Wednesday, May 24, 2006

FBI Investigation Inches Closer to Roy Blunt

ABC News investigative correspondent, Brian Ross, reports that FBI investigators are taking a close look at House Speaker Dennis Hastert's letters to the Department of Interior on behalf of casino interests represented by crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Ross reports that . . .

"Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago, urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with other tribes."

If I'm not mistaken, this is one of the three letters signed by the 7th District's very own moral icon, Congressman Roy Blunt. Back in January, we posted a timeline of fundraisers and letters to Interior Secretary Gale Norton that clearly linked Blunt and Hastert to Abramoff's casino interests in Louisiana. Here's a clipping:

June 1999 - Abramoff donates $5,000 to ROYB fund.
February 2000 - Abramoff donates an additional $1,500 to ROYB Fund.
March 2000 - Abramoff donates maximum amount to Matt Blunt's campaign for Missouri Secretary of State.
April 2000 - Abramoff's Mariannas Island client donates $3,000 to ROYB fund.
April 2000 - Abramoff client, Juan Franco (Puerto Rico), contributes $3,000 to ROYB fund.
August 2000 - Blunt and DeLay host Republican National Committee events sponsored in part by Abramoff client, the Mississippi Band of Choctaws.
September 2000 - Blunt requests GAO study on tribal recognition issues and simultaneously seeks a six month moratorium on further tribal recognition - protecting existing casinos from further competition.
February 2002 - GAO report on tribal recognition issued.
March 2002 - Blunt writes letter to Department of Interior citing the GAO report and expressed specific concerns about the Jenna Band of Choctaws and their status in Louisiana. The Jenna Band would have been competition for Abramoff's client with tribal recognition approval.
March 2003 - Abramoff contributes to ROYB fund.
May 2003 - Blunt sends another letter to Department of Interior Secretary Gale Norton regarding his concerns about Indian gaming and specifically the Jenna Band in Louisiana.
June 2003 - Blunt joins DeLay, House Speaker Hastert and House Majority Whip Cantor in penning yet another letter to DOI Secretary Norton regarding the opposed Jenna Band casino.

Of course, Blunt will still be re-elected in a landslide this November for a variety of reasons. One, he has more money in his ROYB PAC than the last fifty 7th District candidates combined (Gee, I wonder where it all came from?). Two, he's a Republican incumbent in Southwest Missouri. Three, he has virtually no visible opposition. It is a crying shame that the Democrats couldn't at least have put somebody out there (Hosmer, Harpool, Kreider) to at least raise some of these issues publicly for the good folks here in God's country. Four, the local news media don't possess the balls to report that our golden boy Congressman has sold out to crooked lobbyists and huge corporate interests to become Missouri's poster boy for political corruption.

If Blunt is ever held accountable for selling out his constituents here in SW Missouri, you're more likely to read about it first here in Ozarks Angel than in the News-Leader. That a sad commentary, isn't it?

Here's more on the subject of our asleep-at-the-wheel print media from The Turner Report - and still more on our man Roy from Granny.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Sunday Thread

The News-Leader was all over the power plant issue in this week's Sunday edition. Environmentalists argue against a new coal-fired plant; CU argues in favor of building the thing. Frankly, I don't know enough about this issue to say much, but it seems that, given the reality of global warming and the cost of generating power, that any viable way to create cleaner, sustainable power should be a priority.

Sara Overstreet told us of a handicapped woman who can no longer ride her motorized wheelchair to an OACAC Head Start center due to the closure of the Broadway Avenue railroad crossing. I know I sound completely insensitive, but it's yet another in a series of sad, lightly truth-tinted stories from Overstreet.

Last year, she wrote of a special needs adolescent boy who had been repeatedly turned down by Big Brothers & Big Sisters, when all he sought was a little kindness and love. I remember that kid, even though I never had him in class. I don't know what specifically was wrong with him, but I do know that he did sometimes erupt in violent outburst when things didn't go his way.

I remember seeing the security guard walking toward me with a huge bruise on his arm, vividly outlined by rows of teeth marks and blood. I remember seeing fear in the eyes of children in the hall and the image of that boy being handcuffed and escorted to the patrol car by two of SPD finest. But it's a sad story nonetheless.

And then there was the recent Overstreet story about the special education teacher who cruelly forced her handicapped student to crawl up the steps of the school building. She featured a picture of the family with that one. Given the Big Brother story, I'm wondering how well this one was researched.

