Thursday, April 28, 2005

Our Defense of the Filibuster is Urgent and Must Cross Party Lines

True American patriots must take a stand on this filibuster nonsense.

Out of principle any good American must support the Democrats and their struggle to save the fabric of American Democracy.

Libertarians and Libertarian Republicans are natural allies to the Democrats on this most critical issue.

Differences must be put aside, pride must be shelved.

This is no issue to stay out of.

If the Republicans are able to change the rules it will be a blow to our Republic and our system of checks and balances.

Let's stand for Democracy, American style. Our Country, our Constitution, and our way of life depend on it.

This filibuster maneuver the Republicans are pulling is precisely the kind of issue that can unite a coalition of Americans and end the polarization so divisive to the Union.

To stand on principle for our Democracy. Is that not the essence of patriotism?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Bush is and was a little weasel dirt bag.

Aeron. order (AO) 87 - The press won't show it [FOIA] .

by joan reports
Mon Feb 28th, 2005 at 10:10:23 PDT

"FULL SOURCING, to track the document's authenticity is given.

These are available to see on a public access website of the Pentagon.

Now, if the hordes of reporters who scoured the CBS papers had once just published these, the media would have shed light on the discredited, planted documents.

Is the press sedated?"

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Flagrant Corruption of Tom Delay and the GOP Continues to Come to Light

GOP group caught up in missing tribal contributions

Jon Kamman and Billy House
Copyright 2005 The Arizona Republic
Feb. 27, 2005 12:00 AM Tracking what happened to $175,000 contributed by two Indian tribes to a political group called CREA leads from a disgraced lobbyist to an elusive environmental organization spawned by Gale Norton before she became secretary of the Interior.

The money, which the tribes say they contributed to the group at the direction of a Washington, D.C., lobbyist now under federal investigation, is unaccounted for in public records where federal regulations say it should be listed.

The absence of an accounting adds another layer to the mystery of what became of more than two dozen contributions missing among $300,000 in checks issued by a Texas tribe to 79 political committees selected by lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

CREA stands for Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy. According to its filings with the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt organization, it has operated for more than four years without receiving any contributions or making any expenditures.

The Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana said it issued checks for $50,000 to CREA in 2001 and $100,000 in 2002.

Also, the Tigua Indians, whose Ysleta del Sur Pueblo adjoins El Paso, said they issued a $25,000 check to CREA in 2002 and included it in a bundle of other political contributions they sent to Abramoff to distribute. Tribal Lt. Gov. Carlos Hisa said the check was cashed, but he would not disclose how it was endorsed.

CREA President Italia Federici would not say whether the tribal funds or any other contributions were received.

"It is the policy of CREA that we do not identify or discuss our contributors," she said in an e-mail.

The Tiguas' contributions, mostly to the campaign funds or political action committees of members of Congress, were aimed at winning support for legislation that would allow the tribe to reopen its casino, which had been closed by state authorities after protracted litigation over the legality of reservation gambling in Texas.

Roy Fletcher, a spokesman for the Coushattas, said changes in tribal leadership made it unclear why an earlier administration had agreed to contribute to CREA.

Fletcher said current tribal leaders were not aware until The Republic's inquiry that the tribe had sent a total of $150,000. He said the tribe is looking into how the checks were endorsed.

In searches of public records where recipients are required to disclose finances, The Republic found no accounting for approximately $220,000 in contributions from the two tribes. The amount consists of $175,000 directed to CREA and $45,000 to other political committees.

CREA's origins date to about 1997, when Norton, then attorney general of Colorado, organized it with the name "coalition" rather than "council." Federici had been involved in Norton's 1996 campaign for the U.S. Senate, according to news reports at the time.

A spokesman for Norton said the Interior secretary has not been involved with CREA since joining President Bush's Cabinet in 2001.

Norton's leadership of the earlier incarnation of the group became an issue in her Senate confirmation hearing because other conservationist groups had branded CREA a front for the interests of oil, mining, chemical and pollution-risk industries.

How and why Abramoff expected at least two, and possibly three, tribes to benefit from making five- and six-figure contributions to an environmental group remains unexplained.

Evidence shows that Abramoff inquired in early 2002 whether a third tribe, the Saginaw Chippewas of Michigan, had approved a $30,000 request for CREA. The tribe did not respond to the newspaper's questions on whether the money was given.

CREA has two staffers, a mailbox, a Web site and a telephone answering machine. Its most recent listing of its place of business, an address in the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C., is no longer valid.

Through a spokesman, Abramoff's attorney issued a statement responding to other questions involving tribal contributions, but answered inquiries about CREA with "no comment."

Federici, communicating only by e-mail, said Abramoff "did not, and does not, hold a position within CREA."

