As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, December 17, 2004

Tis the Season

I'm about to go out of town for a couple weeks, but I'll hopefully still have some time to blog. In the meantime, I give the floor over to the lone defender of Christmas, Bill O'Reilly:

O'REILLY: All right. Well, what I'm tellin' you, [caller], is I think you're takin' it too seriously. You have a predominantly Christian nation. You have a federal holiday based on the philosopher Jesus. And you don't wanna hear about it? Come on, [caller] -- if you are really offended, you gotta go to Israel then. I mean because we live in a country founded on Judeo -- and that's your guys' -- Christian, that's my guys' philosophy. But overwhelmingly, America is Christian. And the holiday is a federal holiday honoring the philosopher Jesus. So, you don't wanna hear about it? Impossible.

And that is an affront to the majority. You know, the majority can be insulted, too. And that's what this anti-Christmas thing is all about.

Then, when he was called on this statement...

O'REILLY: So, well you're gettin' the game here. You criticize anybody, you challenge anybody, then you are a bigot. And that's the -- that's why nobody does it. That's why nobody sticks up for Christmas except me. Did Peter Jennings stick up for Christmas last night? I don't believe he did. How about Brian Williams, did he? Did Rather stick up for Christmas? How about Jim Lehrer -- did he? Did Larry King -- hello -- I love Christmas -- did he? No.

And then, yesterday:

In response to reports that actor and comedian Chevy Chase called President Bush a "dumb f---" while co-hosting a December 14 People For the American Way awards ceremony in Washington, DC, FOX News host Bill O'Reilly asserted on the December 16 O'Reilly Factor that "you don't see this kind of thing on the right." He added: "You don’t see prominent conservatives cursing out Democratic members of Congress, for example."

Unless, you know, you're the vice-president.

Merry Christmakwanzaakuh!


Thursday, December 16, 2004

Billy Ball

No wonder Billy Tauzin's son tried to snag his father's congressional seat this November (he lost). He knows that getting inside the Beltway sets you up for life:

WASHINGTON — Retiring Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., who stepped down earlier this year as chairman of the House committee that regulates the pharmaceutical industry, will become the new president and CEO of the drug industry's top lobbying group.

John Edwards made an issue out of this during the primary season, and I think Democrats should raise this is a major issue. The only people Americans seem to collectively despise more than politicians are lobbyists. They'd be surprised to know that they're the same person. The notion that you can regulate an industry, and then turn around and sign on as its chief lobbyist, strikes me as the rankest of smells emanating from a corrupt and broken system. And that's what the Bush administration has done over an over again, particularly in terms of the environment. Practically every head of every regulatory system, from the EPA on down, has been a lobbyist for special interests like mining, big oil and lumber.

Incidentally, Tauzin's plum hiring is yet another win for the infamous K Street project, Tom DeLay and friends' attempt to place prominent Republicans in lobbyist positions in every sphere. According to a DeLay quote in the Washington Post, "If you want to play in our revolution, you have to live by our rules." Republican attempts to shape the lobbying world into another part of their message machine means that the money spigot from big business gets pushed onto far-right niche issues. The Republican Party has hijacked not only the lobbying effort, but the regulatory and oversight agencies in the Congress.

Democrats need to push legislation mandating that government officials must wait a number of years before becoming lobbyists. And they need to call this dreadful situation what it is: yet another instance of how the Republicans should really be called the Corporate Party.


Will O'Reilly Sue?

"It's possible to have a justice system that is fair and balanced." -George W. Bush, Economic Summit, 12/16/2004

I fully expect for W. to be served with the same papers that Al Franken got for using the Fox News Channel's copyright. Or maybe O'Reilly and Murdoch will let him off the hook. Ya think?


What Nanny?

I should just send you all over to Josh Marshall, who's been all over this story since it broke. But I shared his skepticism when I heard about Bernard Kerik's removal from consideration for the Department of Homeland Security post. The whole nanny thing just seemed immediately like a recycled excuse; didn't Zoe Baird and Linda Chavez get busted for the same thing? Something didn't seem quite right. And that appeared to be confirmed when all these other allegations came tumbling out of the media: affairs, misuse of public personnel, ties to mob figures, conflicts of interest, etc., etc.

