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Monday, September 29, 2003

"There's no great crime involved here"
This particular je-n'regrette-rien fell stillborn from the frothing lips of Republican columnist Robert Novak (a.k.a, Novakula; a.k.a., that pompous little shit on Crossfire -- the one that doesn't wear bowties) after the CIA requested a Department of Justice investigation into who in the White House leaked the name of one of its field operatives to Novak in order to get back at her husband for embarrassing the Bush Administration publicly during the brief furor over uranium from Niger (or more accurately, the complete absence of aforesaid substance in the sweaty possession of Saddam Hussein). Novak, apparently feeling the heat for writing a column that disclosed the agent's name, made his defensive comment today. Now, I try not to use inflammatory rhetoric here and I am careful not to curse too much, but there's no other way to adequately convey what a hypocritical, evil prick Bob Novak is. Think about it, gang -- this treasonous bastard was willing to risk the life of a CIA agent and her overseas contacts simply to help the Bush Administration get a little payback. Fuck him and the horse he rode in on. CNN ought to fire his ass (as should every newspaper in the country that carries his syndicated column) and not put him back on air until it has footage of him in an orange jumpsuit, slow-dancing with Big Willie in the showers at Leavenworth. Bathe in Novak's scorn here.
I think it's fixed
One of our regular readers let me know a day or two back that they were having trouble locating a specific post from August. In fact, they added, almost all of August's posts were missing from the archive. Soooo, I looked for myself. When I first clicked the link to the August archive page, I got the August archive page, but it didn't contain anything about evil Republicans. Instead, there was a graphic of a butterfly and a magnifying glass, each helpfully labeled in Hungarian (I am not making this up). I doubt I have many readers in Hungary, so I fiddled with the settings on the blog this evening and seem to have recovered the August archive page...I think...Maybe...

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Caligula of the Chesapeake
A standard hallmark of Republican politicians is a sense of entitlement that would gag a 19th Century robber baron. An instructive case is Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich who, in a very brief time in office, has made it clear that the sun rises and sets from the confines of his regal anus. Ehrlich is currently being sued by a former Maryland Department of Environment supervisor fired the day the governor took office (the plaintiff is a Democrat). He recently appointed a commercial fisherman as deputy director of fisheries in the Department of Natural Resources (sport fishermen can't be pleased with this at all). He's flipped the bird at the Piscataway tribe's efforts to gain formal recognition from the state as a First Nations tribe. He appears to be a member of the Towson, Maryland, Elks Club, which has its collective wing-wang in a public relations vise right now for rigging a vote to prevent women applicants from joining the club. And today, Gov. Ehrlich reaped nationwide attention in a Washington Post op-ed column decrying his attempts to bully the University of Maryland system for public grumbling about Ehrlich's budget priorities (Ehrlich hates Injuns, but loves slot machines and spent most of this year trying to beat the legislature into approving their use in Maryland). Fear not, Ehrlich appears to be an equal-opportunity abuser. He's demanded the resignation of the Maryland Republican Hispanic Caucus chair for daring to speak out about the governor's feeble efforts at promoting diversity in his appointments. So, Marylanders -- any buyers' remorse among your voters?
Houston, we have scandal!
The CIA's request for an investigation of the Bush Administration's leak of the name of a covert operative in order to embarass her husband made the front page of this morning's Washington Post. According to the Post's story, the White House now admits that two top Bush Administration officials called at least six journalists to leak the CIA agent's name. "Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge," a Bush Administration insider told the Post. It's also illegal. Read this for more information.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Republican drunk tank
Plenty of legal action this week across the nation involving elected Republicans, alcohol intoxication and motor vehicles. In Illinois, State Rep. Bill Mitchell was sentenced to court supervision for two years and the loss of his driver's license for 90 days after pleading guilty to drunk driving last month. Mitchell blew a 0.186 blood alcohol content after sheriff's deputies stopped him in McLean County August 29. Read the rest of Mitchell's story here. Meanwhile, River Vale, New Jersey, councilman Robert Menville pled guilty Friday to driving while intoxicated. Accompanying charges of marijuana possession and driving under the influence of marijuana were dropped. Menville lost his license for six months and was fined $757 in fines and court costs. No word yet on whether he will be forced to resign from the council. Menville's criminal particulars are here.
Drug mule new Yonkers GOP head
Zehy Jereis, the newly-anointed leader of the Yonkers Republican Committee, comes into office carrying some legal baggage from his youthful hijinks in the early 90s. Jereis pled guilty in 1998 to falsely witnessing nomination petitions for the Conservative Party. His constituents already knew about that one. What many didn't know, however, was that Jereis was busted in November, 1994, on felony charges of possession of marijuana. Jereis got caught flat-footed holding nearly 20 lbs. of the chronic. He pled guilty to a count of criminal facilitation three months after his arrest and was set free on conditional probation for one year. How does one go from a sell-weight drug felony to a misdemeanor charge in three months? By ratting out everyone you can think of? By calling in some chits from local Republican Party officials? Who knows? But Yonkers citizens can rest assured that Jereis is doing his best to uphold traditional Republican values. Jereis' fascinating criminal history can be found here.
CIA demands White House investigation
The Central Intelligence Agency has forwarded a request for a criminal investigation of the White House to the Department of Justice. The agency's action follows an internal investigation of news leaks in late July that named an an active intelligence officer in a column by right-wing tool Robert Novak. The agent, Valerie Plame, is the wife of former acting ambassador to Iraq, Joseph Wilson. In addition to putting Plame herself in immediate danger, Novak's unscrupulous actions may have led to the deaths of agents Plame was working in WMD detection. The agency is now convinced that the leaks to Novak and other Republican pundits came from the White House, which was infuriated by Wilson's damning revelations during the Niger uranium scandal. So far, NBC/MSNBC and Capitol Blue have been carrying the flag on this one. If we can impeach a president for lying about a blow job, we can take legal action to counter clear treason. Read about it here and here.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