Federici insisted on an "off-the-record" briefing with the newspaper before deciding whether to be interviewed on the record. The Republic declined, instead seeking answers for publication.

In an e-mail, Federici expressed concerns over the newspaper's "misperceptions" about CREA, noting that a recent New York Times story referred to CREA as "a partisan organization that supports a balanced approach to improving the environment."

She said CREA conducts "considerable grass-roots lobbying efforts" and praised CREA's seven-member advisory board as "highly respected environmentalists."

Trying to track the political contributions by the tribes is part of a wider investigation of Abramoff and public relations consultant Michael Scanlon that is being conducted by the FBI, the IRS, Norton's Interior Department, other federal agencies and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

A grand jury reportedly is looking into Abramoff's and Scanlon's dealings with six tribes that paid them $82 million over several years.

"I think we're a long way from done on this one," McCain said Friday.

"Primarily, we're looking at what happened to all of the money," he said. Part of the inquiry, he added, is focusing on the political contributions.

"The Federal Election Commission (which regulates campaign finances) is looking at it, too," he said.

Two hearings were held last fall on the lobbying scandal. A third is about a month away, he said.

Federal tax code requires so-called 527 political advocacy groups such as CREA to file public disclosures with the Internal Revenue Service if they receive contributions totaling $25,000 or more in one year. Failure to do so is punishable by taxation of the amounts at the highest business rate, 35 percent, and possible daily fines.

Federici did not respond to questions about why most of CREA's reports to the IRS have been submitted under the name "Renew Our Urban Centers Fund."

In connection with the Tigua tribe's political contributions, a spokesman for Abramoff's attorney Abbe Lowell said in a statement, "While Mr. Abramoff solicited contributions, he was not the person to process them and believed they were handled properly at all times.

"It is easy for people to now blame Mr. Abramoff for every problem or issue since the media spotlight has turned on him, but on this one the ultimate use of those funds can only be answered by the recipient organization or entity, not by Mr. Abramoff," the statement continued.

"He simply has no knowledge of any recipient of tribal political contributions that failed to receive their contributions."

Among the Tigua contributions unaccounted for are $2,000 intended for U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl's campaign fund and $1,000 for U.S. Rep. John Shadegg's committee. The two Arizona Republicans said they would have logged such contributions if the checks had been received.

Two top leaders of the House, Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and GOP Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., also said through spokesmen that they found no record of receiving Tigua checks made out to their political action committees. DeLay's office said he received a check for his campaign fund but returned it.

Senate hearings last fall exposed what senators called deceitful practices by Abramoff and Scanlon in their dealings with tribes. The pair secretly split profits, backed candidates in tribal elections who would give them multimillion-dollar contracts, and did not reveal to the Tiguas that they had worked behind the scenes for closure of the tribe's casino before obtaining a $4.2 million contract to press for its reopening.

In recent developments, the Coushattas, who operate a resort casino at Kinder, La., and were the most lucrative account for Abramoff and Scanlon, have filed suit in state court for recovery of $32 million they paid the pair.

The Tiguas reached an out-of-court settlement this month with Abramoff's former employer, the Greenberg Traurig law firm of Miami. No amount was disclosed.

Efforts by Abramoff to quietly shepherd legislation through Congress for the Tiguas failed, but not before the principal backer of the measure, GOP Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio, was given $33,000 in political contributions by the Tiguas and taken by Abramoff and Scanlon on a chartered, $150,000 golfing trip to St. Andrews, Scotland.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Just how indisputably dirty and corrupt is Tom Delay?

Have a read and judge for yourself, these are reputable (at least the Washington Post is) sources with plain language.

Powerbroker With DeLay Ties in Hot Water

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Abramoff, the uberlobbyist who not too long ago was one of Washington's power players, now has this city exhausting its stockpile of adjectives as it hurls descriptions of unrestrained greed and cynicism in his direction — scuzzy, outrageous, pathetic, disgusting, vainglorious, to list just a few flung by members of Congress.

Abramoff's dealings are the subject of tangled criminal and congressional investigations that are attracting outsized interest, in part because of his close ties to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (search), R-Texas.

DeLay, who took a number of overseas trips allegedly arranged or financed by Abramoff, once famously described the lobbyist as "one of my closest and dearest friends."

A shorthand summary of Abramoff's alleged dealings tends not to sound too shocking: collecting big checks from American Indian tribes for whom he performed limited work; steering clients' contributions to outside groups in which he had a personal interest; sending politicians on junkets to curry favor.

"What sets this tale apart, what makes it truly extraordinary, is the extent and degree of the apparent exploitation and deceit," Sen. John McCain (search), R-Ariz., said at a congressional hearing last fall at which Abramoff repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment.

To date, Abramoff and an associate are known to have collected an eye-popping $66 million or more from six tribes.

