Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

For the sake of ornament and illumination.

Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:27 pm

LET'S IMPEACH! IT'S A NO-BRAINER, FERCRISSAKES!, by Charles Carreon

9:58pm, January 19, 2006

Okay, who hid the news that 53% of American voters want Congress "to consider impeachment" if (and this is a nonexistent "if") Bush spied on Americans in blatant violation of the Constitution and the courts? Well, a Zogby poll was done in November, and that was the result! I just found out about it at http://www.democrats.com/.

Okay, well now I feel a lot better about America. Even though we're kept in the dark and fed bullshit with our cornflakes, somehow people are kind of keeping up with the major outlines of the story. We've got secret prisons around the world, we're paying mercenaries to fight a war of empire, people at home are struggling, and all our President can promise is that he will keep spying on us for our own good, because by the time the case gets around to the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O'Connor will be gone, and Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas and one more makes a Bush majority every day of the week.

The Supreme Court will have five Catholics on it, too, and I wonder how they'll rule when the appeal comes up in that recent case where the Pope as head of the Vatican was dismissed from a child molestation lawsuit because he's the Sovereign Head of a Foreign Nation? Does that mean that all priests are foreign agents who should register? What about Catholic judges?

But I digress, which is so easy in the thicket of corruption that has become our national political reality. Gutless Congress people don't even speak the word "impeachment." Wow, if you could put a set of Republican balls on a Democrat, then you'd have something! They might even say something stirring and indicting like "None dare call it treason!"

The news media aren't reporting the Drive to Impeach, so let's GO BLOGGERS! Here's a list of media email addresses you can bomb with invective and cajolery. Let's see if we can MOVE THE MEDIA AND WITH IT, PUBLIC DEBATE.

daniel.m.merkle@abc.com, netaudr@abc.com, newspolls@abc.com, ttompson@ap.org, wlester@ap.org, info@americanresearchgroup.com, evening@cbsnews.com, KAF@cbsnews.com, jeff.greenfield@cnn.com, wolf@cnn.com, bill.schneider@turner.com, info@edisonresearch.com, info@field.com, askfox@fox.com, comments@foxnews.com, jgorman@opiniondynamics.com, david_wilson@gallup.com, darby_miller_steiger@gallup.com, david_moore@gallup.com, media_inquiries@gallup.com, rthomas@harrisinteractive.com, Info@harrisinteractive.com, timespoll@latimes.com, maristpoll@marist.edu, Mark.Murray@nbc.com, sheldon.gawiser@nbc.com, nightly@nbc.com, nytnews@nytimes.com, rich@nytimes.com, topurd@nytimes.com, adamnag@nytimes.com, letters@newsweek.com, Marcus.Mabry@newsweek.com, livingpolitics@aol.com, pcraighill@pewresearch.org, skeeter@pewresearch.org, info@people-press.org, pollinginstitute@quinnipiac.edu, Info@rasmussenreports.com, editor@surveyusa.com, spage@usatoday.com, rbenedetto@usatoday.com, editor@usatoday.com, wsjcontact@dowjones.com, morinr@washpost.com, balzd@washpost.com, ombudsman@washpost.com, abramowitz@washpost.com, newseditors@wsj.com, john.harwood@wsj.com
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:29 pm

ASHLAND FIBER NET: THE IMBROGLIO RIPENS, by Charles Carreon

February 7, 2006

The year was 1995. Lance Pugh was standing in my office in the Old Ashland Armory, waving his arms and explaining vociferously that I needed to understand that because the City of Ashland had been farsighted enough to back a municipal fiber network, the Armory was going to be wired to the world wide web. Once this marvelous fiber was pulled into the building, I would be able to contact clients around the world. Lance envisioned the Armory becoming an online entertainment emporium, with live video feeds streaming out live shows from the Armory stage. Lance imaged something on the order of “Ashland City Limits.” Lance was right on with his prophecies, but a little ahead of his time, and what visionary isn’t? I still think he had a cool idea.

Will Work For Net Access

In 1999, I had an office in Medford, a dot-commer client in San Francisco, and a high-stakes lawsuit to service in San Jose. Using dial-up wasn’t cutting it. My client offered to do whatever it took to speed up my Internet connection. I ended up with a hybrid system called Perkinet that required a technician to install a satellite downlink into my building, while I still did my uploads by phone modem. Kooky system, but it worked until Internet CDS discontinued the service after about three months. Then I ended up buying Qwest DSL high-speed through a third-party vendor who would have committed seppuku if he’d had an ounce of decency about him. The service cost $400 per month, and was intermittently down for extended periods. But it was still better than dial up.

AFN, My Savior

In 2000, I moved my office back to Ashland, when I realized that both AFN and Charter Internet were available, and competing prices down brutally. I started with Charter because they won the race to my cul-de-sac, and stayed with them until a three-day outage brought my clients down around my ears. I switched to AFN and never had cause to look back, although the whole bit with dealing with a third-party ISP seemed bizarre. Why, I asked myself, would the City throw away its ownership of a fiber network by letting third-party ISPs do the easy work of signing up customers to a broadband network? But I didn’t think about it long. AFN service was great, cheaper than Charter, that charged me more for extra IP addresses. I even broke down and got cable TV during 2004, but I tired of big media in a big way after watching Kerry throw the vote to his fellow-Bonesman. TV, I decided, sucks. But you can take my Internet away when you pry my keyboard from my cold, dead hands.

It’s 2005, and I pay extra for a one-gigabit monthly upload capacity, so the Ashland Free Press and other publishers can put their works out on the Internet. Hosting websites from your own place is a cozy thing to do, not quite as romantic as a crackling fire, but often more remunerative. I went to Vegas earlier this year and met with a group of Internet entrepreneurs, people who run a lot of websites, and make some pretty good money. But they also pay big bandwidth bills, and were very impressed with the low price of bandwidth in Ashland. In fact, they asked if they could buy some.

Welcome to the Bandwidth Business

So what is bandwidth? Bandwidth, my dear fellow Ashlander is the business we are in. Bandwidth is the Internet medium of information transfer. Measured in “megabits per second,” it serves the same function as the wooden letters in Scrabble, without which you can’t spell anything. Every “bit” is a unit of information – one “yes” or one “no” – one pixel on or one pixel off on a video screen. You need lots of bits to make a letter, and many more bits to record a song, picture, or movie. Without bandwidth you can’t send any letters, numbers, pictures, or gambling wagers over the Internet. If you want to send a lot of information, you need a lot of bandwidth.

Where, you might ask, is this bandwidth manufactured? As best I can ascertain, it is manufactured in computers called “servers,” that crank it out of their processors, which are called engines for a very good reason. And yes, right here in Ashland, we have a lot of servers, adding to the total bandwidth in the Internet universe. We are producing and selling this marvelous material that can be hammered into anything you can see on a screen, hear through a speaker, and print on paper or even in three-dimensional materials.

Bandwidth – great stuff. This marvelous medium of communication has deflated the record industry’s monopoly, created a new medium of self-expression, empowered young, old and everyone in-between, created innumerable jobs, and given us the means to reduce gas-guzzling hive activities like “showing up for work,” “going to the video store,” and “dropping off that paper to sign.” It probably also launched the Abu Ghraib expose, helped Michael Moore end-run the media blackout of Fahrenheit 911, and got Mike Brown fired. Using this fantastic high-speed network, we can also reduce our long-distance phone bills drastically, and talk to people around the world for pennies, using flat-fee Voice-Over Internet Protocol services like Vonage. People say information wants to be free, and I believe that, but without bandwidth, it’s going nowhere.

The bandwidth in Ashland is very good bandwidth, because it doesn’t run through nasty old copper wires left over from the bad old telephone days, like Qwest DSL and other nasty services. Ashland bandwidth races at the speed of light through 35 miles of buried optical fiber that doesn’t rust, doesn’t wear out, and allows fast, smooth transmission of data. This is an excellent product, and one that can be sold to people from all over the world, through a market that is accessible entirely over the Internet. Ashland could become a home for a goodly number of server farms, which is nice, clean industry that pays good salaries to technicians. We may not have a monopoly, but we have a very nice market in which to compete, and many of us think of AFN Internet access as a way of life. While reselling Internet access through a network of private ISPs is cumbersome and fragments our competitive strategy against Charter, it also provides a substantial number of local jobs that pump money right back into the community. We cannot forget the good jobs held by many Ashland public servants, union members, in the Ashland Information Technology, Telecommunications, and Computer Services Divisions, with a payroll totaling $1,830,000, many of whom would presumably have to find a new employer if AFN wasn’t a City enterprise anymore, and who must spend some of that money at Ashland eateries. Heck, if you fire all those people, who’ll be left to pay the meals tax?

How’d It Get So Expensive?

AFN is like a bunion – you don’t know how it got that big, and it hurts. Parkinson’s Law states: “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” G. Northcote Parkinson coined the aphorism when he was trying to figure out why the devil the number of Admiralty officials in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy ballooned 78% while the total number of ships under command fell by 67%. Nettlesome as this problem seemed, Parkinson got to the bottom of it. He observed that, regardless how trivial the task, “the thing done swells in importance and complexity in direct ratio with the time to be spent.” That leisure breeds self-importance is well-known, but Parkinson had the groundbreaking insight that “work swelling” results from bureaucratic infighting:

“Picture a civil servant, called A, who finds himself overworked. For this real or imagined overwork there are, broadly speaking, three possible remedies. He may resign; he may ask to halve the work with a colleague called B; he may demand the assistance of two subordinates, to be called C and D. There is probably no instance in history, however, of A choosing any but the third alternative. By resignation, he would lose his pension rights. By having B appointed, on his own level in the hierarchy, he would merely bring in a rival for promotion to W’s vacancy when W (at long last) retires. So A would rather have C and D, junior men, below him. They will add to his consequence, and by dividing the work into two categories, as between C and D, he will have the merit of being the only man who comprehends them both.“

Thus officials vie to multiply their subordinates and outmaneuver rivals, seeking to control bigger budgets, boss more employees, enjoy more prestige, and exercise more power. How does Parkinson’s Law figure into this story? No one in the City wanted another Department Head, least of all a “AFN Cable & Internet Department Head,” who would have a big budget, lots of subordinates, and according to the financial predictions, a cash cow to manage. Such a person would be an unbearable rival within City government, so it just did not occur to anyone that, however unpalatable, AFN needed someone to lead it.

Sun Tzu said that before going into battle, a general must ask:

“Which government has the right philosophy?
Which commander has the skill?
Which season and place has the advantage?
Which method of command works?
Which group of forces has the strength?
Which officers and men have the training?
Which rewards and punishments make sense?
This tells when you will win and when you will lose.
Some commanders perform this analysis.
If you use these commanders, you will win.
Keep them.
Some commanders ignore this analysis.
If you use these commanders, you will lose.
Get rid of them.”


So much the worse if you have no commander at all. You can’t even get rid of them. But we have only ourselves to blame. We funded AFN in a feel-good mood, and it took off like a colt that saw the barn door open. Since then, we haven’t had a chance of catching up. We started off on the wrong foot. Without a top manager, AFN was nobody’s baby, and everybody’s excuse. No one’s professional fate was personally bound up in getting AFN built within a specified time frame, so Parkinson’s Law ate up all the slack that the City allowed.

Time is the enemy of profit. Incomplete systems don’t operate, and an inoperable system cannot generate a profit. Every day a project drags on, the more likely it will not be completed or will fall short of expectations, the day when you start earning any money from operations is set farther off. The failure to complete on-time was the first operational failure of AFN, and it was no due to the fact that no strict schedule for completion was adopted or adhered to. Instead, the job was done in the usual public-contracting style, by union City employees and private contractors receiving prevailing wage.

Of course, no one was clamoring for prompt completion of AFN. By contrast, in an effective private organization, when construction fell behind, the AFN sales chief might remind the Construction Director and AFN top brass, that “delayed deployment” means “delayed sales” means “delayed revenue” means smaller bonuses for all of them. Delay in deployment is daily death for the sales chief, who lives from sales, who hopes to send his children to medical school with the proceeds of sales.

