April 23, 2006

Bill Pierce Will Be on PunditReview Radio Tonight!

Filed under: News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:28 pm

Blogging buds and Internet broadcasters extraordinaire Kevin and Gregg will have Ohio US Senate candidate Bill Pierce on PunditReview Radio on Sunday night during the 8 PM hour.

The prime topic of course will be the US Senate race, but they will also discuss the impact that blogs and New Media campaigning could have on the race. The fact that two prominent New England bloggers, whose past guest list includes a host of center-right luminaries too numerous to mention *, were interested in having Bill when I made the suggestion is an indication to me of just how important this race could turn out to be.

So, please tune in. Go here for the “Listen Live” link to the WRKO stream out of Boston. New Englanders can listen to the show the old-fashioned way at WRKO 680 AM. The call-in number is 877-469-4322.

* – But here are a few, in case you’re curious: Malkin, Reynolds, Yon, Tapscott, Althouse, Luskin, Patterico — a complete list is here.

Bill Pierce’s Must-Read Posts on the Gang of 14 and the Crisis in the Judiciary

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:22 pm

Bill’s full posts are at his blog:

Mike DeWine wants credit for the confirmations of John Roberts and Sam Alito, but wants us to ignore both the collateral damage to the constitutional process and the lower-court nominations that have gone nowhere. He is also either indifferent about or hostile to the long-term financial crisis in the courts directly caused by the neglect of the Senate in general, and the Judiciary Committee, of which DeWine is a member, in particular.

The Gang of 14

Bill Pierce is correctly not impressed with The Gang of 14 (bolds are mine):

By any degree of common sense, and in reality, the filibuster to delay the President’s nominations is a direct attack on the Constitution, wherein it states in Article II – Section 2 “[The President] … by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, … , Judges of the Supreme Court, ….” By filibustering, and thereby not giving the President an “up or down” vote, the Senate is being derelict in one of its perfunctory responsibilities outlined in the Constitution.

It is one thing to filibuster a piece of legislation which has no Constitutional guarantee to passage or rejection, it is quite another issue to use the process to avoid a time honored Constitutional requirement of “advice and consent” whereby the nominee is either confirmed or rejected. In addition, filibustering leaves the judicial position unfilled and burdens the rest of the court system which in turn impacts the serving of justice to “we the people ….”

In essence, what Senator Mike DeWine and his 13 colleagues held onto with the compromise was their ability not to perform their Constitutional duty.

Over and above that, there’s the lower-court nominations logjam that is not getting the notice it deserves.

Here is what Quin Hilyer of the American Spectator has had to say about that (bold is mine):

The utter cluelessness of the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate continues to show itself in the Senate’s continuing refusal to move forward with confirmation of federal judges, especially to the circuit courts of appeal.

….. It was actually liberal Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, one of the fiercest participants on the wrong side of the battle over the judiciary, who in a March 14 statement best made the point: “[T]he total number of judicial appointments since January 2001 [is] 232, including the confirmations of two Supreme Court Justices and 43 circuit court judges. Of course, 100 judges were confirmed in the 17 months there was a Democratic majority in the Senate. In the other 45 months, 132 judges have been confirmed. Ironically, under Democratic leadership, the Senate was almost twice as productive as under Republican leadership.

This is unacceptable. It’s clear that Bill Pierce will do all he can to return the judicial nomination process to its constitutional basis and to break the near-blockade of lower-court nominations. It’s just as clear, given what Mr. Hilyer just cited, that Mike DeWine hasn’t, and won’t.

Crisis — What Crisis? Oh Yes, There’s a Crisis

Here’s a bit of what Bill has to say about the mess that the federal judiciary has turned into thanks to chronic underfunding (bolds are mine):

As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Mike DeWine is aware that no new federal appeal positions have been created since 1990, but there has been a 34% increase in caseload. As caseloads increase the time to read the volumes of briefs becomes scarce and federal judges rely on the law clerks to summarize the documents for them. BUT that simple transfer of power has grave ramifications. The federal court system is relying on the ability of entry level attorneys, to properly comprehend, evaluate, and summarize mountains of citations to case law, codes of legal procedures, and the importance of the material facts of the case. Given the weight of a decision coming out of our federal judiciary, which is a very tall order for any first or second year attorney to fill.

Now add the fact that there are currently 55 vacancies listed on the federal bench and there can be little doubt that our system of justice is suffering. Congress does not understand that point, or simply doesn’t care as long as political mileage can be made over the inherent haggling in the confirmation process.

