Friday, August 31, 2007

‘The truth about my dead brother.’

Dante Zeppala writes a Daily Kos diary about his brother, Army Sgt. Sherwood Baker, who was killed in Iraq in 2004:

He was killed two weeks after he sent that e-mail when a paint factory exploded. The mission had been aborted several times before because of safety concerns. Under the direction of a British Captain, they went looking for WMD. Sherwood saved lives, I’m told, of soldiers and an Iraqi translator.

That was over three years ago. Now, in light of Ari Fleischer’s latest propaganda campaign to continue the unabated bloodshed, I’m seeing my big brother out there again–his sacrifice somehow becoming a reason for more sacrifice, his death used to justify more death. It doesn’t make sense to me, and it wouldn’t make sense to Sher, either. […]

Does Fleischer even know who our primary military targets and threats in Iraq are? Does he know the actual amount of foreign Al Qaeda members in Iraq?

It doesn’t matter. It didn’t matter to him in 2003, when he told lie after lie selling this war to the American public. It doesn’t matter now. This is about ideology for him, not humanity.

Wal-Mart is Your Friend

On May 24, 2007, former Wal-Mart Communications Chief Julie Roehm accused CEO Lee Scott of obtaining “a number of yachts” and “a large pink diamond” at cut-rate prices from suppliers. [Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2007]

Thursday, August 30, 2007

NY Times' Stolberg, MNSBC's Matthews cited Tony Perkins, GOP conservatives as espousing "ethics" and "values"

In an August 29 "Political Memo" on the political implications of Sen. Larry Craig's (R-ID) August 8 guilty plea on misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges following his June 11 arrest during an investigation of "lewd conduct" in a Minneapolis airport restroom, New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg wrote, "Some Republicans are indeed screaming, particularly the party's social conservative wing, which places a high priority on ethics and family values." Stolberg then quoted Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, saying: "There is an expectation that leaders who espouse family values will live by those values." Similarly, on the August 28 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews asked Perkins whether "conservative people like yourself, who are not politicians, but are men of the church, who believe in values, rather than election results, will break with" politicians over Craig's actions. As Media Matters for America has documented, news outlets frequently suggest that "family values" are those espoused by conservatives. Further, in suggesting that Perkins represents conservative "ethics" and "family values," both Stolberg and Matthews ignored his reported ties to both the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) and former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke.

The Boston Herald reported in an October 16, 2006, article, "In 2001, [Perkins] gave a speech at a meeting of the Council of Conservative Citizens, which the Southern Poverty Law Center [SPLC] considers a hate group." Indeed, a Fall 2004 article in the SPLC's Intelligence Report asserted that Perkins "spoke to the Louisiana Council of Conservative Citizens on May 19, 2001," during his tenure as a Louisiana state legislator. The SPLC characterizes the CCC as a "white nationalist" organization, and has reported that the group is "the reincarnation of the racist White Citizens Councils of the 1950s and 1960s." The CCC declares in its statement of principles:

We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called "affirmative action" and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races.

In a July 30, 2005, article, The Vancouver Sun reported that Perkins acknowledged his speech before the CCC in an interview. The Sun also reported that Perkins claimed he could not recall what he said to the group and that he said he had been unfamiliar with the CCC's history at the time. From the Sun article:

The magazine [The Nation] also reported that Perkins, while a Louisiana state congressman, spoke in 2001 to the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC).

Perkins said he was invited by a constituent to speak to the group, and said he wasn't aware of its history.

"Never spoke to them again. That was over a decade ago," Perkins told The Sun, suggesting the speech happened in 1996, not 2001.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre, which keeps track of politicians close to the CCC, forwarded The Sun a March-April 2001 copy of Citizens Informer, the newsletter put out by the CCC, which included the following notice:

"The Louisiana CofCC met at the Mandarin Seafood in Baton Rouge May 19 to hear State Representative Tony Perkins discuss the current legislative session. At that meeting a recruitment project was developed."

When informed of the item by The Sun, FRC spokesman J.P. Duffy does not dispute the assertion that the event happened in 2001, not 1996, but added that Perkins "cannot remember speaking at the event, as he speaks to hundreds of groups each year." Duffy added that Perkins opposes racial discrimination and offered the names and phone numbers of two black pastors who support him.

While Perkins asserted during the interview with the Sun that he was unaware of the CCC's segregationist ideology, the group's views were widely reported in 1998 and 1999, after it was revealed that both then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) and then-Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) had spoken at council meetings. Indeed, a Media Matters search of the Nexis database found that 38 articles including the phrase "Council of Conservative Citizens" were published in either the Baton Rouge Advocate or the New Orleans Times-Picayune during 1998 and 1999. For example, a July 25, 1999, Advocate article noted that "the CCC has been labeled as a racist group," while an October 1, 1999, Times-Picayune report called the CCC "a group critics have labeled as racist." Additionally, a January 20, 1999, Associated Press article reported that then-GOP chairman Jim Nicholson "wants his fellow party members to quit the Council of Conservative Citizens because 'it appears that this group does hold racist views.' "

Furthermore, while managing Republican state representative Louis E. "Woody" Jenkins' 1996 campaign for the U.S. Senate, Perkins paid $82,500 to use former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke's phone bank for Jenkins' run-off election with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA). Jenkins was later fined $3,000 for "knowingly and willfully fil[ing] false disclosure reports showing Courtney Communications as the vendor." According to a July 24, 2002, Times-Picayune article, Perkins "signed the $82,500 contract for the Duke phone bank," maintained by a company called Impact Mail Ltd., in the fall of 1996, and "said Tuesday that he didn't find out 'the complete Duke connection' until after the 1996 Senate campaign." The article went on to report:

In 1999, Perkins said he originally didn't know the Impact Mail contract was for the use of Duke's phone bank. When he found out, Perkins said, he and Jenkins decided to route the payments through Courtney Communications, the campaign's media firm, because "politically, we didn't want to be connected with Duke."

