Monday, October 31, 2005

It's the War, Stupid! Guest editorial by Kucinich.

It is now, or it should be, clear to everyone that Bush took us into a war of his choice and spun intelligence to support this, unfortunately with media shills like Judy Miller who repeatedly got front page exposure from the New York Times. People are waking up to the cost, human and otherwise, to this war. We also have no and have had no leadership from the Democrats. Kucinich makes the point that this is a very good opportunity to finally get their act together and take some leadership in this issue.

Democrats: It's the War
By Dennis Kucinich
In These Times

Monday 31 October 2005

Ending the war in Iraq is right for a lot of reasons. The war was unjustified, unnecessary and unprovoked. It is counterproductive, strengthening al-Qaeda and weakening the moral authority of the United States. It is deadly: Many Americans, and many, many more Iraqis, have been killed or injured as a result of the fighting. And it is costly: Well over $250 billion in taxpayer funds have already been spent, with no end in sight.

It is also increasingly unpopular. For all these reasons, plus the increased spotlight that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita put on how much the war is draining resources desperately needed at home, Democrats should clearly call for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. If Democrats do not make this the centerpiece of their campaign in 2006, they risk repeating recent history, in which they failed to recover seats in the House and Senate.

National Democratic leaders have already tried, and tried again, to ignore the war, and it didn't work politically. During the 2002 election cycle, when Democrats felt they had historical precedent on their side - the president's party always loses seats in the mid-term election - the Democratic leadership in Congress cut a deal with the president to bring the war resolution to a vote, and appeared with him in a Rose Garden ceremony. "Let no light show" between Democrats and President Bush on foreign policy was the leadership's strategy, and it yielded a historic result: For the first time since Franklin Roosevelt, a president increased his majorities in both houses of Congress during a recession.

Then, in 2004, with the president vulnerable on the war, the Democratic Party again sacrificed the opportunity to distinguish itself from Bush. Members avoided the issue of withdrawal from Iraq in the Party platform, omitted it from campaign speeches and deleted it from the national convention.

Why is it an unconscionable political blunder to sweep the war and occupation of Iraq under the rug? Because the war is one of the most potent political scandals of all time, and it has energized grassroots activity all over the country.

President Bush led the country into war based on false information, falsified threats and a fictitious estimate of the consequences. His war and the continuing occupation transformed Iraq into a training ground for jihadists who want to kill Americans, and a cause célèbre for stoking resentment in the Muslim world.

Bush's war and occupation squandered the abundant good will felt by the world for America after our 9/11 losses. He enriched his cronies at Halliburton and other private interests through the occupation. And he diverted our attention and abilities away from apprehending the masterminds of the 9/11 attack. Instead, we are mired in an occupation which has already cost over 2,000 American lives and the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqis.

The issue of the war clearly distinguishes what is wrong with Republican rule. Republicans in Congress won't extricate the United States from the quagmire the president has gotten us into. They have refused to investigate what role the White House played in manipulating pre-war intelligence. They refused to investigate the Downing Street memo. Democrats, on the other hand, mostly voted against the war: Two-thirds of House Democrats and half of Senate Democrats opposed the war in Iraq. Democrats can draw no clearer distinction with the president and the Republican Congress than over this war.

Every major poll confirms that the war is a loser for the president and his party. Consider one of the most prominent: The ABC/Washington Post poll, which has surveyed public opinion on the war regularly since March 2003. Responses to all pertinent key questions clearly show eroding support for the war. Support for the president's handling of Iraq has steadily fallen; belief that the war was worth fighting has fallen; belief that the number of US casualties are an acceptable cost of the war has steadily fallen; belief that the war has contributed to US long-term security has steadily fallen, and support for keeping forces in Iraq has steadily fallen. There are no exceptions to this trend.

Right is on our side, and public opinion is trending our way. In 2006, Democrats must break from the past and run on the issue of quick withdrawal of all troops from Iraq. The stakes are high: Unless Democrats stand for ending the war in Iraq, this country will not leave Iraq, and Democrats their minority status in Washington, for a long time to come.

