Monday, January 30, 2006

New Orleans lawyer helps defend St. Patrick's Four...

Bill Quigley is a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans School of Law. He helped defend the St. Patrick’s Four.

Read Bill’s expose: “Every Hour Is a Victory”: The Trial of the St. Patrick’s Four.”
Read: St. Patrick’s Four-Closing Argument.

Those inclined to do so, write to St. Patrick’s Four and tell them that you stand in solidarity with the St. Patrick’s Four.

St. Patrick's Four Closing Arguments

Daniel Burns, Teresa Grady, Peter DeMott, Clare Grady

St. Patrick's Four Closing Arguments

On St. Patrick’s Day 2003, two days before the US military invasion of Iraq began, four peace activists, all parents and members of the Ithaca Catholic Worker movement, in an act of non-violent civil disobedience, entered their local military recruiting station, knelt, said a prayer for peace and then carefully poured a small amount of their blood on recruiting center posters, walls and flag to symbolize the violence of war and the sanctity of life. This past week (Sept 19-23) Peter DeMott, Danny Burns, Clare and Teresa Grady (sisters) have been on trial in Federal Court in Binghamton NY, facing charges of "conspiracy to impede an officer of the United States by threat, intimidation and force" and other lesser charges for their actions. They face up to 6 years in federal prison and 0,000 fines each if convicted. A previous trial in State court on charges of criminal mischief and trespassing resulted in a hung jury, with nine of twelve jurors favoring acquittal. This case is the first Federal conspiracy trial of anti-war protesters since the Vietnam War, and represents a chilling effort by the Administration to repress non-violent civil dissent in this country. The jury began deliberations on Friday Sept 23; a verdict is expected sometime this week.
Peter De Mott, Closing Statement, Friday, September 23, 2005

We, all four of us, want to thank you jurors who are the conscience of the community. We trust you to use your heads and also your hearts. We also trust you to read between the lines.

Before we began our testimonies we raised our hands and swore to "tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth." You all know that again and again we have told you in PART of our concerns about our government's actions and behaviors that have moved us to in turn take the lawful actions which we did in December of 2002 and in March of 2003.

The United States went to war influenced by the lies, forgeries and deceptions put forth by the Bush Administration to justify the war. You, the jury, are now being asked by the prosecutor to render a verdict in this case based on half-truths and falsehoods. You also know that our explanations were often interrupted, and I am sorry that we have not been able to tell you the whole truth that prompted us to act as we did. I wish we could have explained more to you about our understanding regarding the constitution and international law and how those beliefs informed, shaped and guided us in the actions that we took.
The prosecution wants to portray us as people who have no regard for law. Meanwhile roughly two thousand of our military personnel have been killed and over a hundred thousand Iraqis. The national treasury has been robbed of over 0 billion to wage this war, while the infrastructure of our cities continues to erode as we saw so devastatingly in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

I would submit to you that the prosecutor, Mr. Lovric, has failed to prove us guilty. He has failed to show that we used "force, intimidation or threat to impede an officer of the United States in the performance of his duties" or in any other way. We certainly had a specific intent when we went to the recruiting station but it was not, most emphatically not, the government's version.

Our intent in protesting was to warn young recruits, the recruiters themselves and the broader community that the war about to ensue would claim the lives of tens of thousands. We knew that the war could not be waged without a wholesale waste of blood, of human life, of valuable resources. We knew that the war would contaminate the environment with fallout from depleted uranium munitions and would poison our own troops even as it annihilated the Iraqis. We knew that the war on Iraq, just like all modern wars, would murder mothers and their children, the elderly and other noncombatants in the greatest numbers.

Sadly, and you know this, the warning we, and millions of others around the world tried to give did not prevent the war. But the predictions that frightened us, that were described by all codefendants, have come to pass. You do not have to believe what we believe in order to find that the government has not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. The government claims that we conspired in one way or another to damage government property and officials. But there is certainly reasonable doubt about whether what the government says we did, was, in fact, WHAT we did.