The elections commission ruled that the transaction violated federal elections law because it was never disclosed on Jenkins' campaign finance reports. Instead, three payments of $27,500 each were listed to Courtney Communications from Oct. 7 through Nov. 2, 1996, according to commission documents.

The Jenkins campaign "knowingly and willfully filed false disclosure reports showing Courtney Communications as the vendor," the elections commission wrote in a settlement that Jenkins signed this year.

A spokeswoman said the commission voted in executive session in February to fine the Jenkins campaign $82,500, the value of the transaction. But Jenkins said he couldn't afford to pay that, so the fine was dropped to $3,000, she said.

While Perkins purports to "promot[e] pro-family public policy," a December 14, 2005, Washington Post article quoted him as saying: "There is a [biblical] mandate to take care of the poor. ... But it does not say government should do it. That's a shifting of responsibility." The article also reported that Perkins "said the government's role should be to encourage charitable giving, perhaps through tax cuts."

Moroever, contrary to Matthews' description of Perkins as a "m[an] of the church" unconcerned with "election results," in addition to managing Jenkins' 1996 U.S. Senate campaign, Perkins spent eight years as a Republican state legislator in Louisiana and himself ran as a GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2002.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"I am Not Gay" Says Sen. Larry Craig

The AP has reported today:
A defiant
Sen. Larry Craig denied any wrongdoing Tuesday despite his guilty plea this summer in
a men's room police sting, emphatically adding, "I am not gay. I have never been gay."

Craig, a third-term senator from Idaho, proclaimed his innocence as well as his sexuality less than an hour after Senate leaders from his own Republican Party called for an ethics committee review of his case.

"This is a serious matter," they said in Washington in a written statement that offered neither support nor criticism of the conservative senator. Issued in the names of Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the party leader, and several others, the statement said they were examining "other aspects of the case to determine if additional action is required."

Craig, his wife Suzanne at his side, took no questions in a brief appearance in the capital city of the state he has represented in Congress for more than two decades in the House and then the Senate.

He had "overreacted and made a poor decision" when he was apprehended by an undercover police officer in a men's room at the Minneapolis airport and later pleaded guilty.

"While I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct in the Minneapolis Airport or anywhere else, I chose to plead guilty to a lesser charge in hopes of making it go away." He said he kept the information from his friends, family and staff, adding, "I wasn't eager to share this failure but I should have anyway because I am not gay."

Nor did he hire a lawyer, Craig said, although he now has retained counsel "to review the matter and advise me on how to proceed."

"I have brought a cloud over Idaho and for that I seek and ask the people of Idaho to forgive me," he said."

His account contrasted sharply with the complaint in the case, in which an undercover officer said that Craig, while occupying a stall in the men's room, engaged in actions "often used by persons communicating a desire to engage in sexual conduct."

Craig was read his rights, fingerprinted and required to submit to a mug shot at the time of his arrest.

Police notes also show that on June 22, 11 days after the arrest, Craig returned to the police station and said no one had yet contacted him about his case. "Craig told me that he needs a contact so his lawyer can speak to someone," wrote the officer who spoke with the senator, Adam Snedker.

The senator signed and dated his guilty plea to a charge of disorderly conduct on Aug. 1, and court papers indicate it was submitted by mail and filed a week later. The court docket said Craig paid $575 in fines and fees and was put on unsupervised probation for a year. A sentence of 10 days in the county workhouse was stayed.

Craig, up for re-election next year, said he would announce his plans next month. If anything, he sounded like a man inclined to seek six more years in the Senate.

"Over the years, I have accomplished a lot for Idaho, and I hope Idahoans will allow me to continue to do that," he said.

Still, there already was speculation about a successor in the reliably Republican state. The Club for Growth, an anti-tax organization, issued a statement critical of Rep. Mike Simpson, whose name has been mentioned as a potential replacement candidate.

Regardless of Craig's plans, it was clear his political standing had suffered.

On Monday, he resigned from a prominent role with Republican Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, and the GOP White House hopeful was critical in an interview.

"He's disappointed the American people," Romney said on CNBC's "Kudlow & Company."

"Yeah, I think it reminds us of Mark Foley and Bill Clinton," he added. Foley was a a Florida congressman who sent salacious e-mails to underage male House pages. Clinton, the former president, was impeached by the House and acquitted in the Senate after his dalliance with a White House intern.

Craig, 62, has faced rumors about his sexuality since the 1980s, but allegations that he had engaged in gay sex have never been substantiated. He has denied the assertions.

Trying to put his actions "in context," Craig lashed out at the Idaho Statesman, the state's largest newspaper, accusing it of a witchhunt on the issue.

In their statement, the GOP Senate leaders did not say what other actions they were considering in connection with Craig.