Of course, no party can win votes on the strength of one issue. Ending the war in Iraq must be at the centerpiece of a campaign that includes standing for national health care and preserving Social Security. This is the constellation of issues with which Democrats can take back the country.+++

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Bush Bubble Continues: Bush Blames the Senate. . . in Mier's withdrawal...

Bush’s Bubble Continues: He blames the Senate for Miers withdrawal.

It was the conservative base that trashed Miers, undertaking big efforts, and with some money and big voices: George Will, WSJ, Robert Bork, and Rush Limbaugh all lobbied for withdrawal.

Bush apparently thought the Christian conservatives could sway the support, as he bragged on her religious faith. He is found to be once more so out of touch that he ignored his own White House advice in this nomination because he was sure she would be confirmed. Now he has to either appeal to his anti-abortion / strict constructionist base or in spite of them choose a moderate will drive them further from him. He has lots of candidates with judical experience and far more qualified than Miers.

Is he a lame duck yet? No. He could re-organize the White House staff as Reagan did after the Iran - Contra scandal. But where are the wise and mature Republicans, like Howard Baker, to be found today? And Bush has never shown that sort of flexibility.

However to do that would go against his unbound sense of loyalty. Any radical change is unlikely as he must appear strong regardless of and in spite of his growing weakness. The weaker he feels the more he will project and blame, and become more enbubbled than he is now.

A great deal depends on whether Rove is indicted, and how Bush handles that. He could pardon him, and that is possible. Bush could pardon both Rove and anyone else. He would be further weakened if he did. I am estimating, that given his mojo so far, that he will be increasingly isolated by his own choices.

Then the Democrats have a chance of winning back either or both houses in congress next year, and the moderate and future hopeful Repubs will increasingly distance themselves from his failed policies and be more willing to work with Demos.

What is bad for Bush right now is good for the country and its future. He is also probably guilty of treasonable behavior in the run up to Iraq. It is no longer out of the question that he will be impeached.

When Bush was elected in November of last year, I said to conservative friends that he would exit the presidency as a failed president, based on my estimate of his character and his karma. It is happened faster than I anticipated. Praise God. His administration is one of the most corrupt, secretive, manipulative, anti-environment, pro-big business and politically divisive I have seen in sixty years of political awareness.

I cannot forget how angry my father, a small town family physician, was in the presidential election of 1940 when Wendell Wilkie ran against FDR. The AMA believed strongly that the new Social Security was the first step toward socialized medicine. Dad remained a conservative Republican, opposing any government intervention in social services as another domino falling toward national socialism. I became aware of passion and politics at age eleven and have followed the national scene mostly ever since, except for some years in a Catholic monastery, where the Abbot promoted Ike against Adlai Stevenson.

The Bush bubble continues and will be increasingly evident. This is not a bad thing for the country. The bullies in the White House and among Republicans have had their day.

Patrick Fitzgerald, indict the ultimate political spin master Rove and save the country!

Old Salty Dog

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

New York Times Complicit in Treasonable Behavior

Editor Byron Calame, New York Times

The Watergate scandal was about the cover-up in the White House of a failed politically inspired burglary. A President was forced to resign for the first time in our history.

But the White House has taken us into WAR to rid the world of an imminent threat that was not there. Thousands of our young men and women have died and thousands more wounded that the White House does not want interviewed nor seen. Many thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians have been killed--moderate estimates are in the range of 20 to 30 thousand.

Now we have another scandal originating in the White House, whatever it is called: Weaponsgate, CIAleakgate, WMDgate, Plamegate. Moreover the New York Times is itself complicit in reporter Judith Miller's willing to offer cover to persons involved. Not to speak of the front page certainties of WMD Miller repeatedly offered to Times readers in the run up to the war.

