Thursday, June 30, 2005
Coin-Gate-Who cries for Tom Noe?
Three days before a judge barred coin dealer Tom Noe from selling personal assets, he collected a $35,000 windfall May 24 by selling a vintage sports car won in a raffle.A $4MM house is hard times for a Republican. All the more so, if it is your last Florida house left.
As Mr. Noe’s troubles have mounted in recent months, the Republican activist has sold a boat, a car, and a pair of houses.
But his efforts to raise cash, some of them authorized by a Franklin County Common Pleas Court judge to pay for future living and legal expenses, have been met with scrutiny by investigators looking into a shortfall of up to $13 million in rare-coin investments Mr. Noe managed for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation....
A lawyer representing Mrs. Noe has told the court she is “destitute,” said D. Michael Grodhaus, a top deputy to Ohio’s attorney general.
“Yet it is our understanding she is living in Florida in a $4 million house,” he said.
Sorta makes you feel warm and secure
The money was spent in the name of improving security at the nation's airports:But wait, there's more!
· $526.95 for one phone call from the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Chicago to Iowa City.
· $1,180 for 20 gallons of Starbucks Coffee -- $3.69 a cup -- at the Santa Clara Marriott in California.
· $1,540 to rent 14 extension cords at $5 each per day for three weeks at the Wyndham Peaks Resort and Golden Door Spa in Telluride, Colo.
· $8,100 for elevator operators at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan.
· $5.4 million claimed for nine months' salary for the chief executive of an "event logistics" firm that received a contract before it was incorporated and went out of business after the contract ended.
Those details are contained in a federal audit that calls into question $303 million of the $741 million spent to assess and hire airport passenger screeners for the newly created Transportation Security Administration after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The audit, along with interviews with people involved in the passenger-screener contract, paints a rare and detailed portrait of how officials at the fledgling agency lost control of the spending in the pell-mell rush to hire 60,000 screeners to meet a one-year congressional deadline.
The audit, performed by the Defense Contract Audit Agency at the TSA's behest, spotlights scores of expenses: $20-an-hour temporary workers billed to the government at $48 per hour, subcontractors who signed out $5,000 in cash at a time with no supporting documents, $377,273.75 in unsubstantiated long-distance phone calls, $514,201 to rent tents that flooded in a rainstorm, $4.4 million in "no show" fees for job candidates who did not appear for tests.But before you get discouraged, just remember all the nail clippers they stopped from getting on airplanes. They worked hard for your safety.
Like the guy who picks up the tip his wife left for the waiter
As if he didn't have enough problems, U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham also is facing questions over use of the congressional seal on a $595 Buck knife that he sells through a company he owns.Real class!
The company, Top Gun Enterprises Inc., was established in 1987, primarily as a vehicle to sell "Fox Two," a book Cunningham published about his experiences as a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War.
On the company's Web site, www.topguninc.com, Cunningham advertises the knives as including the seal of the U.S. Congress.
Federal law prohibits use of the seal on commercial products unless Congress has given express consent. There is no record of Congress' ever giving approval for use of the seal on the knives.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
WaPo shows how deeply the Bushoviks love our veterans.
The Bush administration disclosed yesterday that it had vastly underestimated the number of service personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan seeking medical treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and warned that the health care programs will be short at least $2.6 billion next year unless Congress approves additional funds.A fourfold increase! We know the Bushoviks don't change their little minds, but how bad is it when they won't change their assumptions?
Veterans Affairs budget documents projected that 23,553 veterans would return this year from Iraq and Afghanistan and seek medical treatment. However, Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson told a Senate committee that the number has been revised upward to 103,000 for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. He said the original estimates were based on outdated assumptions from 2002.
AmericaBlog slices and dices The Man Without a Plan
The American people have lost confidence in George Bush as our Commander in Chief. The American people are reluctant to admit it, but they realize George Bush is a weak military leader.Life would be a lot easier for ODL if he wasn't perfect.
Last night, Bush had a chance to restore our confidence. He failed. Bush gave the same tired speech he's been giving for the past few years. His idea of confronting cold, hard facts is to say that war is "tough" and "hard," as if this were news to the American people. Bush could have acknowledged mistakes, but he is incapable of that. Bush might have given a realistic picture of where we stand in Iraq and offered concrete proposals for making it better, but he only offered blithe happy talk that everything is great and we're going to prevail.
A real military leader faces the facts on the ground. Problems arise -- they always do -- and have to be dealt with. A real leader recognizes problems, attacks them and solves them. But Bush refuses to acknowledge any problems.
She's got two!
President Bush spoke tonight and his silence was deafening. If anyone was surprised… if anyone was shocked to see their Commander-In-Chief so divorced from reality, they really haven’t been paying much attention. But day by day more Americans are seeing the light.Read her thoughts and call your moop today.
Each day they see the news… More casualties. More wounded. Billions of dollars lost or wasted. Congress cutting off veterans benefits. New memos discovered detailing White House plans to invade Iraq using manipulated or manufactured evidence. The list goes on and on.
Quote of the Day
"I assume he wants to provoke us, but it’s hard to work up much interest for someone who in his continued warm embrace of Jack Abramoff is doing a more than adequate job of marginalizing himself. Most Reagan revolutionaries came to Washington to do something more patriotic than rip off Indian tribes."
-- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to Grover Norquist after being called a "nut job." Quoted by Roll Call.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Hey Jenna & NotJenna! Show your dad how a real man goes to war.
It's not moving by itself, it's good enough for the troops.
Rory Mayberry, a former KBR food manager at Camp Anaconda in Iraq, testified on videotape from Baghdad that the company charged for twice the number of meals it provided and served food beyond its expiration date. He said managers ordered workers to pick bullets and shrapnel out of food shipments that had been damaged by gunfire or bombings and serve it to troops.Yum! That is how real men get their iron each day.
Whistle-blower testimony and a previously undisclosed Army audit found Halliburton and its subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) inflated cost estimates, billed for unnecessary equipment and personnel, submitted millions of dollars in duplicate charges and was repeatedly given preferential treatment over other contractors.Those are your tax dollars because the corporations and rich folk all got tax breaks.
The report cited these examples of inflated costs:
• $617,000 for double-billed soft drinks.
• $1 million in excessive laundry charges.
• More than $560,000 for unneeded heavy equipment, including tractors and trailers.
• $2.2 million for cargo aircraft and $7.6 million for freight costs that "appeared to be duplicate."
• $1.4 million to pay 146 workers at a facility that had only 62.
The Army audit blamed lax Defense Department oversight, saying Pentagon officials often discarded lower government cost estimates in favor of the contractor's inflated ones. While the government estimated it would take $1.9 million to run Baghdad's airport, Halliburton charged $12.8 million. A contract to run Camp Arifjan in Kuwait cost $10.8 million instead of the government $2.8 million estimate.
A separate Defense Contract Audit Agency review revealed $219 million in questioned charges related to fuel imports by Halliburton.
Quote vs. Quote
george w. bush, 6/3/99: “i think it’s also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn.”
george w. bush, 6/24/05: “it doesn’t make any sense to have a timetable. you know, if you give a timetable, you’re — you’re conceding too much to the enemy.”
Religious perverts protest soldiers funeral
On the corner of a narrow street lined with Colonial-era buildings, the Kansas contingent tried shouting its anti-homosexual message at mourners who overflowed from the church. But every time demonstrators spoke out, the 14-man Boston Police Department bagpipe band broke into thunderous sound.Fred & Co. act like swine and the town acts in a christian manner. Do you think any of Freds slime understood?
"I thought that was cool," said Day Newburg, 34, who stood outside the church with her husband, mother-in-law and 2-year-old daughter. "Those bagpipers drowned them right out."
The Kansas group, which had been issued a two-hour protest permit, was escorted out of town by police minutes before the horse-drawn caisson carrying Piper's flag-draped coffin arrived at the church.
CunningScam has its first major burnout
A source close to Wade said he is selling the company to preserve the jobs of the several hundred people it employs.They fold up their tents and slip away into the night.