The culpability of the Congress continues with the budget process: It appears Congress will approve a 4.7 percent increase over the $4.88 billion appropriation received in FY 2003 (that’s three fiscal years ago — Ed.). Due to fixed mandatory expenses such as judicial salaries and rents paid for federal courthouses, it would require a 7.3 percent increase just to stay even. The Judicial Branch may have to release employees and make other spending cuts as a result (report is here — Ed.).

Please remember that the Judiciary’s budget represents about 2 tenths of 1% percent of the overall federal expenditures. The difference between the Judiciary’s requested 7.3% and the expected Congressional approval of 4.7% is approximately $125 million dollars.

Now compare the number with the identified “pork barrel” spending of our Congress in the same year: This year’s total reveals that Congress porked out at record levels. The cost of these projects in fiscal 2003 was $22.5 billion (link to Citizens Against Government Waste site is here — Ed.).

….. The “pork barrel” funding for FY2003 was more than 187 times the amount Congress denied our Federal Judiciary.

….. If law clerks are summarizing for our appointed federal judges and insert their own bias into the summary, established case law becomes flawed and future rulings are based upon the judgment originated by non-appointed, non-confirmed law clerks. The impact on our daily lives by Federal case law requires that “we the people …” demand a better judiciary.
Congress is demonstrating contempt for our legal system. ….. Justice is not being served, and as a result justice is not being delivered – Mike DeWine knows it, yet fails to speak out.

Silence on the part of Mike DeWine. Now there’s a shocker (/sarcasm).

* * * * * * *

So vote on May 2 for the candidate who favors the constitutional option, will adequately fund the judiciary, and will cut the pork. That would be true conservative Bill Pierce. Go to his web site. Visit his blog. And contribute here.

Note: I have endorsed Bill Pierce for Senate, and have provided nominal financial support for his campaign. BizzyBlog is a member of Blogs for Pierce.

Pierce Bumper

Bob McMercenary and His Eritrean Adventure

Filed under: Corporate Outrage,OH-02 US House — Tom @ 1:42 pm

Bill Sloat at The Cleveland Plain Dealer delivers a report today that ought to give Bob McEwen’s fundamentalist supporters serious pause.

And yours truly is mentioned, though I believe Sloat’s characterization of me as a “Schmidt supporter” is largely contradicted by my post yesterday reacting to the Enquirer’s endorsement (but yes, I do plan to vote for her, sans pompoms), and he’s giving me more credit than I deserve for creating awareness of McEwen’s Eritrea deal (hey, all I did was go to Wikipedia). The deal was first mentioned in the last paragraph of The Cincinnati Enquirer’s article on McEwen’s lobbying career that accompanied its devastating piece on his residency.

If you want to skip the details, which are nonetheless important, just scroll down to McEwen’s bolded comment near the end of the excerpt, which in my opinion more than justifies the title of this post:

Candidate’s past job as Eritrean lobbyist causes controversy
Nation accused of persecuting Christians

A former Ohio congressman attempting a comeback in a high-profile race against Republican U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt said he received up to $120,000 from an African government with a record of Christian persecution.

Bob McEwen, 56, worked as a lobbyist for Eritrea, which President Bush’s administration lists as a “Country of Particular Concern” for severe violations of religious freedom.

McEwen, whose U.S. political allies include nationally prominent leaders on the Christian right, said Friday he no longer has any links to Eritrea.

His campaign Web site lists endorsements from the Rev. Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association; Dr. James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family; and Phil Burress, who heads Citizens for Community Values in Ohio.

The State Department’s International Religious Freedom reports contend Eritrean authorities have closed down some Protestant evangelical denominations, brutalized adherents and spy on nearly every worship service held in the nation.

The annual reports are required under federal law.

Eritrea paid McEwen $15,000 monthly for representation in Washington as a public affairs counsel. At the time in 2004, McEwen was affiliated with Advantage Associates, a lobbying firm comprised of former members of Congress.

….. Schmidt’s campaign released Justice Department documents last week that show McEwen registered as a foreign agent for Eritrea’s government in July 2004. The documents show he was paid $15,000 a month by the nation’s Washington embassy. McEwen wrote on the form that he was to be the embassy’s “public-relations counsel.”

….. Since then, college students aligned with the Schmidt camp have picketed McEwen, and at least one of the signs noted the tie to Eritrea. And Tom Blumer, who operates the right-leaning Bizzyblog that has been supporting Schmidt, also has begun raising questions about the African nation’s human rights record.

….. The State Department issued its latest report about international religious freedom last month and said Eritrea’s “already poor record on freedom for minority religious groups continued to worsen.”

It said Pentecostals, independent evangelical groups, reform movements within the Eritrean Orthodox Church, and Jehovah’s Witnesses received the worst treatment.

….. Meanwhile, the agency’s annual human rights review issued in February had this to say:

“During the year, there were reports that several dozen followers of various non-sanctioned churches (mostly Protestant) were detained, harassed and abused.”

