Friday, February 03, 2006

Democratic Ex-Governor Faces Trial

The federal corruption trial of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman gets a little closer:

A federal judge ruled Thursday that former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy will be tried with former Gov. Don Siegelman and two other defendants in a government corruption case scheduled to start May 1.
Scrushy and former state Transportation Director Mack Roberts had asked to have their trials separate from Siegelman and his former chief of staff, Paul Hamrick. U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller refused.
Scrushy and Roberts had argued that they were involved in only a small part of the lengthy bribery indictment against Siegelman and Hamrick and that evidence against Siegelman and Hamrick might unfairly prejudice or confuse jurors.
"In this case, the court finds that there is no reasonable possibility that the jury will not be able to keep track of the evidence as it pertains to each defendant," Fuller wrote. "There are only four defendants. The charges against each defendant contain discreet, factually distinct and relatively uncomplicated offenses." ...

Scrushy, Siegelman, Roberts and Hamrick were indicted by a federal grand jury in October on charges alleging that bribes were paid for political influence. The charges came after Scrushy was acquitted in June in a federal court trail in Birmingham, where he was accused of orchestrating a $2.7 billion accounting fraud at HealthSouth.

Meanwhile, Siegelman's lawyers seem to be pushing a rather unusual application of "critical race theory":

Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy and former Gov. Don Siegelman will get the information they need to challenge the racial makeup of juries in the federal courts in Montgomery, but they will have to do their analysis quickly, a federal magistrate said Thursday.
U.S. Magistrate Charles Coody, who is handling preliminary matters in the government corruption case, said U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller doesn't want the trial postponed.
"In his mind, May 1 is a very firm date," Coody told defense lawyers during a hearing Thursday.

Scrushy and Siegelman, who are white, contend blacks are underrepresented in the grand juries and the pools of potential trial jurors for the federal courts in Montgomery. They argue that their indictment should be dismissed or that changes be made in the process of choosing potential jurors before they go on trial.

What the heck does this mean? A white man can't get a fair trial from white jurors? This trial doesn't have anything to do with Siegelman's race. The only color involved is green.

Obviously, Siegelman's lawyers want to use race as a proxy for party affiliation. In Alabama, as everywhere else in America, black voters vote Democrat more than 90 percent of the time. Therefore, the more blacks on the jury, the more Democrats on the jury, and the more likely that a Democrat like Siegelman can get acquitted -- or at least get a hung jury. What a cynical move. And it might just work.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

There's poking...then there's poking

Barney Frank may be catching up to Ted Kennedy in banking on the Democratic notion that America is a nation of amnesiacs. Kennedy, of course, with no apparent shame, named his dog "Splash," then wrote a children's book in which Splash tells the kiddies what Senator Ted does at the Capitol all day long (presumably apart from congratulating himself over martini lunches that he has for decades convinced Massachusetts voters that his frontal lobe still works.)

No sane or even minimally conscious person who once left a girl to suffocate in a Massachusetts pond would allow anything remotely related to water to be mentioned in connnection with his public life. Now Barney Frank joins Kennedy in the belief that being elected by hordes of poorly educated liberals means the rest of America suffers from amnesia, too. By a hefty margin, House Republicans this week voted to ban legislators-turned-lobbyists from the House gym, an admittedly piecemeal move, but a start nonetheless. The idea, of course, is to cut back on special interests sucking up to sweaty congressmen wearing shorts.

Which may be why Barney Frank thought the vote was silly (perhaps even counterproductive?) He poked fun at the new gym rule, and suggested Republicans should demand that former lawmakers step off the exercise equipment when an incumbent wants to use it. Frank apparently believes Americans don't remember that he was once brought up on ethics charges for poking fun *in* the House gym. Or maybe he was the one being poked. There was another man involved and we may never know who poked whom. Of course all this occurred in 1990, the same year Frank was censured by the House for well...lying...about fixing parking tickets for Steve Gobie, the male hooker Frank first hired to service him, then to drive him around town. Frank first paid Gobie eighty bucks a visit -- a crime in all 50 states. Frank later claimed that he didn't know Gobie had continued to moonlight as a hooker, turning Frank's Capitol townhouse into the Chicken Ranch East. Of course, Frank might have figured it out, if he'd only poked around a bit.


How to become an ex-Democrat

One of the things about co-authorship is that you don't get to speak in the first person singular. And so there was never any place to mention that I used to be a Democrat. I was a born-and-bred hard-core partisan yellow-dog Democrat, though never a real liberal -- I was what we used to call a "Sam Nunn Democrat." I was disappointed when Nunn declined to run for president in 1992, and even more disappointed when Nunn retired from the Senate.