Separately, a private group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed a complaint with the ethics committee seeking an investigation into whether Craig violated Senate rules by engaging in disorderly conduct.

The official police complaint on Craig's case was detailed.

It said airport police Sgt. Dave Karsnia, who was investigating allegations of sexual conduct in airport restrooms, went into a stall shortly after noon on June 11 and closed the door.

Minutes later, the officer said he saw Craig gazing into his stall through the crack between the door and the frame.

After a man in the adjacent stall left, Craig entered it and put his roller bag against the front of the stall door, "which Sgt. Karsnia's experience has indicated is used to attempt to conceal sexual conduct by blocking the view from the front of the stall," said the complaint, which was dated June 25.

The complaint said Craig then tapped his right foot several times and moved it closer to Karsnia's stall and then moved it to where it touched Karsnia's foot. Karsnia recognized that "as a signal often used by persons communicating a desire to engage in sexual conduct," the complaint said.

Craig then passed his left hand under the stall divider into Karsnia's stall with his palm up and guided it along the divider toward the front of the stall three times, the complaint said.

The officer then showed his police identification under the divider and pointed toward the exit "at which time the defendant exclaimed `No!'" the complaint said.

The Aug. 8 police report says Craig handed the arresting officer a business card that identified him as a member of the Senate.

"What do you think about that?" Craig is alleged to have said, according to the report.

All American Wal-Mart

In May 2007, Wal-Mart greeter Wendy Thomas, 33, “said she was quietly fired in May after she said a store manager told her Wal-Mart no longer wanted employees who could work only five hours daily”. Thomas had sustained brain damage from a car wreck years before her employment and claimed she was fired because she was disabled. In June, “she filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission”, saying Wal-Mart “violated her rights under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act”. [Virginian-Pilot, July 24, 2007

The Verge of Recovery

Monday, August 27, 2007

GOP Senator Caught in Lewd Conduct in Restroom

Roll Call reports:

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested in June at a Minnesota airport by a plainclothes police officer investigating lewd conduct complaints in a men's public restroom, according to an arrest report obtained by Roll Call Monday afternoon.

Craig's arrest occurred just after noon on June 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. On Aug. 8, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the Hennepin County District Court. He paid more than $500 in fines and fees, and a 10-day jail sentence was stayed. He also was given one year of probation with the court that began on Aug. 8.

A spokesman for Craig described the incident as a "he said/he said misunderstanding," and said the office would release a fuller statement later Monday afternoon.

After he was arrested, Craig, who is married, was taken to the Airport Police Operations Center to be interviewed about the lewd conduct incident, according to the police report. At one point during the interview, Craig handed the plainclothes sergeant who arrested him a business card that identified him as a U.S. Senator and said, "What do you think about that?" the report states. [...]

According to the incident report, Sgt. Dave Karsnia was working as a plainclothes officer on June 11 investigating civilian complaints regarding sexual activity in the men's public restroom in which Craig was arrested.

Airport police previously had made numerous arrests in the men's restroom of the Northstar Crossing in the Lindbergh Terminal in connection with sexual activity.

Read the full story HERE (subscription required).

Bye Bye Alberto-

After stating earlier this year, “I’m not going to resign — I’m going to stay focused on protecting our kids,” Alberto Gonzales announced his resignation this morning but declined to give an explanation. Gonzales said:

Yesterday I met with President Bush and informed him of my decision to conclude my government service as attorney general of the United States effective as of September 17th, 2007. … And I am profoundly grateful to President Bush for his friendship and for the many opportunities he has given me to serve the American people.

It's A Grand Old Party

The Chicago Tribune does a wonderful story on the Hunting of Hillary, and includes a little update on Citizen's United new movie:

"This conservative organization is releasing a film this fall about
Clinton that "aims to expose the truth about her conflicts in the past and her liberal plot for the future." The chairman and president is David Bossie, who was the chief investigator for the House committee looking into the Clinton-era Whitewater scandal before he was fired. Dick Morris, the Clintons' fired former consultant, is involved in the film."
Chicago Tribune: 'Vast Army Of "Hillary Haters" Has Claws Out'

It’s been four years since The Cleveland Scene broke the news that while Summit County GOP chairman Alex Arshinkoff ferociously supports anti-gay legislation by day, he cruises for nubile young boys by night [“The Godfather In The Closet,” June 11, 2003].

Thompson to Announce On Video

Fred Thompson's "decision to announce his presidential candidacy with a video was suggested by Newt Gingrich," Robert Novak reports.

Gingrich "has indicated he will run only if Thompson does not, or his late-starting campaign crashes and burns. Actor-politician Thompson plans to follow the model of Democrat Hillary Clinton by launching his campaign with a video, followed by a fly-around to several cities."

Thompson is expected to announce his campaign just after Labor Day.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Christian Extremist Roy Moore Is Back

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who gained notoriety for unsuccessfully defending a courthouse Commandments display, is supporting three protesters of a Hindu-led prayer given earlier this summer in the U.S. Senate. Those individuals, with ties to the stridently theocratic Operation Save America (OSA), were arrested after trying to shout down Rajan Zed, the Hindu chaplain. (Zed, a Reno resident was invited by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to open a Senate session with prayer.)