University kills half-baked GOP publicity stunt
Southern Methodist University acted quickly yesterday to halt a bake sale held by the Young Conservatives of Texas. The budding Rethugs were using the event to race-bait SMU students by charging different prices according to the purchaser's race and gender. The YCTs claimed the bake sale was a protest of affirmative action in college admissions -- a lame-ass excuse in their case since a Texas court killed affirmative action in the state's college admissions in 1996. The bake sale was suspended by SMU officials after shouting matches broke out between the nascent right-wing bigots and non-white, non-male students they can't seem to recognize as equal human beings. Tsk-tsk about it here and here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Housekeeping
Alrighty, then, Thug busters, I have tried to provide a comment page, via BlogSpeak, for y'all. It's at the bottom of each entry. Give it a try so I can go back and make any necessary corrections to the coding. I have also shortened the blog page to the five latest posts. Thanks, folks!
Local jock draws suspension for monkeying around
Look, everyone knows that the Republican Party is, if anything, an organization that panders to the fears and hatred of significant numbers of white people. And target number one on the right-wing list of boogeymen is African-Americans. The party would not enjoy the kind of inroads it has made into the South without demonizing blacks, something you can never get the corporate-owned national media to talk about.

But naked appeals to racism aren't just the province of in-bred Southern whites. Unfortunately, today's anti-black rhetoric plays well with whites all over the country. Case in point is Bob Lonsberry, a radio talk show host with WHAM-AM in Rochester, N.Y., who is serving a two-day suspension from the air for calling Rochester mayor William A. Johnson, Jr., a "monkey" and an "orangutan." Johnson, natch, is African-American. WHAM is a Clear Channel station and the company has lived up to its reputation in this instance, refusing to take calls about the Lonsberry flap on the air. Read about this bigot here.
GOP ex-university president busted
James Holderman, who resigned as president of the University of South Carolina in 1990 following a financial scandal, is in even bigger legal trouble. Holderman is currently being tried on federal charges of visa fraud conspiracy, money laundering and visa fraud. In the court room yesterday, the jury heard Holderman on tape bragging to an undercover officer about his connections to the Bush Administration via his old college buddy, chief of staff Andrew Card, as well as ties to former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger and former U.S. Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee. Holderman thought he was helping Russian mobsters stay in the United States. Once again, he displayed clear signs of what accepting personal responsibility means when you're a Republican. Instead of admitting his crimes, Holderman blames police entrapment and his own mental illness for his current woes. Read about it here.
Victory celebration
George W. Bush's chief strategist for telecommunications policy is in hot water with the U.S. Department of Commerce's inspector general after the IG determined that she allowed telecommunications industry lobbyists to throw her a $3,000 party in her honor. As assistant secretary for telecommunications and information, Nancy Victory's job was to recommend policy to regulate the industry in the best interests of the American people. Instead, ten days after the October, 2001, party, she asked the FCC to ditch restrictions that cellular phone carriers had complained about. Victory resigned her position this past summer. She should be facing a federal criminal investigation, but she's not. Watch another Republican law-breaker quietly walk here.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Diebold with a vengeance
