Monday, December 31, 2007

The GOP Establishment's Fear Of The Huck

He'll get the Christofascists out to vote better than any other candidate. The rest of the GOP base would never crossover to vote for a Dem. Does "the establishment" really doubt whether he can be trusted to toe the party line? What's he said to prove that he can't be trusted? So why the fear?

Shocking!

How the rich get richer: By corrupting the system. Of course, the free market radicals would rightly point out that if there was no government oversight, there would be no corruption of the overseers in the public sector. And of course, the free market is the most efficient way to control, um, the freedom of the lenders to sign borrowers up with deliberate lies. Yeah, that's the ticket....

Fox Bidness Journal:
During the housing boom, the subprime industry succeeded at more than just writing mortgages. It also shot down efforts by some states to curtail risky lending to borrowers with spotty credit.

Ameriquest Mortgage Co., until recently one of the nation's largest subprime lenders, was at the center of those battles. Working with a husband-and-wife team of Washington lobbyists, it handed out more than $20 million in political donations and played a big role in persuading legislators in New Jersey and Georgia to relax tough new laws. Those victories, in turn, helped blunt efforts by other states to crack down on reckless lending, critics of the industry contend.

Home loans made by Ameriquest and other subprime lenders are defaulting now in large numbers, roiling global credit markets and sparking debate about whether regulators and lawmakers should have anticipated the mess and taken action. A close look at Ameriquest's lobbying and political donations shows how the subprime industry maneuvered to defeat legislation that might have contained some of the damage.

Executives at Ameriquest, based in Orange, Calif., acknowledge that the company lobbied heavily against state lending restrictions, but say that other subprime lenders did so as well. In fact, a host of subprime lenders and banking trade groups, including Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co., Countrywide Financial Corp. and the Mortgage Bankers Association, spent heavily on lobbying and political giving.

Ameriquest, a unit of ACC Capital Holdings, has stopped making new subprime loans, and it has sold some operations and is winding down others. It is now a defendant in hundreds of lawsuits alleging mortgage fraud.

Data from federal and state campaign-finance records, Internal Revenue Service filings, and the National Institute on Money in State Politics show that from 2002 through 2006, Ameriquest, its executives and their spouses and business associates donated at least $20.5 million to state and federal political groups. In comparison, over the same time period, Countrywide Financial, another large subprime lender, gave about $2 million in campaign gifts, and spent an additional $6.7 million lobbying in Washington, records indicate.

Some of the giving by Ameriquest executives and associates was high-profile. President Bush received more than $200,000 for his 2004 re-election campaign, and Ameriquest founder Roland Arnall and his wife, Dawn, contributed more than $5 million to political organizations that backed the president. Last year, President Bush appointed Mr. Arnall ambassador to the Netherlands, and his wife took over as chairman of Ameriquest's parent company. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaigns received at least $1.4 million, along with stacks of tickets to a Rolling Stones concert that were used to lure big donors. A spokesman for Gov. Schwarzenegger said his decisions are not influenced by campaign contributions. Mr. Arnall declined to comment. The White House said Mr. Arnall was nominated because of his qualifications.

Much of Ameriquest's efforts took place below the national radar, at the state level. State legislatures wanted to crack down on so-called predatory lending, which refers to the use of deceptive or unfair practices in the sale of high-interest loans, often to low-income borrowers who can't afford them. In New Jersey, for example, lawmakers passed a strong predatory-lending law in 2003 that made it difficult for Ameriquest to continue doing business there.

Washington lobbyist Wright Andrews and his wife, Lisa, coordinated much of the industry's lobbying. Mr. Andrews's firm, Butera & Andrews, collected at least $4 million in fees from the subprime industry from 2002 through 2006, congressional lobbying reports indicate. Mr. Andrews didn't represent Ameriquest directly. He ran three different subprime-industry trade groups: the National Home Equity Mortgage Association, of which Ameriquest was a member; the Coalition for Fair and Affordable Lending, which spent $6.3 million lobbying against state laws before it dissolved earlier this year, according to federal filings; and the Responsible Mortgage Lending Coalition.

In 2003, Lisa Andrews was appointed senior vice president for government affairs at Ameriquest. Her public-relations firm, Washington Communications Group Inc., claims credit on its Web site for coordinating the industry's victory in New Jersey, as well as its overall strategy at the state level. Ms. Andrews left Ameriquest in 2005 and returned to her firm..

Ameriquest was founded by Mr. Arnall in 1979 as Long Beach Savings & Loan. He later shed all of the thrift's operations except its retail-mortgage unit, which he renamed Ameriquest. During the refinancing boom of the 1990s, Ameriquest became a player in the business of lending to low-income homeowners. The company persuaded many homeowners to take cash out of their houses by refinancing them for larger amounts than their existing mortgages. Many of the new loans carried relatively high interest rates.

Settling Claims

Last year, ACC Capital, its parent company, agreed to pay $325 million to settle regulators' claims that it charged excessively high mortgage rates and didn't adequately disclose loan risks. Some of the state attorneys general who signed the settlement, including Greg Abbott of Texas, received campaign donations from the firm. Utah's attorney general, Mark Shurtleff, received a $1,000 contribution and Rolling Stones tickets. A spokesman for Mr. Shurtleff says the attorney general was not directly involved in negotiating the settlement. A spokesman for Mr. Abbott notes that the settlement was also negotiated and approved by 48 other state attorneys general.

Ameriquest also handed out Rolling Stones tickets to state legislators in Georgia, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and California, according to ethics records and local news accounts.

Federal lawmakers didn't pose much of a threat to the subprime industry in recent years. Members of Congress received at least $645,000 in donations from Ameriquest and large sums from other big subprime lenders, Federal Election Commission records indicate. They debated new oversight of the industry, but took no action.

The states were a different matter. "What seemed to be developing in the states was that there was going to be a wave of legislation," Mr. Andrews, the lobbyist, said in an interview.

In 2001, Georgia passed the Fair Lending Act. Among other things, it required lenders to be able to prove that a refinancing of any home loan less than five years old would provide a "tangible net benefit" to the borrower. Ameriquest began lobbying the state legislature to remove that provision, arguing the standard was too vague. Other lenders also complained about the law, as did Fannie Mae, the giant buyer of mortgages.

"Ameriquest was very, very engaged," recalls Georgia state Sen. Vincent Fort, who authored the law. Mr. Fort says that Adam Bass, a lawyer for Ameriquest, lobbied him directly. The state senator says he accused Mr. Bass of victimizing poor minorities, which angered Mr. Bass. A spokesman for Ameriquest, speaking on Mr. Bass's behalf, says the meeting "was a very candid conversation about complex policy issues."

Mr. Andrews, the industry lobbyist, had roots in Georgia. He had attended college and law school there, and in the 1970s, had worked for Sam Nunn, then a U.S. senator from Georgia. Mr. Andrews got involved directly on the subprime matter, lobbying in his capacity as executive director of the Responsible Mortgage Lending Coalition, one of the subprime-mortgage trade groups he ran out of his Washington office. "I wouldn't say it was a huge effort," he says. "We were just part of the overall picture."

Ameriquest began contributing to Georgia politicians. In December 2001, it donated $2,500 to Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor after he emerged as an influential figure in the debate, according to Georgia State Ethics Commission records. It followed up with another $2,500 in September 2002. Mr. Taylor says he remembers Ameriquest as one of the subprime companies that was lobbying, but doesn't recall meeting anyone from the company or getting the contributions.

In October 2002, Ameriquest announced it would stop doing business in the state until the law changed. Shortly thereafter, Standard & Poor's Corp. announced it would no longer assign credit ratings to many mortgage securities containing subprime loans from Georgia. The ratings agency said that under the new law, such loans, if found to be in violation of the law, might carry legal risk, potentially tainting the securities. Without credit ratings, such securities are virtually unmarketable. The change raised the possibility that subprime lenders would simply stop making loans in Georgia.

The subprime industry mounted a campaign against the Fair Lending Act. Within months, the Georgia Senate voted 29-26 in favor of a new law that eliminated for nearly all loans the tangible-net-benefit requirement opposed by the industry. The state House passed the law, 148-25.

Problems were also developing for the industry in New Jersey. The state Assembly there passed a similar law against predatory lending, the Home Ownership Security Act. It too contained a tangible-net-benefit rule, but it didn't provide much guidance on how the standard would be applied. "The New Jersey law makes it impossible for anyone to be in compliance," Mr. Bass, the Ameriquest lawyer, complained at an industry conference.

In October 2002, Ameriquest and Mr. Andrews's lobbying firm contributed $4,500 to five New Jersey state senators, state campaign reports indicate. The American Financial Services Association, a subprime industry group that included Ameriquest, predicted the law would cause lenders to abandon the state. Nevertheless, in the spring of 2003, the bill passed the state Senate and was signed into law.

At that point, opponents of the new law got some help. Just as it had done in Georgia, Standard & Poor's said it wouldn't rate some securities containing loans from the state. In addition, federal banking regulators issued a series of regulatory orders banning states from applying state consumer-protection rules to federally chartered banks and thrifts, part of a turf battle between federal and state regulators. That put pressure on states to soften predatory-lending rules so federally chartered banks didn't have an advantage over state-chartered ones.

