that three ministers crept into the room where the Alito Hearings were going to be held and placed holy oil in the seats of the Senators and Judge Alito to bless the proceedings.

I'd like to see or hear their scientific explanation of how that was supposed to achieve what they desired to have happen.
posted by Richard @ 7:20 PM   0 comments
Reid likens DeLayism to Mafia corruption
Harry Reid has published a strongly anti-DeLay editorial in Tom DeLay's hometown newspaper.

As I said Yesterday, Tom DeLay's attempt to be reelected in Texas District 22 was going to be an interesting election to watch.

[The prospects for Tom DeLay's reelection ]
posted by Richard @ 4:11 PM   0 comments
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Rep. Murtha asserts Iraq is in civil war
From Rep. John Murtha:
According to the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition, the definition of a civil war is a "war between political factions or regions within the same country." That is exactly what is going on in Iraq, not a global war on terrorism, as the President continues to portray it.

[Snip]

The ethnic and religious strife in Iraq has been going on, not for decades or centuries, but for millennia. These particular explosive hatreds and tensions will be there if our troops leave in six months, six years or six decades. It is time to re-deploy our troops and to re-focus our attention on the real threats posed by global terrorism.
At the moment we are barely able to support the U.S. military in Iraq. Other dangers are getting more important, such as the nuclear threat by Iran.

As for terrorism, al Qaeda and bin Laden haven't been heard from for nearly a year. The recently active terrorists have all been people recruited largely because of Bush's unnecessary invasion of Iraq. Bush has created,recruited and trained more terrorists who consider America the enemy than he has ever prevented. American needs to get out of Iraq and lick its wounds while letting the crap Bush has created die down a bit.

Then we need to redouble our efforts to go after the real enemies of America.
posted by Richard @ 8:47 PM   0 comments
The prospects for Tom DeLay's reelection
Now that Tom DeLay has resigned as House Majority Leader he needs to focus on his own reelection as a member of Congress.

He is still in a strong Republican district south and west of Houston, but as a result of his own 2003 Texas redistricting to remove Democrats, he took in a number of Democratic voters that he had not faced in previous years. He won by 55% over an unknown Democrat who got only 41%. While this appears like a good advantage, any incumbent Congressman who gets only 55% of his district is considered to be threatened.

DeLay no longer has the power of being the House Majority Leader and will face serious scrutiny of any funds he does receive. He remains under indictment by the Austin, TX District Attorney, and will face trial in that purely Texas case sometime this Spring. DeLay's name has already surfaced rather frequently in the expanding Washington, D.C. investigation of Jack Abramoff, and two of his previous House aides (Tony C. Rudy and Michael Scanlon) have been indicted. Scanlon has pleaded guilty to some charges with the agreement to testify against certain at this time unknown others.

With these weakening factors in sight, Tom DeLay now faces three republican contenders, Pat Baig, Tom Campbell and Michael Fjetland, in the March 7th Republican Primary. Baig is a former teacher and political novice and Fjetland has run against DeLay previously and been defeated. Both are poorly financed. Campbell, however, is a conservative attorney who worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration during the administration of Bush I. He apparently does not have much organized local support, though. DeLay will probably defeat all three. If there is a run-off DeLay is in real trouble.

DeLay also faces another Republican, Steve Stockman, who expects to run as an independent. This will require that he get a petition of nearly 5,000 voters who do not vote in any primary on March 7, he will be competing with a Libertarian candidate and perhaps another independent for those signatures. Stockman was a Congressman previously defeated by Nick Lampson, but there is concern that if he makes it into the race he will pull votes from DeLay. He is a conservative crackpot who embarrassed even other Republicans as a Congressman, so he is no threat to Lampson.

Then DeLay faces the Democratic ex-congressman, Nick Lampson, from the next door Texas district 2 who was defeated in 2004 as a result of DeLay's Texas redistricting in 2003. Many of the new Democrats on Galveston Island and in Southern Houston came from Lampson's previous district and Lampson will be well-financed. He will be the hardest for DeLay to defeat. He faces no opposition in the March 7th Democratic Primary.

Republican strategists confidently predict that the district is so thoroughly Republican that DeLay will be reelected. Democratic strategists seem strangely silent. Several political scientists have expressed doubts that DeLay will still be running for reelection by November.

