Thursday, January 19, 2006

Incompetent and wasteful

What a worthless waste of skin this David Barrett guy is! After 12 years and $23 million of taxpayer’s money, the best he can do is give us this whiny, lame excuse for why he came up empty-handed:

"In the end enough high-ranking officials with enough power were able to blunt any effort to bring about a full and independent examination of Cisneros' possible tax offenses in the face of what seemed to many to be obvious grounds for such an inquiry"

What the hell is that all about?? If high-level officials are impeding the investigation then you do what Patrick Fitzgerald did and you charge them with obstruction of justice. Otherwise, you shut your mouth about it. You don’t issue a report 12 years after the fact that seeks to defame them based on zero evidence. That is outrageous!

I have to say the best part of Barrett’s report are the addendum’s by the people in the IRS and the Justice Department who had to put up with his foolishness all these years:

"The inaccurate statements and unfair insinuations contained in this final report are too numerous to catalogue," said the former deputy chief of the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section. The report is "misleading, incomplete and an abuse of prosecutorial discretion," wrote the former assistant chief counsel for criminal tax matters at the IRS.

Robert S. Litt, one of the Justice Department officials involved, called Barrett's suggestions of obstruction "a scurrilous falsehood," adding that the report was "a fitting conclusion to one of the most embarrassingly incompetent and wasteful episodes in the history of American law enforcement."

Hmmm. Incompetent and wasteful. Sounds like Barrett is ready to take a job in the Bush administration.
Heck of a job, Barrie!!

Defending public education

We are having a great debate on the merits of public education over at Ranten N. Raven’s site.

Come check it out!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Castro to Bush: Chicken!!! Bock, bock, bock, bock!

The Bush administration is refusing to let the Cuban baseball squad take part in the inaugural World Baseball Classic, a 16-team tournament scheduled for March 3-20 and organized by Major League Baseball and its players' union.

So now Castro is calling them on it.

HAVANA (AP) -- Fidel Castro suggested the United States doesn't want to play Cuba in the World Baseball Classic, which is awaiting word on whether the U.S. government will let the island's players take part.

"We aren't afraid of anything," Castro said in a wide-ranging speech late Tuesday. "It's very difficult to compete against us in any area ... not even in baseball do they want to compete with Cuba."

Bush insists that as a matter of principal we will not allow any team from a communist country into the tournament - unless of course they are big enough to kick our ass, like China.

Thanks, President Bush, for making us all look petty and small.

Smearing Cisneros again

I opened up my local paper this morning and saw this story
splashed on the front page.

A special prosecutor's long-delayed report charges that a coverup at senior levels of the Clinton administration killed a tax fraud case against ex-cabinet member Henry Cisneros.

Oddly enough, I couldn’t find any other references to the story which is very thin on details. It turns out the piece is an “exclusive” from the New York Daily News, which the E-N picked up and reprinted. I did eventually find one other report in the right-wing New York Sun which has more details, although the co-author of the story is right-wing publisher and Clinton-hater extrordinaire R. Emmett Tyrell Jr.

It is unfortunate that the E-N chose to run this piece because it is a very poorly reported story that leaves a lot of questions unanswered and even unasked.

They call it a “long-delayed” report. No kidding! It was the never ending special prosecution from Hell that took more than 11 years and cost the taxpayers $23 million to look into a case where the subject of the investigation had long ago pleaded guilty, paid a $10,000 fine and then received a presidential pardon.

But now it turns out, according to the NY Daily News, that David Barrett, the last of the old Independent Counsels, was really looking into a “scandal” that was going all the way to the top to implicate the Clinton’s, but which was successfully thwarted.

David Barrett's 11-year, $23 million probe, which will be released tomorrow, states in stinging terms that this Clinton coverup succeeded.

Uh Huh. So it was a successful coverup of what exactly? Tax fraud by the former Housing Commissioner? Well, no. They never actually found evidence that Cisneros committed tax fraud. But they claim that was because higher-ups in the Clinton administration did not let them expand their investigation to cover multiple years beyond the one when he was making the payments to Linda Medlar.

From the NY Sun:
The Barrett report is said to show that (Attorney General Janet) Reno hampered Mr. Barrett's efforts at demonstrating tax violations on the part of Mr. Cisneros by limiting his investigation to one year of tax records. Successful tax evasion prosecution typically requires establishing a pattern of behavior over several years.

So they couldn’t find anything to implicate Mr. Cisneros with one year of tax records and wanted to expand their fishing expedition.

The Daily News then has this nugget:

Then-IRS Commissioner Peggy Richardson, a close friend of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), was involved in efforts to quash the probe, a source close to the case alleged.
But Richardson's role was cut from Barrett's report, which went through 26 drafts, because Democratic law firm Williams & Connolly successfully pressured Barrett to remove a section of the report naming her, a source said.

They “pressured” him to remove her from the report? How do you suppose they did that? Perhaps by threatening to sue his butt for defamation because he didn’t have squat on her?

The Sun article then adds this helpful graph that gives context to the timing of the report’s release:

Republicans have suffered from a cascade of scandals in the past year and are now bracing for the testimony of a lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, who agreed to name names in a plea deal surrounding his indictment on fraud charges earlier this month. Allegations of a coordinated effort during the Clinton administration to block the appointment of an independent counsel and then limit his scope could raise questions about the Clinton years at a time when many Democrats are pressing the former first lady, Senator Clinton, to run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

The Barrett report, which was completed in August 2004, does not appear to contain the bombshell evidence of a conspiracy directly involving President Clinton and his wife for that some conservatives had been hoping for, sources familiar with its contents said. But its detailed account of efforts by Messrs. Radek and Finkelstein to block and limit the inquiry could strengthen the hand of Republicans.

So Barrett is finally releasing his long-delayed report now with lots of specious and unproven charges smearing Henry Cisneros and the Clintons - all timed to help “strengthen Republicans” as they suffer from a cascade of scandals of their own making.

Let me just say that this so-called scandal and cover-up involving Cisneros, by the standards set by the Culture of Corruption Republicans today, would never have been investigated in the first place.

I look forward to some real journalists doing some real reporting on this story when the report is supposedly released tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Golden Globes

I’m probably never going to see Brokeback Mountain, the big winner at yesterday’s Golden Globe awards.
Not because of the gay theme, but because it just sounds depressing. I don’t want to go see a movie about a guy cheating on his wife. I don’t care if he is cheating with a woman or another man, either way the end result is depressing. I’ve never seen American Beauty either for much the same reason.
Nor do I have any interest in seeing The Squid and the Whale, or Crash, or any number of other critically raved but depressing films this year.
It’s not that all my films have to be upbeat, happy, feel-good stories, but there is a degree of escapism one expects when going to the theater and an up close and personal view of someone else’s miserable life is not my idea of a good time.
I don’t really care if Brokeback Mountain wins the Oscar this year. I’m rather indifferent to it. But when it comes to spending my time and money I’ll be seeing Walk the Line or Good Night, Good Luck or King Kong when I get the chance.