Anyway . . . on with the Sunday news shows. I'm finding it harder and harder to listen to the likes of Condi Rice and Alberto Gonzalez. Tim Russert just isn't a whiz-bang interviewer, is he? Gonzalez, who has already proven he can put on a plastic face and say absolutely nothing for hours at a time, was vintage.

You only need partial quotes from Gonzalez to know when it's a waste of time to go on listening. First, he stated that "we don't engage in surveillance . . without a court order", which is a bold-faced lie as everybody knows. Once the big lie is presented, what can follow?

"We want to promote . . . first amendment rights." Of course you do. When pressed by George Stephanopoulos to explain events that would contradict that statement, Gonzalez replied with the tried and true Nixonian mantra . . . "We are engaged in an investigation . . . I'm not going to talk about specific cases."

More from the Bush administration Theater of the Absurd. An investigation by the Justice Department into NSA spying practices was halted this week. The Bush administration has, incredible as it may seem, denied itself access to it's own information.

From the Washington Post:

"The government has abruptly ended an inquiry into the warrantless eavesdropping program because the National Security Agency refused to grant Justice Department lawyers the necessary security clearance to probe the matter.

The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility, or OPR, sent a fax to Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., on Wednesday saying they were closing their inquiry because without clearance their lawyers cannot examine Justice lawyers' role in the program."

If one were to personify American governance at this moment in time, he would be an incredibly rich, well-armed, drug-addicted mental patient who dredges up imaginary enemies to feed his fevered self-consumption. The drug is power, the enemies are everywhere.

On the positive side, it was great to hear John Edwards expanding the collective orifices of Cheney, Bush, et al. It seems there are a few Democrats whose testicles are beginning to descend after a cold winter of Republican malfeasance. If Edwards can stay real, he will be a strong presidential candidate.

Like most democrats, Edwards isn't backing any talk of impeaching Bush. Isn't it interesting that the Clinton impeachment actually served the Republicans very well after a passage of time. Because after that debacle, nobody has the stomach for years of investigation and litigation, even though the charges are much worse than those that would have come against Nixon, as Edwards pointed out in his interview.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Bearing False Witness Door to Door

I hear a knock on the door last Saturday, and standing before me on my front step are two gentlemen carrying paperback books about the Ten Commandments.

The younger of the two men did all the talking while his buddy, an older man who was obviously nervous about this door-to-door thing, stood smiling throughout his partner's narrative. I was treated to a well-rehearsed story that began . . .

"Of course, you know that the ten commandments have been removed from the schools and that the pledge of allegiance is no longer recited in the classroom. There has been a concerted effort to remove prayer and God from the schools . . . "

It was somewhere about here when I interrupted the young man to tell him that I was a public school teacher.

"As far as I can remember, the ten commandments have never been in the schools - none that I've seen as a student or a teacher. Every Monday my home room and I stand as one, as do all the other 600+ students in our school, and recite the pledge of allegiance - though I doubt half of them know what it means.

Every Thursday morning, the school's FCA chapter (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) meets for prayer and a message, frequently from outside speakers - and it is very well attended. They have their own bulletin board in the main hallway with religious messages and symbols. Nobody is objecting to this. So where do you get this stuff?"

The two men were a little non-plussed, but the older guy continued nodding his head and smiling.

"Well, that's just great," he said enthusiastically. "Thank you for telling us about that."

The younger one muttered something about when he was in ROTC they didn't say the pledge at the school he attended. I didn't quite follow. I asked him where he went to school, and he told me he was from out of town. Oh.

"The thing is," I had to get the last word, "you guys are going door-to-door peddling your book, but you are telling people things that are just not true."

As they backed their way through our abrupt farewell, the older gentleman, still smiling and nodding, said "Thanks for telling us about your experiences." And they walked across the driveway to my neighbor's front porch.

They actually gave my neighbor a free copy of the book, Ten Commandments Twice Removed, by televangelists Danny Shelton and Shelley Quinn. And they didn't use the same lines on him, which I found a little gratifying - they just hawked the book. Maybe speaking up can make a small difference sometimes. Usually not, but maybe this time.

So, Matt loans me the book, and right there on the first page, line two, the public schools are introduced as evidence of our godless society's so-called war on Christianity.

"Whose agenda are we following? With prayer prohibited in public schools, Nativity scenes banned from public properties, and the Ten Commandments forcibly removed from government institutions, it makes me wonder."

Wonder, indeed. Wonder how many people will buy this load of misinformation and hyperbole.

Here's an interesting piece from the Washington Post that poses the question: "In Today's Culture, Do You See Evidence of a War on Christianity?

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