Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Con Men, Liars and Thieves: Jack Abramoff Timeline

No person named in this timeline is guilty of any crime unless or until they plead guilty or are convicted.

The following is my working timeline on the events and the lies surrounding these events in the Jack Abramoff/Senate/Congress scandals. My plan is to continue to fill the timeline and to research and write on the characters. Please let me know if you see any corrections I need to make or any items that need to be added to the timeline. Dates from the Abramoff plea agreement are in blue, dates from the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearings are in green and those from the media are in red.

Note: This timeline can also be found at my other blog, Americans Deserve the Truth. I have had to temporarily suspend posting on that blog because of technical issues with my updates. I will keep that blog active to store my archives and will update the timeline there each time I update it here. Thank you.


1994 - Abramoff uses his connections with Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay to help him get hired with Preston Gates & Ellis as a lobbyist. "Abramoff developed and maintains strong ties to Speaker Newt Gingrich, Majority Leader Dick Armey, Majority Whip Tom Delay and Republican Policy Committee Chairman Chris Cox and their staffs." [Source: Preston, Gates & Ellis Press Release, 12/30/94] via David Sirota

1994 - 2001 - Abramoff worked for the D.C. lobbying office of the law firm Preston Gates & Ellis. Also at the firm were former DeLay aides Michael Scanlon and William Jarrell, David Safavian, and former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, then a Preston Gates contractor.

1995 - Abramoff was hired by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

1999 - Political lobbyists, Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist contact Jack Abramoff separately to say they want to do business.

July 1999 - Abramoff establishes a private foundation, The Capital Athletic Foundation. He sought tax-exempt status for CAF saying it was in part providing funding for a non-profit school, Eshkol Academy. In reality, Abramoff used this fund and Kaygold, LLC (set up in 2001) to receive funds for his personal benefit, to conceal the true destination of the funds and to avoid paying income taxes.

Feb. 2000 - Boulis begins to negotiate the sale of SunCruz To Abramoff and Kidan.

Feb. 7, 2000 - Abramoff warned Reed that an initial payment for anti-lottery radio ads would be less than Reed expected because Abramoff needed to give Norquist some money.

Feb. 22, 2000 - Abramoff noted that Norquist had kept an additional 25k. Norquist later said he had permission.

2000 - Abramoff forced the Choctaws to give the Alabama Christian Coalition $1.15 million in installments. Norquist agreed to pass the money on to the Coalition and another Alabama anti-gambling group, both of which Reed was mobilizing for the fight against a proposed Alabama state lottery.

March 2000 - Bob Ney denounces owners of SunCruz (Gus Boulis) on the floor of Congress and accuses SunCruz of cheating customers.

March 2000 through 2001 - Michael Scanlon goes to work for Preston Gates and then Greenberg Traurig as a public relations specialist. Abramoff was influential in Scanlon being hired at both firms.

2000 - Ney goes on all-expense-paid trip to Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands paid for by Abramoff.

May 2000 - Golf trip #1 - Tom DeLay flew to London and Scotland. The trip was charged to Abramoff's credit card. Trip included Abramoff, DeLay and Tony Rudy.

June 9, 2000 - DeLay's office gives Boulis a flag that has flown over the Capitol.

June 15, 2000 - Abramoff, Kidan, Rudy and SunCruz executive, Joan Wagner and her husband flew to Pebble Beach for the U.S. Open. They flew from D.C. in the SunCruz corporate jet.

June wk 3, 2000 - Boulis agrees to sell SunCruz to Abramoff and Kidan for $145 million.

Sept. 18, 2000 - SunCruz principles meet in New York City to begin finalizing the sale of the cruise casinos.

Sept. 18, 2000 - Kidan and Greg Walker of Foothill Capital travel to D.C. to join Abramoff and DeLay for a DeLay event in Abramoff's luxury box during a Redskins vs. Cowboys football game.

Sept. 26, 2000 - Final terms of SunCruz sale determined.

Sept. 27, 2000 - Kidan and partner, Waldman each fax a document to lenders offering proof that a $23 million wire transfer had been executed sending the money to Boulis's bank.

Oct. 26, 2000 - Ney praises Kidan and Abramoff as new owners of SunCruz in a speech in the House.

Dec. 5, 2000 - Boulis and Kidan fight at a business meeting. Kidan refuses to pay his debt to Boulis saying that problems with SunCruz were not disclosed prior to the sale.

Dec. 13, 2000 - Kidan begins sending payments totaling $145,000 to Anthony Moscatiello and his daughter for food and beverage services. Moscatiello has ties to the Gambino crime family.

2001-2004 - Senator Charles Grassley received over $62,000 in donations from Abramoff related groups.

Jan. 2001 - Abramoff goes to work for Greenberg Traurig law firm.

2001 - Tony Rudy goes to work with Abramoff at Greenberg Traurig law firm.

Jan. 2001 - Michael Scanlon establishes Capital Campaign Strategies, LLC to perform grass roots work, public relations services and election campaign support. Scanlon also established other companies, collectively known as CCS, which mainly received money for work performed by others.

