Saturday, December 15, 2007

Truly Straight Talk From McCain

This blog appears awfully biased. But when things are viewed from a certain perspective -- facts, reality, sensibility -- the biggest sins come from our far right leaders -- who, unlike others, are in positions of power so their insanity and demented policies are more important than the far less significant of others.

That said, this blog is fully capable of acknowledging signs of intelligence from the wingnuts. Of course, the following appears here because of what's expressed, and not because of any delusion that McCain, were he elected, do shit (in a positive, problem-solving way) about global warming if elected. McCain's straight talk is actually only brief flashes of pandering lucidity, soon forgotten....
Suppose that climate change is not real and all we do is adopt green technologies which our economy and technology is perfectly capable of, then all we've done is given our kids a cleaner world. But suppose they're wrong and climate change is real and we've done nothing? What kind of a planet are we going to pass on to the next generation of Americans?

Message Of The Day


Our Leaders' Success At Shredding


The Huck: What Jesus Told Him: Let The Killers Go Free

Remember, being a big fish in the little pond that is Arkansas doesn't really qualify one to be President. Being a religious whacko doesn't really qualify one either.

But let's see the excellence that was his leadership of that Southern backwater.

For several years after 1996, when he first considered parole for DuMond (he was released in 1999), the Arkansas governor freed as many as 1,000 prisoners. Some were undoubtedly deserving of release, but others were dangerous and violent felons like DuMond who should have been kept behind bars. Huckabee's questionable methods and motivations never changed until prosecutors, the media, his fellow Republicans and virtually the entire state of Arkansas rose up in protest against his idiocy.

The case that sparked the citizen revolt against Huckabee came to public attention in 2004, when he announced his intention to release a murderer and rapist named Glen Green. What seems to have impressed him was the endorsement of Green provided by one Rev. Johnny Jackson, a Baptist minister in the town of Jacksonville and friend of the governor's. Observers doubted that Huckabee had bothered to glance at the case file before he decided to release Green, because he could not have helped being chilled by the harrowing confession it contained.

In 1974, Green was serving as a sergeant at Little Rock Air Force Base, located in a suburban county outside the state capital. On a certain evening, he seized Helen Lynnette Spencer, 18, and brought her to a quiet spot on the base where he assaulted and tried to rape her. She briefly escaped from Green, who then caught her and beat her brutally with nunchaku sticks. He stuffed her into the trunk of his car and drove her off the base to another county, where he pulled her into the front seat and violated her. Since she wasn't dead, he ran over her several times with his car, and finally dumped her corpse in a bayou. When Spencer's body was found, her hand was reaching up from the swampy waters.

This was the series of events that Green and his gullible minister -- who reportedly described the perp as "a humble Christian man" -- later insisted had been "accidental," an explanation that Huckabee inexplicably accepted. The prosecutors who put Green away for life in 1974 believed that he was capable of killing again, and they were stunned when the governor ignored their advice, along with the unanimous opinion of the Arkansas parole authorities. Only the anguished protests of the victim's family, amplified by the local media, eventually forced Huckabee to rescind the commutation of Green's sentence, which he had already announced.

The pattern could not have been clearer, as described by Arkansas columnist Garrick Feldman, who crusaded against Huckabee's feckless, faith-based clemency and pardon policies. Killers and rapists need not express remorse, as the Green case showed. They need only profess their salvation, "especially if a minister from Huckabee's circle vouches for their jailhouse conversion."

Whatever Huckabee now says about the DuMond case, he continued to misuse his authority for several years after the fatal consequences of that fiasco became all too obvious. Behind his pattern of error and misconduct is a troubling arrogance that is not unfamiliar in a certain kind of evangelical politician. He would not be the first elected official who did something stupid and destructive because he had convinced himself that he was fulfilling the will of God. The question is why the rest of us should want to risk our safety and security by entertaining such delusions again.

Essential Reads

How we keep insisting on and succeeding at losing the war against drug abuse and prevent reduction in violent crime as well. (Hint: no matter what party's in the White House, the wingnuts deliberate ignorance and bleatings ensure that nothing proper or likely to succeed can be tried because, you know, it goes against their beliefs because, you know, the successful policies are, like, fact-based.)

How Our Leaders are ensuring that the reputation of modern America gets so negative and debased that it will ensure global instability and our impotence in regard to national security matters. (Related article here.) Of course, this is neither the only way nor the most significant effort by Our Leaders to weaken our security; there's those minor matters of Iraq and Afghanistan. In the case of the former, it's resulted in giving Iran a pass so we can, you know, pass the problem off to Iran.

The Dishonesty Of Big Media Journalism

War Room:
As part of its weeklong series of profiles of the presidential candidates, the Washington Post this morning offers a piece called "What You Might Not Know About Obama."

Among the three things "You Might Not Know": In a point that's being pushed by the Clinton campaign, the Post says that then-state Sen. Barack Obama voted "present" instead of "yes" or "no" in 2001 on two measures that would have required parental notification for minors seeking abortions -- despite the fact that "five years earlier, he had filled out an issues questionnaire for the influential Independent Voters of Illinois Independent Precinct Organization opposing such notifications. 'Do you support parent consent/notification for minors seeking abortion?' the survey asked. 'No,' he wrote. Obama also answered that he supported Medicaid funding and state worker insurance coverage for abortion and that he didn't support 'any other' restrictions on the procedure.

What "You Might Not Know" from reading the Post's account (because the Post doesn't bother to mention it): Obama's presidential campaign has said that Obama "never saw or approved" the 1996 questionnaire, which it says was "filled out by an aide who has conceded she never got Obama's sign-off."

Friday, December 14, 2007

Reminder: Our Leaders Hate The Vets

Our Leaders show hatred and contempt for the vets far worse than as described in their lies about liberal hatred for vets in the 70s.

Here's today's example.

Sermon Of The Day

Nicholas Von Hoffman:
This is no time for trade union idiocy, but we’ve got it anyway. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees are back at work, but employers succeeded in making the case that this union struck for what used to be called featherbedding. Featherbedding is a union contract that includes paying workers for not working. In the overworked and perpetually exhausted society that is our current-day America, news of such goings-on confirms the idea in many a head that unions have little to offer.

The television and movie writers strike has not been much of a help either. Though the strikers may have good and sufficient reason to walk out on their jobs, the way they did it came through on television as some kind of celebrity lark being pulled off by overpaid people feeling indignant that their cushy life is not cushy enough. In fact, as just noted, the writers may have a real case, but they did not present it well, and as a result, unionism took it on the chops yet one more time.

As if that were not enough, the generous coverage of the French transportation strike has also reinforced the opinion that unions exist to defend the entrenched privilege of a few lucky workers. The issues in the French strike make it appear, perhaps correctly, that the striking unions are fighting to retain such bennies as full and permanent retirement at age 50. This is coming at a time when all of American automobile workers have just suffered cuts in their compensation of a third or more, and that is with a union.

Americans are bombarded by anti-union messages, explicit and implicit, about as often as we are hit with TV pizza ads. One of our two major political parties is openly dedicated to the destruction of all trade unionism, while the other sells out unions whenever the mob of K Street corruptionists passes out the bribes.

Unions are such public institutions that when they go wrong, which they did often enough in the past, everybody sees it. They are unlike the banks, hedge funds and Wall Street brokerage houses, which get away with murder and are exposed only when something like the subprime disaster threatens to destroy the finances of hundreds of thousands of ordinary working people.

John L. Lewis, who was to the labor movement of the 1930’s what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, was to the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, is supposed to have said that a bad union is better than no union. For practical purposes, we have been living the past 40 years in a near-no-union society. During these past two generations, each year has seen more employees or workers of whatever stripe and occupation limp on with less and less representation.

One view of how that has worked out for us is provided by Elizabeth Warren, a professor of law at Harvard University. This is how Professor Warren describes the, ahem, progress of the past 40 years:

“In the second half of the 20th century, the single most important economic thing that happened is that millions of mothers poured back into the workforce, and that’s the only thing that kept family income rising. Starting in about 1970, a fully employed male’s wages completely flattened out, and in fact, a fully employed male today, on average, median, earns about $800 less than his dad earned a generation ago. … Wages flatten for men and the family does better only if they can put two people on the workforce, and the norm switches from a one-earner family to a two-earner family, for those who are lucky enough to have it. Now if that were the only thing that’s happened, you’d think we should be richer. We should have more savings; we should have very little debt. But expenses in the same 30-year period far outstripped what the families are spending, and I’m not talking about consumer price index.

“Here’s the division. I want to compare a mom, dad and two kids today with a mom, dad and two kids 30 years ago, when you started a family in 1971, as I did. What happens on spending? Start with the consumption. This is what everyone [supposes], again, in the popular media, why are people in trouble: too many GameBoys, too many iPods, too many $200 sneakers. In fact, families today, adjusted for inflation, spend less on clothing; less on food, including eating out; less on furniture; less on appliances, than they spent a generation ago. Where they spend more is for [a] three-bedroom, one-bath house. The median family is spending 80 percent more on mortgage payments, adjusted for inflation, than they spent a generation ago. They’re spending about 75 percent more for health insurance than they spent a generation ago. … They’re paying for child care, which of course, they didn’t a generation ago.”

Professor Warren also points out that when one paycheck supported a family, there was a built-in safety net in case of illness or unemployment or some other urgent domestic need: The stay-at-home parent could temporarily take a job. Now, if there is a sudden financial jolt, it is a disaster for the family. The changes that she describes occurred simultaneously with the enfeeblement of organized labor. With the near demise of organized labor, it was not as though the great number of employees had exchanged the old representation for something different and better. They exchanged the old representation for precisely nothing.

The churches and “faith-based” organizations that put up a perpetual wall of sound bemoaning the weakening of family life do not address these questions, which have a hell of a lot more to do with fracturing the nuclear family than gay marriage.

There are no end of others lamenting what’s happening to the middle classes, but they offer little beside sympathy. You have amiable news celebs like Lou Dobbs on the case, but he has no program that might be of real help. You also have your Hillary Clintons, and they, too, are good at indignation without purpose, unless it is to get reelected.

If a reversal of direction is to come, it must be started by the affected themselves. The only way to do that is through collective action, which, by any name you wish to call it, means organizing unions.

Say It So, Joe And Joe And Joe And Joe And Joe And Joe And Joe And Joe And Joe And Joe And Joe And Joe And Joe And Joe And Joe And Joe And Joe And Joe

What, like every player worth shit is a steroid junkie??