Salespeople read Sun Tzu because selling to consumers is a war, a fiercely competitive enterprise that should never be engaged in by amateurs. War is managed by successful commanders. Selling is managed by sales chiefs. Commanders are supposed to produce victories, and sales teams are supposed to produce cash. What do you do with commanders who fail to produce victories? “Get rid of them.” The same thing happens to sales chiefs who don’t produce bucks. They get into something different, and the business finds someone who can sell. This job of actually getting the money is indeed a very difficult one, that is fairly analogized to fighting a war. But from what I can tell from researching the City’s website and news resources, AFN had no Sales Director. So no high-level AFN employee ever actually faced the nitty-gritty business of getting Internet and cable users to choose AFN over Charter. Instead, City employees went about the business of providing services and charging fees for them, the only model with which they are familiar. Unfortunately, Charter had a sales director.

Nobody’s job at the City of Ashland was on the line when advertiser revenues fell markedly below projections. Worst of all, no one fought for a marketing budget, which is analogous to failing to give your soldiers any weapons. No one was worried they’d lose face if Charter stole our customers using predatory pricing (underselling your competitor even though you lose money in the short run). Even though AFN pays $460,000 per year for ”Central Services,“ usually described as ”legal and accounting,“ AFN never got a formal legal opinion about whether the City could sue or otherwise challenge Charter’s discriminatory pricing policy, under which it delivers Internet access and cable services at lower prices in Ashland than in Medford. Nope, we just sat there while Charter ate our lunch, even though their service is inferior. And most definitely no one’s job was imperiled by the City’s failure to roll out Internet telephone service, thus kissing off a half-million of forecast revenue in a single inaction.

So how has AFN been run at all? AFN has been run by remote control from Lee Tuneberg’s office, with nods from Alan DeBoer and City Administrator Gino Grimaldi, who signed off on all the debt that we’re now carrying.

So why is the project everybody’s favorite whipping boy? Everyone wants to blame the debt, but I want to talk about AFN’s unexploited value first, because frankly, the debt is not killing us, we have no way of getting rid of it but to pay it off, and all the negative talk is just driving down the price of the asset in question. If we are going to sell, we should not be broadcasting our despair about the financial imbroglio we have gotten ourselves into. A recent interpretation of Sun Tzu for salespeople says, “If you are struggling, you must seem calm.” We are struggling, and we must seem calm. We are sitting at the big stakes table, here. The vultures are circling, and we are what’s for dinner. We need to kick a little.

Nowadays everyone wants to know: should we dump AFN, or what? When you talk about selling something that is valuable, that works, that is already built, and that is buried under your house, you should have a good reason for doing it. The fact that it cost too much to build it, and it’s costing you to keep it, doesn’t necessarily mean you should haul off and get rid of it. You need to do an economic analysis, and that analysis really doesn’t have anything to do with how much money you have into the project. This economic principle is expressed as “forget sunk costs.”

What are “sunk costs?” Sunk costs are money that you’re not going to get back no matter what you do. My only economics professor, Armen Alchian, explained it by saying: “Imagine you had a million dollars, and you invested nine-hundred thousand of them in a stock that went belly-up and you lost it all. The way that you lost the nine-hundred-thousand should have nothing to do with how you apply the remaining hundred-thousand, except that perhaps you should not throw good money after bad.” In fact, people have a tendency to fixate on a loss, and it destroys their ability to evaluate how to dispose of the remaining asset.

As the owners of AFN, the citizens of Ashland find themselves in a similar situation. We have invested far more than we were told it would cost to build the fiber network. In 1999, it was estimated to cost $6 Million, and we are told it has cost $15.5 Million. To explain this Pentagon-sized overrun, City employees disclosed to the AFN Options Committee that, among other blunders, construction went way over budget because the City Attorney failed to inform the City that it would have to pay prevailing wages to contractors working on the project. The ballooning expense was not disclosed to the public. Rather, in July 2002, based on a memo from Lee Tuneberg, the City’s top bean-counter, then-Mayor Alan DeBoer authorized “internal borrowing” from the Water Fund and the Wastewater fund to keep AFN going through 2003. Tuneberg sent a copy of his memo to DeBoer to Gino Grimaldi, City Administrator, but didn’t even send a copy to Dick Wanderscheid, the City head of Electric, who has pretended to be the head of AFN since 2001, reading scripts preparedy by the accounting office. Wanderscheid has mainly been useful in hiding AFN's financial problems during his tenure, since he developed the habit of issuing AFN Quarterly Reports that describe only rosy conditions, then dropping a financial bomb (like a $2 Million deficit in AFN funding) shortly after each new budget is passed. Thanks to Dick's idea of how to fund things (secretly, after the fact, and when it's too late to say no), AFN has earned the reputation of being a boondoggle. Now it has to live that reputation down, and somehow get its neck out of the noose that John Gaffey and his band of fiscal vigilantes had slipped 'round its neck.

The ”sale of AFN" that many believe will get the City out of debt will not. The Daily Tidings ran a financial analysis in its December 3rd edition clearly showed that selling AFN for $5 Million and throwing away its operating revenues would increase yearly AFN payoff expense from $755,000 to $985,000 per year – from three-quarters of a million, to a million. The damage to local business from a sale could be substantial. We have a goodly number of businesses built on AFN Internet access, first among them the ISPs, whose fortunes, and those of their owners and employees, are based on the continuance of the existing order. We have a public resource that is still in our hands, over which we can yet exert control. Cooler heads want a fix before the vote – a sale, a lateral, a spinoff, a face-saving, time-saving fix that will prevent the issue going to a vote – what the powerful think of as a roll of the dice. But we are the voters. We paid for, and will continue to pay for this thing. We need to look at all the facts and make up our minds with a cool head.

The Options Committee has recommended that the City get rid of AFN, because it could never learn how to run it, but this sidesteps the politically untenable truth – the City has allowed Lee Tuneberg to call the tune that AFN has been required to play, and that tune is heavy on accounting expense. The “Central Services” expense of $460,000 per year keeps AFN underwater. The Options Committee report recommends spinoff because the members believe that, if a separate nonprofit were buying these same services, they would pay less than $100,000 per year. One might ask, then, if AFN has to be rescued from City government so they won’t be overcharged for accounting and legal work, what kind of a City government are we running, and where are the savings going to come from that will prevent us running up more debt? The answers to this question is simple. We are running a very expensive City government. And getting rid of AFN won’t fix that.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:31 pm

CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS: PAUL ALLEN'S TOY, by Charles Carreon

February 7, 2006

“Everybody knows” that Charter Communications is the “natural buyer” for “AFN,” even though nobody knows precisely what portions of AFN would be for sale, if it were for sale, which according to the City Council’s pronouncements, it isn’t. The primary proponents of selling AFN (to Charter) are Gino Grimaldi, Ashland’s outgoing Administrator, and Lee Tuneberg, the City’s top accountant. Their reasoning is – they’ve borrowed all the money the banks will lend, and then borrowed more money from their friends the municipal bond bankers, who charged the City a mere $250,000 to underwrite our $15.5 Million bond issue. They’ve played hide-the-budget-ball with three generations of City Councils, and managed all this without ever hiring a real head of AFN, and the whole game is simply played out. They can’t bear the idea of giving up control over this financial behemoth, but they don’t want to deal with it anymore. They spend all of their time explaining why they did what they did, and they can’t get any other work done.

So Charter to the rescue, at any price. Although Charter is not a financial behemoth, with the total value of all its outstanding common stock under half a billion, it has one important stockholder whose personal finances dwarf those of our tiny burg. The largest holder of Charter stock is Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who has acquired 29,165,526 shares. Allen’s interest in Charter is as current as his rumored romance with former Countess von Bismarck Laura Harring. He is a mighty chieftain of the business world who invests seven and eight-figure sums in various companies through Vulcan Securities, a private investment house dedicated entirely to investing Allen’s money. Like all investment houses, Vulcan pays big salaries to MBAs and CPAs to produce intensive financial reports on prospective investments. Since July 2004, Allen he has bought and sold millions of shares in private transactions that value Charter stock at up to 30 times its market value. A May 2004 Business Week articled entitled “The $12 Billion Education of Paul Allen,” noted that Charter was one of a select group of technology assets Allen retained in his portfolio after deciding to cut his losses on a broad array of wired investments that had not panned out. The article indicates that Allen takes a personal interest in Charter that is unique among his investments:

Allen, who had long suffered from a sort of investor's attention deficit disorder, has made a big effort to become more focused. Never married, he says he is spending more time than ever on his investments. He holds weekly meetings with his financial advisers; before, he met with them only on an ad-hoc basis. Now he lunches with the senior members of his investment team every Monday to get updates on deals and discuss strategy. Allen holds another weekly meeting to catch up on developments at Charter, his biggest holding after Microsoft. “I've been through the fire in the last few years,” says Allen. “Now I get involved and ask questions that are a lot more pointed and specific and probing — and, I think, insightful.” … The devastation of the tech bust led Allen to some serious soul-searching. Last fall, he distilled his thinking into a 26-point memo setting out ways to improve his investment management…” Already, some outcomes are changing. One of Allen's bullet points is a reminder to “negotiate hard” but walk away from overpriced deals. … Adds Allen: “I wish we had the 26-point memo five years ago. Things would be in a different place today. Those lessons were learned at a significant cost.”

This snapshot of Paul Allen’s thinking shows that Charter’s main shareholder has been badly burned in the tech meltdown, and if we think Charter is going to buy AFN, we had better plan on giving it away – after burning through twelve of his thirty-billion dollar Microsoft haul, this billionaire has turned into a skinflint. As the article discusses, in a recent non-deal, Allen invested in Magis Technologies, an HDTV technology R&D startup, watched it slide into bankruptcy, joined other vulture investors making lowball offers, and was outbid by Sanyo for a lousy $3.5 Million. Fundamentally, companies are Paul Allen’s toys, and he is getting bored. He smashes them up, throws them away, and generally treats them like disposable entertainment.

As a result, you would never want Charter to buy anything large from you, because it’s losing money faster than the Titanic was shipping water when the rich people were stealing the lifeboats, and I bet Paul Allen has already commandeered one with oars, biscuits and fresh water. The statistics on Charter are so bad that it is clear that, but for Allen’s support, the company would be defunct. Although it has over $5 Billion in annual revenue, it has a negative profit margin of -18.7 %, negative net income of -$974 Million, and a negative book value of -$14.35 per share.

Allen’s not much a civic giver, either, if you were wondering. Turning his knack for screwing up businesses to the field of professional sports, he bought the Portland Trail Blazers. Under Allen’s mismanagement, a string of players started getting more time under the police photolamps than the gym lights, and the team earned a new name – the Jail Blazers. The Jimi Hendrix museum he paid Frank Gehry to design looks like a piece of stainless steel attempting to morph into an enormous amoeba, another abandoned toy, and his plans to renovate neighborhoods never produced any concrete fruit. Given Allen’s history for turning his back on bad investments, if Charter acquired AFN, that would cast us, the owners of AFN, from the frying pan of having to manage our own ISP into the fire of being owned by a collapsing gas giant that will strip our asset, jack up our prices, and give us service like you’ve never imagined. Marti Mandelbratt
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:33 pm

WHERE HAVE ALL THE PATRIOTS GONE?, by Charles Carreon

February 7, 2006

On Monday, December 19, 2005, the President of the United States said something new and surprising: the Constitution authorizes him to tap your telephone and read your email without a search warrant. Many Americans found themselves immediately wondering if the President had been reading the same Constitution that our teachers so proudly taught us includes a “Bill of Rights,” that protects us from “unreasonable searches and seizures,” and precludes searches except pursuant to warrants issued by an impartial magistrate. Search warrants, all good lawyers know, are issued only after a judge receives sworn testimony from law officers that “probable cause exists to believe that evidence of a crime will be found” in a particular place, and specifying the evidence they expect to find.