2001 - Abramoff and Scanlon agree that Abramoff will encourage his clients, four Indian tribes, to obtain grass roots and public relations assistance through company CCS. CCS charged the clients an amount that was significantly more than it cost CCS to perform this function. Abramoff and Scanlon agreed that Abramoff would receive 50% of the net profits made on these four clients.

Early 2001 - Abramoff convinces Mississippi Tribe to hire CCS without informing them that he would receive 50% of the profits.

June 2001 to 2004 - The Mississippi Tribe paid CCS $14,765,000 with Abramoff secretly receiving almost half.

Jan. 19, 2001 - Boulis seeks injunction against Kidan ordering him to pay what he owes and preventing him from operating the cruise line.

Jan. 20, 2001 - George W. Bush is sworn in as President.

Jan 20, 2001 - Kidan and Scanlon fly to D.C. and attend Inauguration Day reception in DeLay's office.

Jan 28, 2001 - SunCruz leases jet to take current and former aides to DeLay and Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), to Super Bowl in Tampa and for a night of gambling aboard SunCruz ship.

Feb. 6, 2001 - Boulis shot and killed while driving from work in Fort Lauderdale.

March 15, 2001 - At a fundraiser at MCI Center For Bob Ney $1000 contributions are made to Ney by Abramoff, Kidan and three other SunCruz executives.

March 2001 - Abramoff and Scanlon solicit Louisiana Tribe to hire them as lobbyists. After being paid for the first project, Abramoff convinced the Tribe to rehire CCS hiding the fact that he would receive 50% of the net profit.

March 2001 to May 2003 - The Louisiana Tribe paid CCS approximately $30,510,000 with Abramoff pocketing almost $11,450,000.

June 5, 2001 - Michael Scanlon contacts "Jeremy" (large PDF file, page 1) for financial advise about his company, CCS or Capitol Campaign Strategies. He states that his main source of referral business(Abramoff) is practically forcing him to participate in paying for the sky boxes at Red Skins Stadium and the MCI Center. Scanlon wants to make sure this is deductible as a business expense.

June 18, 2001 - Scanlon broaches subject of building CCS business revenues to $3 million. He tells Abramoff he has found a buyer who will pay 3x revenue. Says he will split profit with Abramoff if he helps Scanlon build his client base. Abramoff replies that it sounds like a plan.(PDF, pp 2&3)

June 22, 2001 - SunCruz files for bankruptcy.

Oct. 4 & 5, 2001 - Scanlon and Abramoff email each other about Saginaw Chippewah tribe elections. Abramoff tells Scanlon he has pitched Scanlon/CCS to the tribe. (PDF, p. 4) Abramoff says he discussed a $4-5 million program and Reed responds with, "THE PRICE HAS JUST GONE UP TP 10 MIL!!" (Reference to their Gimme Five plan.)

Oct. 30,2001 - Scanlon and Abramoff exchange emails about Scanlons plans to help their contacts at Saginaw Chippewah Tribe win in upcoming tribal elections. (PDF, p. 5)

Nov. 8, 2001 - Scanlon sends out email detailing their win in Saginaw Chippewah Tribe elections. Their guys are in control. Also mentions there is a Louisiana referendom to work on. (PDF, P.6)

Nov. 12, 2001 - Reed sent Abramoff an email asking for details so he(Reed) can let Cornyn know what they would be doing to help him.

Nov. 2001 - Abramoff establishes Kaygold, LLC, a solely owned entity. Kaygold was used along with the Capital Athletic Foundation to receive funds for his personal benefit and to hide the true destination of money received.

Dec. 17 & 18, 2001 - Abramoff and Scanlon exchange emails about whether Saginaw Chippewah Tribe will hire Scanlon and sign on to the program. Abramoff refers to the tribal leaders as troglodytes, Scanlon asks what a troglodyte is and Abramoff responds that it is a lower form of existence. (PDF pp. 7 & 8)

Jan. 2002 - Abramoff and Scanlon solicit "Michigan Tribe" (Saginaw Chippewah) to hire them to provide lobbying and grass roots services.

Jan. 4, 2002 - Abramoff sends email to Scanlon saying “[Reed] is a bad version of us! No more money for him.” In the email Abramoff was questioning whether Ralph Reed had properly accounted for funds spent on Indian gambling projects.

Jan. 7, 2002 - Reed sends an email to Abramoff telling him they need to budget for an "attaboy" for Cornyn.

Jan. 14, 2002 - Abramoff and Scanlon exchange emails about lack of business from Saginaw Chippewah Tribe. Scanlon expected business after helping get council members elected. Abramoff assures him business will come. They also discuss visit of David Otto (Sag Chip Council Member) and Chris Petras (Sag Chip Legislative Director). (PDF p. 9)

Jan. 16, 2002 - Abramoff emails Scanlon encouraging him to set up meeting with Otto as soon as possible. "We need that moolah", he says. (PDF p.10)

Jan. 29, 2002 - Abramoff sends Scanlon an email about the dinner with Otto of Saginaw Chippewah Tribe and then refers to the Choctaw Tribal Council as monkeys. (PDF p. 11)

Feb. 2002 - Abramoff and Scanlon solicit Texas Tribe as clients. The Texas Tribe gaming business had been closed by the state of Texas because the tribe did not have federal or state permission to run a gambling casino. Abramoff and Scanlon told the tribe they would work for them to reopen the casino and then expand it to a more lucrative facility. In return for doing this it was agreed that the Texas Tribe would pay $4,200,000 and they agreed to make substantial political campaign contributions at the direction of Abramoff. The two men did not disclose to the Texas tribe that they had already been paid millions by the Louisiana Tribe to work against all gaming in the Texas legislature.

