Grand Jury Probing Latest GOP Culture of Corruption Suspect

More Republican corrupt politicians is always an entertaining thing, though in Florida this case might end up as small potatos. Or oranges, or whatever. Still, it will likely harm the Republican brand in the state as they fight to keep the Mel Martinez Senate seat in two years.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The GOP Culture of Corruption Grand Jury target is Ray Sansom, Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. He’s accused of funnelling money to Northwest Florida State College while he held a $110,000 job at the same institution. The original story broke on January 7th in Florida Today, and we reported about it then. But there’s new developments today, as the Grand Jury has decided to investigate. From the Miami Herald:

A grand jury decided Monday to look into allegations that House Speaker Ray Sansom abused his position by taking a six-figure job at his hometown college.

“From this point on, we’ll be calling witnesses,” State Attorney Willie Meggs said at the Leon County Courthouse. “I don’t know what we’re going to find until we look. We will get the people who have this information and present it to the grand jury.”

Sansom, R-Destin, took the unadvertised $110,000 a year job at Northwest Florida State College on the same day he became speaker of the House two months ago.

Sansom, though he denies all charges, has lawyered up, according to the Miami Herald Blog. Florida tends to be a pretty corrupt state, so maybe he won’t be charged or convicted, but this is going to play badly for the Republicans as they prepare to take the Senate seat abandoned by Mel Martinez.

Monday, January 26th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

When Does Dick Cheney Become Merely an Historical Footnote?

Dick Cheney is whining about how Bush didn’t pardon Scooter Libby, calling the Libby conviction a “miscarriage of justice.” The real injustice here is that anyone other than historians are puclishing any of Cheney’s words. Would that Cheney went the way of the Evans-Novak Report, which ceases publication next week.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Dick Cheney is out of office, and already an ugly footnote in history, a man who learned dirty politics and a lust for power early, and then put those values into practice over the last eight years. American history will come to see Dick Cheney as arrogant and as an enemy of the constitution. But for now the media is covering everything Dick Cheney says, though he’s only talking to the few people who are friendly to him for the moment, like William Kristol at the Weekly Standard. So what’s Dick Cheney whining about now? He’s whining that George Bush didn’t give Scooter Libby a pardon. Here’s the scoop from CNNPolitics:

Former President George Bush should have pardoned Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Dick Cheney said after stepping down as vice president this week.

“He was the victim of a serious miscarriage of justice, and I strongly believe that he deserved a presidential pardon. Obviously, I disagree with President Bush’s decision,” Cheney told Stephen F. Hayes of the Weekly Standard, a leading conservative Washington magazine.

Libby, Cheney’s former chief of staff, was convicted of obstructing a federal investigation into the revelation that Valerie Plame Wilson was a CIA agent.

He was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $250,000. Bush commuted the sentence, which he called “excessive.” But he did not pardon Libby, much to the aggravation of many influential conservatives.

My view is that Cheney is simply a greedy mother who wants everything his way. Cheney orchestrated the exposure of a CIA agent as an instrument for him to gain politically. Everyone knows that is shameful. Libby got caught lying, and in this country lying to authorities has consequences. Well, Libby didn’t have to pay those consequences because Bush commuted his sentence. Sucks, but what are we going to do. Now Cheney whines because Bush didn’t give Scooter a full pardon?

I suggest Cheney go whine to historians or something. Better yet, go whine to Bob Novak, the big mouth who published the story exposing CIA agent Valerie Plame. Then Cheney will get what he deserves, absolutely zero press, because the Evans-Novak Report is shutting down. There’s something poetic about that timing, just three days into the transformative Presidency of Barack Obama.

Friday, January 23rd, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Prism Prison: In Search Of Rainbows?

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. In stating as much, they omit the fact that the absent heart may be neither fond nor profound. Hence in many cases I suspect it is but momentarily vacant. Such is the explanation for my period of absentia from blogging.


Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. In stating as much, they omit the fact that the absent heart may be neither fond nor profound. Hence in many cases I suspect it is but momentarily vacant. Such is the explanation for my period of absentia from blogging.