The subprime industry set to work trying to roll back the New Jersey law. The National Home Equity Mortgage Association, one of the subprime groups run by Mr. Andrews, released a survey predicting that the law would reduce mortgages in New Jersey by $4 billion.

Ameriquest and Mr. Andrews's lobbying firm began handing out campaign contributions. Among the recipients were John Adler and Gerald Cardinale, two state senators who had voted for the new law. In October 2003, Mr. Cardinale, a Republican, received a $2,200 donation from Ameriquest, according to state election records. In November 2003, Mr. Adler, a Democrat, received $1,200 from the lobbying firm, the records indicate. In early December, the two senators introduced a bill to make changes sought by the industry.

'Remove Barriers'

"I don't remember ever being lobbied by Ameriquest," says Mr. Cardinale. "I do recall that we were trying to make it easier for folks to be able to access funds. And, in general, I feel it is a good thing for us to remove barriers to people being able to buy homes." He says he doesn't remember receiving any contributions from Ameriquest. "You guys think we know all of our contributors, but that's usually on a staff level. I don't frankly know who Ameriquest is."

Mr. Adler says he doesn't recall meeting anyone from Mr. Andrews's lobbying firm.

That December, Neil Cohen, a state assemblyman who had voted for the new law, received a $500 donation from the lobbying firm, state records show. The Assembly's Financial Institutions Committee, which was headed by Mr. Cohen, offered its own legislation to soften the lending law. Mr. Cohen couldn't be reached for comment.

In 2004, as debate over the predatory-lending law dragged on, Ameriquest and Mr. Andrews's lobbying firm together donated an additional $3,200 to Mr. Cohen, $1,100 to Mr. Cardinale and $1,300 to Mr. Adler, according to state records. Ameriquest gave $10,000 to the Democratic Party in the Assembly, $10,000 to Democrats in the Senate, and $7,000 to Senate Republicans, the records indicate.

Mr. Andrews's wife, Lisa, then head of government affairs at Ameriquest, was also focused on New Jersey. On the Web site of her Washington public-relations firm, she says that she "built a coalition of mortgage brokers, mortgage bankers, appraisers, title companies, and others involved in home mortgage lending to create a grass-roots lobbying campaign that produced 7,000 emails and faxes to state policymakers in a six-week time frame."

Rolling Back

In June 2004, New Jersey's Assembly and Senate unanimously passed bills that rolled back parts of the earlier law, including the tangible-net-benefit rule. Mr. Bass, the Ameriquest lawyer, announced that the company would "be offering a full range of loans in New Jersey." Thousands of New Jersey homeowners subsequently refinanced existing mortgages or took out new loans with Ameriquest before the subprime market tanked. Many of those loans are now in foreclosure.

After the victories in New Jersey and Georgia, the subprime industry and its lobbyists used similar tactics to fend off unfavorable laws in other states. Texas, for example, was debating new restrictions on home appraisers, whose overly generous valuations contributed to subprime-lending problems. ACC Capital, Ameriquest's parent company, and its executives gave more than $350,000 to Texas politicians in 2006, including $100,000 to Gov. Rick Perry, according to state records. No new appraisal restrictions were instituted. A spokesman for Gov. Perry says ACC did not ask for the governor to take any action on behalf of the industry.

In the wake of the collapse of the subprime market, Mr. Andrews's subprime lobbying business has withered. The three trade groups he ran are gone, and most of his subprime clients have stopped lobbying.

"I certainly was not aware of the degree to which many in the industry clearly failed to follow proper underwriting standards -- the standards which they represented they were following to those of us who were lobbying," Mr. Andrews says.

But he also faults the Federal Reserve for letting the industry get out of control.

"Personally, I think and have long felt the Fed should have done more early on," he says. "But I don't think anybody realized the level of problems that were going to come out in the last year or two. If you had said to me the industry was going to melt down, I would have said you were absolutely insane."

Tom Tomorrow Concludes His Review Of 2007

Too bad he missed Bhutto. At least, I think he missed, wasn't involved or anything....


Link. Click on image to enlarge!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Beloved Leader Finally Does Something Positive

After doing nothing worth anything for about 99.9999% of the world (including the USA), finally, Beloved Leader accomplishes something....

Insulting, Offensive Quote Of The Day

The shamelessness of the modern pol, willing to say any pandering idiocy without any embarrassment....

Via TalkingPointsMemo Election Central:
"When you try to take something away from us, like freedom," Rudy proclaims, "the Americans are going to be one in resisting it. So the Islamic terrorists would make a terrible mistake if they confuse our democracy for weakness." Sheer desperation.
Two sentences, utter, complete bullshit.

The Islamofascist terrorists of 9/11 took away no freedom. Our freedom was in fact taken away -- by our proto-fascist leaders, ecstatic over the excuse given them.

Being Wealthy Means Buying Yourself Your Party's Nomination

The Trib:
Two multimillionaires in the presidential race — two ways to spend their money. Republican Mitt Romney has pumped more than $17 million of his own into his race; Democrat John Edwards, by law, can tap his fortune for no more than $50,000.

What a difference public financing makes.

Romney has chosen to bypass the taxpayer-financed presidential campaign fund, a move that lets him use his wealth without limitation. If he has put more of his money in during the past three months, his campaign isn't saying. The public won't find out until Jan. 31, when Romney must submit campaign finance reports to the Federal Election Commission.
[more]

And The Number 1 Reason To Visit Israel

Sally Quinn Finally Gets It Right For Once; Her Xmas Message

Of course, she's still a gratuitously elitist snot, but this time she's dead on... well, behind the curve, actually, but can't argue with the sentiment. (Actually, one could say she was a minor enabler to what she's bitching about, but I demur.)
As a child, I went to a small school in rural Alabama near an Army post where my father was stationed. It was a very Christian town, and our teacher was "born again."

This was decades ago, but I remember clearly how she used to tell us that we must accept Jesus Christ as our personal savior. Then she would ask for hands to see who had. By age 11 I had become a nonbeliever. My father was in the Army and had fought in World War II and Korea; I concluded quickly that no loving God could have allowed those atrocities to be committed.

But we had all seen our teacher, when crossed, call an unlucky member of our class up to the front of the room, make the student lie down on her desk and be paddled. The humiliation was worse than the pain. So, when she called on us to admit that we had accepted Jesus as our savior, I dutifully raised my hand.

Thank goodness, those days are over, you might be thinking. Nothing like that could happen in this country today.

Well, think again. It happened this month, right here in Washington.

On Dec. 11, H.R. 847 was passed in the House of Representatives. Just listen to what our lawmakers have resolved:

"Whereas Christmas, a holiday of great significance to Americans," it begins, "is celebrated annually by Christians throughout the United States. . . ." It goes on to state, among other things, that "Christianity [is] the religion of over three-fourths of the American population," that "American Christians observe Christmas, the holiday celebrating the birth of their savior, Jesus Christ," and that "Christmas is celebrated as a recognition of God's redemption, mercy, and Grace."

"Now, therefore be it Resolved, that the House of Representatives . . . expresses continued support for Christians in the United States . . . acknowledges and supports the role played by Christians and Christianity in the founding of the United States . . . rejects bigotry and persecution directed against Christians, both in the United States and worldwide; and expresses its deepest respect to American Christians."

For brevity, I have omitted the resolution's references to Christianity around the world.

This resolution passed with 195 Democratic yea votes, 177 Republican yeas and nine Democratic nays. No Republicans voted against it. Ten House members voted "present." Forty were not there, including the bill's sponsor, Rep. Steve King of Iowa.

Among those voting for the resolution was a Jewish member of Congress who has asked me not to print his name. He was outraged and appalled by the bill, he told me. But he was also afraid. He thought it would hurt him with his mostly Christian constituency if he voted against it. He told some of his colleagues about his anguish. They advised him not to be stupid. It would be better for him politically if he voted for it.

It's possible that the 10 who voted "present" also had problems with the bill but decided it was safer not to vote against it. One could also assume that some of those who were absent were not there so as not to have to deal with the problem.

Earlier this year the House also passed resolutions honoring Islamic and Indian holidays but nothing that so equated a single faith with America and Americans.

How could this happen, in what will soon be 2008, in a pluralistic, multicultural, multireligious society, a society based on the concepts of religious freedom and separation of church and state? What were they thinking?

This resolution was as anti-American as anything Congress has ever passed. It disenfranchised and marginalized millions and millions of men and women, reducing them to second-class citizens.

How about this next time around: "Whereas all holidays have great significance to some Americans, be it resolved that the House of Representatives expresses its deepest respect to Americans of all faiths and non-faith alike."
Link.

Why Detroit Is In Deep Shit

The Not-So-Big-3's heads still, after 30+ years, have not learned to lead. They were last in the 70s in making efficient vehicles that people want and they still haven't learned to figure out what's wanted and build it. They still rather wait til everyone else has done it and taken a bunch of Detroit's share. Where's Detroit's Prius? Accord? RAV4, CR-V? No, the CTS and ZR-1 will save Detroit. Its culture of head-up-the-assedness continues as they cry for government help to compensate them for their ineptitude and stupidity.