It's customary, when plotting a conspiracy, to do so in secret. You don't have to be Machiavelli to figure that rule out on your own. But you do have to be marginally smarter than Walden O'Dell, CEO of Diebold, Inc. Diebold makes electronic voting equipment. This technology has raised concerns all across the nation that elections could be rigged using the machines. O'Dell hasn't done much to combat that concept. In an incredibly idiotic move, O'Dell, a major GOP fundraiser in Ohio, sent out a fundraising letter to Republicans promising that he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." Now, O'Dell is either a complete nitwit or he's so crazy that he figures he can say pretty much anything he wants in public and it won't have any impact on the business that puts bread on his table. The national media, of course, have taken a pass on covering this story. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, however, has acquitted itself well, giving readers the story on how absolutely corrupt the CEO of a company bidding to sell electronic voting machines to the state of Ohio is. Read about it here, here (a more comprehensive story about electronic voting machines in general), here, here (great op-ed piece) and especially here where O'Dell promises to be more conspiratorial in his efforts to throw the next Presidential election to George W. Bush.
Janklow, swift chariot...
In a bold display of assuming personal responsibility, South Dakota Republican U.S. Congressman Bill Janklow announced today that he would not resign from office, despite the fact that he faces murder charges in his home state for mowing down a motorcyclist. Janklow was speeding and ran a stop sign when the bike collided with his Caddy. He also whined about his own injuries, refused to answer questions about his driving record and spoke about himself in the third person. And the good citizens of South Dakota actually keep returning this irresponsible and arrogant man to high elective office? Go figure. Read Janklow's interview here. Thanks to Frank S. for getting this to me in a timely manner. I appreciate your effort!
Ah-nuld's visa voodoo
While Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican candidate for California governor, doesn't get out much, in an exercising-the-franchise manner, he does take the time to pull the lever for anti-immigrant referenda. Now, you might think that sounds callous and hypocritical. Why would an immigrant support a ballot measure to make other immigrants' lives in California hell? All I can say is "traditional Republican family values," which apparently include booting latino kids from the state's public schools. Ah-nuld, however, has a dirty little immigrant skeleton in his closet. It seems he broke the rules of the visa he was issued when he first entered the U.S. in the 1960s. Ah-nuld's B-1 visa allowed foreign athletes to enter the country to train and compete, but specifically forbade them from drawing a salary from an American firm. Laugh as you read the spin and flop sweat pouring forth from Ah-nuld's handlers here. Thanks go to Adella H. for bringing this to light!

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Weather alert
I live in Raleigh, North Carolina, which is currently in the strike zone for Hurricane Isabel. I'll try to update tomorrow night, but once the hurricane comes through on Thursday afternoon, there's a likelihood that I'll be without power for as long as two weeks. I will resume updating as soon as possible. In the meantime, please keep sending your tales of Republican crime and misconduct (and don't forget to provide me with a link to a news source).
The Talented Mr. Nicky
When you're the Republican candidate for governor of Kentucky, what don't you need? If you answered "a sociopath on your campaign staff," please seek professional counseling immediately because you definitely see the world through some dark lenses. On the upside, though, you can tell your shrink that you were right. Ernie Fletcher's deputy campaign manager, Nicholas Mirisis, has been a bad boy. Mirisis, who doubled as Fletcher's press secretary when he was in Congress, has been revealed to be a cheat who bought a term paper off the Internet when he was student body president at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Mirisis has also been revealed as a sicko who sent a threatening e-mail to his ex-girlfriend (also editor of the student newspaper that broke the term paper story) detailing the sexual torture he proposed to subject her to and pornographic images, just in case she was more of a visual thinker. The university board investigated Mirisis and confirmed that he composed and sent the e-mail. Mirisis was suspended and UNCC dodged its civic responsibility by dropping its case against him after the budding Republican pol (can anyone say "Ted Bundy?" I knew that you could.) transferred to my alma mater, North Carolina State University (great...just freaking great).

