Friday, November 17, 2006

Oh Yeah? And Another Thing, We Can't Count Either!

From The Hill E-News, their November 17th tipsheet a piece entitled, Bitterness Lingers over Murtha vs. Hoyer by Jonathan E. Kaplan. Jon notes that four years ago, Nancy Pelosi "taunted" Steny Hoyer, who she had just defeated for the position of Minority Whip, by saying, "Steny can't count." In light of the leadership vote yesterday, Kaplan quotes obviously embittered John Murtha supporter, Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va.), regarding the lopsided tally this time in favor of Steny Hoyer for Majority Leader.

Murtha's supporters seemed stunned by the 53-vote margin.

"There are a number of members who can't be trusted," said Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), adding that there are "a couple of dozen members we won't trust" in the future.

Well, the first question that comes to mind is, who is doing the math over at The Hill? The vote total was 149 – 86, which is a difference of 63 votes, not 53.

Secondly, the obvious question for Congressman Moran is: Whadda ya mean, "we" Kemo Sabe? Who is this ubiquitous "we" that you're talking about?

And, if as you claim, a "couple of dozen" more votes had swung your way -- that would have been "24" more for your guy, and 24 fewer for Hoyer -- you still would have been fifteen votes short.

So, who is doing your arithmetic these days, Jim? Heck, even with the short-sheet arithmetic of the guys over at The Hill, you would still have come up short . . . by five.

Plus, I thought John Murtha confidently went on national TV and told Chris Matthews, "We've got the Votes." He wouldn't have done that without a cushion of several votes, would he?

Just exactly what was your count?

Here is how Murtha put it to Matthews on Hardball:

. . .
MATTHEWS: Are you going to win?

MURTHA: We’re going to win, we’ve got the votes.

MATTHEWS: You’ve got them?

MURTHA: We’ve got the votes.

MATTHEWS: Eyeball to eyeball, you’ve got them?

MURTHA: Eyeball to eyeball.
. . . .

Must have been something in his eye.

On to the Battle of Hastings! And you can count on it!

UPDATE: (11/20/2006) The Washington Times reports Hoyer to seek assurances from Pelosi she won't retaliate against those who publicly supported him. Hey, it's a legitimate question, based on the comments by Rep. Jim Moran, noted above.

Also, a friend of ours asks, how did Pelosi/Murtha ally, Rep. Jim Moran know which 2 dozen Democratic members who, as Moran said after the vote, "we won't trust." After all, it was a secret ballot, right? Hmmmm?

UPDATE II: (11/27/2006) It appears the Battle of Hastings has concluded. According to reports today, the Speaker-Designate, Nancy Pelosi met with Congressman Alcee Hastings this afternoon to inform him that she would not be naming him as the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

The Washignton Post has much more, including details about the federal judicial panel that oversaw the administrative complaint against Hastings for judicial misconduct following his acquittal by a jury on the bribery charges. They concluded that the judge had repeatedly lied to the jury, and had manufactured evidence to win the acquittal.

In fact, there is a certain simplicity in the conclusion drawn by an investigating committee of five eminent federal judges, each with strong civil rights credentials. Those judges, and later more than three dozen others, concluded that Hastings lied to the Miami jury as many as 15 times to win acquittal.
. . .

Two federal judges soon filed an administrative complaint, accusing Hastings of conduct prejudicial to the courts, which led to the judicial investigation. John Doar, the chief House Watergate counsel, and a panel of judges investigating the matter said they uncovered substantial new evidence that convinced them that Hastings joined the bribery conspiracy and then fabricated a defense to hoodwink the jury.

In one example, they focused on Hastings's testimony about telephone calls. The issue was a taped conversation with Borders that prosecutors considered coded talk about a bribe. Hastings said it was an innocent discussion about helping a friend, Hemphill Pride, regain his law license.

Pride said that he knew of no such effort, that he would have rejected one and that he was not even eligible for reinstatement. He told the panel that Hastings, while under indictment, had urged him to remember details that, as far as Pride recalled, had never happened.

On the witness stand in Miami, however, Hastings showed the jury records of four telephone calls and confidently declared that he had made them to Pride. In fact, the Doar investigation revealed, the numbers called belonged to other people with no connection to Pride.

"Judge Hastings' conduct was premeditated, deliberate and contrived," wrote the committee, whose most prominent member was U.S. District Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr., famous for rulings integrating Alabama's public institutions.