This scandal of hiding and protecting known false evidence and punishing anyone who blows the cover is of an entirely different magnitude. War. Thousands of deaths. Misleading the American people. Is anything bigger than this?

If to take our country into an unnecessary and illegal war is not treasonable behavior, what is?

The New York Times helped this White House sell this war. Would not any media observer conclude that the New York Times has been complicit in treasonable behavior?

Comment invited.

Monday, October 24, 2005

How much do you trust the media today? Jeff Cohen guest.

FYI Recommended reading
Paschal’s note: I lived through all Jeff talks about below and he is right on with his critique of the media and their sucking up to power from the 60s on.

Weaponsgate is a Media Scandal
by Jeff Cohen
Posted on
November 24, 2005

I admit it: I'm absolutely gleeful about the White House scandal, as indictments appear imminent. These last days have been some of the happiest since Team Bush seized power 57 months ago. It couldn't happen to a more reckless bunch of bullies-- who launched one of the most disastrous wars in history.

It's traditional in elite punditry to grouse about how such a scandal hurts our country or our image abroad. I take a different view: If the White House is demoralized and paralyzed, our country and world can breathe easier.

But there's a special reason this scandal is so personally satisfying to me as a media critic. It's because elite journalism is on trial. Powerful journalists are playing the role usually played in these scandals by besieged White House operatives. They're the ones in the witness dock. It's a New York Times reporter who is failing to recall key facts...mysteriously locating misplaced documents...being leaned on to synchronize alibis.

Elite journalism is at the center of Weaponsgate, and it can't extricate itself from the scandal. Because, at its core, Weaponsgate (or, if you're in a hurry, "Wargate") is about how the White House and media institutions jointly sold a war based on deception -- and how the White House turned to these media institutions to neutralize a war critic who challenged the deception.

When the Nixon White House went after war critic Dan Ellsberg, they turned to former CIA guys, specialists in break-ins. When the Bush White House went after war critic Joe Wilson (and his wife), they turned to journalists like Bob Novak and Judy Miller.

Today, elite journalists can't pretend to be on the outside looking in at a scandal that doesn't involve them. This scandal is about them -- it's about White House-media cronyism, about journalists on the top rung of the phone trees of Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, two of the dirtiest smear artists in Washington history. It's no accident Rove and Libby didn't turn to Helen Thomas or Seymour Hersh about Joe Wilson. They turned to journalists they could count on -- at news outlets that had dutifully promoted so many pre-war lies

In the past, elite journalists were up to their neck in scandals -- but they were deft about writing themselves out of the story. That can't happen in this scandal involving the origins of the Iraq War.

It did happen in the scandal at the origins of the Vietnam War: the Tonkin Gulf hoax. In pursuit of his long-held strategy, President Johnson went on national TV in August 1964 to announce a momentous escalation of the war: air strikes against North Vietnam in response to an "unprovoked attack" on a U.S. destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin.

But there'd been no such attack on the U.S. Johnson's ploy succeeded because major news media reported official lies as absolute truth. The next day's headline in the Washington Post spoke of North Vietnam's "New Aggression." The New York Times reported of U.S. "retaliatory action" and editorialized in support of Johnson and his "somber facts."

When the truth on Tonkin came out years later, blame focused on the White House, not the media. In 1998, my colleague Norman Solomon interviewed former Washington Post reporter Murrey Marder, who'd written much of the paper's credulous Tonkin coverage. He expressed deep regret. Asked if the Post ever retracted its Tonkin reporting, Marder said: "I can assure you that there was never any retraction." He added: "If you were making a retraction, you'd have to make a retraction of virtually everyone's entire coverage of the Vietnam War."

Around the same time as the Tonkin hoax, another national scandal was occurring: the FBI was waging a vicious campaign to "neutralize" Martin Luther King, Jr. In its efforts to Commie-bait King and expose his extramarital affairs, the Bureau sought the help of powerful journalists, who were shown photos, tapes and bedroom transcripts derived from FBI voyeurism. Dozens of reporters, editors and publishers knew the Bureau was tracking King day and night, but none blew the whistle. (To journalists, J. Edgar Hoover was apparently an even more imposing figure than Karl Rove.)

