.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

 

CCT: Another tribal lobbyist tied to kickback probe

Cape Cod Times - By SEAN GONSALVES - STAFF WRITER

MASHPEE - As another lobbyist for the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, whose ancestors are shown below left meeting with our first Pilgrims, has come to the foreground in the ongoing investigation of Jack Abramoff, a growing number of tribal members are questioning the tribe's leadership.

Abramoff, considered one of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington and a major fund-raiser for President Bush, is at the center of a federal probe into his financial relationship with Michael Scanlon, who used to be a spokesman for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Click here to read entire Article

Terry's Comment: I probably wouldn't have sent this article to Demlog on its content alone. However, the irony of the Wampanoag being caught up in the mess the "emigrants" have brought upon themselves--again--just made it a "have to post." The Wampanoag are an indigenous people of North America on whose land the Plymouth Colony's Pilgrims first landed, then later, claimed for themselves.

-By Terry Barhorst


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DH: Van Os kicks off campaign for Texas AG tonight in Austin - Dec. 3

Van Os, right, shaking hands with Dave HaiglerAustin - David Van Os, the Democratic candidate for Attorney General of Texas, right, shaking hands with Dave Haigler, will officially announce and begin his campaign for that office tonight here in Austin at the Barr Mansion at 10463 Sprinkle Road, near East Braker Lane, Austin, Texas, 78754.
 
Jim Hightower, a writer, speaker and former statewide office-holder in Texas, is scheduled to be the featured speaker.  Haigler is set to be the M.C.
 
Abilenians or former Abilenians Brian & Lauren Edwards, Pierce Lopachin & Tara Lacey, and Dave & Becky Haigler are planning to attend.
 
Van Os appeared on a live show in Air America yesterday broadcast from Dallas, and announced vigorous prosecution of abusive corporations and unconstitutional electronic voting machines earlier in the week, as blogged here on DemLog.
 
Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

Slate-Papers: Explosive Developments - Dec. 3

By Telis Demos - Posted Saturday at 6:18 AM ET

The New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times lead with the killing of 10 Marines on patrol just outside Fallujah by an improvised bomb. Eleven Marines were also wounded in yesterday's attack, in addition to two members of the same unit who were killed by small-arms fire on Wednesday. It was the deadliest week for U.S. forces since early August. The Wall Street Journal's news box leads with the attack, but the paper doesn't have a story. Its top story details the political and environmental fallout from a chemical-plant explosion in China.

The papers struggle to put the attack in context. The LAT focuses on the type of explosive used, and reports that while make-shift bombings declined in November, the military is frustrated by the continuing evolution of the insurgency's bombs and will be convening panels of academics and other experts to figure out some solutions. The WP looks at how Fallujah has fared since the major offensive there last November: an Iraqi police unit now patrols the city, and voting turnout was among the highest in the Anbar province, but residents are frustrated with the pace of rebuilding and sympathetic to insurgents. The NYT has a different view, reporting that residents are angry at insurgents who have trickled back into the city for stifling progress and killing some clerics.

The NYT fronts a thorough update on Najaf, where sources say the Iraqi police have effectively quashed insurgent attacks. (The WP chooses to go inside with a similar story.) But the police are mostly members of Shiite militias, and a U.S. commander there still doesn't think local forces are ready to operate totally independently. Meanwhile, the WP fronts (and is the only paper to report) U.S. military commanders' admission that government contractors were paying Iraqi media to print friendly news stories.  [DemLog blogged this story 4 days ago, on Wednesday.]

Yesterday's employment report—over 200,000 new jobs—gets an unusual amount of discussion. The LAT fronts a straight story looking at the economy's strengths. But the WSJ's front-pager reports that opinion polls show Bush getting little credit, a development that has frustrated the White House. The NYT stuffs a story arguing that Bush ignored the Marine deaths during yesterday's Rose Garden speech in an attempt to shift attention to the economy—an effort whose failure can be judged by the the paper's own story placement.  The president is shown, below left, arriving for that Rose Garden meeting.

Bush walking to Rose Garden yesterdayThe LAT fronts, above the fold, an exclusive report that the FBI is reopening an investigation into the uses and abuses of pre-war intelligence. The FBI's two-year inquiry had previously argued that the phony Niger documents were part of a money-making plot and not evidence of political manipulation, but under Senate pressure decided to return to the investigation and interview new sources.

The WP reefers—with a big above-the-fold photo—China's toxic chemical spill. An internal debate among China's Communist leadership has produced an admission of a poor response to the explosion at a petrochemical plant that has shut down nearby water supplies and threatens towns as far as Russia. The WSJ's front-pager focuses on U.S. backlash—like California's divestment from PetroChina—to China's poor preparation for environmental disaster. The WP and NYT also report on a U.N. report with evidence that torture of prisoners is still common in China despite reforms.

Two good stories highlight must-watch developments leading up to next year's midterm elections. The NYT says that Ohio might be ripe for Democratic incursion into former GOP strongholds, and the WP reports that congressional Republicans are likely to officially replace Tom DeLay - below right - as House Majority Leader in the face of continuing ethics scandals.

DeLayThe NYT and LAT front news of delays and complications in delivering post-Katrina aid to New Orleans but miss the most striking news, which the WP goes inside with: FEMA is pulling out of the Ninth Ward altogether. The LAT, in its signature style, also fronts a well-written narrative featuring a FEMA-relocated family that's been waiting for permanent housing—since 1998, following Tropical Storm Charley. Will today's hurricane victims suffer the same fate?

McCainThe WSJ reports that a top White House official is meeting with John McCain, left, to discuss a compromise on the Senator's aggressive anti-torture bill. Unfortunately, Dick Cheney—the bill's main opponent—isn't mentioned in the story.

Nominee Alito's attempt to play down the importance of several 1985 documents, in which he argued that Roe should be overturned, gets fronted in the WP and inside coverage in other papers. The NYT reports that while Senator Arlen Specter, below right, meeting with Alito, asks for patience in judging Alito, conservatives are upset that Alito is distancing himself from his opinions.

Alito, left, meeting with Specter, rightSaving face. Off-lead, the NYT follows the anxiety of the world's first face transplant. Beyond the medical difficulties of removing a patch of face from an organ donor and grafting it onto the patient's disfigured face, there were psychological concerns. The same doctor also performed the world's first hand transplant, which was later removed after the patient became depressed and refused to follow a recovery regimen. So far so good this time. "It was marvelous," one doctor says. He should keep in mind, however, that success is in the eye of the beholder.

Telis Demos is a reporter at Fortune. Don't understand Today's Papers jargon? Check out the Today's Papers glossary.  Source:  Slate Magazine.
 
Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
 

If those links don't work, try: http://demlog.blogspot.com.

Friday, December 02, 2005

 

AAS: Laney retiring from Texas House - Dec. 2

Former speaker has been in chamber since 1973.

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF - Friday, December 02, 2005

Pete LaneyFormer House Speaker Pete Laney, right, announced today he will not run again for the West Texas seat he has held since 1973.