Well, I do and don't blame the players. There's the money issue, of course. The tacit enabling by the players and baseball establishment, to some degree, undoubtedly. It raised the excitement level, presumably increasing the audience and money for the owners.

Everyone's guilty but, in the case of the players, understandable and maybe a little acceptable.

Ahh, but screw it all.

Here's the Hall of Shame
. (And here too as, you know, a back-up link.)

And for those too anxious o deal with clicking on a link:
* Chad Allen
* Rick Ankiel
* David Bell
* Mike Bell
* Marvin Benard
* Gary Bennett, Jr.
* Larry Bigbie
* Barry Bonds
* Kevin Brown
* Paul Byrd
* Jose Canseco
* Mark Carreon
* Jason Christiansen
* Howie Clark
* Roger Clemens
* Jack Cust
* Brendan Donnelly
* Chris Donnels
* Lenny Dykstra
* Bobby Estalella
* Matt Franco
* Ryan Franklin
* Eric Gagne
* Jason Giambi
* Jeremy Giambi
* Jay Gibbons
* Troy Glaus
* Jason Grimsley
* Jose Guillen
* Jerry Hairston, Jr.
* Matt Herges
* Phil Hiatt
* Glenallen Hill
* Darren Holmes
* Todd Hundley
* David Justice
* Chuck Knoblauch
* Tim Laker
* Mike Lansing
* Paul Lo Duca
* Exavier "Nook" Logan
* Josias Manzanillo
* Gary Matthews, Jr.
* Mark McGwire
* Cody McKay
* Kent Mercker
* Bart Miadich
* Hal Morris
* Daniel Naulty
* Denny Neagle
* Rafael Palmeiro
* Jim Parque
* Andy Pettitte
* Adam Piatt
* Todd Pratt
* Adam Riggs
* Brian Roberts
* John Rocker
* F.P. Santangelo
* Benito Santiago
* Scott Schoeneweis
* David Segui
* Gary Sheffield
* Miguel Tejada
* Ismael Valdez
* Mo Vaughn
* Randy Velarde
* Ron Villone
* Fernando Vina
* Rondell White
* Jeff Williams
* Matt Williams
* Todd Williams
* Steve Woodard
* Kevin Young
* Gregg Zaun

And a link to the full report is here.

Now where are the damn trading cards??

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hot Police Action

Entrapment in New York City; if you find something, you go to jail. Really!
The NYPD revealed Wednesday its Operation Lucky Bag stings have snared nearly 300 people - many of whom had no rap sheet before they fell for the ruse.

Since the start of the year, there have been 100 arrests as a result of the decoy operations, in which an undercover officer "drops" a wallet, iPod or cell phone in a subway station and cops pounce after it's picked up.

Police said 58 of those busted had rap sheets, while 42 had clean records.

There was a similar breakdown in 2006, when 188 were arrested. The NYPD said 101 had prior arrests while 87 did not.

Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne defended the program, saying since it began, subway grand larcenies - theft of more than $1,000 - have been slashed by half.

"Operation Lucky Bag has something to do with it," he said.

He said straphangers are arrested if it's obvious they had no intention of returning the property - for instance, if they pocket the cash in the wallet.

For almost every person busted, there was a good Samaritan who actively tried to return the wallet to the undercover who dropped it moments before or to a nearby uniformed officer.

Browne said people who picked up the wallet but did not remove the cash were stopped, frisked and checked for outstanding warrants and released.

Photographer Carlos Alayo - whose story appeared in the Daily News Wednesday - fell into that category when he found a wallet at Grand Central last week.

He surrendered the billfold to cops who grabbed him but was still frisked and asked for ID for a background check.

Browne said there was $21 in the wallet; the NYPD does not use credit cards, which would raise the charge to grand larceny.

More from the Times:
At first, an epidemic of absent-mindedness seemed to have broken out.

One purse was found just sitting on a display shelf in the shoe department at Macy’s. Another one turned up downstairs, in Macy’s Cellar. Yet another rested on a chair in a Midtown McDonald’s, left by a woman who had stepped into the restroom.

In fact, all three items had been planted by police officers in plainclothes during the previous six weeks. And the three people who picked them up were arrested, and now face indictment on charges that could land them in state prison.

Nine months ago, a similar police decoy program called Operation Lucky Bag was effectively shut down by prosecutors and judges who were concerned that it was sweeping up the civic-minded alongside those bent on larceny. Shopping bags, backpacks and purses were left around the subway system, then stealthily watched by undercover officers. They arrested anyone who took the items and walked past a police officer in uniform without reporting the discovery.

Now, a new version of the operation has started to catch people in public places outside the subways, and at much higher stakes, Criminal Court records show.

Unlike the initial program, in which the props were worth at most a few hundred dollars, the bags are now salted with real American Express cards, issued under pseudonyms to the Police Department.

Because the theft of a credit card is grand larceny, a Class E felony, those convicted could face sentences of up to four years. The charges in the first round of Operation Lucky Bag were nearly all petty larceny, a misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of one year in jail.

OVER the years, decoy operations have proved to be very effective in flushing out criminals lurking in public places. They also have a history of misfires involving innocent people who stumbled into a piece of theater in the routine drama of city life.

When Lucky Bag began in February 2006, among its first 220 arrests were about 100 people who had prior charges and convictions. Police officials said those arrests helped drive down crime in the subways by about 13 percent.

However, more than half of those 220 involved people with no prior criminal record. In dismissing one case, a Brooklyn judge noted that the law gives people 10 days to turn in property they find, and suggested the city had enough real crime for the police to fight without any need to provide fresh temptations. The penal law also does not require that found items be turned over to a police officer. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office began to dismiss Lucky Bag charges.

“We spoke with N.Y.P.D.’s legal division and the transit bureau so they would understand the essentials needed for prosecution, because the early arrests were being made on faulty premises,” said Barbara Thompson, a spokeswoman for the office. “There must be evidence that the taker did not intend to return the property.”

Sneaky behavior — like trying to hide a found wallet, or slipping money out and leaving a purse behind — could show that the person meant to steal the valuables. Those instructions were added to a prosecutors’ handbook.

In February, Aquarius Cheers, a 31-year-old Manhattan man who said he was on a shopping expedition with his wife, spotted a Verizon shopping bag with a cellphone and iPod inside at the 59th Street station of the No. 1 train.

As he was looking in the bag, a train arrived. Mr. Cheers said he and his wife boarded, rushed past a uniformed officer, bringing along the bag with the intention of looking for a receipt. Undercover officers then grabbed him. After his case was reported by NY1, the prosecutors vacated the charges.

A spokesman for the Police Department took questions yesterday about the revived decoy operations, but did not provide any answers.

So far, lawyers at the Legal Aid Society have identified four pending felony cases arising from the decoys. The police complaints describe suspicious behavior. For instance, after a 50-year-old man picked up the purse left in the Macy’s shoe department, he put it in a shoe box and carried it to the other side of the store, a complaint said. Then he took the wallet out of the purse, put it in his pocket, and left the shoe box and purse behind, according to the police. That case is pending.

“We want to make sure these are not people intending to return wallets or found property,” Ms. Thompson said.
And down in that hotbed, of Bolshevism, Georgia, here are cops helping thieves -- not for entrapment, simply helping them in, you know, holiday spirit, or stupidity, or something....
Normally when you find a ticket on your windshield from a police officer it is not a good thing, but in Conyers a ticket could save you some money.

Officers with the Conyers Police Department will be on foot patrol in the parking lots of major shopping areas in the city over the next couple of weeks. They will place yellow tickets on vehicles with packages or boxes of merchandise that are visible on the seats or floorboards of cars; in other words, vehicles that are easy targets for thieves.

Conyers Police Chief David Cathcart said the yellow ticket program is part of an overall crime prevention program to help remind people to be careful with regard to their Christmas packages.

"If you leave packages in clear view in your car, then you might be providing an opportunity to a thief that can be avoided if you are just a little more careful," said Cathcart. "Even if you put your packages in the car and think you're only going to be in another store for a few minutes, you're still at risk because it only takes a moment for someone to take advantage of a situation."

The CPD has stepped up patrols during the holiday season in the city's shopping areas and increased the number of officers on duty during the evening shopping hours.

"Certainly our goal is to catch the thief; but if we can help create an environment which makes it more difficult for the thief to thrive, then that's a positive for our entire community," the chief said. "We want the citizens to know that we are out in the community and this program not only lets people know officers are patrolling an area, but reminds people to secure their packages."

The Huck's Choice

Another candidate with egregious taste....

War Room:
Appearing on Fox News Tuesday night, long-shot GOP presidential candidate Duncan Hunter declared that opposition to waterboarding is "part of the Democrat blame America first" agenda and goes "right along with their desire to close Guantánamo, where the terrorists are gaining weight on American menus that include honey-glazed chicken and rice pilaf."

Hunter's comments came immediately after Bill O'Reilly told him that Republicans John McCain and Mike Huckabee oppose waterboarding -- and just before the New York Times posted an interview with Huckabee in which he said he thought Hunter is "extraordinarily well qualified to be secretary of defense."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Comment Re: "More American Justice"

"Thank God, George W. Bush is president!"

Anyone who could say that -- oops! He did! -- is per se unfit to be president.

Beloved Leader either will go down in history as the worst president ever or this country is way more fucked up than we can imagine.

mike hale has left a new comment on your post "More American Justice":

When the books leave the press next fall about the persecution of Alabama’s most popular Democrat Ex-Governor Don Siegelman, they will be best sellers; I guarantee. I don’t know of anyone in the history of the United States who has had the constitution torn up and thrown in their face, by all levels of the federal government like Siegelman has. On top of that, the three largest newspapers in his own state have been a big part of this conspiracy. The newspapers are owned by the media giant, Advance Publications Inc. Whose writers have pacific orders on how to write news articles that involves Democrats. These newspapers are feeding this same false information to the AP Associated Press and the TV and radio media. This is a form of nazism and is against the law. I have requested that the FBI conduct an investigation of Advance Publications Inc.

Every time I see Riley on TV. I want to change channels knowing what a liar and cheat that he has proven to be.