When the FBI's anti-King operation became public years later, journalists largely avoided scrutiny of their own role. But in the words of black novelist John A. Williams, they'd been the FBI's "silent partners."

Decades have passed since the scandals of Vietnam and J. Edgar Hoover. But the cozy relationship between elite media and government persists -- to the point where we can't tell today whether officials are journalists' sources, or vice versa. In the current scandal, thankfully, it won't be possible for mainstream media to pretend the scandal doesn't involve them.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Constitutional Crisis Looming? Crimes in the White House. q..v.

Fitzgerald’s Historical Opportunity
“The most important criminal case in American History”
by Allen Moore
Oct 21, 2005

My Note: Next week, it is expected that Mr. Fitzgerald will issue indictments or not in the case of the CIA leak of a covert spy linking potential criminal acts to the White House or Cheney’s assistance, Scooter Libby. Judith Miller (and the NY Times) is involved in potential cover-up. James Moore comments.

James Moore is an Emmy-winning former television news correspondent and the co-author of the bestselling, Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential. He has been writing and reporting from Texas for the past 25 years on the rise of Rove and Bush, and has traveled extensively on every presidential campaign since 1976. This piece originally appeared on and is reprinted with permission.

“If special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald delivers indictments of a few functionaries of the vice president’s office or the White House, we are likely to have on our hands a constitutional crisis. The evidence of widespread wrongdoing and conspiracy is before every American with a cheap laptop and a cable television subscription. And we do not have the same powers of subpoena granted to Fitzgerald.

“We know, however, based upon what we have read and seen and heard that someone created fake documents related to Niger and Iraq and used them as a false pretense to launch America into an invasion of Iraq. And when a former diplomat made an honest effort to find out the facts, a plan was hatched to both discredit and punish him by revealing the identity of his undercover CIA agent wife.

“Patrick Fitzgerald has before him the most important criminal case in American history. Watergate, by comparison, was a random burglary in an age of innocence. The investigator’s prosecutorial authority in this present case is not constrained by any regulation. If he finds a thread connecting the leak to something greater, Fitzgerald has the legal power to follow it to the web in search of the spider. It seems unlikely, then, that he would simply go after the leakers and the people who sought to cover up the leak when it was merely a secondary consequence of the much greater crime of forging evidence to foment war. Fitzgerald did not earn his reputation as an Irish alligator by going after the little guy. Presumably, he is trying to find evidence that Karl Rove launched a covert operation to create the forged documents and then conspired to out Valerie Plame when he learned the fraud was being uncovered by Plame’s husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson. As much as this sounds like the plot of a John le Carre novel, it also comports with the profile of the Karl Rove I have known, watched, traveled with and written about for the past 25 years.

“We may stand witness to a definitive American moment of democracy. . . .I have seen the spawn of Rove’s tortured mind and watched a hundred of his political scams unfold and I am confident I know how this one played out. . . .”

Link to the remainder and the home site:

Posted by
Paschal Baute. Oct 22

Saturday, October 22, 2005

A White House in Chaos? Insiders report Bush out of control. . .

a White House that is in chaos and disarray as Fitzgerald’s PlameGate indictments descend. Thompson’s sources tell him that “For all practical purposes, governing the nation has stopped at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as aides deal with an increasingly despondent President, mounting scandals and defecting dissidents from the Ship of State. … White House insiders say George W. Bush's mood swings have increased to the point where meetings with the President must be cancelled, schedules shifted and plans changed to keep a bitter, distracted leader from the public eye. ‘He's like a zombie some days, walking around in a trance,’ says one aide who, for obvious reasons, asks not to be identified. ‘Other times he launches into angry outbursts, cussing out anybody who gets near him.’”

