This ought to drive a stake through the heart of the myth that Republicans are fiscally conservative.
According to the Associated Press, after seven years of mismanagement by George Bush and 12 years of Republican dominance of the Senate and control of the House, the national debt of the United States is now expanding by $1.4 billion per day and $1 million per minute:
What's that mean to you?
It means almost $30,000 in debt for each man, woman, child and infant in the United States...
[The] government is fast straining resources needed to meet interest payments on the national debt, which stands at a mind-numbing $9.13 trillion.
By the time Bush is scheduled to leave office in January 2009, the debt will be $10 trillion, which is $10,000,000,000,000.00.
In brief, I became known to some as the "Diebold Whistleblower" when, in January of 2004, I stole and exposed legal documents [PDF] proving that Diebold Election Systems, Inc. was using and planned to continue using illegal, uncertified software in their California voting machines. (By the way, Diebold recently changed its name to Premier Election Solutions, but don't let that fool you; it's still the same bunch of idiots.) Details about my case can be found here and here [PDF].
The documents I stole were covered under attorney-client privilege, so my theft was a serious crime. In February of 2006 I was charged with three felonies. On November 20, 2006, I plead guilty to one felony count of unauthorized access to a computer, and in exchange for my guilty plea and a restitution payment of $10,000 to the law firm from which I stole the documents, the law firm promised they wouldn't bring a civil suit against me, and I was put on felony probation instead of being sent to jail. The term of probation was to be at least one year, and as much as three years.
Now, one year after my guilty plea, because I've stayed out of trouble and because I'm a first offender, the judge has reduced my felony to a misdemeanor. Sometime in 2008, my lawyers will petition the court to have my misdemeanor expunged.
The bad part is that the most troublesome aspect of my probation is still in force. Before I can accept a job at which I would use a computer networked to one or more other computers (basically any job for which I'd be qualified), any potential employer must write to the judge in my case, tell him that they know about my conviction and that they still want to hire me, and then we have to wait until the judge responds with a "yes" or a "no" before I can accept the job and start work (and then only if the judge says "yes"). So as you can see, employers will be falling all over themselves to hire me.
Meanwhile, my wife (an actor, filmmaker and writer) certainly hasn't lost her sense of humor. She had been calling me Felonious Punk, but now that I'm no longer a felon, she's switched to Mister Meanor. Ain't it great being married to a comedy writer?
To be clear, breaking attorney-client privilege is a very serious crime, and I accept responsibility for what I did. I'm still being punished for it, and so far the punishment has cost my wife and me over $210,000 - and counting. $210,000 is an enormous amount of money to us. My wife and I have paid and are continuing to pay a very high price for my crime.
But, as we're not Republicans, we might have expected that.
Which got me thinking about other crimes in America that have recently been committed or alleged, and what's happened to those involved. Among the first of many, Lewis "Scooter" Libby comes to mind...
Yesterday, we learned that when he was mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani allegedly played a shell game to hide from taxpayers --- and his scornful wife --- the cost of dragging his security details along when he traveled out to Long Island to visit his then-girlfriend, Judith Nathan. Now comes news that he assigned a car and driver from the NYPD to Nathan during their affair:
Well before it was publicly known he was seeing her, then-married New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani provided a police driver and city car for his mistress Judith Nathan, former senior city officials tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com.
"She used the [police department] as her personal taxi service," said one former city official who worked for Giuliani.
The former city officials said Giuliani expanded the budget for his security detail at the time. Politico.com reported yesterday that many of the security expenses were initially billed to obscure city agencies, effectively hiding them from oversight.
Last December, Alan G. Hevesi, the New York State Comptroller, pleaded guilty to defrauding the government and resigned his position after it was revealed that he had detailed a state employee to attend his wife, who was an invalid:
Mr. Hevesi, the state’s top fiscal watchdog, told the court in a hoarse voice that one of the state workers he had assigned as a driver for his wife, Carol, had done much more than provide security for her. Prosecutors filed court papers revealing that the worker had also watered her plants, driven her to Bloomingdale’s and dropped off her dry cleaning.
In addition to pleading guilty to a felony, Hevesi paid a fine of $5,000 and reimbursed the state for $206,000.
No word as of yet whether New York's Democratic governor, Eliot Spitzer, will look into allegations that Giuliani used public employees to carry out personal services for him and his girlfriend.
Here's an interesting development in the increasingly heated speculation about what led Sen. Trent Lott to announce his resignation from the Senate yesterday.