The move continues a corporate roller-coaster ride for the embattled MZM that began June 12 when the Union-Tribune disclosed that Wade had purchased and sold Cunningham's Del Mar-area house at a $700,000 loss.
It was later revealed that Wade has allowed the Rancho Santa Fe Republican to live aboard his yacht in Washington.
After those revelations, Wade selected Frank Bragg, MZM's chief operating officer, to replace him as CEO and president. But Friday evening, Bragg abruptly left the Washington-based company.
Kay Cole James, MZM's senior executive vice president for national security transformation, also resigned on Friday. She had only joined the company last month.
President Bush appointed James director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in 2001, and she previously worked in federal posts during the administrations of Presidents George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.
Several lower-level MZM employees also resigned Friday.
Wade had been quietly planning to sell the company as early as next year to its employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, or ESOP, according to several close or former associates.
It was unclear last night whether the accelerated timetable was a result of the controversy surrounding Wade's ties to Cunningham or resulted from other factors.
Wade had anticipated making $100 million on the company's sale, according to the sources, a goal that appears less likely now.
Monday, June 27, 2005
Bagels funded from Ohio vault with no Lox
Risky investments by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation didn't end with rare coins and a Bermuda hedge fund. Add bagels to the list.No bout a doubt it, Ohio needs to clean house.
Bureau officials have more than $346 million in venture capital funds, which typically provide start-up financing or loans to firms that have had trouble borrowing from conventional sources.
While nontraditional investments are designed to offset lackluster returns from the stock and bond markets, the bureau recorded a 15 percent loss from those picks as of late May.
A number of journalists at this point have testified as to the administration officials that spread the Plame leak to them, including the Washington Post's Walter Pincus. But at this point, the number of administration officials involved in the case would appear to extend far beyond that of the original Novak leaker or leakers. (In addition, Novak himself has changed his story multiple times -- first citing a CIA source in his conversation with Wilson, then citing two "senior administration officials" in his subsequent column -- as well as changing his story as to how and why he was given the information by those officials. In short, Novak has probably given testimony to Fitzgerald, but that testimony is probably deeply suspect.) If the testimony of other interviewed reporters and administration officials conflicts, there would certainly be a solid basis for a more encompassing obstruction investigation -- and that appears to be what is taking place.A good read.
Sunday, June 26, 2005
I never did like MIller
Soldiers speaks from Iraq
And a National Guardsman blogs with the help of a friend in Arizona.http://leonardclark.com/blog
"No nation can negotiate with terrorists." Our Dear Leader 4/4/02
Other experts suggested the mediating role of Iraq’s tribal sheikhs showed that Sunni leaders were tiring of the violence but dared not say so publicly for fear of being seen as American stooges.
“My gut hunch is that the tribal leadership are practical men of affairs,” one specialist said. “Their view is that the insurgency is bad for business, but they can’t come out and say that without risking a bullet in the head.”
Bush acknowledged on Friday that “the way ahead is not going to be easy” and for once the Iraqi insurgent commander agreed with him.
“It looks like the Americans are in big trouble in Iraq and are desperate to find a way out,” the commander said. “Why else would they have rounds of negotiations with people they label as terrorists?”
And now, the rest of the story
While Bush was reading “The Pet Goat” to children in Florida and pulling the rather stupid face you see in the picture, New York firefighters were responding to the first strike of the largest terrorist attack in the history of the world. Two hours later, while Mr. Bush was scurrying around the country, “trying to get out of harm’s way”, 343 men from the NYFD would be dead, along with 60 NYPD and Port Authority officers, and 2,420 other people, as WTC1 and 2 collapsed. Thousands of people - New Yorkers - labored to clean up the smoldering ruin, and to remove the bodies, and pieces of bodies, of their family, friends, and neighbors. Three days later, Bush showed up at Ground Zero with a megaphone, and vowed to get those responsible. He didn’t.No brave Turd Blossom anywhere.
If it quacks like a duck...
In fact Americans are most concerned about rising petrol prices, a possible housing market crash and job creation: issues that Bush rarely touches. 'Bush's second-term agenda has been very strange. He is not talking about anything America cares about,' said Zogby. For Bush, who has fought his last campaign, that might not be a problem. But for Republican senators and congressmen, facing a tough re-election fight in 2006, it is a paramount concern. Not only does Bush appear out of touch with voters; he is out of touch with his party's needs.Let us hope the Bushoviks continue to not learn from their mistakes.
And today in Iraq
In Mosul, the attacker detonated the pickup truck near a rear wall adjacent to the two-story headquarters, leaving the downtown building partially destroyed. U.S. Army Capt. Mark Walter, a spokesman in Mosul, said 10 policemen and two civilians were killed, while eight others were wounded.And George still has not told Ameicans why he started this.
All the roads were blocked at the time of the 6:15 a.m. blast except for one that leads to the market, and the pickup truck was allowed to pass through a checkpoint because it was carrying watermelons, policeman Mohammed Hussein Ali, 30, said.
Less than two hours later, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a parking lot outside an Iraqi army base on the outskirts of Mosul, killing 16 people and wounding seven, Walter said. Most of the victims were civilian workers arriving at the site, he said.
A third attacker strapped with a belt of explosives walked into Mosul Jumhouri Teaching Hospital at 2:15 p.m. and blew himself up in a room reserved for police officers guarding the facility, killing five policemen, police Brig. Gen. Wathiq Mohammed Tahr said.
Eight policemen and four civilians also were wounded in the attack, Walter said.
The roadside bomb struck a U.S. convoy at 10:40 a.m., killing a soldier and wounding two others in the capital, said Sgt. 1st Class David Abrams, a spokesman for Task Force Baghdad
In other violence Sunday:
-A mortar round exploded at a house in eastern Baghdad, killing a woman and two children, police Lt. Col. Foad Assad said. One child was wounded.
-Gunmen killed police Col. Riyad Abdul Karim, an assistant district police director of emergency services, at his apartment in another neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, police Lt. Col. Hassan Challoub said.
-A suicide car bomb struck an Iraqi police convoy by a checkpoint near the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk, wounding four police officers, police Brig. Gen. Sarhad Qadr said.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Our Dear Leader prepares for the return of his master.
A massive crack in the earth opened up last week in Claude, Texas and it's creating a stir among geologists.How far is Claude from Crawford? Is ODL a 21st century Renfield? Just asking.
Some parts measure more than 30-feet deep and it drained what used to be a pond. Experts say earth cracks are common but the size of the crack in Claude is not.
It's a good thing we're not at war.
When Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld visited Iraq last year to tour the Abu Ghraib prison camp, military officials did not rely on a government-issued Humvee to transport him safely on the ground. Instead, they turned to Halliburton, the oil services contractor, which lent the Pentagon a rolling fortress of steel called the Rhino Runner.
State Department officials traveling in Iraq use armored vehicles that are built with V-shaped hulls to better deflect bullets and bombs. Members of Congress favor another model, called the M1117, which can endure 12-pound explosives and .50-caliber armor-piercing rounds.
Unlike the Humvee, the Pentagon's vehicle of choice for American troops, the others were designed from scratch to withstand attacks in battlefields like Iraq with no safe zones. Last fall, for instance, a Rhino traveling the treacherous airport road in Baghdad endured a bomb that left a six-foot-wide crater. The passengers walked away unscathed. "I have no doubt should I have been in any other vehicle," wrote an Army captain, the lone military passenger, "the results would have been catastrophically different."
Yet more than two years into the war, efforts by United States military units to obtain large numbers of these stronger vehicles for soldiers have faltered - even as the Pentagon's program to armor Humvees continues to be plagued by delays, an examination by The New York Times has found.
Just another day in Iraq
The suicide car bomb and ensuing small-arms fire killed at least four Marines, and a Marine and a sailor were missing and presumed dead, the military said Saturday. At least one woman was killed, and 11 of the 13 wounded troops were female.And the big fool says to push on.