Partial Solution For The "Subprime" Crisis

Buy the fire sale house across the street, reduce your own mortgage. The free market succeeds again in solving a problem.
I got an agreement of sale today from a realtor looking for a prequal on a shortsale , the buyer lives next door, he has a current mortgage for $800,000 on a home he purchase in 2005 with no money down, the home he has under contact is right across the street from his present home, the offer is for $500,000 and it looks like the bank will accept it.

The borrower plans to buy it as a primary , once he moves in, they will stop making payments on the $800,000 loan that they have with CW.

He qualifies full doc and has a 770 FICO , he figues letting his credit tank is not a big deal when he is lowering his mortgage debt by $300,000.

I told him the new bank may deny the deal based on occupancy, tried to convince him to go NOO but he does not want the higher rate.

What do you think ? anyone had this scenario yet, I sure it will be happening more and more especially in CA and FL.
Link.

Second Music Video Of The Day! It Must Be Xmas!

Paki Lies

Yep, it’s official. Al Qaeda, not Hillary, killed Benzir Bhutto. How do we know? Well, the Pakistani Interior Minister said so.
Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said that on Friday, the government recorded an”intelligence intercept” in which militant leader Baitullah Mehsud “congratulated his people for carrying out this cowardly act.”
He also let us know that she died from hitting her head. Amazing how Pakistani authorities could know such a thing since no autopsy was performed. Must be the equivalent of psychic healing. Worth noting that the physician who examined her at the hospital emergency unit appeared to indicate that she had a hole in the side of her head.

I do not rule out Islamic radicals who are not part of the government as possible culprits. But they are not the only folks with motive and access. In fact, the Government of Pakistan’s rush to pin this on Al Qaeda smacks of scape goating. There are longstanding ties between Al Qaeda and elements of the military and the intelligence service.

The virtual absence of any uniformed security detail around her gives further credence to the belief that elements within the military and ISI did away with her. There was no doubt that Benazir was a high risk for an assassination attempt. Why were Pakistani authorities so passive when it came to her security? It would be one thing if she resisted efforts to cover her. But the opposite is true. She had specifically and repeatedly asked for more security. At least she was not suicidal.

AQ is always a convenient boogeyman, but there is a pretty significant gap between what they claim to do and what they have actually accomplished over the last two years. Talking a good game and doing something are two different things. President Musharef and his crowd have some explaining to do.

UPDATE: The notion that a woman standing up in a car, with her torso above the sunroof (at least from chest up) would be thrown downward and strike her head defies physics. The bomb was below her, not above. The blast wave was moving up. If anything, it should have popped her out of the car. Except she had already been shot and was collapsing inside the car. That's what an autopsy likely would have demonstrated.
Link.

Query: Is Pinch Sulzberger Fucking Nuts Or What?

I'm for splitting the differce: He's a fucking idiot.

Oh wait, his monument to himself opened to a glowing review... in the Times.

Here's a couple of reasons why Kristol's unfit to have a column (unless you're a pussy like Pinch and wants to suck up to the whackos):
According to Huffington Post, the New York Times "is set to announce that Bill Kristol will become a weekly columnist in 2008" after leaving Time "in what was reported as a 'mutual' decision." As Media Matters documented, Kristol was chief among a handful of conservative commentators who offered highly optimistic predictions regarding the Iraq war's duration, difficulty, and human and financial costs -- even in the face of evidence to the contrary. But Kristol has not limited himself to misinformation on Iraq; Media Matters has documented numerous instances of conservative misinformation from Kristol on a variety of topics.

For example:

Kristol falsely claimed of Clinton and Obama: "She hasn't passed any legislation. He hasn't either."

Echoing White House, Kristol attacked Pelosi for trip to Syria, which GOP-led delegation also visited

Conservative pundits attacked Clinton for perjury and obstruction, but now defend Libby

Wallace failed to challenge Standard editors on debunked story

Kristol falsely claimed Dems "renounce[] the use of force" against "jihadist Islamic threat"

Kristol: I wish Bush had said "a little more about winning" and "a little less about helping the Iraqis"

Kristol's first Time column contradicted by Time's own reporting

Kristol repeatedly attacks "critics" of the Bush administration, yet refuses to name, or quote, a single one

Kristol and Kagan falsely claimed exit polls showed public evenly split on "pullout from Iraq"

On Fox News Sunday, Kristol falsely claimed "Missouri, Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio" are "pro-Bush states"

On Fox, Kristol blamed "voters in Florida" for Foley debacle: "[M]aybe they should have known better"

Kristol accused Democrats -- not Republicans -- of turning 9-11 anniversary "into a partisan fight"; falsely claimed Bush never attacked Clinton terror policies

Kristol: Democrats oppose Lieberman because he is "pro-American"; Coulter claimed Lamont supporters are "anti-American"

Conservative pundits made wildly wrong claims about how Iraq would turn out -- what are they saying now about the Middle East?

Kristol falsely claimed Bush "declassified most" of the NIE

Kristol erroneously cited polls; falsely claimed that, since March, "no new information" Bush misled U.S. into Iraq

Kristol called Britain a "happy ACLU playground" for both "decent dissidents" and terrorists

After GOP source of Schiavo memo was confirmed, Hume, Kristol failed to acknowledge their roles in suggesting Democrats had authored it
Link.

Ron Paul, Whacko Of The First Degree

Ron Paul's idea of a good Negro:

Comrades:

I have kept quiet about the Ron Paul campaign for a while, because I didn't see any need to say anything that would cause any trouble. However, reading the latest release from his campaign spokesman, I am compelled to tell the truth about Ron Paul's extensive involvement in white nationalism.

Both Congressman Paul and his aides regularly meet with members of the Stormfront set, American Renaissance, the Institute for Historic Review, and others at the Tara Thai restaurant in Arlington, Virginia, usually on Wednesdays. This is part of a dinner that was originally organized by Pat Buchanan, Sam Francis and Joe Sobran, and has since been mostly taken over by the Council of Conservative Citizens.

I have attended these dinners, seen Paul and his aides there, and been invited to his offices in Washington to discuss policy.

For his spokesman to call white racialism a "small ideology" and claim white activists are "wasting their money" trying to influence Paul is ridiculous. Paul is a white nationalist of the Stormfront type who has always kept his racial views and his views about world Judaism quiet because of his political position.

I don't know that it is necessarily good for Paul to "expose" this. However, he really is someone with extensive ties to white nationalism and for him to deny that in the belief he will be more respectable by denying it is outrageous -- and I hate seeing people in the press who denounce racialism merely because they think it is not fashionable.

Bill White, Commander
American National Socialist Workers Party
Link.
This email was forwarded to me the other day. I found it more than a little ironic that Ron Paul supporters would claim that a Jewish cabal was behind an effort to expose Paul as an anti-Semite. That said, there is some interesting info in this letter; it just doesn't clear Paul of anything. More on that later. First, take a minute to read it:
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: [redacted]
Date: Dec 23, 2007 4:48 PM
Subject: Busted! So-Called White Supremacist Group Exposed as Israeli False-Flag Operation
To: [redacted]
Cc: [redacted]

What really Happened (no date)
http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/whitesupremicistisisraelishill.php

BUSTED! SO-CALLED WHITE SUPREMACIST GROUP EXPOSED AS ISRAELI PROPAGANDA OPERATION!

Every time the Israeli lobbyists in the United States demand more money or more special legal protections, they wave about these so-called "Neo-nazi" or "White Supremacist" groups like Stormfront and the American Nazi Party. AIPAC, ADL, JDL, and their ilk raise tons of money by waving these boogie-men around as a real imminent threat and danger!

Yet no matter what laws get passed and no matter how many millions ADL, JDL, etc. raise, Stormfront and the American Nazi Party remain strangely unmolested by either criminal or civil actions. How very strange!!!

So, earlier today, the Commander of the American Nazi Party, one Bill White, posted an article on the official American Nazis website an article accusing rising Presidential candidate Ron Paul of being a "Secret" White Supremacist.

Now, one might suppose that the American Nazi party would be happy to have a candidate who shares their views, and one might assume that Bill White is smart enough to know that making such a public accusation is going to be quite harmful to the candidate he claims shares his philosophy. Indeed it does appear that Bill White's accusation is intended to cause as much harm to Ron Paul as possible.

Of course, Bill White's claim did not do much more than incite a great deal of laughter. But in their haste to get this message out, one of Bill's minions slipped up.

Rather than cut and paste the text of Bill's accusations, one of the members of Bill's blog, apparently to prove the story's source, screen captured Bill's article, posted it to various newsgroups and in doing so, let slip a rather interesting secret.

Here is that screen capture:

http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/IMAGES/nazi-white-screenshotCU.gif

Note the tiny little icon indicated by the arrow in the Windows toolbar. It's a megaphone. But not just ANY Megaphone, it is the icon proving that the member of Bill White's American Nazi group is ALSO a member of Megaphone, the Israeli propaganda communications network!