Feb. 6-7, 2002 - Abramoff and Scanlon exchange emails discussing lack of payment from the Choctaws. Abramoff refers to the tribe as monkeys. (PDF - Indian Affairs Hearings)

March 5, 2002 - Scanlon and Abramoff exchange emails discussing solicitation of business with Agua Caliente Tribe. (PDF - large download)

June 2002 - Abramoff convinces Michigan Tribe, Saginaw Chippewah, to expand the services they receive from CCS. (Capital Campaign Strategies - Scanlon's company)

June 2002 - Oct. 2003 - Michigan Tribe pays CCS about $3,500,000 with Abramoff receiving about $500,000.

July 22, 2002 - Abramoff sent David Safavian an email outlining a letter to be sent by at least 2 congressmen to the General Services Administration supporting a lease for office space for some of Abramoff's clients in an old post office building downtown.

2002 - Safavian asks GSA permission to attend golf trip to Scotland with Abramoff assuring them that Abramoff had no business in front of the GSA.

Aug. 2002 - Golf trip #2 - Robert Ney, David Safavian, Ralph Reed, Neil Volz fly to Scotland with Abramoff. Trip cost more than $120,000 and was paid for mostly by a charity that had been started and was run by Abramoff, the Capital Athletic Foundation.

2002 - Abramoff was retained under a secret contract by the Guam Superior Court to lobby against a bill proposing to put Superior Court under the authority of the Guam Supreme Court. The $324,000 was paid to Abramoff through a Laguna Beach, California, lawyer by means of 36 checks of $9,000 each. If done to avoid the federal reporting requirements for payment transfers this would constitute illegal structuring under 31 USC 5324(a). The form of payment might also be illegal if it was used to evade federal contracting rules requiring an open tender for contracts over $10,000.

2002 - After Abramoff worked with Reed to close the casino of the Tigua tribe, he persuaded the tribe to hire him to lobby Congress to reopen the casino.

2002 - After persuading the Tigua to hire him Abramoff met with Robert Ney to ask him to push the legislation, the Tigua (by overnight mail) sent three checks to Ney's political committees, totaling $32,000. The apparent exchange of campaign contributions in return for Ney's support of an amendment to reopen the Tigua's casino could constitute bribery.

Nov. 18, 2002 - a grand jury issued a subpoena demanding that the administrator of the Guam Superior Court release all records relating to the contract.

Nov. 19, 2002 - U.S. Atty. Frederick A. Black, the chief prosecutor for Guam and the instigator of the indictment, was unexpectedly demoted and removed from the office he had held since 1991. The federal grand jury investigation was ended abruptly.

Nov. 2002 - U.S. Attorney in Florida begins investigating sale of SunCruz concentrating on missing $23 million.

2003 - David Safavian lies to the GSA during an investigation by its Ispector General about his relationship with Abramoff.

May 2003 - U.S. Atty. Frederick Black who had been demoted unexpectedly and thus removed from an investigation into Abramoff's involvement in the Guam courts

May 2003 - Abramoff establishes GrassRoots Interactive (GRI) saying it would provide grass roots work, public relations services and election campaign support.

2003 - Golf trip #3 Congressman Tom Feeney III,

July 2003 - Abramoff asked for $9 million from the President of Gabon, Omar Bongo, in exchange for a face to face meeting with President Bush. Bush later met with Bongo. There is no evidence Abramoff actually arranged the meeting.

Nov. 4, 2003 - David Safavian nominated by President Bush to become the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. His confirmation ran into trouble when he was listed as one of five lobbyists working for a man with ties to terrorists.

May 26, 2004 - The President of Gabon, Omar Bongo met with President Bush. It is unknown whether this was as a result of Abramoff's influence.

April 2004 - Safavian presented a letter to the Senate Government Affairs Committee from Janus-Merritt claiming they had named the wrong person as their contact when naming Almoudi.

2004 - Abramoff resigned from Greenberg Traurig

March 17, 2005 - David Safavian lies to the Senate committee on Indian affairs about his relationship with Jack Abramoff.

2005 - Edward Miller, Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Robert Ehrlich, Jr. (R-MD)

May 26, 2005 - David Safavian lies to the FBI about his relationship to Jack Abramoff.

Aug. 11, 2005 - Jack Abramoff, a powerful Republican lobbyist, and his partner at Suncruzwas Adam Kidan were indicted on August 11, on bank fraud charges related to his purchase of the cruise line.

Aug. 12, 2005 - Abramoff released on bail of $2.25 million. He had to give up his passport and his travel was restricted to California, Florida and Maryland. He also has to continue mental health treatments.