The President was not happy to be so explaining himself and his actions. It was a most inconvenient time to step on a land mine, but there he was, knocked ass over tit by a leaked story in that damned New York Times. Somebody had been talking out of school, and it wasn't Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, or Scooter Libby, because this wasn't just some trivial leak about whose wife happens to be a CIA agent, but something important, something that if terrorists knew it, they would use it against us. And they did! Just when he was about to get his new, improved Patriot Act through both House and Senate without a whimper of resistance, kaboom! Terrorists were celebrating everywhere!

He was angry, you could tell, but that didn't make him think any more clearly. So what if he circumvented the Constitution thirty-six times by giving the National Security Agency the go-ahead to tap phones without even calling a judge for permission? Under Reagan, Oliver North's NSA repeatedly circumvented the Boland Amendment with a nod from the Old Man. The Boland Amendment had been adopted by a unanimous Senate vote, specifically forbidding the provision of weapons to Nicaraguan rebels. The NSA also broke the narcotics, arms-trading, and foreign bribery laws, that don't allow anyone, even the President, to swap cocaine for guns and corrupt influence. Reagan sailed through that. So what was all the flap about?

They say Scooter Libby broke the law, they say Tom DeLay broke the law, they say Bill Frist broke the law, they say Mike Abramoff broke the law, they say Karl Rove may still be indicted. What the hell, it’s a witch hunt! And it’s irrelevant! Who the hell did those Senators think they were, holding up the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, the bulwark of security and therefore, of freedom? The Patriot Act is the law that made the president king for the protection of the homeland – how could they think of allowing the sun to set on his beneficent omnipotence before the end of his term? What would other world leaders think? He just got their nations to enact laws granting them huge intelligence powers. They’ll have them and we won’t – it’s a nightmare. And people wonder if the president is out of touch. They’d be amazed.

We may need to realize at this point where our President has been sitting for the last five years — in the middle of a circle of sycophants (ass-kissers), neocons (secret Nazis), lobbyists (lawyers with checkbooks), generals (deranged individuals), corporate chieftains (scam artists), bankers (loan sharks), televangelists (amoral sociopaths), and other such people as have haunted the halls of power since long before the French Revolution. As the truism goes, nobody who wants to keep consuming either law or sausage should see either one being made. It is notable that since the current president took office, the hamburgers have gotten a lot dirtier, too. We have gotten about as close to a free-market economy for influence-buying in Washington as has ever been seen. When such an atmosphere reigns, there is no point in being honest — you'll never get anywhere that way.

Look at the powerful these days — a rogue's gallery of robber barons has never feasted so sumptuously in the public eye, or with greater impunity than during the current era. The nation employs costly mercenaries to fight a war of empire, mercenaries pulled from the dregs of the planet, who have killed around the world — in South Africa, in Lebanon, in Palestine, in Turkey, in Bosnia, in Sierra Leone, in Haiti. These people change sides, discard old identities, buddy up with old pals in new outfits, another day another cutout corporation, another million dollars. With eight billion gone missing in Iraq already, you can just imagine who will be shooting their way out of the Green Zone today, loaded with cash, headed for a boat in the Bahamas, or maybe a little job in Colombia. And for those young men who enlist today, fleeing uneducated poverty, we offer them the assassin's way. Assassins. That is our position in the world today. For those who respond to the killer-android creed, then a time like this might seem the Golden Age of Killing for Fun and Profit. For those who know that Rothschild was right when he said, “The time to make money is when blood is running in the streets,” Iraq was a chance they couldn't let slip away.

Even if they had to pay Achmed Chalabi and his London-based Iraqi contingent to manufacture a pack of lies, the war had to happen. For Donald Rumsfeld, it was a chance to show he could have won Vietnam if they'd given him a chance. For Condi, it was a personality coup. For the President, it was a patriotic bubble bath, a Christian love-fest, a “triumph of the will” that the little German would have envied him. Another generation had fallen under the spell of nationalism, had learned to hate the enemy, had rebelled against their parents' pleading arguments, and left home for the battlefront, drawn by the siren song of war. The president assures the nation that our heroes and their families will be well rewarded, if not in this world, in the next and in our memories, for their sacrifice.

How did we get here? The stirring pageantry, the theatre of international conflict, swept us up. The wind was at our back as we sent our legions forth from the burned ruins of our greatest city, and a mighty cheer went up to see our spears raised high. Oh what televised majesty! Oh what stirring emotions! Credit card debt, marital stress, poor grades, old age and high gas prices, the weights of mundane existence, fell away when we soared aloft on a flood of endorphins released through repeat stimulation of images of death, revenge, and unity — patriotic sentiment.

The president had been unmanned by the razing of the towers. Innocent people had been incinerated by the thousands. He had all the justification in the world to haul off and smash the shit out of somebody. And he did. And he started to like doing it. He started to enjoy seeing the Generals and the troops and the military contractors. They were all fine people, who had the best interests of the nation at heart. They were more fun than people like Colin Powell, who wanted to read stuff and discuss the issues in that horribly earnest way of his. The maps were interesting, and the intelligence briefings were so exciting, just like he had hoped they would be. This was so much better than reviewing death penalty petitions in Texas, even more fun than owning the football team, and all his friends were so helpful. Karl was incredible, and Dick, well Dick was just Dick, ya' know? One thing for sure, Dick knew what was what and that was that. And Dick was really behind the Iraq venture. And after all, Saddam did try to kill Dad. Why wouldn't he have weapons of mass destruction?

Legal stuff is always so tedious, and the president had never actually read the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Like most Americans, he didn't know how many Amendments there were, actually. One had to do with freeing the slaves, another with giving women the right to vote — Karl had drummed that into his head — but otherwise, he pretty much drew a blank on Constitutional law. Domestic spying? Well, hell, Karl was always spying on somebody. Nixon had tapes — that wasn't illegal, but it got him in trouble. Which is why they never made tapes. Not that anyone except Karl would know about that. Alberto explained that wasn't the type of domestic spying he was talking about — not just strategic dirty tricks to blackmail judges, congressmen, staffers, that sort of thing — we're talking large-scale wiretapping of American citizens and email interception focused on uncovering terrorist plots.

At first he didn't understand what the problem was. Why hadn't they implemented the program already? Alberto explained that he would have to sign some papers, because only then would it be lawful for the NSA to tap American phones and computers. While it is true, Alberto explained, that the Constitution makes a wartime president a virtually all-powerful emperor who can hold all civil rights in abeyance in order to protect the nation from terrorism, still he had to sign some papers to invoke that power. Liberty must give way to security, but not without due process of law, Alberto explained, smiling so graciously while extending the pen. As he signed the authorization, the president knew that his position in this office was no accident. The Lord directs the paths of men, and men are but the instruments of their Maker. Of course, only a good man can be entrusted with the virtually omnipotent power of being a “War President.” It swelled his breast with pride and humility at once. It was so important to trust in God. Only God could possibly give a man the wisdom to walk through the snakepit of Washington D.C. and come out with his soul intact. Like the leaders of ancient Israel, he would pray about the invasion of Iraq, and see what the Lord said. Perhaps Arnold Schwarzenneger might have some advice for him. Tomorrow he would call him.

The people who put the president in his position had been worried, before the big operation came down, that the son wasn't a match for the father. When the Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, and other corporate scandals were exploding, the market was tanking, and unemployment was rising, it wasn't looking good. Some wondered whether he was up to the job.

Then the towers came down. After spending seven minutes staring into space, the president put down that My Pet Goat book, and went to a bunker. Somewhere along the line, he got an injection of vitamins. He went to the scene of the disaster, picked up a bullhorn in the smoking ruins, and began restoring our national pride. He promised to hunt down the perpetrators. He campaigned for endless war like a warrior astride a stallion, seized by a noble vision, and many thought him magnificent. He put on a flight suit, landed on an aircraft carrier. He toppled the man who would have killed his father, declared victory over Iraq, and told reporters that, yep, he'd flown the jet. He worked the same miracle that the little infantry veteran worked for the downcast German people in the 1930's — he restored the nation's pride. With the nectar of power flowing in his veins, like Reagan before him, the president warmed to his role, became relaxed, jovial, avuncular, and insensible to criticism. He made speeches only to supporters, preferably to military assemblies, gatherings of peace officers, and his party's fundraisers. He refused to be budged from taking long vacations where he could rule from a distance with a majestic manner. Sometimes he is struck by his ability to heal the sorrows of the bereaved. It is a great obligation to be a king, and the accomplishment of kingly duties are made easier by having an excellent security force, so you don’t have to meet people unreceptive to a king’s healing manner, like that Sheehan woman.

He likes dealing with people on his own turf, and security is easier for his people to maintain with a large free-fire zone and total aerial control of the area. At the ranch is a good time to meet with Condi and get her advice on important policy issues. She had a way of boiling it all down into a manageable package. The war on terror had so many facets. The whole intelligence mechanism, as his father the intelligence director had told him, was like a vast ear for collecting information from everywhere. He was literally astounded by the magnitude of the task of monitoring potential terrorist threats. So many people hate America. So many websites out there had money-laundering potential. So many foreign nationals were crawling through the country with terrorism on their minds. Of course, with this evidence before him, he reauthorized warrantless telephone-tapping and email seizure thirty-six times. He will continue reauthorizing until hell freezes over or the terrorist threat subsides, so help him Chief Justice Roberts.

They are lonely days in the White House, so the president is trying something different — reading a book relevant to his occupation — “On War” by Klausewitz. He reads that there are times in the battle when the entire weight of the conflict bears upon the General, and his ability to bear that weight will determine the outcome of the battle. But he does not feel this burden. Others are bearing it for him. Or perhaps it is over. Many are telling him to take a page out of Nixon’s book. He called withdrawal from Vietnam “peace with honor,” but retreat is defeat. Terrorists will hunt us down, and without a king to protect the nation with his all-seeing intelligence eye, we will be defenseless. We cannot go back to the old days when civil rights obstructed the search for the terrorists in our midst. Where are all the patriots of yesterday? Where are all the zealous people eager to advance the anti-terrorist agenda? How could the Senate turn against him? How could they hold out such an unreasonable compromise under the threat of allowing the sun to set on the glorious Patriot Act? A mere ninety day extension would be very dangerous. During those ninety days, the clamor for investigation would grow, civil rights groups would storm in through the breach, and the whole thing, the whole marvelous dream, could dissolve. There can be no compromise. They have to push it through. But how? Karl is working on that.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:38 pm

JACK ABRAMOFF'S HOUSE OF CARDS, by Charles Carreon

8:10pm, February 11, 2006

Image
Artwork by Joshua Carreon

Jack Abramoff is a Pisces, and he’ll turn 47 on February 28, 2006. Depending on how things work out, he’ll probably be turning 57 in a Federal prison, unless Mary Butler, the career Department of Justice prosecutor who bagged his sorry ass, is very pleased with his cooperation in her investigation of Congressional corruption. His plea agreement provides for a sentence from 108 months to 135 months, with reductions below that level only for providing “substantial assistance” to Ms. Butler’s ongoing investigations.

Meet The (Unindicted) Lawyers

Abramoff, a lawyer himself, chose Abbe Lowell, a well-known Democrat-defender from the Washington legal shark-tank, to negotiate with Butler. Lowell helped Democratic Congressman Gary Condit dodge a bullet after his intern Chandra Levy disappeared, got Democratic Senator Robert Torricelli out of hot water over illegal campaign donations from Buddhist nuns, and served as Chief Investigative Counsel for the Democrats during Clinton’s impeachment proceedings. His lawfirm’s website proudly announces that Lowell “has represented more than 35 elected officials or their campaign committees, providing advice … concerning rules and regulations governing campaign contributions, filing of election forms, filing of financial disclosure information and gifts.” It is worth noting at the outset that Abramoff hired a Democratic fixer rather than an established Republican sleaze-defender. Perhaps he wanted a lawyer who wouldn’t have any scruples about deploying Abramoff’s damaging recollections against Republicans. Abbe Lowell would, presumably, be free of pro-Republican scruples.