With that stated, my return to writing is an exercise in conflict. Specifically, in the aftermath of the November election, I’ve been in search of vision…the ability to see beyond my own malaise in order to capture the essence of the existential angst that envelopes my own psyche and leads me to conclude that all is not well in the evolving identity we define as the human condition.

In order to offer insightful observations on this or any other subject, I frequently travel the only path I’ve found fertile enough to germinate a glimmer of advancing awareness…isolation. You see, I’m convinced that the momentum of our fundamentally mundane and mechanical morass is the very means by which we find ourselves disconnected from that which can keep us traveling towards a more meaningful and noble destination…a more perfect humanity and the sustaining spirit that would invariably accompany it.

The election of Barack Obama, on its surface, incites hope, which is as it should be. On the other hand, the circumstances that led a majority of Americans to effect his election require a more thorough examination…one that respects, retains, and relies upon the missing elements alluded to above…that being both the curiosity and the cynicism necessary to move us forward while simultaneously forcing us to question the prudence of our precarious path…the one we’ve traveled to get here as well as the one we’re still walking.

Let me be clear. In stating my clearly cautionary pessimism, it should not be construed as an indictment of our newly elected president or his aspirations for our advancement, which he so artfully outlined during an inspirational campaign.

Notwithstanding, in light of our unprecedented economic uncertainty, I suspect we are a society and a world in the throes of an inevitable sea change…the kind that history so aptly tells us has the potential to signal the death knell of an antiquated “ism” or to embolden the emergence of one that has not yet been defined. At the same time, history also tells us that the gravity of these tipping point events is rarely identified at the time of arrival.

For the seeker…a moniker to which I aspire (redundant and ironic)…travails and time are intertwined in an effort to envision what exists around the bend while lacking tangible evidence. It’s the equivalent of reading a book and predicting the ending without having read the intervening chapters…a feat that defies logical construction yet one that is achieved and that is frequently recorded by historians as the astute observations of a visionary…all of which illuminates the unfortunate predicament of the seeker.

The seeker assumes the role of a prism…demonstrating a willingness to see what went before, endeavoring to receive it as real while hoping to tease essence out of its obviousness in order to emit something that is more than the sum of its observable parts…only to be defined as an instrument of distortion…despite the fact that the vision that the prism (the seeker) emits is wholly constructed from reality…though ordered in ways that defy convention and incite accusations of engaging in acts of incantation or pessimistic prognostications.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite expressions, “Everything’s shit…until it isn’t”. The prism realizes that the reverse is equally profound, “Nothing’s shit…until it is”. Those who are able to ascertain these moments of transformation are met with ire in the here and now…and then…at some point in the distant future…the still blind byproducts of humanity’s persistent progeny proclaim the prescience of the prism…and history’s equation remains intact.

Unfortunately, the seeker rarely has the satisfaction of witnessing the affirmation of his or her hypothesis. Death has long since consumed what remained of his or her human form. As such, all that is the tragic nature of the human condition is affirmed in a legacy of legitimacy never lived…though dutifully recorded years hence by virtual stone tablet statisticians in a surreal semiconductor society.

The heart stirs…though the circuitous circumlocution of the human condition remains elusive. A bend approaches…the seeker seeks.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 by Daniel DiRito |

Taking Advantage of the Obama Girls for Profit

I think the action figures of Barack Obama are tacky, and I’ve said so, risking the wrath of the folks at buzzflash, who joked a bit with me. It is wrong to make dolls in the likeness of the Obama girls, evidently without the family’s permission. The dolls are beanie babies. Ty, Inc. needs to rein in its lust for the almighty dollar.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I complained, in a good hearted fashion, I hope, when buzzflash.com offered an Obama action figure as a premium for pledges to the site. Well, I know it was good hearted because Mark Karlin, Editor and Publisher of buzzflash, said so in a comment to my post. Heck, and as I look at that action figure, it is benign next to this one being marketed by Gamu Toys and reviewed as “best Obama action figure ever” by Gizmodo, the gadget blog. OK, I know the President is fair game, and that means people can make money off of his image and brand, but the Gamu action figure (back in my day they used to be called dolls) poses with swords and guns. Eww!