Protesting rather than conspiring. Causing a mess rather than damaging property. Being friendly, as Sergeant Rachon Montgomery testified to and non-threatening rather than intimidating. These are all reasonable, sensible conclusions compelled by the evidence and consistent with our legal innocence.
In sum and substance, this trial is about the government's attempt to stop peaceful protest against the war on Iraq, to silence dissent and our voices on this issue.

Thank You!

Danny Burns, Closing Statement, Friday, September 23, 2005
Members of the jury,

We have come before you in the last few days and tried to share with you about ourselves and our reasons for going to the recruiting center and pouring our own blood.

There is a lot we wanted to tell you, but we weren’t allowed to.

We are peaceful, nonviolent people who went to the recruiting center because we did not want to see our troops blood spilled for a war that was wrong and based on lies.

As I shared earlier in the trial, one of the things that has brought me here is my recovery from alcohol addiction. I am hopeful that just as I have been able, with the help of community, family and higher power, to recover from addiction, that together we can all help our country recover from addiction to war and violence.

I don’t know you, but I imagine that each of you is working, in the ways that are right for you, for what is right in your communities and in our world. I believe that there are many ways to work for a better world. As you go into deliberations, I am asking you to trust that going to the recruiting center to plead for the lives of our young troops was the right way for me to work for justice in our country.

We admit that the four of us met together and planned to go the recruiting center and pour our own blood. We don’t deny that there was a mess, that some posters had to be replaced. We don’t deny that Sgt. Montgomery was inconvenienced.

We submit that causing a mess and inconvenience to try to prevent a war that is wrong and has taken the lives of one thousand eight hundred and ninety five US service people and one hundred thousand Iraqi people, is justified.

We live in a great nation. There are many people in our history we can be very proud of: like local juries who refused to convict people for aiding escaping slaves, like Susan B Anthony who was arrested in Rochester for voting when women were not allowed to vote, working people who risked their lives so that we could have weekends and a forty hour work week. Ours is a country with a government "for the people, of the people, by the people". That is a great gift to us, but it is also a great responsibility that you and I and all citizens have.

For our troops who have been killed in Iraq

For our country’s future

For our young children who we hope and pray will never be called to fight in an illegal, unjust and unnecessary war such as this one

I ask you to use your conscience, your heart, and the law to return a verdict of not guilty on all four counts.

Teresa Grady, Closing Statement, Friday, September 23, 2005(Note: Teresa’s statement was written in outline form. Teresa spoke extemporaneously using the outline as a guide and filling in details that were not written down. The following is a reconstruction based on her outline and on notes taken while she addressed the jury. This is not a transcript and may contain some inaccuracies, though we have tried to represent her thoughts and words as accurately as possible.)

Men and Women of the jury, We don’t feel that the Prosecution has proven the violent overtone to our actions.

The charges do not embody our philosophy – which has a long history in the country and in the world – of nonviolence.

Our government, on the other hand, has a long history of violence and of suppressing non-violent dissent.

You have a very difficult task in front of you today.

And I am full of hope.

I was reminded this morning of Peter’s gentleness – Whenever our family gets together – and you can see how we can talk - and its always Peter who brings us back to center, back to the gospel and our focus – to love one another. And that love is in every one of our hearts, and that is what gives me hope.

Our nation has been censoring news and information about the war – they haven’t allowed us to see pictures of the injured or of the damage the war has caused or even the flag draped coffins of the beautiful soldiers who have lost their lives.

This same government has been censoring the information we’ve been able to discuss with you in this courtroom. They have limited the information we can tell you on our understanding of international law that is the justification for our actions. In this courtroom, they have censored the images and information about this war. They have censored images of the victims. They have even censored information on Law!

What kind of a government are we living under?

Our government spends 200 billion dollars on a war based on lies while claiming the lives of the innocent.

You tell me – what recourse do we have to stop it, to stop this perversity before another life is claimed or another penny spent!