Sept., 2005 - Three men arrested in the murder of Konstantinos Boulis. He owned Suncruz before it was purchased by Abramoff and Kidan. Anthony Moscatiello, Anthony Ferrari and James Fiorillo were arrested on murder and conspiracy charges. Moscatiello has been linked to the Gambino crime family.

Sept. 19, 2005 - David Safavian, head of federal procurement policy at the Office of management and the Budget, was arrested and charged with lying to investigators and obstructing the federal investigation into Abramoff.

Dec. 1, 2005 - three Texas public interest groups filed a complaint with Travis County Attorney David Escamilla alleging that Reed failed to register as a lobbyist in 2001 or 2002 when he was working for Abramoff.

Jan. 3, 2006 - Jack Abramoff pleads guilty to Conspiracy, Honest Services Mail Fraud and Tax Evasion.

Update 1/25/06 - I will be adding more to the timeline throughout the day. It was time to bump it and bring it back to the front page. I'm hoping investigators will be making announcements about more of the key players in this scandal soon.

Update and bump....... I will be adding the information from the Abramoff plea deal in Blue as it is the factual basis for the plea and should be distinguished from dates obtained from news sources.

Update and bump 2/12 - more links and dates added.

Update 2/15/06 - I will be adding the dates and information from the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in green. These dates are a result of sworn testimony and evidentiary documents and should be distinguised from information received from media accounts.

Update: I failed to source this. I apologize. I will give a full bibliography as soon as I can. It is quite long as I used every source on the net and in the MSM that I could find. One of my favorite and first stops on the web is Wikipedia. I also use Sourcewatch, The Washington Post and The New York Times. The exact web pages and articles will be posted later today. All sources should now be posted below.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Larry Kissell, NC-08: The Proof is in the Polls

Respected polling firm, Anzalone Liszt Research, has released a new poll for North Carolina's 8th Congressional District and it shows Larry Kissell with tremendous momentum pulling away from Republican incumbent Robin Hayes.

The number that first jumps out is the informed vote where Kissell leads Hayes by 7 points. (49% Kissell/42% Hayes) The informed vote poll is taken after a paragraph about each candidate is read to the voter. These paragraphs include platform statements and are not considered a negative push.

Looking over the poll it is hard to find anything that is negative for Larry Kissell, especially at this stage in the race. Despite his disadvantage in name recognition (89% Hayes/22% Kissell) Larry only trails Hayes by 8 points in a head to head initial vote.(46% Hayes/38% Kissell) In other words, Hayes can't garner 50% of the vote even with overwhelming name recognition.

Another indicator that Hayes has an uphill battle for November is his positive to negative ratio. Currently this is 1.4 to 1 which according to Anzalone Liszt is well below the 2 to 1 ratio that is a benchmark for incumbents.

When you combine this with the current political environment in Washington it appears that Robin Hayes may be wearing the incumbency like a weight around his neck.

More specific numbers from the 8th District make the situation look even worse for Hayes. From the Anzalone Liszt Research summary:
A majority (52%) of voters give the economy in their area of North Carolina a negative rating. It is clear that voters believe CAFTA and "fast track" legislation has hurt the local economy and 59% are less likely to vote for Hayes because of his support for these two measures, after initially opposing them.
If you think the above tidbits are positive, the picture looks even brighter when compared to the numbers from 2004. Beth Troutman received 45% of the vote in November. The following poll numbers for the Troutman campaign are from a poll completed in September 2004. Kissell poll results are the first listed for comparison.

2006Generic Vote: 42% Democrat / 33% Republican
Initial Vote: 46% Hayes / 38% Kissell
Informed Vote: 49% Kissell / 42% Hayes

2004Generic Vote: 42% Republican / 37% Democrat
Initial Vote: 53% Hayes / 19% Troutman
Informed Vote: 55% Hayes / 26% Troutman

If Troutman can win 45% of the vote after such weak poll numbers, when voters are favoring Republicans and after being out-spent by well over $1 million it is not only conceivable, but highly likely that the 8th District will be sending Larry Kissell to Washington in November.

Those of you familiar with the Troutman/Hayes race will recall that Troutman was not a candidate who would have wide appeal among the mostly working class Democrats who live in this district. She was among the nation's youngest candidates at 27, with very little political experience and was a crew member from the hit television show, West Wing. Contrast that with Larry Kissell who has spent as many years in the textile industry as Troutman had spent on the earth, who saw his textile job move to Mexico, who is a deacon of his church and a man of his word and it isn't hard to imagine Larry running away with this campaign.

The fact that the district leans Democratic doesn't hurt either. From Anzalone Liszt:
The 8th is a culturally Democratic district. Democrats have a nice point advantage on the generic ballot (42%Democrat / 33% Republican) and 51% of the voters are registered Democrats (31% Republican). Democratic Governor Mike Easley receives a 62% favorable rating.
A campaign insider pointed out that this is a district that went for Bush in 2004 by 54%. These are not Kerry Democrats, so the presidential race actually helped Hayes at the polls. There is no national or state-wide race that will bring voters out who only vote top of the ticket. This is going to hurt Hayes and that's one more strike against him.