Laney, D-Hale Center, held the House's top job from 1993 to 2003, losing his spot to current Speaker Tom Craddick after Republicans captured a House majority in the 2002 elections. He made the unusual move of returning to the House floor after Craddick beat him, voting regularly with Democrats but hardly ever speaking on the House floor.

"I'm not leaving town," Laney said. But not seeking another term "is best for what I need to do now."

Laney worked well with then-Gov. George W. Bush, introducing Bush to the country from the House chamber on the night he claimed victory in the 2000 presidential election.

His seat has long been expected to turn Republican once he retires. GOP leaders tried to beat him in 2001 with a dramatic redrawing of his district, but he held on.

Source:  Austin American-Statesman.

Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

Barhorst: Follow up on Ralph Reed illegally lobbying in Texas

Complaint filed against political consultant
By LAYLAN COPELIN & JIM GALLOWAY
Cox News Service - Friday, December 02, 2005

AUSTIN, Texas — Travis County Attorney David Escamilla is reviewing a criminal complaint accusing Ralph Reed, shown on Time's cover, below left, the former head of the Christian Coalition, of failing to register as a lobbyist when he was being paid millions to influence gambling issues in Texas on behalf of Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Three government watchdog groups filed the complaint Thursday against Ralph Reed, who left the Christian Coalition in 1997 to become a political consultant. He is now a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Georgia.

"We will review the complaint to see if any action is necessary," Escamilla said. He said he would make a decision whether to initiate an investigation later this month.

Failing to register as a lobbyist is a Class A misdemeanor punishable with a maximum fine of $4,000 and up to one year in jail. Under Texas law, a person must register if he is paid to directly communicate with state officials, lawmakers or staffers to influence legislation or encourage an administrative action by an agency.

The complaint, filed by Common Cause Texas, Public Citizen and Texans for Public Justice, claims Abramoff and his lobbying partner Michael Scanlon hired Reed in 2001 to lobby Texas officials to shut down the Tigua Indian tribe's Speaking Rock Casino near El Paso and to defeat legislation to keep it open. The Louisiana Coushatta hired the lobbyists to eliminate competition from Texas casinos.

Reed declined to personally respond to the charges. But in a written statement, Reed's campaign manager Jared Thomas called it a "specious complaint that has more to do with politics than the facts."

The complaint represents the ripple effect of federal investigations into whether Abramoff and Scanlon, who were paid $80 million by six tribes with casinos from 2001 to 2004, conspired to bribe public officials. Scanlon pleaded guilty to the charge and the investigation is continuing into Abramoff.

The Texas complaint relies on e-mails between Reed, Abramoff and Scanlon that surfaced during hearings by the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

"Mr. Reed's own correspondence appears to indict him," said Suzy Woodford, director of Common Cause Texas.

State law requires lobbyists to disclose their clients, the issues they are working on and fees they are being paid.

Thomas, Reed's campaign manager, said in a written statement that Reed was hired "to contact grass-roots citizens in Texas and encourage them" to oppose gambling in the state. "We were not retained to lobby Texas public officials," Thomas said.

Crucial to the complaint is whether Reed directly communicated with state officials or limited his activities to organizing social conservatives to lobby against gambling.

The statement from Reed's campaign did not address several instances in which Reed, in e-mails to Abramoff, mentioned his contacts with the office of then-Attorney General John Cornyn.

In one e-mail, Reed asked Abramoff, "Get me details so I can alert Cornyn and let him know what we are doing to help him." In another, Reed warned Abramoff that the Tigua Indians were making big donations to candidates: "Tiguas gave candidates more than $500,000 we're getting this in the water with the right people."

When pressed about Reed's e-mails about contacts with Texas officials, Thomas declined comment.

Cornyn, now a U.S. senator, has said he never met Abramoff and can't remember talking to Reed. He said Reed was taking credit for the attorney general's pursuit of closing the Indian casino.

As Cornyn pressed his case in court for closing the casino, Abramoff suggested to Reed in 2002 that legislation be filed in Texas and Alabama to deny state contracts to any vendor providing goods or services to a casino: "Let one of our tigers go get em."

Reed responded, "Easy to get our tigers to introduce that in both places."

In a March 27, 2001 memorandum, Reed laid out a strategy for defeating Texas legislation that would keep the Tiguas in the casino business. It stressed targeting members of the Texas House Calendars Committee who schedule bills for a floor vote.

Laylan Copelin writes for the Austin American-Statesman. Jim Galloway writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Source: Austin American-Statesman.

Fwd by: Terry D. Barhorst Sr.
Moderator: Lone_Star_Democrats


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Burkett: The truth on Memogate - Dec. 2

By Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, right, Texas Air National Guard (ret'd), of Callahan County, Texas

With Al Franken's broadcasts today coming from Dallas and one of his guests being Mary Mapes (her book was a terrible disappointment), I think it appropriate to republish and have everyone read the most objective of all stories done throughout the Memogate nightmare.
 
It was written by a young grad student who spent two weeks at his own expense on the ground in Texas talking to all of the principals.  He did homework and invested shoe leather when no one else did.
 
He had to fight for over one month with his editors and yet the pared down version of his story is the absolute class of all reporting.
 
No, he didn't get it perfect.  He misstated one or two things like saying that I had been discredited (the WH claimed I was discredited, but that was all there was to that, as pointed out by Helen Thomas of Hearst at the same WH Press Gaggle on Feb 13, 2004, in which the claim was made), but his work is still the best.
 
The article can be found at:
 
http://www.cjr.org/issues/2005/1/pein-blog.asp
 
Thanks,
 
Bill Burkett

 

WaPo: Justice's Civil Rights Division staff nixed 2003 Texas redistricting - Dec. 2

DOJ Voting Rights Staff Rejection of Map Pushed by DeLay Was Overruled by Justice Political Appointees

By Dan Eggen - Washington Post Staff Writer - Friday; Page A01

Justice Department lawyers concluded in 2003 that the landmark Texas congressional redistricting plan spearheaded by Rep. Tom DeLay, below left (R-Sugar Land), violated the Voting Rights Act, according to a previously undisclosed memo obtained by The Washington Post. But senior officials overruled them and approved the plan.

DeLayThe memo, unanimously endorsed by six lawyers and two analysts in the department's voting section, said the redistricting plan illegally diluted black and Hispanic voting power in two congressional districts. It also said the plan eliminated several other districts in which minorities had a substantial, though not necessarily decisive, influence in elections.

Full Washington Post expose. D.H.: My thanks to my friend Dave Collins of Johnson City for bringing this story to my attention today.


Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

Slate: Kerry swift-boats Bush

The president isn't as clueless as his rival makes him out to be.
By John Dickerson - Posted Thursday, Dec. 1, 2005, at 6:37 PM ET


Kerry: Not entirely candid.Responding to the president's Wednesday speech on the war, Sen. John Kerry, right, charged that George Bush didn't understand a fundamental reality on the ground in Iraq: that the presence of U.S. troops itself fuels the insurgency. Even Bush's top officer overseeing operations, Army Gen. George W. Casey, has testified to this and yet, Kerry charges, the president is oblivious. "The president's not dealing with a certain kind of reality that's important to the lives of our troops," says Kerry.

