Friday, March 31, 2006

Talk About a "Bull" Market

It's perfectly legal for Congress members to profit from insider trading. Isn't that special.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer posts an opinion piece on that little loophole.

Despite laws like the Securities Act of 1933 and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 that cracked down on insider trading for the rest of Americans, Congress left itself some wiggle room.

"Unfortunately, Congress forgot itself. It remains perfectly legal for a member of Congress to buy and sell stocks based on information that's not available to the public. Last year it was reported that a 'political intelligence' firm tipped off its clients to an undelivered speech by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on asbestos liability. The information was profitable to those in the know." -- Seattle Post-Intelligencer
And they appear to take advantage of what they learn in hearings and talking to lobbyists.

We told you on November 8, 2005, that US Senators outperform the stock market by 12%. And the "Midas touch" for the industry is considered around 3%. And the reason -- better access to inside information. (Seattle P-I)

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Was it an obscene gesture Associate Justice Antonin Scalia made at the Cathederal of the Holy Cross?

The Boston Herald claims to have the picture (right) -- so you can judge for yourself.

Not enough evidence for you? Then check out this Boston Herald article where they interviewed experts -- the cast of The Sopranos. (Boston Herald)

Go, Speed Racer, Go!

Get clocked doing 101 miles per hour in a 70 mph zone -- you'd expect to get a ticket.

Not if you're Lt Governor Andre Bauer (R-SC) tooling along in your state owned car. The louie-gov has been pulled over twice in the last four months for speeding. Didn't get a ticket either time.

Just last week, Lt Gov Bauer told the Greenville News he'd never been pulled over while in office.

Political Rule One: When you're in the public eye don't lie to people who buy ink by the barrel -- and are itching to try out the state's Freedom of Information Act.

The newspaper requested the records and nailed Lt Gov Bauer like a southern sheriff with a brand new radar gun.

If he'd been ticketed -- it'd been worth 10 points -- 12 and he'd have lost his license. (Greenville News)

700-Grand! And that's Before the Roaming Charges

A federal appeals court has ruled against Rep Jim McDermott (D-WA) (right), saying he broke the law when he leaked a tape of a cell phone conversation to the media 10 years ago.

A pair of Democratic activists taped the phone call between Rep John Boehner (R-OH) (below) and other Republican leaders and gave the tape to Rep McDermott in 1996.

The conversation dealt with how to handle the backlash expected then House Speaker Newt Gingrich was slapped with punishments for violating House ethics rules.

The appeals court said that Rep McDermott should pay $700,000 to Rep Boehner.

Wow. I can remember when phone calls only cost a dime. (WashPost)

Patriots vs Politicians

That spinning sound is Patrick Henry listening to today's politicians.

MP3 File


Sen Pat Roberts (R-KS), courtesy CNN's "Late Edition" via "Crooks & Liars:"

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Why Can't Someone Watch Our Money This Closely?

Dillingham, Alaska only has 2,400 people. But they've got powerful Congressmen in Washington to help them get Homeland Security money.

The tiny town best known for making raincoats out of walrus intestines -- now has 60 high tech security cameras watching city streets -- with plans for another 20.

All it cost you was $202,000 dollars from the federal treasury. That's one camera for every 30 people in town. But we can now catch al Qaeda sneaking up on that walrus-intestine-raincoat-factory. (LAT)

Freshman Hazing

Freshmen get hazed --in the Illinois state Senate.

Sheryl Axley (R-Mount Prospect) was offering her first bill and got the traditional treatment.

Assistant Democratic Leader Rickey Hendon (D-Chicago)asked Sen Axley to go "on a township road with me later on tonight."

Proving that when you're in a hole, rent a steam shovel, Sen Hendon replied to his warning from the chair with:

"Madame President, don't deny me my opportunity, here. I mean, she looks like she's only 16 or 17. I might be able to trick her, or something."

Sen Axley says it was all in fun -- and finds no offense in the offer or the age comment.

I'll keep you posted on township road caucuses though. (Sun-Times)

Monday, March 27, 2006

How's that Search for bin Laden Going?

FBI memos show the Bureau has wasted limited counter terrorism resources investigating peace activists and environmentalists. They've even spied on a group who feed vegetarian meals to the homeless.