We know the economic cost of war while our cities, towns, and nations crumble. People are over-worked in order to pay their taxes; the war tax. Our children and their children are bound to pay back the debt of this war.

New Orleans is our taste of what it must be like in Baghdad.

We are hopeful because in spite of this great evil that seems to cover or shadow us, I believe in the spirit of goodness in all human beings.

When truth is spoken, goodness resonates in the human heart.

We have not been allowed to speak the truth, the whole truth, but our spirits are buoyed in that this censorship is an example of the fear our government has to hide the truth, and how they are desperately clinging to keep a footing. But the fact that they are censoring the truth of the face of the victims of war, including our beautiful young service people; that they are censoring international law, suggests to me that they too believe in goodness resonating in the in the human heart.

This admonition or confession gives me great hope that we’re not off the mark, but rather we must be more steadfast in speaking truth so as to compel the goodness in others.

Miraslov [the prosecutor] would like you to believe that we are alone, or part of a small cult. If this were true, then why has he objected to the use of international law? Our government is censoring the people. Why were we allowed to show you the pictures of the bloodied cutouts of soldiers from the recruiting center, but not the pictures of the Iraqi children buried in the rubble of their own home? Both of which were there the day of the alleged offense. What are they afraid of?

I would like to preface that while I speak about the prosecution, and the representative here is Miraslav, know that his office represents a government that has repeatedly lied to its people, stolen money from our children, grandchildren, from the generations to come, in order to brutally maim, torture and kill our brothers and sisters in another land for their oil. Know that deceit is the name of the game.

We have overdrawn on our national budget. Any farmer could tell you that this is bad planning.

While they threatened us with contempt, we are joyous, because we know we have spoken the truth. They cannot dismantle our integrity.

Miraslov would like you to think that we are arrogant and that we somehow feel that we are above the law. Our first law that we abide by is: To love one another, as He loved us!!

Thou shalt not kill. And then the laws which may not be named that give us our legal ground, justifications, have been stripped from us once again to censor, for they don’t want you, the conscience of our community to resonate with the truth in order for goodness to take place.

I invite you to be the conscience of our community.

Bill Quigley (speaking as assisting lawyer for Clare Grady), Closing Statement, Friday, September 23, 2005

10 KEYS to FREEDOM or 10 ways to help you find these four people innocent:
Being a juror is tough – I was on regular jury duty for a month and grand jury for another month – spent most of the time waiting around doing nothing – really boring. But now FINALLY comes the fun part – YOU are in charge!

The judge is going to give you about 50 pages of instructions about how you are to decide this case – some of it is very vague and hard to understand – in fact the judge and the lawyers have been arguing about much of it for days.

I want to be clear that you do not have to agree with these four folks in order to find them not guilty. You can even think they are nuts and still find them not guilty.

Individual freedom is at stake – what you do in this case will send out waves throughout the entire community – maybe even the entire country – so I know you will be a good citizen, and whether you like these folks and their beliefs or think they are peaceniks and do not like them, I know you will be very, very careful with individual freedom.

You certainly have a gut feeling whether you are going to want to vote these folks guilty or not guilty right now. For those of you who are leaning towards not guilty, Here though are the top 10 keys to unlock this case and give these people back their freedom.

These are 10 keys why you should find these folks innocent – any one will work as key for their freedom but I am giving you 10 so you can take your pick.

They start out innocent. Fundamental part of our system of justice – until you are sure "beyond a reasonable doubt" that they are guilty, you have to find them not guilty.

If you are not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that every single element of every single crime has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then you must vote them not guilty for those crimes.

If you are not sure beyond a reasonable doubt that they are guilty of every single element of every single crime, then you must vote them not guilty.

The judge is going to tell you that the good faith of the defendants is a defense to these charges:

"If you find that the defendant did not act with criminal intent, but instead acted in the good faith belief that he (or she) was doing nothing wrong, then that is a defense to the charge in this case…"

The burden of establishing a lack of good faith and criminal intent rests on the prosecution…WHICH MUST PROVE IT BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT.
What the heck does all this about criminal intent mean?