On July 12 as Zed was preparing to deliver his invocation, three protestors started shouting invective. “Lord Jesus, forgive us Father, for allowing a prayer of the wicked which is an abomination in your sight,” the protestors screamed from the Senate visitors’ gallery. Ante and Katherine Pavkovic and their daughter Christan were arrested and charged with disrupting Congress, a misdemeanor. They called themselves “Christian patriots,” and their actions were hailed by many Religious Right activists.

According to OSA, Moore is now coming to the support of the Pavkovic family and will apparently represent them Sept. 11 before the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The Rev. Flip Benham, OSA head, wrote earlier this week on the group’s Web site that Moore “has volunteered to come along side and represent these three Christians in court.” The trio, Benham alleges, are “on trial” for “praying in Jesus’ name in the chambers of the United States Senate.”

Christian Radical agitators, such as Benham and Moore, demand that government acknowledge and often promote only their fundamentalist religious beliefs. When the Senate announced its intent to open its door to a Hindu religious leader, the American Family Association went ballistic, firing off an e-mail to its supporters urging them to bombard senators with demands that they cancel the planned invocation.

The legal row that brought Moore hero-status within the Christian Radicals, centered on his desire to display a Commandments monument in the rotunda of Alabama’s Judicial Building. Moore and his representatives argued in the media and in court that judges have an obligation to honor Christianity. It reality, it was a symbol of the fundamentalist theocracy Moore and company would like to impose on America.

Moore’s arguments couldn’t persuade the conservative 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, however, and Moore was ousted from the bench after he refused to abide by the federal court’s order to remove the monument.

Nonetheless, Moore continues to promote the idea that the nation was founded on the Christian principles he espouses and that the Constitution does not prescribe the separation of church and state. (He did so most recently at a “God & Country” celebration in Severn, Md. in July.)

The former judge and many among the nation’s Religious Right are obsessed with government promotion of their religion. But when it comes to other faiths receiving even a smidgen of government acknowledgment, they lose it.

Moore, it seems, wants more fundamentalist Christianity in the public square and the right to slam other religions as “false” and shut them out of the public square.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Friendly Wal-Mart

The founder of Wikipedia Scanner, a program that tracks who edits content on Wikipedia, said that his program found that someone at a Wal-Mart computer apparently had changed a line in Wal-Mart Wikipedia entry. It used to say wages at Wal-Mart were 20 percent less than other stores. The new entry says the average wage at Wal-Mart is double the minimum wage. [ABC News, 8/20/07]

Arthur and InfoCision say: Stop Her Now!

Who is Arthur Finkelstein? And will his “Stop Her Now” campaign be more successful than the Stop Hillary efforts of 2000?

Republican officials close to the secretive Arthur Finkelstein have said that he hopes to be able to finance an advertising campaign similar to the one orchestrated against John Kerry last year by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Finkelstein is using the telemarketing firm InfoCision Management Corporation to raise money to smear Senator Hillary Clinton. He also has a website : www.stophernow .com

Arthur Finkelstein has had a long and colorful political career that has seen him work with some of the most reactionary politicians both at home and abroad. He runs Arthur J. Finkelstein & Associates, and during his thirty-year career he has worked for President Reagan and President Nixon. In addition to spearheading the then-little-known George Pataki's 1994 victory over Mario Cuomo, he was also a top adviser to Alfonse D'Amato and Jesse Helms during their Senate careers. But he hasn't always led his clients to victory -- in 1996 he was a major, if well-hidden, consultant to Senator Bob Dole's losing presidential campaign.

In addition, Finkelstein was also an early director of Terry Dolan's groundbreaking political operation, the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC).

Finkelstein is an international player as well Finkelstein has been active is Israeli politics. He helped Benjamin Netanyahu during his 1996 campaign for prime minister and he was an adviser to the late Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon.

And you can add another element to this story; Finkelstein is a gay-financier to the Christian Radical gay bashers. Back in September 10th, 2005, four of Finkelstein's clients voted against the anti-gay discrimination bill -- Lauch Faircloth (R-N.C.), Jesse Helms (R-N.C), Don Nickles (R-Okla.) and Sen. (Bob) Smith (R) of New Hampshire." According to CNN, “Homosexuality is wrong, it's immoral and it shouldn't be condoned and it certainly shouldn't be elevated to a special protected status by the federal government," declared Nickles (R-Okla.) in a Senate speech.

Strangely, that didn’t stop Finkelstein from marrying his male partner in December of 2004 in
Massachusetts, one of the few states to allow what his clients want to deny to other gays and lesbians. He claimed the reason he did is that marriage provides benefits to his spouse.

He and his partner also have two adopted children, enjoying the same legal right that he has helped President Bush deny other gay couples.

Finkelstein is also Jewish, but that didn't stop him from using anti-Semitism during a 1978 South Carolina congressional race between Republican Carroll Campbell and Democrat Max Heller. A 1996 report published by the National Jewish Democratic Council summarized the story:

“According to press accounts, Campbell commissioned a poll, conducted by the notorious GOP pollster Arthur Finkelstein, in which voters were asked their views of Campbell, who was described as ‘a native South Carolinian,’ and Heller, who was described as ‘a Jewish immigrant.’ The Campbell-Finkelstein poll also asked voters whether they approved or disapproved of U.S. aid to Israel, hardly a significant issue in the campaign except that it injected Heller's religion into the race and implied that, as a Jew, he would favor Israel over the U.S. Then just five days before the election, an independent candidate attacked Heller because Heller did not ‘believe in Jesus Christ.’ Heller lost by less than 6,000 votes. Years after the election it was revealed that there had been contact between the independent candidate and the Campbell campaign, leading some observers to believe that the independent candidate had entered the race at the behest of the Campbell campaign.”

