April 29, 2005
Spring Is Here And They're Playing Hardball In Washington
Washington, D.C., after a 34-year absence, has another major league baseball team: the Washington Nationals. The team is the transplanted Montreal Expos, doormat of the National League for many years. The newly christened Nationals are enjoying their new home and are playing pretty good hardball. Unfortunately for the Republicans, there is another pretty good hardball team in Washington these days: the Democrats of the 109th Congress.
In sports, it is often the case that a team with inferior talent can dominate a team with superior skills because of intangibles like teamwork, desire, perseverance, and that little thing known as ‘heart.’ It is becoming more and more apparent that the Democrats, and, to a lesser extent, the Nationals, have found a winning combination of those intangible attributes. The Nationals, at 11-11, are not necessarily going to the playoffs, but are playing some inspired baseball. The Democrats, on the other hand, are playing flawlessly. Using teamwork, a good game plan, and a never say die attitude, they look like they are ready for the World Series. Skippered by co-managers Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the Democrats, with a willingness to do whatever is necessary to win, are swinging for the fences.
Meanwhile, the muscle-bound Republicans, with their great ideas and all-star line-up, are struggling to stay in the Major Leagues. The Republicans remind me of the 1962 NY Mets. An expansion team, the now infamous Mets, with an aging Casey Stengel at the helm, had the likes of former all-stars Richie Ashburn and Gil Hodges; colorful players like ‘Marvelous’ Marv Throneberry and Choo Choo Coleman; and a cast of other relatively talented players like Frank Thomas and Charlie Neal gracing their lineup. Nevertheless, the Mets lost 120 games while winning only 40. There were many days when it was difficult to tell which team the Mets were playing for. It took 8 years, a new manager, and a new attitude to get them to the World Series.
One of the highlights for those hapless 1962 Mets occurred when ‘Marvelous’ Marv, the team's first baseman, hit a shot off the wall in the Polo Grounds. Never noted as a speedster, Marv nevertheless 'flew' around the bases and ended up at third base with an apparent triple. As he was standing on third base, the opposing team threw the ball to the second baseman, claiming Marv hadn't touched second base on his way to third and was therefore out. As Mets’ manager Stengel roared onto the field to dispute the call, Solly Hemus, the Mets' third base coach, stopped him. Hemus told Stengel not to bother arguing the call at second base, because, as it turns out, ‘Marvelous’ Marv had missed first base as well.
In many respects, the Republicans in Congress are much like those Amazin' Mets. They show up every day to play with good intentions. Unfortunately, for the American public, they seem to have no teamwork, no game plan to carry out the good ideas, and someone is always missing either first base or second base on the way to third.
The saga of the Republican team is long and troubled over the past decade. While the Democrats, to a man, stood shoulder to shoulder with President and Hillary Clinton during their scandals, and to everyone's amazement, ultimately won the argument with a few Republicans actually playing with the opposing team. Republicans Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott and Bob Livingston all missed a base after hitting a shot off the wall and no one on their team was willing or able to kick some dirt on the umpires' shoes on their behalf. Instead, all three were ejected from the game for unsportsmanlike like conduct.
Currently Tom DeLay is in the batter’s box, John McCain is in the on deck circle, and Bill Frist is 'in the hole.' If history is any indication, Tom ‘Terrific’ will hit a towering drive that will ultimately fall just short of the center field fence, landing harmlessly in the centerfielder's glove. McCain will hit a tiny pop foul to the third baseman, and Frist is going to hit a dribbler to the shortstop who will throw him out at first base 'by a mile.' There will be no smash line drives up the middle that just miss the pitcher's head; there will be no hard hit balls to the left field corner; there will not even a well placed bunt for a base hit. The Republicans are having a hard time just getting their bats on the ball. In fact, they may end up holding the league record for most strikeouts during the regular season.
The Republicans have great uniforms, bats with lightning in them, and potential golden glove candidates at almost every position, but the well-coached Democratic team with less talent seems as if it will prevail on Social Security, the judicial and the United Nations nominations, and even the budget fight. Right now, neither team is willing to play the illegal immigration game. That game will eventually be played, but only because overwhelmed state infrastructures and bankrupt state coffers force the two teams to play.
The Republicans: do not have a winning attitude; are not playing as a team; and, are not swinging for the fences. They are destined to end up like the 1962 Mets - in the cellar with the league's worst won-lost record. The Republicans need a manager like Billy Martin, former Yankees great who served as both a player and manager. Billy 'The Kid" knew that 'winning isn't everything...it's the only thing,' and he was willing to do whatever it took to win. Unfortunately, Billy Martin is unavailable, having died in 1989, and neither of the Republican co-managers, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) or Senate majority leader Bill Frist (R-TN), have the temperament to win, much less win at all costs, as the Democrats do.
April 27, 2005
I hope you enjoy this poem as much as I do. I first received a handwritten copy of Desiderata (Latin for "things to be desired") in 1970, and have had a copy of it in my work space for many years. It was noted on my copy that the poem, dated 1692, and written by an unknown author, had been discovered in Old St. Paul's Church, Baltimore.