These folks all have jobs, all have kids; they are obviously sincere and passionate about their beliefs.

Any doubt that they are TOTALLY COMMITTED TO NONVIOLENCE or would lie about it? No way. Look at the priests and others who came up here and testified about their character – compassionate, caring, integrity, truthful, honest, loved, honored, ….

You know I am from New Orleans. I want to tell you two stories that will illustrate criminal intent.

When the electricity went off and the phones went down and the water started rising, my wife and I were still in New Orleans – she is a nurse and we were helping in one of the hospitals.

During the bad times, some people broke into stores and took big screen TVs. We call them looters because they had criminal intent.

Also during the storm, all communications went down because of electrical problems and cell phone towers also went down. The police could not communicate with the mayor and the mayor with the governor and them all with the FEMA etc. so the chief of police and several of his officers broke into an Office Depot and took out servers for computers, fax machines, cords, etc.

From the outside you might say these are both the same types of acts, but they are not. One of them was larceny and one was not. One has criminal intent and the other does not.

One of those acts was taken for the common good. One of these was trying to help people. It is important whether the equipment the police took actually worked or not? No, it is their intent that matters.

So, reason number two is that the defendants did not have CRIMINAL INTENT. And the prosecutor, who has the burden of proof clearly has not proved a lack of good faith and the presence of criminal intent by these people beyond a reasonable doubt.

The judge will tell you - If you have reasonable doubt about whether their intent was criminal or not, if you think they might have been in good faith, you must vote them not guilty.


You will find many, many ways to find them all innocent if you look carefully at ALL the charging documents:

You must look very carefully at the indictment of these people – it will be in the 50 pages – look at it very, very carefully.

Careful reading of the charges will show you many, many places where the prosecutor has not proven every element beyond a reasonable doubt.

Look carefully at the overt acts.

Look carefully at the statute.

In the first paragraph, the judge tells you that no one part of his instructions are more important than any other. If you look very carefully, there are things in there that will make you vote to set these people free.

It only takes one juror to stop these people from being convicted.

Remember when the judge was asking you questions about becoming a juror, he asked you if you were able to make up your own mind and not be swayed by the crowd. To hang tough with your beliefs if you sincerely believe you are right. Listen to everyone else and deliberate but vote your own conscience.

Your decision has to be unanimous. You should discuss and deliberate as the judge tells you, but you will also hear about the importance of following your conscience – the judge will tell you that you are not to "do violence to your own individual judgment." So hang tough!


Force intimidation or threat – two of the counts of conspiracy demand that you find these folks acted with "force intimidation or threat" The evidence shows they said prayers before they went in; said the rosary while they were still in; no way at all for force intimidation or threat – you must vote not guilty on that.
Even Sgt. Montgomery said "they are friendly people."

There is no evidence, certainly not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, that these folks used force intimidation or threat against anyone at any time.


Look at prosecutor’s case for the unanswered questions and use your common sense.

The judge is going to tell you "you are permitted to draw from facts that you find to have been proven such reasonable inferences as seem justified in light of your experience, reason and common sense."

Why would the prosecutor bring up things that happened 20+ years ago if they thought they had a strong case?

Mr. Lovric is just doing his job, but think about the government he represents.
Why do you think the government is assigning FBI agents to a case like this?
Why is the government still prosecuting this case almost three years after it happened?

Why did the government make a federal case out of a mess that could be cleaned up with ammonia and a mop?

Why all the questions about who drew the blood?

Why try to keep talking motive and not intent?

Use your common sense when you answer these questions.


First of all, is there any doubt in your mind that these folks went into the recruiting center in order to try to SAVE LIVES and to TRY TO STOP THE WAR ON IRAQ? You know what the war has caused, was trying to stop it an unlawful purpose?

Apart from the Iraq War, Remember the law officers said they unlocked the door and opened it to let the Grady sisters back in? Why would they unlock the door and let them in if they were not allowed in? Or coming for an unlawful purpose? Or if the officers were fearful?