All in all, Tom DeLay is in rough water as he aims for reelection. The sharks smell blood in the water which explains all the potential competitors at this time.

My personal bet at this time is that he has about a 50 - 50 chance to survive long enough be reelected. Much will depend on the news out of Washington D.C. and what Abramoff and Scanlon have to tell the prosecutors. It is definitely an election worth watching.
posted by Richard @ 6:23 PM   0 comments
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Changes in control of House & Senate unlikely
Ruy Teixeira at The Emerging Democratic Majority makes the point that even with the unfavorable climate for Republicans this year, it is not likely that they will lose control of either the House or Senate this year. He refers to Charlie Cook, who points out that about 80% of incumbent Senators are reelected, While the reelection rate for members of the House is about 95%.

That means that likely turnovers generally occur only in open seats. Democrats need to pick up 6 Senate seats and 15 seats in the House to take control of either body. Only three Senators looked vulnerable in January (Frist is not running, but Tennessee leans Republican) while there are 21 open seats in the House (14 Republican and 7 Democrat.) Democrats need to pick up almost all the vulnerable Republican seats and lose none of the vulmerable Democratic seats to get control of the House.

This isn't impossible, but it is unlikely. The possibilities of a number of GOP House members being indicted before the election may change this, but if it is like Randy "Duke" Cunningham that seat will probably remain in Republican hands.

I have hopes for one of the bodies of Congress going Democratic, but that is merely a hope. It is pretty unlikely at the moment. While the Repu8blicans may find a number of their House members indicted this year, most people will lambaste the Congress but strongly support their own Congressman/Senator.

At best, I strongly suspect that the Congressional elections will come down to a cliffhanger.
posted by Richard @ 2:45 PM   0 comments
Republicans begin to push for Ethical Reform.
Quite funny, really. As stated over at My Left Wing "It's amusing to see the party that has sold out the people's house since 1995 race into the arms of reform like a husband who becomes contrite only after he gets caught cheating."
posted by Richard @ 12:51 PM   0 comments
The Winner Is ... Saudi Arabia!
I am copying this from Booman Tribune but I am sure that Patrick Lang will not object.
by Patrick LangTue Jan 10th, 2006 at 11:50:27 PM EST
by Patrick Lang (bio below)

Syrian President Bashar Assad made surprise journeys to Saudi Arabia and Egypt on Sunday for talks on finding a face-saving solution to a UN request to interview him about the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. At a summit with Assad in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, Saudi King Abdullah called for an improvement to crisis-stricken relations between Damascus and Beirut in the name of regional security.

Abdullah "asserted the need to consolidate and strengthen Syrian-Lebanese relations," said a joint Saudi-Syrian statement issued after the summit.
Lebanese-Syrian relations should be improved "in all sectors in order to protect the interests of the two brotherly countries and the security of the region," said the statement read on Saudi state television.

The statement said the two parties agreed on "activating the joint Saudi-Syrian committee, and to intensify the communication between them in order to serve the Arab and Islamic issues."

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal came to Damascus earlier Sunday and met with Assad and Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa. He said he had traveled to Syria to prepare for Assad's "important" Saudi visit, but refused to give any details." Beirut Daily Star

We really are laughable from the Arab point of view. For many years now Saudi Arabia has labored and schemed discretely to reclaim Lebanon and Syria from the clutches of various Christian and heretical Muslim groups and to return these countries to the bosom of the Umma (Sunni dominated, of course). Rafik Hariri was an instrument of that policy for a decade or more. His murder prevented a return to power in Lebanon in which he would clearly have been a continuing asset of his former homeland, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Abd al-Halim Khaddam, now bleating of "reform" Paris was one of Hariri's principal allies in Damascus and as a Sunni member of the Syrian Baath oligarchy one of the larger recipients of Hariri "channeled" largess.
The US, France have played a very useful role from the Saudi point of view. They have pressured Bashar Assad to the point that he believes in his own vulnerability. He knows where the pressure really has come from. This has been a pressure exerted in Washington and Paris, but influenced by regional politics and so he has gone to "Canossa" to make his peace with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. He has gone to accept Saudi hegemony in the Levant.

The side trip to Egypt is insignificant, a face saving gesture for all concerned.
Now, Washington will have to deal with the Kingdom. If the "kowtow" was convincing, Abdullah et al will not want their "satellite" disturbed much more.
It should be interesting to watch.