When I decided to put it up on my blog, I did a Google search of the poem to make sure that I had a correct copy. It was then I discovered that, although some reference books still claim Desiderata is thought to have been 'found' in Old St. Paul's Church in Baltimore, Maryland, Max Ehrmann (1872-1945), a poet and lawyer from Terre Haute, Indiana, had apparently written the poem. Mr. Ehrmann copyrighted the poem in 1927, and, in 1954, his widow, Bertha K. Ehrmann, renewed the copyright. At her death in 1962, Max's widow bequeathed the copyright to her nephew, Richmond Wight, who subsequently assigned it to Robert L. Bell (dba Crescendo Publishing Company) in 1971, for an undisclosed fee. Unfortunately for Mr. Bell, a federal district court ruled on July 16, 1975, that Mr. Ehrmann had forfeited his right to have the copyright protected and the poem was now in the public domain. In a ruling on May 14, 1976, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's decision. Later that year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the 7th Circuit Court's ruling. You can read more about the history of Desiderata here.
April 23, 2005
Senator McCain And The Dark Side - Soul For Sale
It has been rumored that Senator John McCain (R-AZ) would like to run once again for President in 2008. There is, however, a problem with Senator McCain as a national Republican candidate. He is a moderate in an increasingly conservative party. Furthermore, when it comes to crunch time, the Republicans just can't count on him.
Senator McCain’s latest defection came during an appearance on CBS' Face The Nation on Sunday April 10, 2005, when he declared that he was against changing Senate rules to prohibit filibusters of President Bush’s judicial nominations. He left his ultimate vote open with the caveat, "Yes, but I will listen to our leadership." If this betrayal of the Republican Party comes to fruition, it will be a pretty good indication that McCain has gone over to the dark side permanently. The Republicans will survive his defection. The question for McCain to answer is: Can I survive as a Republican if I vote against this rule change? I think the distinguished Senator already knows the answer.
After Senator John F. Kerry (D-MA) secured the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2004, it was reported that Kerry approached McCain to be his running mate, although both men deny it. True or not, war hero and former POW McCain could never have supported Kerry because of Kerry’s anti-war positions, questionable military career, and uninspired service as Senator from Massachusetts.
Furthermore, if he lost as Kerry’s running mate, McCain’s political career would have been virtually over. Unable to continue as a Republican in the Senate, he would have been relegated to the backbench as a Democrat in the Republican controlled Senate. (A nightmare scenario for the proud and powerful Senator.)
Sure to lose if he ran against incumbent President Bush and unwilling to support John 'I Have A Plan' Kerry, Senator McCain had few options in 2004, but he understands politics and realized his power could only be preserved by remaining a Republican in the Republican controlled Senate. He decided to bide his time as a Republican Senator and wait until the next Presidential election. He even surprised many by campaigning for incumbent President Bush, though there was thought to be no love lost between the two men.
Quite possibly, the reported invitation to be Kerry’s running mate, if only a figment of some reporter’s overactive imagination, inspired something in McCain.
McCain must realize that, based on his 2000 Presidential bid, he cannot win the Republicans' nomination in 2008. He knows he is too moderate/liberal for conservative Republicans to support realizes his best chance to further his political career in the 2008 is on the Democratic ticket.
He also knows full well that Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), odds on Democratic Presidential nominee in 2008, is a terribly polarizing candidate who will not garner enough independents and moderate Republicans to win on her own. The Democratic nomination is Hillary’s for the asking. The question for Hillary to answer is: What do I need to do to get elected? Hillary knows she has to run to the middle and she is attempting to position herself there. On the other hand, McCain is already in the middle. He can attract the moderate support Hillary needs, and he can believably support the former first lady, especially in her new, more moderate incarnation.
This defection from the Republicans in the filibuster fight, should it come to pass, will be only the first real salvo. Soon thereafter, McCain will declare that he has sold his soul to the dark side, the price being a place on the Democratic ticket in 2008. Vice-president may be the closest McCain will ever come to the White House, but I believe he is a realist and even he is smart enough to figure this one out.
Senator Clinton, on the other hand, may not realize it yet, but her success or failure in 2008 may hinge on whom she chooses as a running mate. Clinton/McCain sounds pretty formidable to me and would very likely carry the day. It could be only be a matter of time before Hillary, the smartest woman on earth according to the Kool-Aid drinkers, figures it out too.
Senator Dayton Endorses Hillary For President - Does Anybody Care?
The 2008 Presidential election is already heating up. The Star Tribune is reporting that Senator Mark 'Beam Me Up' Dayton (D-MN) has apparently endorsed former first lady, now Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), much to the chagrin of failed Presidential candidate Senator John Kerry (D-MA). Senator 'BMU' Dayton, who has decided not to run for re-election in 2006, has shown himself to be the wackiest Senator on Capitol Hill and couldn't get elected as the proverbial dog catcher much less as Senator again. Therefore, an endorsement from him carries little, if any, weight, except perhaps among the other tinfoil hat aficionados in the Democratic Party. Kerry, perhaps nearly as delusional as Dayton, has hopes of running against a Republican he can beat in 2008. I don't know if the Republicans can nominate someone that bad, but, if they manage to find another Bob Dole, anything is possible.
