view from mars

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."

Saturday, March 18, 2006

more on mzm

Wow, MZM was in it deep:

In February 2003, MZM won a two-month contract worth $503,144.70 to provide technical support to the Pentagon's Joint Counter-Intelligence Field Activity, or CIFA. The top-secret agency was created five months earlier primarily to protect U.S. defense personnel and facilities from foreign terrorists.

The job involved advising CIFA on selecting software and technology designed to ferret out commercial and government data that could be used in what's called a Geospatial Information System. A GIS system inserts information about geographic locations, such as buildings, into digital maps produced from satellite photographs.

According to a "statement of work," the data that CIFA was interested in obtaining included "maps, street addresses, lines of communication, critical infrastructure elements, demographic and other pertinent sources that would support geocoding and multi-level analysis."

Geocoding involves assigning latitudes and longitudes to locations, such as street addresses, so they can be displayed as points on maps. Such tools increasingly are being used by U.S. corporations and law enforcement agencies.

MZM was to "assist the government in identifying and procuring data" on maps, as well as "airports, ports, dams, churches/mosques/synagogues, schools (and) power plants," said the statement of work.

"In many cases, the government already owns such data, and for reasons of economy, government-owned data is preferred," said the statement. It isn't clear why U.S. intelligence agencies couldn't do the work themselves.


In a March 8 letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., a senior Pentagon official said that a review of the Cornerstone database had identified 186 "protest-related reports" containing the names of 43 people that were mistakenly retained in the database.

"These reports have since been removed from the Cornerstone database and refresher training on intelligence oversight and database management is being given to all CI (counter-intelligence) and intelligence personnel," said the letter from Robert W. Rogalski, an acting deputy undersecretary of defense.

The disclosure that CIFA was storing information on anti-war activities added to concerns that the Bush administration may have used its war on terrorism to give government agencies expanded power to monitor Americans' finances, associations, travel and other activities.

Virgil knew Wade personally -- why didn't he ever wonder just where that huge wad of cash was coming from? Why didn't he wonder exactly what kind of government work was being done by the group that contributed the most money by far to his campaign?

It was no secret that the Dukestir was squatting at Mitch's yacht, either.

How stupid does Virgil think we are?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

virgil spooked?

John Nichols in The Nation has this about Virgil:

Last week, the U.S. House voted on a perfunctory measure authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to designate the President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home in Hope, Arkansas, as a National Historic Site and unit of the National Park System. It is notable that, at a time when Republicans are banging away on critics of the Bush administration for not respecting the office of the presidency, the vote was not the unanimous show of approval that might have been expected.

Republican members of the House forced a roll-call vote -- extremely rare on such matters -- and a dozen of them then voted against so honoring Clinton's birthplace.

The "no" votes came from Tennessee's Marsha Blackburn, Florida's Ginny Brown-Waite, Utah's Chris Cannon, California's John Doolittle, Virginia's Virgil Goode, Oklahoma's Ernest Istook, Texan Ron Paul, Pennsylvania's Bill Shuster, Georgia's Lynn Westmoreland and North Carolinians Virginia Foxx, Walter Jones and Patrick McHenry.


Goode, along with his friend Duke Cunningham, has been linked to the defense contractor MZM – the company accused of bribing Cunningham with millions of dollars in exchange for defense contracts. Goode recently donated $88,000 in political contributions he had received from MZM and its associates to charity. According to a USA Today investigation: "In more than 30 instances, donations from MZM's political action committee or company employees went to two members of the House Appropriations Committee -- Cunningham and Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va. -- in the days surrounding key votes or contract awards that helped MZM grow."

I wrote the C-ville Weekly about this last bit from the USA Today investigation right after their front-pager last week, and the author replied that he wasn't able to independently verify it. So instead, he created a vague timeline that clearly implies that Wade's contributions were not correlated with Virgil's little indiscretions, while failing to mention anywhere else in the article what USA Today (and others) have found. And then he said it was my fault for misreading it.

But back to the point -- why would Virgil take this stand, with only 11 others with him? How desperate he must be to cling to those particularly wingnutty votes that are surely imperiled by the antics of the GOP over the past four years -- that it comes, to this? I can't imagine that there would be any other reason to not support something like this, other than either spite or false-spite. In the latter case, of course the motivation is political.