Pat Lang
Col. Patrick W. Lang (Ret.), a highly decorated retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces, served as “Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East, South Asia and Terrorism" for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and was later the first Director of the Defense Humint Service. Col. Lang was the first Professor of the Arabic Language at the United States Military Academy at West Point. For his service in the DIA, he was awarded the “Presidential Rank of Distinguished Executive.” He is a frequent commentator on television and radio, including MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann (interview), CNN and Wolf Blitzer's Situation Room (interview), PBS's Newshour, NPR's "All Things Considered," (interview), and more .
Personal Blog: Sic Semper Tyrannis 2005 Bio CVRecommended Books More BooTrib PostsNovel: The Butcher's Cleaver (download free by chapter, PDF format) "Drinking the Kool-Aid," Middle East Policy Council Journal, Vol. XI, Summer 2004, No. 2
This, too, is a direct result of the American invasion of Iraq. When the Neocons pushed for the invastion of Iraq, they were rolling the dice and expecting "Snake Eyes" to pop up. That is a single chance in a possible 36. Needless to say, the result has NOT been "snake eyes." Things have changed, but not necessarily in the benefit of America.

The fact is, it is much more likely to be to our deteriment. That's what happens when we are ruled by Bush, a man who seems to hear voices who tell him what to do.
posted by Richard @ 12:39 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
China to shift reserves out of dollar to Euro
The Chinese appear to have finally come to the limit of their ability to support the dollar as an international currency.

The Bush administration has been able to run massive deficits because the Chinese, Japanese and oil producing nations have been buying American bonds. The largest purchaser has been the Chinese, because it supported the dollar and their sales to the U.S. have been a major part of Chinese economic development.

As the Chinese slow their purchases of U.S. bonds, the dollar will drop in value in international financial markets. This will lead to an increase in the cost of oil and to inflation in America.

Inflation in America will lead the Federal Reserve to either increase interest rates (leading to recession) or accepting the inflation to jump-start the already declining American economy. My bet is that the fed will accept the inflation, because further increases in the interest rate will cause the economy to immediately decline just as the elections in November are approaching.

The Republican majorities in the House and Senate will not survive both the current Republican scandals AND a declining economy. The fed sets interest rates to first elect Republicans, so watch for inflation in 2006. The fed will not be able to prevent it.

See the Washington Post Article for the Chinese economic actions.
posted by Richard @ 11:24 AM   0 comments
The Republicans want WHO to replace DeLay?
Tom DeLay essentially got bought off by his own tame K-Street lobbyists, and when things got out of hand he has had to step down as Republican Majority Leader. So the two strong leaders among Republicans are Roy Blunt (R, MO) and John Boenher (R, OH). From Bloomberg News:
Both men's political action committees employ Jim Ellis, who was indicted along with DeLay. DeLay's PAC gave Blunt's committee a $150,000 donation in 2000, and Blunt's PAC gave $10,000 to DeLay's non-profit foundation that same year. Both lawmakers' PACs have employed Alexander Strategy Group, a Georgetown-based firm whose partners include former Abramoff and DeLay associates.

Blunt also has served as the Republicans' official liaison to K Street. In one meeting at the Capitol last April, he rounded up some 200 lobbyists to talk with top Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, about the party's agenda.

Boehner, 56, who has been in Congress since 1991, has said he and DeLay have had conflicts in the past, and other lawmakers say they are not close. Even so, Boehner has strong connections to lobbyists: He met weekly with leading lobbyists to enlist their support and discuss strategy during his four years as House Republican Conference chairman, from 1995 to 1998.
So DeLay is a crook and had to step down. Who are the Republicans looking to in order to replace him? Either of two deputy crooks, of course.
posted by Richard @ 11:12 AM   0 comments
The lobbying scandal is a Republican scandal and a threat to America
The Christian Science Monitor through Yahoo News discusses why the current lobbying scandal (focusing on but not limited to issues surrounding Jack Abramoff) is primarily a Republican issue.
But right now the ethics avalanche is headed toward the GOP for a few reasons. One is simply par for the course, the other the party has brought on itself.

First, ethics violations tend to rain down on the party in power because they are the folks in the best position to grant favors. After all, if you are going to sit through and pay for a dinner full of bad jokes with a self-important glad-hander, make it the right self- important glad-hander. And since 2001, the Republicans have owned this town.