Michelle Malkin also had an exhaustive wrap on the issues arising out of the impeachment of then-Federal Judge Hastings, which completely contradict his recent rant attacking,
"Newt Gingrich, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Michael Barone, Drudge, anonymous bloggers, and other assorted misinformed fools"
who he claimed had cited his impeachment as a basis for challenging his lack of fitness for the position.

After expressing his disappointment over the failure to win the Intelligence post, Hastings issued a statement claiming he would actually be seeking "bigger and better" opportunities in the new Congress, and fired off a parting shot,
"Sorry, haters, God is not finished with me yet."

He must be next in line, right behind John Murtha.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

"No matter what happens, keep on hitting the ball."


Quoted in Mark Frost --
"The Grand Slam: Bobby Jones, America, and the Story of Golf"
Hyperion, 1st ed. 2004

Monday, November 06, 2006

A few final thoughts from Mark Steyn

One of the more annoying pretensions of "progressives," or left-leaning liberals these days, involves looking you right in the eye and telling you that they support our troops, but not their mission.

I have always found it particularly calculating that someone could sincerely make that claim, while simultaneously and vehemently opposing the soldiers' successes in a mission they have chosen to undertake.

Remember. These soldiers are volunteers!

And even though there are now some who may be dissolutioned with what were high initial ideals and goals, and maybe even some who have changed their minds about the mission itself, anyone thoughtfully analyzing the situation must recognize that cutting and running (e.g., redeployment in Okinawa) is just not a reasonable strategy, either in the short term, or long term. It locks in defeat. And it can not thereafter be mistaken by anyone, here or abroad, as proof of the United States choosing to operate from a position of strength.

On an personal level, telling someone that you are for them but against what they are willing to risk their lives to accomplish for the common good, to me is just downright insulting.

Consider, for example, the thoughts expressed in this interesting online interview of writer, columnist, critic, and "one-man global content provider," Mark Steyn, by interviewer Hugh Hewitt. If you are not familiar with either one or both of them, please take a minute to read the entire exchange. Hugh Hewitt is "the Commissioner" to the conservative blogging community, whose discerning interviews have become legend.

And Mark Steyn is, in the opinion of many (e.g., me), the best columnist in America today. If you have an appreciation for the extraordinary historical contributions of certain foreign born commentators to American social and political thought, you'll be intrigued by what Mark has to say.

Beginning, of course, with Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, which celebrated, in antebellum America, the success of the American republican form of representative democracy, over the notable failures of the French and other models of democratic government, such insightful commentators lead in an unbroken chain to Mark Steyn. As you will recall, Touqueville first came here in 1831, and his book was first published in 1835.

Mark Steyn, who has also recently published a provocative book, entitled "America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It," is a writer who will truly make you think. All of his work can be located on the web can be found here at SteynOnline.

His columns for the Chicago sun Times are also published on-line and the
latest one analyzes Senator John Kerry's recent outrageous remarks about American troops. In the midst of skewering the supercilious Mr. Kerry, Steyn responds to that bromide of the left about supporting the troops, but not the mission. He noted that with regard to Kerry,

what he said fits what too many upscale Dems believe: that America's soldiers are only there because they're too poor and too ill-educated to know any better. That's what they mean when they say "we support our troops." They support them as victims, as children, as potential welfare recipients,but they don't support them as warriors and they don't support the mission.

So their "support" is objectively worthless. The indignant protest that "of course" "we support our troops" isn't support, it's a straddle, and one that emphasizes the Democrats' frivolousness in the post-9/11 world. A serious party would have seen the jihad as a profound foreign-policy challenge they needed to address credibly.

In the interview with Hugh Hewitt, Mark also replied to an invitation to express his opinion on the importance of 2006 elections, to be held tomorrow:

Well, I think they’re critical, because I think to effectively repudiate the Bush administration, which is how it would be seen domestically, would be seen around the world as in fact a repudiation of the broader American will, and broader American determination. So I think that would be serious, not because there aren’t legitimate differences about the war, and about fighting this enemy, and long term strategy, but because you’d be electing a party that simply has no useful contribution to this. I don’t think it’s possible to take Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the Democratic Party of these two people, and Howard Dean seriously on this issue. They have not engaged seriously with it.

And as I said on the domestic front, they’re wedded to the solutions that have in fact turned Europeans into a weak continent that’s sort of mortgaging its future to deeply hostile forces every passing month.

Well said. He has also treated us today with his prognostication for tomorrow, Election Day.

Everyone loves an optimist. Please enjoy, and above all, do not forget to vote!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

An Escape Hatch for the Hudson Landlord?