The criticism cleverly paints Bush as hopelessly clueless. It aligns Kerry with the fighting man: He's not cutting and running when he calls for a speed-up of troop withdrawal, he's just listening to Gen. Casey, unlike Bush himself. Kerry is leveraging Bush's reputation for stubbornness and lack of candor and turning it into a deadly flaw.

Like most clever feints in Washington, it's also not entirely honest. True: Bush doesn't admit that the presence of large numbers of U.S. soldiers inspires insurgents. He probably never will. But that's a lack of candor, not a hole in the military strategy. Kerry wants to make what Bush doesn't say proof of what Bush doesn't know.

Lord knows that Bush should be more candid. But Kerry is being less than candid himself when he suggests that the strategy Bush is following -- as flawed as it may be -- does not accommodate a realistic understanding of the insurgency. Why? Because Gen. Casey, whom the senator has been quoting to criticize Bush, is the author of the counterinsurgency strategy that Bush unveiled publicly Wednesday.

As Kerry asserts, Casey did tell the Senate armed services committee on Sept. 29, 2005, that "our presence in Iraq" was "one of the elements that fuels the insurgency." Furthermore: "Increased coalition presence speeds the notion of occupation. It extends the amount of time that it will take for Iraqi security forces to become self-reliant, and it exposes more coalition forces to attacks at a time when Iraqi security forces are increasingly available and increasingly capable."

That's the part that Kerry has been referring to. But he glosses over Casey's next point: The military has a strategy for dealing with this problem. What is that strategy? Train Iraqi forces and remove U.S. troops once the Iraqi army is ready. This is how Casey puts it: "[R]educing the visibility and ultimately the presence of coalition forces as we transition to Iraqi security self-reliance remains a key element of our overall counterinsurgency strategy." This is how Bush has been putting it since late June: "As they stand up, we stand down."

There are reasonable grounds for criticizing the Bush/Casey strategy for dealing with the insurgency as flawed. It may be too little too late, or it may be based on rosy assumptions. But Kerry doesn't challenge it on any substantive basis. He can't, because to do so would acknowledge that Bush is offering a solution to the problem of U.S. troops inspiring insurgents. Kerry's spin is that Bush is so clueless he doesn't even know the problem exists; whereas he, Kerry, has his eye on what is so "important to the lives of our troops."

It must be pleasurable for the president's former rival -- whose positions were so distorted during the presidential campaign -- to do a little twisting himself. But it's a little too clever to both scold Bush for playing rhetorical tricks and then steal the dishonest technique. Of course, had Kerry gotten the hang of this a little sooner, he might have won.

John Dickerson is Slate's chief political correspondent. He can be reached at slatepolitics@gmail.com. Source: Slate Magazine.

Photograph of Sen. John Kerry by Nicholas Kamm/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.


Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

DH: Kudos to Barhorst for expose on Reed yesterday - Dec. 2

by Dave Haigler
 
Progressive groups blow whistle on Abramoff ally Ralph Reed receiving $4M for lobbying against Texas Tigua Tribe casinos as hired gun for competing casinos of Coushatta Tribe in Louisiana
 
Yesterday, my colleague Terry Barhorst posted a letter here at DemLog from Common Cause and two other progressive watchdog groups to the Travis County Attorney exposing Ralph Reed of Georgia as a dirty lobbyist allied with Jack Abramoff for the Louisiana Coushatta Tribe in killing competing casinos run by the Texas Tigua Tribe.
 
Because I feel the piece was inadequately headlined, I am advising my friends to go back and read this excellent letter, found at: http://demlog.blogspot.com/2005/12/barhorst-tpj-pct-cct-call-on-travis.html.
 
Among other shocking things, the Reed-Abramoff correspondence exposed there says these lobbyists have the Texas Supreme Court "on board," and brags about having then-Attorney General John Cornyn and anti-gambling Baptist pastors as patsies to stop gambling in Texas, when the clear beneficiary of their efforts was competing gambling interests across the border in Louisiana. 
 
Abramoff brazenly notes that a $500,000 contribution by the "stupid" Tiguas to Gov. Perry was no match for the $4.2M paid to Reed, but still says he wished he had gotten his "mitts" on the Tiguas' half million. 
 
Folks, this is the kind of corporate greed that candidates like David Van Os have been trying to expose as it undermines our democracy.  It is way past time to get really mad at this outrage and stop it now.
 
Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

Thursday, December 01, 2005

 

Barhorst: TPJ, PCT & CCT call on Travis County Atty to prosecute Ralph Reed for dirty lobbying - Dec. 1

Progressive groups blow whistle on Abramoff ally Ralph Reed receiving $4M for lobbying against Texas Tigua Tribe casinos as hired gun for competing casinos of Coushatta Tribe in Louisiana

Dec. 1, 2005, Letter to:
Honorable David Escamilla
Travis County Attorney
314 W. 11th St., #300
Austin, Texas 78701

County Attorney Escamilla:

Texans for Public Justice, Common Cause Texas, and Public Citizen Texas have reason to believe that Mr. Ralph Reed of Atlanta, Georgia violated Texas Government Code Section 305 by failing to register as a paid lobbyist while lobbying the members of the Texas State Legislature, officials within the State Attorney General’s office and, perhaps, other Texas officials on behalf of his paying client Mr. Jack Abramoff during 2001 and 2002. Below, we outline facts as we know them that substantiate this claim. We are formally asking your office to investigate these apparent violations and, if the evidence warrants, to prosecute Mr. Reed and other offending parties.

Lobby Registration Required by Mr. Ralph Reed

Based on information and belief, Century Strategies lobbyist Ralph Reed received substantial compensation for lobby activities conducted in Texas in 2001 and 2002. Yet Mr. Reed failed to register as a lobbyist with the Texas Ethics Commission as required by law. Under the Government Code 305.003(a)2 it is our belief that Mr. Reed was required to complete a lobby registration and disclose his clients and compensation. Under current Ethics Commission rule 1 TAC Sec. 34.43, a person who receives more than $1,000 in a calendar quarter as compensation or reimbursement to lobby must register as a lobbyist.

Known Facts About Mr. Reed’s Texas Lobbying Activity

Electronic correspondence that the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs made public in conjunction with a series of hearings during the summer and fall of 2004 and November 2005 indicates that then-Greenberg Traurig lobbyists Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon hired Century Strategies and Mr. Reed in 2001 to lobby Texas state officials to:

• Shut down the Tigua Indian Tribe’s Speaking Rock Casino near El Paso; and
• Kill a 2001 Texas bill that sought to keep Speaking Rock Casino in business.

