Saturday, April 28, 2007

I guess he's going to choose to do it 'the hard way.'

In my last post I asked whether Rick Renzi is going to resign. Since the FBI raided his family business and he was dropped from ROMP (Regain Our Majority Party-- a Republican fundraising group that is presently raising funds for Republican congressmembers in marginal districts), Renzi has since resigned from his congressional committees, leading to intense speculation that he was planning to resign from Congress. Yesterday, however, Renzi said that he doesn't plan to resign, and that he will fight the corruption charges being leveled against him. He claimed that what we are seeing is a partisan attack. Yeah, right. Those Democrats, they sure run the FBI and Alberto Gonzales' Justice Department, especially for the purpose of getting Rick Renzi. But the paranoia aside, it seems that Congressman Renzi intends to fight this out to the bitter end.

So be it.

The evidence is rapidly accumulating that his large and complicated web is unraveling. Details of the Sandlin land deal have grown into a wide reaching investigation of alleged bribery, kickbacks and other schemes with Renzi running for Congress essentially out of the proceeds. The FBI raid last week resulted in the seizure of documents, presumably related to the ongoing investigation. And with Attorney General Gonzales in the crosshairs for the firing of U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton in what it is increasingly clear was an effort to sidetrack the Renzi investigation, don't expect that Congressman Renzi will get any more favors from the Justice Department-- Attorney General Gonzales is desperately trying to hold onto his own job, and the last thing he will do is stick his neck out again to save Rick Renzi's.

I'm not sure whether his leaving the committees will make much difference, because Rick Renzi has scores of absences from committee meetings and committee votes during the past four and a half years, so by resigning from the committees he was serving on he only makes official what was unofficial before-- that he's just not interested in the day to day work of House committees. However, as the only member of Congress without any committee assignments, I'm not sure what exactly Mr. Renzi is supposed to do. More to the point, as the print edition of the Arizona Republic pointed out this morning, his no longer serving on the committees will cause his source of donors to dry up.

Politically, it is hard to see how Renzi can survive this, even if he tries to stay in Congress. He does have broad support here, having crafted a coalition of Republicans and Native Americans (since he has spread a lot of Congressional money around on the reservations.) But while his support is broad, it is not deep. I've met Republicans (and occasionally others) who are willing to go the wall for, say, Jon Kyl or Jake Flake-- they just fundamentally believe in and support those candidates. I may disagree with their supporters, but in many cases they are voting for Jon Kyl or for Jake Flake very specifically because they like them. On the other hand, I've hardly ever met anyone who was excited about Rick Renzi. Republicans vote for him because he is a Republican, Native Americans vote for him because they expect Federal money back as a reward, but I don't ever think I've met anyone who was really jacked up about voting for (or working for) Rick Renzi. At events I've seen him or his representatives at like parades and fairs, the only people wearing 'Renzi' attire were his campaign staff-- mostly college age interns imported from someplace else (like Renzi himself is) and presumably expected to don his campaign wear. So what I'm saying is that if, say, Jon Kyl for example were involved in a similar scandal (not that I have any hint or reason to believe right now that he might be), he'd have some core level supporters who would stick with him no matter what. Renzi just doesn't have that depth of support.

Renzi refusing to resign also puts the GOP in a pickle. On the Democratic side, State legislator Ann Kirkpatrick, who represents the Navajo reservation in addition to Flagstaff and Sedona, had been considering running against Renzi even before this all broke. I'd say at this point it is highly likely that she will run, and if/when she does she will make a formidable candidate. On the Republican side, they have a tough situation. If Renzi left Congress soon enough then they could put together a challenge, possibly by former State Senate President Ken Bennett. But if he stays and fights, then do they run against him in the primary and risk weakening him further? If not, then might he end up being indicted a la Tom DeLay and Bob Ney and hand the seat to the Democrats anyway?

On the national level, he also puts the GOP in a jam. Last year when they lost soundly in November the two main issues according to exit polling were Iraq and the 'culture of corruption.' As I blogged on Wednesday, with the President failing to budge on getting us out of Iraq and finally beiong confronted on it by Congress, that issue will work to the advanted of Democrats in 2008. So now thanks to Rick Renzi, the corruption issue will now be front and center. In other words, the GOP will be heading into the 2008 election cycle without having gotten out from the wrong side of the two issues which worked so devastatingly agains them in 2006, and Rick Renzi fighting it out will be like Bob Ney and Tom DeLay trying to fight it out were in 2006-- the kind of slow drip story that will keep GOP corruption in the headlines (although after Renzi, ongoing investigations against Reps. John Doolittle, Tom Feeney and Gary Miller will keep the pipeline running.)

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Is Rick Renzi planning to resign?

Hat tip to The politico via Arizona Congress Watch

A week after FBI agents raided his family's business, Republican Rep. Rick Renzi of Arizona has asked to be dropped from his party's top campaign program to protect vulnerable incumbents, a clear sign that he is considering a resignation from Congress.