His non-political clients have included Time Magazine, Scott Paper, McDonalds, Quaker Oats and the Trump Organization. This past summer, Finkelstein was hired by opponents of the new stadium on the West Side of Manhattan being proposed for the New York Jets football team to prepare anti-stadium advertisements. Finkelstein & Associates recently entered into a joint venture with Kidron Strategies to provide consulting services in Israel specifically focusing on the corporate and consumer markets.

In a rare interview in December 2004, with Boaz Gaon of Maariv, an Israeli daily newspaper, Finkelstein seemed to be suggesting that things may have shifted too far to the right in the U.S.: “The political centre has disappeared, and the Republican Party has become the party of the Christian right more so than in any other period in modern history,” he said.

“Bush's strategy secures the power of the American Christian right not only for this term,” Finkelstein said. “In fact, it secures its ability to choose the next Republican president.”

Finkelstein told Maariv that he was troubled by the strategy of dividing the country by “values of religion and culture.”

“Bush courted the evangelical vote,” he said, “and turned these elections, in fact, into a referendum on the religious and cultural nature of America. This is my problem.”

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Note From David Brock-

I wanted to make you aware of the latest video in the "Fox Attacks!" series -- "Fox Attacks: Iran" -- and urge you to join me in signing an open letter to the major cable and network news outlets.

The letter, which I have included below, asks the networks to take their journalistic responsibilities seriously and avoid making the same mistakes that were made in the lead-up to the war in Iraq.

Watch the video -- Take Action!

"My station was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at FOX News."

That is CNN's Christiane Amanpour explaining why the major television networks failed to accurately inform the public in the lead-up to the Iraq war, choosing instead to follow FOX's lead.

Now, FOX is beating the drums for war with Iran. Robert Greenwald's short film, "FOX Attacks: Iran", outlines the evidence from the station's own broadcasts, comparing their reporting before the Iraq war with what they are saying now about Iran.

You have a sacred responsibility to the American people to provide accurate and reliable information so we can best make the decisions which affect our lives. We urge you to accurately and thoroughly report all sides of this important story.

Please do not blindly follow FOX down the road to another war.

Please, take a moment to watch the video and take action. These influential cable and network news outlets need to know we are watching their next steps and will be here to make sure their reporting on Iran is accurate and thorough.

Watch the video -- Take Action!

Thank you for your continued support.


David Brock

David Brock,
President and CEO
Media Matters for America

Illegal Activity Of Bush And Cheney

The Washington Post has reported that Vice President Cheney's office acknowledged for the first time that they have documents on the illegal government wiretapping program instituted by the Bush Administration. The White House will NOT hand them over to Congressional investigators.

Here's a little something of what they're holding back:

Nonetheless, Coffin identified by date a series of memos and orders that "may be responsive" to the Senate committee's demands. They include 43 separate authorizations from President Bush for the program, which had to be renewed approximately every 45 days beginning on Oct. 4, 2001.

The letter also lists dates, from October 2001 through February 2005, for 10 legal memoranda from the Justice Department.
Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT), who is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has threatened to hold White House officials in contempt if they do not comply with Congressional subpoenas for documents. Given the lack of oversight of even this Congress, it's refreshing to see Senator Leahy still out there threatening legal action. I just wish someone would have the courage and impeach this corrupt administration already.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Blogger files FEC Complaint Against Fred Thompson

Progressive blogger Lane Hudson filed a complaint against Fred Thompson (R-TN) on Monday, accusing the former Senator of violating the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) “testing the waters” clause. The complaint argues that Thompson is running a full-blown campaign and should be held to the same regulations as the other candidates. ABC’s Jake Tapper writes, “The rule is pretty simple. If you spend more than $5,000 on campaign activities, you’re a candidate, whether or not you’ve officially declared. The question is what constitutes ‘testing the waters’ activity, and what constitutes ‘candidate’ activity.” Within five days of receiving the complaint, the FEC must notify the Thompson exploratory committee and provide it with a copy of the complaint. No word if this complaint will affect the telemarketing firm, InfoCisions fundraising efforts on Thompsons behalf.You can contact the FEC at (800) 424-9530.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Friendly Wal-Mart Watch

In the average American county, when a Wal-Mart opens, 250 people at nearby stores lose their jobs and four local businesses close entirely within five years. [Charles Fishman, The Wal-Mart Effect, 2006]

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Megan Pappada and Political Correctness

You hear a lot of talk about freedom of speech and about how horrible it is our current Leader, George W Bush is listening to our phone conversations and invading our privacy. But then, you have to wonder how serious those who say that it is so terrible are when they condemn, and caused to be fired, Megan Pappada. The Ohio Democratic Party fired her because as a freshman, she wrote a letter to the editor to her college newspaper over seven years ago basically, as someone commented, about segregated dorms.

It is interesting The Party that is trumpeting they are for the little man and Diversity, would choose to use the "You're with us or against Us" approach
simply because Megan's view of the world at 18 was out of step with the Official Party Line.