Anyway, Barack Obama might be fair game, but Malia and Sasha should not be. I’ll admit, I’m one of something like seven billion people who have fallen in love with those two, so maybe I am hypersensitive wanting to protect them or something, but I do think it is important to keep them living as normal life as ever. That’s not going to happen with Ty’s new Sasha and Malia dolls. Yeah, they’re sort of like Presidential daughter beanie babies. Yuck!

Of course we know that beanie babies were a craze among Sasha and Malia’s age group. the craze has died, but I’m betting Ty has a winner here. At least in Washington I’ll bet that tons of Sasha and Malia’s schoolmates will buy the dolls and then bring them to school for Sasha and Malia to sign. That isn’t good. No 10 and 7 year olds should be made celebrities to the point of signing autographs. Indeed, Ty shouldn’t be cashing in on the President’s daughters. Of course, they claim that the little black dolls with the names of Sasha and Malia are not patterned after the Obama girls. From WBBM:

Ty Inc. has released the 12-inch plush dolls as part of the company’s “TyGirlz Collection,” introduced in 2007. The Sasha doll has pigtails and wears a white and pink dress with hearts. The Malia doll has a side ponytail and a long-sleeve shirt with capri pants.

The Oak Brook-based company chose the dolls’ names because “they are beautiful names,” not because of any resemblance to President Obama’s daughters, said spokeswoman Tania Lundeen.

“There’s nothing on the dolls that refers to the Obama girls,” Lundeen said. “It would not be fair to say they are exact replications of these girls. They are not.”

You saw the picture of the dolls earlier. Their names are Sasha and Malia, and other of the dolls are named for important women of today. There’s a Hillary one, for instance, and she’s white! No, the denial by the Ty folks is about as convincing as a Dana Perino answer. We’re talking lies and lying liars territory.

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Obama Acts, Cornyn Whines, Specter Snivels

Barack Obama denounced torture in his Inaugural speech, and now he has signed four executive orders helping to end the practice by US personnel. John Cornyn, on the other hand, is holding up Eric Holder’s AG nomination because Holder won’t swear not to prosecute torturers, or those who gave the orders. Specter is with Cornyn.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Surely it should have dawned on Senator John Cornyn Tuesday that there’s a new regime in town and that Barack Hussein Obama will not tolerate torture. Surely he hard this section in Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address:

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.

Maybe Cornyn didn’t understand the Inaugural address, and that’s why he’s holding up Attorney General nominee Eric Holder’s confirmation? Well, if Senator Cornyn did not understand Barack Obama’s stand on torture, then the executive orders Barack Obama signed today just might get through Cornyn’s thick skull. Heck, maybe Cornyn needs some help from George Bush to understand this, after all, Cornyn is thought to be one of the stupidest Senators in the Senate. But back to Obama’s executive orders today. He is closing Gitmo within a year, forming a commission to figure out what to do with the inmates at Gitmo, some of whom are dangerous, eliminate torture by US personnel by requiring the strict adherence to the US Army Field Manual, and special circumstances concerning Ali al-Marri. Sounds to me like there’s a new sheriff in town.

But Senator Cornyn wants to leave that sheriff without his chief officer, the Attorney General. Why does Cornyn oppose Eric Holder’s nomination? Holder has yet to say whether he will or will not prosecute cases of torture perpetrated by US personnel. Cornyn is defending those who have tortured on the floor of the Senate. He’s taking up the cause Bush didn’t have the stones to do when he failed to give a blanket pardon to all who tortured in Bush’s name.

Senator Cornyn isn’t the only one who wants the torturers and those who ordered them to go scot free. Here’s a bit from the Washington Post report:

But even as Cornyn was getting out of the way of one appointee to President Obama’s Cabinet, he raised new questions about another. The Senate Judiciary Committee decided yesterday morning to delay a vote to send Holder’s nomination to the full Senate while lawmakers attended the morning National Prayer Service with Obama. The hearing was rescheduled for yesterday, but Republicans then requested a one-week delay on the nomination that Democrats were required to grant under committee rules.