Renzi asked to be dropped from the Regain Our Majority Program, which raises money for the GOP's most vulnerable incumbents, an aide to Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) confirmed Tuesday.

The congressman's office did not immediately return a phone call for comment.

Last week, FBI agents raided the Arizona offices of a Renzi family business as part of a federal investigation into whether the congressman was paid for helping to arrange a land swap that would allow the two largest mining companies in the world to access to a major copper lode in Arizona, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

Renzi swiftly resigned his seat on the House intelligence panel on Thursday night after telling Boehner that his family's business had been raided.

Renzi's decision, however voluntary, is a clear sign that members have heeded Boehner's call for Republicans to step aside if they are in the crosshairs of a federal investigation following two years of non-stop scandal in the 109th Congress that contributed to the GOP's demise.

Rick Renzi needs to go. Even during the DeLay era, he was consistently named as one of the most corrupt members of Congress. Though he has managed to win election three times because he has proven himself to be a master of negative advertising, Renzi has apparently used his tenure in Congress to enrich himself, his family and his associates from the Federal till. Even Republicans here acknowlege that he is dishonest and corrupt, but he's managed to still win only by smearing his opponents.

Last year Republicans took, as President Bush said, 'a thumping' at the polls, and election day polls showed that voters were punishing them for two main reasons-- 1. Iraq, and 2. GOP Congressional scandals.

Well, they seem to want a repeat of that in 2008, since the House Republicans for the most part are still backing the President on Iraq, and with accidents like Rick Renzi (and California Congressman John Doolittle) waiting to happen it looks like 2008 may turn into another scandal-plagued year for the GOP.

The best thing that Rick Renzi could do for his party, his constituents and the institution of Congress would be to resign, effective immediately.

UPDATE: Tedski at Rum, Romanism and Rebellion says he has information that Renzi may resign by Friday.

Also, in addition to Renzi, we see (credit to HB over at CH Truth) that the Carpet Bagger Report has provided us with a nice summary:

* FBI agents raided Rep. John Doolittle’s (R-Calif.) home, forcing him to step down from his seat on the House Appropriations Committee.

* FBI officials have been leaning on Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) for additional information about his connections with Jack Abramoff.

* Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) is facing a Senate Ethics Committee inquiry, stemming from his efforts to push a federal prosecutor to bring a baseless charge against Democratic state officials in his home state.

* The FBI is investigating Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) for a series of land deals.

* A former aide to Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) has pleaded guilty to accepting illegal gifts from Abramoff.

* The Justice Department investigation into former Rep. (and current Nevada governor) Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.) has intensified.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Celebrate the Earth Day

Carl Sagan: "The Pale Blue Dot"

"Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves."

"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every 'superstar', every 'supreme leader', every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. [...] There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

This Land and the People

Darryl Cherney is known for his quote "I'm not an environmentalist. I'm an Earth warrior." It interested me that quote, so I did a little research on Darryl Cherney.

Darryl has written many songs. His songs are about the actions he has taken defending the environment, fighting for civil rights, and protesting and mocking the political status quo. He was born in New York but has lived in California for last 20 years. He lives among the Redwoods in Humbolt County (northern California) in a home that uses solar panels, a wood burning stove, and is miles from the nearest power line.

In 1988 Darryl ran for Congress in the Democratic Primary.

In 1990 Cherney was hurt when a car bomb exploded in the car; he and fellow activist Judi Bari were travelling in.

Judi was severely injured by the explosion. The case was investigated by the FBI who accused Judi and Darryl of bombing themselves. Darryl and Judi sued the FBI and Oakland Police agents for violations of the United States Constitution. Cherney and the late Bari's estate were awarded $4.4 million.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Tragedy

A candle light vigil at Virginia Tech

The gun rampage on the Virginia Tech campus, which has claimed the lives of as many as 31 students -- is the deadliest school shooting incident in the history of the United States.

John Nichols writes:
The first question, appropriately, is: Why did this happen?

The second question, equally appropriately, is: What should we do about it?

There is is a simple answer to Question No. 1: America is a violent country.

Here is a modest proposal: Instead of adopting a particular line, rent Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine."

Down With Tyranny adds:
Virtually all the far right bloggers were yelling for students to be carrying guns so someone could have killed the shooter. Maybe someone would have. Alternatively, the more guns around, the more people tend to get shot. The fewer guns around, the fewer people get shot.

There are a lot of guns in Iraq too.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Willie McBride

"No Man's Land" is the actual title of this song by Eric Bogle, a well-known Scottish-Australian songwriter. Whether you know this song under the title "No Man's Land", "The Green Fields of France" or "Willie McBride", it is a song which tugs at the heart.

Here's a YouTube version.

Well, how do you do, young Willie McBride,
Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside
And rest for a while in the warm summer sun?
I've been walking all day and I'm nearly done.
And I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
When you joined the great fallen in nineteen-sixteen.
Well, I hope you died quick and I hope you died clean
Or, Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene?

Chorus :
Did they beat the drum slowly, did they play the fife lowly,
Did they sound the death-march as they lowered you down?
Did the band play the 'Last Post and Chorus',
Did the pipes play the 'Flowers o' the Forest'?