Mirisis resigned from the Fletcher campaign after his past came to light, but the great right-wing underground railroad will simply move him a couple of states away and put him back to work. Meanwhile, Kentucky voters can't be blamed if they question Ernie Fletcher's judgment at this point. Catch this story here (scroll down a little ways to get to the Mirisis piece), here, here and here. And a huge shout-out to Barbara at the Doghouse for cluing me to this story!
Family values in the Llano Estacado
God, I love Texas! They have the stupidest Republicans doing the most vile, hypocritical things. Texas also provides the Felonious Elephant with a number of great correspondents who faithfully pass on news accounts of the GOP's pathetic behavior.

This story takes us to Lubbock, a west Texas city that I have actually visited. Folks are good Christians in Lubbock. Well, the Mexicans aren't, I was informed during my two days there, since they aren't white or Protestant, but I digress. Western civilization's outpost in Lubbock -- whenever Jimmie Dale Gilmore is out of town -- is Texas Tech University. To get into Texas Tech, though, Lubbock kids must first spend 12 years in the city's public school system or in one of those creepy church schools. Making sure that the public school children are primed academically for Texas Tech and spiritually for Campus Crusade for Christ (based in Lubbock) is the Lubbock superintendent of schools. The hiring sign is out for that post right now. You see, the good, Christian Republican who was superintendent fled office like a scalded hog in mid-March. Why? Because he was porking a female school system employee on county time, on county property. (Note to the next Lubbock superintendent: you might want to wipe down the desk top in your office with a strong disinfectant before setting any of your personal possessions on it)

Now, what makes Dr. Jack Clemmons such a hypocritical dick is that while he was making the beast with two backs outside the bonds of his marriage, he was also barring gay and lesbian students in the Lubbock public schools from forming a chapter of the Gay Straight Alliance on campus. When he wasn't discriminating against homosexuals and humping the help, Clemmons was a busy little fellow at his office computer, sending mash notes to his lover and composing racist screeds that he left behind when he fled.

KLBK TV in Lubbock has been superb in documenting Clemmons' misdeeds. Now, they've uncovered evidence that in May, Clemmons applied for the superintendent's post with the Little Rock, Arkansas, Public Schools. And he did it with help and supporting references from Lubbock Public School Board president Mark Griffin and former vice-president Gary Cocanougher, who moved out of Lubbock that same month. Enjoy Dr. Clemmons' well-deserved public humiliation here. And thanks to Austin's own Karen T., one of those dependable Texas correspondents I was bragging about. Keep it up, lady!
Water, water neverywhere
The American economy may be in the crapper and the war in Iraq may be morphing into a pointless exercise in goat-roping, but the Bush Administration isn't letting this petty stuff stay the White House from its most crucial mission -- enriching its cronies by any means necessary. Once more, we return to the topic of theft of natural resources. This time around, however, the disturbingly Weeble-shaped Karl Rove, supposed brains of the Bush operation (whoa, imagine carrying that particular public stigma for the rest of your life!), got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. It seems that in the spring of 2002, Rove briefed his many henchmen and henchwomen in the Department of the Interior about diverting water from the Klamath Falls dam in Oregon to irrigate farms in the region. Hey, "briefed" is the verb the New York Times used in its account. I guess "ordered" and "plotted" couldn't make it into the office that day. The outcome of Rove's intervention was, on one side, happy farmers and ranchers and, on the other, 33,000 dead chinook salmon in the Northern California reach of the Klamath River, pissed-off First Nations tribes that depend on salmon fishing and the eternal wrath of Weeble-shaped fly fishing enthusiasts worldwide. Massachusetts U.S. Senator John Kerry blew the whistle on the serial fish killer late in August, 2003, and the Inspector General at Interior will now conduct a thorough investigation of Rove's actions with the white-washed conclusions due later this year or early next, depending on when the fishing fanatics are least likely to be paying attention. Reel in the story here.
And he ain't the only one
Sheriff Hege won't be the only Republican elected official in Davidson County, North Carolina, making a perp walk this week. County Commissioner Cindy Akins was also indicted today along with two county supervisors for misusing state vehicles for private purposed, illegally obtaining property by false pretenses and other crimes. County Commissioner Billy Joe Kepley has also acknowledged that he allowed one of the indicted county supervisors to install a baby monitor in his employees' break room at M&L Motors so Kepley could eavesdrop on his staff. The story is all here.
There'll be a new sheriff in town
Davidson County, North Carolina, Sheriff Gerald Hege has been indicted on 15 criminal charges, including embezzling and obstructing justice. You'll remember Hege as the tough-talking Republican who painted his jail cells pink and had a cable television show each week during which he lorded over prisoners, forcing them to tell the teeming masses what base, vile creatures they were and thanking the sheriff for showing them the error of their ways. A lot of North Carolinians have been waiting for this puckered asshole to go down in flames. Sounds like a new day is here! Feel the power of Hege here and here. This story from the Lexington, N.C., Dispatch provides excellent detail into the allegations against the sheriff. This is far worse than a stereotypical Buford T. Justus slapstick comedy. Hege, among other things, has promised people throughout Davidson County that his deputies would be stopping anything "darker than snow" when on patrol. He shut down a missing person investigation because the family involved had donated money to an opponent's campaign. Hege even openly interfered with the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation's inquiry into the allegations against him by threatening to fire or demote officers who cooperated with the probe. Poly sci academics who are interested in case studies of political corruption ought to pay close attention to this one. The Thomasville Times had a great story on its web site earlier today, but its site is currently running amok. If and when the story gets re-posted, I'll provide a link