. . .

Holder has generated more controversy than any other Obama nominee and was sharply questioned in an appearance before the committee last week. Many senators, including some Democrats, said they were troubled by his role in the pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich in the final days of the Clinton administration.

Led by the ranking Republican on the committee, Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), GOP lawmakers also said they had more questions for Holder about whether he would favor prosecuting Bush administration officials for their involvement in warrantless wiretapping and harsh detainee interrogation practices. Cornyn said he would press for Holder to take a stand on the Military Commissions Act, which the Texas Republican described as providing interrogators with immunity from prosecution if they believed they were acting legally.

So Snarlin’ Arlen is right there with his buddy John Cornyn. I’m sick of Arlen Specter. He may have a reputation for bipartisanship, but Arlen Specter failed to protect us from Bush’s authorization of the use of torture, he failed to protect us from Bush’s politicization of the Justice Department, he failed to prevent domestic spying, and he now looks to be a failure in tracking down just how the Bush Administration instituted its regime of lawlessness. Maybe he’s got a magic waterboarding theory or something that makes everybody immune.

OK, I’m angry at Arlen Specter once again. If there is any man in the US Senate who knows his own complicity in allowing the Bush Administration destruction of the Department of Justice, it should be Specter. And if Specter has a hope in Hell of negotiating his way to victory in 2010 against Allyson Schwartz or Pat Murphy or Joe Sestak, then he needs to show that he understands that the rule of law is important. Murphy and Sestak, at least, will pound him on the issue, and they’ve both got battlefield cred. Any of those candidates will use this opposition to Eric Holder as Specter trying to give one last bone to Bush, who abused the constitution far worse than any President we have had in years. For Specter’s own sake he needs to get behind Holder immediately.

I know someone who is having lunch with Mr. Specter tomorrow. OK, I know several someones, and I just might pass along a question and see if one of the folks, Specter donors all, will ask it. Give me some suggestions, please, but make them politic, something that can be asked in a roomful of people who know the constitution well and are dedicated to defending it.

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Improper Things: The Portraits of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney

9,000 portraits of Dick Cheney and George Bush will be taken down from government buildings across the nation today. They will be destroyed rather than sold, as the government is fearful someone will do “improper things” to the portraits. After the excesses of the Bush/Cheney years, what in the world could such “improper things” be?


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Today in 9,000 government buildings, such as the Carl B. Stokes and Howard M. Metzenbaum Courthouses in Cleveland, workers will be taking down the portraits of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as near to noon as possible. Acording to Cleveland,com, those portraits will be destroyed. I’m not sure if there are rules set in stone here, such as those for a flag, but it seems to me there are opportunities for recycling and all. Wasn’t this last election a mandate, that we care for our earth? Hmm, I guess we’d have to think about how 9,000 sets of portraits could be recycled. I’m sure there’s someone clever here who can think of something.

But no! The reason they are destroying the portraits, frames and all, is that someone might use the portraits, abuse the portraits, misuse the portraits. All of you thinking about dart boards while reading the first paragraph here are probably why they’re sensitive to the danger of people treating the portraits badly. Here are the exact words from cleveland.com:

But don’t bother placing dibs on the Bush or Cheney pictures being removed from the federal buildings. That includes people looking for a keepsake to treasure and those who might want to accentuate the portraits with a moustache or goatee, or worse.

All pictures of the president and vice president are to be “respectfully disposed of,” Lease said. The government suggests shredding or recycling.

“They don’t want them laying around so people can use them for improper things,” Lease said.

Use them for “improper things?” I’m sure I have no idea what these people mean. Are they thinking that someone will use the portraits for toilet paper or something? Perhaps someone will try waterboarding the portraits? Ah, there’s the point of this little exercise, isn’t it? There have been so many improper things done in the name of Bush and Cheney that the standard of what is improper has changed. These two have raised the bar, as it were. What could possibly be “improper” use of the Bush and Cheney portraits by the standards of Bush and Cheney themselves?