On Larry Flynt's website, Flynt has posted an excerpt from PageOneQ, a Washington-based website that has a record of accurately identifying closeted Republican politicians:
"Once upon a time," writes Big Head DC [another Washington-based website], "there was a twentysomething boy-next-door type with reddish blond hair and a brillantly white smile."
This boy-next-door is male escort Benjamin Nicholas, whose blog, 15 Minutes, helped him make some connections in business and politics.
One of these connections is rumored to be [Trent Lott, who is] rumored to have planned a resignation by the end of this year to avoid being scandalized by Hustler publisher Larry Flynt. Flynt had, back in June, offered cash rewards for substantiated accounts of sexual liaisons with elected officials.
To which Larry Flynt responds:
HUSTLER Magazine has received numerous inquiries regarding the involvement of Larry Flynt and HUSTLER in the resignation of Trent Lott. Senator Lott has been the target of an ongoing HUSTLER investigation for some time now, due to confidential information that we have received.
Meanwhile, at Huffington Post, the idea that Lott had any sort of relationship with Benjamin Nicholas is "put to bed" by none other than Nicholas himself:
In the latest CNN/WMUR poll of likely voters in the New Hampshire primary, Fred Thompson has dropped to sixth place behind both Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee.
Thompson has lagged behind the frontrunners since he entered the race in September. But in this latest poll, his support in New Hampshire dropped from 13 percent in the September poll to 4 percent now.
Ron Paul has doubled his support from 4 percent to 8 percent since September. Mike Huckabee has 5 percent.
Mitt Romney, who was governor of next-door Massachusetts, is in the lead with 33 percent, up from 25 percent in September. John McCain's 18 percent support is unchanged. Rudolph Giuliani is in third place with 16 percent --- an eight percentage point drop since September.
The White House is probably busy right now dusting off a Medal of Freedom --- as well as complete and full pardon --- for Howard "Cookie" Krongard, their inspector general (IG) at the State Dept. It appears that in Krongard's testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform yesterday, he made false statements under oath about the membership of his brother, Buzzy Krongard, on an advisory board for Blackwater, the controversial paramilitary security contractor based in North Carolina's Dismal Swamp.
Blackwater has close ties with Howard Krongard's bosses in the Bush administration, who have awarded over $100 million in contracts to the company since the invasion and occupation of Iraq began. The fact that the brother of the Bush State Dept.'s chief investigator into Blackwater's activities in Iraq is on Blackwater's payroll would appear to be a conflict of interest, to put it mildly.
Early in the hearings, Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) laid out a series of allegations from officials in the State and Justice departments that Krongard has been stonewalling investigations into corruption and illegal activities by Blackwater and other U.S. personnel and companies in Iraq.
Here is video of Waxman's questioning and Krongard's evasive responses:
Laters, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) asked Krongard if his brother was a member of the Blackwater advisory board:
Howard Krongard responded, under oath, with a flat denial:
"I can tell you very frankly, I am not aware of any financial interest or position [my brother] has with respect to Blackwater. It couldn’t possibly have affected anything I’ve done, because I don’t believe it. And when these ugly rumors started recently, I specifically asked him. I do not believe it is true that he is a member of the advisory board, as you stated, and that is something I think I need to say."
But during the break, Howard Krongard called his brother and found out that Buzzy did, indeed, sit on a Blackwater board:
Just down the road from Mount St. Helens, there's an unexpected eruption. The small southwest Washington town of La Center is having a political eruption --- its state legislator is embroiled in a sex scandal, details of which are still unfolding.
This time, there's no resorting to the time-honored "wide stance" defense, and no encrypted toe tapping in an airport public restroom. This time, there is no explicit text messaging to a Congressional page from a member of Congress, then co-chair of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, while a bill is being debated on the floor of the Capitol.
This time, the stage is a booth in back of an X-rated video store, and then a room in the nicest hotel in Spokane, Washington.
This time, there's a lawmaker wearing black sequined lingerie...
Theodore Robert Bundy, one of the most infamous serial killers of the last half-century, was a Republican activist while studying law at various universities in the west and northwest.
John Wayne Gacy, a serial killer who equalled Bundy in viciousness and notoriety, was very active as a Democrat in his Chicago neighborhood --- even had his photo made with former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.
Politics and sex crime. Sometimes, they go together. Perhaps because both deal with dominance, and power. Bundy and Gacy would simply be two of the most extreme examples.
Of course, both sides of the aisle get hit, but lately, it is Republicans who are taking a consistent battering in this arena.
Ripples of shock spread from the little Village of Green Oaks, IL, through the Illinois political establishment on Monday as the news spread: Mayor Tom Adams, age 68, had been arrested at his home on Anderson Drive, and charged with distributing kiddie porn over the internet.
