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Congressional Pensions – There has to be a law

There have been indictments and congressmen going to jail or had to quit because of a scandal or two or three. Yet they get to keep their pensions. This has to change and soon.  They are working for “We  the people” and “We the people” want it changed!

Here, again from ABC’s the Blotter:

Foley Keeps Pension Despite Scandal

Former Congressman Mark Foley may have stepped down in disgrace, but he will be eligible for his congressional pension no matter what, even if he faces jail time, according to Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayer’s Union, a non-partisan taxpayer advocacy group.

snip

In May of this year, the House proposed legislation taking pensions away from members convicted of bribery and corruption, but that bill has been stalled in “conference negotiations” before going to the Senate, meaning that two recently convicted congressmen, Congressman Bob Ney, who is still collecting his full salary, and former Congressman Randall “Duke” Cunningham, will also get their pensions “no matter what,” according to Sepp.

Foley and Ney’s service records are almost identical. Ney will start with $29,000 annually, slightly lower than Foley’s because he is married.  Both can opt for a reduced pension starting at 56, which means they can start collecting their checks in just four years.

Cunningham, who is 64 and now in prison for accepting bribes, immediately began collecting $64,000 annually when he stepped down in November of 2005, after racking up twenty years of service in the military and Congress.

Now is the time to contact your congressman or woman and let them know how you feel about this issue.  This law to take away their pensions will make future congressmen watch their steps.  I also believe that if they are made to leave the congress without being indicted, they should also lose any benefits. The corruption we are hearing from this administration is unbelievable.

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October 20, 2006 Posted by | Current News, Op Ed, Scandals | 2 Comments

CREW gets damning Weldon emails

From the CREW blog:

CREW asks DOJ to investigate Weldon for e-mails outlining possible threats of retaliation against his opponent’s contributors

E-mails received by CREW have prompted us to ask the Department of Justice to investigate whether Congressman Curt Weldon (R-PA) violated the law by intimidating government personnel “in the national security field” who support his opponent, Joe Sestak.

The first e-mail describes a “hit list” compiled of Weldon opponent’s supporters. In addition, that e-mail notes the Weldon said something to the effect of “If they don’t think there will be retribution before or after the election, they’re kidding themselves.” The second e-mail states that Weldon had his staff contact Navy personnel to get information on Sestak.

CREW has asked the Department of Justice to investigate this very serious matter. The e-mails, which are provided below, detail a disturbing, and potentially unlawful, abuse of power. 18 U.S.C. §600 and 18 U.S.C. §610 are implicated with this kind of behavior.

Melanie Sloan stated that, “Not only has Rep. Weldon abused his position to financially benefit his daughter, he has threatened to misuse his position to punish those who support his political opponent. Rep. Weldon needs to learn that no one, not even a powerful member of Congress is above the law.”

Go to the site link to read the emails.

These people think they own the world! They can do whatever they want and think they won’t be caught.  Thank you CREW for staying on top of this.

October 20, 2006 Posted by | Current News, Op Ed, Scandals | Leave a comment

Crooks and Liars has a post about Tony Snow Today

I wrote a post on this earlier but it got lost in the blog-0-sphere somewhere so I am glad C&L caught it. From C&L:

The name games that this administration is playing borders on the surreal. Strategy–tactics–blah, blah. blah. Susan Malveaux tries to get Tony Snow to make sense, but really—there is no sense to be made in Iraq.

Transcript:

MR. SNOW: No, what I’m trying to do is to come up with some way in which you and I can talk the same language so that we don’t all go cross-eyed in total bewilderment and confusion. And so perhaps — look, you guys, why don’t you email me the labels you want me to use for these various groupings that I’ve given to you.

Q I just want to know, James Baker is using — will look at strategy, and you’re saying you’re going to listen to James Baker and Lee Hamilton and this bipartisan report –

MR. SNOW: Well, I think what they’re talking –

Q — then what’s strategy in your definition?

MR. SNOW: I think they will agree with what I described as “strategy,” which is –

Q But you just said you’re not even considering a change in — no, Tony, sorry.

MR. SNOW: No, that’s because I’m not going to — we are not going to change our belief that you require — this is the strategy — this is the strategic picture that requires an economic, political and security component. And I guarantee you people on that commission agree. So what we’re talking about they describe as strategy, I’ll describe as tactics. Sorry, we’re talking different languages; I’m trying to harmonize for the purpose of answering your question.

Q Okay. So James Baker is doing what the President says he relies on his generals to do, which is tactics.

MR. SNOW: Well, I think he’s really — the generals also engage not merely in — yes, to some extent, yes; but the generals also have a much more detailed ground-level view of how to achieve these things. Maybe we need to come up with a fourth label.

But Secretary Baker and Lee Hamilton and others are going to take a close look at ideas that they think are going to be more effective to achieve that strategic goal of an Iraq that can defend itself, sustain itself, and govern itself, and to do so in a way that involves security, economic and political components.

I think all of that is agreed upon. So now the question is, what is your mid-level goal? They’re going to take a look at the various goals and try to proceed. I know, we’re getting into a linguistic swivet here.

Q I know, I know. But it’s like we’re changing the goals — it’s almost like you’re trying to hide behind the term “tactics” to change strategy.

MR. SNOW: No. No. Because I think the strategy is real clear. You try to use all three of those modalities to achieve an end.

Q Can we talk about — speaking of generals, General Caldwell, yesterday — you said you called him right before you came out here.

MR. SNOW: Yes.

Q Why is that?