I’m sure to get some creative answers, here on the day we bid them good riddance.

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Sean Hannity: Champion Fighting Goose Abortions!

News Hounds found that Sean Hannity mistakenly blamed Democrats, specifically Chuck Schumer for the crash of US Airways Flight 1549, but further investigation finds that this was all a smokescreen so Hannity could disparage a group that is all about the abortions of perfectly viable baby goslings. Hannity is surely today’s hero.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Well, it’s like this. News Hounds has some commentary on last night’s Hannity show in which he decided to blame the US Airways near-disaster on Democrats. He traced it all to an earmark New York Senator Chuck Schumer got in 2004 for the environmental group Geesepeace (no, I did not make that up). Geesepeace’s aim is to solve goose problems peacefully. OK, that’s a quick summary of the real Geesepeace mission, and frankly I wish they would deal with a little of the goose droppings issue here in Philly along the Schuylkill River Trail, but that’s another issue altogether.

So, anyway, Hannity did an Olympic-level leap to a conclusion. I understand it’s going to be on the Sportscenter highlights tonight. Hannity put two and two together and came of with the square root of a canned ham. Basically, he blamed the earmark that went to Geesepeace for the birds that evidently were sucked into the engine of US Airways Flight 1549, even though the investigation into the causes of the crash are likely years away from completion. News Hounds made fun of Sean Hannity for jumping the gun, leaping to a conclusion, being stupid, etc., and they may be right, but what they didn’t report is that Hannity is consistent morally, if completely off on the issue of Geesepeace and US Airways Flight 1549.

You see, Hannity didn’t bother to investigate and find out that Geesepeace actually works to limit the population of geese by searching out nests and addling or oiling the eggs of Canadian geese, essentially a crude form of goose abortion. Give them more money and fewer accidents are going to happen, not more, as Hannity claimed, because Geesepeace is aborting goslings! That’s their raison d’etre, the death of baby geese!!! “Geesepeace” should be called the “Gosling Death Squad!” Yes, they are goslingkillers, and this is likely the real reason Hannity is after them. The whole thing about Chuck Schumer? SMOKE SCREEN! Hannity just wants Geesepeace destroyed because they abort baby geese.

Now you know the rest of the story.

Monday, January 19th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Personal and Political: Please Meet Jack

Personal life changes surely have political impact. In my household we welcomed a son this week, a little bundle of (adopted) African American joy named Jack. We are white. In just the 48 hours Jack has been in our lives we’ve noticed changes to our racial attiudes, even as liberal and progressive as they already were.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Below you will see a picture of my new son Jack. That photo was taken yesterday when he was ten days old. He came into our lives on Thursday, and while it will be a couple months until this adoption is finalized, we are proceeding with confidence, mostly because my wife and I have fallen in love with the little nipper. Hey, I’ve been writing for this blog for nearly five years, and one of my first reactions upon bringing Jack home was about how I was going to write about him. Our love for Jack is vitally personal, as one can imagine, and it frankly isn’t anyone’s business. But we are white and Jack is African American, and this year race is the elephant in the room who is getting noticed a whole bunch. So here goes.

Let’s just begin with a little background. We brought Jack home on Thursday at about 2:00 in the afternoon. He was nine days old. I will not discuss his birth mother except to say she produced a very healthy boy and she was unable to raise him. We are profoundly thankful for her decision, but beyond that, our feelings and thoughts for her are and will remain private.

Jack does not do tricks as yet, unless you consider squirming while having a diaper change, eating, burping and sleeping “tricks.” We participate in and watch each of these tricks with avid interest. Jack is our reality show. What’s become fascinating to me is that almost everything is filtering through the prism that is Jack now.