Other points made by Thompson (his words), as follows:

-Aides say gallows humor has descended on the White House, where the West Wing is now referred to as "death row" and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, along with Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, are known as "dead men walking," a reference to the last walk death row inmates take to the execution chamber.

-Says one longtime Republican consultant, "They'll have to carry Dick Cheney out of here on a stretcher." But Rove and Libby will be gone if they are indicted and some wonder if the President, whose ability to govern is already limited by despair and detraction, can function without Rove, often referred to as "Bush's brain."… "Rove's role is diminished already," says one White House aide. "He still meets with The President daily but all this has taken its toll. He looks terrible."

-"The façade is gone and we are now seeing the Bush White House in all its incompetent glory," says retired political science professor George Harleigh. "They've ignored reality for too long."

-With Congress distracted by growing scandals swirling around former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Washington has become a daily killing field for anyone involved in the GOP leadership.

-[Larry] Wilkerson, a veteran with 31 years in the Marines and a former director of the Marine War College, sums up what, sadly, will be the legacy of George W. Bush: "If there is a nuclear terrorist attack or a major pandemic you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that'll take you back to the Declaration of Independence."

-Wilkerson isn't the only high-profile Republican operative bailing on Bush. Bruce Bartlett, who served as a Senior Policy Advisor in Bush's father's administration, is about to release a book: Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Destroyed the Reagan Legacy. Bartlett lost his job at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative Texas think tank, when word of his book project leaked out.

from Free Market

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Guest Editorial by Geoff Young

Dear Editor,
(To Lexington Herald Leader,
October 16, 2005)

Woe to the country that helps its rich people amass more and more money while leaving the lame, the sick and the poor to die in the flood.

Woe to the people who stripmine their forests and mountains into barren deserts because they refuse to seal the cracks in their houses against the winter winds.

Woe to the country that reveres its soldiers and sends them to faraway lands to kill people who had no quarrel with them.

Woe to the people who are too intent on entertaining themselves to notice that their own rulers are stealing their freedom.

We should tremble as Thomas Jefferson did when he realized that God is just.


Geoff Young

Note: Geoff is a member of the Lexington Society of Friends, community activist in peace and justice issues. He will talk at the Christian Muslim Dialogue this Saturday, October 21, 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon, at the Hunter Presbyterian Church, around the corner from Baptist Hospital on Rosemont Garden. His presentation: "Does Christianity Need a Personal God?"

Public is invited.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Judy Miiller Saga Slimes Journalism and NY Times Slimes Itself, Shame!

Letter to Executive Editor, NY Times

The Judy Miller saga, with many lies and self-deceits, truly so embedded that she is "sleeping" (metaphor) with her sources, that is, ready to cover for them, even lie for them, slimes journalism. The Times executive staff by its lack of oversight slimes itself and its reputation.

Check the blogosphere to see the reaction around the globe from writers, editors, publishers, bloggers to the unfolding stories re her "security clearance," etc. What is emerging is that she refused to testify BECAUSE she was so deeply embedded in the drama that she could not be objective about any of it. Even when taken off the WMD and security beat, she stayed on those, apparently without reporting to any editor. That in itself is reason for firing a reporter.

She should be fired immediately, but that would be too embarrassing to the top dogs. When your own newsroom will not work with her because of her "elbows" and other characteristics, as is now well known, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM.

Executive staff should appoint immediately an independent investigative committee to examine all aspects of this sorry saga, and employ very reputable ex Times staff, such as Alex S. Jones, at Harvard, for oversight. The whole story starting with her uncritical writing of White House propaganda pre Iraqi war, needs to be scoped, told and owned by the Times, a paper of now doubtful "record."

If you do not do it, others will and your paper will both deserve and endure much finger-pointing, derision and disdain.