The relentless carnage from the Sunni Arab-dominated insurgency has killed more than 1,263 people since April 28, when al-Jaafari announced his Shiite-dominated government.
In one such sectarian killing, gunmen Friday targeted an aide to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric. Police said two bodyguards also were killed trying to protect another Shiite cleric in Baghdad's predominantly Shiite al-Amin district.
On Saturday, a suicide car bomber blew himself up outside a police officer's home north of Baghdad, killing at least nine people, police and hospital officials said. The bomber, accompanied by five cars loaded with armed insurgents, slammed into a wall outside the home of Lt. Muthana al-Shaker in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, said police Lt. Qassim Mohammed.
All those killed were on the street. Al-Shaker was not injured, Mohammed said.
Later, three mortar rounds struck a crowded cafe in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood in the capital, killing five civilians and wounding seven, police said. The strike occurred at about 9 p.m., when many people are on the streets before an 11 p.m. curfew.
Elsewhere, gunmen ambushed a police patrol in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi, killing eight policemen Friday, police and hospital officials said Saturday.
Gunmen killed two policemen from a commando unit patrolling western Baghdad on Saturday, police 1st Lt. Thaer Mahmoud said. In addition, Iraqi police found the corpse of a uniformed policeman in another section of Baghdad, his hands bound behind his back and plastic wire around his neck, police Capt. Mohammed Izz al-Din said.
In a separate incident Saturday, gunmen killed three policemen on a road about 46 miles south of Amarah, police 1st Lt. Hussein Karim Hassan said.
No markdowns in this market.
Coin-Gate, uh, Never Mind
Most of the 121 Ohio-owned rare coins believed to be missing from the Colorado office of Tom Noe's $50 million coin venture were accounted for when state fraud inspectors inventoried the collection last month, an attorney for the Maumee coin dealer told The Blade.Now if only they could do something about that other pesky problem.
The recovered valuables include some of the 119 coins valued at $93,000 that auditors could not locate during an examination of the company's books a year ago. Investigators, however, continue to search for the $10 gold coin from 1845 and $3 gold coin from 1855 worth about $300,000, which were reported stolen in 2003.
Attorneys for Mr. Noe told Ohio authorities last month that $10 million to $12 million of the coin fund's assets were missing. Mr. Noe, a Republican fund-raiser, is facing multiple state and federal investigations.Gotta be careful when you open a can of worms.
Our Dear Leader-The Man with The Plan
Bush, acknowledging the prominent role that wavering public support for the war has played in his own drop in popularity, interrupted a reporter inquiring about his sluggish second-term agenda to supply a term used to characterize prolonged U.S. involvement in Vietnam.A quagmire indeed!
"A quagmire, perhaps?" Bush said.
A Bad Tux beats a pair of Neo-Cons anyday.
1. Bolsheviks used ideology as an excuse for looting the wealth of nations for the benefit of a Party elite. Busheviks use ideology as an excuse for looting the wealth of nations for the benefit of a Party elite.And there is more, give him a read, you won't be sorry.
Kristen Breitweiser answers Turd Blossom
More to the point, Karl when you say, “Conservatives saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and prepared for war,” what exactly did you do to prepare for your war? Did your preparations include: sound intelligence to warrant your actions; a reasonable entry and exit strategy coupled with a coherent plan to carry out that strategy; the proper training and equipment for the troops you were sending in to fight your war? Did you follow the advice of experts such as General Shinseki who correctly advised you about the troop levels needed to actually succeed in Iraq? No, you didn't.Read the rest of her eloquent statement here.
Friday, June 24, 2005
Sign the Petition
What people find particularly frustrating is the fact that while Baghdad seems to be falling apart in so many ways with roads broken and pitted, buildings blasted and burnt out and residential areas often swimming in sewage, the Green Zone is flourishing. The walls surrounding restricted areas housing Americans and Puppets have gotten higher- as if vying with the tallest of date palms for height. The concrete reinforcements and road blocks designed to slow and impede traffic are now a part of everyday scenery- the road, the trees, the shops, the earth, the sky… and the ugly concrete slabs sometimes wound insidiously with barbed wire.Ah, the delicious taste of genuine, imported Freedom.
The price of building materials has gone up unbelievably, in spite of the fact that major reconstruction has not yet begun. I assumed it was because so much of the concrete and other building materials was going to reinforce the restricted areas. A friend who recently got involved working with an Iraqi subcontractor who takes projects inside of the Green Zone explained that it was more than that. The Green Zone, he told us, is a city in itself. He came back awed, and more than a little bit upset. He talked of designs and plans being made for everything from the future US Embassy and the housing complex that will surround it, to restaurants, shops, fitness centers, gasoline stations, constant electricity and water- a virtual country inside of a country with its own rules, regulations and government. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Republic of the Green Zone, also known as the Green Republic.
“The Americans won’t be out in less than ten years.” Is how the argument often begins with the friend who has entered the Green Republic. “How can you say that?” Is usually my answer- and I begin to throw around numbers- 2007, 2008 maximum… Could they possibly want to be here longer? Can they afford to be here longer? At this, T. shakes his head- if you could see the bases they are planning to build- if you could see what already has been built- you’d know that they are going to be here for quite a while.
The Green Zone is a source of consternation and aggravation for the typical Iraqi. It makes us anxious because it symbolises the heart of the occupation and if fortifications and barricades are any indicator- the occupation is going to be here for a long time. It is a provocation because no matter how anyone tries to explain or justify it, it is like a slap in the face. It tells us that while we are citizens in our own country, our comings and goings are restricted because portions of the country no longer belong to its people. They belong to the people living in the Green Republic.
Coin-Gate-Taft wants to stay in office.
Since 2001, it has been illegal for state employees to accept free golf games from people doing business with their agencies.The governor ought to remember this simple rule of cooking, "What is sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander."
Mr. Taft has refused to say how many outings he failed to disclose or whether they involved Mr. Noe.
It is clear, though, that Mr. Taft knew it was improper to accept free golf. He said that himself last month in a speech at an ethics symposium at Xavier University in Cincinnati.
“Public servants must pay if they want to play,” the governor told the group.
“Public employees can enjoy entertainment, such as golf or dining out with persons working for a regulated company or one doing business with that state ONLY if they fully pay their own way.
Entertainment falls under the same category as gifts,” he said during the May 11 speech.
“Finally, ask before you act,” Mr. Taft said. “The Ohio Ethics Commission is a great resource for you if you have any uncertainties or questions about your interaction with public servants. Take advantage of their expertise and keep yourself out of trouble.”
The next day, May 12, Mr. Taft went to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to give another talk on ethics. In it, he offered a strong opinion of his administration’s stance on the issue.
“We simply will not tolerate unethical behavior in this administration,” he said.
“Unfortunately, not everyone has received that message. A number of your former colleagues are no longer with us or no longer working for the state either because they didn’t understand the laws, they didn’t take the laws seriously, or they may have just looked the other way,” the governor said.
Friday Night Airplane Blogging
The Avro Lancaster began life as the mediocre two engined Manchester. Underpowered and unreliable, the two Rolls Royce Vulture engines were replaced with four magical Merlin engines and a star was born. Capable of loads up to 22,000 lbs and flying up to 1600 miles, the Lancaster was the backbone of RAF Bomber Command. It was not a pretty plane, but it was loved by its crews and served with distinction in many missions in WWII.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
From Sen. Reid D-NV
“I am deeply disturbed and disappointed that the Bush White House would continue to use the national tragedy of September 11th to try and divide the country. The lesson our country learned on that terrible morning is that we are strongest when we unite together, that America’s power is in its common spirit of democracy and freedom.
“Karl Rove should immediately and fully apologize for his remarks or he should resign. The lesson of September 11th is not different for conservatives, liberals or moderates. It is equally shared and was repeatedly demonstrated in the weeks and months following this tragedy as Americans of all backgrounds and their elected representatives rallied behind the victims and their families, united in our common determination to bring to justice those responsible for these terrible attacks.