Larry Kissell is an 8th District Democrat. He embodies the values and spirit of the people in this district. He understands what they feel and why it is important. He shares their feelings and their values. His campaign is about the people of the 8th District.
This isn't a poll driven campaign, but it's nice when a poll confirms what the voters have been telling you all along. The people of the 8th district are ready for a change and I hope that this poll will prove to the rest of the folks what we have been saying all along -- We're going to win this election.
Larry Kissell knows that is important to keep your word. He doesn't just say the words honesty and integrity, he lives them. These are the values that will appeal to the voters in this district and this is the message they need to hear. Please help Larry get the message out. Consider a contribution today.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Robin Hayes, NC-08: Bought and Paid For

Well, I'll be damned. Robin Hayes sure is making it easy on me. I do enjoy research and I had planned to take a look at his time in Congress and line up his votes and compare them to the influx of contributions surrounding his votes, but I didn't think I would find something so damning in the first couple of minutes of research.

On Wednesday I wrote about the stunt Hayes pulled at the gas station when he announced he would introduce legislation that would provide tax breaks to those companies who install facilities to provide E85.

It gets better below the fold...

Today, while reviewing his recent
FEC filings I find that he has received two $2500 contributions from the Petroleum Marketers Association, Inc. They were dated 4/21/06. Thirteen days later, Robin Hayes introduced legislation that would benefit members of this association.

Don't let the name fool you.
PMAA's members are independently owned service stations and convenience stores - the very businesses that will benefit from this new tax legislation.

It took 13 days from the receipt of the $5000 contribution to the introduction of legislation that would be favorable to the contributor. I probably didn't have to connect that dot for you, but I wanted to anyway.

I'm not saying that Robin Hayes broke any laws when he accepted $5000 right before he introduced legislation that would benefit the members of the association giving the money. I'm just saying......

Update: Someday I'll learn to finish my research before I open my mouth or start to type. PMAA has only made two contributions to other candidates in the month of April, John Mica and Kevin McCarthy. Both men were given $1000. I guess they weren't doing as much for PMAA. Remember, I'm not saying Robin Hayes did anything in exchange for the $5000...I'm just saying......

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Reason 25: Why You Shouldn't Vote Republican

The first reason you shouldn't vote Republican is that they don't have the best interests of North Carolinians at heart. The other 24 reasons are the Republicans moronic enough to pay $5000 each to have their picture made with Rudy Giuliani.

Giuliani was in town recently to raise money for the NCGOP. About 300 people attended a luncheon. A couple dozen paid for pictures. Howard Dean came to Charlotte where 300 people attended a dinner and 450 attended a rally. He walked the streets ringing on doorbells. In the precincts he walked, voter turnout doubled on primary election day. Pictures with Howard Dean were free.

Guiliani's visit is reported in The Charlotte Observer.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Bush Floundering After Fishy Lie

President Bush was lobbed a softball recently while in Germany. All he had to do was come up with a highlight of the past five and a half years. All he needed was one, single, solitary heart-warming story about his presidency. He could have talked about the resolve of our country after the attacks of 9/11. He could have mentioned the spirit of those rebuilding after losing everything in Hurricane Katrina. He could have spoken of meeting a brave soldier, marine, airman or sailor recovering from injuries at Walter Reed Hospital. George Bush, the President of the United States ignored all of these possibilities and chose as the highlight of his presidency catching a 7.5 pound Perch from his lake in Texas.

Chances are, it was a lake artificially stocked for he and his rich friends to fish. There's nothing wrong with that, but what prey tell would be the cause for pride in stalking and catching a 7.5 pound Perch? It doesn't sound that big to me. I guess I just don't know much about freshwater fish because it turns out the largest Perch on record is a 4 lb, 3 oz Yellow Perch caught in New Jersey in 1865. Evidently, President Bush caught him one helluva fish and broke a national record that had stood for over 140 years.

This is a picture of the fourth largest Perch ever caught and it weighed in at 3lb, 5oz. This is not President Bush's Perch. His was muuuuuch bigger. Over four pounds bigger. Way to go, Bushie! You are quite the angler there, Mr. President.

The White House transcript now says the President referenced a Bass, not a Perch. While this story seems to have dropped from view John Aravosis at Americablog has a healthy skepticism of the spin. He's a smart guy and the rest of the country is catching on to the fact that Bushie has been caught in one too many lies. It's only a matter of time before the German reporter, who can't be too worried about ever interviewing Bush again, let's us in on the truth.

Ok, so we'll bite into the spinner's story that the President caught a Bass. It does lead a girl to wonder just what kind of Bass since they come in all sorts of colors, shapes and sizes. There's the Largemouth Bass, Rock Bass, Spotted Bass and the Striped Bass, all freshwater varieties and very different in size. To say it was simply a Bass doesn't really tell the whole story.

A 7.5 pound Striped Bass might make some people happy, but for a fish that can be found weighing well over 50 pounds, the President's claim of a 7.5 pounder is, well....nothing to be proud of and certainly wouldn't rank up there as a "highlight". On the other hand, the same size largemouth would be respectable. I'm not sure too many anglers would consider it a moment of pride, but we're talking about George W. Bush, a man who has been handed everything he's ever considered an accomplishment. Maybe, he actually baited the hook himself. I wonder if he used a rubber worm or live bait. I mean, if it was the highlight of his presidency, he certainly remembers every detail of the catch. I would, wouldn't you?