The following is part one of a few accounts that I have personal knowledge of:

(A) In late 1998 Karl Rove and William Canary arranged money laundering operations with Ralph Reed and Glover Norquist, and worked a deal with Bush's campaign financier and Rove's good friend lobbyist Jack Abramoff to finance Alabama campaign financing of GOP candidates in return for political favors. Canary and Rove were working closely with Republican Attorney General William Pryor who began at that time and continued profiling Alabama Democrats as part of their payback for running his election campaign. Don Siegelman's FBI file was flagged at this time by Pryor since Siegelman was a Democrat paving the way for other Democrats to Follow.

(B) In 1999 Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon funneled millions of dollars from the Mississippi Choctaw Indians to be laundered by Ralph Reed's Christian Coalition to defeat Siegelman's state education lottery. Representative Bob Riley endorsed Reed’s letters that was mailed to all Alabama residents along with prime time radio and TV ads trying to defeat Siegelman's effort to fund education in a state that ranked last in the number of illiterate adults.

(C) The conspiracy to kill Siegeman's Education Lottery worked, leaving Siegelman's campaign owing two million dollars to institutions that loaned the money to run the campaign. The negative advertisements caused many Alabamians that had made pledges to renege on their donations. Siegelman on his own managed to pay off all but $500,000 of the note.

(D) In 2001 Bush appointed William Canary's wife as U.S. Attorney of Middle Alabama. Her prior job was working for Al. A.G. William Pryor. According to her piers one of her jobs for Pryor was profiling Don Siegelman and other top Alabama Democrats.

(E) In 2002, Mark Fuller who was the district attorney for Coffee County was appointed By Bush to be U.S. federal judge in middle Alabama. His successor who was appointed by Siegelman found that Fuller had falsified the county payroll for his investigators who had been doing work for him on the side. Fuller who owed one senior investigator several thousand dollars attempted to falsify his income so that he could retire and draw an additional $1,000 a month for the rest of his life. Fuller left for the federal bench with this hanging over his head. AG Pryor refused to investigate or charge Fuller for defrauding and falsifying Coffee county’s payroll. He also attempted to defraud the Al. Retirement System.

Fuller blamed Siegelman for exposing him. Fuller owns 47% and is/was president of Doss Aviation of Colorado, Springs, CO. He was working both jobs. His uncle Everett Terry serves on several Congressional Defense Committees and made his nephew Mark Everett Fuller a wealthy man through military contracts.

(F) Campaign Summer of 2002, Bob Riley used Goff's personal plane to fly to Washington to meet with Karl Rove to get a quick course in wearing $3,000 alligator boots and how to project himself as the Marlboro man riding a horse in his campaign ads.

He also had a private meeting with Lobbyist Michael Scanlon hosted by Rove. Scanlon used to work for Riley before he went to work for Congressman Delay. Riley asked for major financial help on his campaign for governor. Scanlon with the aid of Jack Abramoff and Rove who would provide white house assistance in pulling it off. They agreed to use scare tactics on the Indian Casinos making them pay large sums of money to block so called legislation to keep their casinos from having to pay taxes. Then it was to block legislation to keep the casinos from being shut down.. Then it was to defeat Siegelman since he was still pushing the Lottery. The money would be laundered by the National Republican associations. Scanlon created sham companies one of which was setup in Europe from which over a million dollars came. Riley received millions of dollars which in Congressman John McCain’s congressional investigation he acknowledged that Riley received millions of dollars from the Republican Associations, but they could not determine where the money came from.

(G) 2002 election night. All the polls had reported in and Siegelman won by over 6,000 votes. Dan Gans, who had programming, computer system administration training and trained to work on the Diebold Election Systems Inc and the ES&S central voting tabulator was about to be fired by Bob Riley when he decide to get online with Bay Minette located in Baldwin County, Al. He made several attempts to take votes from Siegelman’s total vote count and switch them to Riley’s; however, there was a third candidate that was running for governor that he forgot about. Gans had trouble making the total votes equal the number of voters that had voted. There was a count of the paper ballots which still showed Siegelman as the winner. So as a cover up, all the votes was sealed by AL AG William Pryor who issued a warning that he would prosecute anyone who attempted to break the seals. Siegelman tried to get a court order to have a recount but the Republican Judges wouldn’t issue one. Siegelman filed charges with the attorney general’s office attorney Troy King and talked with the FBI to no avail.

The Way It Ever Is


Our Allies Share Our Love Of Democracy And Freedom

Vladimir Putin's nominated successor, Dmitry Medvedev, said that if elected president in March, he'll appoint Putin as his prime minister, giving the current leader a platform to retain power after his term ends.


Putin, who has to step down in May after serving two consecutive four-year terms, said yesterday that he supports Medvedev, 42, as his successor. The Russian leader has long said he'll retain a guiding role once out of the Kremlin and today's announcement gives him the option of staying at the heart of decision-making.

``This is the most simple, elegant and legal way for Putin to maintain influence,'' said James Fenkner, who manages $100 million of assets at Moscow-based Red Star Asset Management. ``Continuity is essential. Having a vacuum or infighting in the coming years could damage Russia's economy.''


More American Justice

United States District Court Judge Mark Fuller has sentenced former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman to a term of over seven years in prison and a fine of $50,000. The sentence was imposed this evening in the Montgomery federal courthouse.

In the final session of the proceedings, prosecutors insisted that Siegelman’s term be increased because of his exemplary record as a prosecutor and the fact that he aggressively enforced the law as the state’s attorney general. Yes, you read that correctly. Like a great many scenes from this case, this falls into the not-to-be-believed category, but catch it here in the AP wire account:

But chief prosecutor Louis Franklin said Siegelman deserves a harsh sentence partly because of his tough stance against crime.

Judge Fuller, a lifelong Republican Party activist who participated in two bitterly fought election campaigns against Siegelman and then rejected motions for his recusal, decried Siegelman’s refusal to admit his guilt, implying that his continuing protestations of innocence damaged the reputation of his court for justice. Let us consider the exemplary wisdom and fairness of Judge Fuller:

“I am convinced the conduct Gov. Siegelman engaged in damaged the public’s confidence in the government of this state,” Fuller said.

And the Birmingham News notes that Fuller resolved to lengthen Siegelman’s sentence on the basis of charges brought against him of which he was acquitted. As the condemned man in Kafka’s “Penal Colony” reminds us: we are all guilty in the eyes of the judge; innocence is an illusion.

Fuller decided that charges on which Siegelman was acquitted at trial could be used in considering his sentence. Prosecutors had argued that, even though a jury did not find him guilty, there still was evidence of some wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, sources in the Cullman County GOP tell me that Alabama Republican Governor Bob Riley, whose election campaign against Siegelman precipitated the criminal investigation and prosecution of Siegelman, was summoned urgently to Washington, DC. He was to have addressed a dinner at the Dodge House Restaurant in Hanceville (famous for its all-you-can-eat prime rib buffet on Fridays). Riley told disappointed organizers of the Cullman function that he will meet with Bush Administration officials to discuss damage control relating to the Siegelman case. “The sentence will come down today, and they’re very concerned about all the questions about the role Karl Rove played in this prosecution,” the source said.

But why the worry? Aren’t all these concerns paranoid delusions?

Hardly. In fact, the White House has given strict instructions to avoid all questioning concerning the Siegelman case – which explains why Karl Rove’s fake answer was supplanted with a “no comment.” Isn’t it strange that Louis Franklin, the man supposedly in charge of the case, makes aggressive statements about Rove’s non-involvement – covering matters as to which he obviously has no personal knowledge – whereas Rove himself and the White House maintain an increasingly nervous silence? Telling facts, I’d say.

And consider further the White House’s invocation of Executive Privilege in a desperate last-step measure to block production of documents to Congressional oversight committees which might well have shed more light on the White House’s dealings with federal prosecutors in Alabama concerning the Siegelman prosecution. Instead, White House counsel Fred Fielding delivered a response to Congress today to which he appended a memorandum from Paul Clement, the Solicitor General, supporting the White House in its efforts to stonewall Congress. But the Clement memo disclosed for the first time that the White House indeed is withholding a large volume of documents which establish exactly what the White House has, up to this point, feverishly denied: that Karl Rove and others directed a scheme to fire a large group of U.S. attorneys who had been handling criminal cases against Republicans, or who had refused to bring cases against Democrats, and to replace them with political lackeys. In the words of Clement’s memorandum:

Among other things, these communications discuss the wisdom of such a proposal [the firing of U.S. attorneys in order to further political prosecutions], specific U.S. Attorneys who could be removed, potential replacement candidates, and possible responses to congressional and media inquiries about the dismissals.

This memo provides confirmation of a pattern of conduct identical to the vendetta against Don Siegelman that emerges from this case.

As the sentencing phase is now complete, we have further powerful evidence that the accusations raised in Dana Jill Simpson’s affidavit are correct. Simpson, you will recall, is the Republican attorney from Sand Mountain who worked on Riley’s 2002 campaign against Siegelman and overheard discussion of the plot involving Karl Rove to “take care of” Siegelman. Others in that conspiracy were William Canary (a close personal friend of Rove’s) and his wife, Leura Canary, the U.S. Attorney in Montgomery who actually commenced and oversaw the prosecution. It’s impossible to watch the conduct of the prosecution in the sentencing phase, as well as the highly irregular conduct of the federal judge who presided over it, and not think that something is extremely remiss in the entire process.

With the sentence delivered, Siegelman’s battle for justice and vindication will begin in earnest. But the essential next step will be a Congressional probe into Karl Rove’s dealings with the Department of Justice and the Montgomery and Birmingham U.S. attorney’s offices that produced this farce of a prosecution.
More here.

American Justice

There's a reason to have a system of law instead of allowing the whackos to run around....
Convicted rapist Michael Dodele had been free just 35 days when sheriff's deputies found him dead from stab wounds last month in his mobile home. They quickly arrested his neighbor, 29-year-old construction worker Ivan Garcia Oliver, who made "incriminating comments, essentially admitting to his attacking Dodele," police said.

Oliver pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, burglary and elder abuse on Nov. 30.

A neighbor of Oliver's said that two days before the killing, he "told every house" in the trailer park that he found Dodele's name listed on the Web site of convicted sexual offenders, and was uncomfortable living near him.

In a jailhouse interview with the Los Angeles Times, Oliver said he had a son who was molested in the past and he took action to protect the child.

"Society may see the action I took as unacceptable in the eyes of 'normal' people," Oliver said. "I felt that by not taking evasive action as a father in the right direction, I might as well have taken my child to some swamp filled with alligators and had them tear him to pieces. It's no different."