Here is what the Megaphone looks like when it is running:

http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/IMAGES/Megaphone_screenshot.jpg

More about Megaphone can be found at Wikipedia here:
htpp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megaphone_desktop_tool

and more about Bill White and his many fronts can be found HERE:
http://www.onepeoplesproject.com/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=154&Itemid=27

But what we have here is what appears to be a group of self-proclaimed NeoNazis using the Israeli propaganda network! ... which goes a long way to explaining why they are never arrested or sued by those groups that raise so much money using them as scarecrows!
Nothing in this letter contradicts anything Bill White said on his website nor does it in any way tier Bill White to a "Jewish Cabal." The only thing that can be determined by the facts as presented is that someone who uses Megaphone posted the screen caps on white supremacist message boards. Who that person was and why he or she did it is anyone's guess but it could be any of the following:
  • A white supremacist who keeps tabs on his zionist counterparts by using Megaphone (I am on nearly every right wing christian mailing list imaginable for the same reason).
  • A Little Green Fascist or Israeli supremacist who is doing his thing for the Fatherland.
  • One of Bill White's fellow white supremacists (He was recently involved in a fight against child predators, satanists, and witches (really) in his organization) But of course, that requires the same convoluted reasoning as the letter.
  • a Paulite who saw the Bill White blogpost and wanted to discredit it.
Link.

And there's a whole lot more -- maybe the whole story even! -- here. At least he's no flip-flopper!

And he is consistent, right up to 23 December 2007:
I don’t want to pick a fight with Ron Paul’s spambots supporters, which who seem to be among the most annoying passionate on the web. But I will say this: their guy is more than a little nuts. Seriously, on Meet the Press earlier today he suggested that Lincoln was wrong to go to war in 1861.

Here’s the exchange:

MR. RUSSERT: I was intrigued by your comments about Abe Lincoln. “According to Paul, Abe Lincoln should never have gone to war; there were better ways of getting rid of slavery.”

REP. PAUL: Absolutely. Six hundred thousand Americans died in a senseless civil war. No, he shouldn’t have gone, gone to war. He did this just to enhance and get rid of the original intent of the republic. I mean, it was the–that iron, iron fist..

MR. RUSSERT: We’d still have slavery.

REP. PAUL: Oh, come on, Tim. Slavery was phased out in every other country of the world. And the way I’m advising that it should have been done is do like the British empire did. You, you buy the slaves and release them. How much would that cost compared to killing 600,000 Americans and where it lingered for 100 years? I mean, the hatred and all that existed. So every other major country in the world got rid of slavery without a civil war. I mean, that doesn’t sound too radical to me. That sounds like a pretty reasonable approach.

There are so many things wrong with this line of argument that I don’t even know where to start. Oh wait, yes I do. Let’s begin with: Lincoln didn’t go to war to “get rid of the original intent of the republic.” You have to know even less about history than Tim Russert — I wouldn’t have thought it possible — to say such a ridiculous thing. Or you have to be a bit too willing, eager even, to marry libertarian political ideology with neo-Confederate historical revisionism. Just to be clear: Lincoln went to war to preserve the Union. That’s it. End of story. Full stop.

Also: Lincoln didn’t start the Civil War. To clarify his position throughout the 1860 campaign and well into 1861, long after he was elected president without his name having appeared on a single Southern ballot, Lincoln said that slavery shoudn’t be allowed to expand into the West — a position that was part of the Republican Party (Paul’s party) platform.

Because of his incredibly bold lukewarm stance — again, not for emancipation and certainly not for immediate abolition but only against the further expansion of slavery — South Carolina seceded after the 1860 election results became clear. Six other Confederate States soon followed. This was still prior to Lincoln’s inauguration, mind you, and the president-elect needed to try to persuade the Border States to reject rebellion. So he kept promising, as he had throughout the electoral season, not to prune back the peculiar institution where it already had taken root, but only to insure that it would spread no further.

Which compromised position, by the way, wasn’t good enough for many loyal Republicans (the Ron Pauls of their era, I suppose), who asked that Lincoln forestall war by allowing slavery unfettered access to Western soil. Lincoln, to his credit, replied that such a move would have rendered the Republican Party and his administration a “mere sucked egg, all shell and no principle in it.”

And then, to reitterate, South Carolina seceded. Still, the war didn’t actually start until Confederate artillery began bombarding Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor on April 12, 1861. Then and only then did Lincoln call for troops.

So, because Tim Russert is such an ignorant gassbag, here are my questions for Paul: given that Lincoln didn’t start the war, what should he have done? Allowed the Union to blow apart to avoid bloodshed? And for how much longer, Dr. Paul, you exquisite champion of freedom, would it have been okay to enslave African-Americans in the United States? Another generation? Two? More than that?

And what of denying African-Americans the rights guaranteed in the Constitution, which document, I’ve heard, you admire? (What do I mean, gentle reader? Well, it seems that Paul’s also no fan of the Civil Rights Act.)

Roll tape:

MR. RUSSERT: Let me ask you about race, because I, I read a speech you gave in 2004, the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. And you said this: “Contrary to the claims of” “supporters of the Civil Rights Act of” ‘64, “the act did not improve race relations or enhance freedom. Instead, the forced integration dictated by the Civil Rights Act of” ‘64 “increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty.” That act gave equal rights to African-Americans to vote, to live, to go to lunch counters, and you seem to be criticizing it.

REP. PAUL: Well, we should do, we should do this at a federal level, at a federal lunch counter it’d be OK or for the military. Just think of how the government, you know, caused all the segregation in the military until after World War II. But when it comes, Tim, you’re, you’re, you’re not compelled in your house to invade strangers that you don’t like. So it’s a property rights issue. And this idea that all private property is under the domain of the federal government I think is wrong. So this–I think even Barry Goldwater opposed that bill on the same property rights position, and that–and now this thing is totally out of control. If you happen to like to smoke a cigar, you know, the federal government’s going to come down and say you’re not allowed to do this.

MR. RUSSERT: But you would vote against…

REP. PAUL: So it’s…

MR. RUSSERT: You would vote against the Civil Rights Act if, if it was today?

REP. PAUL: If it were written the same way, where the federal government’s taken over property–has nothing to do with race relations. It just happens, Tim, that I get more support from black people today than any other Republican candidate, according to some statistics. And I have a great appeal to people who care about personal liberties and to those individuals who would like to get us out of wars. So it has nothing to do with racism, it has to do with the Constitution and private property rights.

For anyone considering voting for Ron Paul, please think again. I know that you’re fed up with the war. So am I. I know that you distrust politicians. So do I. I know that you crave change. Me too. But Ron Paul is either a lunatic, a stone-cold racist (seemingly an in-the-hip-pocket-of-the-Slaveocracy racist, which, to be fair, isn’t very different from some other prominent Republicans — see Trent Lott and his recent defenders) or both. And, by the way, what happened to supporting the troops? Calling the Civil War “senseless”; what will that do to morale?

Update: Matthew Yglesias, as usual, beat me to punch. I’d say that I’m getting tired of this. But I’d better get used to it. I’m old and slow. He’s young and nimble.
Link.

The GOP Supports The War Against Xmas

O'Reilly is alone on this. The GOP is against Xmas. Here's proof:


GOP, show me the Christ!

Fantasy Video

Wouldn't it be lovely.... Maybe Our Leaders can bring a healthy democracy to Israel after it does same in Iraq??

Inside Bhutto's Vehicle

Sure looks like a lot of blood from just, you know, bumping one's head (one of the Pakis' claimed causes of death).

We report, you decide:

Today's Music Video



Link.

Democracy In America

Lucky us.... Thank God, George W. Bush is President!

CounterPunch:
Ms. Bhutto and her father and political mentor, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, were democratic, but imperfect political leaders - imperious, indifferent to human rights and, in her case, tainted by serious charges of corruption. (New York Times Editorial, December 28, 2007)
Imperious, indifferent to human rights, tainted by serious charges of corruption-this description of Ms. Bhutto is also a perfect portrayal of George W. Bush and his administration.

We've heard and seen Bush proclaim that he's the "decider." We've watched as he ignores advice from world leaders, including the Pope, and those who know the culture of the Middle East. He doesn't conceal his scorn. We've witnessed the stubbornness his dwindling supporters call resolve. His critics, who are legion, wince when he speaks, embarrassed that he holds the highest office in the land. He is the butt of jokes on the Internet, of syndicated cartoonists, of singers, comedians, columnists, late-night television hosts, playwrights, movie producers, and of authors who have made a bundle off his Bushisms. Many of us have called him stupid and inept.

But he is not.

Instead, Bush knows exactly what he's doing. He knew less than two months after the invasion of Iraq when he landed on an aircraft carrier under a "Mission Accomplished" banner that he'd achieved his goal of endless war.

He uses words like "sacrifice" and "freedom" to inspire our young to join the military while talking "terror," "mushroom clouds," and "Islamofascism" to color code our fear. He is a master manipulater.

By loading the Supreme Court with ultraconservative Justices, he advances his political-Christian agenda.

Furthermore, Bush has without precedent used signing statements to disregard more than 750 laws, including a ban on torture. This systematic action allows Bush to ignore legislation passed by Congress. According to this president, the Constitution gives him the right to take power from the legislative branch. Back to the court-Justice Sam Alito is a huge fan of signing statements and unchecked executive power.