Paschal Baute
Lexington, KY

Saturday, October 15, 2005

License to Torture, Lewis

New York Times
October 15, 2005
Op-Ed Contributor
License to Torture


THE most profound issue that will face the Supreme Court in the coming years is not the one animating many of the conservatives angry at Harriet Miers's nomination to the court, abortion. It is presidential power.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush and his lawyers have asserted again and again that the "war on terror" clothes the president as commander in chief with extraordinary, unilateral power - the power, for example, to designate an American citizen as an enemy combatant and imprison him indefinitely, without trial or a real opportunity to demonstrate innocence.

The right to legal abortion is a subject that moves millions of Americans, con and pro. But the claim of essentially unchecked presidential power goes to the very nature of the American political system.

The framers of the Constitution, when they met in Philadelphia in 1787, feared concentrated power. In constructing a new federal government, they divided its powers among three branches: legislative, executive, judicial. The idea, as Madison explained, was that if one branch overreached, another would check it.

The Bush administration has often resisted checks on executive branch decisions taken under the heading of war power. In memorandums in 2002 and 2003 on the torture of prisoners, for example, the administration argued that the president could order the use of torture even if it was forbidden by treaty or by Congressional statute.

When those memorandums leaked out last year, the administration withdrew them. But Alberto Gonzales, who as White House counsel rejected objections to them, is now attorney general. And one of their principal authors, John Yoo, now a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, continues to argue forcefully for dominant presidential power. To hear him tell it, the framers constructed a political system on the model of King George III.

The administration has also maintained that decisions taken under the president's power as commander in chief should not be subject to effective review by the courts. Thus, it argued that detaining a citizen as an enemy combatant could be justified by a government statement of alleged facts, without any meaningful legal process to verify them.

Last year the Supreme Court rejected that argument in the case of one detained American, Yaser Esam Hamdi. In the prevailing opinion, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said such a detainee must have his case decided by a "neutral decision maker."

In another case before the Supreme Court last year, the administration said that prisoners detained in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, could not go to court to challenge their status because the president had "conclusively" determined it. The court rejected that position.

In the Senate hearings on the nomination of John Roberts as chief justice, one exchange highlighted the historic danger of accepting that presidential decisions must be presumed correct because we are "at war." Senator Patrick Leahy asked about the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, which the Supreme Court sustained in 1944: Would that be held constitutional now? Judge Roberts said he would be "surprised if there were any arguments that could support it."

The detention of thousands of Americans because of their race would surely be rejected today. But it is worth remembering that the crux of the Supreme Court's 1944 decision, Korematsu v. United States, was the court's refusal to examine the government's claims that intelligence showed the likelihood of Japanese-Americans acting as spies or saboteurs - claims that in fact had no basis.

How are Chief Justice Roberts and Harriet Miers, if she is confirmed, likely to decide on issues of presidential power? Predictions can only be speculative, but there is a possible clue in the case of Chief Justice Roberts. As one member of a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Judge Roberts joined an opinion that paid great deference to presidential orders in ruling that the military could resume war crimes trials of terrorism suspects detained at Guantánamo.

Harriet Miers has no public record on these issues. But Professor Yoo, writing in The Washington Post after her nomination, said, "She may be one of the key supporters in the Bush administration of staying the course on legal issues arising from the war on terrorism." He did not explain.

When one becomes a Supreme Court justice, the magnitude of the issues facing the court and the burden of final decision may change previously held views. Justice Robert H. Jackson candidly said so in 1950, when as a justice he disavowed a position he had earlier taken as attorney general.

Claims of presidential power during wartime have particularly large consequences today. In the past, when a president made such claims, the war involved lasted a limited time. The war on terrorism has no definable end. In passing judgment on these issues, the justices of the Supreme Court will be defining American freedom for the future. They should guide by the light of Justice O'Connor's statement last year in the Hamdi case:

"A state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens."

Anthony Lewis is a former Times columnist.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Decades of cover up of priests' abuse of children in LA diocese: 75 YEARS OF SHAME: HOW SICK IS THIS CHURCH?