"It's so stark a case of outrageous behavior that it set everyone back on their heels," says Thomas Mann, a Brookings Institution political scientist. "Even the most jaded of observers of the Washington lobbying scene, I think, have been taken aback."

But if much of Washington wants to cast Abramoff as the villain, Abramoff offers himself as the victim. Suddenly it is he who is held at a distance by longtime friends and ideological allies whose causes he has advanced since his days as chairman of the college Republicans, where his compatriots were future household names of the conservative movement such as Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed.

Abramoff, 46, was forced out of his lobbying firm last year after details of his secret dealings came out. He is not talking in public anymore, but his lawyer has described him as hurt and disappointed by what some of his former friends are saying.

There has been no rush of supporters coming to Abramoff's defense. In fact, some spokespeople go off the record even to confirm their bosses once were friends.

Abramoff's spokesman, Andrew Blum, says that because of the unfolding investigations, Abramoff "is put into the impossible position of not being able to defend himself in the public arena until the proper authorities have had a chance to review all accusations.

Blum says Abramoff "hopes that those who are quick to judge him now will remember that there are two sides to every event and that the media can condemn someone before he ever has a chance to right the record."

Much of the ammunition being slung at Abramoff comes from a trove of his own e-mail released by congressional investigators. They show, for example:

—In 2002, Abramoff and an associate secretly funnel millions to consultant Reed, a former Christian Coalition leader, to help shut down a lucrative Texas casino operated by the Tigua Indians. "We should continue to pile on until the place is shuttered," Abramoff writes to Reed. Then Abramoff persuades the Tiguas to hire him and his associate, public relations consultant Michael Scanlon, to help reopen the casino. "Is life great or what!!!" he exults.

—Describing the distribution of one tribal payment, Abramoff discloses how little the Indian tribes were getting for their money: "He (Scanlon) divided the $5 million into three piles: $1 million for actual expenses and $2 million for each of us."

—Referring to their tribal clients, Abramoff writes to Scanlon that "the annoying losers are the only ones which have this kind of money and part with it so quickly." In other messages Abramoff refers to his Indian clients as the "stupidest idiots in the land," monkeys, troglodytes, morons and worse.

—In 2004, Abramoff recommends that the Tiguas retain him at no cost and at the same time proposes that the Eshkol Academy, a Jewish boys school that Abramoff founded just outside Washington, buy term life insurance policies on tribal elders and receive the benefits upon their death, with the money then channeled back to Abramoff. "In effect, Mr. Abramoff asked to be paid by putting prices on the lives of tribal elders," said retiring Republican Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado, then chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

While this was unfolding behind the scenes, Abramoff was being publicly held out as a Washington rainmaker of the first order who also managed to run an upscale restaurant, help his wife raise five children and stay true to his Orthodox Jewish beliefs.

"I'm the only lobbyist who took a 90 percent pay cut to join the lobbying field," he told The Hill newspaper in a gushy 2003 profile.

Blum, his spokesman, said Friday the e-mails that have since surfaced had "regrettable language not against all Native Americans as some are misleadingly saying, but against the opponents to Mr. Abramoff's clients. People often use colorful language in talking about their adversaries."

Abramoff's financial dealings related to DeLay are more convoluted, and Democrats in Congress are clamoring for an investigation into the financing of several of the majority leader's trips, which often involved rounds of golf. DeLay, for his part, has adamantly denied wrongdoing, and says no one should be trading on his name to get clients or make money.

Abramoff's career as a GOP activist has had multiple incarnations that over the years have placed him at the center of causes dear to conservatives and raised questions about financial dealings.

As head of the college Republicans, he helped coordinate a "national student liberation day" to celebrate the first anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Grenada. Although it was portrayed as a nonpartisan event, Abramoff wrote to campus Republicans: "I don't need to tell you how important this project is to our efforts as CR's (College Republicans)."

Later he worked for the conservative advocacy group Citizens for America until he was fired amid questions about mismanaged funds.

Then he became chairman of the conservative International Freedom Foundation, later revealed to be financed by the white South African government, according to the South African truth commission.

In 1986, Abramoff headed to Hollywood, where he produced "Red Scorpion," an anti-communist movie that allegedly got money from the South African military. It was the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994 that brought Abramoff back to Washington, where lobbying firms were looking to strengthen their GOP connections.

Abramoff's Republican credentials and long ties to Reed and Norquist, head of the conservative Americans for Tax Reform, made him a natural; now, all three are under the microscope of congressional investigators.

Marshall Wittman, a one-time conservative activist who now works for the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, sees Abramoff's rise and fall as emblematic of what he believes has happened to the conservative movement overall.