Perhaps Bush's greatest coup has been as a "uniter, not a divider," one of his campaign promises. Certainly, he has united Congress so tightly that we no longer have a two-party system. George W. Bush has neutered the Democrats with surgical accuracy. No matter how loudly they bellow that they will challenge him, that he will receive no more blank checks for war, they capitulate. They pose no threat to his unquenchable thirst for unitary power regardless of the electorate's demand for change and a certainty that this country is on a perilous path.

A Profile In Courage; The Necessity Of Dissenters

Now this is the Greatest Generation, and it will be a very long time before anything like this will be seen against. I'm afraid the era of the man of principle and action is long gone....
The FBI spied on him. The State Department wanted him deported. The British government sought to silence him. Prominent American Jewish leaders worked to obstruct his activities. Yet despite intense and sometimes frenzied opposition, firebrand activist Hillel Kook (known as Peter Bergson) succeeded in shattering the wall of silence that surrounded news about Hitler's annihilation of the Jews.

During World War II, Kook spearheaded an extraordinary campaign of public rallies, hard-hitting newspaper advertisements, and lobbying in Congress that forced America to confront the Holocaust. Whether by mobilizing hundreds of rabbis to march on Washington, or by recruiting Hollywood celebrities such as Edward G. Robinson and Eddie Cantor to support the Jewish cause, Kook displayed an uncanny ability to take a long-ignored issue and propel it to the forefront of public interest.

In this powerful book, Kook finally tells his side of this compelling story. Based on previously unpublished interviews, A Race Against Death explores, through Kook's eyes, the extraordinary events of an unforgettable period in recent American history. It is the true story of one man's appeal to the conscience of a generation, and his campaign for a moral reckoning in the face of the greatest tragedy mankind has ever known.
Link.

More:
A controversial figure, Bergson will be forever known to Jewish history as the Jew who wouldn't shut up during the Holocaust. During World War II, faced with an American Jewish establishment that was too docile to raise hell about the fate of doomed European Jews and too infatuated with Franklin Roosevelt to stand up to the president, Bergson, along with a few associates, refused to be silent.

Born in Lithuania in 1915, he came into the world as Hillel Kook, a scion of a great rabbinic dynasty. His uncle was, in fact, the revered Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935), who became the first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of modern Israel, and whose belief in the synthesis of Zionism with Judaism helped revolutionize the thinking of the Orthodox and secular Jewish worlds. But Hillel Kook did not go into the family business. Instead, growing up in pre-World War II Palestine (after his family had made aliyah), he chose to devote himself to the battle to create a Jewish state. Kook was a follower of Zionist leader Vladimir Ze'ev Jabotinsky, whose right-of-center Revisionist movement was more militant in its attitude toward both the Arabs and the British rulers of Palestine than the Labor Zionist Party led by David Ben-Gurion.

In his youth, Kook became deeply involved with the underground Irgun Zvai Leumi, a group that broke away from the labor-dominated Haganah defense force.

UNDERCOVER MISSION
As World War II approached, British restrictions had closed the gates of the one country that was willing to take in the endangered Jews of Europe. The Irgun sent Kook to Poland, where he helped organize illegal Jewish immigration to Palestine. While working undercover, he operated under the name "Peter Bergson," so as not to involve his prominent rabbinic family who lived under British rule.

Fortuitously, Kook/Bergson was in Switzerland when the Germans invaded Poland. Eventually, he would make his way to New York, where he joined Jabotinsky, who was working to create a "Jewish army" to fight with the Allies against Adolf Hitler.

But in the spring of 1940, Jabotinsky died. Bergson continued Jabotinsky's agitation for a Jewish army (the campaign would eventually result in the creation of the "Jewish Brigade" of the British Army, whose veterans helped form the nucleus of Israel's forces during its War of Independence); then, in 1942, his focus changed.

While most American Zionists were still concentrating on the struggle to create a Jewish state in the aftermath of the war, Bergson realized that there was a more urgent priority: the rescue of Jews trapped in the clutches of the Nazis. By the end of 1942 (when the murder of Polish Jewry was itself largely accomplished), American Jewish leaders were no longer in doubt as to what was going on in Nazi Europe - the attempted extermination of the entire Jewish people.

Though leaders such as New York's Rabbi Stephen Wise were deeply troubled by this knowledge, they felt helpless to do anything about it. There were hundreds of thousands of Jews still alive in countries such as Hungary, where the Nazis and their collaborators had not yet started their grim deportation process. But the leaders of major Jewish organizations, such as Wise, were unable and/or unwilling to use whatever clout they possessed to challenge the Roosevelt administration to attempt to rescue as many Jews as could be saved. Bergson had no such inhibitions and was a master of public relations.

Mobilizing celebrities - such as journalist and screenwriter Ben Hecht - Bergson began a flamboyant campaign to bring the fate of European Jews to the forefront of the American consciousness. His Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe published provocative newspaper ads, staged pageants written by Hecht to memorialize Jewish victims and held a rabbinic march on Washington to galvanize support for rescue.

Rather than joining in with Bergson's efforts, Wise and other Jewish leaders feared and despised him. They thought Bergson's campaign would arouse anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish pogroms in America. But the foreign-born Bergson understood America better than natives like Wise, who was too close to Roosevelt to see that he was being used. Appealing to the instinctive American belief in fairness, the Irgunist's campaign was able to tap into powerful feelings of sympathy for Jewish victims and for Zionism among ordinary Americans, as well as many non-Jewish politicians.

Fortunately, the establishment failed to stop him. Bergson's agitation on behalf of rescue led to congressional pressure that resulted in the Roosevelt administration creating the War Refugee Board in 1944. The board's work was directly responsible for saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews.

To the end of his life, Bergson believed that despite its limited success, his work was a failure. Had his group been able to force the creation of the War Refugee Board earlier and if it were given more resources, even more Jews might have been saved.

That is an argument historians will continue to debate. But there is little doubt that Bergson's valiant efforts were a bright light of Jewish honor at a time when the counsels of despair governed the hearts of the men who were supposed to be American Jewry's leaders.

NO POSTWAR HONORS
Yet for the man known as Peter Bergson, there would be no postwar honors. As a political opponent of Ben-Gurion, Kook (who resumed his real name after the State of Israel was declared) was elected to the first Knesset along with Menachem Begin. But Kook was no politician. He soon quarreled with Begin and, disillusioned, left Israeli public life - and then Israel itself, to take up a successful career on Wall Street. He eventually returned to the Jewish state in 1975, where he lived in obscurity until his death.

Over the years, Kook would periodically emerge to give testimony about the past and contribute to the fierce debates that raged about the failure of the leaders of the Jewish world to effectively aid the victims of the Holocaust.

Some, influenced by their dislike of Kook's politics, would denigrate him and seek to exonerate Wise. But with the publication of influential books such as Arthur Morse's While Six Million Died, David Wyman's The Abandonment of the Jews and Rafael Medoff's The Deafening Silence, recognition of the importance of Kook's work grew. Though the body of scholarship on this topic is increasing, to date, only one biography of Kook exists - a fine effort by the late Louis Rapaport, titled Shake Heaven & Earth: Peter Bergson and the Struggle to Rescue the Jews of Europe .

In his refusal to be silent, Kook not only set in motion the chain of events that helped save many Jewish lives but also created the paradigm for a half-century of unapologetic Jewish activism on behalf of Soviet Jewry and the State of Israel. Bergson is largely unknown to most American Jews alive today. But he was, as much as anyone, the man who helped set in motion the activist identity of countless American Jews who grew up long after this hero left the stage.

As American Jewry marshals its considerable resources to support the embattled Israel of our own time, it is fitting that we remember the man who came from Palestine more than 60 years ago to show us how to stand up and speak truth to power. Let his memory be for a blessing, and let his legacy inspire us to act with honor, as he did so long ago.
And yet more:
Mr. Bergson, who was known in Israel by his Hebrew name, Hillel Kook, was born in 1915 in Lithuania, and was the youngest of eight children. At age 10, amid widespread pogroms, he and his family fled to Palestine, where his uncle Avraham Yitzak Kook was the country's first Ashkenazi chief rabbi. One of Mr. Bergson's earliest friends there was David Raziel, who became the head of Irgun Zvai Leumi, the armed Jewish underground movement.

A member of Irgun from his early teens, Mr. Bergson adopted his new name to shield his family from his political activities after he was sent to Poland in 1937 to help the Revisionist Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky smuggle Jews into Palestine.

Mr. Bergson first came to the United States in June 1940 to help Mr. Jabotinsky set up a Jewish army to join the fight against Hitler.

But by late 1942, Mr. Bergson's mentor had died and his focus had shifted. On Nov. 25, 1942, a small article appeared on Page 10 of The New York Times with the first official news that, up to that point, two million Jews had been killed in Europe. From then on, Mr. Bergson's talents at fund-raising and garnering publicity were devoted to the campaign to rescue European Jews.