April 21, 2005
Hillary Seems Above The Fray While Others Take The Fall
Allegations that former President Clinton and former first lady, now Senator, Hillary Clinton took more than $2 million in illegal donations from foreign nationals and then misreported them continue to swirl about. Additionally, the Senator's campaign is being investigated for misreporting the cost of fund-raising events in an effort to reclassify so-called 'soft money' contributions as 'hard money' contributions.
Most of the MSM seems to be focusing on Tom DeLay's questionable fact-finding trips, while remaining predictably silent on these quite serious allegations.
So far, only campaign staffers have been indicted for the alleged campaign improprieties that include bank fraud charges and making false statements to federal authorities.
You can read more about this in today's New York Sun.
All That Jazz!!
Last night I was watching "Blue Note: A Story Of Modern Jazz" on the Encore - Drama channel. Known for superior quality recordings, Blue Note was the famous independent record label formed by German immigrants Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff in 1939. The label produced a majority of the jazz recordings in America from its inception until 1965, when it was sold to Liberty Records. Blue Note, now a division of Capitol Records has changed over the years. While reissuing many of the great jazz recordings of the past, its current roster of artists includes not only great jazz instrumentalists such as Wynton Marsalis and Greg Osby, but contemporary vocalists like Norah Jones, Al Green, Van Morrison and Anita Baker as well.
If you have read my bio you know I live in Las Vegas which is not really known as a jazz mecca. However, Las Vegas has had a few pretty good jazz venues over the years, and when they opened, I usually went a few times. I also have a few jazz albums (CD's) but, for the most part, they remain unplayed. It seems I just don't have a great appreciation for jazz.
In the Blue Note documentary, former basketball superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who also happens to be a huge (no pun intended) jazz aficionado, explained Americans' appreciation for jazz as follows:
The reason that Europeans could see something in jazz and Americans couldn't is the fact that anything that blacks in America have created or tried to offer to the culture at large has always been minimized and ridiculed. White people in America, they could only see jazz as bordello music because that is the only time they ever encountered it and that image stuck. So people from Europe who did not have the racist bias of Americans could come and see something that was incredibly creative and artistic, and they saw an opportunity to exploit it commercially and in doing so, helped a lot of these artists survive. If it was not for them, it might have always been thought of as bordello music.
As I listened to this it seemed that his comments could be interpreted a few different ways: 1) You have no appreciation of jazz because you haven't been to enough bordellos. 2) Europeans have been to a lot more bordellos and that is why they have a greater appreciation of jazz. 3) The Europeans were merely exploiting the black jazz musicians. 4) You are a racist and, because you are a racist, decided not to buy any jazz records in an effort to keep the black musicians from succeeding.
I may be naive (that, in and of itself, may explain why I don't like jazz) but, I don't believe that any of the above explanations really apply to me. It could be I am just not sophisticated enough to appreciate jazz, but what it really boils down to is: I just don't get it. And, if you want to know a secret, I don't get Picasso either.
April 20, 2005
O Canada! - New World Power?
Canada's socialist government has decided that it needs more influence in the world. To this end, they are planning increasing their military spending $10 billion in the next 5 years. The increased spending will be used to add 5,000 troops, more helicopters and more ships to their already underextended military. Canada doesn't really need their existing troops, much less 5,000 new ones. Perhaps they're going to use the new troops to guard against all the illegal immigrants flooding into Canada across their southern border.
Prime Minister Paul Martin, not content with the current redistributuon of weatlh within Canada, would also like to extend the redistribution to the rest of the world by doubling Canada's foreign aid in the next 5 years.
Sounds to me like somebody in Canada has been reading about the old Soviet system of 5-year plans the USSR used to effectuate change.
And how does PM Martin plan on paying for all this new found influence? Canadian taxes, already some of the highest in the world, seem to have nowhere to go but up. On second thought, perhaps the additional troops will be used to keep Canadian taxpayers from fleeing the oppressive taxation.
The Washington Post has an article posted today detailing Martin's desire for additional power.
April 19, 2005
The Democrats And Ethics Fit Together Like O.J. And The Glove
I am amazed by the Democrats sudden concern for ethics in government.
Wasn't it just six short years ago that their great leader, President and adulterer-in-chief William Jefferson 'Billy Bob' Clinton, had his own private intern/paramour, Miss Lewinsky, in the White House, and then lied about it under oath? Yet when it came time to show their outrage, to let everyone know that it was not acceptable for the most powerful man in the world to use his position to take advantage of a lowly female intern, only 5 out of 206 Democrats in the House Of Representatives voted to impeach Billy Bob! When the vote was taken in the Senate, not one Democrat voted to convict Billy Bob, NOT ONE!
The Democratic Party is also the home of Robert 'KKK' Byrd. Sheets, as he is affectionately known, has been a Democratic Senator since 1959, and Senate Democrats thought so highly of the former klansman from West Virginia they elected him as their leader in the Senate for 12 years - January 1977, through December 1988. (He served as Senate Majority Leader six years (1977-80, 1987-88) and as Senate Minority Leader six years (1981-86).) It must make the klan proud to see one of its own do so well.