"Many other Reagan conservatives came to Washington with the stars of the revolution in their eyes and they ended up with very fat wallets in their back pockets," he said. "They came to do good and they ended up doing very, very well."

Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a congressional watchdog organization, said of Abramoff: "He's a case study for what needs to be done to change the rules."

DeLay Airfare Was Charged To Lobbyist's Credit Card
By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 24, 2005; Page A01

"The airfare to London and Scotland in 2000 for then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was charged to an American Express card issued to Jack Abramoff, a Washington lobbyist at the center of a federal criminal and tax probe, according to two sources who know Abramoff's credit card account number and to a copy of a travel invoice displaying that number.

DeLay's expenses during the same trip for food, phone calls and other items at a golf course hotel in Scotland were billed to a different credit card also used on the trip by a second registered Washington lobbyist, Edwin A. Buckham, according to receipts documenting that portion of the trip.

House ethics rules bar lawmakers from accepting travel and related expenses from registered lobbyists. DeLay, who is now House majority leader, has said that his expenses on this trip were paid by a nonprofit organization and that the financial arrangements for it were proper. He has also said he had no way of knowing that any lobbyist might have financially supported the trip, either directly or through reimbursements to the nonprofit organization."

Multiple sources, including DeLay's then-chief of staff Susan Hirschmann, have confirmed that DeLay's congressional office was in direct contact with Preston Gates about the trip itinerary before DeLay's departure, to work out details of his travel. These contacts raise questions about DeLay's statement that he had no way of knowing about the financial and logistical support provided by Abramoff and his firm.

Yesterday, DeLay's lawyer, Bobby R. Burchfield, said that DeLay's staff was aware that Preston Gates was trying to arrange meetings and hotels for the trip but that DeLay was unaware of the "logistics" of bill payments, and that DeLay "continues to understand his expenses" were properly paid by the nonprofit organization, the National Center for Public Policy Research.

In 2000, Abramoff was a board member of the group. In a telephone interview yesterday, Hirschmann said the contacts between DeLay's office and persons at Preston Gates occurred because Abramoff "was a board member of the sponsoring organization." Hirschmann added: "We were assured that the National Center paid for the trip."

House rules do not exempt such nonprofit organization board members from the prohibition on lobbyist payments for travel. They also state that this prohibition "applies even where the lobbyist . . . will later be reimbursed for those expenses by a non-lobbyist client."

Burchfield did not dispute that Abramoff used his credit card to pay for DeLay's plane fare, but said in a statement that "the majority leader has always believed and continues to believe that all appropriate expenses for the U.K. trip were paid by the National Center for Public Policy Research." He said that "to the extent that Mr. Abramoff put the charges on his personal credit card, Mr. DeLay has no knowledge of this. But that would be consistent with Mr. Abramoff obtaining full reimbursement from the National Center."

He said further that, in his view, Abramoff's participation on this trip as a board member meant he was permitted to pay for some of the expenses, subject to reimbursement, and that numerous court decisions recognize that different rules may be applicable to the same person acting in different capacities.

Andrew Blum, a publicist for Abramoff's lawyer and spokesman for Abramoff, did not respond to questions relating to the use of Abramoff's credit card for DeLay's plane fare. But he said in a statement yesterday that it was the National Center that "sponsored" the trip, "not Jack Abramoff."

Blum said that DeLay was "one of the center's honored guests on this trip" and that Abramoff "is being singled out for doing what is commonly done by lobbyists -- taking trips with members of Congress and their staff so that they can learn about issues that impact the Congress and government policy." The center's ability to sponsor "this type of educational trip, using contributor funds, is both legal and proper," Blum said.

DeLay was admonished three times last year by the House ethics committee for infringing rules governing lawmakers' activities and their contacts with registered lobbyists. House ethics rules bar the payment by lobbyists for any lawmaker's travel-connected entertainment and recreational activities costing more than $50; they also require that lawmakers accurately report the sponsor of their trips and the full cost.

In an article last month about the same trip by DeLay, The Post reported that an Indian tribe and a gambling services company made donations to the National Center for Public Policy Research that covered most of the expenses declared by participants at that time. The article also said these payments were made two months before DeLay voted against legislation opposed by the tribe and the company. DeLay has said the vote was unrelated to the payments.

The article also reported that Abramoff submitted an expense voucher to Preston Gates seeking a reimbursement of $12,789.73 to cover expenses for meals, hotels and transportation during the London and Scotland trip incurred by DeLay; his wife, Christine; and his two aides.

The new receipts add more detail about these expenses, make clear that the total expenses for all of the participants were at least $50,000 more than was previously known, and connect Abramoff directly to the payment of some charges.