Abramoff certainly needed a good lawyer, because Butler is considered on of the best anti-corruption lawyers in the DOJ’s Public Integrity Division. Profiled in a recent National Law Journal article, one of Butler’s colleagues observed: “She’s one of the special ones who will turn over every piece of paper, look at every credit card receipt and phone bill.” Butler spent her first twelve years prosecuting corrupt officials in the South Florida US Attorney’s Office. She convicted a DEA chief of stealing a million dollars in “buy money,” convicted a banker for lying about bribes he paid to the major of Miami Beach, and after a year of investigating corruption in Miami and Dade County in “Operation Greenpalm,” took down Miami’s city manager, a lobbyist, and a clutch of crooked local commissioners. After achieving that career capstone, like a number of other Florida prosecutors, she moved north to Washington when Janet Reno got the top law-enforcement job under Clinton, and led investigations into Secretary Bruce Babbitt’s management of the Department of the Interior, after he blocked establishment of a gambling casino that was opposed by another Indian gambling tribe that had donated over $350,000 to Democratic campaigns.

Butler’s experience investigating Babbitt no doubt aided her investigation of Abramoff, who developed a niche-market in fleecing Indian tribes out of beau-coup bucks in exchange for promises to pull strings with Republican lawmakers. Abramoff developed his bribery skills while at the Seattle-based megafirm of Preston, Gates & Ellis (“Preston”), where he worked from 1997 until 2001, getting Congressmen like Tom DeLay to back his client’s legislative interests.

Keeping Down The Cost of Making Shirts In The USA

The Northern Marianas (also known as Saipan) depends primarily on Japanese tourists and garment factories for income, and receives development assistance from the United States government. Clothing manufacturers in the Northern Marianas are in a US free-trade zone, but enjoy a lower minimum wage and provide fewer worker protections, which lowers the cost of production. As an additional bonus, clothing made in the Northern Marianas is lawfully labeled "Made in USA," and produced under sweatshop conditions. That’s a free economy that Tom DeLay could love, and love it he did. During New Years, 1997, at Abramoff's invitation, DeLay and dozens of other congressmen and aides toured the Northern Marianas, an occasion that found DeLay effusive about the man who made the whole trip possible: "When one of my closest and dearest friends, Jack Abramoff, your most able representative in Washington, D.C., invited me to the islands, I wanted to see firsthand the free-market success and the progress and reform you have made." Although many Northern Marianas garment-workers are procured through the human-trafficking network, and all live in virtual slavery, working 84-hour weeks, for miniscule wages, DeLay pledged to block any legislation harmful to the $1 billion garment industry, and at a banquet hosted by Saipan’s rag trade magnates, urged the beleaguered island capitalists to "Stand firm. Resist evil." Stand firm they did, and DeLay, eager to reward industry, got them the exemptions from US immigration and labor laws that they need to keep us in cheap shirts. Preston Gates earned $6.7 million in Marianas lobbying fees, of which $3.1 million were paid improperly, without the contract required by law, according to the Seattle Weekly.

Gamblers Fix Congress

Preston clients represented by Abramoff could look forward to having DeLay support legislation they favored. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2000 that DeLay had received over $50,000 from Abramoff and the Choctaw tribe, and that he and his staffers had visited the Choctaw reservation four times. The Choctaws paid Preston over $1 million annually. On May 25, 2000, the Choctaw tribe and eLottery, another Abramoff client, each contributed $25,000 to the National Center for Public Policy Research (“NCPPR”). In a coincidence that will stick in one’s memory, on the same day the Choctaw and eLottery donations were made, Abramoff, DeLay, his wife, and four others left for a trip to Britain, allegedly sponsored by the NCPPR. In fact, Abramoff funneled the gambling donations to pay for the trip, and DeLay broke the law by getting on the plane. A couple of months later, eLottery and the Choctaws got their payoff, when DeLay helped defeat the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, which would have criminalized Internet betting.

The Revolving Door Between Government And Business Flies Off Its Hinges Altogether

Preston has been good to DeLay, and DeLay attracts talented staffers. Those talented staffers need jobs where they can make lots of money after they finish with being Congressional staffers, so sometimes they go to Preston and get a job. Michael Scanlon and William Jarrell were both DeLay aides who moved over to Preston to work for the Choctaw tribe after they left Federal employment. Sometimes it goes the other way, and Preston employees want to go into government so they can garner more influence. This easy interflow between positions of government influence and positions that influence government was deliberately encouraged by the Republican leadership through what they called “the K Street Project.”

The K Street Project is why David Safavian, who lobbied for the terrorist organization Hamas, and at Preston, became the top procurement officer for the Government Services Administration, and why Patrick Pizzella, who worked at Preston lobbying on behalf of the Saipan sweatshop bosses, became Bush’s Assistant Secretary of Labor. It’s why Tony Rudy, former Deputy Chief of Staff to DeLay, and Neil Volz, former Chief of Staff for Congressman Bob Ney of Ohio, just got big jobs at lobbying firms on K Street. It’s why Karl Rove hired Susan Ralston to be his secretary. Previously, she had been Abramoff’s secretary at another lobbying firm, Greenberg Traurig. When you’ve worked for one master criminal, it makes it a lot easier to work for the next one. Congress has done a tremendous job of ignoring its own moral defects. Abramoff’s influence peddling has befouled the halls of government since the Republicans took the White House and the Congressional majority. The naked rule of power under DeLay’s regime silenced what ethical qualms might have disturbed the conscience of our lawmakers, and the budget has exploded as every representative roots in the trough for some nugget of value to deliver to their corporate sponsors. In the race for campaign cash, our representatives may as well abandon their pin-striped suits and don racing attire, complete with corporate logos. For today’s Congress, it has turned out to be easiest to relax and enjoy the looting of the country, to stand straight and tall as they sign one bloated spending bill after another, endow more government boondoggles with rubber dollars, and run, run, run as fast as they can for the safety of a patriotic soundbite.

The roots of Abramoff’s political influence go deeper than simple political palm-greasing. Abramoff’s career has been obscenely presumptuous, and in retrospect, his persona was preposterous. Even as an admitted felon, swathed in a black overcoat, his face cast in a mask of implacable determination. That confidence must have been magnetic and overwhelming before the fall. Like a Pied Piper for fat cats, he played a tune that none could resist, ensnaring them with the lure of illicit influence, destroying dozens of careers and the last of the trust the American people had in their Congress. If someone had planned a sting operation to reveal the avarice and arrogance of our national political elite, they could not have done as well. Abramoff knows people’s weak points, and the weakest point of every greedy bastard is his desire to like himself. This desire to feel like a good guy accounts for the grandiose, self-congratulatory boosterism of Republican politics these days, and Abramoff was ready-made for this political climate. What Would An Omnipotent Deity Do?

In his college years, Abramoff got right in tune with the coming age of smug, judgmental religiosity sitting comfortably next to naked, brutal militarism. Making a big deal out of his religion held Abramoff in good stead with DeLay, who has often proclaimed his belief that God guides his steps and has directed him to smite the unrighteous. Abramoff wears a yarmulke and blew about $4 million on a school with a Judaic name in California that educated his two children and then folded, leaving bill collectors with matzo crumbs to cover the school’s debts. Abramoff maintained Rabbi Daniel Lapin, who has alliances with Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, on a $20,000 per month stipend paid by the Capital Athletic Foundation, a phony nonprofit Abramoff organized to dodge taxes and raise money by promising to provide programs for inner-city youth. Abramoff’s emails with Lapin show that Lapin happily forged scholarly Jewish credentials for Abramoff to fatten his resume with religious virtue. Beware the pious man. Seizing The Moral High Ground With the Christians

Like attracts like, and so the smell of refined bullshit emanating from Abramoff attracted his fellow-hypocrite, Ralph Reed, another man of God. Together with Grover Norquist, the tax-cut fiend, Abramoff and Reed created the College Republicans National Committee, with Reed as its Executive Director. With the turn of the Millennium heralding not the return of the Messiah but rather the dawn of a new, vice-driven economy, Reed and Abramoff started a protection racket for gambling enterprises. For a fee, Reed would oppose any gambling project or pro-gambling legislation that you might designate. He was an anti-gambling crusader, and could credibly rustle up a lynch mob to hang gamblers of any stripe – riverboat gamblers, casino gamblers, lotto players, you name it. On the other hand, for a fee, he could just go interfere with someone else’s livelihood. The most brazen swindle was worked upon the Texas-based Tigua Indian tribe, that had put its campaign contribution eggs in the wrong (Democratic) basket. In 1999, triumphant Texas Republicans, enjoying the results of DeLay’s extensive vote-manipulation, were busy punishing in them by closing their casino. Abramoff, working for the Louisiana Coushatta Tribe, hired Reed to rile up religious support to close the Tigua casino. Regarding the Tigua casino, Abramoff told Reed in an email, “We should continue to pile on until the place is shuttered,” and later, “I wish those moronic Tiguas were smarter in their political contributions. I’d love us to get our mitts on that moolah!! Oh well, stupid folks get wiped out.” A week after bemoaning the “moronic” attitude of the Tiguas, Abramoff and Scanlon offered to help the Tiguas reopen, concealing of course, the fact that they’d just shut them down. Tigua Tribal Governor Arturo Senclair testified before Congress that Abramoff and Scanlon “came in as knights in shining armor [and we] had not an inkling that they were doing anything against us.” Desperate to reopen, the Tiguas paid Abramoff $4.2 million in fees, and $300,000 more for the Republican and Democratic candidates, including $32,000 the Tiguas paid to Congressman Bob Ney’s political action committee. Ney duly supported an amendment to a House bill that would have aided the Tigua in their efforts to reopen, but ultimately the casino remained shuttered. The sin of supporting Democrats is not lightly forgiven in today’s Texas. Bound together with their competition in a spiral of financial self-exploitation, the Tiguas, Coushattas, Saginaw Chippewas and Agua Caliente tribes jointly contributed $30,000 to the Missouri Millennium Fund established by Sen. Kit Bond, a Missouri Republican, and attended several of the PAC’s fund-raisers.

From 2000 – 2004, Abramoff and Reed played these good-cop-bad-cop games with the Indian tribes mentioned above, and others, ratcheting up the cost of influence peddling for the sin industry. Nowadays, however, Reed is taking a hiding in his campaign for Governor of Georgia. We must remember, though, that memory loss is common for those who hold government office, and Reed has been Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor for several years, so it’s not surprising he can’t remember those cozy years of comfortably squeezing the tribes of their excess funds. But the paperwork remains.

What? Those Indians Want An Investigation?

According to first public statement of The House Committee on Indian Affairs, that revealed some of its findings on September 29, 2004 after reviewing thousands of pages of emails and other documents, Abramoff garnered over $66 million from Native American tribes by engaging in unlawful activities like backing tribal elections to put their pals in power so they could pay Abramoff more money, overcharging for services and products Abramoff and Scanlon fleeced the gambling tribes as energetically as the first generation of lawyers stole the entire West, using the same tools: firewater, manipulable chiefs, bogus agreements, and promises to make sure everything went all right with “The Great White Father.” No less than their forebears, Abramoff and Scanlon were equipped with forked tongues, gold watches, and fountain pens. Plus, they had cell phones and Blackberries, with which they could refer to their Native American clients as “monkeys,” “troglodytes,” and “idiots.” Thus, Abramoff arranged the descendants of the original inhabitants of America to reconnect with their roots by playing the fools at the National Greed Olympics, duping the tribes into funding their abuse at the hands of people who hate and revile them, and take joy in bilking them out of what remains of their self-respect. Talk about “Manifest Destiny!” Some folks are just born to lose.