Most decent people who, after a day of drinking (July 18, 1969), had killed a young woman (Mary Jo Kopechne) in an automobile accident and then walked away without reporting it until the next morning would resign from public life and reflect on the error of their ways, but not the esteemed Democratic Senator Edward M. 'Chappaquiddick' Kennedy. Teddy, elected to the Senate in 1962 to finish the term of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, has been the pride and joy of the Democratic Party for the past 43 years. It should be noted that a week after the incident, Kennedy, who arrived in court wearing a neck brace, plead guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and was given a two-month suspended sentence and a year's probation. Ouch!
And then we have Hillary...you know, President Billy Bob's beloved wife and stock market whiz, who, with the help of her broker, Robert L. "Red" Bone and her friend James B. Blair, an experienced futures trader and chief attorney for Tyson Foods, turned a $1,000 investment into $100,000 in ten short months trading in cattle futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. It should be noted that Hillary began her commodities trading just weeks before her husband won election as governor in November 1978, and Tyson Foods was and is one of Arkansas's most powerful and highly regulated companies. Can you say, Hedging your bet?
You know, the authoress Hillary, who received an $8 million advance from Simon & Schuster, a subsidiary of media conglomerate Viacom, just weeks before she was sworn in as Senator from New York.
Reed Irvine and Cliff Kincaid writing for Accuracy In Media reported on January 23, 2001:
Alfred S. Regnery, president of Regnery Publishing, says the advance is so unusually large and the arrangement is so vague that the book deal constitutes a gift designed to influence a U.S. Senator.
First, he says it's doubtful that the publisher can recoup the advance. He says Simon & Schuster would have to sell 2 million copies of Mrs. Clinton's book in order to do so, and that's remote. Second, the publisher got no written proposal for what's going to be in the book. That, too, is unusual. And third, the advance -- all in one lump sum - is unusual. He says publishers typically give advances in installments, after they have seen what's in the book as it's being written. He says this gives the publisher the ability to know that the book will generate sales. The arrangement has all the earmarks of an illegal gift to Mrs. Clinton designed to influence her treatment of Viacom's business deals coming before the Senate and federal regulators.
It seems that having Democrats on the House Ethics Committee is a lot like having Libya, Syria and Sudan on the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
April 18, 2005
Girls Just Want To Have Fun
Ann Coulter is on the cover of this week's TIME magazine!
What's the world coming to?
April 16, 2005
Wildcats 1 - Songbirds 0
Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle says his state is not going to succumb to public pressure to alleviate or at least reduce the wild (feral) cat population that is wreaking havoc on the songbirds in the state. An article at Yahoo! News estimated the wild cats kill between 47 million and 139 songbirds in Wisconsin each year. A report at ABC News estimated that the cats killed between 8 and 217 million songbirds each year, but said they thought the actual total was probably closer to 39 million. (These estimates obviouly need a little fine tuning, but no matter how you look at it, that's a lot of birds.)
This tidbit from the Yahoo! News article was quite amusing:
Animal rights groups belittled the idea as inhumane and dangerous.
I wonder how the birds who are being killed by the cats feel about this. (South Dakota and Minnesota currently allow hunting of wild cats and the songbirds are much happier there.)
April 14, 2005
Democrats Smell Blood In The Water - Oops! Some Of It Is Theirs!
Tom DeLay (R-TX) is under fire by the left for hiring his wife and daughter to work for his PAC. Apparently they have been paid nearly $500,000 over the last four years. In an April 14, 2005, LA Times article staff writers Richard Simon, Chuck Neubauer and Rone Tempest report:
DeLay, a Texas Republican, has defended the payments to his wife, Christine, and his daughter, Danielle DeLay Ferro, saying his family members provided valuable service to his campaign. They received $473,801 over the last two election cycles, records show.
It is reported in the same article that Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the liberal lip and paragon of virtue from California, also believes in lining the family coffers on the public's dime, yet there is nary a word of criticism from her Congressional colleagues reported anywhere in the MSM.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) paid her son, a lawyer, $130,000 over four years to run her political action committee, according to her campaign filings.
In an article written last June, 2004, by another LA Times staff writer, Chuck Neubauer, it was reported that not only are family members running PAC's, but family members are also lobbying Congress and getting paid handsomely to do so.
Like many sisters, Tanya Rahall talks to her brother often. But unlike most sisters, she gets paid handsomely to do it.
Rahall makes $15,000 a month lobbying Congress for the tiny Arab country of Qatar. And the person she frequently lobbies is Rep. Nick J. Rahall II (D-W.Va.), her older brother and one of Qatar's biggest champions in Washington.
Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has called for a review of ethics rules for lobbyists, following stories detailing legislation he sponsored that benefited clients of his sons and son-in-law.
And there is so much more!
Evan Lehmann, of the MediaNews Group, Washington Bureau, reports in Vermont's Bennington Banner on the lone socialist/communist in Congress, Rep. Bernard Sanders of Vermont:
Rep. Bernard Sanders used campaign donations to pay his wife and stepdaughter more than $150,000 for campaign-related work since 2000, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Jane O'Meara Sanders, his wife, received $91,020 between 2002 and 2004 for "consultation" and for negotiating the purchase of television and radio time-slots for Sanders' advertisements, according to records and interviews.
Approximately $61,000 of that was "pass through" money that was used to pay media outlets for advertising time, Jane O'Meara Sanders said in an interview. The rest, about $30,000, she kept as payment for her services, she said.