Virgil wants us to believe that he is a high-grounder who stands up for the office of the presidency that Clinton allegedly tarnished. The jig is up for him and now it's time for him to explain his record and its results. And, like he's shown he's perfectly willing to do, he's playing on these old fires (Clinton-hating, this time, but also gay-hating, brown-people-hating, slut-hating) to trick us into voting against all those bad sinful things.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

digby is wrong

Digby said:
John at Crooks and Liars has the video of Bush congratulating Jason McElwaine the basketball player who has autism. I know that it was a cheap stunt on many levels, but I'm with John --- it was a nice thing for Bush to do on its own merits. And I have to say that Bush actually seemed like a real human when he was talking about it. For the first time in, well ... ever.
Here's the thing. This administration is all talk when it comes to its education policy. We see it cuts in college assistance, the imposition of guidelines that are out of the way of paltry school budgets, and this:
While President Bush has publicly acknowledged his admiration for the young star, his FY07 budget shows an indifference towards autistic children:

- In his proposed budget for next year, Bush has cut all funding for the National Children’s Study, a project that planned to investigate the causes of autism, asthma, and other serious illnesses.

- The President’s budget will eliminate Medicaid reimbursements for schoolchildren with disabilities, denying them “access to medical services they need to fully participate in school and learn to their greatest abilities.”

- The number of children diagnosed with autism and served by schools under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) increased by more than 500 percent in the last decade, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The President’s FY07 budget, however, will fund IDEA at $6.3 billion below the amount Congress recommended.

Bush’s visit with J-Mac was a great photo-op. But the best way for Bush to show his support is by providing adequate funding for programs to help autistic children.

At my school we host workshops, mainly attended by special ed teachers. The story is always the same: few resources on any level -- incompetent assistance, incompetent administration, disconnected/impoverished families. I work with this every day, and trust me when I say that I've never before imagined a system so decayed and neglected as some of the public school special ed programs I've come to learn about.

I know a family who relies on Medicaid reimbursements for everything -- medical care (medication, examinations, physical therapy, recreational therapy -- the norm in special ed), and, just as vitally, respite care.

So I know what Bush and his cronies don't feel when they sign off on these immoral budget cuts. It's how I know that this was just a repulsive PR stunt at a time of all-time low approval ratings from an administration whose specialty is this sort of thing.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

rabble rabble rabble

Lisa wrote this over the lo(ooooo)ng weekend hiatus I just got over:

While 5th District bloggers may not be able to have an impact on Virgil stepping down from office, we CAN do some digging and keep putting the information out to local media in letters about his record, campaign contributions and perhaps even his spending patterns (check this site in response to the one sideblogged by Waldo). We can provide data to his opposition after the 5th District caucuses and convention in April for use during debates with Virgil and publicity pieces.
It's not that I'm convinced Virgil really did use his spot on the Appropriations Committee to funnel money into MZM -- look, we don't have all the facts (probably never will) and a Justice Department that, as far as we can tell, isn't interested in Virgil's alleged acts of impropriety.

After all, when Mitch Wade said he "owned" Virgil, he probably just meant benevolently and liberally observed from afar.

The real issue is, Virgil's just another one of the loser republican House-lings coddled since the bargain sale of his soul to build their majority. "Join us? Get a choice spot on a key committee and an essentially safe seat while we are in power."

Meanwhile, what do we get in return? Lisa points our attention to this Times-Dispatch article re: Danville's-ranking-fifth-on-list-of-worst-job-markets-behind-cities-like-New-Orleans-and-Biloxi:
I was also unaware that, while 2,500 jobs had been created in the last two years, the net loss of jobs in the city is still 1700 (listed on page A13). Bringing jobs to the 5th District is what Virgil keeps talking about. Who knows, there might actually be an amendment to the bill he introduced in the House about the border fence between America and Mexico that requires 5th District voters to be given jobs on the project!

And Lisa's right on the money about our local media outlet's complete lack of interest in this story. There are tons of unanswered questions (Did Virgil receive anything else of value from Wade?; Did their relationship operate quid pro quo?; When exactly did the initial $3.6 million request occur/begin to occur?), but our local media have completely dropped the ball.

Virgil has screwed the Fifth District over, and once again the local corporate media have allowed this bigot to slime his way under the radar in the latest disappointment of his career.