Today, November 4, 2006, the Star-Ledger’s lede in a Josh Margolin story on the New Jersey Senate contest between Bob Menendez and Tom Kean, Jr. was as follows:

Heading into the final weekend of their bitter and bruising race, Senate candidates Tom Kean Jr. and Robert Menendez each campaigned with a popular ex-politician yesterday, and continued their running argument over whether Menendez is under federal investigation.

So, the ongoing question is this: Is Bob Menendez under investigation, or has he been under investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office for his role as a Congressman in the rental or disposition (sale) of a building he owned, one that he was renting to a Community Action organization, the North Hudson Community action Corporation (NHCAC), an organization that was receiving federal funds as a substantial portion of their funding base, including funds that the Congressman himself helped them to obtain?

As we have noted previously, under Chapter 3 of the House Ethics Manual, applicable to Members of Congress, which was in effect at the time Bob Menendez entered into the lease agreement with the NHCAC back in 1994, where it specifically states:

Under the Federal Criminal Code, a Member of Congress may not enter into a contract or agreement with the United States Government. Any such contract is deemed void, and both the Member and the officer or employee who makes the contract on behalf of the Government may be fined (18 U.S.C. secs. 431-32). To ensure that these prohibitions are carried out, public contracting law requires every Government contract to contain a clause expressly stating that no Member of Congress shall share in any benefits arising from the contract (41 U.S.C. sec. 22).

That referenced statute specifically provides, in part, as follows:
41 United States Code, sec, 22. Interest of Member of Congress:

No Member of Congress shall be admitted to any share or part of any contract or agreement made, entered into, or accepted by or on behalf of the United States, or to any benefit to arise thereupon.
. . . .

But in spite of this specific prohibition Bob Menendez insists he is not under investigation for having entered into a lease with the NHCAC, one he maintained for nearly a decade. He reported the income but not the lease on his financial disclosure forms, accordng to press accounts.

A Pascrell Solution?

A potentially interesting take on the issue of whether he is under investigation, surfaced early Friday morning, November 3rd, at a monthly breakfast meeting New Jersey Business and Industry Association (NJBIA) Employers’ Legislative Council (ELC) meeting held at the Hanover Marriot on Route 10 in Morris County.

Two Trenton lobbyists and political party activists, William Pascrell III, a Democrat, and C. Richard Kamin, a Republican, each informally discussed the Senate contest with a group of approximately 30-35 attendees, on their respective partys’ perspectives on last minute issues in the United States Senate race between Bob Menendez and Tom Kean, Jr. The assembled group included Morris area business and political leaders, including two current Morris county State legislators, Senator Anthony Bucco and Assemblyman Guy Gregg, and former Senator Leanna Brown, as well as a Democrat Morris County freeholder candidate.

During that discussion, the issue of the allegations regarding the investigation of Menendez arose, and Pascrell related a story concerning a political race his father, Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr., was involved in some years ago, when allegations surfaced suggesting his father was under investigation. Those allegations apparently arose because the senior Pascrell had been the Mayor of Paterson, NJ (as well as a New Jersey Assemblyman).

The younger Pascrell, an attorney, told the crowd how, at the time, he simply contacted the U.S Attorney’s office and to spoke with Faith Hochberg, then the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey. According to two attendees at the breakfast, Pascrell said that Hochberg, a Clinton appointee, and now a federal judge, would not discuss it directly with him, but referred Bill to whoever the lead person was on the matter.

And both confirmed that Pascrell said he was able to obtain a short three line official letter, simply and unequivocally stating that his father, William Pascrell, Jr., had not been, and was not currently under investigation for any violations of law by the U.S. Attorney’s office. Bill Pascrell produced the letter at the next debate, and the issue was over.

If Bob Menendez wants to clear up the matter, he has that precedent to go by.

The Inconsistencies

His problem is compounded by the fact that his answers on several issues related to the lease deal have been less than forthcoming, and inconsistent throughout the campaign.

For example, as we have noted in detail (link above), when the issue first arose, he said he had obtained verbal waiver from someone connected to the House Ethics Committee. When pressed a few weeks later to identify the person, he named Mark Davis, former counsel to the committee, who died last year. But when Roll Call revealed that Davis left the Committee a year before he would have been asked, Menendez backed down, and has yet to provide a satisfactory explanation of the matter, including explaining why he would have asked for a verbal waiver or opinion in the first place. House Ethics Rules specifically state that only written opinions carry any weight in protecting the member from ethics charges.