During the 1980s, when it seemed all my friends were supporting Reagan, I actively supported Mondale-Ferraro. And in 1992, I was totally for Clinton-Gore. But by 1996, I'd become so disillusioned that I voted for Harry Browne on the Libertarian ticket.

One of the things that influenced me most in leaving the Democratic Party (of course, like another ex-Democrat, Ronald Reagan, I felt that "the party left me") was the books I started reading. These included Robert Bork's Slouching Toward Gomorrah and Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind, as well as some older titles I found in used bookstores, like William F. Buckley Jr.'s Up From Liberalism. And, of course, that classic shatterer of statist worldviews, Atlas Shrugged. (The Atlas Shrugged Effect inspired the title of Jerome Tuccille's history of the libertarian movement, It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand.)

Now, I certainly hope that DONKEY CONS will inspire some Democrats to break their mind-forged manacles, but if this book doesn't do the trick, I've started to develop an online syllabus to help guide doubting Democrats to freedom:

"So You'd Like to Become an Ex-Democrat."

The list is a work in progress, so if you want to suggest a book I should add, please e-mail me.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

'Selective prosecution' in Wisconsin?

Interesting development in scandal-hungry Wisconsin:

Assembly Democrats had their aides campaign on state time before the 1998 and 2000 elections - the same conduct that three Republican leaders were charged with, according to a motion filed today by the attorney for state Rep. Scott Jensen (R-Town of Brookfield).
Two of those three Republicans have been convicted, and Jensen is scheduled to go on trial Feb. 21.
The motion includes summaries of interviews in late 2001 by Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard and state investigators with four former Assembly Democratic staff members. Those aides told investigators of extensive on-the-job campaigning and fund raising that, at times, left no time for them to work on public policy issues.
Interviews with those former Assembly Democratic staff members - including Rich Judge, now Gov. Jim Doyle’s campaign manager — show that Jensen and a former Republican Assembly staff aide, Sherry L. Schultz, are the victim of “selective prosecution” by Blanchard, said Jensen’s lawyer, Stephen Meyer, who wants a hearing on the new information before a Dane County judge. ...

Jensen’s motion states that former Assembly Democratic Leader Shirley Krug of Milwaukee asked lobbyists for campaign donations in her Capitol office. That included donations to a National Democratic Party group in Washington, D.C., which returned some of the money to be used on Democratic campaigns in Wisconsin.

This highlights the basic problem with Nancy Pelosi's plans to campaign against a GOP "culture of corruption" -- any ethical abuse Republicans are guilty of, Democrats are also going to be guilty of, and usually much worse. As we show in DONKEY CONS, over the long run, Democrats have more political scandals than Republicans. This has been true for more than 200 years, and if Democratic Party leaders succeed in making corruption a major issue, ultimately the issue of corruption will bring down more Democrats than Republicans. Even if the Democrats get some advantage from this issue in November, that advantage will prove short-lived.

In the foreword to his history of Tammany Hall -- the New York City organization which Aaron Burr turned into a major Democratic Party influence -- Gustavus Myers wrote in 1901:

The records show that Tammany was thus, from the beginning, an evil force in politics. Its characteristics were formed by its first great leader, Aaron Burr, and his chief lieutenant, Matthew L. Davis; and whatever is distinctive of Tammany methods and policies in 1900 is, for the most part, but the development of features initiated by these two men one hundred years ago.

A century later, the old-style machine politics of Tammany have disappeared, but the Democratic Party -- of which Burr was an important co-founder -- retains those "characteristics" which Burr bequeathed to it, as if scandal were encoded in the party's DNA.

This is as true in Wisconsin as anywhere else. The gubernatorial election has turned into a round-robin of "scandal" finger-pointing:

• Two Republican candidates say campaign cash has influenced decisions made by appointees of first-term Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, and that the No. 2 official at the state Transportation Department improperly - if not illegally - muscled road builders and agency vendors into giving to the governor's campaign by personally inviting them to a September fund-raiser.
• Doyle's campaign and Republican candidate Scott Walker criticized the other GOP hopeful, U.S. Rep. Mark Green of Green Bay, for $30,000 that Green got directly or indirectly since 1998 from groups controlled by indicted former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). Walker says that if he were in Green's shoes, he would return the money.
• As Democrats see it, the problems of Walker, the Milwaukee County executive, include his ties to Nicholas Hurtgen, the indicted former Chicago-area bond broker and a former senior aide to four-term Republican Gov. Tommy G. Thompson. In January 2003, when Hurtgen's company was seeking Milwaukee County bond business, he hosted a fund-raising event for Walker.