The second reason, however, is a bit more troublesome for the GOP.

In 1995, when the party took control of both houses of Congress, it initiated what it called the K Street Project. The party pressured lobbying firms and trade associations to hire Republicans and punished firms that didn't. The result was to make the relationship between those organizations and the GOP much deeper than they normally would have been otherwise - and, of course, to channel more money into Republican coffers in the hopes of building a "permanent majority" in Washington.

In other words, the Republican leadership invited lobbying organizations to essentially become another arm of the party. How close were the relationships? Investigators are now focusing on another firm, Alexander Strategies, which was founded by Edwin Buckham, Mr. DeLay's former chief of staff. At one point Americans for a Republican Majority, a political action committee that raised money for DeLay, was run out of the offices of Alexander. And Alexander also paid DeLay's wife more than $100,000 in consulting fees while the firm was working with ... Mr. Abramoff.

You can only wonder, what was the GOP leadership thinking? It can only be a matter of time before relationships like that blow up because of simple association - or worse.

When the biggest and most powerful lobby firms are webbed into the majority party so closely, all it takes is a misstep or two before everyone is up to their knees in problems. And the K Street Project means a whole host of GOP powerbrokers is under a cloud now, from DeLay to Ralph Reed to Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform.
This current lobbying scandal is a direct result of the Republican effort, led by Tom DeLay, to incorporate the K-Street firms into the Republican Party as an effective arm of government. It was not just a method of obtaining money for the Republican machine. It was also a place to send Republican activists who effectively took control of many of the lobbying efforts and as a side effect, was a place to locate Republican activists where they could obtain personal financial rewards far in excess of what they could get when employed by the government.

Did Democrats Dan Rostankowski and James Trafficanti serve time for misusing their office for financial gain? Yeah. But they were rogue individuals. The level to which the Republicans have taken the money grabbing efforts controlled by lobbyists is something not seen since the Tea Pot Dome scandals (also Republican) early in the twentieth century.

While I blame the Republicans for the Abramoff/DeLay scandal, this is not a partisan issue as much as a failure of American democracy. Wearing my partisan Democratic Party hat, I would love to see my party take advantage of this Republican failure. Much more significant, wearing my hat as an American proud of Constitutional democracy I fear for the future of our Republic, and I really want a change in the system without regard to partisan advantage.

Josh Marshall (TPM) today has a post that focuses on what is really important.
The talk of the day now in DC is 'lobbying reform', which Mark Schmitt aptly pillories over at TPMCafe. We may need new laws to curb the power moneyed interests now have over policy-making. In fact, I think we do.

But that's not the problem in Washington. The problem is a network of criminal activity stretching from the House of Representatives (and, to a lesser degree, the Senate) to K Street and then into the Executive Branch -- a network of bribery, money-laundering and fraud all aimed at selling public policy and official actions not in exchange for political contributions but money rewards to members of Congress, administration officials and their families.

It's not an abstract problem or a merely a few politicians lining their pockets or high-speed log-rolling. As Schmitt puts it, it's a betrayal-of-public-trust, a group of high-ranking politicians who've committed crimes against their constituents and a Republican establishment that wasn't against it then and can't bring itself to turn the folks in even now.

The Abramoff/DeLay scandal is a threat to the American way of life. I really hope that Republican politicians recognize this even as it threatens their partisan advantages.
posted by Richard @ 9:31 AM   0 comments
Monday, January 09, 2006
Alexander Strategy Group to shut down end of January
The exposure of Abramoff's shenanigans and DeLay's announcements last Saturday that he would not attempt to take the Majority Leader position back has had a rapid result. Edwin A. Buckham, formerly a key DeLay aide, stated that his firm, Alexander Strategy Group, would shut down the end of January. Washington Post, January 10, 2005.
posted by Richard @ 11:16 PM   0 comments
Republicans criminalize annoying internet messages
Apparently the Republicans fail to understand the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. "Posting annoying Web messages or sending annoying e-mail messages without disclosing your true identity." is now a crime according to a bill signed by Bush last Thursday according to Declan McCullagh at CNET News.com. The bill does not define "annoying" web messages.

Gee. Think my previous message "Aw, poor Tom DeLay, conspiracy victim" would annoy old Tom-boy?