With his fellow campaigner, the writer Ben Hecht, Mr. Bergson set up the Emergency Committee to Save the Jews in Europe in 1943 in response to what he considered to be feeble official efforts to respond to the killings. To get attention for their cause, they held plays and mass pageants, including Mr. Hecht's ''A Flag Is Born'' and ''We Will Never Die,'' which toured the country after attracting 40,000 to Madison Square Garden in March 1943. Edward G. Robinson, Marlon Brando and Stella Adler were among those who took part.

Most controversial were the committee's full-page advertisements in major newspapers, including one that appeared in The Times and The Washington Post in February 1943. It said: ''For sale to humanity: 70,000 Rumanian Jews, Guaranteed Human beings at $50 a Piece.'' Jewish leaders were outraged. And Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, head of the American Jewish Congress, quickly condemned the advertisement as a hoax.

Charismatic, indefatigable and reviled in many quarters, Mr. Bergson was ''as persistent as a force of nature,'' Mr. Hecht later wrote. On one occasion, two days before Yom Kippur in October 1943, Mr. Bergson persuaded 400 orthodox rabbis to march on Washington to protest what they thought was the Roosevelt administration's indifference to the plight of European Jews. He later said that he had invited clergymen of all faiths to take part, but only the rabbis had agreed to come.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt did not receive the marchers, having been told by Jewish advisers that the committee did not represent the mainstream of American Jewish opinion. But the marchers met with others in the capital. To many historians, the event helped force Congress to hold its first hearings on the plight of Jews in Europe and contributed directly to the creation of a government rescue agency, the War Refugee Board, in January 1944.

''He was a master of public relations at a very young age,'' said his daughter Rebecca Kook, who teaches political science at Ben Gurion University in Be'er Sheva, Israel. ''In many ways, he established what many consider to be the first example of a real political lobby in Washington.''

After the creation of the War Refugee Board, Mr. Bergson and his group shifted their focus back to events in Palestine, with the creation of the Hebrew Committee of National Liberation. But this body, closely associated with Irgun, with its own ''Hebrew Embassy'' on Washington's Embassy Row, never gained widespread acceptance as a government in exile. David Ben-Gurion, later to become Israel's first prime minister, called it ''a group of self-appointed people who represent nobody but themselves.''

As Hillel Kook, Mr. Bergson returned home in May 1948 with Is rael's declaration of independence and was elected to the Constituent Assembly. But he later resigned his seat in protest when the Ben-Gurion government turned the assembly into the first Knesset before it had written a constitution.

In 1951, Mr. Bergson returned to the United States with his wife, Betty, a fellow wartime campaigner for refugees, whom he had married in Israel in 1950. He then withdrew from politics, successfully working as an independent stockbroker on Wall Street.

Betty Kook died of cancer in 1964, and in 1970 Mr. Bergson retired from business and returned to Israel. There he picked up some of his old causes, including his campaign for an Israeli constitution built on a strong division between synagogue and government.

''The bearded, impeccably dressed Kook looks every inch the elder statesman, a Trotsky in Mexico whose brilliant theories have been filed away,'' Louis Rapoport wrote of Mr. Bergson's retirement years in ''Shake Heaven & Earth: Peter Bergson and the Struggle to Rescue the Jews of Europe'' (Gefen).

He married Nili Haskell in Israel in 1975. She survives him, as do two daughters, Rebecca Kook of Israel and Astra Zemko of London; two granddaughters; and a grandson.
Correction: August 23, 2001, Thursday An obituary on Monday about Peter Bergson, a Zionist who crusaded in the United States during World War II on behalf of Jews in Europe, misspelled the surname of a surviving daughter. She is Astra Temko, not Zemko.
And then there's this; Kook was supported by Nancy Pelosi's father:
When Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, stepped to the podium at a Knesset dinner during her visit earlier this month, she made history in more ways than one.
Not only was she the first woman Speaker of the House to address Israel's lawmakers, Pelosi was also addressing the parliament of a country whose creation her own father championed, at the risk of his career - and perhaps her career, as well.

Speaker Pelosi's father, the late US congressman Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr., of Maryland, was known as a Roosevelt Democrat. What is not widely known is that D'Alesandro broke ranks with president Franklin D. Roosevelt on the issues of rescuing Jews from Hitler and creating a Jewish State.

D'Alesandro was one of the congressional supporters of the Bergson Group, a maverick Jewish political action committee that challenged the Roosevelt administration's policies on the Jewish refugee issue during the Holocaust, and later lobbied against British control of Palestine.

The Bergson activists used unconventional tactics to draw attention to the plight of Europe's Jews, including staging theatrical pageants, organizing a march by 400 rabbis to the White House, and placing more than 200 full-page advertisements in newspapers around the country. Some of those ads featured lists of celebrities, prominent intellectuals, and members of Congress who supported the group - including D'Alesandro.

D'Alesandro's involvement with the Bergson Group was remarkable because he was a Democrat who was choosing to support a group that was publicly challenging a Democratic president. And D'Alesandro was not one of the conservative Southern "Dixiecrat" Democrats who sometimes tangled with FDR over various issues; he was a staunch supporter of Roosevelt and the New Deal. He even named his first son Franklin Roosevelt D'Alesandro.

UNTIL LATE in the Holocaust, the Roosevelt administration's position was that nothing could be done to rescue Jews from the Nazis except to win the war. The Bergson Group was convinced that there were many steps the US could take to rescue refugees, without impeding the war effort.

Bergson's strategy for changing US policy was anchored in the hope that humanitarian-minded Democrats like D'Alesandro would break ranks with the White House over the plight of the Jews. Rallying Congress was a way to put pressure on the president.

The Bergson Group's Holocaust campaign culminated in the introduction of a Congressional resolution, in late 1943, urging creation of a government agency to rescue refugees. Senator Tom Connally of Texas, a loyal FDR supporter and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, blocked the committee's consideration of the resolution. But when Connally was out sick one day, his replacement, Senator Elbert Thomas (D-Utah) quickly ushered the resolution through. In the House of Representatives, too, there was growing support for the rescue resolution.

This Congressional pressure helped influence President Roosevelt to do what the resolution urged - in early 1944, he established the War Refugee Board. Despite its small staff and meager funding, the Board played a key role in the rescue of more than 200,000 Jews from the Holocaust. Its many accomplishments included sponsoring the heroic life-saving activities of the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg in Nazi-occupied Budapest.

AFTER THE war, D'Alesandro continued supporting the Bergson Group as it campaigned for the establishment of a Jewish State in Mandatory Palestine. That sometimes meant clashing with the Truman administration, which wavered back and forth on the issue of Jewish statehood.

Every member of Congress who supported the Bergson Group had his own particular reasons for doing so. Senator Thomas, for example, was a Mormon, and his kinship with the Jewish people had been forged by both his community's experiences as a mistreated minority and his religious convictions about the Jews and the Holy Land. Rep. Andrew Somers (D-NY) was of Irish descent, and his resentment of British rule in Ireland strengthened his support for Bergson's campaigns against the British shutdown of Palestine to Jewish refugees. Another important Bergson supporter, Rep. Will Rogers, Jr. (D-CA), son of the famous entertainer, was part Native American, and he attributed his interest in the plight of the Jews to his general concern for minorities.

Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr. was a Catholic and the son of Italian immigrants. Perhaps those factors fueled his sympathy for religious minorities and refugees. Or perhaps it was just the simple humanitarian instinct of every sensitive person who hears of innocents being persecuted and wants to help, regardless of political considerations.

Whatever his motives, D'Alesandro was taking a big risk. He knew that by defying Roosevelt and Truman, he might be making enemies in the White House. In 1947, at the very moment he was breaking ranks with Truman over Palestine, D'Alesandro decided to run for mayor of Baltimore. If the White House had chosen to retaliate against him for his dissent on Palestine, he might never have been elected.

And if that had happened, his daughter Nancy might never have embarked on a political career of her own.

The 12 years that D'Alesandro served as mayor of Baltimore were the crucial formative years of Nancy's political education. She "learned her politics at the elbow of her father," a recent Washington Post profile of the House speaker noted. Throughout high school and into her college years, Nancy was at the center of her father's intense political world. As a result, she was a political veteran long before she even entered politics. And she was fortunate to have as her role model a man who courageously put his humanitarian principles above his narrow political needs.

Today's Portraits Of The Leaders



Link.

Our Future Leaders Open Their Mouthes, Prove Their Ignorance

If there was a singular exception to all the petty posturing and vapid mini-dramas of the debates leading up to the Iowa and New Hampshire ballots, it was surely Joe Biden’s response, in Philadelphia, to a question posed by Tim Russert about the Iranian nuclear program. “Would you pledge to the American people that Iran would not build a nuclear bomb on your watch?” Russert asked the assembled Democratic contenders. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards played the old survival game of running out the clock, and then came Biden. “We talk about this in isolation,” Biden said. “The fact of the matter is the Iranians may get 2.6 kilograms of highly enriched uranium. But the Pakistanis have hundreds, thousands of kilograms of highly enriched uranium.” Given that Pakistan already has missiles with nuclear warheads, capable of reaching India and Israel, Biden argued, it would be a “bad bargain” if an attack on Iran caused the government of Pakistan to fall. “What is the greatest threat to the United States of America: 2.6 kilograms of highly enriched uranium in Tehran or an out-of-control Pakistan?” he asked. “It’s not close.”