"They don't know where Osama bin Laden is, but they're spending money watching people like me." -- Environmentalist Kirsten Atkins, quoted in the LA Times

The LA Times says the FBI kept tabs on environmentalist Kirsten Atkins -- who's license plate number showed up in an FBI terrorist file for protesting the lumber industry in Denver. (LAT)

Time's Running Out

The sponsors of the "National Debt Clock" are running out of digits.

The national debt stands at more than $8-trillion -- and there aren't enough spaces to handle the numbers when they roll over to $10-trillion.

That's coming in a couple of years. (Reuters via Yahoo!)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Copy Editor Needed -- The Key Word being "Copy"

Washington Post red-faced over "Red State" blogger they hired to write "Red America" blog.

Shoulda "red" his writing -- he resigned over plagiarism charges.

From Exective Editor Jim Brady:
"In the past 24 hours, we learned of allegations that Ben Domenech plagiarized material that appeared under his byline in various publications prior to contracting with him to write a blog that launched Tuesday.

An investigation into these allegations was ongoing, and in the interim, Domenech has resigned, effective immediately."

Mr Domenech is out. Copy that. (WashPost)

Blaming the Messenger

The Bush administration is blaming the messenger -- to divert attention from the real message coming from Iraq.


Sunday, March 19, 2006

Iraq War Anniversary

Three years into the Iraq War, President Bush promises a "Victory Strategy" -- the Sunday shows have plenty of voices offering advice on victory as the President's poll numbers become a casualty of the war, and the Veep takes a shot at himself.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Sure I can Lift That -- I'm as Strong as I was in High Schooooooooooooooooo...!

I'm flat on my back -- with a back injury.

I'll be taking a break for a week or two while I recover. Watching Washington, along with our Podcast and Vodcast, will return when I'm back on my feet.

Thanks for your loyal support!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Vodcast: Stalking Lobbyists, Gay Hooker for Congress, and Bush Appeal Courts Nominee Busted

Stalking Lobbyists, Gay Hooker for Congress, and Bush appeal court
nominee nabbed for shoplifting. Hey, at least the Veep didn't shoot anyone.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Former White House Aide Is Arrested

A former top aide to President Bush has been arrested on theft charges in Maryland.

Claude Allen (far right in the picture with President Bush) had served as deputy secreary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Democrats had blocked White House plans in 2003 when President Bush announced plans to appoint him to the federal appeals court in Richmond.

Mr Allen was arrested for a shoplifting charge from January 2. He'd resigned from the administration just last month. (NYT)

Friday, March 10, 2006

GOP Party Leader Ad

As Republican Congressional candidates and 2008 Presidential hopefuls run away from the GOP's leader over the Dubai port deal, the GOP has launched new web ad looking for the leader of the Democratic Party.

The ad plays well to the GOP base -- highlighting comments from prominent Democrats that Republicans have taken issue with in the past. And considering the mass exodus of Republicans support for the President since the port deal broke -- the ad will probably help shore up erosion within that base of support.

But the quotes also play well to the Democrats' base.

For independents -- the ad may be a lot of "inside baseball." The point the ad's trying to get across is confusing. I'm not really sure why the GOP is asking Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid to name his party's leader.

Norton's Abramoff Ties

Interior Secretary Gale Norton -- pictured in the center here -- with lobbyist Jack Abramoff at the far right -- has resigned.

Nothing to do with Abramoff.

But the Raw Story reports she was named in deals Mr Abramoff cooked up with Indian tribes that the former lobbyist represented.

His clients donated $50,000 to a conservative environmental group Ms Norton founded -- in the months after Rep Tom DeLay (R-TX) helped Mr Abramoff arrange a meeting with Secretary Norton. (TRS)


Reuters fed this photo of Vice President Dick Cheney over it's wires.

The sign behind him was for the 2006 National Summit on Retirement Savings. (Reuters)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

UAE Backs Out

DP World -- the United Arab Emirates company that had been trying to take over operations at a half dozen US ports has backed out.

It's divesting itself of all US interests.

Sen John Warner (R-VA) made the announcement on the Senate floor this afternoon. (WashPost)

Ann Richards Diagnosed with Cancer

Former Texas Governor Ann Richards (D) has been diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. It's one of the most lethal form of cancers.