This morning while reading the paper I pointed my wife to a photo of Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and said, with a wink towards Jack, “now that’s a handsome black man.” Not “handsome man,” but “handsome black man.” My wife, ever the lawyer, countered immediately with a picture of Attorney General nominee Eric Holder. The point is not that we were on the alert to show our boy Jack examples of high-achieving black men, but we were distinguishing “black man” from “man,” and very consciously. Our views about race our changing, and it is not that our views were “wrong” before and are making a move towards “right,” but that those views are in control of a little guy named Jack. He has changed us, in less than 48 hours, in some very profound and political ways. My writing here will therefore change.

Of course, our lives will revolve around the boy. I am not teaching this semester because of a drop in enrollment, and I will be staying home with Jack for the next several months. I suppose this might mean that blog writing will not suffer in that time, but all indications so far are that Jack is the guy who guides every decision. For instance, we are very conscious that Jack came to us just a few days before one of the most historically significant moments for African Americans in our history, the inauguration of Barack Obama. There’s an opportunity for us to see Barack Obama, or at least the train he is riding on the way to Washington. You see, we live about a half block from a great view of the tracks Barack Obama’s train will be travelling. This morning’s household debate is whether we take Jack to view this historic moment from the distance of a few hundred yards and in some very bitter cold. Oh, if we didn’t have Jack we might or might not have made the trek down the street to take part in history in such a small way, but he’s ruling our lives now. Nobody is complaining about that, not a little bit.

A note on naming. I understand Barack Obama represents an historic first, not just that he is the first African American to be elected President, but that his name is so not typically American. Lots of families are going to be naming kids “Barack,” “Malia,” and “Sasha” in these months of political euphoria. We have chosen instead to honor our own relatives. Jack is named after my Dad, who is deceased. He carries both my family name and my wife’s. Oh, sure, being the Eagles fans we are, my wife and I considered a second middle name of “Dawkins” after our favorite player, but Jack probably won’t get that name added to his birth certificate unless the Philadelphia Eagles win the Super Bowl. The boy may be racially African American, but with my wife and I raising him, he’s going to be largely culturally “white,” whatever that is, and I don’t think we can help change that a whole heck of a lot in the long run, no matter how we try.

Heck, Jack already has shown his political tendencies. On his first diaper changing he made the usual “comment” newborn boys do. He missed my wife, who had the honor of changing him that time, aiming decidedly to the left. I was pleased our little leftist will fit into the family so well. While we will likely turn him into a book-reading nerd who enjoys reading the paper in bed on Saturday and Sunday mornings, we promise to instill in him a sense of African American culture, certainly. Still, with world travel and the Philadelphia Eagles and current events and politics and the role all of those have in our family structure, this boy is going to be an odd mix. Not apologizing, just sayin’.

To close, at least for now, I will likely be missing several sessions of Drinking Liberally here in Philly over the next months, but I’ll bring Jack down to show him off on a nice evening, and soon.

Saturday, January 17th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Rick Santorum Hates Everyone

Rick Santorum slams both Barack Obama and John McCain today, implying that bipartisanship is the product purely of political calculation and playing to the media. That’s a twofer: Whining and blaming the media and complaining about anyone to the left of Mussolini. Yes, Rick Santorum is clicking on all cylinders today.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

And he’s a fool.

Rick Santorum starts today’s column with the following, which looks like it might be complimentary to someone, doesn’t it? From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

I have been to New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington in recent weeks. In those cities, at least, you cannot watch the news, pass street vendors selling T-shirts, or browse magazine racks at the grocery store and not feel good about our next president, his family, and our nation’s future.

There is an air of something big, something grand, something electric about to explode upon us. Barack Obama’s visage is everywhere. His relaxed and reassuring – even beatific – smile is omnipresent. So are his irrepressibly cute girls and their together mom.