Democrats imagine that voters will just take Nancy Pelosi's word that only Republicans are part of a "culture of corruption" in Washington. But what about the "culture of corruption" in Madison? What about Milwaukee - where Democratic Party vandals walked away scot-free from their criminal efforts to influence the 2004 election? Turning beyond Wisconsin, what about Democratic Party scandals in New Orleans, Nashville, Chicago, Atlanta?

Nancy Pelosi -- who took $3,000 in campaign contributions from Indian tribes represented by Jack Abramoff, by the way -- thinks voters are so stupid they will believe Democrats in D.C. are pure as the driven snow, and not like those local Democrats who're as crooked as snakes. Nor, Pelosi imagines, will voters wonder why the Saginaw Chippewa tribe of Michigan thought a California Democrat's re-election to Congress was worth $2,000 to them.

Hey, Nancy: You go, girl!


'Might as well face it ...'

We're addicted to oil.
Everybody's blogging the State of the Union Address, so what the heck, I'll pile on.

If I had wanted a president who would declare war on the internal combustion engine ... hey, we had that option back in 2000, remember? So I was kind of surprised to hear this last night:

We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We will also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn but from wood chips, stalks or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years. Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal -- to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment, move beyond a petroleum-based economy ...

I know how the left fumes and rants about getting sold out by the Dem leadership, but sometimes Bush makes me feel the way Taggart (Slim Pickens) felt when he encountered the Gov. William J. Le Petomane Thruway: "Aw, [expletive]! What's that [expletive] gone and done this time?"

This [expletive] about moving "beyond a petroleum-based economy" with "pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen" is right up there with the Amnesty That Dare Not Speak Its Name among the all-time "What Was Karl Rove Smoking?" moments of the Bush era.

I'm not a genius political strategist or an energy expert, but let me spell out my Three-Point Plan for American Energy Independence:


Drill ANWR. Drill the Gulf Coast. Drill the Pacific Coast. If petroleum is discovered under the White House or Mt. Rushmore, drill that, too. Here a drill, there a drill, everywhere a drill drill.

"Simplistic," you say? OK, let me add some "nuance" to the plan: Ask the Energy Department to locate the home addresses of the wealthiest celebrity opponents of the Iraq war, and build nuclear energy plants next door to their mansions. I want to see Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon glowing in the dark, baby.

So, instead of passing out bolo paddles to the boys, I suggest Gov. LePetomane hand out some "I Drill ANWR" Classic Thongs:

Otherwise, somebody's gonna have to go back and get a [large quantity] of dimes.

We have to think about our phony-baloney jobs, gentlemen!


Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The principle of privacy

We spent a week watching Democratic Senators lecturing Judge Alito about the vital importance of privacy. Now that Alito's nomination is finally up for a vote, however, the privacy of at least one Republican Senator is worth nothing: Vote our way or we'll out you.

You know, I'm not a lawyer, but doesn't that sound kind of like blackmail?

But scandal and blackmail are such fun. It's like a mystery, and here's the really fun part:

If, when the Alito vote is over, no Republican senators are "outed," then we'll know that one of the Republican senators who voted "no" is gay.

Boy, talk about the horns of a dilemma! This GOP Senator -- whom Mike Rogers accuses of having oral sex with another man in the Union Station restroom -- now faces this choice:

1. Vote "NO," and Mike won't out me. But if only a handful of Republicans vote "no," then the process of elimination might have the effect of outing me, anyway.

2. Vote "YES," and then Mike destroys what he calls my "fake marriage," not to mention probably ending my Senate career.

Right now, every conservative in America is probably running down a list of his favorite "GOP maverick" or RINO (Republican In Name Only) Senators, hoping against hope .... OK, I won't name names.

Here's some questions for Mike Rogers, though:

-- In a Union Station restroom, for real? I used to ride the Metro train to work, so I'm familiar with the men's rooms at Union Station and talk about nasty! You could get a disease just by walking in there. I figure, a Senator ought to be able to afford a motel room, at least -- how are you sure this wasn't just someone who looked like [name of a notorious RINO omitted]?

-- It's a free country, Mike, but have you really thought about your tactics here? I mean, suppose your closeted GOP Senator is from a very conservative state like, just for example, Arizona. If he comes out, he can't get re-elected and his political influence becomes zero. But if this hypothetical hypocrite stays in the closet, his guilty conscience might sometimes prompt him to go against the rest of those homophobic Republicans, kind of like a "maverick," you see? So this GOP hypocrite and his "fake marriage" might actually work to your advantage, if you play your cards right. (Though I'm thinking maybe somebody might need to rename their campaign bus.)