“It is time to stop using September 11th as a political wedge issue. Dividing our country for political gain is an insult to all Americans and to the common memory we all carry with us from that day. When it comes to standing up to terrorists, there are no Republicans or Democrats, only Americans. The Administration should be focused on uniting Americans behind our troops and providing them a strategy for success in the war on terror and the conflict in Iraq. I hope the president will join me in repudiating these remarks and urge Mr. Rove to take appropriate action to right this terrible wrong.”
There is someone in the Pentagon stalking your children.
With the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan making it increasingly hard for the U.S. military to fill its ranks with recruits, the Pentagon has hired an outside marketing firm to help compile an extensive database about teenagers and college students that the military services could use to target potential enlistees.I guess we now know why it was called No Child Left Behind.
The initiative, which privacy groups call an unwarranted government intrusion into private life, will compile detailed information about high school students ages 16 to 18, all college students, and Selective Service System registrants. The collected information will include Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, grade-point averages and ethnicities....
The No Child Left Behind Act allows the Pentagon to gather the home addresses and telephone numbers of public-school students. The new Pentagon initiative would be far more extensive, drawing from government databases compiled by state motor vehicle departments and similar agencies.
Coin-Gate goes golfing
Bill Wilkinson, an attorney representing Tom Noe, a Toledo-area rare coin dealer and prominent Republican fund-raiser, confirmed yesterday that Mr. Noe had golfed with Mr. Taft “a couple of times.”And lest anyone accuse me of ignoring the Mother of All Republican scandals, I give you this link to a WaPo story on Jack Abramoff.
But Mr. Wilkinson would not disclose who paid for the golf outings that Mr. Taft participated in with Mr. Noe — whom Mr. Taft had reappointed to the Ohio Board of Regents and had appointed to the Ohio Turnpike Commission.
The Blade reported yesterday that a source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, ran into Mr. Noe in 2002 at Toledo’s Inverness Club and that Mr. Noe told him that he was playing golf with Mr. Taft. Mr. Noe is not listed as a source of a gift on Mr. Taft’s ethics statement.
State law requires officeholders to list each source of gifts over $75. A round of golf at Inverness for a guest is about $140.
It is a first-degree misdemeanor to knowingly falsify an ethics form, which carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
Mr. Wilkinson said Mr. Noe would only disclose information about government officials he may have entertained — including Mr. Taft — to investigators.
Mr. Noe is under investigation by state authorities in connection with $10 million to $12 million missing from a rare-coin fund he created in 1998 and then convinced the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to invest $50 million in.
He also is under investigation by the FBI for alleged campaign finance violations in connection with an October, 2003, fund-raiser for President Bush’s re-election campaign. Mr. Noe is alleged to have laundered campaign contributions to the President by giving people money to give to Mr. Bush’s campaign so he could avoid federal contribution limits.
Kos tells it true
And if your budget has a little slack, send some love to the DCCC and help recover Congress from the Evil Doers.
CunningScam just keeps asking to get bigger.
A month after selling their Del Mar Heights home, Cunningham and his wife, Nancy, paid $2.5 million for an 8,000-square-foot home in exclusive Rancho Santa Fe owned by Douglas and Karen Powanda.We hope someone can dig up an appraisal on this house soon. Until then, just remember this.
Douglas Powanda is a former executive vice president at Peregrine Systems, a San Diego-based business-software company.
Peregrine was Cunningham's third-largest corporate contributor in 2004, giving $14,000 in individual and corporate donations. In late 2004, Powanda was among eight former Peregrine executives indicted by a federal grand jury in an alleged multibillion-dollar securities fraud; he awaits trial.
Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), the House majority leader, refused on Tuesday to comment on whether Cunningham's house sale should be referred to the Ethics Committee. Cunningham has contributed $5,000 of his campaign funds to DeLay's legal defense fund as he fights controversies of his own.And Tom is intimately familiar with both honor and war.
"Duke Cunningham is an honorable man," DeLay told reporters. "He is a war hero. He was the first Top Gun."
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Fraud in Iraq? Never!
The inspector general monitoring reconstruction in Iraq told Congress yesterday that he has presented evidence of three potential fraud cases to federal prosecutors in Alexandria.And who is the prime fox in this henhouse? Why our old friends at Halliburton.
The cases stem from an audit released last month that found that nearly $100 million intended for reconstruction projects in south-central Iraq could not be properly accounted for. The audit reported that criminal investigators were looking into the matter.
Bowen spoke at a House subcommittee hearing focused on U.S. handling of the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI), the successor to the United Nations' oil-for-food program. The multibillion-dollar fund, which is composed of Iraqi oil revenue and other Iraqi assets, was run by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority until last year. That fund is separate from the $18 billion that Congress earmarked in late 2003 for rebuilding Iraq.
An inspector-general report in January faulted the CPA for not implementing adequate controls over $8.8 billion in DFI money. As a result, the report concluded, "there was no assurance that the funds were used for the purposes mandated."
One major recipient of DFI money, Halliburton Corp., was a point of contention between subcommittee members and Pentagon officials yesterday. Subcommittee members objected to the fact that Pentagon officials had heavily redacted internal Defense Department audits before providing them to a U.N. board charged with monitoring the DFI program. The audits found more than $200 million in questioned charges that Halliburton had passed to the government, primarily on a no-bid contract for importing fuel.Well said!
Pentagon officials said they relied on the company's suggestions for deciding what parts of the audits to redact because they didn't want Halliburton's proprietary information made public. House members from both parties objected to that reasoning.
"Overcharges to the government are not trade secrets," said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.).
All you need to know about the flag burning amendment supporters.
My thanks to Holden at First Draft for posting this where I could find it. To those who may not recognise the back of his head, the man with the pen is Our Dear Leader himself.
Today in Republican ScandalLand
Mitchell Wade, founder of the defense contracting firm MZM Inc., pressured employees to donate to a political fund that benefited Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham and other members of Congress, according to three former employees of the company.That is a no-no in Federal law. We also learn that:
Wade, who took a $700,000 loss on the purchase of Cunningham's Del Mar home and allows the congressman to stay on his yacht while in Washington, demanded employees tomake donations to the company's political action committee, MZM PAC, they said.
"By the spring of '02, Mitch was twisting employees' arms to donate to his MZM PAC," said one former employee. "We were called in and told basically either donate to the MZM PAC or we would be fired."
The three former MZM employees who said Wade pressured them and others to donate money to the company PAC declined to be identified, saying they feared for their careers if their names were disclosed. All continue to work in the military and intelligence fields.No comments until you are properly lawyered up.
They and other former MZM employees questioned the way Wade solicited contracts from Defense Department intelligence agencies during the time they worked for the company.
They also expressed concerns about Wade's dealings with three House members who received a large portion of the money disbursed by MZM's PAC. The three ... all Republicans ... are Cunningham and Reps. Virgil Goode of Virginia and Katherine Harris of Florida.
MZM's PAC donated $17,000 to Cunningham from 2000 to 2004. Donations included $12,000 to "Friends of Duke Cunningham" and $5,000 to his leadership PAC, the American Prosperity PAC. During the same period, MZM PAC gave Goode $11,000 and Harris $10,000.
Neither Goode's nor Harris' offices returned calls seeking comment.
The Columbus Dispatch brings us a new twist in Coin-Gate.
Already under fire for his administration’s role in an investment scandal, Gov. Bob Taft admitted yesterday that he failed to disclose a number of golf outings as required by state law.So, disclosure forms are not like tax returns. This could be a fun little side trip.
One of Taft’s playing partners on at least one occasion was scandal-tarred Toledo coin dealer Thomas W. Noe, a wellplaced source said on condition of anonymity. The men played at Toledo’s storied Inverness Club, the source said.
But it was unclear whether Taft was required to disclose to the Ohio Ethics Commission any golf he played with Noe. If the governor paid his own way, he would not be required to report it.