Rest assured, it was certainly my intent to annoy Tom DeLay because of his sick whining and refusal to accept responsibility for his own behavior. But that's because his childish whine annoyed Hell out of me. He needs to grow up. He has 58 calendar years under his belt. There is no damned excuse for him to act age five, even on FOX News.

[Thanks to Daily Kos for reference to the article.]
posted by Richard @ 2:49 PM   0 comments
Aw, poor Tom DeLay, conspiracy victim
Tom knows who to blame for his having to give up his Republican House leadership position. It is a conspiracy of Democrats, the Austin, TX District Attorney, and eight (count them. Eight!) separate grand Juries.

And how do we know this? Why, just ask Tom DeLay. That's what he told FOX News yesterday.

Poor baby. It's not his fault. It's a massive conspiracy to get him. He's a victim here.

I wonder if he will keep that line going after he hears a Judge declare him "Guilty."
posted by Richard @ 1:48 PM   0 comments
Republican Congressmen scotch FDIC investigation of large contributor
The LA Times reports that Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay together with two California Republican Congressmen caused federal banking regulators to drop an investigation of banking activities by Houston millionaire Charles Hurwitz.

Charles Hurwitz had owned 25% of the United Savings Assn. of Texas which was controlling interest. It failed in 1988, costing taxpayers $1.6 billion. in 1995 the FDIC began an investigation of Hurwitz and was seeking $300 million in reimbursement from Hurwitz for his role in the collapse of the financial institution.

In 1999 Tom DeLay wrote a letter to the head of the FDIC stating that the investigation was a "form of harassment and deceit on the part of government employees." When this failed to stop the FDIC investigation, California Representatives Reps. John T. Doolittle and Richard W. Pombo used their positions on the House Resources Committee to subpoena the FDIC's confidential evidence on Hurwitz resulting from the investigation. In 2001 they inserted many of the documents into the Congressional Record where Hurwitz's attorney's were able to determine the details of the government's case against him. FDIC officials stated this weakened the case that they were building against Hurwitz, resulting in them dropping the investigation in 2002.
Hurwitz has been a prolific campaign donor since the early 1990s.

He has contributed personally and with funds provided by his Houston-based flagship company, Maxxam Inc., through subsidiaries such as Kaiser Aluminum, and through a company political action committee, Maxxam Inc. Federal PAC.

In the last three federal elections cycles, those entities have given about $443,000 in political contributions — most of it to conservative politicians, including President Bush, for whom Hurwitz pledged to raise $100,000 in the 2000 campaign and also helped during that year's vote tally deadlock in Florida.

Hurwitz has been generous with DeLay too.

Starting in the 2000 election cycle, the businessman and his committees have distributed at least $30,000 to DeLay and his federal causes, including $5,000 for his current legal defense fund in the Texas money-laundering case.

Hurwitz also contributed $1,000 to Pombo for his 1996 reelection campaign. And through the Maxxam PAC, Hurwitz gave Doolittle $5,000 for his 2002 reelection campaign and then followed up with $2,000 more for his 2004 race
Not only did the publication of the FDIC documents require the agency to ultimately drop the case against Hurwitz (costing the taxpayers the $300 million reimbursement), Hurwitz later took the federal government to court in a civil trial and forced the government to pay his attorney's fees.
posted by Richard @ 12:15 PM   0 comments
Bremer requested 500,000 troops - was ignored by Bush
LA Times reports that Bremer requested that Bush and Rumsfeld triple the number of U.S. troops in Iraq. He states there were never enough American troops in Iraq to stabilize the situation.

No one replied to his request.

This certainly clarifies the responsibility for the incompetence with which the Iraq War has been managed directly on Bush and Rumsfeld. The Iraq War has been managed with all the incompetcnce on display when FEMA failed the Gulf Coast and New Orlesns, and it came right out of the White House.

See also Bremer - U.S. failed to anticipate insurgency in Iraq.
posted by Richard @ 11:59 AM   0 comments
Sunday, January 08, 2006
DeLay decision creates more problems for Repubs
Tom DeLay has announced that he will not attempt to regain his House leadership post. The LA Times describes how this solution carries its own problems with it.
"While Tom DeLay was a public-relations nightmare, he also was a strong leader, a talented vote counter, arm twister and strategist," said Charlie Cook, a Washington political analyst who publishes the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. "Since he stepped down three months ago, it's been a horror show for House Republicans."