Does holding the point of view that Political Correctness is one of the worse things to come out of the late 80's and 90's make one less of Democrat? There is evidence that Political Correctness is one of the things that helped form the so-called Reagan Democrats. I do believe we live in a society where there are PC Police watching and waiting to punish for that cherished talk show guest filled moment when a public figure has a slip of the tongue or actually says what they mean. The Public Figure then has to pay homage to the likes of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and ask for their forgiveness. Unless you are Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh. Then you can say whatever you want, and the Democratic Party is silent, seemingly afraid of the Republican Noise Machine. It appears the case of Megan Pappada is just another example The Democratic Party only eating their own. Oh Megan we hardly knew thee.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sean Hannity Beats It Again (the Dead Horse)

During the August 15 edition of his ABC Radio Networks talk show, Sean Hannity agreed with a caller who argued that "Monica Lewinsky and all those other women that Bill Clinton raped were invisible to" Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY). The caller was referring to Sen. Clinton's recent campaign advertisement, in which she stated that families without healthcare "are invisible to this president." The caller added: "So, how can we expect her to see, you know, hundreds and thousands of Americans?" In response, Hannity said, "I wish I'd thought of that," and went on to ask, "[W]hat about all those women that accused her husband of being a serial abuser? Oh, she didn't pay any attention. Were they invisible?"

Beyond saying that he wished he had thought of the caller's smear against Clinton, in the past month, as Media Matters for America documented, Hannity has also suggested that, "[i]n the minds of some," there may have been "a motive for foul play" behind the death of former deputy White House counsel Vince Foster. Indeed, while teasing the segment on the July 22 edition of Fox News' Hannity's America, Hannity asked: "Did a close friend of Hillary Clinton commit suicide, or was it a massive cover-up?" But, although several conservative outlets have suggested that the Clintons were somehow involved in Foster's death -- as Media Matters has documented (here, here, and here) -- numerous investigations determined that his death was a suicide. The Office of the Independent Counsel -- then headed by Kenneth Starr -- completed its inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Foster's death with a report issued on October 11, 1997, which concluded that "based on investigation and analysis of the evidentiary record, that Mr. Foster committed suicide by gunshot in Fort Marcy Park."

Bye Bye Debbie

With voter discontent fueled by an historically unpopular Republican president, a bloody and botched war and a shaky economy, three of the top four Republican House leaders are heeding advice from the classic Monty Python version of King Arthur and his men: "Run away! Run away!" They have decided to bow out of the 2008 campaign. The latest is Rep. Deborah Pryce, who saw her once commanding control of Ohio's 15th Congressional District shrink to a 1,000 vote squeaker last November, due in large part to the working family vote. She joins former House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Rep. Ray LaHood in fleeing. Look out for the killer bunnies!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Backlash Over Book on Policy For Israel

Backlash Over Book on Policy for Israel "The notion that pro-Israel groups 'have anything like a uniform agenda, and that U.S. policy on Israel and the Middle East is the result of their influence, is simply wrong,' George P. Shultz, a former secretary of state, says. 'This is a conspiracy theory pure and simple, and scholars at great universities should be ashamed to promulgate it.'"

Israel, U.S. formally sign new defense agreement "Israel and the United States signed Thursday a Memorandum of Understanding on the new American defense package for Israel. Under the new aid agreement, the U.S. will transfer $30 billion to Israel over 10 years, compared with $24 billion over the past decade. The aid deal signed at represents a 25 percent rise in U.S. military aid to Israel. " US and Israel agree $30bn arms deal "At a signing ceremony in Jerusalem on Thursday, Nicholas Burns, US undersecretary of state, said the US would help Israel to maintain a military advantage over its enemies." US offers Israel $30bn in military aid "The Bush administration must still receive congressional approval for the aid deals, but Mr Burns said he believed there would be little opposition in the Senate and house to the Israeli package."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Parties' National Committees Are Raising Less

Although the presidential candidates are breaking fundraising records, the two party committees most focused on putting one of their candidates in the White House continue to report lower fundraising activity compared to 2005, the Federal Election Commission reported this week. The Democratic National Committee has brought in 8 percent less this year over the equivalent point in '05, with receipts declining from $31.3 million to $28.8 million, while the Republican National Committee dropped 25 percent, from $62.1 million in 2005 to $46.4 million so far this year. However, when including the parties' committees that are focused on winning House and Senate races, Democrats are faring better than they did two years ago at this time, the FEC said. Democratic committees overall have increased their fundraising by 29 percent, while together the Republican committees have experienced a 24 percent decrease.
*FEC analysis of party fundraising

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sign O' The Times

InfoCision Management Corporation is now fundraising for Fred Thompson for President. Fred Thompson has very close ties with another InfoCision client, David Bossie.
Fred Thompson is currently working on a new taped message that he hopes will keep you on the line long enough for the telemarketer to cut in and ask you for your donation. The campaign should be up and running next week.

The Akron Beacon Journal wrote about Joe Finley trying to make the case to vote for him in the upcoming election. I am still uncertain voting for Joe would be a good thing. The Mayor has done a heck of lot for the Akron in the brief time that I have been here. I really do not know enough about Joe to risk not voting for the Mayor at this point. I suggest Joe get some help from InfoCision to get his message out there...Maybe he can get Fred Thompson to record a nice taped message on why we should vote for him.