Taft’s office refused to confirm that Noe and the governor played golf together at Inverness, where Noe is a member, but Taft did ’fess up to a number of previously undisclosed outings with still-to-be-named golf partners.
The admission will prompt an investigation by the Ohio Ethics Commission, which could refer charges to the Franklin County prosecutor. If Taft knowingly filed a false financial-disclosure statement, he could face up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.
David Freel, executive director of the Ethics Commission, said he could not comment directly on Taft’s situation. But he said "a number" of other public officials or their representatives have inquired about amending their financial-disclosure forms.
He declined to say who or how many but said there is no provision for updating or amending the forms; the law requires them to be accurate and complete when filed.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Bushoviks love soldiers to death.
Marine Corps units fighting in some of the most dangerous terrain in Iraq don't have enough weapons, communications gear, or properly outfitted vehicles, according to an investigation by the Marine Corps' inspector general provided to Congress yesterday.If the Marines are among the best we have, you can imagine what the rest have to work with.
The report, obtained by the Globe, says the estimated 30,000 Marines in Iraq need twice as many heavy machine guns, more fully protected armored vehicles, and more communications equipment to operate in a region the size of Utah.
The Marine Corps leadership has ''understated" the amount and types of ground equipment it needs, according to the investigation, concluding that all of its fighting units in Iraq ''require ground equipment that exceeds" their current supplies, ''particularly in mobility, engineering, communications, and heavy weapons."
From the pen of E J Dionne
The notion that the president led the country into war through indirection or dishonesty is not the most damaging criticism of the administration. The worst possibility is that the president and his advisers believed their own propaganda. They did not prepare the American people for an arduous struggle because they honestly didn't expect one.Read it and weep for Our Dear Country.
How else to explain the fact that the president and his lieutenants consistently played down the costs of the endeavor, the number of troops required, the difficulties of overcoming tensions among the Sunnis, the Shiites and the Kurds? Were they lying? The more logical explanation is that they didn't know what they were talking about.
A Call to Summer Soldiers & Sunshine Patriots
The Young Republicans have turned down the efforts of a group of Real Americans to place this ad in the YRs national convention program. In the spirit of true patriotism, I have posted it here and hope all who see it will share it with their True American friends.
"Billy the Cat Killer" Frist finds out who's his daddy.
Reversing field after a meeting with President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said he will continue pushing for a floor vote on John R. Bolton for U.N. ambassador. Frist switched his position after initially saying Tuesday that negotiations with Democrats to get a vote on Bolton had been exhausted.And this man wants to be president.
Talking to reporters in the White House driveway after he joined other GOP lawmakers for a luncheon with Bush, Frist said: "The president made it very clear that he expects an up or down vote."
Just about two hours hour earlier, Frist said he wouldn't schedule another vote on Bolton's nomination and said that Bush must decide the next move. Frist, R-Tenn., had said there was nothing further he could do to break a Democratic stalemate with the Bush White House over Bolton, an outspoken conservative who, opponents argue, would undermine U.S. interests at the world body.
But he changed his tune after talking to Bush.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Our Dear Leader continues to shower his love on the troops.
Marine Pfc. Jeremy Tod called home with news that his superiors were urging him and fellow Marines to buy special military equipment, including flak jackets with armor plating, to enhance the prospects of their survival.When I went off to summer camp as a kid, the camp gave my parents a list of items that I needed to bring with me to camp. But I was not being asked to put my life on the line in summer camp.
The message was that such purchases were to be made by Marines with their own money.
"He said they strongly suggested he get this equipment because when they get to Iraq they will wish they had," Tod said.
Total estimated cost: $600.
Tod said his son's call about two weeks ago from the Marine Corps Air Station-Yuma was a sobering reminder that the military is not prepared to equip Pfc. Tod and fellow Marines with the best equipment.
Besides the essential flak jacket with steel "trauma" plates, the shopping list for the young Marine included a Camelbak (water pouch) special ballistic goggles, knee and elbow pads, a "drop pouch" to hold ammunition magazines and a load-bearing vest.
Randy Cunningham discloses subpoena to House
Rep. Randy ''Duke'' Cunningham, R-Calif., told the House on Monday that he's been served with a document subpoena in Imperial County, Calif., and plans to comply with it.Tsk, tsk, bad Randy!
His announcement was read on the House floor by a congressional clerk as the House convened for the week.
Cunningham spokesman Mark Olson said the subpoena, issued by Imperial County Superior Court, concerned constituent casework, but he declined to give further details. He said it was unrelated to a real estate transaction by Cunningham that federal authorities in California are investigating.
Sunday, June 19, 2005
But who's counting.
Farqad Mohammed Khinaisar was driving to work in her dark green Kia Sephia at 8 a.m. on May 29 when she came up behind three American Humvees that were about to enter a traffic circle in Baghdad's Sadiya neighborhood.But it doesn't really matter because Dick "Dick" Cheney says things are getting better. Still with Condom Rice saying we will be there for the long term, maybe we can send the Iraqis our old "Duck and Cover" training films.
A high school Arabic teacher, she'd left home five minutes earlier, and she was 15 minutes from work. In the American convoy were soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort Stewart, Ga. They were out on a ride-around to get to know the community.
Everyone heard a gunshot from the third Humvee. The soldiers at the rear of the convoy thought they saw a suicide bomber, said 3rd Infantry Commander Lt. David Funk, and they'd fired a warning shot, then kept firing. The Iraqi men in the circle said they looked up and saw only a frightened woman in a careening car.
No one knows what Khinaisar saw or thought. She was shot once in the head, and she died five days later, on June 3. She spoke only once during that period, when her husband arrived at the hospital. When she heard him speak, she quietly called his name: Mohsen.
In the car, the soldiers found only a purse and a Koran on the dashboard. They found no evidence that the 57-year-old teacher was a suicide bomber.
It's not clear how often American soldiers, strangers in a strange land where it's virtually impossible to distinguish friend from foe, mistakenly kill Iraqi civilians. U.S. officials say they keep no statistics, and since last year, the Iraqi Ministry of Health has refused to release the ones it keeps.
CunningScam now has grand jury support.
A federal grand jury is investigating the relationship between Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham and a defense contractor, focusing particular attention on the sale of the congressman's Del Mar home to the company's owner, sources said.In addition to the nice summary of it so far, there is some reaction from his constituents.
The U.S. Attorney's Office issued subpoenas this week, some of which were delivered by FBI agents yesterday, said sources familiar with the probe and who asked not to be identified because grand jury proceedings are secret.
Meanwhile, the controversy spilled over into Cunningham's North County district yesterday as 25 sign-waving protesters marched outside his house.Oooh! Thats got to hurt.
"Two, four, six, eight, shame on Duke in Mansiongate!" the protesters chanted. "Duke, Duke, we deplore, that you profit, from this war!"
The North County Coalition for Peace & Justice gathered protesters outside Cunningham's home. As she chanted, Army veteran Barb Parcells, 44, of Rancho Bernardo, shook a sign that read: "FOR RENT – CONGRESSMAN."
"I know how much the Army depends on its equipment," Parcells said. "This raises the question, is he choosing the contractors with the best equipment for our troops, or is he choosing the contractor who gives him the best deal on his house?"
The Bushoviks Support Our Troops
It might not sound like a lot to some people, but $1,700 would have seemed like a godsend to Anja and Bert Wray, of Summerfield, earlier this year when the power company threatened to turn the lights off on them and their baby daughter, Sydney.One of the wives sums it up quite well.
The amount would have been manna from heaven for Lori and Nathan Vosler, of Archdale, as the couple, with their baby, Jocelyn, struggled to pay monthly living expenses.
Those bills continue to mount for both families, but they don't appear any closer to receiving the $1,500 to $1,700 that each says the government owes them than they were when Nathan Vosler and Bert Wray came home from Iraq in December with their outfit -- the 30th Enhanced Heavy Separate Brigade of the N.C. National Guard.
Vosler and Wray and hundreds of others members of the brigade have yet to receive thousands of dollars in expense and travel money owed them by the Department of Defense.