For DeLay, the 10-day trip began on May 25 with a flight to London from Dulles airport and ended on June 3 with a return trip from Europe via Newark and ending in Houston. In between, his itinerary called for stops in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and St. Andrews, in Scotland. DeLay said the purpose of the trip was to hold meetings with "Conservative leaders" in Britain and Scotland, including Margaret Thatcher. The former prime minister's office has confirmed that such a meeting occurred.

DeLay's two aides, Tony Rudy and Susan Hirschmann, had an overlapping itinerary; Rudy participated from May 29 to June 3, and Hirschmann participated from May 22 to June 2. The spouses of Rudy and Buckham also were present.

The travel receipts do not make clear how the expenses for the entire trip -- which involved at least 10 people and which two sources said exceeded $120,000 -- were paid. One source familiar with the billings said yesterday that the National Center reimbursed Abramoff for the charges incurred by DeLay and his staff that were billed to Abramoff's credit card; but the receipts themselves do not indicate whether some of the charges incurred by Abramoff were ultimately reimbursed and, if so, by whom.

The receipts make clear that flights for DeLay and his wife were initially billed to Abramoff. The plane ticket for the husband of one of DeLay's aides -- David Hirschmann -- was billed to the same American Express card used for the DeLay tickets, according to a copy of the invoice.

Although Amy Ridenour, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research, has said she organized the trip, two other sources said that DeLay's round-trip business-class tickets on Continental Airlines and British Airways were booked by Preston Gates employees.

The itinerary and invoice for DeLay's trip, prepared by a travel service in Seattle, was sent by the service to Preston Gates on May 23, 2000, according to a copy of the invoice. That was two days before DeLay's departure. The invoice states that DeLay's business-class tickets on Continental Airlines and British Airways cost $6,938.70.

The records also indicate that the expenses associated with DeLay exceeded those that he declared in a signed statement to the House clerk on June 30, 2000. That form listed the purpose of the trip as "educational" and gave a tally of $28,106 in expenses for DeLay and his wife, or an average of $2,800 a day; it stated that all of these charges were paid by the National Center for Public Policy Research, which provided the data to DeLay.

Receipts from the golfing portion of the trip show that DeLay accumulated additional charges, which, according to fees set by the tour arranger, amounted to nearly $5,000 for each golfer and totaled in the tens of thousands of dollars for the entire group. Fees associated with playing golf are not listed on DeLay's travel disclosure form. Burchfield, DeLay's lawyer, said DeLay "personally paid for two rounds of golf and understands that the other two rounds of golf he played were included in his hotel package" and reimbursed by the National Center.

A copy of the $184 bill for the DeLays' expenses during the trip at a separate hotel in St. Andrews -- the Old Course Hotel Golf Resort & Spa -- states that those charges were paid by the same American Express credit card used on the trip by Buckham, the lobbyist, to pay for his own hotel room at the Glasgow Hilton. Buckham could not be reached by phone at home or his office and did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment. Burchfield said he cannot explain how this happened and did not know who owned this credit card; he also said DeLay was unaware of this fact.

Buckham, a former chief of staff to DeLay, was at the time a registered lobbyist for AT&T, Enron Corp., and the Nuclear Energy Institute. DeLay's wife was employed, at the time of the trip, by Buckham's lobbying firm, the Alexander Strategy Group, and was receiving a salary from it, according to DeLay's personal financial disclosure statement for that year, on file with the House clerk.

Abramoff, at the time of the trip, represented eLottery Inc. , a gambling services company that opposed the Internet gambling bill pending before the House. Preston Gates registered as a lobbyist for eLottery on June 2, 2000, one day before the trip ended; later in the year, Abramoff registered as a lobbyist for other clients who opposed the bill, including several Indian tribes. The federal probe is looking into his handling of his tribal clients and the large fees he was paid.

Hirschmann and her husband ultimately accumulated charges of 2,073 British pounds, or about $3,109 at the prevailing exchange rate for four nights in their "superior" room at the London Four Seasons Hotel. Those charges included $129 at the hotel lounge, $75 from the room bar, $34 from the gift shop, and $422 for chauffeured cars, according to a copy of their hotel bill. Hirschmann said one car was used to reach the meeting with Thatcher.

At least one of the Hirschmanns also played golf at St. Andrews. Susan Hirschmann is now a lobbyist at the Washington firm of Williams & Jensen; the firm's Web site contains a published claim that DeLay and other House Republican leaders are in frequent contact with her. As a staff member at the time of the trip, she would have been covered by the same ethics rules that apply to DeLay and other House members. Rudy, her staff colleague at the time, now works for Buckham's lobbying firm.

DeLay and his wife, for their part, stayed for four nights in a "conservatory" room at the same hotel in London as Hirschmann, accumulating charges of roughly $790 a night for rooms that included a glass-enclosed porch overlooking London's Park Lane, according to a copy of the bill for their stay and the Web site of the hotel.