Gov Richards is best known nationally for her Democratic Convention speech in 1988 where she said of the then Vice President and Republican Presidential nominee: "Poor George [H.W. Bush], he can't help it...He was born with a silver foot in his mouth."

She's a recovering alcoholic who smoked heavily for 20 years -- giving up both alcohol and tobacco in 1980.

She served as Texas' 45th Governor until losing to George W. Bush in 1994. (AP Video/Houston Chronicle)

Showtime Tom

Tom DeLay makes his movie debut, Bill Clinton gets heckeled, and Dick Cheney will always have Paris.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

"We Want to be Tom DeLay When We Grow Up"

Now that Rep Tom DeLay has won his primary challenge in Texas, thought you might want to see the clip of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff talking about him at the 2002 College Republican Conference. (C-SPAN via Crooks & Liars)


Rep Tom DeLay (R-TX) survived without a run-off in the Texas Republican primary. The indicted Congressman won re-nomination with 62% of the vote. In the past, he's carried contested primaries with 80%.

He faces former Rep Nick Lampson in the fall. Mr Lampson served four terms in Congress until redistricting cost him his seat. That same redistricting is behind Mr DeLay's money laundering indictment. (AP)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Clinton Gets Heckeled

Fox News has video of Pace University students calling President Clinton a "war criminal."

Secret Service questioned the kids and let them go. (Video courtesy Fox News)

DeLay Spending Election Night with Lobbyists

You'd think Rep Tom DeLay (R-TX) would avoid lobbyists.
But here it is, election day in Texas, he has three opponents in the primary, and who is he spending the night with?


Lobbyists Bill Paxon and Susan Molinari, both former members of Congress from New York, are throwing a fundraiser for Mr DeLay. (WashPost)

Vodcast: Forget Port Security

DHS bungles an anthrax scare, Washington & Hollywood take on gay issues, and a Congresswoman gets away to "feel the love."

Vodcast Links

Take Uncle Sam's Money, gotta let recruiters tell students..."Uncle Sam Wants You!"

Gallup reports Americans by a 55 - 45% margin that the Iraq War was a mistake.

A new Elon College poll shows President Bush's approval heading south in the south.

The latest Zogby America poll pegs his approval at 38-percent.

Podcast: Borrowing from the Guard

All 50 Governors have fired off a letter to President Bush asking that he do something about all the "borrowing" from the National Guard.

MP3 File

Monday, March 06, 2006

Ways & Means Chairman Calls it Quits

Rep Bill Thomas (R-CA) is calling it quits. The House Ways and Means Chairman announced he won't seek re-election.

He's expected to support former aide -- and current state Assemblyman Kevin McCarthy as his successor. (NYT/Hotline)

Where's Kate Harris?

Rep Katherine Harris (R-FL) has dissappeared -- gone into hiding. The Republican candidate for Senate has been linked to the same defense contractor that got former Rep Duke Cunningham (R-CA) into trouble.

Rep Cunningham drew an eight year sentence Friday for taking $2.4 million in bribes. Now, MZM Inc's owner says he gave Rep Harris $32,000 in illegal campaign contributions. (Herald-Tribune)

DeLay Will Face Voters' Verdict This Week

Former Speaker Tom DeLay goes on trial in the court of public opinion Tuesday.

He faces three other Republicans in the Texas primary for his House seat.

Life's been tough on Mr DeLay since his indictment on corruption charges.

He's lost his leadership post, members of his own party are piling on him -- and even the unchallenged Democrat in his district has more money on hand to launch a campaign after tomorrow's primary vote. (WashPost)

Diverted to Crawford

President Bush's aides forgot to order him an absentee ballot to Tuesday's Republican Primary in Texas.

So, on his way back from south Asia, he's got to land on Air Force One, and then either motorcade or chopper in to Crawford, Texas to vote in person tomorrow.

What do you want to bet they've moved the polling place from the Crawford Fire Department and he has to drive around looking for the new polling place? (Dallas Morning News)

The IRS Loves the Oscars -- Hey, They've Been Doing to Taxpayers for Years What the "Brokeback" Cowboys have been Doing to Each Other

Goodie bags going to Oscar presenters don't escape the tax man's reach.

Nominees and presenters get the bags loaded with pricey prizes just for showing up.