David Safavian – A Gifted Student of The Abramoff Method

David Safavian learned a few tricks about swindling Indians from Abramoff at Preston, and put them to work building the fortunes of his new lobbying shop, “Janus Merritt” with skinflint Grover Norquist. (Please note that Janus is the two-faced god of the Romans, an oddly appropriate description of how the Indian-swindling gambit worked.) Janus and Safavian took on a slew of Internet gambling firms, bringing in $2.5 million from those accounts. But in 2000, Safavian apparently wanted to build his influence more than he wanted bags of cash. In Utah Republican Congressman Chris Cannon, who had been elected in 1996 on an anti-gambling platform, Safavian had found his bad cop. Safavian started by seeding the relationship by arranging for himself and two other Janus employees to donate a total of $2,750 for Cannon’s 2000 campaign. After getting Cannon elected, Safavian joined Cannon’s staff in 2001, but kept both oars in the water, playing both staffer and lobbyist. He set up a soft-money fund for Cannon, but listed his Janus email address as the contact: merrittdc@aol.com. The email address remained on IRS filings while Safavian served as the congressman’s chief of staff. In an interview with the Federal Times Register, Safavian admitted: “In Congressman [Chris] Cannon’s office, I was a chief of staff … I was a lobbyist. Very much behind the scenes.” From this two-faced position, Safavian was able to pay Janus the occasional disbursement. A short time after Safavian signed on with Cannon’s staff, the Congressman paid $7,500 to Janus, and the next year sent Janus another $5,960.

Safavian’s goal wasn’t just swindling Indians, though. He had a slew of gambling clients who shared a simple agenda –keep the Net safe for losers to gamble their wages away in the privacy of their own home, garage, office, or nursing home. Nationally, the average online gambler is an elderly southerner on disability. These are the same people who chain-smoke and generate huge public health expenses due to their ignorance, while complaining about huge verdicts against Philip Morris and insisting on their right to smoke cancer sticks. Safavian had an idea that he put to work. Let the old, chain-smoking gamblers aid in their own destruction! So with the help of the online gambling entrepreneurs, he started a website called “Logon4choice.com” where visitors could contact their Congressional representatives and “urge them to preserve … your rights to gamble online.”

Eager to demonstrate his zeal, Safavian wrote one client the following breathless description of his lobbying activities on their behalf: “Our entire team has been essentially camped out on Capitol Hill and at the White House for the past two weeks … urging the negotiators to reject any Internet gambling rider that might come up.” On May 14, 2002, Safavian’s efforts produced a valuable victory for Janus’ gambling clients, when Cannon burdened two Internet-gambling bills with “virtuous riders” that removed exemptions for online horse and dog betting. This was a for-sure deal-killer, because horse and dog betting is ubiquitous throughout the nation, and many Congress people represent constituencies that enjoy this form of gambling, including Illinois Republican and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL). If the bill reached the floor, it would probably die. Cannon’s virtuous insistence on killing off all online gambling torpedoed the legislation, allowing the Mormon Congressman to claim the moral high ground, while actually accomplishing what Safavian’s clients wanted – the freedom to keep skimming about $6 Billion per year in online gambling revenue from sick, poor, old, bored Americans. Safavian took credit for the achievement, telling his alumni magazine that he managed the “minutiae of the legislative process,” from his ambiguous position as a lobbyist on Cannon’s staff. Two days after the fix was in, and the Internet gambling bills were dead, Safavian moved to a new job – Chief Procurement Officer for the General Services Administration (“GSA”). However, Cannon has developed a permanent addiction to gambling money, as the Kansas City Star reported in its August, 28, 2005 edition: “Along with the Viejas and the Choctaws, Cannon also enjoyed donations from … the Agua Caliente tribe in California, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian tribe of Michigan and the Tigua Indian Reservation, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.” Donations to Cannon from Indian gambling tribes increased from zero to over $38,000 during the period of Safavian’s influence. The cost to the nation for this paltry sum was, of course, far higher.

A Trip Most Wish They Had Missed

With it clear to all that the vice economy was treating them very well, Abramoff threw an international party trip to St. Andrew’s golfing range in Scotland for his posse. All of those who made the trip have lived to regret it, among them Tom DeLay, Abramoff himself, Bob Ney, Ralph Reed, and Safavian. Safavian told the Washington Post he’d paid back $3,100 for his expenses, saying the trip was "primarily for golfing," and "had no business orientation to it." Unfortunately for him, this was a documentable lie. In emails months before the trip, Abramoff had lobbied Safavian extensively to get something that he thought Safavian had it in his power to grant – sweetheart lease deals on two tasty pieces of Federal real estate – the Old Post Office in Washington, D.C., and a rural estate of several hundred acres. Abramoff had even sent Safavian some draft letters that he could have some Congressmen sign to support the idea of leasing the properties to Abramoff’s front groups. As the incriminating emails sat in his inbox, however, Safavian solicited an opinion from a government “ethics lawyer” about whether he could fly to Scotland with Abramoff and his crew. Safavian lied to the ethics lawyer, however, saying he had no pending business with Abramoff, and would pay for his own expenses. The ethics lawyer said he could take the trip.

When the Indian Affairs committee started sniffing around, Safavian stuck by his lie, and showed them the receipt for $3,100 that he said had covered the costs of the trip. He of course did not produce copies of his emails with Abramoff about the Old Post Office and the other federal property they were trying to hijack. Further, the $3,100 number is too low, because Safavian’s expenses for lodging alone on this luxury trip, which included a stopover in London and golfing at several top-knotch golf courses in the British Isles, certainly far exceeded that expense. These small concealments were revealed when Greenberg, Traurig, the lobbying firm where Abramoff went after he left Preston, kicked Abramoff out, and gave all of his emails to the FBI.

Loot, Loot, Who Gives A Hoot?

Greenberg donned a white hat with alacrity once its partners saw that a wind had begun to blow, threatening Abramoff’s house of cards, but telling that story requires introducing you to yet another Republican lawyer with less scruples than an old meth head has teeth. This one’s name is Timothy Flanigan, and despite his Irish name, he’s a Mormon who got his undergraduate degree from BYU, his law degree from University of Virginia, has fourteen kids, and until November 21, 2004, worked in the White House directly under Alberto Gonzales. He left the West Wing for a trip through the revolving door the White House shares with Tyco Corporation, which had been hammered by the markets for allowing Dennis Kozlowski to loot it, and needed to improve its corporate governance procedures to nudge its stock price back into the double-digits. What better way to burnish your bonafides than to tap the personnel of the most scandal-ridden administration since Andrew Jackson’s?

Once in the top lawyer spot at Tyco, what did Flanigan do? He gave Greenberg, Traurig $2 Million of Tyco’s money for lobbying services to thwart the enactment of laws then pending in Congress that would deprive Tyco of a huge tax loophole it was exploiting by offshoring paper assets in Bermuda. After accomplishing this important private-sector task of thwarting the enactment of legislation hazardous to tax loopholes, Flanigan’s former boss Alberto Gonzales beckoned Flanigan to hop back into bed with government, offering him the position of Assistant Attorney General, the nation’s Number Two Prosecutor, reporting directly to Gonzales. However, coming fast on the heels of the Katrina disaster, the Mike Brown cronyism flap, the indictment of Scooter Libby, and the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, Flanigan’s nomination came up looking like something the cat dragged in.

Flanigan did poorly under the lights of a Congressional inquiry, and had a particularly hard time explaining why, as soon as he switched over from his job in the White House, he hired Abramoff to rig legislation for Tyco, a company that had just packed its last CEO off to prison, and had been hoping for an ethics makeover, not a further descent into sleaze. The questions sharpened when it was revealed that, of the $2 Million Tyco paid Greenberg, Traurig for lobbying services, Abramoff had stolen over $1.5 Million, redirecting it to his own companies. Doubt turned to disbelief when Flanigan, who had come on board at Tyco to protect it from further looting, was unable to explain why he had not discovered Abramoff’s theft of Tyco money before Greenberg, Traurig. As the Washington Post reported on October 8, 2005:

In April 2004, Greenberg Traurig informed Tyco that Abramoff had misspent $1.5 million of the more than $2 million that Tyco had paid him in lobbying fees, by diverting the funds to companies that Abramoff controlled. Flanigan assured the committee, in his written answers, that he had cooperated in the firm's investigation and also that Tyco had turned over pertinent evidence to the Justice Department. But the Democrats then wondered why Flanigan - who said he was "shocked and disappointed" by Greenberg Traurig's disclosure - had not caught the alleged misconduct himself. Flanigan responded that Abramoff had fooled even his own employer.

The obvious answer, that Flanigan could not speak for fear of going directly to jail without passing go, was that the money was not for lobbying, but a straightforward wealth transfer from the private sector of the Republican scam operation to the government sector of the same operation. In this scenario, people like Flanigan further the greater good, not only of Tyco, but of the entire world, by giving it away in neat little stacks to Republican lawmakers, who make the world safe for all of us. This makes Tyco shareholders kind of altruistic, but in the brave new world of governance by an elite corps of public/private servants, we must make allowances for these new arrangements. The corruption of Republican lawmakers by a flood of money drawn from gambling interests has been widespread and extensive. While the identities of many remain undisclosed, we can attempt a list. We have spoken of Tom DeLay and Bob Ney, both of whom decided to shed their leadership posts in Congress after they were identified anonymously in the plea agreements that Abramoff and Scanlon have agreed to. With Abbe Lowell in possession of numberless incriminating documents, there is every possibility that a plethora of deals are in the offing, because the rule in Federal prosecutions is that the first ones to roll on their pals get the best deals. Honesty becomes the best policy when your lies have been found out. Mary Butler, with her methodical approach, is very likely to bag her limit of slimy bottom-fish, but some people are wondering if Abramoff and one of his partners are literally going to get away with murder.

I Steal Your Gambling Company – You Complain – I Kill You

Murder of whom, you ask? Of Konstantin “Gus” Boulis, the former owner of SunCruz, a Florida cruise line that specialized in “trips to nowhere” or better put, anywhere far enough offshore that Florida and US gambling laws wouldn’t apply. Apparently the boats were popular places, because as you can deduce, if gambling laws don’t apply, then none of the other laws do, either. Welcome To Terrorland, Daniel Hopsicker’s book about flight schools in South Florida, reports that Mohammed Atta, leader of the 911 hijackers, was a strip-bar habitué and a cokehead, and enjoyed the pleasures available on SunCruz facilities. Boulis’ floating dens of iniquity plied the waters off the Florida coast for several years with nothing more than minor harassment, but Boulis’ happy days came to an end on August 3, 1998, when Federal authorities file a sealed, civil complaint against Boulis, alleging he purchased some of his SunCruz gambling boats before he became a U.S. citizen. On February 10, 2000, Boulis threw in the towel and agreed to sell SunCruz within 36 months and never go back into the gaming industry. Abramoff even displayed a little Congressional muscle to keep the heat on Boulis, so he would be strongly motivated to find a seller.

Abramoff, smelling blood in the water, began maneuvering to acquire SunCruz, and got his friends in Washington to turn up the heat. March 30, 2000, Bob Ney entered a statement into the congressional record attacking Boulis. On September 27, 2000 Boulis contracted to sell SunCruz to Abramoff, Adam Kidan, and a third partner, Ben Waldman, for $147.5 million, following a protracted nine-day closing in Manhattan. Ney spoke up again in Congress after the deal was closed, praising the new management as a great change for the better. Boulis kept a silent 10 percent interest, and accepted a $20 million promissory note in lieu of the $23 million cash down payment. Within a few months, though, both parties declared that the deal had gone bad.