If convicted, Tom Adams could face 15 years in prison for each person who received child porn from him via the web.
Following on our earlier report today, covering 100's of electronic voting machines in Philadelphia which failed to start up this morning for Pennsylvania's primary election, we now have a similar report from the other side of the state.
100's of machines in Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located, also failed to work correctly today. If we're able to remember correctly (since the story doesn't name any voting machine company names), Allegheny County finally settled on voting machines made by ES&S, after they abandoned hopes of going with Diebold when their machines were found to be hackable, and then later found machines from Sequoia Voting Systems --- who they'd planned to use instead --- were discovered to be similarly hackable.
ES&S eventually won the prize, just weeks before today's primary --- we warned about going with a new system with so little time to prepare, but did they listen? --- yet appear to have lost the day for PA voters, according to this report from Pittsburgh's Post-Gazette...
The first Allegheny County election with electronic voting machines got off to a somewhat rocky start this morning, when more than 100 machines had problems. Surrounding counties reported almost identical problems.
Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato today said 120 machines wouldn't produce "zero-count" printouts to start the day confirming there were no votes registered in the machines.
Mr. Onorato said the elections bureau got 400 calls to start the day. By 11 a.m., there were still more than 20 polling places with problems.
There are more than 2,600 of the new machines spread over 1,314 precincts.
Mr. Onorato also said nine machines had their screens cracked during transit to the polling places.
Surrounding counties also were reporting problems with the zero-count printouts.
Larry Spahr said 20 or 25 of Washington County's 185 precincts reported problems. Mr. Spahr is director of elections.
More details on the failures in the Post-Gazette's story. Amongst those details, apparently Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) was locked out of his polling place when an election worker failed to show up to open it this morning.
New CBS/NYTimes poll. Bush now ties his father's career low point, higher only than Nixon and Carter...
"We should have stayed out of Iraq until we knew more about it," Bernice Davis, a Republican from Missouri who said she now disapproves of Mr. Bush's performance, said in a follow-up interview today. "The economy is going to pot. Gas prices are escalating. I just voted for Bush because he's a Republican, even though I disapproved of the war. If I could go back, I would not vote for him."
The word "glitch" takes a rest, as the AP uses "hiccups" instead to minimize what happened in Ohio's Primary Election mess last Tuesday.
Sec. of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, who was on the Republican Primary ballot for the Governor's race, refuses to step down from the investigation which is just now beginning since manual hand-counting of ballots in Cuyahoga County was just completed yesterday (Sunday), after Diebold machines failed to be able to read 17,000 absentee ballots...
CLEVELAND (AP) --- The Ohio Democratic Party on Monday called on Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell to remove himself from investigating what went wrong with the primary election in Ohio's largest county, saying the Republican gubernatorial candidate faces too many conflicts of interest to properly oversee the probe.
President Bush's approval rating has slumped to 31% in a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, the lowest of his presidency and a warning sign for Republicans in the November elections.
Bush's fall is being fueled by erosion among support from conservatives and Republicans. In the poll, 52% of conservatives and 68% of Republicans approved of the job he is doing. Both are record lows among those groups.
Moderates gave him an approval rating of 28%, liberals of 7%.
"You hear people say he has a hard core that will never desert him, and that has been the case for most of the administration," says Charles Franklin, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin who studies presidential approval ratings. "But for the last few months, we started to see that hard core seriously erode in support."
(NOTE FROM BRAD: Playing serious catch-up on a number of stories, related-but-off-blog commitments and several crushing deadlines. Was gone the entire day yesterday interviewing someone on camera. Very interesting. More on that, and a bunch of other items as I can get caught up later today, tonight, and for the rest of the week as things are breaking and I do my best to keep up with all of it. Hopefully David and John will be able to jump into the breach where available here and as I continue to scramble to get caught up throughout the week. Begging your indulgence and patience over the next few days where coverage might be quicker or leaner than normal in the bargain...and as necessary.)
"This administration may be over," Lance Tarrance, a chief architect of the Republicans' 1960s and '70s Southern strategy, told a gathering of journalists and political wonks last week. "By and large, if you want to be tough about it, the relevancy of this administration on policy may be over."
Tarrance said it would be extremely difficult for any president to bounce back this late in his administration and reassert influence on Capitol Hill when his approval rating barely exceeds his party's base support and half of all adults surveyed said they "strongly disapprove" of his performance. An overwhelming 73 percent of independents disapprove of Bush's performance, and two-thirds of those "strongly disapprove."