Mr. Reed’s ultimate lobby client appears to have been the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, which first hired Mr. Abramoff and Scanlon in April 2001 (see enclosed federal lobby filings). The Louisiana Coushatta had an interest in eliminating competing casinos in Texas.

Mr. Abramoff hired Mr. Reed in 2001 to block a bill in the Texas Legislature (HB 514) that sought to keep Speaking Rock Casino running, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (June 19, 2005). An attached memo from Mr. Reed to Mr. Abramoff outlines a strategy plan of Mr. Reed’s to stop HB514. Mr. Reed’s hiring occurred at approximately the same time that the Louisiana Coushatta hired Mr. Abramoff. Mr. Abramoff later took credit for killing the 2001 Speaking-Rock bill. “We successfully stopped this bill after it passed the House using the Lieutenant Governor (Bill Ratcliff) [sic] to prevent it from being scheduled in the Senate,” Mr. Abramoff wrote in a February 2003 memo. Discussing this memo, the Texas Observer recently reported that then-Lieutenant Governor Ratliff has acknowledged meeting with Mr. Reed at that time. Mr. Ratliff told the Observer that he and Mr. Reed did not discuss gambling legislation but did discuss other legislative issues. (“Senatorial Courtesy,” August 26, 2005).

Mr. Reed’s own correspondence with Mr. Abramoff in 2001 and 2002 substantiates reports that he was directly lobbying Texas officials at this time. What follows are excerpts of Mr. Reed’s electronic correspondence with Mr. Abramoff. (All correspondence was attached.)

November 12, 2001 5:55 p.m.
From: Ralph Reed
To: Jack Abramoff
great work. Get me details so i can alert [then-Texas Attorney General John] cornyn and let him know what we are doing to help him. . . . talked to [Second Baptist Church of Houston Minister] ed young again today. Incredibly engaged and excited. He is planning on hosting a breakfast with the top pastors in Houston to get them all mobilized and to provide cover for cornyn. we may invite cornyn to address them.

November 13, 2001 3:00 p.m.
From: Ralph Reed
To: Jack Abramoff
i strongly suggest we start doing patch-throughs to [Governor Rick] perry and cornyn. we're getting killed on the phones.

November 14, 2001 10:01 p.m.
From: Ralph Reed
To: Jack Abramoff
Subject: Re: After Cornyn gets whacked in El Paso, let’s talk on the phone Ok. We are sending 50 pastors to give him moral support.

November 30, 2001 9:40 a.m.
From: Ralph Reed
To: Jack Abramoff
Subject: tx
…I spoke with Ed Young last night and he will personally pesent the letter to Cornyn and urge that something be done now... We have also choreographed Cornyn’s response. The AG will state that the law is clear, talk about how much he wants to avoid a repetition of El Paso, and pledge to take swuift action…

Note: After the El Paso Times reported in late 2001 on the “more than $20,000” that Rick Perry’s campaign took from the Tigua tribe, Abramoff-Scanlon correspondence suggests that this explains why Mr. Reed’s lobbying is not swaying Mr. Perry. After Mr. Abramoff complains that Mr. Perry must return the Tigua tribe’s money, Mr. Reed said he is reaching out to the “right people.”

December 5, 2001 8:44 a.m.
From: Mike Scanlon
To: Abramoff
Subject: FW: TIGUA NEWS-Tiquas gave candidates more than $500,000 Maybe this is why Ralph can’t get Perry to do anything!

December 5, 2001 9:17 a.m.
From: Jack Abramoff
To: Ralph Reed
Subject: RE: TIGUA NEWS-Tiguas gave candidates more than $500,000. Perry has to return that contribution!!! Oh my goodness!! What was he thinking taking that money? He has to come up with some spin on this fast and get that money back to them, and then take decisive and public action to smash them, and the [redacted]

December 5, 2001 9:34 a.m.
From: Ralph Reed
To: Jack Abramoff
Subject: RE: TIGUA NEWS-Tiguas gave candidates more than $500,000 we're getting this in the water with the right people.

In tracking the appellate progress of the State of Texas’ lawsuit against Speaking Rock Casino, Mr. Reed appears to have been in direct contact with the head of the Office of the Texas Attorney General’s criminal division.

January 7, 2002 9:21 a.m.
From: Ralph Reed
To: abramoffj@[redacted]
we are discussing this with the head of criminal division today; looks like the heads up that we got on December 15, and which i passed on to you that evening, is finally happening, but we will confirm and provide you with additional G-2. we did get our pastors riled up last week, calling his office. maybe that helped but who knows.

January 7, 2002 11:48 a.m.
From: Ralph Reed
To: abramoffj@[redacted]
we have talked to the AG’s office. here's the skinny:

[Mr. Reed then describes the status of Texas’ anti-casino lawsuit.]

When Mr. Abramoff urges Mr. Reed to recruit cooperative Texas lawmakers—called “tigers”—to introduce anti-gaming legislation, Mr. Reed tells Abramoff he’s on it.

January 7, 2002 9:41 a.m.
From: Ralph Reed
To: abramoffj@[redacted]
we have tigers. tx leg only in session every other year. let me check. good idea.

January 7, 2002 9:43 a.m.
From: abramoffj@[redacted]
To: Ralph Reed
Great. thanks Ralph. we should continue to pile on until the place [Speaking Rock] is shuttered. Perhaps we could get one of our guys in the legislature to introduce a bill which disqualifies from state contracts any vendor who provides goods or services to a casino in the state? This way Perry and Cornyn can sit back and not be scared. Let one of our tigers go get em. Do we have someone like this and can we get it introduced as soon as possible?

January 7, 2002 10:12 a.m.
From: abramoffj@[redacted]
To: Ralph Reed
Even if we never get it passed, it will scare the you know what out of vendors and make life tough on the tribe. We should do it in Alabama too.

January 7, 2002 10:13 a.m.
From: Ralph Reed
To: abramoffj@[redacted]
easy to get our tigers to introduce that in both places. alabama session begins tomorrow.

January 7, 2002 9:18 p.m.
From: Ralph Reed
To: abramoffj@[redacted]
Done. Hope these developments help with client. I think we should budget for an ataboy for cornyn.

January 8, 2002 11:31 a.m.
From: abramoffj@[redacted]
To: Ralph Reed
Great. As to the legislative proposal, even though they don’t meet, we could have one of the tigers announce that he is going to introduce it next session, so we scare them out of working with these casinos. It should be someone who is mega safe from a district not near these. Also, we have to fire some shots at Kickapoo.

After the courts ordered Speaking Rock Casino shuttered, Abramoff directed Mr. Reed to press the Texas Attorney General to close a casino in Livingston, Texas operated by the Alabama Coushatta (or “AC”).

February 11, 2002 1:56 p.m.
From: Ralph Reed
To: Jack Abramoff
major victory. now it’s on to Livingston. But note they plan a legislative battle now that they have lost in the courts.