What a bass turd.

As much fun as it is to tease the President for telling such a bold faced lie, it detracts from the real issue that is raised by this story. When asked about the highlight of his presidency George W. Bush ignored the beauty of his country, the spirit, strength and resolve of its people and he focused on a fucking fish. This is heartbreakingly pathetic.

Think about this tonight while Bush does his best to boost his ratings calling out the Guard to protect us from that grave danger presented by Mexicans entering our country. Remember just what he thinks of Americans tonight as he interrupts the lives of more men and women of our National Guard to play politics. Remember just how much he appreciates our sacrifices and our contributions as he takes mothers and fathers away from their children in order to make nicey nice with his fellow Republicans who are deserting him in droves. Through all of the rhetoric and the spin, remember the fucking fish.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Larry Kissell (NC-08): The Perfect Candidate for Netroots Endorsement

The netroots have opened up the nominations for endorsements again. Now that the May primary date has passed and Larry Kissell easily won in the 8th District it's time to make the case for his inclusion in the project.

First, Thank You to those who have supported Larry enthusiastically at DailyKos, MyDD, ePluribusMedia, and BlueNC through diaries written by his supporters and those he has written. This truly is an amazing community and an invaluable resource to candidates and their supporters. The campaign trail can be long and hard and it's wonderful to come here and feel the energy, which for us has been completely positive. I have to admit, I'm not formally with the campaign. I am an independent blogger, but my heart is behind Larry Kissell and I won't pretend to be even a tiny bit objective about his candidacy.

rules for inclusion in the netroots fundraising project appear to be written for Larry Kissell. He's running against Robin Hayes, a Republican incumbent. The primary is over and Larry won the nomination of the party. This is an important race and is winnable, however no outsiders have accepted this as a top-tier race. He easily satisfies the first set of criteria.

Larry Kissell is a strong progressive candidate. His positions can be found on his
web site and I wrote about them in this diary at DailyKos not long ago. For the sake of brevity, I will not repeat the information, but feel free to ask specific questions in the comments. We will do everything possible to get an answer if we don't already know it.

North Carolina's 8th Congressional District has more registered Democrats, as referenced in this post at
MyDD by Jerry Meek, the chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party. Independent polling(PDF) from April 28, indicates that now is the time for a progressive candidate to bring those Democrats who vote Republican back into the party. This poll has a slight push to it, but not before the most important question was asked. Robin Hayes is polling at 28% - lower than the President. A fact that is huge in this district. Bush won with 54% of the vote. The "push" question in the poll is an actual quote from Robin Hayes, so it isn't a vehicle used for spreading a lie. After the push and when paired with Larry Kissell, Hayes took 32% and Kissell took 40%. Once again, this is huge in this district.

There are two explanations for this. One is a negative against the incumbent and the other is a positive for the challenger. Many voters in the 8th lost their jobs to free trade agreements and Hayes cast the deciding vote to approve CAFTA after promising he would vote against it. Larry spent 27 years working in the textile industry. He relates to these disgruntled mill workers and they see someone who understands them in Larry. I think most people want to vote for a candidate instead of against a candidate. Finally, voters in the 8th District have someone they want to vote for in Larry Kissell.

Larry was one of the first candidates to embrace local blogs. He bought ad space and includes these blogs on the email list for media releases. He also has posted diaries at
BlueNC, a North Carolina group blog and DailyKos, where they quickly move to the recommended diaries list. He has included MyDD when cross posting these diaries. While he is relatively new at using the blogs for his personal messages, he has recognized the importance of the netroots from the very beginning of his campaign.

The local netroots has also recognized Larry Kissell's importance as a candidate. The race in the 8th is frequently written about on
BlueNC and The Southern Dem (my personal blog), where I have posted many diaries in support of Larry's candidacy. You will find other local bloggers posting in support of Larry as well - Jim Buie, Orange Politics , Political State Report, Ed Cone and The Political Junkies. At DailyKos diaries have been posted by millstone, working for change, kismet, Anglico, RANT, Targator, The Southern Dem (my posts) and several others. At MyDD many of these same bloggers have posted about Larry. Obviously, interest in this race is picking up.

The big thing now is turning this interest into money. Plain and simple. Larry doesn't need to match Robin Hayes dollar for dollar, however he needs a great deal more than he has in the bank now. The campaign has hired a professional fundraiser and they are doing what needs to be done in North Carolina. Hayes spent $1.2 million for 55% of the vote compared to Beth Troutman's $225,000 for 45% in 2004 in a district that went for George Bush.

I have kept a close eye on FEC filings for Hayes and the most important trend I've noticed is his loss of the small unitemized contributions. He has steadily lost these "voter" contributions over the past couple of years. Larry, on the other hand is picking them up. Most of the money Hayes receives comes from PACS and the wealthy in Charlotte. I posted about this trend and you can find more details in this blog post on my site,
The Southern Dem. This race can be won, but Larry needs some financial help. He is the perfect candidate for the netroots.