N.C. National Guard officials say that at least 400 troops are owed an average of $2,000 each, for a total of at least $800,000, but the numbers may be considerably higher.
The GAO found in its study of eight selected Guard units (none from North Carolina) that "numerous" soldiers experienced "significant problems" due to delayed or unpaid travel reimbursements, "including debts on their personal credit cards, trouble paying their monthly bills and inability to make child support payments."
The GAO study noted that the Defense Finance and Accounting Service was flooded with travel vouchers in the months after Sept. 11, 2001 -- increasing from less than 3,200 in October 2001 to more than 50,000 in July 2003.
Whatever the cause, Lori Vosler said suffering Guard families have waited too long for their money.
"This is a slap in the face to my husband," she said. "It says we're not appreciated."
Are the Bushoviks all uncircumcised.
Extraordinary efforts by the White House to scupper Britain's attempts to tackle global warming have been revealed in leaked US government documents obtained by The Observer.There is more in the full story.
These papers - part of the Bush administration's submission to the G8 action plan for Gleneagles next month - show how the United States, over the past two months, has been secretly undermining Tony Blair's proposals to tackle climate change.
The documents obtained by The Observer represent an attempt by the Bush administration to undermine completely the science of climate change and show that the US position has hardened during the G8 negotiations. They also reveal that the White House has withdrawn from a crucial United Nations commitment to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions.
The documents show that Washington officials:
· Removed all reference to the fact that climate change is a 'serious threat to human health and to ecosystems';
· Deleted any suggestion that global warming has already started;
· Expunged any suggestion that human activity was to blame for climate change.
Among the sentences removed was the following: 'Unless urgent action is taken, there will be a growing risk of adverse effects on economic development, human health and the natural environment, and of irreversible long-term changes to our climate and oceans.'
It all reminds me of that old joke, herein modified.
Q. How can you tell the Bushoviks are uncircumcised?
A. Because there is no end to those pricks!
Coin-Gate gets better each day.
In the final weeks of the 2004 presidential race, the nation focused on Ohio as both campaigns carefully choreographed every move by their candidates, knowing one misstep could throw the keys to the White House into the hands of the opponent.There is so much more in the article. Absolutely a must read.
The national media scrutinized every detail of the high-stakes political battle, as President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry crisscrossed Ohio, energizing their bases and reaching out to swing voters in the Buckeye state, which ultimately decided the race by fewer than 120,000 votes.
At the same time — beneath the surface and out of public view — allegations were swirling that Tom Noe had laundered contributions into President Bush’s campaign, and facts were emerging that the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation had lost $215 million meant for injured workers in a Bermuda hedge-fund.
Now, more than six months later, those bombshells have created the biggest state government scandal in decades in Ohio. Democrats are charging that Republican leaders suppressed the potentially explosive information until all the votes were counted to save the President’s re-election campaign.
The Blade has learned that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio knew of the campaign-finance allegations against Mr. Noe about three weeks before the November, 2004, election, giving it little time to do a thorough investigation.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
Quote of the Day
Kyrgyzstan Acting Deputy Prime Minister Adakhan Madumarov told a news conference, in response to a question from a German journalist. Reuters
Sen Chuck Hagel, secretly American?
Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel is angry. He's upset about the more than 1,700 U.S. soldiers killed and nearly 13,000 wounded in Iraq. He's also aggravated by the continued string of sunny assessments from the Bush administration, such as Vice President Dick Cheney's recent remark that the insurgency is in its "last throes." "Things aren't getting better; they're getting worse. The White House is completely disconnected from reality," Hagel tells U.S. News. "It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we're losing in Iraq."And he is not alone.
Republican Sens. Lincoln Chafee and Lindsey Graham have voiced their concerns. And two Republicans, including the congressman who brought "freedom fries" to the Capitol, even joined a pair of Democratic colleagues in sponsoring a bill calling for a troop withdrawal plan to be drawn up by year's end. "I feel confident that the opposition is going to build," says Rep. Ron Paul, the other Republican sponsor and a longtime opponent of the war.As always, when the poll numbers drop the CYA starts to rise. So maybe they will do the right thing, even if it is for the wrong reason.
The measure is not likely to go anywhere, but Hagel calls it "a major crack in the dike." Whether or not that's so, the White House has reason to worry that the assortment of critiques of Bush's wartime performance may be approaching a tipping point. Only 41 percent of Americans now support Bush's handling of the Iraq war, the lowest mark ever in the Associated Press-Ipsos poll. And the Iraq news has combined with a lethargic economy and doubts about the president's Social Security proposals to push Bush's overall approval ratings near all-time lows.
Find out where your money went.
The Baltimore Sun sees the light
SINCE ITS publication May 1 by The Sunday Times of London, the so-called Downing Street memo has dominated the media in Britain and on the Internet in the United States. The memo is the official minutes from a secret meeting about Iraq held by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his inner circle July 23, 2002.
The significance of the memo - and additional leaked British documents now surfacing in public view - can hardly be overstated. They conceivably could lead to impeachment proceedings against President Bush.
The Bush administration consistently has made two claims regarding its decision to invade Iraq:
Mr. Bush chose war only as a last resort.
Mr. Bush dealt honestly with intelligence about weapons of mass destruction and alleged Iraqi ties to al-Qaida.
The Downing Street memo contradicts these claims.
Here are some of the key words in the memo, written three months before Mr. Bush received congressional authorization for war, four months before U.N. Resolution 1441 held Iraq in "material breach" of disarmament obligations and eight months before the invasion in March 2003:
"[British intelligence chief Richard Dearlove] reported on his recent talks in Washington. ... Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam [Hussein], through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. ... It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbors, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran."
Other internal British memos from March 2002 and July 2002 reveal British officials discussing Mr. Blair's agreement with Mr. Bush to support an invasion of Iraq and Mr. Blair's insistence that Mr. Bush make a public show of going to the United Nations in order to - as the British ambassador to Washington, Christopher Meyer, put it - "wrongfoot Saddam on inspectors" to create a pretext for war.
The British privately scoffed at the frightening claims made by the Bush administration. In a memo to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in March 2002, Peter Ricketts, the political director of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said: "US scrambling to establish a link" between Iraq and al-Qaida "is so far frankly unconvincing."
Anyone who follows the news will not be surprised. A long list of whistleblowers, including former Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill and former National Security Council official Richard Clarke, have reported that the Bush administration was obsessed with regime change in Iraq from Day One and regarded 9/11 as an opportunity to put its plans into action. Removing Mr. Hussein was in the 2000 Republican Party platform. Bush administration misuse of intelligence has been well documented.
But the Downing Street minutes and other recently leaked documents illustrate that the intelligence was wrong by design. The documents show officials at the apex of the government of our closest ally confirming among themselves what were the darkest suspicions about the Iraq war among ordinary Americans.
The evidence suggests that Mr. Bush has lied to Congress and to the American people about the justifications for war. It includes a formal letter and report that he submitted to Congress within 48 hours of launching the invasion in which he explained the need for the war in terms that appear to have been intentionally falsified, not mistaken.
Lying to Congress is a felony. Either lying to Congress about the need to go to war is a high crime, or nothing is.
AfterDowningStreet.org, a coalition of veterans groups, peace groups and other activist organizations, is urging Congress to introduce a Resolution of Inquiry that would require the House Judiciary Committee to hold formal investigations with the power of subpoena. The result would be a determination as to whether the president has committed impeachable offenses.
Democratic Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey of New York, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said Monday, "I think a Resolution of Inquiry is completely appropriate at this stage. It's something that should be done."
Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, has not expressed support for a Resolution of Inquiry. But he has asked Mr. Bush in a letter to respond to questions raised by the Downing Street memo. At least 90 members of Congress and about 500,000 U.S. citizens have signed the letter. Mr. Conyers plans to deliver it to the White House tomorrow.
He also plans to hold hearings about the memo tomorrow and participate in a rally in front of the White House.
Coin-Gate and CunningScam, Perfect Together.