Carina Driscoll, daughter to Jane O'Meara Sanders and stepdaughter to the lawmaker, earned $65,002 in "wages" between 2000 and 2004, campaign records show.
And the reports continue:
Eamon Javers reporting for MSN Money, August 8, 2003, wrote:
Lobbyist Chet Lott reported around $330,000 in billings from his clients in 2002. He lives in Kentucky, where he's owned several Domino's pizza franchises and plays on a polo team. He also happens to be the son of former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi.
There is a list attached to this article detailing relatives of high profile Congressmen who lobby, including Ruth Harkin, who is married to Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), and David Lugar, son of Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN).
SFGate.com has another list of lawmakers with relatives on their congressional or campaign staffs.
Of course, one of the most notable lobbyists on K Street is former Senate minority leader (and majority leader, at different times) Tom Daschle's lovely wife, former Miss Kansas, Linda Hall Daschle. A lobbyist since 1997, Ms. Daschle works for Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC (headed by former GOP Senate leader and ex–Reagan chief of staff Howard Baker and ranked by The National Law Journal in 2004 as one of the 10 fastest growing law firms in the U.S.) as a lobbyist for the airline industry. But because former Senator Daschle (D-SD) has steadfastly refused to release his income tax returns, it is difficult to know to what extent the family coffers were filled while he was trudging through the halls of Congress for a measly $171,900 per annum. David Freddoso writing in WorldNetDaily reported in May 2002:
Clients for whom Mrs. Daschle is listed as a lobbyist have paid her firm approximately $5.8 million since 1997 – although that number is also only a rough estimate, since the federal lobbying law requires that lobbying firms estimate their fees from each client to the nearest $20,000 every six months. On their 2001 financial disclosure form, the Daschles reported that their publicly traded assets (primarily mutual funds) were worth between $197,000 and $730,000.
Interestingly, Mrs. Daschle is not only an important asset to her customers because of her expertise but is valued for her access to insider information as this quote from her employer's press release notes:
While Linda's experience and effectiveness are important to her clients, there is another reason they value her service – her frequent reporting of insider intelligence. Linda scours the news coming out of Washington each day for developments of concern to her clients and reports to them on what she learns. "We put a premium on keeping our clients informed," she says. "We do not want our clients to be caught by surprise by something that the federal government might do."Eamon Javers, from the previously linked article in MSN Money, August 8, 2003, also wrote this about the Daschles:
Nonetheless, her work as a lobbyist means big companies with business on Capitol Hill can legally put money into Tom Daschle's bank account.
It gets even more complicated. Tom Daschle's daughter-in-law is also a registered lobbyist. Married to the senator’s son Nathan, Jill Gimmel Daschle is a political fundraiser by profession: She served as finance director for the 2000 re-election campaign of Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and worked for former Democratic New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen's 2002 senate campaign.
She has her own small company, JD Consulting. And through her connection to the political firm Sullivan & Baldick, she worked as a lobbyist for Northwest Airlines (NWAC, news, msgs) and Freddie Mac (FRE, news, msgs).
She's not making a career out of lobbying, and she doesn’t intend to lobby next year. Should Jill Daschle be required to disclose her clients and her relationship to the senator? And should she be prohibited from lobbying her father-in-law’s office? As it stands, she doesn't have to reveal the family connection, and there’s no prohibition on lobbying him, although the senator’s office says that she hasn’t.
Daschle was defeated in the 2004 election but we won't need to worry about him applying for unemployment benefits anytime soon. Tommy, as his friends call him, has been recruited to go to work for the prestigious firm of Alston & Bird as a special adviser in the law firm's legislative and public policy group. It should be noted that he was recruited to the firm by former Senator Bob Dole, who, at 81, uses his name and influence to earn somewhere between $800,000 and $1,000,000 per year, and whose wife is Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC). Perhaps Tommy will now be able to help his wife with the mortgage on their $2 million home on Washington’s tony Foxhall Road.
In an article published March 14, 2005, in the Washington Post, staff writer Christopher Lee reported:
The revolving door is just spinning out of control these days," said Craig Holman, legislative representative for Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group.
Holman said that in the 1970s only about 3 percent of retiring members of Congress wound up in K Street law and lobbying firms. These days, the figure is more like 32 percent, he said, in part fueled by the dramatic increase in pay for such positions.
The point is that there are many members of Congress - Republicans, Democrats, and even a Socialist - who are enriching their families through the power and prestige of their elected office. Our elected officials are hiring their family members to manage political campaigns; manage PAC's; and lobby the halls of Congress while they slave away as public servants. Then, when the Congressmen retire, they parlay their influence into huge golden parachutes for themselves. I wouldn't mind seeing this cleaned up, but to single out Tom DeLay for hiring a couple relatives is certainly selective persecution.
April 13, 2005
Pope John Paul II - A Legacy
Pope John Paul II, the 264th pope in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, has been laid to rest after the largest funeral in the history of mankind, and the Vatican and various groups within the Church are busy burnishing the late pontiff's legacy. I am struck, however, by the silence of most MSM, and even the bloggers, in any honest, rational evaluation of his papacy.