And, our friends over at Enlighten-NJ have recently pointed out a huge contradiction in Bob’s versions of events over time:

1996 Excuse:
"Menendez said he had no hand in arranging the lease, which was handled by a real estate agent and lawyers for the North Hudson Community Action Corp., and did not realize his building would be housing a federally funded agency until after the deal was done." -- Jersey Journal - 1996

2006 Excuse:
"Menendez said he didn't see any conflict of interest in the rental arrangement because the House ethics committee gave him a verbal green light before the lease agreement was finalized. He also argued that he rented the property at below-market rates." -- Philadelphia Inquirer - 2006

(links to stories in original at Enlighten-NJ)

The contradiction is manifest: Ten years ago Bob Menendez said he had no hand in the rental at all; he said didn't realize that it would be rented to a federally-funded agency until afterward.

Well, if that was so, what possible reason would he have had to seek an opinion, verbal or otherwise, in 1994 on whether the proposed rental of the building was ethical?

Both of those things cannot possibly be true. One or the other might be true, or both could be false. But both of them cannot possibly be true.

This and other contradictions in the many Menendez versions is exactly why Bob is having credibility problems. The stories just do not make sense.

Here is another inconsistency of somewhat comic proportions. A few weeks ago, it was reported that prominent criminal defense attorney Joseph Hayden made a call on behalf of Bob’s campaign to the U.S. Attorney General’s Office. But Bob vehemently denied that he had hired Hayden as an attorney.

But the whole issue turned topsy-turvy when the Star-Ledger suddenly revealed on Friday in a story by Jeff Whelan and Josh Margolin, that Marc Elias, another prominent criminal attorney had been hired by Menendez.

But today, in a Jonathan Tamari story in both the Asbury Park Press and the Courier Post it is reported that:

Menendez said Elias made one phone call to the U.S. Attorney's Office regarding the investigation and was told the office did not need anything from the campaign. Menendez said that response shows he is not the subject of a criminal investigation.

And Elias, it seems, is not talking.

Just last week, Matt Miller, the spokesman for the campaign, told the Star-Ledger in a story filed by Deborah Howlett, that as a favor "for the campaign," Joseph Hayden had called the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Hayden was doing a "favor" for the campaign, Menendez spokesman Matt Miller said, not personally representing Menendez. Miller declined to say who in the campaign reached out to Hayden and asked him to make the call, except to say it was not Menendez.

"We were trying to find out what was going on," Miller said of tapping Hayden. "We were just looking to find out in the midst of all these rumors what the facts were."

Miller declined to say what the campaign gleaned from Hayden's conversation with federal authorities. "I'm just not going to go there," he said.

So, we know two things, at least according to the Menendez campaign.

1. The "campaign" does not, or, at some point did not know what the facts were. Hence, some unnamed person in the campaign asked a prominent criminal attorney Joseph Hayden, as a favor, to call the U.S. Attorney and ask what the facts were. And if he did find anything out, the campaign is not telling the public what Hayden was told!

2. Bob Menendez has also hired another prominent criminal defense attorney, Marc Elias, who called the U.S. Attorney once to find out if they needed anything. And because Bob claims they said the did not, Bob says that proves he is not under investigation!

Did you get that? These explanations are laughable. They just don't make sense.

Time to Call Bill?

Maybe what they really should be doing over there at Menendez HQ is giving William Pascrell III a call, and have him contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office and ask them to sign off on a clear and unequivocal statement that Bob Menendez is not now, nor has he been under investigation for any violations of federal law related to that property.

And maybe one or another enterprising reporter should call the U.S. attorney and ask them this question:

If a prominent public figure wanted to clear his name due to false rumors that were circulating, and your office knew -- in spite of those rumors -- that the individual was not currently, nor had been under investigation by your office for any violation of federal law, would your office sign off on, or release a letter to that effect in response to a specific request to that effect from that person or his attorney?

It is hard to imagine the U.S. Attorney saying no to such a request, including in this case. That is, they would unless Bob Menendez indeed is under investigation.

Bob? Your move!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Boston Botcher

Having watched that clip of Kerry's insult several times, we keep coming to the same conclusion. Someone else must have noticed this, so we may not be the first to draw attention to it.

Kerry says he botched the joke. But play the actual clip.

Notice that he actually looked down and read the line just as he was delivering it.

There was even a little hesitation there as he located it, read it, and looked up only to deliver the last phrase, "If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

Hey, maybe Kerry's explanation should have been that somebody botched the typing!

After all, one of the definitions of the verb (vt) "botch" is,
"to foul up hopelessly."
The other is,
"to put together in a makeshift way."

*Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Ed.