February 11, 2002 8:03 p.m.
From: abramoffj@[redacted]
To: Ralph Reed
Ultimately, as you can imagine, the main target is the AC. I wish those moronic Tiguas were smarter in their political contributions. I’d love us to get our mitts on that moolah!! Oh well, stupid folks get wiped out. Now let’s get AC.

February 12, 2002 9:24 a.m.
From: Ralph Reed
To: Jack Abramoff
got it. we’re talking to our contacts today. Now that we have the supremes on board, we’re pushing hard for immediate lower court action on the AC. they want to do that and are willing, but in the end its up to the judge…expect to have an update for you later today.

Information About Mr. Reed’s Lobby Compensation:

Mr. Reed and his firm were well compensated for this Texas lobby effort, according to numerous media reports:

• The Washington Post reported that Mr. Reed acknowledged receiving more than $1 million for his work for Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon (August 30, 2004);
• Roll Call reported that Mr. Scanlon paid Mr. Reed “more than $3.8 million during a year-long period in 2001 and 2002” (August 30, 2004);
• U.S. News reported that Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon “sent $4 million” to Reed “to run a grass-roots operation to generate support for Cornyn’s effort to shut Speaking Rock” (August 29, 2005); and
• The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that “Reed was paid $4.2 million to build public support for closing the Tigua casino in El Paso” (May 20, 2005).

We appreciate your attention to this matter. Please feel free to contact us if you need further information or clarification.

Sincerely,

Suzy Woodford, Executive Director
Common Cause Texas
603 W. 13th, Ste. 2-D
Austin, TX 78701 PH:
512-474-2374

Craig McDonald, Director
Texans for Public Justice
609 W. 18th Street, Suite E
Austin, TX 78701
PH: 512-472-9770

Tom “Smitty” Smith, Director
Public Citizen Texas
1002 West Ave.
Austin, TX 78701
PH: 512-477-1155

Submitted by Terry Barhorst, Sr., Moderator, Lone Star Democrats

D.H. note: This is the most shocking post DemLog I believe has ever blogged, and I congratulate Terry Barhorst for getting this online so quickly.


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Spier: War on terror raises up thousands of beggar-orphans to hate America

by Bill Spier

Dear President Bush,

I have heard that you resist the temptation to read a newspaper, a book or even listen a few moments to National Public Radio. Perhaps that is understandable for one on a divine mission. And we do owe your acolytes a debt of gratitude; for your mission certainly calls for uninterrupted focus.

But just in case you find yourself surfing the net and come upon Demlog, I have posted a recent photo of an Iraqi boy who lost his father to an ambush. What do you think? I snipped the picture from Truth.Org where you can read its credits. To your credit, I am sure, you will not let this image affect the prosecution of your mission.

Stay the course.

Yours Sincerely,
William Spier
Brooklyn, New York

P.S. Can you help find this boy a new father?

D.H.: This puts a face on what we already know about 2/3rds of the public in Iraq supporting attacks on our occupation forces. Estimates of innocent civilians killed by us range upwards to 100,000, and each of those dead have family members and friends who will remember us with hate for generations -- this the legacy of our misguided "war on terror" in Iraq.

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AP: Belgian Woman Identified As an Iraq Bomber

By RAF CASERT, Associated Press Writer - 1 hour, 29 minutes ago

MONCEAU-SUR-SAMBRE, Belgium - Authorities have identified a woman who carried out a suicide attack against a U.S. patrol in Iraq as a 38-year-old Belgian who had two marriages to radical Muslim men.

Muriel Degauque, shown on the magazine cover at left, who grew up near the industrial city of Charleroi, entered Iraq from Syria last month and detonated explosives strapped to her body in a failed attack against U.S. troops.

Click here to read the complete article.

Terry's Comments: Maybe the Belgium woman was just a freak incident, but it does make you wonder how many terrorists our occupation of Iraq is creating around the world. Looking at her picture on the front of the magazine, no one at any airport would profile her as a terrorist and pick her out of the crowd.

Just goes to show the job the Bush Administration is doing in handling the "War on Terror" by staying the course in Iraq.

Terry D. Barhorst Sr.


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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

 

NYT: U.S. Is Said to Pay to Plant Articles in Iraq Papers

By JEFF GERTH and SCOTT SHANE
Published: December 1, 2005

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 - Titled "The Sands Are Blowing Toward a Democratic Iraq," an article written this week for publication in the Iraqi press was scornful of outsiders' pessimism about the country's future.

"Western press and frequently those self-styled 'objective' observers of Iraq are often critics of how we, the people of Iraq, are proceeding down the path in determining what is best for our nation," the article began. Quoting the Prophet Muhammad, it pleaded for unity and nonviolence.

But far from being the heartfelt opinion of an Iraqi writer, as its language implied, the article was prepared by the United States military as part of a multimillion-dollar covert campaign to plant paid propaganda in the Iraqi news media and pay friendly Iraqi journalists monthly stipends, military contractors and officials said.

Click here to read complete Article

Terry's Comment: We should have expected this. The Bush adminstration has paid media people here in the States to say nice things about the Bush Administration. Why should they change their sleazy habits when it comes to Iraqi media. The Bush regime doesn't just lie on their own, they pay others to lie for them.

Terry D. Barhorst Sr.
Moderator: Lone Star Democrats

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Tucson Weekly: Katrina exposed that the emperor had no clothes--and now we have to deal with it

By RENÉE DOWNING

Life inside the Beltway once again has taken on a fairy-tale quality. It's not the Kennedy/Camelot thing, though. It's much more Brothers Grimm, a dark, twisty story featuring preposterous lying, near-criminal fecklessness, untrammeled greed and the occasional old woman shoved into an oven.

You don't even have to follow the plot to tell who's who. It's like Dickens, or the low parts of a Shakespeare comedy: The characters fit their names.

Last week, we got Michael Scanlon served up on a platter. Scanlon, who's a nasty piece of work in a Jack and the Beanstalk sort of way, was a sidekick to scheming Jack Abramoff, and a former aide to House majority leader Tom DeLay. This gives us Scanlon the Scammer first serving the player who knew how all the cards lay, then joining forces with the king of the rip-off.

It would seem weirder if we hadn't already been through Enron, where a man named Lay depended on two shady fellows named Fastow and Skilling, who turned out to be specialists in pulling fast ones and making killings. Surprise.

Either all these guys were twisted in infancy by schoolyard name-calling, or the gods are having a wee joke with us. In any case, none of it imitates nature.

For those of us who have said all along that the emperor had no clothes--that, in fact, he was tattooed from head to foot with the word "naked"--these strange times are satisfying (to the vengeful and wrath-filled among us, such as myself), but bizarre. We're confronted with the spectacle of that many-headed beast called Congress slapping its hundreds of foreheads all at once. They only knew what the White House told them! They had no reason to doubt! Could it be they were lied to about Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction?! (Apparently they never read The New Yorker or The Atlantic or The Nation or even watched the evening news. Strange.)

I have the sense that this line is not going down well. We are awakening from a long, candy-colored dream and realizing that we are not children, and Iraq is not a bedtime story, or a war movie, or a video game. It is a real catastrophe of our own making, and it will be with us for a long, long time to come. It took a big storm and 2,000 body bags to bring that home.