They also ran up hotel charges of $145 for room service, $13 for a valet pressing and $302 for a private car from Heathrow airport, the bill states. Their room bill also lists a charge of $434 for six theater tickets, but Burchfield said the DeLays do not recall attending any plays in London. He said if the hotel charges were being "picked up" by a representative of the National Center, "they would not necessarily have seen the hotel bill."

DeLay, Burchfield said, "does not know how the logistics . . . [of the bill payments for the trip] were being effectuated."

House ethics rules contain detailed provisions barring the acceptance of any travel funds from private sources if doing so would "create the appearance of using public office for private gain." They also obligate lawmakers to "make inquiry on the source of the funds that will be used to pay" for any travel ostensibly financed by a nonprofit organization -- to rule out the acceptance of reimbursements that come from one organization when a trip is "in fact organized and conducted by someone else."

Trips outside the United States are also not supposed to exceed a week in length out of concern, the rules state, for "the public perception that such trips often may amount to paid vacations for the Member and his family at the expense of special interest groups." Research editor Lucy Shackelford and researchers Alice Crites and Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Dick Cheney Lied. Well OK So No Big Surprise.

I heard Dick's speech today and he lied through his teeth.

Cheney said a minority of senators are using the filibuster to, in effect, establish a 60-vote requirement for judicial confirmation "in an astounding departure from historical precedent."

Well, that ain't true folks.

Senator Hatch’s Double Standards and Abuse of Power
The Blue Slip Policy
In the past, Hatch has been a fervent supporter of the Senate’s “blue slip” policy, which has allowed home-state senators who object to a judicial nominee to delay action in the Judiciary Committee by not returning a nominee’s “blue slip” to the committee. As American Prospect has noted, “it was Hatch, in 1995, who hardened the blue-slip policy to allow a single senator to block a nomination indefinitely.” Indeed, Sen. Hatch made his blue slip policy explicit in 1998 by stating on the blue slips themselves that “[n]o further proceedings on this nominee will be scheduled until both blue slips have been returned by the nominee’s home state senators.”

Now, however, Hatch has apparently declared a new policy saying that even though a senator’s decision not to return a blue slip would be given great weight, it would not be allowed to prevent Hatch from moving nominees he wants to move. “In other words,” says Hatch, “we can go ahead with certain nominees where you might have a withheld blue slip.” Sen. Barbara Boxer in particular has objected to proceeding on controversial nominee Carolyn Kuhl, regarding whom Boxer has not returned her blue slip, but indications from Hatch are that he will proceed on the nomination, in blatant contradiction of his own policy.

The Multiple-Nominee Hearing

Sen. Hatch held a single confirmation hearing featuring three controversial appeals court nominees simultaneously – Jeffrey Sutton, Deborah Cook, and John Roberts – on January 29. Scheduling multiple controversial appeals court nominees on a single day violated a longstanding bipartisan agreement. In the mid-1980s, Senators Strom Thurmond, Joseph Biden, Bob Dole, and Robert Byrd agreed in writing that there would be no more than one controversial nominee scheduled at any one time, an agreement that had been followed under both Republican and Democratic control until Hatch’s packed January 29th hearing.

Hatch’s move virtually assured that it would be impossible for senators to prepare thoroughly and for all three nominees to receive sufficient scrutiny. In fact, senators focused their questions on Sutton, meaning that nominees Roberts and Cook were asked very few questions. To date, Hatch has refused requests for additional hearings on these nominees, and as previously noted, violated a standing Judiciary Committee rule in order to push Roberts and Cook out of Committee in spite of the fact that they had not yet been subjected to meaningful scrutiny.

In contrast, Hatch is holding today an additional hearing for Priscilla Owen and is scheduling an additional hearing for Charles Pickering, two nominees who were rejected by the Judiciary Committee last year after in-depth hearings (two in Pickering’s case) at which senators from both parties had ample opportunity to examine their records.

The Filibuster as a Check on Abuse and an Incentive for Bipartisanship

Sen. Hatch has made it clear that his goal of speeding up the confirmation conveyor belt is overriding his professed commitment to fairness and the Judiciary Committee’s own written policies and longstanding traditions. Coupled with the Bush administration’s defiant refusal to engage in genuine bipartisan consultation and compromise on judicial nominations, Hatch’s actions underscore the fact that the filibuster is the only remaining tool at Democratic senators’ disposal to prevent the administration from packing the appellate courts with right-wing ideologues and the only way to give the administration any incentive to come to the bargaining table in good faith.