By the end of 2000, Kidan and Boulis had publicly accused each other of lying and cheating, and Kidan told reporters Boulis was trying to kill him. It was just another prequel to what looked to be acrimonious litigation, but someone decided that Boulis had enjoyed enough of the good life in South Florida, and shot him to death as he drove home from his Ft. Lauderdale office. The police said there were no suspects, but the Boulis estate sued Kidan in Broward Circuit Court, alleging in their complaint that Kidan was linked to various organized crime figures. In Florida, the facts emerge slowly, like a bloated body rising from the depths of a swamp. Kidan and Abramoff had looted SunCruz rapaciously, leaving nothing to pay Boulis for the business he had built like an ordinary decent gambling magnate. The October 2, 2005 Miami Herald reported the following facts in an article entitled “Kidan’s Story Stranger Than Fiction:” Court records show that Kidan, along with Abramoff, drew a $500,000 annual salary; rented a $4,500 condo on Williams Island in Aventura; bought a 34-foot powerboat for $90,000; and leased an armored Mercedes-Benz for $207,000. Kidan and Abramoff also diverted $310,000 in SunCruz money to pay for a luxury skybox at FedEx Field, home of the Washington Redskins, according to court documents. It was part of Abramoff's Republican fundraising enterprise at that stadium, Camden Yards and MCI Center in the Baltimore-Washington area. Kidan also tapped SunCruz coffers to pay about $250,000 to Moscatiello and Ferrari, who claimed to be a relative of Gambino boss Gotti, for catering and security services.

So that’s not bad – a half a million in salary each for both Abramoff and Kidan, over three-hundred grand to fete politicians in a “skybox” at FedEx Field, forty-five hundred a month for an island condo, and a paltry ninety-grand for a cigarette boat to get there. After downing all those goodies, it was a no-brainer to pay Moscatiello and Ferrari a quarter-million to clinch the deal by silencing the clueless Boulis, who didn’t know when he’d been fleeced by a couple of guys who were on the Republican sweetheart list. What is particularly tasty is the fact that, during all of this looting of a gambling boat company, Abramoff, Reed, and Safavian were intensively engaged in strategically blocking the expansion of Indian gambling casinos. Perhaps it was all innocent, though. Maybe Mohammed

After Boulis’ murder, Kidan tried to pull a corporate coup by putting SunCruz in bankruptcy, but the Boulis estate bought out Kidan in bankruptcy court, and until April 7, 2003, held control of the company until a bankruptcy judge authorized sale of SunCruz for $36.1 Million to a group led by Boulis’ nephew, Spiros Naos. As the bankruptcy court proceedings were creeping along, in May 2002, Lenders Foothill Capital and Citadel, who had backed Abramoff and Kidan with funding based on the $20 Million transfer, alleged that the payment to Boulis had indeed been fraudulent. Then, in November 2002, a Federal grand jury began investigating the SunCruz sale and financing. The other shoe dropped loudly on September 27, 2005, when Fort Lauderdale police arrested of three men for Boulis’s murder: Anthony Ferrari and James Fiorillo were arrested in Florida, and Anthony Moscatiello was arrested in New York. Moscatiello, described by the Miami Herald as “Kidan’s pal,” has longstanding affiliations with the Gambino crime family headed for years by “Silver Don” John Gotti. Although Kidan claims he met Moscatiello through the restaurant business, police say Moscatiello’s true occupation was as an enforcer for a Mafia loan sharking operation.

No stranger to mob violence himself, Kidan’s own mother was murdered in what was called a “botched mob robbery” in Florida by the Bonanno crime family. But Kidan found a silver lining in that cloud, skimming $15,000 in funds posted as a reward for information concerning the murder, a trick that cost him his New York law license. So you see, not all of Abramoff’s friends are lawyers. Some of them used to be.

Let’s Make A Deal

With this storm of flying fecal material whirling about their heads, it is no wonder that Kidan and Abramoff both decided to plead to the Florida SunCruz fraud indictments. Kidan’s deal should net out at under five years, and Abramoff has been assured that any time that is imposed in the Florida case will likely “run concurrent” with the years he’s assessed in the corruption case. In other words, the SunCruz fraud is a twofer for Abramoff. While their admissions of guilt in the SunCruz case don’t foreclose prosecution for murder in Florida state court, Abramoff is likely to be a very busy, and still very important man for the next several years. With Abbe Lowell as his choirmaster, his stool-pigeon performance will be orchestrated for maximum advantage to Abramoff, and minimal disclosure to the public. Lowell will sell every bit of information as dearly as he can, and whatever the look on Abramoff’s face says, it does not bespeak repentance. His canny mind is unfazed, and he will attempt to finger his former associates with an eye to preserving future benefit and paying off old scores.

Certainly many powerful Republicans are quaking silently in their richly-paneled government offices. These people thought they were on the fast track with Jack Abramoff, but they didn’t realize how crazy, how wild and uncircumspect their partner in greed would become. Few expected Greenberg, Traurig to put him on the pavement and turn over his emails to the FBI. There may be a silver lining for true conservatives, however. Since most Washington politicians and operatives are lawyers, and since conviction of a felony results in a canceled law license in all fifty states, Abramoff may have unwittingly advanced the stated Republican goal of reducing the number of lawyers in government. A goodly number of politicians may need to trim their resumes of legal qualifications, and add some references from the Bureau of Prisons, once Abramoff’s house of cards completely collapses.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:40 pm

DISARM CHENEY BEFORE HE SHOOTS SOMEONE ELSE, by Charles Carreon

9:11pm, February 12, 2006

Dick is such a prick
It serves him right
That we should flick
Him copious shit
For shooting Harry Whittington
Right in his fucking face
And then taking no blame
Eschewing all shame
To proclaim
That the fellow
Sneaked up behind him
Was where he shouldn't be
And caught himself a blast
Of shot in the piehole
On account of his own
Stupid self

Shailagh Murray and Peter Baker wrote:

Cheney Shoots Fellow Hunter in Texas Accident Companion in Intensive Care With Upper-Body Wounds
Washington Post
Monday, February 13, 2006; A01

Vice President Cheney accidentally sprayed a companion with birdshot while hunting quail on a private Texas ranch, injuring the man in the face, neck and chest, the vice president's office confirmed yesterday after a Texas newspaper reported the incident.

The shooting occurred late Saturday afternoon while Cheney was hunting with Harry Whittington, 78, a prominent Austin lawyer, on the Armstrong Ranch in south Texas. Hearing a covey of birds, Cheney shot at one, not realizing that Whittington had startled the quail and that he was in the line of fire.

Whittington was treated on the scene by Cheney's traveling medical detail before being taken by helicopter to a Corpus Christi hospital. He was in the intensive care unit at Christus Spohn Health System and listed in stable condition yesterday evening.

Katharine Armstrong, the ranch's owner, saw what happened Saturday and told reporters yesterday that Cheney was using a 28-gauge shotgun, which shoots fewer pellets and has a smaller shot pattern than a 12-gauge shotgun, making it harder to hit the target. Whittington was about 30 yards away when he was hit in the cheek, neck and chest, she said.

According to Armstrong's account, she was watching from a car while Cheney, Whittington and another hunter got out of the vehicle to shoot at a covey of quail. Whittington shot a bird and as he went to retrieve it, Cheney and the third hunter discovered a second covey.

Whittington "came up from behind the vice president and the other hunter and didn't signal them or indicate to them or announce himself," Armstrong said, according to the Associated Press.

It was Armstrong's decision to alert the news media. Cheney's office made no public announcement, deciding to defer to Armstrong because the incident had taken place on her property. Armstrong called the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, and when a reporter from the paper called the White House, the vice president's office confirmed the account.

Cheney's office referred other reporters to Armstrong for a witness account, but after speaking to some members of the media yesterday afternoon, Armstrong stopped returning phone calls.

She told reporters that the small shotgun pellets "broke the skin" and that the blast "knocked him silly. But he was fine. He was talking. His eyes were open. It didn't get in his eyes or anything like that."

"Fortunately, the vice president has got a lot of medical people around him and so they were right there and probably more cautious than we would have been," she said. "The vice president has got an ambulance on call, so the ambulance came."

The International Hunter Education Association, which represents safety coordinators for fish and wildlife agencies and tracks incident reports by state, said on its Web site that hunting accidents in the United States have declined about 30 percent over the past decade. In 2002, the most recent year for which data were available, 89 fatal and 761 nonfatal incidents were reported. In 26 of the cases, including one fatality, the intended target was quail.

"The vice president visited Harry Whittington at the hospital and was pleased to see that he's doing fine and in good spirits," Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride said yesterday. Cheney returned to Washington last night.

"The vice president was concerned," said Mary Matalin, a Cheney adviser who spoke with him yesterday morning. "He felt badly, obviously. On the other hand, he was not careless or incautious or violate any of the [rules]. He didn't do anything he wasn't supposed to do."

White House aides said President Bush was notified about the incident, although he had not spoken to Cheney as of late yesterday afternoon. "The president was informed after the accident and received updates today," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said yesterday.

Whittington is well known around Austin, an old-school Texan whose friends include a retired Catholic bishop and who plays cards with a former Texas Supreme Court chief judge. Feisty and outspoken, he is a millionaire real estate investor who is known for a reformer's streak through his service on the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, which oversees the state prison system, and the Texas Funeral Service Commission.

"His dignified presence belies a fierce competitive spirit and antipathy toward government power," the Austin American-Statesman wrote in a profile of Whittington published last July.

Cheney, an avid hunter, usually visits the 50,000-acre Armstrong Ranch, settled in 1882, once a year. He also hunts regularly at sites in Georgia and South Dakota.

The Armstrong family has a long history in Texas Republican politics and has been close to the Bush family, as well as to the vice president.

Tobin Armstrong, Katharine Armstrong's father, was a Pioneer, an elite fundraiser for Bush. After Tobin Armstrong died last October, Cheney spoke at his funeral. Tobin Armstrong described previous outings with Cheney in an Associated Press interview in 2000: "We go out when the dew is still on the grass, and then hunt until we shoot our limit. Then we pick a fine spot and have a wild game picnic lunch."

His wife, Anne Armstrong, served as co-chairman of the Republican National Committee, White House counselor to President Richard M. Nixon, ambassador to Britain for President Gerald R. Ford, and co-chairman of Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign. Bush put her on the board of Texas A&M University when he was governor, and she was on the board of Halliburton when the company hired Cheney.

Katharine Armstrong also was a Bush Pioneer, along with her now ex-husband, Warren Idsal, according to Texans for Public Justice, which monitors political fundraising.

As governor, Bush appointed Katharine Armstrong to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, which regulates hunting, among other duties. People familiar with the Saturday outing said that Cheney had obtained the proper seasonal license.

Some Cheney critics pointed out that this is not the first Cheney hunting controversy. Two years ago, the vice president was criticized for going duck hunting with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia soon after the court had agreed to hear Cheney's appeal in an lawsuit related to his energy task force. A month earlier, he had bagged about 70 stocked pheasants at a private shooting club in Pennsylvania.

"Cheney needs to start setting a less violent example by switching to target practice and leaving animals and people in peace," PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement.

"We'd advise him to pursue a less violent form of relaxation and get on with the important business of leading the country," Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement.

Staff writer Sylvia Moreno in Austin contributed to this report.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:41 pm

CHENEY FALLS INTO TRAP SET BY TEXAS QUAIL, by Charles Carreon

2:50am, February 15, 2006

I was just over at www.fr**republic.com tonight, and my posting privileges were promptly revoked! All I wanted to do was post some rules for Quail-Hunting that I got from the NRA. The site is loaded with gun nuts, many of whom want to restart the Mexican-Maricon war, and brag about their military and law enforcement background. So I figured they'd take a fair view of this Cheney thing. I read their posts and came up with a theory that perhaps the Cheney camp will want to consider. Based on the attitude of slavish loyalty at sites like fr**republic, I think this one has legs.

The Vice President has been the victim of a plot hatched by the Quail themselves. Quail are in fact smart creatures, unlike the politician of the same name. One of the things that makes them smart is the way they fly away from people who are trying to kill them. Cheney of course has hunted quail many times, and they have thus developed a grudge toward him.