As it turned out, Dodele was not actually a child molester. His records show he sexually assaulted adult women. But a listing on the Megan's Law Web site could have left Oliver with the impression that he had abused children because of the way that it was written.

A spokesman for the state attorney general said the site described the man's offenses as "rape by force" and "oral copulation with a person under 14 or by force."

Charlene Steen, a psychologist who examined Dodele on behalf of the defense in two 2007 trials about whether he should be recommitted to a state hospital, blamed the messenger. "I think [Oliver and Dodele] are both victims of the Internet," she said.
Link. (Emphasis added to make the mendacity easier to see.)

The Huck: Genuinely Religious Or Just Another Pandering Liar?

When Mother Jones asked the Huckabee campaign for copies of sermons the candidate gave during his years as a Baptist minister, it got a one-sentence response: The campaign had received multiple requests for the sermons and was "not able to accommodate" them. David Corn and Jonathan Stein suggest that "Huckabee the candidate is shunning Huckabee the pastor."

We're not sure that's it, exactly -- he's a "Christian leader," remember? -- but Huckabee the candidate is clearly selling the religious sizzle to the GOP's evangelical base while trying to avoid some of the tough steak that others might have a hard time swallowing. "People have asked me more about my faith than probably anyone running," Huckabee said Monday on Fox News. "And, you know, it's good, and I'm glad. I'm not angry about it because I've had an opportunity to talk about my faith. And maybe it will influence somebody in a positive way. And if it does, then all the more reason to rejoice in all of that."

And if it doesn't? Well, let's just not talk about that.

Corn and Stein have been able to find a few old Huckabee sermons, and in one of them Huckabee the pastor declares: "It doesn't embarrass me one bit to let you know that I believe Adam and Eve were real people."

As we noted the other day, it does seem to "embarrass" Huckabee the candidate to say that now. Over the past six months, Huckabee has gone from saying that he doesn't believe in evolution, to saying that he doesn't think he evolved from apes, to saying that evolution is "not a yes or no question" and that he thinks "there was a God behind" the creation of man, to saying that while he believes God created man, he doesn't know "how he did it, in the intricate manner." "I think some people get all wrapped up [in] 'OK, was it, did he take the rib out of Adam? Did he make it like' -- I have no reason to believe he didn't. But I don't know."

Is that the same thing as saying that you're not embarrassed to declare that "Adam and Eve were real people"? Huckabee told reporters back in October that if there's a conflict between science and what he believes of God, he'll stick with God because science changes and God doesn't. Maybe that's right. But the question is, has Huckabee changed? Is what he said as a pastor different from what he says as a candidate? Which one represents the "real" Huckabee? If a man says that his faith drives the decisions he makes, aren't voters entitled to ask those questions and expect that they'll be answered?

A Shiboleth I've Hated Since Vietnam

Our enemies rely on what they get from our media. In this case, they could never figure out that if captured, they might get tortured. Considering their backgrounds, it's unbelievable that they wouldn't make that assumption. So secrecy is in order.

From the War Room
"Obviously, al-Qaida listens closely to everything that we do and say," Perino said. "And that's something that we should be -- that we should keep in mind. What the president said is that he's going to do what it takes to protect this country, in a legal way. The intelligence community has worked very hard in order to do that. Remember that the -- these are classified for a reason. We don't talk about specific techniques, we don't think it's prudent, we don't think it's a good idea to do so. But it is discussed in the appropriate arena, which is on the Hill. And Gen. Hayden, again, is up there today answering questions probably about all the questions that you're asking me, which are questions that he can answer in a closed setting. And I think it's reasonable and that people should be able to agree that it's reasonable that such matters of sensitivity should remain classified and not spoken about publicly."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

More On Mitt's Pandering -- I Mean, Speech

Stanley Kutler, via HuffPo:
Mitt Romney's evangelical Christian friends and foes alike can only rejoice. His speech on his faith and religion has resounded in the public square and blown a heavy whiff of religion into our political life. He offered an impassioned account of his devotion to Jesus Christ, his Lord and Savior -- "of mankind." That is his inclusive vision for America.

Romney predictably made a bow to John F. Kennedy's famous speech to Houston ministers in 1960, in which Kennedy promised to fulfill his obligation to the Constitution (a secular document, Romney, et al. notwithstanding), and in the event of a conflict between its commandments and those of his personal conscience, he would resign. Romney made no such commitment.

Kennedy boldly stated that we had far more critical issues to discuss than religion: the spread of communism, the erosion and respect of our power abroad, hunger, and education -- those were the "real issues" to decide the election. War, hunger, education, and despair, Kennedy reminded us, "knew no religious barriers"; he understood they were obscured, and deliberately so, by those who would exploit the issue of his Catholicism.

Kennedy turned to the nation's founders and our subsequent history to argue that separation of church and state had served us well. Not so Romney, who favors a more opaque wall and pointedly rejected the historical meaning of separation. He complained that it had been distorted beyond its original intent. Portraying so-called secular elements and anti-religious groups as straw men menaces, he denounced those who see religion "as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America -- the religion of secularism." Well, at least he didn't capitalize it.

The founders, Romney said, "did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square." Many of the revolutionaries and founders indeed were religious; but many likewise believed in religion as a "private affair." Romney's "originalism" is deeply flawed. What is undeniable is that the founders moved with a calculated purpose and disestablished religion as it had existed in colonial times. Religion would not be the central component of public life, much as Kennedy had said in 1960.

JFK ended his remarks promising to "faithfully execute the office of president" and would "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution . . . so help me God." Romney's peroration is more in tune with our times. "Let us give thanks to the divine 'author of liberty'," he said. Finally, with words approaching an anthem: "God bless the United States of America."

Shades of the early 1950s, when Senator Homer Ferguson (R-MI), a flag-waving Cold Warrior insisted on adding "in God we trust" to the Pledge of Allegiance. Ferguson summed up the congressional mood: "We know that America cannot be defended by guns, planes, and ships alone. Appropriations and expenditure for defense will be of value only if the God under whom we live believes that we are in the right. We should at all times recognize God's province over the lives of our people and over this great Nation." Amen.

In 1962, the Supreme Court struck down a state-mandated and authorized prayer in the public schools. Two days later, President Kennedy deftly defended the decision in a nationally-televised press conference, one of the first of its kind. (Eisenhower's were given on a tape-delayed basis.) "We have in this case a very easy remedy," Kennedy said, "and that is to pray ourselves. We can pray a great deal more at home, we can attend our churches with a good deal more fidelity, and we can make the true meaning of prayer much more important in the lives of our children. I would hope that as a result of this decision, all American parents will intensify their efforts at home, and the rest of us," he concluded, "will support the constitution and the responsibility of the Supreme Court in interpreting it."

Can we imagine a president today -- or a presidential candidate -- speaking with such candor and historical understanding of American pluralism? (Let alone wit!) The mind boggles.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan's "social agenda" included restoring mandatory school prayers. Five years later safely immune from an election campaign) he called for a constitutional amendment to allow prayer in the classroom. Alas! it was not an election year and the Senate rejected it. Barry Goldwater as a presidential candidate had vigorously denounced the Court's ruling in the early '60s; but in 1985 he voted against Reagan's amendment. Goldwater's turnaround offers a preface to understanding the political manipulation of religious values as a manifestation of symbolic politics.

Jack Kennedy had an eye for history; Romney has only a tin ear. Kennedy de-emphasized the role of religion in politics; Romney only wants to amplify it. God knows there is neither silence nor an absence of religion in the public square.

How Did He Do?

He dodges... he weaves... he ducks....

L.A. Times:
It was former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s turn in Tim Russert’s hot seat Sunday, but the front-runner (in national polls) for the GOP presidential nomination managed to stay cool.

The host of NBC’s “Meet the Press” is inviting the leading presidential candidates for one-on-one hour-long interviews; Giuliani is the 10th to appear since the “Meet the Candidates” series started in January with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Russert does his homework: He asked Huckabee, for instance, about the Arkansas parole board's decision to parole a convicted rapist who went on to commit another rape and murder (the subject of Richard A. Serrano's article in Sunday's Los Angeles Times, which quoted parole board officials as saying that Huckabee was more involved than he initially described). Last month he pressed Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, the current Democratic leader in Iowa, about his relationship with an indicted Chicago developer who had supported his campaigns and from whom he purchased part of a vacant lot adjacent to his Chicago home.

Russert's initial questions to Giuliani were relatively gentle -- current poll numbers and foreign policy. Then he moved to the tougher stuff, ...

including Giuliani’s connections with the consulting firm and the law firm that both bear his name; his recommendation of former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik – now indicted on corruption charges – as head of the Department of Homeland Security, and his use of New York Police Department officers to provide security -- including dog-walking -- for his then-mistress (and now third wife) Judith Nathan.

Giuliani laughed aloud when asked about his law firm’s representation of Citgo, the Texas-based oil company that is the U.S. subsidiary of Venezuela’s state oil company. The head of Petroleos de Venezuela SA is the country’s president, Hugo Chavez, who has attacked President Bush as “the devil” and “a genocidal murderer.” Bracewell & Giuliani represented Citgo “just in Texas,” Giuliani said. “And then they stopped representing them.”

He appeared somewhat more defensive when discussing his security consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, and its controversial relationship with the government of Qatar. Members of Qatar’s ruling family, Russert said, have been accused of allowing Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who went on to become the chief plotter of the Sept. 11 attacks, to live in the country during the 1990s even though he was known to have terrorist ties -- and in 1996 they even tipped him off that the FBI was after him, allowing him to flee. According to a former CIA terrorism expert, Russert said, “you are taking money from the same accounts that protected Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.”

"That's, that's just totally wrong, and, and it's completely, it's completely distorted,” Giuliani replied.

He was also asked about -- and dismissed as inconsequential -- his firm's reported connections with a Hong Kong businessman with ties to North Korea's "Dear Leader," Kim Jong Il.

Given the questions that have been raised, Russert said, Giuliani's law firm and consulting firm could just release their client lists and end the speculation about what other embarrassments might erupt. No way, Giuliani said, citing confidentiality agreements.

As for Kerik, whom Giuliani plucked from the police ranks to serve as New York City’s correction commissioner and NYPD commissioner before recommending him for the country’s top security post, he said: “The reality is I made a mistake. I made a mistake in not vetting him carefully enough."

And the NYPD dog-walking for Nathan? She had received threats, he said.