For example, in February, authorities reportedly beat and arrested 12 members of the Full Gospel Church while they were praying in a private home.

….. McEwen said he was not aware of any religious persecution in Eritrea. He said he thought “they are primarily a Christian nation.” He also accused Schmidt of dirty pool for releasing the records about his work for Eritrea.

But hey, the Ertirean government’s money is just as green as anybody else’s, though not much of it seems to get to the Eritrean people (2005 per capita GDP per Wikipedia — $909 [scroll down at the far right]).

(Aside: I don’t believe those picketing McEwen on behalf of religious freedom in Eritrea are in any way “aligned with the Schmidt camp,” and would appreciate hearing from one of the picketers on that subject. In his after-action report from McEwen’s Anderson Township event last Wednesday, Starship Trooper mentioned seeing Eritrea picketers, but noted no Schmidt camp “alignment.”)

Y’know, it’s amazing how it’s “dirty pool” any time someone wants to talk about Bob McMercenary’s past, even the very recent (two years ago) past, which happens to be only a few months before he entered 2005′s Second District Special Primary.

“Someone” needs to get direct responses from the fundamentalists cited above, and those listed here, as to whether they think it’s problematic to be supporting a candidate for Congress who has in the recent past represented a country that was, and still is, engaging in religious persecution. The answers ought to be fascinating.

Speaking of lists, the list of those who are putting their long-term reputations at risk in their continued support of the McMercenary campaign continues to grow.

UPDATE: Although Sloat is correct in saying that the Schmidt campaign released the Eritrea-related Justice Department documents during the past week, I believe it’s correct to say that Malia Rulon of The Enquirer was the first to report the news last Sunday, meaning that she had the info she needed the previous Thursday or Friday. Since she’s based in Washington, I believe Ms. Rulon obtained her information independently and without Schmidt campaign help. If she in fact had, I believe she would have been required to disclose it. If anyone doubts that, I suggest they ask her. And yes, the Schmidt campaign released more info after Rulon’s piece, but any campaign with brains would supplement what’s already out there after a damaging revelation like this about an opponent.

UPDATE 2: Another visit to Wikipedia reveals this about Eritrea’s president Isaias Afewerki (note — the page has a neutrality warning, though I would challenge anyone to dispute the facts presented about journalist and religious persecution; go to the Wiki link for links to footnoted items below):

Isaias was heavily criticized by many of his cabinet of ministers and party members (the G-15) for the way he handled the border conflict with Ethiopia. He reacted by accusing them of treason and defeatism and eventually jailing them incommunicado.

Eritrean national elections were held in 1995 between PFDJ candidates and independent candidates while regional elections have been held every five years with the last round in 2004.[1] The Administration has prosecuted the editors of all but three local newspapers for failure to adhere to the Press Law. According to Reporters without Borders, Eritrea has imprisoned 13 journalists.[2][3] The Eritrean constitution was ratified in 1997 by a constituent assembly but never implemented nine years later. In May 2002 all Christian denominations apart from the Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical Lutheran churches were ordered to close their churches in respect of the religious regulations in effect since Colonial Eritrea. Hundreds of Christians[4],[5] and Muslims have been arrested without visitation rights and were never presented to a court.

Due to his frustration with the stalemated peace process with Ethiopia, the President of Eritrea wrote a series of Eleven Letters to the UN Security Council and Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The ruling PFDJ, which controls large financial, construction, transportation, communication and agricultural intersts, is the only party allowed to operate in the country. However, the Administration has openly expressed the hope of laying down the foundation from which an effective multi-party state can evolve. Isayas has expressed the belief that many African countries have failed to implement a successful multi-party system mainly because they move to(o) quickly in their attempts to mimick the West.

UPDATE 3: Here’s something I wrote last year (near the end of the main body of the post) that seems particulary apt, especially in light of the smear tactics being used on Mr. McEwen’s incumbent opponent:

If I went to a prospective employer with a 12-year gap in my resume and wouldn’t explain it, I’d be laughed out of the interview room. Why shouldn’t voters expect at least some kind of disclosure ….. as to what Bob’s major accomplishments were between mid-1993 and early-2005?

Yet this is what Bob McEwen wanted, expected, and demanded. It has been left to others to attempt to fill in the gaps. If Bob McEwen and his supporters don’t like what they see, they have only the candidate to blame for not airing it all out from the get-go.

UPDATE 4, April 24: S.O.B. Alliance member Lincoln Logs has choice words for the McEwen campaign. I hope Linc can forgive me for suggesting back in October that McEwen run in his 6th District. Hey man, I didn’t know it was this bad.