-- Let's talk about "choice," Mike. Obviously, you've chosen to be very public with your sexuality and, hey, it's a free country. But this GOP Senator who's tricking in the men's room at the train station, he's made another choice. Are you saying that no one should ever be able to keep their sexual preferences private? Or are you just saying that only someone who votes the way you like is entitled to their privacy?

-- It's just politics, Mike. For crying out loud, lots of Republicans voted for Ginsburg and Breyer. And even though the right-wing base opposed those nominees, I don't recall them making any threats other than the usual "see you in November" stuff. You don't have any idea how Alito will vote on gay rights or any other issue. He might be another David Souter, for all you know.

-- We have a representative form of government, Mike. Maybe this GOP closet-case Senator would, if he had his druthers, vote for the whole gay rights agenda. But he was elected to represent the people of his state (come on Mike, is it Arizona, huh? huh?), and the voters in his state are totally against that agenda. What's he supposed to do? Commit political hari-kiri, just so the guys in the Union Station restroom don't think he's a hypocrite?

But, hey, considering the way the GOP-controlled Senate has been pork-barreling us into deficits lately (Alaska? Is it Alaska, Mike?), I don't have a dog in this fight. If you expose a gay Republican Senator, I'm betting he wasn't much of a Republican anyway. Destroy his career, destroy his "fake marriage," and a Democrat gets elected in his place -- six of one, half a dozen of the other as far as most conservatives are concerned.

Honest, Mike: The way the GOP Senate has operated in recent years, I'm guessing that in every state with at least one Republican Senator, many conservatives are saying to themselves, "Please let it be my unprincipled, spendthrift, sold-out hack!"

So, really, the only person you would hurt is some pathetic woman in a "fake marriage." Exposing her as an Arianna-type loser would just be cruel, don't you think?

-- MCCAIN (no relation to any "GOP mavericks")

P.S.: Mike, it's ONE SEAT on the court. Ralph Neas & Co. have been yanking your chain as a fund-raising gimmick, OK? When the whole Alito nomination process started, it was a lead-pipe cinch the guy was going to get confirmed: He's a long-term federal judge, rated highly by the ABA, and smart enough not to say anythng stupid during his confirmation hearing. There was never any possibility that the Democrats would stop Alito -- never. Repeat: never. You're getting scammed if you take Ted Kennedy seriously. So your friends' extreme "never going to vote for those #$@%& again" rhetoric is ill-considered. What are you going to do -- vote Libertarian? Green? CPUSA?

UPDATE: I just went back to Mike Rogers' site and noticed that he claimed to have "outed" Matt Drudge. Ridiculously low standards of "proof" there. Suppose that Mike Rogers, when he was 17, took a girl to his high-school prom. Does that make him secretly straight? Rogers quotes Drudge saying that he was "nearly married a few years ago." How is that evidence of homosexuality? But on the other hand, suppose it is true that Drudge -- as David Brock asserts -- has occasionally ... whatever. Rogers is judging Drudge according to a "once gay/always gay" standard that is just silly.

Corrupt Cheeseheads?

Gov. Jim Doyle of Wisconsin has canceled a travel contract that is the subject of a federal indictment of a state employee. (Notice that the Associated Press article doesn't mention that Doyle is a Democrat.)

According to the federal indictment (PDF) handed down last week, state Department of Administration purchasing division supervisor Georgia Thompson committed felony fraud in connection with a state travel contract valued at $750,000. Federal prosecutors "accused Thompson of using her position on a committee that evaluated bids for state travel contracts to steer one of them to Glendale-based Adelman Travel Group."

The indictment charged her with felony fraud and misapplication of funds. It said she acted for political advantage of her superiors and to enhance her job security.The three-year contract was signed last April 22 and took effect June 27. Before and after the contract was signed, company executives gave a total of $20,000 to Doyle's campaign. ...

Thompson "received a $1,000 raise in her annual pay weeks after" the contract was signed. According to the Journal-Sentinel:

Steven M. Biskupic, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, said the investigation is not over.
The probe has colored the hotly contested gubernatorial race in which Doyle is trying to be the first Democrat in 30 years to be elected to a second term. ...

Because of the political implications, the Adelman Travel contract is being investigated jointly by the offices of the U.S. attorney, the state attorney general and the Dane County district attorney. ...

The $10,000 donation made by Craig Adelman was the maximum allowed by law. ...

Elections Board records indicate that Adelman had never before given more than $1,000 to governors or candidates for governor.
Mitchell Fromstein, a member of Adelman's board of directors, also gave $10,000 to Doyle's campaign within days of the effective date of the contract.

It's just kismet, fate, chance, coincidence -- a fluke, you see. Just like ... oh, I don't know ... Denise Rich's donations to the Clinton Library.