Monday, September 15, 2003

Stop me if you've heard this one
Guilford County, North Carolina, Chief District Judge William Daisy is toast. The Republican jurist expects the state's Judicial Standards Commission to demand his resignation following a formal complaint that Daisy sent 36 e-mails in recent months to friends and acquaintances that contained racist jokes. Daisy used his home e-mail account when he sent the offending e-mails, but at least some of them were sent via a state-owned computer in the judge's chambers. Check out the judge's sense of humor here.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Florida Rethug's $311,000 fine wiped clean
Florida state Senator Alex Diaz de la Portilla is walking tall today thanks to a 3rd District Court of Appeals ruling that overturned a $311,000 fine levied against the legislator by the Florida Elections Commission. The Republican politician dodged criminal charges in the case, but was fined for 311 separate counts of campaign finance reporting violations stemming from a 1999 special election. The appeals court ordered the state legislature to come up with a more workable system of campaign finance reporting guidelines. Wait, did I just say that three appealate judges ordered another branch of government to change the law to their specification? Uh, aren't Republicans supposed to be the party of judicial restraint? Read about it here.
ABCNews faces legal retaliation for story
ABCNews correspondent Brian Ross could face criminal charges after he and other news personnel conducted an experiment to see how well-protected the nation's borders are against weapons of mass destruction being smuggled into the U.S. Ross and his co-workers sent just under 15 lbs. of depleted uranium through U.S. Customs in Los Angeles. This is the second year in a row that Ross and his team have pulled this off around the 9/11 anniversary. Is the federal government scrambling to figure out why radioactive material had no trouble making it to the streets of L.A.? Well, no. Instead, Homeland Security Assistant Secretary (and far-right GOP politician) Asa Hutchinson has ordered an investigation of Ross, the rest of the ABCNews staff involved in the test and anyone with whom they talked while setting up and carrying out the test. Hutchinson is already busy trying to cover his own ass and that of his department. He claims the depleted uranium shipment was scheduled for inspection when it arrived in the Port of Los Angeles and that this proves Homeland's security measures are working. Hutchinson can't explain why the shipping crate containing the depleted uranium was never opened and was released to ABCNews with the cargo still intact. How big a screw-up is this? "If they can't detect that, then they can't detect the real thing," said Tom Cochran, a nuclear physicist for the Natural Resources Defense Council. The council loaned the depleted uranium to ABCNews for the experiment. Oh, yeah -- did we mention that this is the second year in a row that ABCNews has conducted this same test right before the anniversary of 9/11?This is a very important story and a classic model of the Bush Administration's vindictiveness, ineptitude and stupidity. Make sure you read this and this.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