Hillsboro “Newspaperman” Rory Ryan Has a LOT of Explaining To Do

Of all of the players and observers in and around the debacle that involves what I have come to call Homeless Bob McEwen and The Fairfax Station, Virginia Homeless Shelter, the role of Hillsboro Times-Gazette Publisher Rory Ryan might turn out to be the most difficult to excuse.

So let’s back up.

Last June, in the midst of the 2005 Second District Primary, as May turned into June, what I have learned from others is that Bob McEwen and his campaign began to see their numbers start to tank. A number of negatives had come into play during the previous 10 days: opponent and supposed frontrunner Pat DeWine had begun going after McEwen for his involvement in the House Bank Scandal and votes to increase taxes in the early 1990s; Channel 5 had, on June 1, done its stunning report on McEwen’s calling himself “Congressman McEwen” in campaign literature, radio ads, and TV spots, and had pointed out how all of it appeared to violate Ohio Election Law (which it did); and, perhaps, some of the other objections raised and questions being asked by local blogs about McEwen’s hasty parachuting into the district, his ignorant high-profile endorsers, and his murky past were beginning to have an impact.

It seemed almost conceited to believe that blogs were doing anything meaningful at all until Rory Ryan came along on June 3 (today’s date, which is the date displayed at the link, is incorrect). But you had to know the blogs had been scoring some hits when Ryan went into full thunder:

As a longtime resident of Ohio’s Second Congressional District, I get more than a little annoyed when certain political operatives spout off about which they do not know.

A few of the Internet blogs this week took some unnecessary, and inaccurate, potshots at former congressman Bob McEwen of Hillsboro.

His column was a comical collection of straw men and half-truths that I took a great deal of pleasure in swatting down in an e-mail which doubled as this post on June 4. NixGuy did an even more comprehensive fisking.

Ryan’s piece contained so many examples of the arguments and spin used by Bob McEwen and his campaign last year that I couldn’t help but think the two gentlemen know each other, perhaps even very well. I don’t think it’s beyond belief that Mr. Ryan followed through on a favor requested by McEwen in writing the column.

Which leads me to question what kind of reporter, journalist, editor, and publisher Rory Ryan really is.

You see, Ryan’s 2005 defense of McEwen, while flawed, was such that I decided, because of time constraints, an impending business trip, and what I thought were bigger issues, to pass on visiting Hillsboro to investigate something that I had been concerned about — Bob McEwen’s voting record (remember that McEwen had personally told me on May 25 that he had always kept his Ohio Driver’s License active). Mr. Ryan, though he made poor arguments, had indirectly vouched for Bob McEwen’s character. I believed him, and by extension believed that there couldn’t possibly be anything damning about McEwen in a place as small (population 6,368 as of 2000) and close-knit as Hillsboro that Mr. Ryan wouldn’t know, and that Mr. Ryan as a journalist with a public trust to keep would never keep such information bottled up.

Silly me. It turns out now that one of the following almost has to be true: Either Mr. Ryan is one of the most ignorant small-town journalists on the planet, or he’s complicit in keeping Bob McEwen’s problematic (to say the least) Highland County voting record under wraps.

There are many questions that could be asked about Mr. Ryan, but here are my top four:

  • Could Rory Ryan possibly NOT have known that Bob McEwen and his wife Liz were using his father’s address as their voter-registration “residence” address during the mid-1990s?
  • Did Ryan really NOT know that Bob and Liz had started using the addresses of others in Hillsboro, places in which they clearly were not living or “residing,” for that same purpose beginning sometime in the late 1990s?
  • How likely can it be that Ryan knew NOTHING of the situation that led to the infamous 2003 “Mrs. Lyle’s house is not your home” letter addressed by the Highland County Board of Elections to Bob McEwen, Liz McEwen, and two of their children, in which the Board cancelled the voter registrations of all four of them? (I am told that this matter was brought to the attention of the county prosecutor at the time, and that he declined to pursue the matter further, which, though I disagree with it, is a decision that is within his discretion. The prosecutor may have thought that McEwen would do the right thing, finally, and establish himself as a voter in Virginia. Silly him.)
  • If Mr. Ryan indeed was aware of the items just noted, was putting Bob McEwen back into Congress of such overriding importance that he was willing to overlook, and to keep from the public he has pledged to serve in his profession, matters that from all appearances make Mr. McEwen unfit to serve in public office — matters that McEwen and his campaign have been unwilling or unable to refute?

Mr. Ryan is welcome to respond here at this post or by direct e-mail at any time.

Man Finds Taken Daughter after 13 Years

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:03 am

This is a positive story that will involve a lot a catching up, and a lot of love to complete (HT Good News Blog):