There are pages and pages of instructions about the elements of the charge of conspiracy.

But look closely and carefully at a couple of things and you will see that the conspiracy charge is really much weaker than it looks like.
First, look at overt act number 5. The government says that these four folks "caused damage to property owned by the United States AND by an officer of the United States."

If you look at overt act five slowly and carefully you must ask: has the government proven beyond a reasonable doubt that number one: there was damage at all (was the floor damaged or was a mess made?)

Number two - Was property damaged that was owned by the US and an officer of the United States? Was there proof of this ownership beyond a reasonable doubt? Was Sgt Montgomery injured by these folks? You saw his demeanor in court. He said these were friendly people. Was his property injured? No evidence at all that Sgt Montgomery’s property was injured. None. Nothing was proven that was injured that belonged to Sgt. Montgomery – much less beyond a reasonable doubt.

But then, the prosecutor will say – they do not have to prove all the overt acts – they do not have to prove all the elements in the indictment –
Was Sgt. Montgomery interfered with in his official duties? He said he was late for shopping.

Officer Massey testified that recruiters are trained how to deal with "peaceniks" in recruiting school, and that most of their work takes place outside.
Why is the government making a federal case out of this and still prosecuting these folks years afterwards?


Is there proof beyond a reasonable doubt whose property was damaged?
Is damaged the same as making a mess? Did the people here do this for an unlawful purpose, or is there evidence that they did this for a lawful purpose?


The court is going to advise you to honor and use and follow your conscience.
You know what is going on here. It is no secret. Everyone knows what is going on here. I ask you to use your common sense and your conscience.

The prosecutor says this is a simple case – I think freedom loving people call can agree with him.

This is a simple case of government overkill; this is a simple case of the abuse of government power; this is a simple case of the government trying to take a simple case of non-violent protest and make a "federal case" out of it.
The government is calling these four people arrogant and unlawful and dangerous.

These four people could have stayed home and watched shock and awe on TV. They could have said this is somebody else’s problem. They had jobs and kids and school and church – just like the rest of us – but they were peacemakers. What does the bible say? Blessed are the peacemakers.

But they took a risk. A risk to try to do something dramatic to try to stop the war in Iraq.

The government is calling these four people arrogant and unlawful and dangerous.

This is the same government that has forced us to accept the Patriot Act.
Who else have the people in charge called arrogant and unlawful and dangerous?
How about the people who built this country and refused to pay taxes to King George? I seem to remember a famous tea party protest?

How about the people who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Women who voted when it was prohibited – what do you think they called them?
What about the people who sat in at lunch counters or refused to move in busses?

Many of the most famous people in the history of our country were called arrogant and unlawful and dangerous people to some, because they acted for justice when everyone did not approve – much less the prosecutors and the government.

The judge is going to tell you to follow your conscience. You know what is going on.

Use any or all of these ten keys that this case gives you.

Follow your conscience, as these people have, and set these people free!

Tell the government - "NO!" and set these people free!

Stand with the proudest traditions of American justice, and set these people free!

Clare Grady: Some thoughts after a week of trial (not presented to the jury). Friday, September 23, 2005

From Where We Stand…

Depending on where one stands, one will see things differently

From where we stand we see the killing of 100,000 innocent Iraqi civiliansas an unspeakable crime.Violating the Supreme Laws of our Land

From where we standwe see the lives of the 1,895 US service men and womenWho have lost their lives in this warAnd the thousands more, who have been injured body and soulAlso an unspeakable crime

From where we standwe see our nation robbed of it's desperately needed resourcesTo care or our People, to provide Health Care, a Living Wage,Good Education, and a solid infrastructure.