DeLay was clearly missed by his colleagues, but he also had become damaged goods. And after former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who had close ties to DeLay, pleaded guilty last week to corruption charges and sent many Republicans running for political cover, it became clear to some that DeLay would have to go if the GOP had any hope of changing the subject in this year's congressional campaigns.

"You don't want that kind of distraction moving forward in 2006," said Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster. Now, every Republican House member "doesn't have to go around answering the question, 'Do you think Tom DeLay should resign?' "

Instead, Republicans face another political question: How much more do they need to do — in making leadership changes and embracing legislative initiatives such as tighter rules for lobbyists — to truly distance their party from the taint of the Abramoff scandal?

Some Republicans believe an aggressive anti-corruption agenda is needed. They argue that although DeLay may no longer loom as a leadership figure, his imprint will remain on the way the party raises money and conducts legislative strategy.
What's that old toast? "Confusion to your enemies!"

Let's all lift a glass.
posted by Richard @ 3:44 PM   0 comments
DeLay, Abramoff & the Alexander Group
This is a NY Times article to which I have added numerous links which describe the interactions of the various individuals and their organizations with Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff. If you follow the links and some of the links to the links, you will begin to understand why the Republicans in general are really sweating bullets over the Abramoff scandal. There are few significant Republicans in the House whose name does not appear in these stories.

Jack Abramoff has pled guilty to wire fraud, failure to pay income tax on some of his income and bribery of government officials, and has been working with the federal investigators for 18 months. Yahoo News has a roundup of recent stories on Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff. One that hasn't gotten a lot of media play and which may be key with respect to Tom DeLay is the Alexander Strategy Group. Many of the links which follow show connections to Tom DeLay through the Alexander Strategy Group. The article comes from The NY Times:
The firm, Alexander Strategy Group, is of particular interest to investigators because it was founded by Edwin A. Buckham, a close friend of Mr. DeLay's and his former chief of staff, and has been a lucrative landing spot for several former members of the DeLay staff, people who are directly involved in the case have said.

Although the firm's name has circulated in connection with the case for many months, prosecutors' questions about Mr. Buckham and Alexander Strategy - which did not respond to requests for comment - have intensified recently, participants in the case said.

The firm openly promoted the idea that it could deliver access to Mr. DeLay, who has denied any wrongdoing but abruptly announced Saturday that he would not try to regain his leadership post. Now the very connections with Mr. DeLay that formed the backbone of Alexander Strategy, put together with Mr. Abramoff's help, have put the future of the firm in doubt.

While doing business with lobbyists is routine for most lawmakers, investigators are looking at the extent to which Mr. DeLay and other lawmakers may have accepted trips, campaign donations and other favors from Alexander Strategy, and in turn tried to help the business.

[snip]

Details of the ties between Alexander Strategy, Mr. DeLay and Mr. Abramoff - who pleaded guilty last week in federal court and is cooperating with investigators - have already begun to trickle out. Alexander Strategy paid Mr. DeLay's wife $115,000 in consulting fees while conducting business with Mr. Abramoff's firm. Mr. Abramoff also referred clients to Mr. Buckham.

Mr. Buckham and the firm also shared clients - among them an entity in Malaysia and the Choctaw Indian tribe in Mississippi - with Mr. Abramoff, who in his plea agreement admitted to using corrupting tactics with lawmakers on behalf of his clients. Mr. Abramoff also admitted to having defrauded his Indian clients of millions of dollars. At one point, Mr. Buckham even sought to hire Mr. Abramoff himself, participants in the case said.

Mr. Buckham and at least one member of his firm worked with domestic and overseas clients who prosecutors suspect helped funnel money and perks to Mr. DeLay, his fund-raising operations and other lawmakers in ways intended to curry favor with the Republican leadership.

And at one time, Americans for a Republican Majority, or Armpac, the leadership committee that raised money for Mr. DeLay, was run out of the offices of Alexander Strategy.

But the firm's web of contacts on Capitol Hill reaches past Mr. DeLay, making Alexander Strategy a potentially useful resource as investigators examine other lawmakers.