“The reality is that it all came about because of my public position,” he said. “And the New York City Police Department has rules; they applied the rules, they applied them in exactly the same way as they always apply them. I did not make the judgment. I didn't ask for it. Judith didn't particularly want it, but it was done because they took the view that it was serious and it had to be done this way.” (It was his pal Kerik, by the way, who approved the security detail.)

Giuliani kept his temper under control -- although it was, perhaps, not the best day for the man who rode his 9/11 reputation to a commanding lead among the GOP candidates, then has seen that lead erode amid reports on the controversies over his personal judgments and business decisions. The Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary are less than a month away, and candidates want voters to focus on their visions for the future, not their past doings.

But he can be comforted by this: Next Sunday it’s former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s turn in Russert’s hot seat.

-- Leslie Hoffecker
Steve Benen:
When Rudy Giuliani sat down with Tim Russert yesterday on Meet the Press, there was more interest than usual, in large part because the interview was unexpected. The former mayor rarely sits down for lengthy on-air interviews, and when he does, it’s exclusively for partisan journalists at Fox News. With that in mind, for Giuliani to enter what some call the “Russert Primary” was a little risky (though the risk of being labeled a coward for skipping MTP may have been nearly as great).

Having watched the entire hour-long interview more than once, I can’t say there was much in the way of actual news, and I wouldn’t suggest we actually learned anything, but it was nevertheless a sight to behold. It’s unusual to see a presidential hopeful be so consistently deceptive, non-stop, for a national audience. Watching the show, it was tempting to keep a bottle of Maalox in one hand, and a shovel to trudge through the nonsense in the other.

One could probably write a short book highlighting all of the mendacity, but instead, I thought I’d just summarize the interview for readers, boiling it down to what you need to know.

* Process — Russert started with a series of questions about polls and electoral strategy, which was clearly a waste of valuable time. Giuliani, obviously behind in the early contests, explained, “The idea is you want to win the first one. If you lose the first one, you want to win the second one. If you lose the second one, you want to win the third one.” Brilliant.

* Iran — Russert noted the new NIE on Iran, and highlighted the fact that Tehran acts rationally and responds to international diplomacy. He then asked Giuliani if this shouldn’t remove the option of a pre-emptive military strike against Iran? “No, I don’t think it does,” Giuliani said. “Of course we don’t want to use the military option. It’d be dangerous; it’d be risky; but I think it would be more dangerous and more risky if Iran did become a nuclear power.” In other words, nothing’s changed.

* Iraq — Asked for his “best estimate” as to how long will U.S. troops be in Iraq, Giuliani said, “For as long as necessarily to get the strategic objective achieved.” In other words, if Giuliani’s elected, we’ll stay in Iraq indefinitely, no matter the costs.

* Terrorist expertise — Giuliani has bragged that he’s studied Islamic terrorism for “30 years,” and understood the al Qaeda threat before most U.S. officials. Yesterday, he walked that back a bit, and blamed Bill Clinton for not giving him better briefings on the terrorist threat. (Remember, everything, everywhere, is always Clinton’s fault.)

* Iraq Study Group — Russert asked why Giuliani passed on an opportunity to learn about Iraq and help shape a new foreign policy. The former mayor said he didn’t want to politicize the process. It’s the same excuse he used over the summer — and it was wrong then, too.

* Sheik Abdullah Bin Khalid al-Thani — Giuliani’s secretive consulting firm had a business relationship with a Qataran emir accused of sheltering dangerous terrorists, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Yesterday, Giuliani dissembled on the relationship, and praised Qatar’s government.

* Questionable associations — Russert pointed out that his business contracts extend to Hugo Chavez and associates of Kim Jung Il. Giuliani thought this was absolutely, hysterically funny. He added that he wouldn’t release his confidential client list for public scrutiny.

* Tax returns — Asked if he’d release his tax returns, as he did when he ran for mayor, Giuliani said he’d “consider” it, “at the right time.” How about now? “The right time is not now,” Giuliani said. Asked when the right time might be, he added, “When we get to financial disclosure.” That doesn’t make any sense — to hear Giuliani tell it, there’s such a thing as “Financial Disclosure Time.”

* Bernie Kerik — Giuliani conceded he screwed up in a major way with Kerik, but defended him anyway, saying he did a great job and was a 9/11 “hero.” Praising an obvious felon you recommended to head the Department of Homeland Security is probably not a wise political strategy.

* Shag Fund — Giuliani said he had nothing to do with providing a security detail to his then-mistress (which seems pretty unlikely), and wouldn’t rule out the possibility that presidents might want to extend Secret Service protection to other mistresses in the future. He also couldn’t explain why his mistress received alleged “threats” before becoming a public figure.

* Huckabee’s homophobia — Russert noted Huckabee’s anti-gay comments, which sparked headlines over the weekend, and asked for Giuliani’s response. He said sins come by way of actions, suggesting gays aren’t sinful unless they have sex.

* Balanced budgets — Giuliani vowed to try to balance the federal budget, and pointed to his “record of eight balanced budgets” in New York City. That’s true, just so long as you overlook all the deficits he ran, and the massive deficit he passed on to Bloomberg.

All in all, Russert tried to cover a lot of ground, which left Giuliani to lie with impunity — Russert didn’t press any of the obvious falsehoods, because he wanted to move on to other subjects.

The result was, well, an hour-long lie fest. I’ve seen some comments from conservatives that Giuliani “survived” Russert’s grilling. Of course he did — anyone can “survive” a tough interview if they’re willing to abandon the pretense of honesty.
War Room:
If Rudy Giuliani emerged relatively unscathed from his appearance on "Meet the Press" Sunday, maybe that's because the mayor said so precious little. When he wasn't explaining why he couldn't say more about the question-raising clients who've employed his consulting firm, he was doing his best to avoid direct answers on foreign policy, homeland security and Bernard Kerik.

A few of the highlights:

Giuliani on how long U.S. troops will remain in Iraq: "For as long as necessary to get the strategic objective achieved."

Giuliani on whether the U.S. is succeeding in Iraq: "Everything that I can see, information that I can get, tells me that our military, including Gen. Petraeus, thinks that there's still a chance we can achieve that objective."

Giuliani on whether he appreciated the threat posed by al-Qaida before 9/11: "I ... didn't see the enormity of it. Neither did the administration at the time. My -- I was, I was dependent on the briefings that I was getting from, from, from the administration, and they were not -- I don't think they saw the threat as big as it was, as, as, intense."

Giuliani on why he won't release a list of his consulting firm's clients: "Well, first of all, I, I, I couldn't do that. I mean, I couldn't put out a list of all my clients. There are confidentiality agreements that surround the relationship that businesses have with law firms, in particular, in some cases with security firms. So I can't do that. All, all I can tell you is the following: I can tell you that every client of G.P. [Giuliani Partners] of any significance while I was there, while I was involved in the ... day-to-day operations ... none of them amount to anything other than ethical, lawful, decent work done by both companies, sometimes of the highest standards, always ethical and decent. And none of them involve any kind of conflict of any kind. And as we go along, we'll explore more of it."

Giuliani on financial disclosures he's willing to make: "We do all the financial disclosures. I did a very complete financial disclosure, I think it was in May. I'll do some more complete financial disclosures. But I'm, I'm not going to do more than what is absolutely required, and we'll go further than that."

Giuliani on whether he'll release his tax returns: "The right time is not now. The right time is ... when we get to financial disclosure. We'll see what is the appropriate financial disclosure. What have other people done? What are other people going to do? What is the right standard? Here's the thing we will definitely do. We'll obviously meet all of the standards that the law requires, and then we'll take a look and see should we go beyond that? Is there a reason to go beyond that? And if there is, we will. The thing I will commit myself to, obviously, is meeting all the standards, which are pretty darned high. We will meet all of those, like everybody else has, and then we'll take a look at what the right thing to do is."

Giuliani on whether he didn't make a really big mistake when he recommended that George W. Bush nominate Bernard Kerik as the chief of homeland security: "Well, look, I've, I've recommended and appointed thousands of people over the years. So I think the way you find out is my judgment generally very good and sometimes bad, like any other human being is, what kind of results have I gotten with the people that I appointed?"
My hometown paper:
Rudy Giuliani, on the hot seat Sunday for the most exhaustive grilling of his presidential campaign, doggedly insisted that death threats against then-girlfriend Judith Nathan prompted the NYPD to launch her taxpayer-funded chauffeur services.

"These were all based upon threat assessments made by the New York City Police Department ... of what was necessary to protect her life, my life, other people's lives," Giuliani told NBC's Tim Russert. "Every single thing done here was done based upon the assessment of someone else that this was necessary."

His explanation of Nathan's police car service doesn't square with Friday's Daily News exclusive report, citing multiple witnesses and a law enforcement source, that she was being protected by city taxpayers months before the affair was revealed in May 2000.

"The threats were after" their romance became known, Giuliani maintained Sunday.

The only guest on Russert's "Meet the Press," Giuliani endured a withering examination of his personal character and business dealings.

To the glee of fellow presidential contenders, the Republican front-runner spent nearly an hour playing defense, attempting to deflect a flurry of questions about his relationship with indicted pal Bernard Kerik and Kerik's mistress Judith Regan, controversial corporate clients and his own tangled personal life.

"The baggage is finally starting to catch up with him," a neutral GOP consultant said.

Giuliani said again that he did a poor job of vetting Kerik but denied he allowed personal loyalty to trump his judgment. He said he knew Regan was Kerik's publisher but wasn't aware of their Ground Zero love nest in a pad reserved for recovery workers.

He defended the activities of his security and legal businesses as "ethical, lawful, decent work," but said he won't release a list of his clients because he's promised many of them confidentiality.

Predictably, Democrats piled on. "Rudy Giuliani's refusal to be honest about his shady past is becoming a chronic habit," Democratic National Committee spokesman Dag Vega jabbed.

The usually combative candidate was uncharacteristically subdued throughout the grilling. Somberly dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and red tie, Giuliani employed many of the timeworn techniques of damage control. He turned the tables on his inquisitor - "that's a stretch," he politely complained once - and borrowed from the Watergate scandal's signature "mistakes were made" rationale.

Stealing a page from Hillary Clinton's script, he wielded a tactical laugh now and then. He blamed the media for hyping the facts, and invoked the memory of a fellow ex-mayor to explain his poor judgment about Kerik.

"As one of my predecessors, Fiorello LaGuardia, used to say, ‘I don't make many mistakes, but when I make them, they're big ones.'"