Realizing how embarrassing it would be to Cheney if he shot one of his friends, several quail deliberately lured his fire in the direction of Harry Whittington by flying between him and the armed Cheney. While several of the quail participating in this suicide attack were in fact killed by the heroic Cheney, several escaped and are being sought for questioning.

According to a posting on a pro-avian website, causing a human to shoot another human is "the start of a worldwide avian revolt." Airline security is expected to be beefed up, particularly in places where there are lots of bird droppings that Scott McClellan might slip on.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:45 pm

ARE GOOGLE, MSN & YAHOO! VIOLATING EXPORT CONTROLS?, by Charles Carreon

3:03am, February 15, 2006

What are "export controls?" Well, they prevent companies from selling certain types of technology to other nations. Nuclear weapons and anthrax weaponizing technologies are probably on the list of tech that you can't export regardless of the profit to be made. Don't you think that the technology that China is importing from MicroGoogYa to censor the Internet and capture thought-criminals might be that type of technology that we ought not to export?

Let's theorize — why do we prevent export of military tech? It might be used against us!

Why does the Chinese oligarchy censor the speech of its people? To consolidate their hold on power!

Does the use of MicroGoogYa technology assist them in consolidating their hold on power? Yes!

Is the Chinese consolidation of non-democratic power over its people in our national interest? I don't think so — our official policy is that democracy makes the world more peaceful, fairer and safer, and that tyranny has the reverse effect.

Therefore, call your Congressperson, and call Bill Gates, Terry Semel, and Sergei Bryn and tell them to KNOCK IT OFF! Tell them we know damn well if they'll censor the Chinese, they'll censor us. All they need is a ruling from the FCC or a lawsuit from the RIAA and they'll be snipping and clipping our data like Big Brother's own Ministry of Information.

Foster Klug wrote:

US Firms Face Question Over China Internet

Associated Press

Four U.S. Internet companies eager for a foothold in China face hard questions from lawmakers worried that the communist regime is using American technology to crush political dissent.

Rep. Chris Smith said Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YAHOO - news), Cisco Systems Inc. and Google Inc. are "enabling dictatorship" by helping China censor the Internet.

"Cooperation with tyranny should not be embraced for the sake of profits," said Smith, R-N.J., chairman of the House International Relations subcommittee on global human rights.

Smith was among several lawmakers from both political parties who said they would use a congressional hearing Wednesday to convey their qualms to executives of the four companies, which have drawn strong criticism for their operations in China.

U.S. tech companies eyeing China face a dilemma, analysts say: While keen to tap a market that could soon eclipse America's, they must also worry about the perception they're helping China harass dissidents.

"They are in an extremely dicey position," said John Palfrey, a Harvard Law School professor who studies the Internet.

The potential for profit is great. China is estimated to have more than 100 million Internet users.

But to do business, U.S. companies must satisfy a government that fiercely polices Internet content. Filters block objectionable foreign Web sites and regulations ban what the Chinese consider subversive and pornographic content, requiring service providers to enforce censorship.

A survey by the Committee to Protect Journalists called China's efforts to control its media "unique in the world's history."

"Never have so many lines of communication in the hands of so many people been met with such obsessive resistance from a central authority," the report said.

China says its aims are benign — to protect its citizens, and especially children, from "the immoral and harmful content" of the Internet.

Critics say the limits China imposes go further and are aided by U.S. companies. They point to a new Google search engine that censors some results. Yahoo!, they say, helped police identify and convict a journalist who had criticized human rights abuses.

U.S. businesses that have adopted Chinese Internet standards say they must obey local laws. They lack the leverage, they say, to influence world governments.

Lawmakers and observers have a different view.

"The hugely successful businesses that come before Congress ... will have to account for their complicity in China's culture of repression, and to begin to make amends," Rep. Tom Lantos (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif., said Tuesday.

Robert Dietz, who monitors Asia for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said other repressive regimes are closely watching the way the U.S. Internet companies act in China. What happens with China's Internet, he said, probably will serve as a model elsewhere.

"We sense that people are standing back, watching the technology evolve, watching the attitude evolve, seeing how far countries can go in pushing their ... Internet censorship," he said. "We don't think this will end in China."

Andy Sullivan wrote:

State Dept. to push for online free speech Tue Feb 14, 4:27 PM ET The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it had set up a task force to help U.S. technology companies protect freedom of expression in countries like China that censor online content.

State Department officials said they will push to encourage foreign countries to allow greater freedom of expression online and help U.S. businesses figure out what to do when called on to enforce repressive laws in countries where they operate.

"Many technology companies ... want to work to help those who lack the freedom that we often take for granted," said Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky, a member of the task force. "If we band together, we can make significant progress on this issue."

Several U.S. tech companies that operate in China have faced criticism in recent months for helping China enforce censorship laws and track down government critics who communicate online.

Microsoft Corp. pulled the Web log, or blog, of a critic of the Chinese government after getting a government order to do so, and Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - news) has been criticized for helping Chinese authorities link journalist Shi Tao to a U.S.-based Web site, leading to a 10-year prison sentence for Shi.

Google Inc.'s Chinese search engine blocks many terms associated with topics related to democracy or independence for Tibet and Taiwan.

All three companies applauded the task force.

"This embraces the government-to-government approach that we've been urging," Yahoo spokeswoman Mary Osako said.

The three companies, along with Cisco Systems Inc., are scheduled to address the issue at a congressional hearing on Wednesday.

An online civil-liberties advocate said the United States can exert much more influence on foreign governments than individual companies can on their own.

"If the government is going to figure out how to use its powers to help these companies, then that's probably a good thing," said Leslie Harris, executive director of the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington.

Harris said that the United States will need to push back to ensure that China's censored version of the Internet does not become a global standard.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:48 pm

IGNORANT SPECTER: ARLEN WOULD RATHER BE STUPID THAN DISLOYAL, by Charles Carreon

9:16pm, March 13, 2006   

Speaking of the secret spying program on the Senate floor, Sen. Arlen Specter declared himself unable to judge the lawfulness of the President's conduct. "I don't have any basis for knowing, because I don't know what the program does," he said in the Senate." He would rather sound stupid than run afoul of Dick Cheney, and he sure does. What the fuck is he doing in the Senate, not knowing what the fuck the goddamn program does? Jesus Christ, we have fallen to a low, low point in history. They could put all the honest men in Washington in a teacup.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:54 pm

CHENEY'S REIGN OF TERROR -- THE RULES OF QUAIL HUNTING WITH DICK CHENEY, by Charles Carreon

March 14, 2006

Image
Artwork by Joshua Carreon

The Rules of Quail Hunting With Dick Cheney

Hunting accidents happen, yes — but not among the best sportsmen. So, it was surprising when Dick Cheney came within a hairsbreadth of killing a perfectly good member of his lawyer posse, Harry Whittington, mistaking him for a flurry of quail. In Whittington, the people of Texas stood to lose their industry-loving Funeral Service Commissioner. But imagine if the target of Cheney’s misdirected blast had been Scooter Libby, or the President himself. In the first case, he’d be accused of trying to silence a witness, in the second, of paving his way to the Oval Office with a little accident. I can imagine the brouhaha in Congress as he tried to swear himself in with Justice Roberts at his side, while Ted Kennedy is hauled from the chambers in a foaming fit, and Cindy Sheehan sets herself ablaze on Pennsylvania Avenue. Finally, imagine if the fortunes of the hunting buddies had been reversed, and Whittington had blasted Cheney with a snootful of birdshot. No doubt Whittington’s corpse, riddled with the .40 caliber and 9 millimeter rounds favored by the Secret Service, would ultimately have received a state funeral, once his status as a security risk had been dealt with through standard operating procedures. After all, Cheney’s bodyguards would be faulted for allowing Whittington to take a second shot.

That so many humorous and Strangelovian scenarios can be spun from a few stray pieces of birdshot speaks volumes about the man who is their focus. As the dust settles, a few new pieces of the Cheney puzzle have fallen into place as well, and the picture that emerges is more than disquieting. Cheney can no longer be perceived as merely a robust specimen of American manhood, because engaging in incompetent gunplay is not the sort of behavior you expect from a robust executive. Withdrawing like a beast into his lair, Cheney lurked in radio silence until the taunts of late-night comedians drew him forth to make a statement on home ground – Rupert Murdoch’s Fox network. When he spoke, Cheney told us that it was the worst day in his life. What about Harry Whittington’s life? He lay in a hospital with a sphere of metal lodged in his heart, causing him to suffer little heart attacks now and then. Enjoying the benefits of a double standard has clearly become a way of life for Dick Cheney, and he has been sorely put upon by those who charge that he uses his office to flaunt the law, and dares anyone to interfere. With an ever-loyal President at his back, Cheney has succeeded in having his cake, and eating everybody else’s, too.

The Friendly Fire Was A Little Fierce

While initial reports from the hospital were delayed, it is now clear that after he was felled by Cheney’s shotgun blast, Whittington was within an ace of his life. Although Kathryn Armstrong, who hosted the hunting party on her Texas ranch, told the news that Whittington’s injuries were minor and he wouldn’t have been hospitalized but for the convenient presence of the Vice President’s entourage, this was a blatant lie. By Cheney’s own account given four days later, Whittington fell to the ground immediately upon being shot. Armstrong said she thought Whittington had a heart attack. Perhaps if he’d been hit by a truck she’d have considered that an attack of the flu, but no matter, all are agreed he went down like a sack of potatoes. At that moment, no one knew whether the man would live or die. He was helicoptered first to a local hospital, and once he was stabilized, to a larger hospital where he was attended by top level specialists in intensive care. Two days into his stay, it was reported that a piece of birdshot had migrated into his heart, causing a minor heart attack. Reportedly, if all goes well, Whittington will have this souvenir of the event for the rest of his life. When he checked out of the hospital on Friday, he looked such that no one would want to trade places with him. There was yellow bruising all over the right side of his face, purple bruises on his neck and hidden below his high collar. He had a half-dozen puncture wounds on his right cheek and in the eye socket. With what we know about the perforation to his chest cavity that has impinged on the operation of his heart, he looked pretty far from being a happy camper.

Could A Real Prosecutor Please Stand Up?

Whittington might not be happy, but he’s still a team player, and he didn’t suffer brain damage, so he still knows what side of his bread is buttered. So he knew better than to make a fuss by demanding an investigation, say, just for the sake of the insurance claim. There was no police investigation of this near-fatal shooting of the Texas Funeral Service Commissioner, and the law never talked to the shooter. The Secret Service kept Cheney safely behind bars the night of the shooting, turning away a deputy who came to see him, and it is clear that Whittington has done nothing to encourage an investigation. Without the benefit of any evidence, the local District Attorney, who might as well have been born without clearly discernible genitalia, cleared Cheney of all criminal culpability.

Some things, we say in the law, are “res ipsa loquitur” – the thing speaks for itself – but that could hardly be said of this situation, where everything hangs from the shooter’s mental state at the time of the shooting. Apparently, to the local DA, it is impossible for the Vice President to possess the requisite criminal mental state to commit a gun crime, for it is clear he committed the physical act of shooting another person. In legal terms, Cheney unquestionably committed the “actus reus,” the wrongful act of shooting Whittington, and the only remaining issue would be whether he possessed the “mens rea,” a wrongful state of mind, when he shot him. Such cases are not only charged, but also prosecuted to conviction, quite frequently, because people handling guns, which are deadly weapons, have a duty to handle them with great care and never when under the influence of alcohol. Accordingly, many people have been convicted of homicide after shooting friends with what they believed were unloaded guns, and in all such cases, the shooter’s use of alcohol before the shooting would count as evidence of guilt. As you can see, this is not much different from mistaking your friend for a flurry of quail. When a shooting does not result in death, careless shooters may be convicted of reckless wounding or assault. Finally, it is notable that after a shooting, it is considered mandatory to cooperate with a police investigation, and very few accidental shooters attempt to secret themselves away and avoid questioning, fearful of drawing suspicion by avoiding contact with police.