District attorney zeroes in on GOP leader
Suffolk County, New York, Republican Party leader Thomas M. Neppell, Jr., was served with the mother of all search warrants today by the county's District Attorney. Neppell is in the cross-hairs of a corruption investigation involving his insurance agency and bribes paid to GOP county officials for favorable treatment during contract bidding. The scandal has already bagged former state Rep. Fred Towle (R-Shirley), who resigned his office in May after pleading guilty to taking a bribe. The probe is focusing on Neppell's involvement with the Town of Brookhaven since 1993. Catch the latest here.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Advise and dissent
One of the scarier aspects of the Bush Administration has been its single-minded attempt to pack the federal judiciary with far-right ideologues who are absolutely unsuited to wear a robe. After all, the current Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, William Rehnquist, got his start in politics out of law school as a precinct watcher in his native state of Arizona, challenging African-American voters seeking to cast votes in the 1964 election. If you want to know exactly how low the Rethugs are going to hack away at the roots of democracy, read this piece from today's American Prospect about the withdrawal of Miguel Estrada's nomination to the D.C. Superior Court. Really disturbing stuff, folks.
Honor among thieves
Minnesota's Republican Party convention on Saturday included stirring calls from Gov. Tim Pawlenty (you've read here about Timbo's on-going legal problems) for the Minnesota GOP to reach out to minorities (and, presumably, backhand them) and a hefty soupcon of debate among delegates over whether or not to retain a clause in the party's constitution that requires local GOP officers to report thefts of party funds to law enforcement. Apparently, the party split wide open two years ago when the party treasurer in Edina blew the whistle on his predecessor for helping himself to $15,733 during his four years of exercising Republican fiduciary responsibility. When local party officials tried to have the honest treasurer stripped of his post, the state party was eventually forced to adopt its tough-love for embezzling party officials plank. The plank remains in the GOP state party constitution, but it's still not popular with many Republican leaders. See for yourself here.
Meet George Jesson!
George H. "Nick" Jesson, a 2002 Republican candidate for governor of California, is in a whole lot of hurt. Jesson, age 52, is a leader in the national nutwing movement that insists American citizens don't have to pay taxes if they don't want to. Jesson admirably practised what he preached -- unusual for a Republican politician -- and was rewarded last Friday with an arrest and indictment on state charges of filing a false tax return. His wife, Trina, also got to do the perp walk. Jesson owns No Time Delay Electronics, Inc., in Huntington Beach. Gross receipts from the business in 1999 -- the last time George bothered to file corporate taxes -- came in at $5.2 million. Revel in Jesson's well-deserved trip through the spin-cycle of the justice system here.
What would Huey think?
Former Louisiana Governor Huey Long made his political bones by picking fights with Big Oil and other corporate ne'er-do-wells as head of the state's utilities commission back in the 1930s. Things have certainly changed in Louisiana since then. The current chair of the very same utilities commission is a Republican, Jay Blossman. Blossman is trying to follow in the Kingfish's footsteps by running for governor this fall. He's having problems, however. First, the state auditor's office recently ripped Blossman a new one for taking free meals and tickets from the corporations he regulates. And where Huey liked to knock heads with all the corporations he felt were bleeding Louisiana citizens, the auditor's report says Blossman plays favorites and that the commission is inconsistent in the rates it sets. So, what we have here is a man who may just be more politically corrupt than the Kingfish and who is certainly no mental match for Long or any of his descendents. Blossman, one of those obnoxious partisan Rethugs who actually announced his candidacy on Ronald Reagan's birthday on purpose, lost a bid for a state House seat in 1995 to an incumbent who pointed out that Blossman had two drunk driving convictions. The state's Republican establishment appears to hate this guy, but we think he makes a great poster boy for Republican family values -- no matter whether he ever gets caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy. Laissez les bon temps roullez ici. More juicy details of the utility commission scandal can be found here.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Crisco-anointed AG faces contempt charges
After two and a half years of raging unchecked across the legal and constitutional landscape, someone in a position of public responsibility has finally jerked the reins hard on U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen has given Ashcroft two weeks to come up with a good excuse for violating a gag order in a terror trial conducted earlier this summer in the Detroit judge's courtroom. No comment from the U.S. Department Formerly Known As Justice. Ashcroft, congenitally unable to avoid a microphone and television camera, ran his mouth about the case to reporters while the trial was still being conducted. Hoist a pint to Judge Rosen while you're reading this, amigos.
Pension fund bribe brings down two Republicans
Two Republicans linked to former Connecticut Treasurer Paul Silvester (a Repub, natch) pled guilty today in federal court to charges of corruption. Lisa Thiesfield, Silvester's former mistress and campaign manager -- did I mention she's also a card-carrying member of a political party that harps endlessly about how it embodies traditional family values? -- admitted that she had taken a $1 million bribe from a Boston-based financial management firm. Frederick W. McCarthy, chairman of Triumph Capital Group, pled guilty to bribing Thiesfield and another GOP lackey of Silvester's, Christopher Stack. No word on whether McCarthy is a former mistress or campaign manager for Silvester. And what did McCarthy's good-will investment get him in return? $200 million in Connecticut state pension funds invested with Triumph. Silvester was voted out of office in 1998 and is currently awaiting sentencing on his own federal convictions for corruption. This ought to have been a nationally-covered story. Nevertheless, the AP's Diane Scarponi does a great job of laying out the essential details of this scandal.
That's his story and he's sticking to it
Someone dropped a dime on Northampton County, Pennsylvania, Councilman Roger Angle Wednesday, exposing the 57 year-old Republican real estate investor's convictions on charges of disorderly conduct in 1997. The charges were originally shoplifting $125 of goods from five different stores, then fleeing a police pursuit. But, in an yet another outstanding example of Republicans taking personal responsibility, Angle somehow got the charges reduced and even managed to get a not-guilty verdict on the remaining shoplifting charge. "I was guilty of reckless driving and being disorderly," Angle said. "I 'fessed up and paid my fine, and I haven't had any motor vehicle violations since then." Motor vehicle violations...uh, okay, councilman. This is a great example of a Republican trying to weasel his way out of the moral hypocrisy that is part and parcel of radical right politics in the United States. Oh, and who does Angle hold responsible for the public embarrassment created by his illegal behavior? It certainly isn't Roger Angle. No, the villain here is, according to Angle, his Democratic opponent in this year's council race: "I have said that Charlie Dertinger would run a dirty campaign -- it's what he did four years ago and it's what he's doing again."