Hatch and other Republican leaders are now suggesting that it is unconstitutional to filibuster judicial nominees. Their arguments are without merit and are blatantly opportunistic given Republicans’ use and defense of the filibuster in the past. Senator Richard Lugar explained in 1993 that it is “a function of our Constitution that minorities are protected in many, many ways,” and that this is part of the rationale for the continued existence of the filibuster. In defending a filibuster on a judicial nomination in 1994, Hatch himself explained that the filibuster is “one of the few tools the minority has to protect itself and those the minority represents.”
Republicans used the filibuster to prevent the confirmation of Abe Fortas as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1968 and the confirmation of Henry Foster as Surgeon General in 1995. Cloture petitions were necessary to obtain votes on the nominations of both Richard Paez and Marsha Berzon to the Ninth Circuit in 2000; Paez was delayed for over four years. Indeed, current Senate Majority Leader Frist was among those voting against cloture on the Paez nomination. Since 1980, cloture motions have been filed on 14 lower court nominations, according to the Congressional Research Service. All of this, some Republicans now claim, was unconstitutional.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Case Study - Anatomy of A Republican Attack

Air America Radio has enjoyed phenomenal growth and success of the last year. The fledgling outfit has managed to bring on affiliates all over the country and recently entered the Los Angeles radio market.

So what would you do if you were a scared and ethically challenged Republican? You would try and discourage businesses from buying ad spots on AAR. How would you do that you might ask? You convince people that a thriving business is failing.

And that leads us to the Republican asshole of the weeks op/ed piece:

Why the Liberals Can't Keep Air America From Spiraling In

By Brian C. Anderson

Folks, please email the LA Times and let them know we aren't falling for this kind or transparent attack:

L.A. Times Comment Form

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Did Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn Adopt Cats from Animal Shelters and Kill Them?

On the surface this sounds like an outlandish claim. But, guess what, it's true!

" Frist acknowledged in a 1989 book that he routinely killed cats while an ambitious medical student at Harvard Medical School in the 1970s. His office said it had no record on how many cats died. Frist disclosed that he went to animal shelters and pretended to adopt the cats, telling shelter personnel he intended to keep them as pets. Instead he used them to sharpen his surgical skills, killing them in the process."

Culture of life my ass!

Killing defenseless animals in unacceptable no matter what religion you are.

Frist asked to atone for killing cats

How Much Proof Do You Require?

So far the war in Iraq has cost our country over $200 billion. Our country is experiencing the highest oil prices in history. We were led to war on false promises, regardless of what the kool-aid drinkers tell you.

Let's review:

Sadaam had WMDs:

This is now completely and irrefutably proven to be false. There were no WMDs, they were not carted off to Syria, and plenty of people knew it in advance. The French and Germans did not agree with us on WMD no matter how many times Sean Hannity lies and tells you they did.

Sadaam Helped Al Queda:

According to recently de-classified documents there was no cooperative link between Sadaam's govt and Al Queda. But, these recent docs are just icing on an already well established cake.

Iraq's Oil will pay for all this:

I don't have to go any further, you are paying for it at the pump.

Levin Releases Newly Declassified Intelligence Documents on Iraq-al Qaeda Relationship
Analysis: WMD panel threatened resignations
Bush Intel Panel Sees Difficult Task Ahead

Special Post: The Book Meme

At the request of my good friend Revolutionary Paradigm.

You are stuck inside "Fahrenheit 451." Which book would you be?

I would be the Epic of Gilgamesh because it was written on clay tablets.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Do you mean like when Bugs wears a dress? Just kidding. Sure, I was big in love with Princess Leia.

What is the last book you bought?

Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies (Hornblower Saga)
by C.S. Forester

What are you currently reading?

See above.

Five books you would take to a deserted island:

1) Wilderness Survival Guide

2) The Lord of the Rings.

3) Guadalcanal Diary.

4) Shakespeare (complete works).

5) 50 Ways to Cook Wild Pig.

I'm looking for vounteers to pass on the Book Meme to. Email me.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Bush administration eliminating 19-year-old international terrorism report

Bush administration eliminating 19-year-old international terrorism report

By Jonathan S. Landay

Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - The State Department decided to stop publishing an annual report on international terrorism after the government's top terrorism center concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985, the first year the publication covered.

Friday, April 15, 2005

House Republicans Vote to Keep Ethics Commission Weak And Ineffective

House Republicans brushed aside a Democrat attempt to strengthen ethics rules on Thursday. You may remember that House Republicans voted to weaken ethics rules in order to protect Republican Representative Tom Delay who faces a number of ethics and legal charges.

"The vote was 218-195, along party lines, to kill the proposal by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader.

The California Democrat swiftly issued a statement accusing Republicans of showing "allegiance to the ethics standards of Tom DeLay." DeLay, the majority leader, is battling charges of misconduct.

Republicans held ranks one day after a few lawmakers expressed concern at a closed-door meeting over the party's handling of the ethics issue."