Biden is not immune to the charms of his own intelligence, but in these bewildering days following the murder of Benazir Bhutto it is hard not to recall his moment of clarity and his grasp of historical complexity—the recognition that political decision-making is not a matter of raising three fingers and making a scout’s pledge. Whatever his weaknesses as a candidate, he seems, after thirty-five years in the Senate, possessed of a tragic sense. In this, he presents a helpful contrast to, say, Mike Huckabee who, in his various blithe displays of global ignorance during the campaign, has served to make the man he hopes to succeed seem the incarnation of Talleyrand.
Link.

Another Roadblock In Bringing Free Elections To The United States

Maybe someday, free elections will return to America and we will have a democracy stronger than that of Pakistan....

But not today....
The American Civil Liberties Union urged the elections board in the state's most populous county on Thursday not to make a switch to a new voting system for the state's March presidential primary, warning that the move could violate state law.

The Cuyahoga County board is moving to abandon electronic touch-screen voting for a system in which voters fill out paper ballots that are sent to and tallied at a central location by an optical scan computer.

ACLU staff attorney Carrie Davis said a lawsuit was possible over the issue. The group raised its concerns in a letter delivered to the board.

The main dispute is whether a central optical scan of ballots at the board's headquarters downtown would result in votes not being counted on ballots that are incorrectly filled out. The ACLU believes the intent of election law is to ensure voters can be notified immediately of a voting error and be able to make a second-chance vote.
Link.

And The Good News From Iraq

Despite overall violence in Iraq dropping to levels not seen consistently since the summer of 2005, suicide bombings appear to be rising again, according to figures released today by General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

Suicide attacks using explosive vests and car bombs started to inch back up during the last two months of 2007. For example, on Christmas Day, the Los Angeles Times reports that at least 24 people were killed and as many as 100 injured in two separate bombings.
Link.

Still no word when our quisling -- I mean, the Iraqi -- government is going to start to, you know, govern.

The Unstable Dictatorship Where There Really Are WMDs

...and who have allegedly shared the nuclear secrets.

Yeah, yeah, of course I don't mean Iraq but our good allies, the world's greatest threat, Pakistan:
The Qaeda network accused by Pakistan’s government of killing the opposition leader Benazir Bhutto is increasingly made up not of foreign fighters but of homegrown Pakistani militants bent on destabilizing the country, analysts and security officials here say.
[more]

Yet the Paki gummint still never mentions how their military and intelligence service are in bed with, as it were, and enable and support Islamic fanatics. You know, the very heart of the Total Wart Against Terror.

Speaking of more, Raw Story:
Although rumors circulated about the exact cause of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's death, local television reporters may have cleared up the details.

Dawn Network, a local Pakistani media outlet, just released still frame pictures of who they believe is the bomber and shooter that assassinated Bhutto.

According to Fox News, who aired the footage, the shooter is a male, aged 22-27, and wearing dark sunglasses. In the grainy, but visible pictures, one can see him holding a gun up to the officials head.

"We saw so many people at the rally holding their phones up and taking pictures of the event," said a Fox News correspondent, "that it was bound to happen that somehow they would go and check those photos and see that they have, in fact, captured the moment she was shot."

The photos might give clear evidence to Bhutto supporters, who claimed the government of President Pervez Musharraf mislead the public about cause of death as a way to divert attention away from the attack.

"Now that they have a photograph of the actual killer," says Fox News, "it's going to be a lot easier for them to trace who ... is behind the attack."
And also via Raw Story, what's the first thing the Pakis did after the attack? Get rid of all the forensic proof that might, you know, assist in the investigation. (But of course, the officials know well enough who did it.)
Despite official reports by Pakistan's interior ministry claiming that the government had intercepted congratulatory messages sent by al Qaeda surrounding the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, a motley of strange occurrences has sparked new suspicion of the government's official story.

On Friday, doctors at Rawalpindi General Hospital, where she died, said that Bhutto had been killed by shrapnel to the head from an explosion, not by two bullets that Bhutto supporters cited in the aftermath of the attack. Bhutto, 54, was killed as in the aftermath of a shooting and suicide bombing as she left a political rally in the city of Rawalpindi.

The government soon changed their story, saying she'd been killed by hitting the sunroof of her LandCruiser after she'd stood up to wave to a crowd. Doctors said there were no bullet marks on the former prime minister's body, and released a limited x-ray of what they said was her skull.

More alarming, however, to Bhutto supporters was the fact no autopsy was conducted prior to burial. The official line -- according to Pakistan's interim prime minister Mohammadmian Soomro -- was that Bhutto's husband had insisted no autopsy be performed.

But according to veteran lawyer Athar Minallah who spoke to McClatchy Newspapers Friday, "an autopsy is mandatory under Pakistan's criminal law in a case of this nature."

"It is absurd, because without autopsy it is not possible to investigate," Minallah told McClatchy's Saeed Shah and Warren Strobel in a little publicized piece. "Is the state not interested in reaching the perpetrators of this heinous crime or there was a cover-up?"

Autopsies are generally not conducted in Islam unless ordered by a court, because the religion calls for burial as quickly as possible. It's unclear whether Bhutto's circumstances would have warranted an exception.

According to the reporters, "the scene of the attack also was watered down with a high-pressure hose within an hour, washing away evidence."

Shah, who reported from the scene Thursday, wrote in a second piece that police rangers charged with protecting her "abandoned their posts" shortly before the bombing, leaving just a handful of Bhutto's own bodyguards protecting her.

"Police officers had frisked the 3,000 to 4,000 people attending Thursday's rally when they entered the park, but as the speakers from Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party droned on, the police abandoned many of their posts," Shah wrote. "As she drove out through the gate, her main protection appeared to be her own bodyguards, who wore their usual white T-shirts inscribed: 'Willing to die for Benazir.'"

Some of Bhutto's supporters were suspect of the "sunroof theory."

A "senior official" of Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party called the claim "false," saying he'd seen at least two bullet marks on her body after the attack.

"It was a targeted, planned killing," BPP's Babar Awan said. "The firing was from more than one side."

Another newspaper also asserted witnesses saw her shot.

Multiple reports said Bhutto had shown disregard for her personal safety by waving to the crowd.

"In her enthusiasm, she got carried away, and exposed herself in ways" she shouldn't have, a former State Department official told Shah.

Pakistan indicated Saturday it would delay January elections because of turmoil caused by Bhutto's death. Protests and looting have left at least 38 people dead.
And what's Beloved Leader's reaction?
U.S. President George W. Bush demanded Thursday that those responsible for the killing of former Prime Minister Benazir be brought to justice.

"The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan's democracy," he said. "Those who committed this crime must be brought to justice."

Isn't scary what a balless moronic idiot we're led by? He knows Pakistan is no democracy -- he knows or he should know. Likewise, he knows or should know how Pakistan is ruled -- in this case, if the dictatorship almost certainly had some involvement in the assassination.

Seven years of a leadership of whackos and delusionists, enabled by a leader who refuses to use his power for the good of his country....

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Threat Our Leaders Ignore

A nation indisputably with true weapons of mass destruction..... A nation whose true leadership supports terrorists.... A weakened government and leadership....

And what do Our Leaders do? Encourage a bogus patina of democracy while the armed forces of the world's sole superpower remains bogged in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But the true threat to global security remains free to do what it wishes, even going into meltdown....

Wait to go, Bushies! Bush league indeed....

Why To Be Very, Very Scared Of The Huck


The rise of Mike Huckabee as a presidential candidate represents a seismic shift in the tactics, ideology and direction of the radical Christian right. Huckabee may stumble and falter in later primaries, but his right-wing Christian populism is here to stay. Huckabee represents a new and potent force in American politics, and the neocons and corporate elite, who once viewed the yahoos of the Christian right as the useful idiots, are now confronted with the fact that they themselves are the ones who have been taken for a ride. Members of the Christian right, recruited into the Republican Party and manipulated to vote against their own interests around the issues of abortion and family values, are in rebellion. They are taking the party into new, uncharted territory. And they presage, especially with looming economic turmoil, the rise of a mass movement that could demolish what is left of American democracy and set the stage for a Christian fascism.

The corporate establishment, whose plundering of the country created fertile ground for a radical, right-wing backlash, is sounding the alarm bells. It is scrambling to bolster Mitt Romney, who, like Rudy Giuliani or Hillary Clinton, will continue to slash and burn on behalf of corporate profits. Columnist George Will called Huckabee’s populism “a comprehensive apostasy against core Republican beliefs.” He wrote that Huckabee’s candidacy “broadly repudiates core Republican policies such as free trade, low taxes, the essential legitimacy of America’s corporate entities and the market system allocating wealth and opportunity.” National Review’s Rich Lowry wrote that “like [Howard] Dean, his nomination would represent an act of suicide by his party.”

Huckabee spoke of this revolt on the “Today” show. “There’s a sense in which all these years the evangelicals have been treated very kindly by the Republican Party,” he said. “They wanted us to be a part of it. And then one day one of us actually runs and they say, ‘Oh, my gosh, now they’re serious.’ They [evangelicals] don’t want to just show up and vote, they actually would want to be a part of the discussion.”