Since the death of Pope John Paul II, criticism of him or the Church of any kind has been verboten. Prior to the funeral, CNN's Christiane Amanpour had the audacity to point out that this Pope during his papacy had been largely inaccessible to the media. Ms. Amanpour was roundly excoriated for even a criticism as benign as that. How dare she! Yet, when the dust settles, I believe the legacy of Pope John Paul II, beloved as he was, will be viewed by historians as shortsighted; generally hurtful to the Church in general; and even disastrous for Catholicism in many parts of the world.
In the last one hundred years, the world has seen fantastic advances in mathematics and science, medicine, human rights, quality of life, and the education of mankind in general. There has been progress made in virtually every aspect of our lives, yet Pope John Paul II, seen within the Catholic Church as a defender of traditional faith, was content to advocate the status quo for over a quarter of that time.
To his credit, Pope John Paul II was a staunch advocate for peace in the world. He spoke out against communism in the late 1970's and into the 1980's, and his visits to Poland can be given some credit for rise of Solidarity and the demise of the communist regime there.
During his papacy, Pope John Paul II traveled almost 700,000 miles, visiting 129 countries, with huge crowds greeting him at every stop. During his funeral mass there were calls by some of the mourners for immediate sainthood for their late pontiff. He was loved and revered by the faithful everywhere.
For the Church's sake, it would have been nice to have had a pope who was good at more than pressing the flesh. History will record, after time and reflection, that the vision one might expect from a great leader was sorely lacking during Pope John Paul II's papacy. This lack of vision left a legacy in which there were three major deficiencies.
Change is often a hard thing to accept and the ability to envision and implement change is incrementally more difficult. People often rail against change when it is thrust upon them. Some people are dragged kicking and screaming to it. Sadly, change to Pope John Paul II was only the coins jangling around in the offertory. There was virtually no substantive change within the Church that he was prepared to embrace.
With the advent of HIV and AIDS in the early 1980's, Pope John Paul II's conservative, even medieval, viewpoints concerning birth control were shortsighted at the very least, and undoubtedly catastrophic, for an untold multitude. Even as the the HIV/AIDS epidemic raced across the African continent, this pope remained steadfast in his belief that the Church should promote the traditional values of abstinence and faithfulness (certainly worthwhile positions), and refused to allow the Church to sanction, much less the promote, the usage of condoms. This unyielding, traditional doctrine ultimately condemned many thousands of men, women, and children to slow, horrific, unnecessary deaths, with many more to follow in the coming years.
The Catholic News Service, in an article written by Carol Glatz, reported that Pope John Paul II, "from his 10th-floor room at Gemelli hospital" just four weeks before his death, "personally delivered a written message to Tanzanian Cardinal Polycarp Pengo of Dar es Salaam and Bishop Severine Niwemugizi of Rulenge." The the Vatican released the message on March 11, 2005, and the Catholic News Service quoted the message in part:
Programs that link economic aid to family planning are "affronts to the dignity of the person and the family" and must be resisted, Pope John Paul II said in a written message to bishops from Tanzania.
"The unjust practice of linking programs of economic assistance to the promotion of sterilization and contraception must be strenuously resisted," he wrote.
Such programs "threaten to undermine the authentic Christian understanding of the nature and purpose of marriage," which must always be open to the generation of new life, said the text.
Part of the church's response to this epidemic must be to communicate that "fidelity within marriage and abstinence outside it are the only sure ways to limit the further spread of the infection," the pope wrote.
The Catholic News Service article went on to note that:
An estimated 2 million of Tanzania's 32 million people are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Seventy percent of those infected with HIV/AIDS worldwide live in Africa.
The National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department Of Health And Human Services reported in July 2004:
As of the end of 2003, an estimated 37.8 million people worldwide - 35.7 million adults and 2.1 million children younger than 15 years - were living with HIV/AIDS. Approximately two-thirds of these people (25.0 million) live in Sub-Saharan Africa; another 20 percent (7.4 million) live in Asia and the Pacific.
Worldwide, approximately 11 of every 1000 adults aged 15 to 49 are HIV-infected. In Sub-Saharan Africa, about 7.5 percent of all adults in this age group are HIV-infected.
An estimated 4.8 million new HIV infections occurred worldwide during 2003; that is, about 14,000 infections each day. More than 95 percent of these new infections occurred in developing countries.
Yet the Roman Catholic Church, in the face of these horrific statistics, forbids the use of condoms in its doctrine.
In the United States, the proclivity of many priests to molest little boys went seemingly unnoticed by this papacy, the silence from Rome almost deafening. The child molestation scandal and the ensuing cover-up by the hierarchy has driven many congregants from the Church. At the present time, it is estimated that only 25% of Catholics in the United States attend mass on a weekly basis and, in the areas where the abuse was the greatest, the financial cost has driven many dioceses to the verge of bankruptcy.
When Cardinal Bernard F.Law of Boston, who swept the child molestations under the rug by moving the perpetrators around from one parish to another in effect allowing them to molest even more children, tendered his resignation under the weight of waning attendance, a lack of contributions, and a multitude of lawsuits, Pope John Paul II inexplicably named him archpriest of the patriarchal Basilica of St. Mary Major, one of the four major basilicas of Rome.