Just A Minute, I Think I Have A Judge Here In My Pocket

If Harry Whittington had been run over by a carhop in the parking lot of The Million Dollar Saloon in Dallas, he would’ve certainly demanded a police report. You can sue the valet parking company and the saloon. But there really isn’t much point in suing Dick Cheney. Ask the Office of Management and Budget. They still haven’t gotten any information in response to the subpoenas they served on Cheney five years ago to discover what he, Ken Lay, and numerous other energy magnates talked about when they crafted the nation’s energy policy. No matter that Cheney’s energy policy has given car owners the highest gas prices, and oil companies their highest profits in history – the Bush appointees on the D.C. Circuit Court agree with Cheney that it would impede his freedom to discuss important matters with his corporate cronies if he had to disclose those matters to the OMB. Cheney has made a lot of smart investments in people, and as a result, is about as free to tread on other people’s toes as a man can be without actually having, like James Bond, a license to kill.

Cheney’s Little Row With The Intelligence Community

Cheney would give our real James Bonds licenses to torture “terror suspects,” if he could, so convinced is he that our anti-terrorist forces would use such license discreetly. Then again, it’s possible that the CIA has construed its mission differently from Cheney, who believes in staffing every government agency with yes-men from top to bottom. When it appeared, for example, that Ambassador Joe Wilson, a State Department employee, had dared to write an article for the New York Times disclosing that the President lied to the nation in his State of Union address during the run-up to the liberation of Iraq, Cheney’s office put out the smear that Wilson had no real knowledge, and had merely gone to Niger for fun on a trip engineered by his wife, Valerie Plame, the “well-known” CIA agent.

The Plame Leak occurred in July and August 2003, shortly after US Ambassador Joe Wilson published an article in the New York Times criticizing the President for saying in his State of the Union address that Saddam Hussein bought yellowcake uranium from Niger, when Wilson’s own investigation had determined that the story was bogus. Wilson’s story got lots of attention, because this particular lie had gotten very stale from overuse, and it was simply embarrassing that Bush was caught using it months after Condoleezza Rice got the word that the Niger story was kaput. As we now know, this embarrassing kickoff for our thoroughly modern Crusade to liberate Iraq, like so much other garbage that was fed to the nation via broadcast media, was part of Cheney’s plan to keep using lies even when they had worn out. While some of his advisers might have advised him to simply make up new lies, Cheney is the master of The Big Lie, and his handling of the Plame affair showed why. Getting a lie off the ground isn’t as easy as it seems, and once you’ve got it going, you don’t want to destroy your credibility by admitting it was a lie. No, you’ve got to stand by your lies, or soon nobody will believe them.

Wilson’s story threatened to become a bigger story than Iraq itself. Cheney worked for Nixon, and he knows how dangerous it can be when everyone’s running around saying, “The President is a liar.” Then, just as Wilson’s story, drawing strength from his personal credibility as a career diplomat, picked up steam, putting Bush and company in a very bad light, suddenly “everyone in the press” knew all at once that Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson’s attractive blonde wife, was a CIA agent, and some people were saying that Wilson’s trip to Niger was just a diplomatic safari. Scooter Libby, indicted now by Special Prosecutor Mike Fitzgerald for obstructing his investigation into the sources of the leak, has now disclosed in legal filings, that his “superiors” put him up to it. Since Scooter Libby was the top slime-slinger in Cheney’s office, that should put Cheney himself directly in the crosshairs of Special Prosecutor Mike Fitzgerald.

The President Flees Washington To Escape The Stink

The explosive potential of what Scooter Libby knows, and might reveal, was evident back when the news broke at the start of last November. Trying to escape the stink wafting from Cheney’s office, Bush went as far as Argentina, from whence the news networks aired repetitive footage of violent demonstrations at an international trade conference. Even Fox gave extensive air time to the anti-imperialist declamations of Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, and Chavez is no Fox network favorite. He’s the type of leader who says no to Bush’s economic plans for the region, and last week responded to Condoleezza Rice’s saber rattling in the Caribbean by telling an elated audience of Venezuelans — “Hey babe, don’t even try it!” Ordinarily, he would not be given twenty-one inches of TV screen to make objectionable points, but with the name “Scooter Libby” on every reporter’s lips, the networks decided that keeping The Big Lie in place required a different strategy at this treacherous moment, when someone might trace the vile odor emanating from the West Wing first to Cheney’s very own person, and perhaps, to other people, even higher up the food chain.

There could be only one reason why the networks would bury us in footage of Argentines rioting against Bush and adoring Chavez. Because, hidden like a bulging boil under the surface of the President’s thin skin, lay the toxic deposit of Libby’s indictment, an unhealthy condition that the Commander in Chief was eager to avoid discussing. The obliging media outlets therefore showed only a few seconds of Bush’s agonizing press conference in Rio de la Plata, where the traveling press pool peppered him exclusively with questions about Rove and Libby. The spectacle of masked men hurling gasoline bombs in the streets interested the press corps far less than what Karl Rove knew, and when he knew it. Questioned about how he planned to correct a situation where a majority of registered voters question his personal honesty, Bush characteristically declined to be pushed around by public opinion. Finally, realizing that the reporters would not drop the Rovegate questioning-style, he launched into a stock outline of his antiterrorism, disaster recovery and prosperity agenda and ran out the clock, waving off the last Rove-related question to create the shot that all the news agencies ran that night. The truncated exchange eliminated all the tasty shots of the President dodging fire like an agile elephant.

A High-Flying Conspiracy

What all the reporters wanted to know, but none directly asked, was this – “Why is Karl Rove still be working in the White House when he was aboard Air Force 2 on July 13, 2003, with Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby, when the three very likely agreed to blow the cover on a CIA agent?” The answer is probably a simple aeronautical and legal fact – when he’s in Air Force 2, flying 30,000 feet above the United States, Dick Cheney is literally above the law. I believe Attorney General Alberto Gonzales wrote a memo about that for Dick. But for this legal exemption, we would call the meeting of these three top politicians a “criminal conspiracy” to commit high treason, for which all the participants could likely be imprisoned for life, maybe even tortured to learn the identities of their co-conspirators. The word “conspiracy” is just Italian for “breathing the same air,” which would certainly be the case in the elegant cabin of AirForce 2, where the air is constantly recirculated. Lately, there’s started to be some talk about whether Cheney had the power to unilaterally “declassify” the information about Plame’s undercover status, so perhaps there’s some question about the reliability of the AG’s “above the law” analysis, but let’s take the easy approach and not bother our pretty little heads about it. Leave it to the liberal nutcases to hurl horrible epithets like “traitor,” “conspirator,” and “dirtbag.”

We could quibble about the facts of this airborne conspiracy, but it would take a mind utterly innocent of the Hobbesian realities of Washington to conceive of any scenario in which the AirForce 2 conspirators intended anything other than to destroy Wilson and his wife for having the temerity to contradict the President’s lies. Feeling betrayed by Wilson, the conspirators sought to repay Wilson in his own coin – by betraying his wife. After all, why were the conspirators talking about Wilson’s wife? Perhaps Scooter, who like Cheney’s wife and other elite deviants, enjoys writing pornography, had suggested sending him a kinky anniversary present. No, they were talking about Valerie because they were looking for a way to break Wilson’s knees. What was the cover story for this act of treason? One that only Cheney, with his love of brazen outrageousness, could have orchestrated. They would just claim that “everybody knew” Valerie Plame was a CIA agent. To create that “suddenly everyone knew” effect, the conspirators leaked the news to Richard Novak, Chris Matthews, Judith Miller, and perhaps several other reporters near-simultaneously. Doubtless these reporters knew they were treading on thin ice, inviting criminal sanctions for breaching national security, but they devoured Valerie Plame like a female sacrifice, apparently certain that the Vice President would protect them from liability. Which undoubtedly Cheney intended to do.

The Worm Turns

Cheney should have known better than to initiate a vendetta with the CIA, because the agency was mad already about all the dung they had to swallow over the last five or six years. First they were excoriated after 9/11 for being caught flat-footed by the attackers. Then the agency was swallowed by Homeland Security, had its rules rewritten to authorize torture, and was tasked with the job of inventing and marketing a nonexistent Iraqi weapons threat to fuel the push to war. The agency was further humiliated when George Tenet, the CIA head, took the fall for the “bad intelligence” that caused the President to repeat the lie that Iraq had obtained uranium from Niger in his State of the Union address. Tenet got the Medal of Honor for taking an exquisite dive, just like Paul Bremer received the same high honor for completely abandoning his job as the transitional czar of the American occupation of Iraq. But individual CIA agents got no medals, and the outing of Valerie Plame was the last straw, and a little bit more. As the old saying goes, you can push a worm, that is to say a dragon — only so far – and then it will turn.

The AirForce 2 conspirators misjudged CIA culture. Spying is built on deception. Deception is based on secrecy. Secrecy is ensured by loyalty, and intra-Company loyalty is supposed to be an absolute article of faith. Undercover CIA agents who die in action are supposed to remain anonymous even after death, honored only in a secret book kept at CIA headquarters. (See “The Book of Honor” by Ted Gup.) Yup, the Cheney team, comprised only of sold-out courtiers equipped with greasy palms, greatly miscalculated the mettle and institutional loyalty of the CIA. The humiliated spooks decided to do more than get mad – they decided to get even, and demanded appointment of an independent prosecutor to investigate the source of the leak. In response, the President stood up like a tin soldier, saluted, said he didn’t know who the leaker was and he would like to know and the White House would fire anyone responsible for it. Now he explains that he will fire anyone who is convicted of leaking, which in lawyer-speak means, anyone who is convicted, whose criminal appeals have failed, and who is somehow ineligible for a Presidential pardon. Under those circumstances, Karl Rove might be fired. It is probably more likely that Karl will be stuffed into a 2.5 liter soda bottle and fired into low-earth orbit.

Betrayed by The Fickle Media

No, breaking the law is not Cheney’s problem, nor is the President his problem, nor are his sleazy friends and their unethical schemes. It is the fact that his pet reporters in the media might roll on him. Right after the offal began striking the turbine, reporter Robert Novak cut a deal, and even though Miller did over eighty days in jail, she got out by agreeing to testify and thereafter lost her job and a lot of credibility points when she claimed she had forgotten who told her that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent, even though she wrote the name “Valerie Flame” on a notepad while she was talking to Rove. The loss of a scumbag like Miller is a grievous one for Cheney. Before the Iraq war that Cheney so deeply desired to incite, Miller worked the bellows at the New York Times, channeling anti-Saddam rhetoric and false intelligence churned out by Cheney’s office. Miller and the New York Times gave credence to WMD fantasies propagated by international criminal Achmed Chalabi. Miller stoked the neocon fantasy that our soldiers would be welcomed as heroes, liberating Arab people for the very first time. Now, she’s on the sidelines, nursing her wounds, of no use to anyone but her detractors.

Yes, aside from Bill O’Reilly, Republican media personalities confronted with Cheney’s slime-trail Republican these days barely have the courage to unload their usual barrage of abusive epithets. Perhaps they are afraid that one day soon, being Dick Cheney’s friend could turn into a liability. Perhaps they realize that TV viewers are beginning to catch on to the verbal tricks and sleight-of-camera the media uses to cloak a lawless thug like Cheney with impunity. Certainly they want to avoid the possibility that one day, having opened their mouths to publish another batch of pro-Cheney propaganda, their smarmy lies might be greeted by a volley of hurled TV remotes smacking screens hard enough to break them, accompanied by the massed voice of an enormous viewing audience shouting “Shut up!”

Listen to Dick Cheney’s Folsom Prison Blues or on March 8th podcast of The Hour of Dave at http://dave.ashlandfreepress.com.
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