President Bush must be terribly confused and unhappy, and when you think about it, he has every reason to be. We all seemed so eager to play "let's pretend" with him, and the game was going fine, and he got to wear outfits and make his friends rich and happy, and then whomp! the God who had always been in his corner sends a hurricane to hit the Gulf Coast, of all things, and suddenly everyone starts looking around and sees that the house is a mess and there's nothing to eat and it's starting to get dark.

We can't seem to find our parents.

Guess what? We don't have any. We are the grown-ups. But we, the citizens of the greatest country on Earth, have been behaving like kids. We've believed what we were told and what we were shone, because it made a nice story. Of course, we first elected (or almost elected, or something) an obvious fool as president before Sept. 11, but I believe the nation would have seen through him a long time ago if it hadn't been for the shock of that attack. That's what I prefer to think, anyway. If it hadn't been for the World Trade Center, maybe the media, usually so fickle, would have admitted much sooner that they'd picked the wrong horse--that disliking Bush's opponents was not a good enough reason to keep peddling whatever storyline the White House fed them.

So now, in a matter of less than three months, they've gone from complimenting the emperor on his beautiful robes--his cleverness, his chastity, his leadership--to screaming that he's a flasher. Make no mistake: If it weren't for Katrina, they'd still be sucking up to his tailor.

He was naked all along. We have to live with that. But we must get busy--the dark is drawing in. If we hurry, we may be able to recover some of the loot, stop the plunder of the environment, address the deficit, mend some fences. Hashing over the administration's manipulation of intelligence three years ago is a waste of time, and a further distraction from reality. We have to shake off the enchantment and deal with the world as it is now.

The world as it really is.

Forwarded by Terry D. Barhorst Sr.


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Boston "holiday tree" stirs controversy

By Jason Szep Fri Nov 25, 5:53 PM ET

BOSTON (Reuters) - Boston set off a furor this week when it officially renamed a giant tree erected in a city park a "holiday tree" instead of a "Christmas tree."

The move drew an angry response from Christian conservatives, including evangelist Jerry Falwell who heckled Boston officials and pressed the city to change the name back.

"There's been a concerted effort to steal Christmas," Falwell told Fox Television.


Click here to read entire article.


Terry's comment: This just proves what I stated in my earlier post to Demlog on "Christmas Trees." Obviously Falwell doesn't even realize that no one knows the birth date of Jesus and the solstice holidays were stolen by the early Christian church, just as the Yule tree and Tannenbaum were stolen because they were already symbols of joy and new life. The one thing true about Falwell, and others, is that they do believe in tyranny of the majority.

Terry D. Barhorst Sr.

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Spier: Bush's Tin Ear


Bush gave another of his"major" policy speeches at 9:45 A.M. Who is listening at that hour? His speeches are given in the morning either because they do not want anyone to listen to the same old tapes, or, he cannot concentrate on anything after lunch. You pick.

It took the president 18 seconds to envoke September 11, 2001 and 28 to first use the word terrorist. His main points were in his words:

"As Iraqi forces gain experience and the political process advances, we will be able to decrease our troop level in Iraq without losing our capability to defeat the terrorists...."Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would vindicate the terrorist tactics of beheadings and suicide bombings and mass murder and invite new attacks on America," and, "To all who wear the uniform, I make you this pledge: America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I am your commander-in-chief.

You did not expect the man with a tin ear to say that things are coming unglued in Iraq; that the occupation was fueling the conflict between Shiites and Sunnis resulting in horrendous bloodshed; that our allies are completely fed up with his administration; that more than a majority of Americans are fed up with him and this war. He did not say for what noble cause young U.S. soldiers and innocent Iraqis died. He did not acknowledge that nasty fights have broken out in the government over the nightmare he started.

Since he will brook no contrariness in his presence, the man with the tin ear will reek much more violence on the world before it all ends. An example: his alluding to a drawdown of troops , basically means that the foot soldier will move out of the picture and the air force will step in and bomb the hell out of the country.

Bush today.

"As the Iraqi forces grow more capable, they are increasingly taking the lead in the fight against the terrorists.....Our goal is to train enough Iraqi forces so they can carry the fight against the terrorists."

He's insane.

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Barhorst: On The National "Christmas" Tree Controversy

The controversy going on now about “Holiday Tree” and “Christmas Tree” is a pretty good example of what kind of political environment this country is in at the moment. The use of the negative buzz phrase “politically correct” by the religious majority, who are more and more insisting on their version of “religiously correct,” is slowly eating away the religious freedom within this country’s founding principles.

Like many of the dates and symbols used by the majority religion, the use of an evergreen tree for holidays in the last weeks of December predates the founding of the majority religion. These evergreen trees were used for Solstice celebrations of the coming rebirth of life after the harshness of winter. In the context of history the term “Christmas Tree” is very not “traditional” and very much a modern invention of the majority religion.

One of the more comical aspects of this situation is the fact that those who most often yell the loudest are the laziest in looking for the truth. Every Christmas holiday season you will hear in churches, on the stage, and from chorales in shopping centers the "Christmas" song “Oh Tannenbaum.” This is quite often mistranslated as “Oh Christmas Tree,” like many other things that are made “religiously correct.” Tannenbaum, in exact translation, is “Fir Tree” and it was not written to celebrate the Christ Child’s birth.

Instead of “Holiday Tree” or “Christmas Tree,” why not call our national evergreen “Tannenbaum.” Those who hold themselves in ignorance except for what they are fed by their religious leaders will not know the difference and the controversy will be over.

Terry D. Barhorst Sr.
Moderator: Lone Star Democrats


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DH: Van Os on Air America Dec. 2, takes on abusive corporations & electronic voting - Nov. 30

San Antonio, Nov. 30 - Today Democratic Attorney General candidate David Van Os announced he will be on a live interview for Air America Radio on Friday at the Hard Rock Cafe, 2601 McKinney, in Dallas. The show will last from to noon to 2:00 p.m.  Van Os is tentatively scheduled as the first of four guests. The other three are Cong. Eddie Bernice Johnson, writer Molly Ivins, and former CBS producer Mary Mapes.  Air America wanted a venue where local people could watch live.
 
Haigler, left, & Van Os visit SheehanVan Os (shown at right with Cindy Sheehan and Dave Haigler, left of picture, on Aug. 11 in Crawford, Texas, at "Camp Casey 1") also issued two new statements today on matters of great importance for the reclamation of democracy. One concerns his pledge on exercising the Attorney General's duty under the Texas Constitution to move to revoke corporate charters upon sufficient cause. The other concerns electronic voting machines, why they are unconstitutional, and what must be done.
 
In the first, Van Os rejected the 3-strikes notion that corporations must have 3 criminal convictions before charter forfeiture, saying, "Even one violation of the public trust - which need not necessarily be a criminal offense - may require me to seek charter revocation under the Constitution if the corporation represents a continuing danger to the public trust."
 