Someone at the IRS figured the goodies are worth around a hundred grand each.

The IRS has sent out a notice that stars have to include the goodies as income on their taxes. (NYT)

Levees Not as Strong as Before Katrina

The feds are rebuilding the New Orleans floodwalls and levees to their old height -- but they won't be as strong as they were before Hurricane Katrina hit -- and knocked them down.

The Army Corps of Engineers is spending $1.6 billion to rebuild 169 miles of levees. But they're taking shortcuts to get the levees back in service before hurricane season starts June 1. (WashPost)

Katrina & the Elderly

Nearly 40% of the people Hurricane Katrina killed were age 71 or older. (NPR-Audio)

Vodcast: Political Roundup

March 6: Wes Clark and John Edwards deflect talk of 2008 candidacies on the talk shows; Ruth Bader Ginsberg dozes on the bench; and polls pound the President.


Vodcast Links

For more on the stories mentioned in Monday's Vodcast, check out these links:

AFL-CIO Targeted Races
Tom Daschle's Return
Gov Bob Riley's Trip to the Big City
Rep Chris Shays Endorses Sen Joe Lieberman
Drinking Candidate Caught with Opponent's Campaign Sign

Presidential Polls:
Video of Gallup Poll Results

Other Polls this Week:
Quinnipiac Poll on Wiretapping
Spitzer Leads in New York
Minnesota Senate Race

Podcast: Taxpayer Paid Felons

It's hard to find a job if you have a criminal record.

Unless you live in Wisconsin.

MP3 File

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Kemp on Iraq

Jack Kemp -- the 1996 GOP Vice Presidential nominee -- is the latest Republican calling for some kind of timeline for getting the troops out of Iraq. Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," The former Congressman says the US needs to declare there will be no permenent US bases in Iraq.

(NBC's "Meet the Press")

Clark in 2008 -- or 2006?

General Wes Clark -- a Democratic candidate for President in 2004 -- says he's focused on getting Democrats elected to Congress in 2006. And wants the administration investigated when they get there. The General appeared this morning on ABC's "This Week" program.

(Video from ABC's This Week)

David Gregory Petition

NBC White House reporter David Gregory has become to the right what Dan Rather was in the Nixon White House and Sam Donaldson was to the Reagan White House.

In the "Blame the Messenger" game -- David Gregory has become a favorite punching bag -- leading to an online petition to get him fired.

Among some of the names I've seen pop up on the petition:

Joe Goebels
Joe Stalin
Joe McCarthy
John King (a rival network's White House reporter)

Guess there are some people having fun with this over at NBC. (

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Congressman Wins an 8-Year Term

Former Rep Randy "Duke" Cunningham has been sentenced to eight years and four months in prison. He'd earlier pleaded guilty to taking $2.4 million in bribes from contractors for sending federal money their way. (NYT)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Oh, Sure -- Now They're On Top Of Things

George Barisich (left) has been selling and handing out anti-FEMA t-shirts for months -- ever since his hometown was flooded in Hurricane Katrina's wake.

And the Department of Homeland Security has arrested him for it.

Technically, they say he broke the law by selling a t-shirt on federal property. That's a bit of a stretch -- since it was outside a FEMA tent in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

Mr Barisich says he was giving the t-shirt away for free.

It read:

"Flooded by Katrina!
Forgotten by FEMA!
What's Next Mr. Bush?"

Mr Barisich promises to fight his $75 ticket.

If we could only get Osama bin Laden to sell t-shirts, he'd be locked up by sundown. (USAToday)

Blanco Tape

Governor Kathleen Blanco (D-LA) was taped requesting a search and rescue mission -- even before the New Orleans levee breeches were confirmed.

The Associated Press has obtained another tape of teleconferences over the Katrina disaster (below). This one featuring the governor's voice.

In the tape, Gov Blanco says the state had conflicting reports. She says there were reports the levees had been breeched -- that water was coming over them.

Then she says there had been other, unconfirmed reports, that the levees had held.

She tells federal disaster teams there is flooding in New Orleans and local responders had recieved at least 30 calls from people trapped by flood waters.

Gov Blanco then requests search and rescue operations as soon as the winds subsided and it was safe to launch recovery operations.