Source: House GOP kills Dems' ethics proposal

In a related story:

Ten former members of Congress, all Republicans, joined in a letter to the House leadership on Thursday to say they believed that revisions in House ethics rules this year were an 'obvious action to protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay' from investigation. They said the changes needed to be reversed 'to restore public confidence in the People's House."

Source: New York Times

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Republicans Fail to support the troops by blocking veterans benefits

Yesterday Republicans once again showed how little they care for our troops when they blocked an amendment to the Senate supplemental military spending bill. The Repugnant Hypocrites where happy enough to approve $80 billion in additional spending on the Iraq war, but could not find it in their shriveled little hearts to throw a $2 billion bone to those doing the fighting.

Support the troops my ass!

* Bloggers, please pick up this story! This is very important and goes to show that the issues the American people care about are not the issues Republicans care about.

Here are the names of the no voters:

NAYs ---54
Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Allen (R-VA)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burns (R-MT)
Burr (R-NC)
Chafee (R-RI)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Coleman (R-MN)
Collins (R-ME)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
DeWine (R-OH)
Dole (R-NC)
Domenici (R-NM)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Frist (R-TN)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagel (R-NE)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lott (R-MS)
Lugar (R-IN)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Roberts (R-KS)
Santorum (R-PA)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Smith (R-OR)
Snowe (R-ME)
Stevens (R-AK)
Sununu (R-NH)
Talent (R-MO)
Thomas (R-WY)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (R-VA)

Republicans Who Voted No to Veterans
Senate rejects increased funding for veterans

Notice To Republicans

If you hate gays so much.....Don't be gay!

I'm a fat guy, I don't go around bashing fat people!

Get it!

F*cking hypocrites!


Monday, April 11, 2005

Hypocrisy Alert - Arthur Finkelstein married his gay lover

Arthur Finkelstein, a New York political consultant, who worked to elect strongly conservative Republican politicians married his gay lover. Fink-elstein has worked to benefit Jesse Helmes and Gov. George Pataki to name a few.

According to former President Bill Clinton, "Either this guy believes his party is not serious and is totally Machiavellian in his position or there's some sort of self-loathing there...I was more sad for him".

What's Arthur going to do now you ask?

Well, he is organizing an attack on Hilary Clinton, called "Stop Hillary" which includes direct mail and Internet-based fund-raising efforts.

So, basically this dirt bag is attacking the only people who want to defend his way of life. What an asshole.


Sunday, April 10, 2005

Follow up on Shiavo Memogate

All 55 republican senators said the memo didn't exist.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Republican Shiavo Exploitation Memo Authentic

After weeks of crying foul and claiming a "liberal media conspiracy" was out to get them. Republican hypocrites quietly admit they circulated a memo encouraging their people to exploit the Terri Shiavo case.

Now they are trying to shirk responsibility by scapegoat the memo onto the shoulder of some insignificant aid. Their propaganda machine has given up the "fake memo" defense in favor of saddling some young aid with the blame.

"It is with profound disappointment and regret that I learned today that a senior member of my staff was unilaterally responsible for this document," Senator Mel Martinez said.

Get the full stroy:
Florida senator's aide resigns over Schiavo memo

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Rush A Nazi? On the lighter side of politics.

Monday, April 04, 2005

GOP Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) says violence against judges is understandable

GOP Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) says violence against judges is understandable

"Just about one hour ago on the Senate floor, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) gave an astounding account of the recent spate of violence against judges, suggesting that the crimes could be attributed to the fact that judges are "unaccountable" to the public. Sources on the Hill went and pulled the transcript of what Cornyn said, and it read:
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: "I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that's been on the news and I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in - engage in violence." [Senate Floor, 4/4/05]
We now have Republican Senators making excuses for terrorists. Explaining why terrorism is understandable. Why terrorists have legitimate concerns. Justifying why the victims of terrorism are really to blame for these heinous crimes. Wonder what Senator Cornyn thinks of rape victims?"

This is unbelievable but totally true. I got this from This is straight from the transcripts "
and this is 100% correct and in context".

Pissed On Politics: How Do We Fight Neo-Cons?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Border security not a Republican priority - Citizens take matters into their own hands

The now familiar trend of hypocrisy in the Republican party has finally reached a fevered pitch. While corporate agriculture lines the pockets of Republican politicians, conservative grass roots activists decide to do the job themselves. Yes, their Senators and Representatives campaigned on border security. Yes, they were told that once their side got power they would get the problem addressed. But, as usual with the Republicans, big money wins out. The construction, agriculture, and service industries all benefit from the cheap labor gained by politicians looking the other way.

Citizen patrols to block Mexican migrants

"Several hundred people are preparing to launch their own border patrols in Arizona this weekend, with the intent of stopping illegal migrants from crossing the border."