George Bush is a happy stooge of his corporate handlers. He blithely enriches the oligarchy, defends a war that is the worst foreign policy blunder in American history and callously denies medical benefits to children. Huckabee is different. He has tapped into the rage and fury of the working class, dispossessed and abandoned by the mainstream Democrats and Republicans. And he refuses to make the ideology of the Christian right, with its dark contempt for democratic traditions and intolerance of nonbelievers, a handmaiden of the corporate establishment. This makes him a much more lethal and radical political force.

The Christian right is the most potent and dangerous mass movement in American history. It has been controlled and led, until now, by those who submit to the demands of the corporate state. But the grass roots are tired of being taken for rubes. They are tired of candidates, like Bush or Bill Clinton, who roll out the same clich├ęs about working men and women every four years and then spend their terms enriching their corporate backers. The majority of American citizens have spent the last two decades watching their government services and benefits vanish. They have seen their jobs go overseas and are watching as their communities crumble and their houses are foreclosed. It is their kids who are in Iraq and Afghanistan. The old guard in the Christian right, the Pat Robertsons, who used their pulpits to deliver the votes of naive followers to the corporatists, is a spent force. Huckabee’s Christian populism represents the maturation of the movement. It signals the rise of a truly radical, even revolutionary force in American politics, of which Huckabee may be one of the tamer and less frightening examples.

Hints of Huckabee’s bizarre worldview seep out now and then. Bob Vander Plaats, Huckabee’s Iowa campaign manager, for example, when asked about his candidate’s lack of foreign policy experience, told MSNBC: “Well, I think Gov. Huckabee has a lot of resources that he goes to on national security matters. Here’s a guy, a former pastor, who understands a theological nature of this war as we’re fighting a radical religion in Islam.”

Robert Novak noted that Huckabee held a fundraiser last week at the Houston home of Dr. Steven Hotze. As Novak wrote, Hotze is “a leader in the highly conservative Christian Reconstruction movement.”

Huckabee has close ties with the Christian Reconstructionist or Dominionist branch of the Christian right. The Dominionist movement, which seeks to cloak itself in the mantle of the Christian faith and American patriotism, is small in numbers but influential. It departs from traditional evangelicalism. It seeks to redefine traditional democratic and Christian terms and concepts to fit an ideology that calls on the radical church to take political power. It shares many prominent features with classical fascist movements, at least as such movements are defined by the scholar Robert O. Paxton, who sees fascism as “a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cultures of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”

Dominionism, born out of Christian Reconstructionism, seeks to politicize faith. It has, like all fascist movements, a belief in magic along with leadership adoration and a strident call for moral and physical supremacy of a master race, in this case American Christians. It also has, like fascist movements, an ill-defined and shifting set of beliefs, some of which contradict each other. Paxton argues that the best way to understand authentic fascist movements, which he says exist in all societies, including democracies, is to focus not on what they say but on how they act, for, as he writes, some of the ideas that underlie fascist movements “remain unstated and implicit in fascist public language” and “many of them belong more to the realm of visceral feelings than to the realm of reasoned propositions.”

Dominionism teaches that American Christians have been mandated by God to make America a Christian state. A decades-long refusal by most American fundamentalists to engage in politics at all following the Scopes trial has been replaced by a call for Christian “dominion” over the nation and, eventually, over the Earth itself. Dominionism preaches that Jesus has called on Christians to actively build the kingdom of God on Earth. America becomes, in this militant Biblicism, an agent of God, and all political and intellectual opponents of America’s Christian leaders are viewed, quite simply, as agents of Satan. Under Christian dominion, America will no longer be a sinful and fallen nation but one in which the Ten Commandments form the basis of our legal system, in which creationism and “Christian values” form the basis of our educational system, and the media and the government proclaim the Good News to one and all. Labor unions, civil rights laws and public schools will be abolished. Women will be removed from the work force to stay at home, and all those deemed insufficiently Christian will be denied citizenship.

Baptist minister Rick Scarborough, founder of Vision America and a self-described “Christocrat,” who attended the Texas fundraiser, has endorsed Huckabee. Scarborough, along with holding other bizarre stances, opposes the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine on grounds that it interferes with God’s punishment of sexual license. And Huckabee, who once advocated isolating AIDS patients from the general public and opposed increased federal funding in the search for a cure, comes out of this frightening mold. He justified his call to quarantine those with AIDS because they could “pose a dangerous public health risk.”

"If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague,” Huckabee wrote. “It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents.”

Huckabee has publicly backed off from this extreme position, but he remains deeply hostile to gays. He has used wit and humor to deflect reporters from his radical views about marriage, abortion, damnation, biblical law, creationism and the holy war he believes we are fighting with Islam. But his stances represent a huge step, should they ever become policy, toward a theocratic state and the death of our open society. In the end, however, I do not blame Huckabee or the tens of millions of hapless Christians—40 percent of the Republican electorate—who hear his words and rejoice. I blame the corporate state, those who thought they could disempower and abuse the working class, rape the country, build a rapacious oligarchy and never pay a political price.
Link.

Another Greater Leader

Well, don't say we didn't warn you about Ron Paul's friends.

Here's American National Socialist Workers Party leader Bill White, coming out big for Paul on the far-right Vanguard News Network site on December 20:
Comrades:
I have kept quiet about the Ron Paul campaign for a while, because I didn't see any need to say anything that would cause any trouble. However, reading the latest release from his campaign spokesman, I am compelled to tell the truth about Ron Paul's extensive involvement in white nationalism.
Both Congressman Paul and his aides regularly meet with members of the Stormfront set, American Renaissance, the Institute for Historic Review, and others at the Tara Thai restaurant in Arlington, Virginia, usually on Wednesdays. This is part of a dinner that was originally organized by Pat Buchanan, Sam Francis and Joe Sobran, and has since been mostly taken over by the Council of Conservative Citizens.
I have attended these dinners, seen Paul and his aides there, and been invited to his offices in Washington to discuss policy.
For his spokesman to call white racialism a "small ideology" and claim white activists are "wasting their money" trying to influence Paul is ridiculous. Paul is a white nationalist of the Stormfront type who has always kept his racial views and his views about world Judaism quiet because of his political position.
I don't know that it is necessarily good for Paul to "expose" this. However, he really is someone with extensive ties to white nationalism and for him to deny that in the belief he will be more respectable by denying it is outrageous -- and I hate seeing people in the press who denounce racialism merely because they think it is not fashionable.
Bill White, Commander
American National Socialist Workers Party
Obviously, this isn't what Paul's supporters want to hear. (The reactions from the VNN commentors ranged from "Some one ban this piece of shit for the no outing rule" to "I know alot of white supremacist involved in the Ron Paul campaign. I wish he would not shun away from his true supporters. I will stick with him till the ened but he shouldn't act like a typical politiician" to "This motherfucker needs a special bullet." Yes, the unique spelling is all their very own; follow the link above and read the threads for more holiday joy in this vein.) While White is hardly the most reliable reporter on any subject, his testament to Paul's racist credentials does tend to corroborate what Dave and I have been telling you all along: Paul's got longstanding connections to the looniest loonies on the loony right. You may not be able to hear the dog-whistle code in his speeches, but they sure as hell hear it loud and clear.

We've also been telling you that it's not just that Paul shows up for their events: he also takes their money. There's an old saying in politics that ya gotta dance with them what brung ya -- and guys like Bill White are the ones that brung Paul to Congress in the first place. On December 19, the day before White's helpful VNN endoresment, the AP caught Paul in mid-tango, this time with Stormfront.org founder Don Black:
Paul keeps donation from white supremacist
Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul has received a $500 campaign donation from a white supremacist, and the Texas congressman doesn't plan to return it, an aide said Wednesday.
Don Black, of West Palm Beach, recently made the donation, according to campaign filings. He runs a Web site called Stormfront with the motto, "White Pride World Wide." The site welcomes postings to the "Stormfront White Nationalist Community."
"Dr. Paul stands for freedom, peace, prosperity and inalienable rights. If someone with small ideologies happens to contribute money to Ron, thinking he can influence Ron in any way, he's wasted his money," Paul spokesman Jesse Benton said. "Ron is going to take the money and try to spread the message of freedom."
"And that's $500 less that this guy has to do whatever it is that he does," Benton added.
Black said he supports Paul's stance on ending the war in Iraq, securing U.S. borders and his opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants.
"We know that he's not a white nationalist. He says he isn't and we believe him, but on the issues, there's only one choice," Black said Wednesday. "We like his stand on tight borders and opposition to a police state," Black told The Palm Beach Post earlier.
On his Web site, Black says he has been involved in "the White patriot movement for 30 years."
Evidently, when it comes to Paul's status as a white nationalist, Mr. Black and Mr. White need to get their stories straight. But anyone on the left who continues to deny that Paul has maintained long, significant, and productive relationships with racists and anti-democratic "patriots" is, at this point, living in a denial zone worthy of Donald Rumsfeld.
Link.