New York Times
October 12, 2005
Los Angeles Files Recount Decades of Priests' Abuse

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 11 - The confidential personnel files of 126 clergymen in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles accused of sexual misconduct with children provide a numbing chronicle of 75 years of the church's shame, revealing case after case in which the church was warned of abuse but failed to protect its parishioners.

In some cases, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and his predecessors quietly shuffled the priests off to counseling and then to new assignments. In others, parents were offered counseling for their children and were urged to remain silent.

Throughout the files, cases of child molesting or rape are dealt with by indirection or euphemism, with references to questions of "moral fitness" or accusations of "boundary violations." For years, anonymous complaints of abuse were ignored and priests were given the benefit of every doubt.

The personnel files - some of which date from the 1930's - were produced as part of settlement talks with lawyers for 560 accusers in a civil suit here. The church provided them to The New York Times in advance of their public release in the next few days. The archdiocese is releasing them in part to make good on a promise to parishioners to come clean about the church's actions in the scandal, church officials said. It also hopes that the release will spur settlement talks, which appear to have stalled in recent months.

Raymond P. Boucher, the lead lawyer for those suing the church, said the versions of the files released by the church were cleansed of much of the damaging details of the accusations and the church's response. Their release was chiefly a public relations move by the church as both sides prepared for the first cases to go to trial, Mr. Boucher said.

"Unfortunately, these files do not contain the full story of the participation by the church in the manipulation and movement of these priests," he said. "The full files would show how deep and pervasive this problem was and how much the church put its own interests ahead of those of the children and others who were molested by the priests. That is a broader and deeper story."
For the rest of the story go to link NY Times, Oct 12.

Monday, October 10, 2005

FLAT TAX, Andrew Sullivan blog

Monday, October 10, 2005

A BETTER FLAT TAX: Here's an extremely persuasive case for a kinder, gentler flat tax that would gut the IRS, energize the economy, force the wealthy to cough up more and encourage savings and health insurance. All for a mere 14 percent. The flat tax is for this decade what equal marriage rights was for the last: an idea whose time has come.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

QUOTES OF THE DAY: on Torture and Bush

EDITORIAL OF THE DAY: "Even though military officers like Capt. Fishback and
retired senior generals Colin Powell and John Shalikashvili endorsed the
McCain measure, the Bush administration fought it, insisting that it would
tie U.S. hands in waging the war on terror. Yet when Americans feel free to
treat other human beings, even evil ones, with the kind of cruelty that the
whole world saw at Abu Ghraib, their hands deserve to be tied.
We congratulate the Senate majority, including Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison,
for standing up to the president and siding with the Ian Fishbacks and Colin
Powells, not the Alberto Gonzaleses and Donald Rumsfelds. The House of
Representatives should lift itself up in protest by its moral backbone, too,
and Mr. Bush should stand down from his threatened veto. There is no honor
in it.' - Dallas Morning News, today. (Reg req.) Good for them.

QUOTE FOR THE DAY: "This newspaper is second to none in its pro-American
sentiments; in the early Bush years it devoted much ink to defending the
President against the often malevolent and ignorant attacks of a
congenitally anti-American European media. But we know a lost cause when we
see one: the longer President Bush occupies the White House the more it
becomes clear that his big-government domestic policies, his preference for
Republican and business cronies over talented administrators, his lack of a
clear intellectual compass and his superficial and often wrong-headed grasp
of international affairs – all have done more to destroy the legacy of
Ronald Reagan, a President who halted then reversed America’s post-Vietnam
decline, than any left-liberal Democrat or European America-hater could ever
have dreamt of. As one astute American conservative commentator has already
observed, President Bush has morphed in the Manchurian Candidate, behaving
as if placed among Americans by their enemies to do them damage."
editorial in the conservative British newspaper, The Business.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Guest Editorial: Republican power and its result

October 1, 2005
Contract Killers


This is a political witch hunt," Representative Tom DeLay told reporters on Wednesday, shortly after a Texas grand jury indicted him on conspiracy charges, forcing him to step down as House majority leader. Later he called Ronnie Earle, the district attorney who has investigated Mr. DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee for two years, a "partisan fanatic." He said the inquiry into his political fundraising was "a sham," and that "Mr. Earle knows it." And he notified his enemies that the indictment would not slow down the Republican agenda, such as it is.