The seemingly indefensible appointment of Cardinal Law to such a prestigious position, albeit a largely ceremonial one, came only two days after the Archdiocese of Boston announced it was closing 65 parishes due, in large part, to the financial crunch caused by the scandal. It has been reported that the payouts to the sexual abuse victims in the Boston Archdiocese alone totaled close to $85 million dollars.
The parish closings created a second group of victims - the parishoners who would now have to deal in their own way with the scandal’s aftermath.
There was also a third group of victims in this case - the good priests who were now looked upon with a modicum of suspicion every time they may have been left alone with a young boy.
But it gets worse! Shortly after the death of Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Piero Marini, the Vatican's chief liturgist, announced that Cardinal Law had been inexplicibly chosen by his fellow cardinals to preside at the fourth of nine days of funeral masses being held in St. Peter's Basilica for the late Pope. Each cardinal who officiates during the Novendiales (nine days) is supposed to represent some important ancient or contemporary aspect of the Church.
This scandal has sorely stained the reputation of the Catholic Church and it will be many, many years before the Church is able to regain the trust of the flock. The questions remain: 1) Why was there such a silence from the Vatican about the child molestations? 2) Why was Cardinal Law promoted when he should have been shown the door? One can only speculate why Pope John Paul II did not accept Cardinal Law's resignation and proclaim Good riddance!, but promoting a co-conspiritor in the molestations to such a position only adds salt to the wounds of all the victims.
And finally, the Church, under the leadership of Pope John Paul II, has continued to deny women a voice, much less an equal voice, in the celebration of the Catholic faith. During the the last quarter century, women have risen to the task of leading congregations in virtually every Christian religion, except, notably, at the Roman Catholic alter. The Jewish faith has even recognized female rabbis. The Catholic Church, however, has steadfastly refused to allow women to rise above the second class status of the habit, forcing them to remain silent, prostrate to the priests and the Church.
Pope John Paul II seemed to be a very nice man. I'm sure that he did what he felt in his heart was right for the Catholic Church. The fact is that while he was able to travel like no other pope in history had, his travel is really the only remarkable thing about his papacy. Unfortunately, he didn't make the hard choices, but opted instead to bury himself in the doctrines of the past and hence the Church was not well served.
Every religion including Catholicism should be: a place where men and women have an equal voice; a place where reason will outweigh doctrine when it comes to the ravages of a disease such as HIV/AIDS; and a place where the the leaders are willing to admit when there have been abuses and take appropriate steps, to use a heavy hand when necessary, to cure ills within.
The Roman Catholic Church has a rich heritage and culture that has been dormant for much of the past twenty-six years. I pray that the new pope is a visionary, unafraid of change, and a leader with the courage and willingness to drag the Church, kicking and screaming if necessary, into the 21st century.
April 6, 2005
'Hanoi Jane' Fonda or Bobby Fischer - Who's The Bigger Traitor?
In August of 1972, Jane Fonda took a two week 'vacation' to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam during what was commonly known as the Vietnam war and, in the process, became one of the most notorious traitors in American history. Although war was never officially declared, 58,229 Americans were killed during the conflict.
'Hanoi Jane', as she became known, posed for pictures while sitting on an anti-aircraft gun, participated in a news conference with POW's, and made radio spots for distribution to American troops detailing how futile she thought their efforts against the communist regime in North Vietnam were. If 'Hanoi Jane' had done those things during World War II, she would have been accused of treason, and tried as a war criminal. You can read more about her comments in an article written by Bruce Herschensohn originally published in the Washington Times on 07/08/2000, and reprinted here.
In 1975, shortly after the end of the hostilities, 'Hanoi Jane' returned to Vietnam for a special ceremony that would honor her for the aid and comfort she gave the communists during the war. With her newborn son in tow, 'Hanoi Jane' took the occasion to have her son christened and named Troy, after the Viet Cong hero, Nguyen Van Troi, who was executed by the South Vietnamese in 1963, for attempting to assassinate U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.
It is now 33 years since 'Hanoi Jane' first visited Vietnam. To date she has only given a partial apology, especially noting her regret for having her picture taken while sitting on the anti-aircraft gun, but has refused to apologize for her Radio Hanoi broadcasts to American troops, reminiscent of 'Tokyo Rose,' and for having her picture taken with American POW's.
Currently 'Hanoi Jane' is on a publicity tour of the United States, making the rounds touting her new book, "My Life So Far," published by Random House, and her appearance in the upcoming New Line Cinema movie, "Monster-in-Law," which stars Jennifer Lopez. Unbelievably, Jane Fonda is still a celebrity in America.
By comparison, Bobby Fischer, perhaps America's best chess player ever, sits in Iceland, unable to return to the United States without being thrown in jail. His crime? Fischer broke international sanctions by playing a chess match against Boris Spassky in Yugoslavia in 1992, violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. If convicted of this crime, Fischer could spend up to 10 years in jail.
Bobby Fischer is hardly a sympathetic character. Despite having a Jewish mother, Fischer is rabidly anti-Semitic, and has also expressed support for the 9-11 attackers. In an article written by Allan Lengel, Washington Post saff witer, published July 16, 2004, Fischer is quoted as follows:
"America is totally under control of the Jews, you know. I mean, look what they're doing now in Yugoslavia. . . . The secretary of state and the secretary of defense are, are dirty Jews."