And did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind
In some loyal heart is your memory enshrined?
And 'though you died back in nineteen-sixteen
To that loyal heart you're forever nineteen.
Or are you a stranger without even a name
Forever enshrined behind some old glass pane
In a old photograph, torn and tattered and stained
And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame?

The sun's shining down on these green fields of France
The warm wind blows gently and the red poppies dance
The trenches have vanished long under the plow
No gas, no barbed wire, no guns firing now.
But here in this graveyard that's still No Man's Land
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man
And a whole generation were butchered and damned.

And I can't help but wonder now, Willie McBride,
Do all those who lie here know why they died?
Did you really believe them when they told you 'the cause'?
Did you really believe that this war would end wars?
Well, the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame,
The killing and dying, it was all done in vain,
Oh, Willie McBride, it all happened again,
And again, and again, and again, and again.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Response to several emails

I've received several requests to post the letter I had published in the print edition of the USA Today last Wednesday since it is apparently not available online.

The letter was in response to an article they had the week before on the last four living American veterans of World War I (also dubbed 'the war to end all wars.')

The letter read as follows:

Your feature on the last remaining World War I vets was as riveting as it was poignant. Truly this 'war to end all wars' has been forgotten, and those who are today remembered only in Flanders Fields have been forgotten along with it.

Also forgotten is the lesson that the world should have learned. As horrible as World War I was, it did not end war. The idea that the way to prevent future wars is by fighting a war now was as much a myth then as it is today.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

If I Could...

After today....

Away, I'd rather sail away
Like a swan that's here and gone

I'd rather feel the earth beneath my feet,
Yes I would.
If I only could,
I surely would.

Four Years

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid released the following statement today on the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad:
"Four years ago, our men and women fought bravely to capture the city of Baghdad and bring an end to the reign of a dictator. Today, they desperately need a post-war strategy that recognizes the political situation on the ground and removes them from policing a civil war. Democrats believe we must transition the mission in Iraq in order to increase America's security and more effectively fight terrorism. As we reflect on this Administration's failed policies of the past four years, we hope the President will join us in moving forward to change course in Iraq, empower Iraqis to govern their own land, and give our troops the resources they need and a strategy worthy of their sacrifices."
U.S. Newswire

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Onward we Hope

The following was written by E.B. White:

"As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time."
Pope Benedict XVI said:

"In the Middle East, besides some signs of hope in the dialogue between Israel and the Palestine Authority, nothing positive comes from Iraq, torn apart by continual slaughter as the civil population flees."

"How many wounds, how much suffering there is in the world?"

So on this morning, as I warm my hands after attending the Sunrise Service -- I wish all a Happy Easter, I still have hope. I will stand upright to work to remove the wrong that has been done so that we will have World Peace.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Today I am attending a funeral for a friend of mine, whose father has passed away. As my friend says:

He was ready to meet his Maker and "find out what life was all about."
I liked the way my friend put it and I just wanted to share it with all of you.

Friday, April 06, 2007

And out she goes...

Monica Goodling, the top aide to AG Abu Gonzales has resigned.

  • Asserted her Fifth Amendment Right against Self-Incrimination
  • Told Congress she would not testify her role in the firings of federal prosecutor
  • Submits her resignation with no reason
Hmmm....maybe she will blame the Democrats.

Get Yer Plaid On

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Botched Raid Leads to Iran Hostage Crisis?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007
By Patrick Cockburn

A failed American attempt to abduct two senior Iranian security officers on an official visit to northern Iraq was the starting pistol for a crisis that 10 weeks later led to Iranians seizing 15 British sailors and Marines.

Early on the morning of 11 January, helicopter-born US forces launched a surprise raid on a long-established Iranian liaison office in the city of Arbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. They captured five relatively junior Iranian officials whom the US accuses of being intelligence agents and still holds.

In reality the US attack had a far more ambitious objective, The Independent has learned. The aim of the raid, launched without informing the Kurdish authorities, was to seize two men at the very heart of the Iranian security establishment.

Better understanding of the seriousness of the US action in Arbil - and the angry Iranian response to it - should have led Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence to realise that Iran was likely to retaliate against American or British forces such as highly vulnerable Navy search parties in the Gulf. The two senior Iranian officers the US sought to capture were Mohammed Jafari, the powerful deputy head of the Iranian National Security Council, and General Minojahar Frouzanda, the chief of intelligence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, according to Kurdish officials.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Reporter vs. Drudger

Let's weigh the two. On the left we have Michael Ware, a CNN reporter who has actually been in Iraq for four years doing investigative reporting. On the right we have Matt Drudge, the owner of the website otherwise known as the National Enquirer of the Internet.

Oh, don't worry, I am not going to link to Drudge but to Raw Story which has a very informative post up with all the facts. Seems Drudge falsely accused Michael Ware of "heckling" St. John McCain.

Michael presents all the facts and Drudge sits at his computer in Miami creating lies. I have no patience for a person who lacks the virtues of honesty and truth.

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