MR. SNOW: Because I try to touch base with him. I actually –

Q Every day? Do you always, every day, or just when he says something that you may not agree with?

MR. SNOW: No, I actually — no, I didn’t say anything — he didn’t say anything I disagree with. I mean –

There is more at this link and a video too.

October 20, 2006 Posted by | Current News, Op Ed | Leave a comment

Deadliest month for our servicemen in Iraq

The AFP reports:

Three more US soldiers have been killed fighting in Iraq, the latest deaths in an ongoing surge in American casualties. One soldier died Wednesday of wounds received in enemy action in Ramadi, in the insurgency-prone western Anbar province, while another was killed the same day in Baghdad when gunmen attacked his patrol. Meanwhile, a military policeman was killed when the vehicle he was in was hit by an improvised explosive device near Balad, a violence-wracked town in northern Iraq which is the centre of a major security operation. Total American fatalities have reached 73 since the beginning of the month, while the number who have died since the start of the war has climbed to 2,779, according to an AFP count based on Pentagon figures.

And Bush wants to change tactics, but he won’t change his strategy to stay the course  

October 20, 2006 Posted by | Current News, Iraq | Leave a comment

Rights and Liberties eroding

At Alternet a headline reads:

Pentagon Monitoring Peace Activists’ E-Mails

Now why would the Pentagon be doing this?

“This information is being provided only to alert commanders and staff to potential terrorist activity or apprise them of other force protection issues.”

So the Peace Activists are a threat to the forces?

More information keeps coming out, thanks to the ACLU, about the Bush Administration’s equation of protest with terrorism — and the snooping it then engages in.

Homeland Security is monitoring peace groups and even peering at their e-mails. “This information is being provided only to alert commanders and staff to potential terrorist activity or apprise them of other force protection issues.”

It then shares that information with Joint Terrorism Task Forces, which include the FBI and state and local law enforcement, as well as with the Pentagon’s notorious Talon (Threat and Local Observation Notice) program.

For instance, an April 12, 2005, Talon document, just released by the ACLU, shows that the Pentagon was concerned about “suspicious activity” at an upcoming event sponsored by the Broward Anti-War Coalition in Florida.

This peace group, according to the document, was planning — hold your breath here — “guerrilla theater and other forms of subversive propaganda” at the Fort Lauderdale Air and Sea Show.

The source of the information was the Miami-Dade Police Department, and members of Army Recruiting and the Miami Joint Terrorism Task Force were briefed on it, the document states.

“guerrilla theater and other forms of subversive propaganda” at the Fort Lauderdale Air and Sea Show.   Wow,  guerrilla theater!  Very subversive activity. And what type of subversive propaganda?  Now what type of propaganda would Peace Activists have? Pamphlets against the War?  Speeches against the war?

And here’s another group they were monitoring:

Another Talon document, dated March 1, 2005, released by the ACLU, reveals that Homeland Security agents are monitoring e-mails of such scary groups as the Quakers.

“The source received an e-mail on 25 Feb 05, subject: upcoming peace/anti-war events. The e-mail was from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in Northeast Ohio,” the document states. And that source is identified as “a special agent of the Federal Protective Service, US Department of Homeland Security.” The document adds, “Source is reliable.”

The Joint Terrorism Task Force of Dayton, Ohio, was briefed on this one.

The planned activity of the Quakers that so concerned the Pentagon, Homeland Security, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force was this: “On 19 Mar 05, there will be a ‘Stop the War NOW!’ rally in commemoration of the second anniversary of the U.S. Invasion/Occupation of Iraq. The Akron rally will have a march and reading of names of war dead. … The Akron march begins at noon and goes past a local military recruiting station and the FBI office. The march will end at the Federal Building in Akron, for a rally, followed by reading of names of U.S. and Iraqi war dead.”

Big threat here! No, my friends, it is just another way of eroding our rights and liberties.

October 20, 2006 Posted by | Government Policies, Rights & Liberties | Leave a comment

ABC’s News of the day on Hastert and Foleygate

All testimony point back to Hastert’s office.  ABC’s “the Blotter” reports this:

The former clerk of the House of Representatives, Jeff Trandahl, who testified for more than four hours before the House Ethics Committee today, is believed to have testified that a top aide to House Speaker Dennis Hastert was informed of “all issues dealing with the page program,” according to a Republican familiar with the investigation.

The Republican source said Trandahl planned to name Ted Van Der Meid, the speaker’s counsel and floor manager, as the person who was briefed on a regular basis about any issue that arose in the page program, including a “problem group of members and staff who spent too much time socializing with pages outside of official duties.” One of whom was Mark Foley.

Trandahl’s testimony before the House Ethics Committee could provide additional evidence that key members of the speaker’s staff were aware of problems involving the page program for years.

Last Week’s testimony:

Last week, Foley’s former chief of staff, Kirk Fordham, testified before the Ethics Committee about his public allegations that the speaker’s chief of staff, Scott Palmer, was told about problems with Foley at least three years ago.

Palmer has said that Fordham’s version of events “never happened.”

Now comes Majority Leader John Boehner’s Testimony:

House Majority Leader John Boehner, who spoke to the House ethics committee in closed session Thursday, said he was not backing down from previous statements in which he said he told House Speaker

It’s looking very bad for Hastert.  I can’t believe he didn’t know about this.  Would his staff keep this from him? And if so, why?  There is no good reason to keep this info from Hastert unless the staff were told to do so by some outside person.  But I don’t believe that.  What do you think?

October 20, 2006 Posted by | Current News, Scandals | 1 Comment