In the second, Van Os cites Article 6, Section 4 of the Texas Constitution, which states: "In all elections by the people, the vote shall be by ballot," and says the electronic touch screens on the new voting machines are not ballots as required by the Constitution.  He says:
The visible touch screen is not the ballot; it is only a purported replica of the ballot. The electronic ballot is within the innards of the machine, hidden from the voter’s sight. You would think as a matter of commonsense that the machine would at least give the voter a receipt to confirm that the hidden ballot was cast as the voter intended, but it doesn’t.  The voter has no means to know whether or not his vote was recorded as he intended, other than by private corporations who sell the machines saying, “Trust us.” And that is really all the public gets, since the computer programming codes that tell the machine’s insides what to do are claimed as proprietary by the private corporations and kept secret from the public.
And Van Os promises to take action to enforce such requirements once elected, and calls upon current officials to enforce them right now. 
 
Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
 
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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

 

AP: Bush defensive about Iraq - Nov. 29

By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer - 41 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - President Bush, opening a new push to defend his embattled war policy, said Tuesday a U.S. military pullout from Iraq would be a terrible mistake. His Pentagon chief said, "Quitting is not an exit strategy."

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld answers a question during a briefing at the Pentagon, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2005. Rumsfeld made clear that the time has arrived to wean the Iraqis of their dependence on American support for security _ whether it's guarding Iraq's borders or protecting its power plants.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, right, said of the Iraqis, "They know that they're the ones that are going to have to grab that country. And it's time."

The administration is under pressure to convince increasingly skeptical Americans that the president's strategy for Iraq is headed in the right direction nearly three years after the U.S.-led invasion. The president is to give a speech on the subject Wednesday at the Naval Academy and the White House is to release a 35-page document titled "Our National Strategy for Victory in Iraq."

The document is a public version of a classified strategy of military, political and economic efforts that are being implemented by Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Zalmay Khalizad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. The document defines the enemy in Iraq and discusses experiences and lessons learned during the conflict, a senior White House official said.

In his remarks, Bush will talk about setbacks experienced in the training of Iraqi security forces and improvements that have been made, as well as areas now being controlled by Iraqis, the official said, insisting on anonymity because the president's address has not been released.  The official said Bush would not talk about troop withdrawals.

The unrelenting violence that continues to claim American lives has contributed to a drop in Bush's popularity, to its lowest level yet, and to growing doubts about the war. It also has led to a debate in Congress about when the 160,000 U.S. troops there should begin to come home.

The GOP-controlled Senate voted 79-19 this month to urge the president to outline a strategy for "the successful completion of the mission." Rep. John Murtha, below left (news, bio, voting record), D-Pa., attracted attention with his call for a withdrawal within six months.

MurthaThe administration has responded by counseling patience while also signaling it is planning for a way out. Bush, speaking to reporters from El Paso, Texas, rejected any immediate withdrawal in unusually personal terms.

"I want to defeat the terrorists. And I want our troops to come home," the president said. "But I don't want them to come home without having achieved victory."

His speech Wednesday at Annapolis, Md., was to focus on progress in the effort to train an Iraqi security force and allow the gradual exit of U.S. military forces.

Later speeches over the next two weeks are to emphasize the strides being made in establishing a stable, democratic government and creating a viable economy.

In June, Bush delivered a prime-time address from Fort Bragg, N.C., on the first anniversary of Iraq's sovereignty. Later in the summer, the president tried to blunt the message of anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, who camped outside his Texas ranch. He returned to the war theme on Veterans Day with a speech accusing congressional Democrats of being "deeply irresponsible" in their criticism of the way he portrayed intelligence about Iraq before the war.

Democratic Sen. Jack Reed (news, bio, voting record), a member of the Armed Services Committee and a former Army Ranger who visited Iraq last month, said the president must give "an honest assessment" pointing out not only the successes in Iraq, but the remaining pitfalls.  "We have to go forward with a plan, not just slogans," he said.

On Tuesday, Rumsfeld gave a preview of the administration's argument that Iraqi security forces are improving. He said about 29 military bases have been turned over to Iraqi control; the Iraqi army has seven division and 31 brigade headquarters in operation, compared with none 16 months ago; the number of Iraqi army battalions "in the fight" is now 95, compared with five 15 months ago, and there are now over 212,000 trained and equipped security forces, compared with 96,000 last year.

Rumsfeld noted changes in several areas once known for strife. Baghdad's infamously dangerous airport road is seeing a sharp decline in attacks under the control of an Iraqi police battalion. The city's once-violent Haifa Street is largely peaceful under the control of an Iraqi army battalion. And the Shiite areas of Najaf, Karbala and Sadr City, the scene of a number of battles last year, are now largely peaceful, Rumsfeld said.

"The people who've been denigrating the Iraqi security forces are flat wrong," he said. "They're doing a darn good job, and they're doing an increasingly better job every day, every week, every month."

Rumsfeld said leaving Iraq before the country is completely ready to secure itself would only invite more terrorist violence and put Americans at greater risk.

His words echoed the president, who promised the judgment of military commanders, not political considerations, would determine troop levels.

"People don't want me making decisions based on politics," Bush said. "They want me making decisions based on the recommendations of our generals on the ground. And that's exactly who I'll be listening to."

Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.

Source:  AP-Yahoo News.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

Spier: Bush Will Say We are Winning In Iraq in Tomorrow's Speech

In case no one noticed, Bush said the following today:

George, we are not winning in Iraq, and even the dumbest folk are skeptical. (Not all. Some believe in Armageddon--that this is the decisive conflict with evil.) But, for George, winning is everything, so he might really believe his own crap. You hear the same from Hastert, Warner and many other congressional liars. I guess they feel that if they tell us we are winning all the time, we will begin to believe it. The neocons told Bush that if you act tough, you can beat the"terroists". Since most are Likudniks, they saw continued violence against Palestinians as the tough way to secure Israel. We can be tough too. Likud founder, Sharon, doubts that now.

Odd. Here we have a egomaniacal nitwit protestant from the northeast (Bush) taking really insane Likudniks like Ledeen, Wolfowitz, Perle and others seriously. This confluence of madness has led us to this tragic point in our history. Then you have this collection of bobblehead dolls in the Congress supporting the delusions.

As Seymour Hersh writes in the New Yorker this week:

Current and former military and intelligence officials have told me that the President remains convinced that it is his personal mission to bring democracy to Iraq, and that he is impervious to political pressure, even from fellow Republicans. They also say that he disparages any information that conflicts with his view of how the war is proceeding.

Bush’s closest advisers have long been aware of the religious nature of his policy commitments. In recent interviews, one former senior official, who served in Bush’s first term, spoke extensively about the connection between the President’s religious faith and his view of the war in Iraq. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the former official said, he was told that Bush felt that “God put me here” to deal with the war on terror. The President’s belief was fortified by the Republican sweep in the 2002 congressional elections; Bush saw the victory as a purposeful message from God that “he’s the man,” the former official said. Publicly, Bush depicted his reëlection as a referendum on the war; privately, he spoke of it as another manifestation of divine purpose.