Well, The Times today raises the possibility that the nanny never existed:

The White House has been unwilling to discuss any specifics of the nanny herself, including whether anyone in the administration had asked Mr. Kerik for details about her identity, status or nationality. Answers were not forthcoming from Mr. Kerik's camp, either. "We are not going to discuss the nanny any further," said Christopher Rising, general counsel at Giuliani-Kerik L.L.C., who is acting as a spokesman for Mr. Kerik.

Among the unanswered questions are where she came from, and even whether she was actually working in the country illegally when Mr. Kerik said she served as a housekeeper and nanny for his two small daughters. In a statement last Friday announcing his withdrawal, Mr. Kerik said he had "uncovered information that now leads me to question the immigration status" of someone who worked for him.

There's one woman in the whole article who claims she saw Kerik's children playing with an "olive-skinned" woman, which honestly is descriptive of nothing. Nobody else in the neighborhood, including most of the nannies, knows who this person is, and many were unaware that the family had any help for their children.

"They never came around here with a nanny," said Sophie Borsuk, 55, the longtime landlady and downstairs neighbor of Mrs. Kerik's mother. "I never saw any nanny. This is the first time I heard about a nanny."

Kerik's lawyer is even going back on his statement identifying her nationality as Mexican.

I guess you can't come out and say "I'm removing myself from consideration from the Cabinet because I did business with Sammy the Bull, and I stalked Judith Regan after our affair ended." But this cover story is getting thinner by the day. You'd think they'd actually be able to produce a nanny on which to pin the story. The truth seems to be that it became apparent that, despite Bush's protestations that "this is a good guy," Kerik was involved in a lot of masty things unbecoming a Cabinet official, and everybody went scrambling for a face-saving maneuver. I hope Josh Marshall and others keep going on this story, because if the nanny doesn't exist, the embarrassment will be bigger than Gigli.


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Arnebeck Lawsuit Out

Here's the actual lawsuit in the case of Moss v. Bush (I'm guessing Moss is the individual face on a class-action suit:

link 1
link 2

Here's a nice summary of the complaints. I thought this part was interesting, where they go county-by-county and allege some things I never knew:

* Auglaize County: voting machine errors, unauthorized access to machines by ES&S employee Joe McGinnis.
* Cuyahoga:  BoE "botched" registration of 10,000 voters, preventing them from voting.
* Cuyahoga County:  Precinct 4F cast more votes for Petrouka, a "ultra-conservative" "anti-immigrant" party than for Kerry. 4N also had more results for 3rd party.  Alleges it is because of "fraud, error, or mistake."
* Cuyahoga County: "effective denial of the right to cast a provisional ballot." 8,099 provisional ballots (1/3 of those cast) were improperly ruled as
"invalid" because of voting in wrong precinct or allegedly unregistered.  
* Cuyahoga/Franklin County:  absentee ballot arrows did NOT match up with candidate names.
* Cuyahoga County/Franklin County: voters received calls to go to wrong polling place.
* Franklin County: discriminatory assigning of more voting machines to white areas than black areas. Had the "effect, if not intent, of discriminating against African-American voters."  Same alleged in Knox, Hamilton, Lucas.
* Hamilton county: Some absentee ballots did not list Kerry/Edwards.
* Hamilton County:  Republican precinct judge was asking everyone for address and "being a jerk about it."
* Jefferson County:  voters were challenged, did not know it, could not rebut challenge.  Names were merely printed in a "nearly unreadable list in the local newspaper."
* Lake County:  bogus BoE letter saying those registered through DNC/NAACP can't vote.
* Lucas County: Machines broke down throughout the day. BoE director said "the Diebold optical scan machines jammed during testing in the weeks before the election."
* Mahoning County:  machine registered negative 25 Million votes.
* Mahoning County:  20-30 ES&S machines needed to be recalibrated after votes were being switched for opponent.
* Mahoning County: dozen machines needed to be "reset because they essentially froze"
* Mercer County: errors, lots of people didn't vote for president.
* Miami County: "highly suspect and improbable 98.5% turnout."  Suspicious that when last 18,615 votes came in, candidate percentages were the same.  
* Montgomery County: Two precincts had 25% presidential undervote.  Average for the county was 2% undervote.
* Sandusky county:  overvote when worker inserted disk with votes twice into tabulator.  In same county, some ballots counted twice.
* Trumbell County:  A woman found someone already voted in her name, with forged signature, when she went to vote.  They let her vote.  Again.
* Warren County:  Irregularities in counting of ballots during lockdown.
* Across the board:  Lots of "Votehopping"- picked Kerry on screen, vote "hopped" to Bush.