That was a reference to LaGuardia's celebrated 1941 wisecrack: "When I make a mistake, it's a beaut."
In a rare interlude from his self-defense chores, Giuliani took issue with GOP rival Mike Huckabee's 1992 remark that homosexuality is an "aberrant" lifestyle.

"I don't believe it's sinful," he said. "It's the various acts that people perform that are sinful, not the orientation that they have."

The crop of sinners, he added, includes His Honor:

"I've had my own sins that I've had to confess and had to deal with and try to overcome, and so I'm very, very empathetic with people, and that we're all imperfect human beings struggling to try to be better."
We report, you decide: The transcript is here.

But does it matter? Is it too late?? Look at these numbers... maybe the romance is over....

If We're Losing The War Against X-Mas, There's This As A Fallback....


Sign This!


Monday, December 10, 2007

Freedom Requires Religion

What utter bullshit. Freedom requires oppression? You can't be morally good without religion?

Well, Our Leaders sure put the lie to all that, including Mitt's pandering crock of shit.

Mitt's speech only proves his worthlessness for the office he's seeking.

Meanwhile, Maureen Dowd wakes up and rips him one:
I called Mr. Krakauer — who also wrote the best sellers “Into Thin Air” and “Into the Wild” — to get his opinion of Mitt’s religion speech.

Mormons see themselves as the one true religion, and don’t buy all of the New Testament, he said, “which makes it curious why Mitt thinks evangelical Christians are his allies.”

Asked Thursday by Diane Sawyer on “Good Morning America” if he thought Mormons were Christians, Richard Land, an official of the Southern Baptist Convention, replied, “No, I do not.”

Mr. Krakauer can envision a Mormon making an “excellent president.”

“The Mormon approach to family life is amazing, and there are a lot of good things about the faith,” he said. But he worries that “the Mormon Church, while more welcoming, is still not a place that grants women and blacks equal status, and it’s a terrible place to be gay. The leadership is authoritarian, male, white and absolutely intolerant of dissent.”

The problem with Mitt is not his religion; it is his overeager policy shape-shifting. He did not give a brave speech, but a pandering one. Disguised as a courageous, Kennedyesque statement of principle, the talk was really just an attempt to compete with the evolution-disdaining, religion-baiting Huckabee and get Baptists to concede that Mormons are Christians.

“J.F.K.’s speech was to reassure Americans that he wasn’t a religious fanatic,” Mr. Krakauer agreed. “Mitt’s was to tell evangelical Christians, ‘I’m a religious fanatic just like you.’”

The backdrop, he said, is “the wickedly fierce competition between Mormons and Southern evangelicals to convert people.”

The world is globalizing, nuclear weapons are proliferating, the Middle East is seething, but Republicans are still arguing the Scopes trial.

Mitt was right when he said that “Americans do not respect believers of convenience.” Now if he would only admit he’s describing himself.
And another opinion:
In Mitt Romney’s carefully choreographed, partly self-financed and meticulously planned campaign for president, last week’s speech was premature. He always intended to give a speech at some point, addressing the fact of a Mormon running for president. But he assumed he’d give that speech after his nomination by the Republicans, pitching a general and uplifting message to all Americans about the need for religious liberty and pluralism.

The only reason he gave the speech last week is that he felt he had no choice. In Iowa, a critical state for his momentum-based candidacy, he was slipping into second place. The insurgent, Baptist minister Mike Huckabee, was subtly appealing to the overwhelmingly fundamentalist Christian voters of the Republican base. Hucka-bee ran a disgraceful ad touting himself as a “Christian leader”, “defined” by his faith. And the pool of votes Romney had been banking on began to shift rapidly away from him.

And so the speech itself, entitled Faith in America, had to be a little different. It was not in the end a call to American pluralism. It was a rallying cry to all believers to wrestle the public culture of the United States away from nonbelievers. It was a pitch designed to say that whatever doctrinal differences Mormons have with mainstream Christians, they are trivial compared with the war against secularism.

So we were told, rather baldly: “Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom . . . Freedom and religion endure together or perish alone.” Of course freedom and religion can go together. But freedom requires religion? There are many free, secular societies where this doesn’t seem an exhaustive explanation. And while freedom of conscience can indeed be defended by religious doctrine – just read your John Locke or Second Vatican Council – it has also in history been persecuted and repressed by religion. Why were Locke and the second council even necessary?

And then you noticed that Romney’s embrace of pluralism does not actually include atheists or agnostics or those with no faith at all. This was not a minor oversight. In fact those who want to preserve a secular hue to public debates were given no quarter: “It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism. They are wrong.”

Romney, moreover, explicitly stated a core religious doctrine of his: “There is one fundamental question about which I often am asked. What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the saviour of mankind.” If his point were to say that it is irrelevant what your religion is when you run for president, merely that you have a religion, then why this explicit statement? It tells his audience that he is not a Jew or a Muslim.

In his famous 1960 speech to the Houston ministers, John F Kennedy issued no such theological credo. And the explanation for Romney’s doing so is pretty simple: he wants the political benefit of being a Christian without the political cost of being a Mormon “Christian”. The speech was therefore a purely political manoeuvre, as is almost everything that comes out of Romney’s mouth. In order for a Mormon to win over the Christian right, he has to unite with them against a common foe: the religion of secularism.

To do that, he needs to have a broad public embrace of Christ, but not of the actual doctrines of his own church. Recall that Romney is not just a Mormon but has served as a bishop, and for nine years was a stake president – a position of considerable authority and power within his denomination. He knows the doctrines as well as anyone, but he will only explain that part of them that reassures the Christian right.

Will they be reassured? That remains to be seen. By touting active faith as the prerequisite for American public life, Romney appeals to those who see religion primarily as a benign force in American culture. He effectively says to the Christianist right: I’m with you on abortion (even though he long wasn’t), on gay rights (even though he once claimed he’d be more pro-gay in the Senate than Ted Kennedy) and in favour of appointing justices who would get out of the way of Christian majoritarianism. So forget about our theological differences. What matters is that someone believes in something and advances your political agenda.

Romney, it should be remembered, is not the first Mormon to run for president. That distinction is awarded to the founder of Mormonism himself, Joseph Smith Jr, who ran in 1844 on an abolitionist platform and in defence of the rights of religious minorities. Mormon political history has long been strongly secularist in this respect – because Mormons were once a sect brutally persecuted by majority Christians.

But in that campaign, Smith coined a term that strangely resonates today. “There is not a nation or a dynasty now occupying the earth which acknowledges almighty God as their lawgiver,” Smith told the Neighbor newspaper in Nauvoo, Illinois. “I go emphatically, virtuously and humanely, for a theodemocracy, where God and the people hold the power to conduct the affairs of men in righteousness.”

Theodemocracy: the blending of government with a universally Christian populace in which faith is the prerequisite of public office. This is the vision of America that Romney is proposing. He has behind him the power brokers of the Protestant right, the theocons of the Catholic right, the Mormon church and the vested interests of a Republican party elite that, in the wake of George W Bush, wants to extend the theodemocratic principles of an antisecular movement.

Romney has in front of him all those – believers and nonbelievers – who feel that too overt a religious identity in the public square is a dangerous tyranny of the majority, and the true believers whose faith is not instrumental to anything but itself.

And that’s why, in my view, what Romney represents is not quite as benign as he makes it out to be. I would have had no qualms in supporting a Mormon for the presidency, as long as he vows to represent people of all faiths and none. But Romney decided against that. That matters. It is veiling intolerance under the guise of tolerance.

Nonbelief is rooted in the same freedom of conscience as belief. In fact they are inseparable. Freedom of religion must mean the right to come to the conclusion that there is no God at all. By eliding that critical piece of American mosaic, Romney revealed that he isn’t actually a pluralist. He is the anointed son of the organised religious right. And his own religion is still irritatingly in the way.
And another; he admits he's pandering garbage:
Mitt Romney was deluged today with questions about yesterday's speech on faith, specifically about the statement that: "Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom."

“It was a speech on faith in America, first of all,” Romney said, during a testy exchange with reporters after a town hall forum here. He said he was paraphrasing what John Adams and George Washington once said and added that, “For a nation like ours to be great and to thrive, that our Constitution was written for people of faith, and religion is a very extraordinary element and very necessary foundation for our nation. I believe that’s the case.”

Near the end of the media avail, he was asked if he thought a non-spiritual person could be a free person, and he said: “Of course not, that’s not what I said.” Pressed again about the freedom requiring religion line, he said, “I was talking about the nation.”
(Emphasis aded.)

Progress On The March

Science teacher forced out in Texas by Bushie for advising teachers about a talk regarding teaching evolution.

So The Intel About The Iranian Nuke Program Is Bogus? Not!

The wingnuts are riffing about how, after all the prior bad intel, how can this be right?

The CIA launched a clandestine effort aimed at degrading Iran's nuclear weapons capabilities by persuading key officials to defect, an effort which has had limited success but provided US intelligence agencies with information that recently concluded the Islamic state halted its weapons program in 2003, the Los Angeles Times' Greg Miller reports in Sunday's [registration-restricted] edition.
And here how it was done:
The CIA launched a secret program in 2005 designed to degrade Iran's nuclear weapons program by persuading key officials to defect, an effort that has prompted a "handful" of significant departures, current and former U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the operation say.

The previously undisclosed program, which CIA officials dubbed "the Brain Drain," is part of a major intelligence push against Iran ordered by the White House two years ago.

Intelligence gathered as part of that campaign provided much of the basis for a U.S. report released last week that concluded the Islamic Republic had halted its nuclear weapons work in 2003. Officials declined to say how much of that intelligence could be attributed to the CIA program to recruit defectors.

Although the CIA effort on defections has been aimed in part at gaining information about Tehran's nuclear capabilities, its goal has been to undermine Iran's emerging capabilities by plucking key scientists, military officers and other personnel from its nuclear roster.

Encouraging scientists and military officers to defect has been a hallmark of CIA efforts against an array of targets since the height of the Cold War. But officials said those programs did not generally seek to degrade the target's capabilities, suggesting that U.S. officials believe Iran's nuclear know-how is still thin enough that it can be depleted.

The program has had limited success. Officials said that fewer than six well-placed Iranians have defected, and that none has been in a position to provide comprehensive information on Tehran's nuclear program.