One of the areas that isn't addressed by the criteria is local organization. The Kissell campaign has it covered there as well. There is very strong grassroots support for Kissell in every county. I was born and raised in Charlotte and have been fairly active in local politics. It has been a long time since I have seen groups in Charlotte getting behind a candidate the way they are behind Larry. We will keep working hard to win this seat. The bottom line is Larry needs the netroots, but we need him too. Please consider including Larry Kissell in the netroots fundraising program.

Note: This request has been posted in the comments section at
DailyKos and Swing State Project. Please consider following these links and leaving your vote for Larry in the comments. Thank you.

More GOP Spending Sprees

ththththththwthwthwthweeeeeeeeeeeeeep.....(make this sound as you inhale giving the "p" a little pop at the end.)

That was the sound of your wallet getting lighter.

The Republican led Congress is contemplating raising the debt ceiling again after raising it only two months ago. These monkeys never met a budget they could stick to. The stenographers at
The Washington Post are calling it a "bump" as the debt ceiling nears $10 trillion.

Said stenographers almost redeemed themselves after this paragraph:

The provision -- buried on page 121 of the 151-page budget blueprint -- serves as a backdrop to congressional action this week. House leaders hope to try once again to pass a budget plan for fiscal 2007, a month after a revolt by House Republican moderates and Appropriations Committee members forced leaders to pull the plan.
Now we see the Republicans are so afraid of the backlash from the American public that they no longer boldly go where no Democratic Conress has gone before. They sneak around hoping no one will notice that it's the spend and borrow Republicans wasting our great grandchildren's money and probably their futures to boot.

There's also another disturbing fact highlighted in the WaPo article. I may actually have to stop calling them stenographers after this paragraph:

But the federal debt keeps climbing because of continued deficit spending and the government's insatiable borrowing from the Social Security trust fund.
If there was ever a time for seniors to turn away from the Republican party it is now. This is not the party that cares about you...that is, unless you are independently wealthy and will never need to collect a Social Security check.

Those tax cuts that are heavily weighted toward the most affluent in our midst are next on the agenda.

Leaders also hope to pass a package of tax-cut extensions that would cost the Treasury $70 billion over the next five years. They would then turn Thursday to a $513 billion defense policy bill that would block President Bush's request to raise health-care fees and co-payments for service members and their families.
That's right. Don't let that last sentence slide by you. Those troops that the President stands up for when he's pretending that calling for an end to the war is an insult to them - those troops and their families will pay more for health care under the President's new defense policy bill. Great. He sends them off to war and then doesn't want to have to pay to take care of them once they are battle-scarred. That ought to make the troops feel their country cares for them.

The good news is it sounds like most in Congress are set to defeat that bill - or that portion of it. There is also a little bit of poetic justice found in the article. It appears that the deficit prediction of $370 million was off as much as $70 million.

In recent days, Congress has received some good news on the budget front. A surge of tax revenues this spring, sparked by economic growth, prompted the Congressional Budget Office last Thursday to revise its 2006 deficit forecast from around $370 billion to as low as $300 billion.
So the one thing the Republicans hate more than they hate liberals turns out to be their silver lining. Tax Revenues.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Three House Races to Watch in the Carolinas

According to Tim Funk of The Charlotte Observer, there are only three races to watch from the Carolinas where the U.S. House of Representatives is concerned. Fortunately, one of them is the Kissell v. Hayes race in the 8th Congressional District in North Carolina.

Since none of the top outsider firms Cook, CQ and Hotline rate this race as even a remote possibility, it appears to me that Tim Funk must know something they don't. He does admit that it is a "maybe" race to watch, but that he mentions it at all is pretty big. The Observer tends to favor Hayes. It featured an article on March 22nd (hidden behind archives firewall, sorry) that ran with the meme that CAFTA had been a great deal for Hayes. Of course, you had to read it carefully to realize that what Hayes meant by CAFTA being great for him was that it brought him hundreds of thousands in donations from businesses and his millionaire friends. Hayes was obviously ignoring any blowback from the people who were actually affected by CAFTA, you know those pesky little things called voters.

Then, for Hayes, ignoring the voters comes naturally. He's good at it. It appears the voters are figuring it out. Good for them.

One diarist at DailyKos who is known for following U.S. House races has moved the Kissell v. Hayes race up to second tier. I think it is simply a matter of time before this race has national attention. An independent poll completed by Dean Debnam of Public Policy Polling (PDF) in Raleigh shows Larry Kissell with a healthy lead over Robin Hayes.

Those of us who have met
Larry Kissell, looked at the numbers and have an understanding of the 8th District are a little bit ahead of the curve when it comes to taking this race seriously. There's plenty of time for the rest to catch up. I'm giving them until July

The other N.C. race to watch is between
Heath Shuler and Charles Taylor(i) in the 11th Congressional District. The outsiders are more enthusiastic about Shuler's chances than they are Kissell's, but the voter makeup leans in Taylor's favor. Shuler was recently picked up by DCCC and has raised a substantial amount of money. That appears to carry more weight with outsiders than actual polls.