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Republican official pleads guilty to felony employment scam
Hendricks County, Indiana, Assessor Barbara L. Ford pled guilty to a single felony count of "ghost employment" today. What it boils down to is that Ford had one of her employees conducting personal business for Ford, working on Ford's re-election campaign and maintaining Republican Party mailing lists, all on the taxpayers' dime. Ford was charged last week and pled out today. Instead of taking the full fall for the felony count, Superior Court Judge David H. Coleman accepted a plea bargain that dropped the charge down to a Class A felony. The judge suspended a one-year jail sentence, ordered Ford to serve six months on probation, fined her $500 and court costs. Friends, family and employees of the accused filled the courtroom in a show of support for Ford and an unintentional demonstration of support for political grafting. Read about it here.
From heroin dealer to political heavyweight: A Republican success story
Johnny Hunter of Sarasota, Florida, is an upcoming power broker in his home state. Hunter is that most rare of animals -- an African-American Republican. Johnny says the GOP "coincides with my value system." Presumably that's the same value system that made Hunter one of the most successful heroin dealers in Sarasota County. Law enforcement claimed after Hunter's arrest in 1975 that he was responsible for 90% of the heroin sold in the county. Hunter got a 105-year sentence for his entrepreneurial zeal. Somehow, in rabid right Florida, that got knocked down to a total of eight years' incarceration, followed by five years of probation. How does a black drug dealer get such kid glove treatment in a state that loves to throw the book at African-American defendents? You tell me. Read all about Johnny Hunter's rise from dope peddling here.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Fanatical eye on the queer guy
Let me preface this entry by noting that, regardless of what the fundie mouthbreathers think, there's not a damn thing wrong with being gay or lesbian (or transgendered or transsexual or transvestite....). The only exception is when a radical, right-wing Republican politician tries to make hay with gay-bashing when he himself is closeted. U.S. Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) might or might not fit that profile. Foley is running for the U.S. Senate to replace Sen. Bob Graham this fall. He was outed in June by an alternative weekly, although Foley's sexual orientation was pretty much an open secret among everyone who knew him. Foley was even expected to pick up the support of the Express, Florida's largest gay newspaper, because of his established record of backing hate crimes and anti-discrimination legislation during his career in elective office. That support evaporated in the wake of Foley's outing when he gave a half-assed denial to state reporters during a conference call. Foley's case is a problematic one for Republicans and how his political career fares after this summer will speak volumes about the one thing Republicans love to preach about, but seldom actually want to subject to critical scrutiny -- exactly what moral framework undergirds their worldview. Be sure to look for the great quote from U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (always one of my favorite Dems) here, while this story started the whole Foley contretemps.
Hands on a hardbody
Alex Arshinkoff is, by all accounts, a guy with unquenchable desires. The 400-lb. Summit County, Ohio, Republican Party leader has made excellent use of his political connections to make money over the years and keep those traditional family values Republican politicians in office. Arshinkoff, however, has seen the ground shift underneath his throne since an alternate weekly paper in Cleveland outed him. The story began with a recap of an incident that occurred late last year when Arshinkoff picked up a young hitchhiker in the middle of the night in Akron. The young man fled Arshinkoff's automobile after the Republican began touching him inappropriately and propositioning him for gay sex. To say that there is bi-partisan glee in Summit County over the revelations about Arshinkoff's sexual orientation and his scamming money through his political connections might be an understatement. Here's a June story from the Akron Beacon Herald. And here is the Cleveland Scene story that started the entire uproar. As this August 20 piece in the Akron Beacon Herald shows, Arshinkoff is basically carrying on with business as usual.