The CIA effort reflects the urgency with which the U.S. government has sought to slow down Iran's nuclear advances, as well as the importance Washington attaches to finding human sources who can help fill intelligence gaps left by high-tech collection methods such as satellites and electronic eavesdropping equipment. The program was described by officials on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the effort.

The White House ordered the stepped-up effort in hopes of gathering stronger evidence that Tehran was making progress toward building a nuclear bomb. The Bush administration "wanted better information" on Iran's nuclear programs, said a U.S. official briefed on the expanded collection efforts.

"I can't imagine that they would have ever guessed that the information they got would show that the program was shut down," the official said.

That was the central finding of the comprehensive intelligence report released last week. The National Intelligence Estimate on Iran contradicted previous intelligence assessments and undercut assertions by the Bush administration.

The new report, which represents the consensus view of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, also concluded that Tehran "at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons" and continuing to pursue civilian nuclear energy technologies that could help it make a bomb.

A CIA spokesman declined to comment on the effort to cultivate defectors, saying "the agency does not comment on these kinds of allegations as a matter of course."

White House reversal

The administration's decision to step up intelligence collection on Iran in 2005 was a reversal from a position the White House took after President Bush was first elected. Former CIA officials said that the agency had built up a large Iran Task Force, made up of nearly 100 officers and analysts at headquarters, by the end of the Clinton administration. But that office shrank to fewer than a dozen officers early in the Bush administration, when the White House ordered resources shifted to other targets.

"When Bush came in, they were totally disinterested in Iran," said a former CIA official who held a senior position at the time. "It went from being a main focus to everything being switched to Iraq."

Asked about decisions to reduce the size of the Iran Task Force, CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said: "Iran has been an issue of priority to the United States for a long time. You shouldn't assume that a single unit of any size reflects the complete level of effort. That would be a mistake."

Even as the task force shrank, officials said, other CIA units, including its counter-proliferation division, continued to track Iran's procurement networks and other targets.

Some of that reduced task force capacity has been restored, former CIA officials said. Two years ago, the agency created an Iran division within its overseas spying operations, applying to a single country resources and emphasis usually reserved for multinational regions.

The stepped-up effort went beyond the CIA, and has also involved the National Security Agency, which eavesdrops on other countries' communications, and the National Reconnaissance Office, which operates spy satellites.

The defector program was put in place under CIA Director Porter J. Goss, who has since left. The agency compiled a list of dozens of people to target as potential defectors based on a single criterion, according to a former official involved in the operation: "Who, if removed from the program, would have the biggest impact on slowing or stopping their progress?"

The rewards for defectors can be substantial, including relocation to another country and lifetime financial support.

In the two years since it was launched, the program has led to carefully orchestrated extractions of a small group of Iranian officials who operated in the mid- to upper tiers of the Islamic Republic's nuclear programs.

None of those who defected was considered essential to the nuclear program, nor were they able to provide comprehensive descriptions of Iran's efforts, officials said.

"Did they have replacements for these people? Any country would have," the former official involved in the operation said. "But we did slow the program."

The identities of the defectors have been carefully protected. However, there was speculation this year of CIA involvement in the apparent defection of a former Iranian deputy defense minister, Ali Reza Asgari, who went missing in February during a visit to Turkey.

At the time, Iran's top police chief was quoted in the official news agency as saying that Asgari probably had been kidnapped by operatives working for Western intelligence services. Asgari was believed to have extensive knowledge of Iran's conventional weapons program as well as its ties to the militant Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah in Lebanon.

But Asgari was not thought to be involved in Iran's nuclear program, and the CIA, when pressed by congressional officials about the matter, adamantly denied involvement in the Iranian general's disappearance.

Officials declined to discuss the whereabouts of the defectors, or details regarding the methods used to approach them. The former senior U.S. intelligence official said that potential defectors had not been approached directly by the CIA, but through other contacts the agency has cultivated inside the country.

Often, the former official said, there are as many as "three degrees of separation" between agency personnel and those targeted for approach, and that each of those interim contacts had to be thoroughly vetted before a planned approach was approved. Those who have left Iran have been debriefed and relocated either by the CIA or with the help of allied intelligence services, the former official said.

The CIA program was implemented after significant debate between the White House and the agency over its size and scope, officials said. National Security Council officials urged the CIA to make the program as broad as possible, and to spread word through Iranian networks that the United States was prepared to help officials leave the country and relocate.

But CIA officials fought to keep the program narrowly targeted to avoid catching the attention of Iran's intelligence service. Even at that, CIA officials assumed that Iran's service was keeping close watch on key officials in the nuclear program, and that potential defectors could be decoys.

The "Brain Drain" program is among the latest in a long series of efforts to shore up U.S. intelligence on Iran. It was launched at a time when a presidential commission was preparing a scathing report on the inadequacies of U.S. intelligence on Iran and other nations suspected of having nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

U.S. intelligence officials said the information that surfaced this summer prompting the reevaluation of Tehran's nuclear weapons program centered on intercepts of Iranian government officials' conversations and the seizure of a journal that contained notes documenting the country's decision to shut down its weapons research.

During a briefing with reporters last week, a senior U.S. intelligence official said that Iran was "the hardest intelligence target there is."

"I mean, by comparison, North Korea is an open and transparent society," the official said.

History of setbacks

U.S. intelligence on Iran has been beset by setbacks stretching back more than two decades. The CIA has had no permanent presence in the country since the United States broke diplomatic ties with the country -- and removed embassy personnel, as well as CIA officials who operated under diplomatic cover -- after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Afterward, the agency began recruiting sources in Europe and elsewhere, in cities where there are large populations of Iranian expatriates who travel to and from the country. But the effort has been marked by failures.

In 1989, Iran's intelligence services broke up a network of agents in the country that was being directed by a CIA station in Germany known as "Tefran," for Tehran-Frankfurt. When that station was shut down, much of the collection work was shifted to Los Angeles, where there is a large population of Iranian immigrants, many of whom visit their home country.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Husk For Dummies

This is relatively important, so let's just lay this all out again.

BuzzFlash summarizes the issue:
Well, Mike Huckabee not only is a pious Creationist and a fundamentalist Baptist minister with a folksy manner, but he's also an opportunist and prevaricator.

First of all, he denied this week that he is being advised by the scumbag Dick Morris, just after a Huckabee staffer confirmed that Huckabee talks with Morris on political strategy regularly.

But more importantly, Huckabee has his own Willie Horton problem.

It's one of those complicated swampy Arkansas affairs, so we'll just give you the BuzzFlash take on it based on our reading over the years: as governor, Huckabee paroled a convicted rapist, Wayne DuMond, who shortly thereafter went on to kill two young women after raping them.

Although Huckabee disputes it, it appears that Huckabee was caving in to a rabid contingent of anti-Clinton whackos. This group of nutcases ran a campaign claiming that DuMond was framed by Bill Clinton because the first woman that he raped -- and was serving time for -- was a distant relative of Clinton's. Without getting into the quicksand of details, the nutty defense of a convicted rapist was as flawed as it was bizarre to watch right-wingers champion a hardcore sexual criminal.

The best and most exhaustive account of Huckabee's personal role in appeasing the Clinton haters by paroling DuMond can be found in a Murray Waas article printed in the Arkansas Times in 2002.

Of course, as self-righteous and self-described "Men of God" often do, Huckabee claims to be appalled by anyone thinking that he would release a rapist for political gain.

Well, the mothers of the girls subsequently slain by DuMond have a response for Mike in an article entitled, "Murdered women's mothers blame Huckabee for his part in killer's release":
The mothers say Huckabee is responsible, at least in part, for the release of DuMond, who died in a Missouri prison in 2005.

"What a fool," Lois Davidson, (Carol) Shields' mother, said of Huckabee. "Thinking he could rule the country when he couldn't even do a good job as governor of Arkansas."

Janet Williams, (Sara) Andrasek's mother, said: "Wayne DuMond should have never been on the streets in Missouri. … When politics are involved, people get hurt, and Sara and Carol Shields paid the ultimate price with their lives."

Davidson and Williams said they're particularly angry because Huckabee has never called them to apologize or explain his part in the DuMond case.
Huckabee, like Bush, deals with his disastrous decision by blaming others -- in this case the Arkansas parole board -- and expressing compassion for the families of the victims, but -- also like Bush -- not accepting an iota of responsibility for his actions.
Arianna spells it out from her perspective:
The way that Mike Huckabee has handled the furor caused by the Huffington Post's coverage of his role in the release of Wayne Dumond, a serial rapist who went on to rape and kill at least one other woman, has been very revealing. And troubling.

It has exposed the dissembling reality behind the charming, articulate, more-preacher-than-politician facade - and has called into question both his judgment and his integrity.

Huckabee's response has been to fudge the truth, point the finger at everyone in sight, and -- that old standby -- blame the messenger.

Appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe this morning, Huckabee said of our story: "there are factual errors in what they have printed, some of it is outrageously incorrect." As an example of our factual errors, he cited... well, nothing. Not one.

He also claimed "the Huffington Post just doesn't want to give the whole story of what was going on." Really? Our original story on the Dumond case was over 4,000 words long and offered what even the American Spectator deemed a "detailed, convincingly irrefutable" presentation of the evidence in which HuffPost "backs up every single word." What's more, we included links to a number of never before published documents from the governor's own files.

Huckabee also claimed that in a follow up story "the Huffington Post totally misrepresented and just utterly distorted" the statements of Butch Reeves, his former top aide, who told us that, contrary to his former boss's claims, Huckabee had indeed influenced the parole board to reverse its previous rejection of Dumond's release. Huckabee described Reeves as "outraged," and promised that a statement from Reeves to that effect would be posted on today. It just went up, ten hours later.

In the statement, Huckabee's campaign acknowledges the accuracy of the quotes attributed to Reeves in our story, but splits hairs over whether Huckabee's claims that Dumond's conviction was "outlandish" and "way out of bounds for his crime" (brutally raping a 17 year old cheerleader) were in the context of a discussion about "paroling" the rapist or in the context of a discussion about granting him "clemency" or "a pardon."

Even Huckabee appears vague on the semantics he now considers so important, having told Tim Russert in January: "They asked me did I think that he should be paroled, or something to that effect, and I simply said, "I think that his case has got to be given, you know, a serious look." The campaign now concedes he said more than that.