And as I predicted, the Peterson trial trumped the Democracy trial yesterday. I consider myself fairly in the know, and I had no idea about a lot of this stuff. Wow, is all I can say.

There's an effort afoot to ask Barbara Boxer to contest the vote. Please sign the petition.


Swift Boat Iran Pundits for Truth

This was in yesterday's LA Times, and I almost threw up when I read it:

Kerry Opponent Taking Aim at New Target: Iran

Swift Boat author wants to prepare the public for what he sees as a likely war with the nation.

Apparently, a smear artist who posts anti-Muslim hate on Free Republic and publishes a cavalcade of lies and distortions to influence a Presidential election is seen by the media as a "Kerry opponent." Just an opponent.

The article reads like it was reformatted from a press release. Jerome Corsi, who was co-author of Unfit for Command, is writing a new book. Considering his last book was completely discredited as a pack of lies, this shouldn't merit publication in a major newspaper. But there it is, in the LA Times, on A5. In fact, the article acknowledges the problems with Unfit for Command, but quickly emphasizes how "nevertheless" the Swift Boat campaign was very powerful and compelling.

The book is about what Corsi calls a "likely" war with Iran. Here's a quote:

"The world cannot tolerate the potential that these mad mullahs would have a deliverable nuclear weapon, even one, secretly developed," Corsi said in a recent interview. "They might just launch on Tel Aviv. The moment the world intelligence community becomes convinced that could happen, either the U.S. alone or the U.S. plus Israel or Israel alone will seriously contemplate a preemptive strike, and I'd be in favor of it."

Corsi also casually mentions that a US-Iran war could start as soon as March. And hilariously, the article characterizes his "Iran campaign" as independent, "with no backing from either the White House or from the Swift Boat veterans group." Why would anyone expect that the Swift Boat Veterans group would FUND a book on Iran? Why does that even need to be in here?

The body of the article talks about how great the PR campaign about the book will be, and who's funding the book (the head of WorldNetDaily), and how Corsi can expect a "large audience" on talk radio, etc. Is this the stuff of a NEWS article? Who knows, nowadays? This quote is right out of some PR flack's fertile mind:
"We'll devise a strategy to bring the manuscript to the media; we'll have websites to be developed," Corsi said. "I see a similar movement building to the one built around the Swift Boats."

We can't let the media be suckered into printing this BS as a mash note. Corsi has no experience on Iran, and in fact most of his prior record in dealing with the Muslim world includes statements like this:

CORSI: Let's see exactly why it isn't the case that Islam is a worthless, dangerous Satanic religion? Where's the proof to the contrary? (04/24/2004)

CORSI: Islam is like a virus -- it affects the mind -- maybe even better as an analogy -- it is a cancer that destroys the body it infects... No doctor would hesitate to eliminate cancer cells from the body. (11/26/02)

Legitimizing this bigot and proven liar is dangerous. Write the LA Times and tell them you won't stand for this.


Profiles in Bipartisanship

In yesterday's New York Times:

"It's like when the hijackers took over those four planes on Sept. 11 and took people to a place where they didn't want to go," [Missouri State Representative Cynthia Davis] added. "I think a lot of people feel that liberals have taken our country somewhere we don't want to go. I think a lot more people realize this is our country and we're going to take it back."

So whenever Republicans try to back you into a corner and tell you how much "you hate America" just think about this above quote. Conservative hatred is far more widespread, and far more mainstream.


