Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Congressional Contempt

The House Judiciary Committee has just issued Contempt of Congress Citations to Josh Bolton and Harriet Miers for their refusal to testify before them in the flap over the firing of the U.S. Attorneys. I find it quite revealing that Congress finds the hubris to issue such writs when they themselves often treat those testifying before them as less than pond scum. I would love to see the executive branch (or the Federal Reserve Bank … or judicial nominees … or the armed services … etc.) make equivalent contempt pronouncements against congressional committees when they are unjustly abused as witnesses. (Remember Attorney Joseph Welch responding to the Senate's Internal Security Subcommittee abuse by Senator McCarthy with “Senator McCarthy have you no sense of decency at long last?” … one of the great moments in black and white TV.)

Monday, July 23, 2007


“Massive blaze engulfs downtown Uxbridge mill complex
[Boston Globe], July 21, 2007
UXBRIDGE, Mass. --Firefighters from Massachusetts and Rhode Island battled a massive fire that engulfed a downtown mill complex on Saturday, sending up billowing smoke that could be seen for miles. The eight-alarm blaze damaged or destroyed 65 small businesses inside the 400,000 square-foot Bernat Mill complex, and seven firefighters were injured -- mostly from smoke inhalation and exhaustion,”

This fire conveniently started at roughly 4 AM very early on this past Saturday morning. Why is it that most of the old mill fires in New England usually break out very early on a weekend morning? Now 65 small businesses and hundreds of workers are spit out of luck because of this “misfortune.” I strongly believe that the US should discourage ethnic lightning by copying what they do in Germany with fire insurance – payoffs are only made to reconstruct the destroyed building. Owners who lose their building to fire cannot walk away with a check. They must rebuild in order to benefit from their fire insurance. Makes sense to me … which is why our nation of pols and lawyers probably won’t do it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Notes from the Rectory

Los Angeles (AP) -- “After a whirlwind weekend, the negotiations that produced a landmark $660 million settlement between the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles and more than 500 alleged victims of clergy abuse are heading toward a conclusion. Attorneys from both sides, as well as Cardinal Roger Mahony, are expected in court Monday to enter a formal settlement agreement with Judge Haley Fromholtz. The deal marks the end of more than five years of negotiations and is by far the largest payout by any diocese since the clergy abuse scandal emerged in Boston in 2002. Mahony, leader of the nation's largest archdiocese, apologized Sunday to the hundreds of clergy sex abuse victims who will receive a share of the settlement.
‘There really is no way to go back and give them that innocence that was taken from them. The one thing I wish I could give the victims ... I cannot,’ he said.”

Yet another settlement from the Catholic Church to victims of pastoral sexual abuse has been negotiated. This time it was for $660 million … quite a raft of meager Sunday offerings from the supplicants of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. There are two reasons I am commenting on this settlement: 1) the judge in this case, Haley Fromholtz, is a old friend and fraternity brother of mine and clearly has done much to restore the reputation of LA justice after the OJ Simpson debacle, and 2) this is yet another indication of the scope of this scourge that has infected the once-proud Catholic church. I am not a Catholic nor am I condemning the entire corpus of this religion, but I do believe that a culture of pedophilia has permeated the US Catholic church for at least the last fifty years. I remember the old chestnut that went around in the late 1960s: Question, "Do you know how Cardinal Spellman died?" Answer, "Someone gave him a poison choirboy."

And I also strongly believe that a primary nexus of this institutional lassitude was none other than Boston’s own Cardinal Law. For almost twenty years, from 1984 to 2002, this Cardinal was the de facto head of the Catholic Church in America, suggesting and passing on all papal appointments in this country. And it was during this period when little-boy diddling seems to have metastasized throughout the Catholic priesthood. Not that it didn’t exist before, but under Law (irony of ironies), it seemed to have gone unchecked. Abusive priests were continually shuffled around this country with little or no penitence … or warning to their innocent waiting flocks.

This was, to me, unforgivable behavior on Cardinal Law’s part and one can only speculate on his diabolical rationales. I leave it to the reader to come to the obvious conclusion. (Now from Wikipedia) “After his resignation, Pope John Paul appointed Law to several authoritative positions in Rome and the Vatican. He is currently the archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. He is also a member of the Congregations of Oriental Churches, Clergy, Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Evangelisation of Peoples, Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Catholic Education, Bishops as well as the Pontifical Council for the Family. This is a large number of organizations for any cardinal to be involved in and is partly [responsible for his] residing in Rome.”

The other reason is that he would likely be skinned alive were he to return to the U.S.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Richie Rich

There is a very interesting double twist to the "Scooter" Libby imbroglio. It seems that Scooter Libby was Marc Rich’s defense attorney in the federal government’s prosecution of him for tax evasion and illegal arms trading in the 1980’s and 1990’s. (This, of course, does not do too much to recommend Scooter’s legal talents since Marc Rich fled to Switzerland rather than go to court.) Marc Rich, as you might remember, was pardoned by Bill Clinton in his last days in office, allegedly in exchange for a million dollars in donations and rumored lip service from Marc’s big-breasted ex-wife, Denise. See:

And now for the rest of the story … an even more profound twist emerges. It seems that Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor who went after Scooter Libby hammer and tongs as the special prosecutor in the recent Joe Wilson/Valerie Plame outing non-crime, was one of the prosecutors on the Marc Rich case (as described above) … and James Comey, who had appointed Patrick Fitzgerald special prosecutor while John Ashcroft was incapacitated, was previously the other U.S. attorney on Marc Rich’s trail. See:

Now I ask you, why haven’t these revelations been a big news story in the main stream media? And why didn’t Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald recuse himself from the Scooter Libby portion of the Valerie Plame investigation?

All very strange.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Sound and the Fury II

My first “The Sound and the Fury” piece was greeted with such a chorus of “boos” that I have decided to proffer another set of twenty studied predictions that would come about if Hillary might be crowned as our unsexy prexy:

1) Effective repeal of the Second Amendment (“the right to keep and bear arms”)
2) Presidential pardons for many recently-convicted (rich) white collar criminals
3) The closing of Guantanamo Bay and other U.S. overseas terrorist prisons
4) The scuttling of our strategic defensive initiative (SDI)
5) The disappearance of more FBI files … resulting in the outing of Republican peccadilloes
6) The US Air Force bombing (from 15,000 feet) of the Darfur rebels
7) The re-opening of Hotel 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
8) The naming of Eleanor Clift as the Presidential press secretary
9) The discontinuance of electronic surveillance of suspected terrorists
10) The outlawing of any form of coercive indoctrination of known terrorists
11) Medal of Freedom presentations to Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, and Bill Moyers
12) Huge federal funding increases for public radio and public television
13) Nomination of John Edwards and Janet Reno to the Supreme Court
14) The immediate firing of all sitting U.S. Attorneys (just as her husband once did)
15) A continued moratorium on the building of nuclear power plants in the U.S.
16) The dissolution of NATO
17) Chelsea Clinton’s White House marriage (to Rupert Murdoch’s son?)
18) Unilateral U.S. nuclear arms reductions
19) The naming of John Kerry as our Ambassador to France
20) Federal outlawing of cigarettes (but not cigars) and trans fats

Except for the Chelsea wedding in the White House, I expect that most, if not all, of these 40 predictions would still occur if some other Democrat were to win the next presidential election.