Most important, Huckabee made it clear to the parole board that he thought Dumond should be free. Does it really make any difference in terms of the tragic outcome whether Dumond would be freed through parole, clemency, or pardon? Isn't the point that Huckabee wanted him freed and that the board, which had recently voted 4-1 against paroling him, reversed course three months later and voted 4-1 for his release.

Tellingly, the Huckabee campaign chose to attack only the Huffington Post for our interpretation of Reeves' comments, even though our reporter Murray Waas was joined on the phone call with Reeves by Brian Ross, ABC News' Chief Investigative Correspondent, who filed a report offering the same interpretation. Yet there is no mention of ABC or Ross in the Huckabee campaign's press release. Why? Is it harder to dismiss ABC as "left-wing," and the charges as part of a partisan agenda?

But none of Huckabee's finger pointing (he mentioned Bill Clinton 12 times while discussing the Dumond case in his press conference on Tuesday) addresses the key questions raised by this tragic story: why Huckabee continued to favor the rapist's release, even after being sent police reports and wrenching letters from several of his victims detailing his horrific crimes (which included raping a woman while her 3 year old daughter lay beside her in bed); and why Huckabee, to this day, continues to insist "No one could have predicted what [Dumond] could've done when he got out" when we can read for ourselves the words of his victims predicting that the man would rape again - and perhaps murder - if released.

"Dear Wayne," Huckabee wrote in a letter to Dumond, after having read the victims' letters. "My desire is that you be released from prison." And no amount of spinning can change that, or the conclusion that Huckabee allowed his judgment to be swayed by the bleating of a collection of right-wing zealots who put their hatred of Bill Clinton over the well being of the public (Dumond's victim was a distant relative of Clinton, and the daughter of a major Clinton donor).

In interviews, Huckabee claims that his stand on Dumond was clouded by a surfeit of compassion. In reality, it was clouded by a surfeit of cynical pandering to a group whose support he felt he needed.

And no amount of denials and mudslinging by Huckabee can make the devastating evidence -- and what that evidence reveals about him -- go away.
Links at the above.

And here again is the long version.

At the least, the Huck shows that he as stupid and dishonest and, well, disgusting as the other GOP candidates. Not a one has anything to offer this country but for a load of needless shit. Not a one, including this one, has a principle to his name.


The lies of the right on this; the ends of attacking Clinton justified everything.

The Wayback Machine brings us Steve Dunleavy, one of Murdock's rabid dogs, from June 1996:
The bombshell Whitewater convictions that may be President Clinton's darkest hour gave a middle-aged Arkansas housewife her brightest moment. "Now that the Clinton people are going to jail, maybe my husband will finally go free," Mary Lou Dumond told me in Little Rock. Her husband, Wayne Dumond, 49, has just spent his 11th year in an Arkansas jail.

Many say that Dumond is the victim of one of the most bone-crunching and infuriating examples of Clinton-clan justice the country has ever seen. And now, because Clinton's alleged bagman, Gov. Jimmy Guy Tucker, is going to jail, Dumond is set to see freedom.

"The new Governor, Mike Huckabee, has assured me Wayne will be a free man," Mrs. Dumond said Thursday. "He is not one of the Clinton crowd. He is a very fair man. He has always been disturbed about the way the Clinton people never wanted my husband free," she added. And there was a very good reason for the Clinton people not wanting her husband to go free.

The story of Wayne Dumond is not for the innocent eyes of the young, but every adult of voting age should read closely. These are the cold facts as an Arkansas court saw it: A 17 year-old girl says she was kidnapped and raped on Sept. 11, 1984, in Forrest City, Ark. Dumond, father of six, Vietnam veteran, churchgoer, was convicted in August 1985 of the rape. He was sentenced to life PLUS 20 years. An appeal by Dumond, under Gov. Clinton, got a response of: "No merit."

What the public did not see, while Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas, were the following very unpretty facts--which Clinton, despite countless personal appeals, ignored:

A genetic expert stated unequivocally that sperm found on the girl's jeans COULD NOT "IN A MILLION YEARS" belong to Dumond.

The victim identified two other men as her rapist but they had ironclad alibis and were set free.

She failed to pick out Dumond as her rapist when presented with a lineup.

But now the clincher: The father of the girl is a millionaire and one of Clinton's biggest contributors. But guess what? The girl is Bill Clinton's cousin. And her mother worked as part of Clinton's inner circle when he was governor.

The worst was yet to come.


On March 7, 1985, while Dumond was awaiting trial, two masked men with guns and knives burst into his house. They hog-tied him. They raped him. And then, with surgical scalpels, they castrated him. Now get this, the two monsters ACTED ON ORDERS OF LOCAL SHERIFF COOLIDGE CONLEE! The sheriff retrieved Dumond's testicles from Dumond's blood splattered house. The sheriff then placed the body parts in a jar that he displayed on his desk with the admonition: "That's what happens to people who fool around in my country." The sheriff actually took that jar to "a good-ol'-boys wedding." That is a fact.

No reaction whatsoever from Gov. Clinton.

Now hold on to your seat for this. The sheriff, who didn't tolerate any "fooling around" in his country-- would later be nabbed by the FBI for extortion and drug-dealing and sentenced to 160 years in jail, where he died of natural causes.

Dumand's attackers were never picked up even though ONE OF THEM CONFESSED TO A STATE COP!

All this and Dumond still rotted away in prison. And Clinton, both as governor and president, ignored facts that surrounded the case of the rape of his cousin.

"Bitter? Hell yes, I was, at first," Dumond told me from prison at Varner in Arkansas. But now, I think, I hope, things will change around. With Jimmy Guy Tucker gone as governor, one of Clinton's men, and Mr. Clinton running for cover, maybe the new man will have another look. "But strange as it may seem, it hasn't been all that bad these days. I have gotten a very good education in here. I think I am becoming a computer nut. I just miss my family, so much.

"That girl? Well it's pretty ridiculous. Sad, but ridiculous. She told the police that a man in a new red pickup truck, with no tailgate, drove to her house, burst in, forced her into her car, drove in her car to some woods, tied her up, committed a pretty terrible act, drove her back in her car and took off in her car and dumped it nearby. Well, I drove a very old dirty brown pickup with a tailgate. Now, if I took her car, what happened to the pickup I drove to her house in? She changed her story, how many times? I mean many times. [Well we know one thing, she sure had to be related to Clinton - changing one's story must run in the family] She was with this guy driving through town and suddenly, out of nowhere, months after, she saw me driving my old pickup truck. She told the guy out of nowhere: 'That's the man that did it.' She said I had raped her.

" When it came to the lineup, she couldn't identify me. Suddenly she disappears into a room with her father and a cop who showed her a picture of me. She came out and immediately identified me."


The outrageous identifying scam was exposed by a local cop who witnessed it all. Deputy Sheriff Henry Leary had the guts to go against his own and told the world of the scenario. Dumond was still convicted. "Oh yeah," Dumond told me, "she identified two other guys who were the rapists. They had an ironclad alibi. Then it came to me."

Dumond was still convicted. Gov. Clinton remained silent. But of course at the time nobody knew that the girl was Clinton's cousin. The Governor didn't mention it.

After 4.5 years, with his freedom gone, his manhood gone, a five-person parole board recommended that Dumond go free for time served. John R. Steer, managing editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, records the following reaction from then Gov. Clinton: "Clinton had a romping, stomping fit. The victim was a distant cousin and St. Francis County [where this all took place] had a lot of votes and he deeply resented the pressure to free Dumond." Clinton refused to sign a release. And Dumond rotted.

Dumond has since been before the parole board twice. "They ask me: 'Do you have any remorse?' Well, I tell them straight. How can I have remorse for something I didn't do? No sir, I will stay here until I die before I say I am sorry for something I haven't done."

The day of the castration is not something that should be dealt with in detail in a family newspaper. "My two boys, Michael and Joey, found me there after coming home from school. They cut me loose and got help." he said. "Sure I remember it, but do you really want to know the details?" Dumond's life was miraculously saved after he lost three-quarters of his blood. As he lay near death, Sheriff Coolidge Conlee displayed Dumond's testicles in a jar. Still no reaction from Gov. Clinton.

The Dumond's later won a lawsuit "of outrage." They cleared just $20,000 from the settlement. This money came in handy however, because someone burned down the Dumond house when the couple were in hiding from vigilantes. No insurance was paid on the home.

Can this story get worse? "Sometimes, " said Mrs. Dumond, "I just want to give up. But now, who knows? The new governor has personally assured me that Wayne's case will be the first thing on his desk, after he clears up everything from this Whitewater thing."

Dwayne Harris, a spokesman for Huckabee, the Republican lieutenant governor who will succeed Democrat Tucker, told me Friday that Huckabee " has voiced a very special intention to thoroughly review the case of Wayne Dumond." "I hope so," Dr. Moses Schanfield told me Friday. "This case was a disgrace." Schanfield heads the Analytic Genetic Testing Center in Denver. He was one of the experts dispatched to Bosnia to examine and identify graves after the civil war there. He did an independent Allotyping test of sperm of the alleged victim's jeans, which supposedly came from Dumond. "No way, zip, nada. Didn't happen. No way Dumond was the donor of that sperm," Schanfield said. "The girl's scenario of the so-called crime couldn't have happened. I didn't believe anything she said."

Fred Odam, a retired Arkansas State Police captain told me, "This was and still is a very bad day for justice." Odam witnessed Sheriff Conlee retrieving Dumond's testicles and later investigated the sheriff for the FBI. " I have been working to get that boy Dumond free for a long time. In all my time this is the one case when I know a man is not guilty."

What was the crazed motive behind this disgusting affair? Why Dumond? Gene Wirges, a fiesty 67-year-old publisher of a local weekly who is writing a book on this mess, told me: "Well, a Clinton kin had to be revenged. The sheriff was on a hot seat and young Wayne had been talking to a church group about how cars were suddenly disappearing. It turned out to be true. The sheriff along with his drugs, and turning the sheriff's department into a casino was heading up a car-theft ring. When this girl said she was raped, the sheriff wanted to help out the Clinton clan [ so that they might look the other way with respect to his illegal doings]. He would do anything for the girl's father and mother. The truth, the terrible truth is, that one of the guys she first identified as the rapist but who had an ironclad alibi had been going out with the girl. But the new governor has indicated to me on several occasions that he was more than disturbed about Wayne's case and the way Clinton and his boys handled this terrible thing. " You know, this is Arkansas. Right up until now this has been Clinton territory. Maybe not anymore."

(And Dunleavy was still at it in 2001.)