Pretty soon the undertone of a whine sneaks into Santorum’s column. This isn’t admiration anymore, or even respect, but blame for Obama’s popularity on cynical politics, or gullible media, anything but that the people like Obama and the policies that he’s advocated. Go read the article – Obama promised bipartisanship, and back when he did so Santorum said it would never happen. Now that Obama is planning to bring John McCain inside the tent, Santorum hates McCain. Make no mistake, the next excerpt from Rick Santorum’s column drips with the diseased disdain of sour grapes:

This unlikely ace can deliver not only the GOP moderates needed to break a filibuster, but also the stamp of bipartisanship: the 2008 GOP standard bearer, John McCain.

McCain was once the mainstream media darling, back when he joined Democrats on a host of issues. He prized his maverick moniker and used it to propel himself onto the national scene in the 2000 Republican presidential primary. Early in the Bush years, he shored up his status as the media’s favorite Republican by opposing Bush on taxes and the environment.

But this love fest came to a halt when McCain became the front-runner for the GOP nomination. First he began to sound more like a conservative by altering his stands on immigration, the environment and taxes. Then he named Sarah Palin his running mate. It was too much for a media that had fallen head over heels for Obama. The media had a new darling.

In McCain’s mind, however, losing the presidency will not be the final chapter of his life story. He knows the path to “Big Media” redemption. Working with the man who vanquished him in November will show them all the real McCain again.

Remember, it was this onetime prisoner of war who led the charge to open diplomatic relations with Vietnam. If that past is prologue, and McCain’s legislative record is any guide, he will not just join with Obama but lead the charge in Congress on global warming, immigration “reform,” the closing of Guantanamo, federal funding for embryonic-stem-cell research, and importation of prescription drugs.

But McCain won’t stop there in his effort to rehabilitate himself in the media’s – or maybe his own – eyes. He will forge common ground on a long list of initiatives that go far beyond where he has gone before, including the stimulus package.

Alas, the two White House rivals now stand positioned to help secure each other’s place in history.

History tells us Rick Santorum lost by historic margins by embracing the extreemist right wing of the GOP. History will tell us also that John McCain lost his election to the popularity of Barack Obama, but also bewcause he chose a Vice Presidential nominee in a move to appease the extremist right wing. Both bits spell the end of Rick Santorum’s brand of politics, and that’s what the sour grapes is about. Barack Obama is maintaining his popularity, and Rick Santorum, by embracing ugly extremism, lost his own approvavl of voters. That’s also what the sour grapes is about. Finally, Barack Obama is showing that he is bipartisan and intends to govern in a bipartisan fashion, something Rick Santorum’s bitter right wing extremism doesn’t allow him to do.

Rick Santorum hates everyone, except for those who agree with his extremist right wing Christian agenda. The Philadelphia Inquirer continues to publish this ugly and extremist misanthrope, to their shame.

Thursday, January 15th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

The Bush Legacy of Racist Politicization of Justice

Did Bradly Schlozman politicize the DOJ Civil Rights Division? Evidently there is not enough evidence to bring him to trial for that or for lying to Congress. But the report gives us the evidence that is ugly, especially in the injection by Schlozman of racism into the very Division of the DOJ charged with combatting racism in the US.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The biggest triumphs of our system of justice in the last 100 years, I would argue, were in the 50′s and 60′s, and dealt with the civil rights movement. In America we recognized the racism in our past and went a good, if long ways towards correcting that racism that was nearly hard-wired into our institutions. The United States Department of Justice is housed in the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building, and RFK himself was instrumental in leading the DOJ in civil rights issues. The Civil Rights Division was founded in response to Civil Rights legislation and is charged with enforcing the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, 1964 and 1968, among other statutes. The Division is a testament to what is good in our system of government, perhaps one of the most important testaments to the good of our system of governmetn. It is now clearer than ever that the Bush Administration has made a mockery of this, one of our most important institutions.

First, the Civil Rights Division under Bradley Schlozman clearly participated in illegal, politicized hiring practices. From McClatchy:

A former acting Justice Department civil rights chief illegally favored conservative job applicants as “real Americans,” kept liberal lawyers off key cases and lied in Senate testimony to conceal his misconduct, internal investigators say in a report made public Tuesday.