The investment scandal at the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation escalated yesterday as Gov. Bob Taft purged one of his high-ranking employees for keeping him out of the loop about a $215 million loss in the months leading to the presidential election.Oh! The cruelty of it all!
Yesterday was James Samuel’s final day in the governor’s office, said Mark Rickel, Mr. Taft’s press secretary.
Mr. Samuel, who in July, 2003, joined the governor’s office as an executive assistant for business and industry after working eight years for the bureau, is being demoted to a post in the taxation department. He’ll work on tax amnesty programs, with his salary trimmed from $80,000 to $76,000, Mr. Rickel said.
As Mr. Taft demoted Mr. Samuel, bureau officials confirmed that one of its investment analysts served as director of events for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign last year in Ohio.And out in San Diego we learn that the FBI has become interested in CunningScam.
Jeremy Jackson, the bureau’s press secretary, said he believed that the employee, John Scharer, began working for the bureau early last year, resigned, and then was rehired by the bureau in January.
“It is our understanding that his activity was with the Bush-Cheney campaign when he was not an employee with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation,” Mr. Jackson said.
Mr. Jackson said he did not know if the bureau — which has denied that politics played any role in its decision to invest in Mr. Noe’s Capital Coin funds or in the hiring of other fund managers who have contributed to GOP officeholders, including President Bush — had any rules pertaining to political activity by employees.
The FBI has opened an inquiry into Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham's 2003 sale of his Del Mar house to a defense contractor, who later sold it at a $700,000 loss, a Justice Department official said yesterday.Randy really needed some lessons on keeping "stuff" at arms length.
The action comes amid fresh signs of unusual personal ties between Cunningham and the defense contractor, who named a 42-foot yacht after the Rancho Santa Fe Republican and turned it over to him to use while in Washington.
The Justice Department official, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified because of the inquiry's preliminary nature, would not comment about its scope. However, the head of the FBI office in San Diego had reflected the agency's curiosity a day earlier.
"We are very interested in what has been reported to date, and we welcome more information," Dan Dzwilewski, special agent in charge of the FBI's San Diego office, said Wednesday. "Public corruption matters represent one of the highest priorities of the FBI."
Cunningham has portrayed the house deal as "aboveboard," although ethics experts and real estate professionals have said the procedures used in the transaction and its result – an apparent $700,000 windfall to Cunningham – raise serious questions.
Cunningham denied that he is a particularly good friend of MZM owner Mitchell Wade, saying last week, "No more than I am with (Qualcomm founder) Irwin Jacobs or (Titan Corp. founder) Gene Ray or any of the other CEOs."
However, Cunningham has been living aboard a 42-foot yacht at the Capital Yacht Club along the banks of the Potomac River. Wade owns the yacht, named the Duke-Stir, according to U.S. Coast Guard records. The name appears to be a play on Cunningham's nickname.
Cunningham previously lived in the same slip aboard a 65-foot yacht called the Kelly C. Coast Guard records list Cunningham as the owner of the Kelly C.
In 1998, when Cunningham was living aboard the Kelly C, he used his position on the defense appropriations subcommittee, which oversees the District of Columbia's budget, to earmark $3 million to refurbish the waterfront where the yacht was docked.
And today in Iraq
U.S. Marines and Iraqi forces battled insurgents on two fronts Saturday in a restive western province, killing about 50 militants in a dusty frontier town in the military's latest campaign to stop foreign fighters infiltrating from neighboring Syria.And Our Dear Leader has still not told us his real reason why we are in Iraq.
The military also announced Saturday that two U.S. soldiers were killed and one was wounded during a small-arms skirmish with insurgents late Friday while transporting a detainee near Buhriz, about 35 miles north of Baghdad. A civilian and the detainee also were killed, and five Iraqi police officers were wounded.
At least 1,718 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
In Karabilah, Marines and Iraqi forces fought their way into the town. On Friday, U.S. fighter aircraft dropped bombs and the tanks fired shells at insurgents holed up inside buildings.
In other violence Saturday, insurgents killed at least four people in Baghdad, including two Iraqi soldiers and a 10-year-old girl, hospital and police officials said. Twenty people - including an Iraqi journalist - were wounded.
The girl was killed and two people were wounded when a roadside bomb missed a passing American military convoy, said Dr. Muhand Jawad of Baghdad's Al-Yarmouk hospital.
A suicide car bomber slammed into an Iraqi army convoy in the Yarmouk neighborhood, killing two soldiers and wounding six near a dangerous highway - also known as the Street of Death - leading from downtown to the airport, police Lt. Thaer Mahmoud said.
An Iraqi reporter working for the Saudi-owned television network Al-Arabiya was shot in the neck while leaving a Baghdad restaurant, the station said. Jawad Khadim, believed to be in his mid-30s, was seriously wounded.
The body of a Sunni tribal leader also was found Saturday outside Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad. Sheikh Arkan Shaalan Jassim al-Edwan, who had been shot, was sprawled on a roadside portrait of Saddam Hussein, police Lt. Adnan Abdullah said.
Friday, June 17, 2005
Halliburton to build new Gitmo Hilton.
A Halliburton Co. unit will build a new $30 million detention facility and security fence at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the United States is holding about 520 foreign terrorism suspects, the Defense Department announced on Thursday.I would like to go on record as predicting cost overruns of $100 - $200 million before it's done. And the first inmates will be those who try to publicize the overruns.
An air-conditioned two-story prison, known as Detention Camp #6, will be built at Guantanamo to house 220 men. It will include exercise areas, medical and dental spaces as well as a security control room, the contract announcement said.
The contract announcement did not specify whether the new prison would also hold foreign terror suspects.[So it's just for Americans?-Ed.]
Under the deal with the Norfolk, Virginia-based U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic, the work is to be wrapped up by July 2006. It is part of a larger contract that could be worth up to $500 million if all options are exercised, the Defense Department said.
The project is to be carried out by Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root Services of Arlington, Virginia. It includes site work, heating ventilation and air conditioning, plumbing and electrical work, the
Friday Night Airplane Blogging
The B-25 Mitchell first made its mark in the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo during the dark, early days of the war. It went on to serve admirably and reliably in all theaters of the war in a multitude of missions and aircraft layouts. A workhorse medium bomber, it is often remembered as an attack bomber with six .50 cal machine guns and a 75mm cannon in its nose.
Coin-Gate-as viewed by Krugman
We're not just talking about campaign contributions, although Mr. Noe's contributions ranged so widely that five of the state's seven Supreme Court justices had to recuse themselves from cases associated with the scandal. (He's also under suspicion of using intermediaries to contribute large sums, illegally, to the Bush campaign.) We're talking about personal payoffs: bargain vacations for the governor's chief of staff at Mr. Noe's Florida home, the fact that MDL Capital employs the daughter of one of the members of the workers' compensation oversight board, and more.And from the Toledo Blade we get a picture of the Ohio BWC acting like every other uninformed investor.
Now, politicians and businessmen are always in a position to do each other lucrative favors. Government is relatively clean when politicians are sufficiently afraid of scandal to resist temptation. But when a political machine controls all branches of government, and those officials charged with oversight are also reliably partisan, politicians feel safe from investigation. Their inhibitions dissolve, and they take full advantage of their position, until the scandals become too big to hide.
In other words, Ohio's state government today is a lot like Boss Tweed's New York. Unfortunately, a lot of other state governments look similar - and so does Washington.
With their Bermuda hedge-fund hemorrhaging cash last fall, Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation officials scrambled for cover, injecting $25 million into the failing venture and praising the investment's manager, documents released yesterday show.And notice that the chief thief is again named Lay.
Even with the $25 million infusion the fund lost $215 million of its total investment, but bureau officials took a number of actions in the waning days of its relationship with MDL Capital Management last fall:
●The bureau pumped a fresh $25 million into the near-depleted fund by the end of September, 2004, but rejected a request more than a month later for an additional $25 million.