Opening the Political Floodgates

The leak earlier this week of FEMA teleconference tapes has reignited debate over handling the aftermath of the the storm and flood.

Transcripts were released last year. But FEMA denied the existence of any tapes when the AP filed an FOIA request for them late last year. FEMA is now refusing to release any of the other tapes.

The images provide powerful ammunition in politics. They drive home points transcripts can't -- showing emotion, uncertainity and other nuances lost in translation to the printed page.

And they can be used in campaign commercials. (WashPost, Tape: AP via Expose the Left)

Vodcast: Gunning for Work

The gun lobby wanted to make it legal to take your guns to work in Florida.

Singer Kinky Friedman is ticked that the Texas Secretary of State is urging folks to vote in the March 7th Texas Primaries.

Maryland is considering special license plates for drunk drivers. That might make Dick Cheney think twice about retiring to Donald Rumsfeld's neighborhood.

Want to eat lunch at school? You might have to get fingerprinted in Iowa.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Howdy, Neighbor

Sen Rick Santorum (R-PA) has this little charity -- Operation Good Neighbor. He got a $25,000 donation to it back in 2002. The donation came from Preferred Real Estate, Inc.

Shortly after that, Sen Santorum bragged on his website about slipping an $8.5 million earmark for riverfront development in Philadelphia.

And who's project was that -- you guessed it -- Preferred Real Estate, Inc.

Only about 40% goes to chairty. The rest for overead -- including some of his campaign staff who happen to be on the charity's payroll. (Philly Daily News)

Making Your Workplace Less Safe? Come Here and Get a Hug

Mining fines have been decreasing since 2001 -- and the Bush administration has even declined to accept fines from some mine operators. All designed to foster warm fuzzies between the coal operators and the administration.

Not so warm and fuzzy if your trapped at the bottom of the Sago mine in West Virginia. (NYT)

Flood Warning

A tape of a videoconference the day before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast shows federal disaster leaders urgently warning President Bush about the threat the storm posed. The President didn't ask a single question in the conference.

President Bush participated in the conference from his Crawford, Texas ranch.

During the briefing, a top hurricane expert warned of the threat to the levees (video below).

But just days later, on ABC's Good Morning America, President Bush said there were no warnings about possible flooding (video below).

The subsequent flooding caused most of the damage in New Orleans and left thousands of people stranded at the Superdome and Convention Center for days.

The Washington Post has the complete video here. (Washington Post/Video Courtesy ABC, AP)

Full AP Video:

Vodcast: Ganstas, Secret Stuff, Jurassic Warming, & Scooter's Site

Out in Las Vegas...a university regent -- who's also a cop -- wants to ban gansta rap .

Who's the White House listening to on global climate change?

Scooter Libby's got a website.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Patriots and Politicians, How Times Change

"Civil liberties do not mean much when you are dead." -- Sen Jim Bunning (R-KY) (right), March 1, 2006 in Senate debate on amending the Patriot Act

"Give me liberty or give me death." -- Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775

Flip, Flop & Fly: President Bush's Shifting Concerns for Catching Osama bin Laden

"I am confident he will be brought to justice. What's happening is, is that we got U.S. forces on the hunt for not only bin Laden, but anybody who plots and plans with bin Laden. There are Afghan forces on the hunt for not only bin Laden, but those who plot and plan with him. We've got Pakistan forces on the hunt." -- President Bush, Kabul Afghanistan News Conference, March 1, 2006

"I thought it [bin Laden releasing a tape days before the 2004 election] was going to help. I thought it would help remind people that if bin Laden doesn't want Bush to be the president, something must be right with Bush." -- President Bush, Quoted by author Bill Sammon in Strategery, released February 28, 2006

"I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority."- President Bush, March 13, 2002

"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him."- President Bush, September 13, 2001

Vodcast: Politics this Week

Hillary gets help from some heavy hitters and Arnold refuses to be painted with a George W. Bush.


Senator Hillary Clinton has brought in some big guns for her '06 re-election bid.

Hotline on Call has a poll out showing just 18% of the voters in Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's District have a favorable opinion of the indicted Congressman.

Gallup shows Democrats leading in the "generic poll" -- about a 7% lead over Republicans when you ask Americans who they'll vote for for Congress this year.

Easy Pickens

An act of charity turns out to be a great tax dodge.

MP3 File