Monday, December 13, 2004

Kiev, Ohio

Even the casual obsever of the election mess in Ohio must concede that things are getting interesting. John Kerry sent a letter to the various Election Boards in Ohio (not, pointedly, to Secretary of State and Ohio Bush campaign co-chair Kenneth Harris... I mean Blackwell) that laid out 11 items he'd like to see as part of the statewide recount, which will happen starting this week. His chief concerns are the undervote and absentee ballots:

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Democrat John Kerry is asking county elections officials to allow his witnesses to visually inspect the 92,000 ballots cast in Ohio in which no vote for president was recorded, a Kerry lawyer said Sunday night.

"We're trying to increase the transparency of the election process," said Donald McTigue, the lawyer handling the recount for the Kerry campaign.

Other requests include the use of independent experts to check the programming and calibration of the election equipment, something McTigue said has never been allowed.

McTigue also asked that counties accept the help of a group called Votewatch to determine which precincts will be chosen for that part of the vote that will be counted by hand. McTigue said using the group will ensure that the ballots are selected using a valid random sampling method.

The procedures require 3 percent of ballots to be counted by hand in each county, and then all ballots to be counted if the initial check turns up problems.

Meanwhile, Cliff Arnebeck, Alliance for Democracy's lawyer, will officially contest the election in the state Supreme Court as early as tomorrow (somehow I think this'll get less coverage than the Scott Peterson trial did today). And Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), who convened a public hearing on the Ohio situation in Wasington last week, plans to do the same in Columbus later this week. There is even talk of a redux of the Congressional Black Caucus contesting the election during the Electoral College session in January, as they did in 2000. That time they were unable to find a Senator to co-sign on the dispute, allowing Bush to be elected. This time? Not so sure.

All this despite the fact that Ohio's electors today cast their ballots for George W. Bush. Of course, that's little more than a formality.

The crowds are smaller, the protests are further under the radar, but something is brewing in the Buckeye State.


Bye-Bye Bernie

So we won't have Bernard Kerik to kick around anymore, depriving me of a great line in response to reports that White House officials thought he brought "9/11 symbolism to the Cabinet" (yeah, so would a fucking poster of the Twin Towers!). The official reason for his withdrawal from the Homeland Security Secretary post, that he employed an illegal immigrant, sounds implausible as the real reason. I mean, you'd think they could come up with ANOTHER reason other than the one used against Zoe Baird and Linda Chavez. Employing an illegal immigrant isn't the only thing that'll get you kicked out of the Cabinet. Like, oh, I don't know:

...he used police officers to do research for his memoir, incurring a $2,500 fine from the city's Conflicts of Interest Board.

...he sent homicide investigators to question and fingerprint several Fox News employees because his publisher, Judith Regan, had apparently suspected them of stealing her cellphone and necklace.

...awkward stories circulating about his romantic life, including one relationship in the Correction Department that figures in a civil lawsuit? 1998 he was facing lawsuits and an arrest warrant for unpaid condominium fees (since paid, Mr. Kerik has said)...

...wasn't he worried that news reports had stirred qualms about the enormous profit he made from serving on the board of a stun-gun manufacturer, Taser International? Did he think the Senate would ignore the propriety of Taser pushing for business with markets regulated or controlled by federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security?

...Mr. Kerik, as both correction and police commissioner, accepted and never reported gifts from people whose companies did business with the city? And what about his putting in a word with a city agency on behalf of a construction company with a possible relationship to organized crime - a company that employed his best man and his brother.

Now, the New York Times didn't even report this stuff until the nomination was scuttled, really. And the rest of the media just followed the "nannygate" soccer ball and conveniently sidestepped these other issues. But the question does remain that, with a guy with this many questions in his background, did the Bush Administration even bother to vet him at all? Did they do ANY phone work? Or were they so happy to find a "9/11 symbolism" replacement that they overlooked all of that? Or did they just figure a recommendation of Rudy Guiliani, who I think might be dropped off a few White House rollodexes after this one, was enough?

Whatever the case, it wasn't exactly a confidence-inspiring weekend in Washington. Although, I can't think of the last time there was one.