While people picketed in Highland Square against Albrecht Corp for not keeping to their contract to put a grocery store at the corner of N Portage Path and W Market; Nonunion workers picketed the Akron Public School Board against their use of Union workers. At the same time, nonunion mine workers are still missing in Utah and mine owner Bob Murray is still repeating the lie that a earthquake caused the cave in.

In Montrose, I noticed the sign outside the nonunion McDonald's. The sign said it was hiring up to $7.75 per hour. How can anyone afford rent and a car and health insurance at that wage? Is health insurance even a possibility? And yet our leaders say the jobs are out there, Americans just don't want to work them. But Americans do take those jobs. They take those jobs because they have no choice. They take the job because while they were "downsized". They take the job because the Christian Radicals now in the Oval Office allow corporations to replace those on strike with scabs. Americans take those jobs because our elected representatives have allowed corporation after corporation to move overseas- busting up pensions and forcing men and women to go from making $16 or more per hour to the McDonald,s wage of up to $7.75 per hour. They have allowed companies to use off shore mail boxes as the address for their corporate headquaters to avoid taxes.

Nonunion companies know they can treat their employees
any way they want because they are the Working Poor. The Working Poor can't go to the local employment attorney and pay them the retainer of a few thousand dollars to fight to get their pay when their pay checks are short, or forced to work unpaid through their break. Or when they sexually harassed or suffer from any other form of discrimination. The Working Poor live in fear of being fired for reporting unsafe working conditions. Nonunion companies bring down the standard of living of all of us. The signs of this are here for everyone to see.

More about Bob Murray

In 2003, when safety inspectors ordered the owner of a Utah coal mine where six workers have been trapped for more than a week to shut down one of his Ohio operations because of repeated safety problems, local press reports say he did not hesitate to flex his political muscle to get the inspectors off his back.

West Virginia Public Radio reporter Jeff Young filed a story at the time that said Murray Energy Corp. CEO Bob Murray had a meeting in Morgantown, W. Va. with Tim Thompson, then a district manager for the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Young obtained notes from the meeting which showed Murray threatening to have MSHA employees fired.

"I will have your jobs. They are gone. The clock is ticking," Young quotes Murray as saying at the meeting.

The notes then go on to say Murray dropped the name of a pair of powerful Republicans in order to underscore his own political clout.

"Mitch McConnell calls me one of the five finest men in America, and last time I checked he was sleeping with your boss," Murray told the inspectors, referring to the senior GOP senator from Kentucky. The quote was repeated in an Oct. 2006 Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader article on McConnell's political influence.

McConnell - the Republican leader in the Senate - is married to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, who oversees MSHA. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, McConnell has received $176,800 in campaign donations from mining interests since 2001.

Thompson was later transferred to an office away from Murray's mines, and retired from MSHA in 2006.

The Bush Administration denied that Murray played a role in Thomspon's reassignment.

Murray has personally donated $115,050 to Republican political candidates over the past three election cycles. He has given another $724,500 to the GOP over the past ten years through political action committees connected to his businesses.

"The ironic part is I am a Republican," Thompson told the Herald-Leader's John Cheves in October 2006. "But I don't think you should bring up politics in a meeting like that, involving safety."

A belt foreman at the mine in question - Powhatan No. 6 in Belmont County, Ohio - bled to death in 2001 after a conveyor belt had ripped off his arm.

A judge later ruled that the company had not been negligent in that case.

Murray's safety record has come under fire at several other mines he owns through at least a half dozen mining companies.

Mines owned by Murray's companies produce more than 20 million tons of coal annually, according to a tally by the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. His companies include Ohio Valley Coal Co., Maple Creek Mining, Inc., KenAmerican Resources, Inc., American Coal Co. and PennAmerican Coal.

Robert Gehrke at the Salt Lake Tribune reported over the weekend that Murray's Galatia mine in southern Illinois has racked up 2,787 violations over the past two years. MSHA has proposed more than $2.4 million in fines at Galatia, according to Gehrke's reporting.

Another Murray-owned company - Ken American Resources - and four of its top employees were convicted in a federal court in Kentucky of conspiring to violate federal mine safety rules.

A judge later threw out part of the verdict, but the company was ordered to pay $306,000 in fines, an amount federal prosecutors considered too lenient.

Speaking to The Huffington Post last week, a spokesman for the United Mine Workers of America labor union - which does not represent workers at the Crandall Canyon mine in Utah - called Murray a "volatile" personality who routinely opposed increased safety regulations.

"Anything that will cost Bob Murray any extra money he will find reason to find fault with it," said Phil Smith, the union's communications director.

Read More: Arianna Huffington on the media's misguided coverage of Bob Murray and the Utah mine collapse.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wal-Mart Fact of the Day

On July 24, 2006, “U.S. banking industry representatives pressed federal lawmakers to block a bid by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to open a bank, a move they say would damage the industry and blur the divide between banking and commerce”. The industry that was worried that Wal-Mart would “use the application as an entry point into full-service banking, a move they say would drive many banks out of business”. [Bloomberg News, July 25, 2006]

Karl Rove: ‘I’m Moby Dick.’

In an interview August 13th, Karl Rove said, “I’m realistic enough to understand that the subpoenas are going to keep flying my way. I’m Moby Dick and we’ve got three or four members of Congress who are trying to cast themselves in the part of Captain Ahab — so they’re going to keep coming.”