Bradley Schlozman privately dubbed liberal department lawyers “commies” and “pinkos” and told a subordinate that the Civil Rights Division shouldn’t be limited to hiring “politburo members” who belong to some “psychopathic left-wing organization designed to overthrow the government,” the department’s inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility found.

Last March, officials from the two offices asked the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia to investigate whether Schlozman had committed perjury in June 2007 Senate testimony and written follow-up responses. Federal prosecutors decided last week not to bring charges.

The 70-page report, the last to be publicly released on four joint internal investigations stemming from the 2007 scandal over politicization of the Justice Department, was completed in July but had been kept secret pending the outcome of the criminal inquiry.

It concludes that Schlozman kept tight control over hiring in five key sections of the Civil Rights Division and “improperly used political or ideological affiliations” in assessing applicants for experienced and entry-level career jobs, violating the federal Civil Service Reform Act and department policy.

Of 65 lawyers whom Schlozman hired from 2003 to 2006 and whose political affiliations were evident, 63, or 97 percent, were Republicans or conservatives and only two were Democrats or liberal, it said.

When Schlozman was approached by a lower-level manager or fellow department political employee about a job applicant, he sometimes blurted, “Conservative?” or “What’s his view of the world?” the report says.

Other reports detailing the political bias and extremism at the Civil Rights Division under Schlozman can be found at The Hill and at the Washington Post. That’s devastating, of course, but worse is that the Schlozman tenure of the Bush DOJ Civil Rights Division was marked by blatant racism on Mr. Schlozman’s part. Yes, blatant racism on the part of Bradley Schlozman reported today by Rolling Stone:

The report is shocking. But even moreso in a topic it touches on only tangentially – racism in the Civil Rights Division of the Bush DOJ. Schlozman tried to have one “Democrat in hiding” that he oversaw exiled because she: “wrote in Ebonics,” “was an idiot,” and “was an affirmative action thing.”

(The attorney in question graduated magna cum laude from a top law school and was repeatedly praised in her performance reviews for her strong writing and analytical skills.)

There is also this email exchange between Schlozman and John Tanner, the Voting Rights division chair who infamously asserted that Voter ID requirements that disadvantage the elderly have no impact on minorities because, “minorities don’t become elderly the way white people do. They die first.”

Tanner and Schlozman are discussing how they like their coffee, with Tanner writing that he took his “Mary Frances Berry style – black and bitter.”

Berry, an African American, chaired the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for nearly a decade, ending her service in 2004.

There may be no more lasting shame that will stick to the Bush Administration than the institutionalization of racism in the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice. But the report that came out this week has failed to recommend prosecution for Schlozman, and his own lawyer is interpreting that as vindication in what appears to be the usual whiney Republican fashion. Their line is that since they were not charged with a crime there is no moral taint, but reasonable observors will see moral taint all over the Bradley Schlozman tenure at the DOJ. There is no other way of interpreting Schlozman’s tenure than that it corrupted the fine work of the Civil Rights Division, an institution that was one of our proudest over the last half of the 20th Century.

Yes, Katrina tars Bush, as does torture and Abu Ghraib and Gitmo and the list goes on and on and on. His ugliest legacy is the institutionalization of racism, via his man Bradley Schozman, in the very agency charged with combatting racism. We do not expect Mr. Bush or Mr. Schozman to admit any of the shame that drips from their actions, because we know that it is vital to the Republican Brand never to admit wrongdoing or shame. We must instead make everyone aware of this promotion of racism by Republicans, and console ourselves int he knowledge that virtually every demographic of color is now avoiding the Republican Party as if they were wearing white sheets. As if? Given the revelations yesterday one wonders if “as if” is an appropriate turn of phrase.

In the interest of full disclosure, my wife and I are in the process of adoption, and the child we adopt will likely be African American. We don’t pat ourselves on the back for this, as we know we will benefit far more than the child will by the opportunity for parenting. But civil rights and race issues are definitely on the front burner for us as we go through this process. As a further aside, this adoption could happen very soon, though out of caution I would say in the next couple of months.

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |
« Previous PageNext Page »