Monday, September 01, 2003

In other drunk-driving news...
Illinois Rep. Bill Mitchell was arrested for drunk driving Friday night after blowing a 0.186 blood alcohol content following a stop by a McLean County Sheriff's Deputy. Illinois law only allows a 0.08 legal bac for driving, so Mitchell had slightly more than twice as much blood alcohol as allowed under the state statute. What makes this a beaut is that the Republican legislator sponsored legislation last year that allows small towns more control over businesses that allow customers to bring alcohol onto their premises and consume it. Here's the details.
GOP gubernatorial candidate's son arrested
Usually, the misdeeds of the offspring of famous politicos are off-the-record as far as the media is concerned, although George W. Bush's disastrous presidency may ultimately change all of that. Howard Dean's teenaged son took responsibility for his participation in a country club burglary recently. Haley Barbour, a Republican candidate for governor of Mississippi, appears to be ready to hang his own young'un out to dry after he was arrested yesterday for public drunkenness. Haley, Jr., is a 24 year-old senior at Ole Miss. Here's the recap from the Clarion Ledger.
Deadly deja vu
South Dakota Congressman Bill Janklow apprently was no stranger to trouble at the rural intersection where he killed a motorcyclist recently. The Republican pol ran the same stop sign on Dec. 29, 2002, nearly colliding with a family of four in a pick-up truck. A passenger in the pick-up truck called police to report the incident. Jennifer Walters says police called her back after stopping a Cadillac matching the description of the vehicle which almost side-swiped hers. They informed her that the driver was a former governor and had recently been elected to the U.S. Congress. It's not clear whether a formal report was ever filed on this particular incident. Catch the details here. In the meantime, Janklow is facing manslaughter charges for the wreck that killed the motorcyclist. You can get the condensed version of his legal woes here.
Family values strike like a cobra
Colorado Governor Bill Owens has made a political career out of wearing his Roman Catholicism on his sleeve and demanding that everyone else follow his version of traditional family values. Which makes one wonder if the state's family courts will now be overwhelmed by Republicans seeking to square their lives with Owens' moral standards by setting aside the old ball and chain. Owens, you see, has decided on a "trial separation" from his wife of 28 years, Frances. This story about the family's unexpected disintegration comes from the Denver Post and makes for hilarious reading as Colorado Republicans fall all over one another in a scramble to make sure Colorado voters understand that Bill Owens is still a great guy and a great governor even if he is a hypocrite.

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