●Former bureau administrator James Conrad decided on Oct. 28, 2004, to omit the MDL news from the governor's weekly report.
●Bureau Chief Investment Officer Jim McLean sang the praises of Mark Lay, the chairman of MDL, in a Nov. 23 e-mail to a consultant, citing his talent and "tremendous potential."
●The bureau allowed Mr. Lay to subtract $1.01 million in management fees from the fund, in addition to about $447,303 directly paid by the bureau last year for the firm's services.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Todays news from Iraq
June appears likely to become one of the deadliest months for U.S. troops in Iraq as U.S. officials announced Thursday the deaths of five Marines and a sailor in and near the restive city of Ramadi.And, as usual, it's not just American troops.
The Marines died in a roadside bomb explosion Wednesday; the sailor was killed by small-arms fire that same day.
The deaths brought to 42 the number of fatalities U.S. troops have suffered from hostile fire in the first half of the month, a figure that's already higher than that for all of June 2003 and June 2004, according to Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, a Web site that uses official casualty reports to organize deaths by various criteria.
Hostile fire claimed 31 Americans during the first half of May; 67 died from combat during the entire month - the fourth deadliest month since U.S. troops entered Iraq in March 2003.
Violence also continued to take Iraqi lives.But it seems there is light at the end of the tunnel.
A car bomb hit an Iraqi army convoy in western Baghdad, killing at least eight soldiers and wounding at least 16, according to the Iraqi interior ministry. In a town northeast of the capital, a second car bomb hit an Iraqi army convoy, killing at least two soldiers and wounding at least five. And in northern Iraq, yet another Iraqi army convoy was bombed, killing eight Iraqis and wounding eight.
With polls finding support for the Iraq war at a record low, members of Congress are becoming increasingly vocal about their desire for an exit strategy. On Thursday, 41 House Democrats formed a new "Out of Iraq" caucus.It's a start.
Separately, four lawmakers - two Democrats and two Republicans - introduced a resolution calling for withdrawal starting in October 2006. It doesn't specify an end point for complete withdrawal, but it bucks the Bush administration line all the same.
Its sponsors include Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., a conservative whose district includes the Marine Corps' Camp Lejeune. He's hardly a stereotypical dove; in the early days of the war, Jones' anger over French opposition prompted him to propose replacing French fries with "freedom fries" on the menu in Capitol dining rooms.
Republican Dinner values.
Damn! These Repubs are really good when you get to know them.
U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood of Northeastern Pennsylvania repeatedly punched and choked a Maryland woman during a "five-year intimate relationship" with her, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday.Republican values.
Cynthia Ore, 29, of Rockville, Md., says that after each "unprovoked and vicious attack," Sherwood, 64, promised he wouldn't do it again and begged her not to leave him, according to the four-count lawsuit filed by Patrick M. Regan, a Washington lawyer.
The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court of the District of Columbia, asks for $5.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages and accuses the congressman of assault and battery, gross negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
It also says Ore plans to pursue a restraining order against Sherwood, a Republican from Tunkhannock.
The complaint states that throughout the relationship, Sherwood repeatedly struck Ore on her face, neck, chest and back, violently yanked her hair, and tried to strangle her.
In the complaint, Ore states that she lived with Sherwood in Washington for much of the relationship and that he repeatedly promised to marry her and start a family.
Sherwood is married and has three daughters.
Nasty Sen Durbin say bad things about Our Dear Leader
White House press secretary Scott McClellan said it is ``beyond belief'' that Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin would compare treatment of dangerous enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay to the death of millions of innocent people by oppressive regimes.And what did the Sen say?
``If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime - Pol Pot or others - that had no concern for human beings,'' Durbin said.And his response to the White House whining was,
A Durbin spokesman said Wednesday that the senator did not plan to apologize for the comments. The senator issued a statement saying it's the administration that should apologize ``for abandoning the Geneva Conventions and authorizing torture techniques that put our troops at risk and make Americans less secure.''It has needed saying for much too long.
UPDATE:What he read.
On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold....On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.
More on "CunningScam
A defense contractor whose real estate dealings with Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham have raised ethical questions has another connection to Cunningham: He owns a boat docked at a Washington yacht club ---- a boat on which Cunningham stays while working in the Capitol.Hiding it all in plain view.
Cunningham, R-Escondido, sits on the House Appropriations Committee, which has awarded millions of dollars to the contractor, Washington-based MZM Inc.
The relationship between Cunningham and MZM President Mitchell J. Wade came under scrutiny earlier this week when news surfaced that another company controlled by Wade purchased Cunningham's Del Mar home in 2003 and later sold it for a $700,000 loss.
Upon learning of the transaction, some experts on government ethics questioned the real estate deal and the relationship between the contractor and the congressman.
Now, another connection between Cunningham and Wade is raising questions ---- a boat owned by Wade and occupied at least part-time by Cunningham.
Maybe Barnum was right about this country.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Georgie and the Porn Star
President Bush on Tuesday unleashed his harshest criticism yet on Democrats for thwarting his second-term agenda, demanding they put forward ideas of their own or "step aside" and signaling a more aggressive administration strategy of attack.God Bless those Republican values.
With approval ratings the lowest of his presidency and critics suggesting he is already losing political clout, Bush blamed "do-nothing" Democrats for holding up an overhaul of Social Security and delaying votes on his nominees to the federal bench and the United Nations.
The assault highlighted administration frustrations over Democratic tactics, and offered a preview of Republican strategy in the run-up to the 2006 mid-term elections.
"On issue after issue, they (the Democrats) stand for nothing except obstruction," Bush said at the annual President's Dinner, a $23 million fund-raiser attended by Republican leaders, party donors, and a blond porn star and former California gubernatorial candidate named Mary Carey.
Remind Democrats to support Democrats
What a wonderful quote
" think that the proposition of going to baghdad is also fallacious. i think if we were going to remove saddam hussein we would have had to go all the way to baghdad, we would have to commit a lot of force because i do not believe he would wait in the presidential palace for us to arrive. i think we'd have had to hunt him down. and once we'd done that and we'd gotten rid of saddam hussein and his government, then we'd have had to put another government in its place. what kind of government? should it be a sunni government or shi'i government or a kurdish government or ba'athist regime? or maybe we want to bring in some of the islamic fundamentalists? how long would we have had to stay in baghdad to keep that government in place? what would happen to the government once u.s. forces withdrew? how many casualties should the united states accept in that effort to try to create clarity and stability in a situation that is inherently unstable? i think it is vitally important for a president to know when to use military force. i think it is also very important for him to know when not to commit u.s. military force. and it's my view that the president got it right both times, that it would have been a mistake for us to get bogged down in the quagmire inside iraq." at the washington institute's soref symposium, april 29, 1991 (sourcewatch)
And another Republican shows remarkable real estate acumen.
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) made $822,000 last year from the sale of a controversial real estate investment with an Anchorage developer who had obtained a huge federal contract with his help, records show.The honorable gentleman from Alaska tells us that,
In 1997, Stevens invested $50,000 with developer Jonathan B. Rubini. Last year, at Stevens' request, Rubini and his partner bought back the senator's interests in their deals for $872,000, according to Senate financial disclosure forms made public Tuesday.
About three years after he made that investment, Stevens helped Rubini secure a $450-million Air Force housing contract. The senator had no financial interest in that deal.
Stevens and his investments have been the subject of a fact-finding inquiry by the Senate Select Committee on Ethics that he requested following a Los Angeles Times investigation of his dealings with Rubini in late 2003. The ethics inquiry is continuing.
Stevens, a member and former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has said that he never used his official position to enrich himself.But leaves us with this fact wanting explanation.
Stevens' initial investment expanded into interests in four Rubini companies. One built and owns a high-rise office building leased for $6 million a year to an Alaska Native corporation that has received millions of dollars in no-bid Pentagon contracts, thanks to preferences Stevens wrote into defense appropriations legislation.He seems to believe that a whole lot of people have been falling off that old turnip truck lately.
And check out Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo for a good update on CunningScam
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