Time will tell and Democrats in and outside of North Carolina need to turn these seats blue. Both candidates have very active volunteers and enthusiastic supporters. Both Democrats are facing millionaires who can afford to pour their own money into their campaigns.

Another Corrupt Republican Goes Down

After Tony Rudy's plea last month I quit watching to see how this case was progressing. I was a bit surprised to see this news in The Washington Post this morning. Neil Volz, Staffer #2, pled guilty to conspiracy charges in the scandals linked to lobbyists Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon.

Volz was Bob Ney's (Representative #1) chief of staff. Volz requested and received many gifts from Abramoff. These included tickets to sporting events, dinners and golf outings. Volz concealed the gifts by simply failing to report them.

Ney is next.

You can see the details of the charges
here. (PDF)

Update: TPM Muckraker has been following this as well.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Not in God's Name

The following is a post I left at, the group blog I participate in. Please drop by for a visit to join the discussion. There are a couple of posts and then an action plan is presented at the end to give us a positive step to take so we don't find ourselves wailing and whining about all the wrongs of the right without something positive coming from it........

For the past five and a half years we've watched as our country has fallen into the clutches of a lying, egomaniacal fascist who thinks God speaks to him. We've watched as our civil liberties have been ravaged and the man entrusted with protecting the Constitution that guarantees these liberties has reserved the right to break the laws of this land. In a country where no man is above the law, George W. Bush has elevated himself above all men and our laws. The scariest part of all of this, is that he has done it in the name of God.

I don't pretend to speak for anyone else here. Most of us have expressed outrage at some time or another when those from the right have tried to force their religious views on the rest of the country or any portion of it. We seem especially outraged when they use our government as the vehicle for this abuse.

These abuses are occurring at a more rapid pace. It is as if the religious zealots from the right sense that their time is quickly passing and they need to ramp up their efforts to convert the heathen masses.

Whether it is injecting prayer into our public schools, displaying sculptures of the ten commandments or declaring a war in God's name you can rest assured that someone at BlueNC will have something to say about it. The following are just a few examples of posts from our regulars addressing these issues.

Bible or Constitution by Anglico
NCGOP Asking for Church Directories by Lance
God: OK to Whip Kids with Plastic Pipe by Anglico

As the 2006 and 2008 elections approach you can bet the religious right will be on the attack. I plan to push back and this is where I plan to do it. I invite each of you, regulars and lurkers alike to join in the discussion. It will be important to shed light on the hypocrisy of these people who would force their beliefs on others and attempt to deny civil liberties to those of different faiths.

I hope to make this a regular Sunday morning section. Lance has provided us with a terrific graphic. We can each use it to head blog posts we are including in the morning's discussions. Please don't feel you have to wait until Sunday morning to post about the religious right. We can always bump posts from archives to include them for discussion's sake.

The first post in our Sunday morning series is actually not a discussion post at all, but I hope you will enjoy it nonetheless.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Larry Kissell Wins!

This is a great victory for the people who live in North Carolina's 8th Congressional District. As a matter of fact, I hope November will bring a great victory for all North Carolinians when Larry wins in the general election. I woke up election day ready to work at the polls. I knew it would be an easy win for Larry, but it's hard to see an election day go by without doing something to help a candidate.

Larry won easily over John Autry and Mark Ortiz. Tim Dunn was still on the ballot and received votes, but not enough to keep Larry from getting over 50% of the votes cast. There is a lot of excitement for Larry's candidacy and it grows every day. I have met some amazing people who are involved in Charlotte and I hear that there are amazing volunteers working for the campaign in each county.

Here is the coverage from
The Charlotte Observer. Here are a couple of short pieces I posted at BlueNC...One (with Larry's message included)....Two. There is even a call out from Ed Cone, a blogger in Greensboro, for Larry to start his own blog. He does a great job as you can see from his diary on DailyKos. Don't just read what Larry wrote. Read the comments people posted. He is getting support from Democrats all over the country. I was sad to see that we received absolutely no attention from The Washington Post, but they haven't displayed a strong knowledge of NC politics, so it might be for the best that they have decided to refrain from writing about the race. Hayes already has enough stenographers at The Charlotte Observer. He doesn't need anymore in the pool.

I'm very happy for Larry and I know the campaign has hit the ground running. This poll from
Public Policy (PDF) may show Larry well ahead of Hayes, but I don't get the impression that Larry will let that go to his head.

There's still a lot of work to do and a lot of money to raise. If you feel so inclined, please consider making a donation using the ActBlue link to the right bottom on this page or going to
Larry Kissell's web site and using the ActBlue link there.

Personal Note: I am not very timely with this post. Some of you may have seen part of it at My family is very busy doing our best to pack, paint, plant and clean so that we can put our house on the market. Our beautiful wooded acreage is calling us and it's time to make a decision on the house plan and build the home where I plan to live the rest of my life. I miss writing multiple posts each day. I hope you will bear with me while I prioritize this family project over the next few weeks. It has been a long time in the making, so with this final push I hope to make it a reality for my beautiful tree-hugging daughters, my husband and our goofy dog, Lizzy.