The former senior official said that after the election he made a lengthy inspection visit to Iraq and reported his findings to Bush in the White House: “I said to the President, ‘We’re not winning the war.’ And he asked, ‘Are we losing?’ I said, ‘Not yet.’ ” The President, he said, “appeared displeased” with that answer.

“I tried to tell him,” the former senior official said. “And he couldn’t hear it.”

Divine purpose? I always thought Bush was borderline. No longer. I am convinced that he is insane.

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Spier: Just a Reminder: Harris Might Flame Out With The Duke

Texans, y'all don't have a lock on corrupt congressaurs. Most of our troubles started back in 2000, when the election was stolen in Florida with the help of KATHERINE HARRIS, below right!!!!

It was bound to happen. Someone as corrupt as Katherine Harris had to fall in with likes of a Duke Cunningham, Virgil Goode (R/PA) and Mitchel Wade, (President of defense/intelligence contractor MZM, Inc.) Yup, she did. Harris, as reported by Talking Points Memo and the Sun Herald, received $32K in bundled money over two days from MZM employees, who were reimbursed by their sleazeball leader Mitchel Wade. Florida Politix also was onto the story in June. Fifty grand in all.

Why did Wade feel pressure to contribute big bucks to the likes of Katherine Harris? She was not high up in the Armed Services Committee, not even on it. Today, the South Florida Herald Tribune ran a piece about the connection and her offer to return the contributions. Did someone tell the Duke to let her in on the moolah so she could build a Senate race warchest? Was she spending nights on that yacht with the Duke's top gun? Anyone got a clue here?

Where will the lucre come from for a Harris Senate race? The party already paid her off with a seat in the House. She now may be too tainted for further support. As Rummy says, "Who Knows? Democracy is a messy thing."


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Slate-Papers: Shiite Death squads in Iraq - Nov. 29

By Eric Umansky - Posted Tuesday at 8:51 AM ET

The LAT and NYT both -- finally -- front the rise of what appear to be Shiite death squads operating as part of Iraqi government forces. The LAT says U.S. military advisers now agree that the term "death squads" is apt. "There are such groups operating -- yes, this is correct," said the inspector general for Iraq's Interior Ministry. There has been evidence mounting for months that government-affiliated units have been executing Sunnis, but there's been little coverage and plenty of official denial. (TP suspects the lack of coverage has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the media's tendency to stick with what's hot. Until the other week the conduct of Iraqi forces didn't qualify.)

One human rights group told the NYT that 700 Sunni civilians have been killed or disappeared over the last four months. "There is no question that bodies are turning up," said an investigator for the group. "Quite a few have been handcuffed and shot in the back of the head. The stories are pretty much consistent across the board, both in the manner that the men are being abducted and in who they say is taking them." Knight Ridder has a similar story, with sources talking about more secret jails where detainees are tortured.

As for who is in the death squads, the LAT says Shiite militia have "infiltrated Iraq's police force." It's an interesting choice of words since as the story itself later explains, the militia haven't "infiltrated," they've been recruited. In fact, the LAT quotes one U.S. officer as saying the militia-cum-police unit behind the recently discovered torture center reports directly to the head of the Interior Ministry. (TP flagged that possibility the other week.)

Referring to two different Shiite militia groups, one U.S. officer told the LAT, "The Mahdi Army's got the Iraqi police and Badr's got the commandos. Everybody's got their own death squads." The officer added that "up to 90 percent" of the 35,000 police in one part of Baghdad have some connection to the Mahdi army, which is firebrand cleric Moqtada Sadr (below right)'s posse. And yes, the LAT has the more detailed story and is today's must read.

Muqtada al-SadrOne final note on the death squads: The stories themselves don't pull punches, but the headlines do. The NYT's Dexter Filkins, for example, writes that the militia act with "what appears to be official backing." The headline: "SUNNIS ACCUSE IRAQI MILITARY OF KIDNAPPINGS AND SLAYINGS." The government connection may not yet rise to newspaper-level "fact," but it's not just an accusation; as Filkins' suggests, there's evidence.

And in yesterday's Iraq developments, two Sunni politicians were reported assassinated. Diplomats also confirmed the kidnapping of four Western aid workers, including an American. The LAT also says two Iraqi journalists were murdered by insurgents as were two foreign pilgrims.

The NYT previews a GAO report due out today concluding that the U.S.'s multilateral efforts to cut off al-Qaida's financial network has been tripped up by infighting between the State and Treasury departments. Apparently, the agencies can't agree on which one should be in charge of the effort.

CunninghamThe Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today all lead with Republican Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, left, resigning and announcing that he's

guilty of taking bribes in return for defense contracts. "The truth is, I broke the law, concealed my conduct and disgraced my office," said Cunningham. The Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox and New York Times lead with the restart of Saddam Hussein's trial, where the former dictator threw of a bit of a hissy fit, complaining that U.S. guards were leaving him in handcuffs and forced to walk up two flights of stairs because the court elevator was on the fritz. The trial promptly adjourned again for a week so replacements could be found for two murdered defense lawyers. As to why any of that amounts to the most important news of the day ...

In return for nailing down defense deals, Cunningham was given hundreds of thousands of dollars, furniture, rugs, use of a yacht, and to complete the cliché, a Rolls Royce. He faces 10 years in prison but probably won't get hit with that much time in pokey since he's promised to sing to prosecutors.

The papers don't really explain what happened to the Pentagon contracts Cunningham rigged. And TP sees only a WP editorial raising a related issue: How exactly does the appropriations system work -- or not work -- given that one congressman seems to have the power to shovel money to specific contractors, crooked or not? (Cunningham's shenanigans were made all the easier by the fact that, as USAT recently reminded, the contracts were part of the military's classified, "black budget.")

Viveca NovakA front-page WP piece clarifies some of the mystery behind the recent news that Time reporter Viveca Novak, left, will testify in the Valerie Plame leak case. The Post says Karl's Rove's lawyer asked Novak (no relation to that Robert) to testify because he thinks it could somehow help Rove. We're not going to have to wait long for the details: "Viveca Novak is expected to write a firsthand account after she is deposed."

The NYT and WP both have pieces on Reagan-era Justice Department documents showing Judge Samuel Alito, below right, pushing for expanding police powers. The Post emphasizes one memo Alito wrote asserting that non-resident foreigners in the U.S. have no constitutional rights. The Post doesn't explain where the law stands on that.

USAT fronts the American Heart Association offering radically revised procedures for doing CPR. The association Judge Alitoconcluded that too few people know how to do the whole proper breath, press technique. So, it simplified things. As USAT puts it, "Call for help. Push the chest. Don't stop." Push down all the way, and quickly. No mouth-to-mouth required.

Eric Umansky (www.ericumansky.com) writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com. Source: Slate Magazine.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

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