"This is all wonderful news. It's time . . . to finish off the U.S. once and for all. . . . This just shows what comes around, goes around."
Despicable behavior? O.K., I guess. Deplorable viewpoints? Absolutely. Treasonous? No. Traitorous? Again I say, No.
Bobby Fischer's real crime was economic in nature. Certainly no one was tortured or killed because he played his chess match. He had an opportunity to work, and he took the opportunity. Defiant? Yes. But a crime against the greater good of American society? Bobby Fischer's crime doesn't amount to a blip on the radar screen.
Would I go see Bobby Fischer play chess, or support him in any way?No. Beyond that, I could care less about him.
On the other hand, Jane Fonda is someone to be truly despised, yet continues to be welcomed on virtually every radio and television venue where she can promote her latest endeavors. 'Hanoi Jane' should have been locked up upon her return from Vietnam, and the fact that she wasn't is a stain on the government that sent 58,229 brave Americans to their deaths. Jane Fonda should be shunned. Let her buddies, the communists in Cuba, Vietnam and North Korea, support her...Americans should not.
April 2, 2005
Do You Have A Living Will?
The Terri Schiavo saga of the last 2 weeks (some might say 15 years) has made the importance of living wills crystal clear. I have linked to the State of Nevada's version of a living will here, and in the box near the top of the column on the right. It is in PDF format that you can download free. If you are not from Nevada, I suggest you go to your own state's web site and do a search for the appropriate version of a living will.
April 1, 2005
So This Is What An "Honest Mistake" Looks Like
The crimes of Samuel R. 'Sandy' Berger are really much worse than we were initially led to believe. Mark Sherman of the Associated Press is reporting on ABC News that Samuel R. 'Sandy' Berger, former Clinton National Security Advisor, plead guilty to removing highly classified documents from the National Archives, a misdemeanor. Additionally, Mr. Berger, who had previously described the theft as an "honest mistake," admitted during his appearance before U.S. Magistrate Deborah Robinson that he had intentionally destroyed missing documents by cutting them up with scissors.
I guess it depends on what the meaning of the word "honest" is, or perhaps it depends on what the meaning of the word "mistake" is, or perhaps it depends on what the meaning of the words "honest mistake" taken as a whole is.
Whatever the case may be, this plea deal, in which Washington insider and Clinton crony Samuel R. 'Sandy' Berger will serve no jail time, will have to pay a measly $10,000 fine, and will only lose his security clearance for three years, is a travesty of justice! If you or I did this, it would certainly be classified as a felony for which they would lock us up and throw away the key. Oh, and about our top secret security clearance - as Tony Soprano's associates might say, forgetaboutit.
Berger's Briefs Redux
In what must be one of the most lenient plea agreements ever, former Clinton national security advisor (officially, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs) Samuel R. 'Sandy' Berger will be allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor for removing classified documents from the National Archives. Berger has admitted to removing documents by stuffing them in his pants, his jacket, and "inadvertently" in a leather portfolio. Mr. Berger claims to have returned most of the documents, but some sensitive documents are still missing. I previously wrote about this cheeky thief on December 3, 2004, and January 12, 2005.
The misdemeanor charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $100,000 fine, but ABC News is reporting the "plea agreement calls for Berger to serve no jail time but to pay a $10,000 fine, surrender his security clearance for three years and cooperate with investigators."
By comparison, Martha Stewart received a sentence of 5 months in jail, 5 months house arrest, two years probation, a $30,000 fine and was forever barred from serving as an officer in her corporation for merely lying to federal agents. Berger, who committed theft of highly classified national security documents, some of which have not been returned, receives no jail time, and, can do it again in three years!? This is not justice!
Samuel R. 'Sandy' Berger is a common thief, and in the process, betrayed the trust of the American people. If this doesn't deserve 5 years in jail, I don't know what does. I also think he should have to pay to disinfect the returned documents that had been stuffed in his pants...
Obviously, it's 'who you know and who you blow' at the Justice Department these days, but there is a silver lining in this tough love plea agreement. We can all take solace in the fact that our National Archives will be safe from Samuel R. 'Sandy' Berger for the next three years!
Note: Berger, who called his theft of the documents from the National Archives, an "honest mistake," has a habit of downplaying his illicit behavior. In 1997, in another very lenient deal with the the DOJ, Berger agreed to pay (was fined) $23,043 in settlement of a civil suit brought by the United States for an alleged financial conflict of interest violation. The 'fine' was only the dividends and the profits from the sale of Amoco stock between the time he was told divest himself of the stock and actual date of divestiture.
The Department of Justice news release of Monday, November 10, 1997, read in part:
In Berger's answer to the complaint, Berger alleged that he fully intended to divest the stock, but neglected to follow up promptly, and over time totally forgot about the issue and his family's ownership of the stock.
He therefore denied that he had knowingly participated personally and substantially as a government officer in a particular matter in which, to his knowledge, he had a financial interest, the element of intent required to prove a criminal offense under 18 U.S.C. § 208.
Just another "honest mistake"....