Monday, August 13, 2007

Where There's Media, Theres Fred.

Christian Radical Fred Phelps's "anti-gay hate group Westboro Baptist Church" is planning "protests at funerals of victims of the 35W bridge collapse to state that God made the bridge fall because he hates America, and especially Minnesota, because of its tolerance of homosexuality." Shortly after the bridge's collapse, the Westboro group put out a release headlined, "Thank God for Minneapolis Bridge Collapse." This instance is far not the first time Phelps has exploited calamity and catastrophe to promote his Radical Christian cause. In response to the July 2005 London attacks, Phelps posted a release stating, "Thank God for the bombing of London’s subway today -- July 7, 2005 -- wherein dozens were killed and hundreds seriously injured. Wish it was many more." Phelps's cult has also traveled the country disrupting military funerals, picketing dozens of burial services with messages such as "Thank God For AIDS" and "God Hates Fags." These "protests" forced Congress to pass the Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act in 2006, which "bars protests within 500 feet of a military cemetery from 60 minutes before to 60 minutes after a funeral if those protests involve disruptive noises or other disturbances." Banned from military funerals, Phelps is excited to be taking his agenda to the victims in Minneapolis. No word on whether InfoCision will be raising money for Westboro Baptist Church.

With A Little Help From Our Friends

“A chance discovery at Rome’s busy Fiumicino Airport led anti-Mafia investigators to a huge black-market transaction in which Iraqi and Italian partners haggled over shipping more than 100,000 Russian-made automatic weapons into Iraq.” Iraqi government officials were involved in the deal, apparently without the knowledge of the U.S. Baghdad command.

More On Rep. Bob Ney

According to new court documents, former Rep. Bob Ney’s (R-OH) chief of staff Will Heaton was secretly recording conversations with his boss in order to facilitate a federal investigation. “Heaton taped numerous phone calls and wore a hidden wire to a 2 1/2 -hour, face-to-face meeting with Ney that provided ‘exceptionally important’ help to the FBI’s investigation of Abramoff.”

The Need For Unions

The questions raised on workplace safety and unionization rights are now more pressing than ever in the wake of continuing efforts to recover six workers trapped in the collapsed Crandall Canyon mine owned by Murray Energy Corp,in Utah. Despite unions ensuring that miners work in safe environments, President Bush has gone to lengths to gut workplace safety standards and union strength. While the exact cause of the mine collapse is currently under debate, the tragedy has raised important questions about the safety standards of the miners that have been neglected under the Bush administration. The Crandall Canyon mine, which employed non-union labor, has run up "a record of more than 300 safety violations, of which 118 were considered to be serious enough to cause injury or death." The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) union is sharply critical of the mine's safety record. "If it were one of our union mines, we wouldn't allow the pattern to continue," said Bob Butero of the UMWA, noting that an effort to organize mine workers failed six or seven years ago. Mine owner Bob Murray (pictured)-- who yesterday boasted about his "non-union mine" -- is notorious among miners for his union-busting history. After 13 miners were trapped and killed in the Sago mine in West Virginia in early 2006, Murray attacked proposed state safety reforms as "seriously flawed, knee-jerk" reactions. In Ohio, he refused to hire union workers because of their "costly health and pension benefits"; in another operation, he paid his workers "less than $3 an hour." At a press briefing yesterday, Murray used a media appearance to criticize global warming proponents, and only later "emphasized that his heart and his priorities are with the trapped miners and their families." He urged the press to "not believe anything [the UMWA] says about the disaster." Mine safety standards have plummeted under the Bush administration. Last year, 40 miners were killed on the job, more than any year since 2001. Early in his administration, Bush appointed mining executive David Lauriski to head the Mine Safety Health Administration (MSHA), who then rescinded "more than a half-dozen proposals intended to make coal miners' jobs safer." In 2006, Bush recess-appointed former Murray Energy executive Richard Stickler, whom the Senate had twice rejected because the mines he managed "incurred injury rates double the national average." In March 2007, the AFL-CIO warned that MSHA was "moving too slowly on mine safety" and that "another Sago [is] possible."The Utah tragedy "happened too soon" for reforms after Sago to be implemented, as "government-mandated changes involving communication and tracking equipment do not take effect until 2009." "Manufacturing delays" prevented the Utah mine from stockpiling the required four days of food, water and oxygen. "In all, the Bush administration abandoned or delayed implementation of 18 proposed safety rules that were in the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration's regulatory pipeline in early 2001, a review of agency records shows." Nonetheless, Stickler believes that "no new laws or regulations are needed." Several of Bush's top regulatory appointments -- from Susan Dudley to Michael Baroody (who later withdrew his nomination) -- are industry allies who oppose stringent worker and consumer safety requirements. In April, a New York Times expose showed how the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "charged with overseeing workplace safety," has placed safety "in the hands of industry." The agency "had killed dozens of existing and proposed regulations and delayed adopting others" by the end of 2001, and it has since "vowed to limit new rules and roll back what it considered cumbersome regulations that imposed unnecessary costs on businesses and consumers." From opposing the Employee Free Choice Act to appointing "easily the most anti-worker labor board in history," the Bush administration has denied the right to organize to at least "8 million workers in 200 occupations."