The firm's name surfaced at the periphery of the corruption investigation into Representative Randy Cunningham, Republican of California and Josh Marshall on Randy Cunningham. Mr. Cunningham resigned after pleading guilty to accepting bribes from a defense contractor that did business with Alexander Strategy.

For years, Alexander Strategy was one of the crown jewels of the so-called K Street project, an effort Republicans began after taking control of Congress in 1994 to dominate the lobbying industry. The hope, exemplified by Mr. Buckham's company, was for Republican lobbyists to harness the power of their corporate clients to help keep the party in power for years to come.

The successful history of Alexander Strategy since its founding in the late 1990's offers a window into the nexus of Mr. Abramoff, Mr. DeLay and the lobbying world over the last decade or so of Republican control of Congress.
[See The K-Street Project]

[Snip]

Mr. DeLay, so intertwined with the lobbying world that his extensive network of allies and former aides scattered throughout town is nicknamed "DeLay Inc.," responded more quickly to calls from Alexander Strategy than he did for any other firm, former aides of his said.

One element prosecutors are trying to understand is what role Mr. DeLay played in sending business to the company. There is evidence, one participant in the case said, that it was "you hire these guys because Tom DeLay tells you to."

Mr. Buckham also ran the U.S. Family Network,
[Also see U.S. Family Network WaPo and Washington Monthly]a self-styled grassroots organization tied to Mr. DeLay that, according to The Washington Post, was financed almost entirely by clients and associates of Mr. Abramoff. People involved in the case said they expected investigators to examine whether Mr. DeLay cast a vote in Congress in exchange for donations to the network.

Another critical component of the investigation is the activities of Tony C. Rudy, a former DeLay deputy chief of staff who went to work with Mr. Abramoff as a lobbyist before joining Mr. Buckham at Alexander Strategy, where he still works. Mr. Rudy is mentioned - named only as "Staffer A" - in Mr. Abramoff's plea agreement, and investigators are looking into whether he helped secure legislative favors for Mr. Abramoff's clients in exchange for gifts and the promise of a future job while he was still on the DeLay staff.

[Snip]

As a result of Mr. Buckham's ties with Mr. DeLay and Mr. Abramoff, investigators are "keenly interested" in him, especially in connection with deals he may have brokered with Mr. DeLay and other lawmakers after going into the private sector, one participant in the case said.

"He allows the connection to be made to DeLay," another participant said of Mr. Buckham. All participants in the case were granted anonymity in interviews because Justice Department officials do not want people talking about it publicly.

Alexander Strategy's name has also surfaced in the course of a corruption investigation that implicates the defense lobbyist Brent Wilkes,
[See also Josh Marshall, Daily Kos, Sourcewatch, Daily Kos, USA Today, and The San Diego Union.] who is an unnamed co-conspirator in the criminal case against former Representative Cunningham. Mr. Cunningham pleaded guilty in December to accepting $2.4 million in bribes from Mr. Wilkes and others. Mr. Wilkes's firm, Group W, also hired Alexander Strategy to do lobbying work, and Mr. DeLay used a plane partly owned by Mr. Wilkes.

The scandals swirling around the Alexander franchise, composed of roughly two dozen lobbyists at its offices on the waterfront in Georgetown, have delighted its former rivals while triggering concerns in the lobbying community that the entire business may be tarred.

[Snip]

"Tom DeLay sent Buckham downtown to set up shop and start a branch office on K Street," Mr.
[Dick] Armey said. "The whole idea was, 'What's in it for us?' That's what I thought at the time, and I've seen nothing in the way they've conducted themselves since then to dissuade me from that point of view."

[Snip]

Mr. DeLay was rebuked by the House ethics committee in 1999 after allegedly badgering a trade association that chose a Democrat as its president, rather than the Republican candidate he favored.

Mr. DeLay's political action committee paid Alexander Strategy more than $300,000 for fund-raising and consulting services from 2000 to 2003, according to the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit group that tracks money in politics. In addition to Mr. Rudy, the firm also employed Karl Gallant, [See also Karl Gallant] who headed Mr. DeLay's political action committee.
It is clear that the Alexander Group is central to the relations of Tom DeLay and the K-Street lobbyists, and that investigations into the operations of the Alexander Group will connect a lot of other Republicans to the operations of DeLay and Abramoff.
posted by Richard @ 10:22 AM   0 comments
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