At this, Washingtonians with long memories were barely able to suppress their grins. If Mr. DeLay and his supporters grasped the irony of the occasion, they gave no clue. Eleven years ago this past week, Republican congressmen and candidates unveiled their "Contract With America." Their proposals came just in time for the 1994 midterm elections, which brought the Republicans to power after a 40-year stint in the minority. Back then, Mr. DeLay and other Republicans promised "a new order." They pledged to drain the swamp that was Washington. Just over a decade later, they find themselves up to their necks in the muck.

In the week before Mr. DeLay's indictment, David Safavian, a White House official in the Office of Management and Budget, was arrested in connection with the Justice Department investigation into the lobbying practices of Jack Abramoff, the conservative activist and Republican Party fundraiser. It was the first arrest in the 18-month inquiry, but it is probably not the last. Grease from the Abramoff scandal has rubbed off on conservative stalwarts like the antitax activist Grover Norquist;Ralph Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition; and Republican lawmakers like Representative Bob Ney of Ohio, Senator Conrad Burns of Montana and - here's that name again - Tom DeLay.

Meanwhile the Securities and Exchange Commission is preparing to issue subpoenas in its inquiry into the finances of the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist. And a grand jury investigation into who in the White House leaked the identity of a C.I.A. officer to the press two years ago lumbers toward completion.

It's quite a fall, no doubt about it: from agile insurgency to bloated establishment in just over a decade. So what went wrong? The 1994 Republicans understood that power in Washington was not simply a matter of who controlled the White House and Congress. Passing legislation also required the support of powerful unelected business interests and their representatives on K Street, the historic home of the lobbying trade.

Led by Mr. DeLay in the House, Rick Santorum in the Senate and Grover Norquist downtown, Republicans worked not just toward the partisan realignment of the country, but of the influence industry, too. They tracked which lobbyists were Democrats and which Republicans, refused to meet with the Democrats and pressured business groups and law firms to hire the conservatives. Their strenuous efforts to blur the boundaries between corporate America and the Republican Party came to be known as the K Street Project.

It was an incredible success. By 2002, if you look at numbers from the Center for Responsive Politics, industries that had long made bipartisan campaign contributions largely abandoned the Democrats, leaving Republicans with an overwhelming edge in corporate donations. By 2004, the lobbyists themselves gave the Republicans $1 million more than they gave Democrats. The number of Republican lobbyists grew. And so did the number of lobbyists, period - from about 9,000 when the Republicans took power to more than 34,000 today.

Now the seamy side of all this explosive growth, the fundraising and lobbying scandals like those plaguing Mr. DeLay and Mr. Abramoff, poses a serious threat to Republican power.

Things weren't meant to be this way. The K Street Project was a means to an end. The means was harnessing the political energies of the private sector and its agents. The end was a lasting Republican majority that would limit government and increase individual freedom and responsibility. But, as tends to happen, the means became an end in itself.

Young conservatives in particular will react to the new, post-DeLay reality in different ways. I know I have. First, looking at your party's troubles, you see perverse confirmation of conservatism's animating idea: that as the sphere of public decision-making expands, so do the opportunities for graft and wrongdoing. Next you note, with sadness, that while political power helped bring about some achievements - welfare reform, pro-growth tax cuts, an assertive, moralistic foreign policy - it may have also exhausted conservatism's fighting spirit, lowered the movement's intellectual standards and replaced a healthy independence with partisan water-carrying.

But then you take solace in the idea that the Republican Party has once again bested the Democrats, who after all took 40 years to sprout the warts of power.

Matthew Continetti,a staff writer at The Weekly Standard, is writing a book about the Republican Party.