From where we standWe see a 260 Billion Dollar grand theft,A crime that will be paid for by our children and our children's children

(We remember the words of Martin Luther King "A Nation that spends more money on War than on social uplift, is approaching spiritual death)

From where we standwe see the arrogance of the government leading our country to WarKnowing that it was based on Lies in utter disregard for the Law,the real crime

From where we standwe see the truth about all of the above,and the laws that criminalize themAll being kept out of this courtroomA travesty of Justice
We ask all fellow citizens (especially the press and all in positions of power)Where do you stand?What do you see?And what are you going to do about it?
Original Location:

Sunday, January 29, 2006

We stand in solidarity with the St. Patrick’s Four…

We stand in solidarity with the St. Patrick’s four. There is no way to reconcile killing with the teachings of Jesus. Pope Pius XII said, “War brings no lasting benefit, but a host of misfortunes and disasters. Differences among men are not resolved by arms, bloodshed, or destruction, but only by reason, law, prudence, and justice….” (Laetamur Admodum)

Anthony Fazzio
Lafayette Parish Democratic Executive Committee,
Lafayette, Louisiana.
Louisiana State Democrat Central Committee

Republicans allow Iraq to squander, while Louisiana dies…..

  • South-central city of Hillah being “awash in bricks of $100 BILLS taken from a central vault without documentation;”

  • $700,000 IN CASH in an unlocked footlocker;

  • A U.S. soldier gambles “away as much as $60,000 in reconstruction funds in the Philippines;”

  • Bush administration “unable to account for $97 MILLION of the $120 MILLION in Iraqi oil revenues earmarked for rebuilding projects;”

  • Bush administration “spent $108,140 to replace pumps and fix the city's Olympic swimming pool” in Hillah;

  • Bush administration allows two “authority field agents responsible for paying contractors [to leave] without accounting for more than $700,000 EACH;”

  • “Mismanagement of more than 2,000 small contracts in south-central Iraq worth $88 MILLION;”

  • Bush administration pays one contractor “$14,000 on four separate occasions for the same job;”

  • $7.3 MILLION spent on a “police academy near Hillah,” but auditors “could account for just $4 MILLION…$1.3 MILLION was “wasted on overpriced or duplicate construction or equipment not delivered and “More than $2 million was missing;”

  • U.S. personnel "needlessly disbursed more than $1.8 MILLION" of the estimated $2.3 MILLION spent for renovating the library in the Shiite holy city of Karbala;

  • Library contractor “delivered only 18 of 68 personal computers called for and did not install Internet wiring or software;”

  • Bush administration” security transition command spent $945,000 for seven armored Mercedes-Benzes that were too lightly armored for Iraq. Auditors were able to account for only six of the cars;”

  • An agent “took $100,000 FROM ANOTHER'S STACK of cash to clear his own balance.”

Mr. President, you’re killing Louisiana!

Next time Louisiana: VOTE DEMOCRAT!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Abramoff photos…

I, frankly, don't even remember having my picture taken with the guy…I don't know him,'' Pres. Bush said in response to questions about his connection to Jack Abramoff.

Scott McClellan said, “Trying to say there's more to it than the president taking a picture in a photo line is just absurd," Yet, the White House says “NO!” to request for release of the pictures.

TIME claims to have seen “five photographs of Abramoff and the President that suggest a level of contact between them that Bush's aides have downplayed.” Bush hasn’t forgotten TIME’s exposé on the Bush family's involvement with the Bin Laden family:

What Louisiana gets for voting Republican: Ø

TBlanco said Bush prescribed failure for Louisiana
Gov. Blanco said President Bush has issued Louisiana a prescription for failure by turning down U.S. Rep. Richard Baker's proposed federal buyout to avert foreclosures on about 200,000 hurricane-damaged homes. Michelle Millhollon, The Advocate 01/26/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

Editorial: President betrayed faith of Louisiana citizens
Editors write, a suggestion from the White House that Louisiana should use Mississippi's plan to deal with hurricane recovery effort is unfair to the state and leaves thousands of homeowners and business owners indefinitely "in financial and legal limbo." Editors, The Advocate 01/26/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

Editorial: Time for Bush to keep his promise
Editors write, President Bush stood in Jackson Square four months ago and promised in front of the nation to rebuild "a stricken region." Now that the President has rejected Rep. Baker's proposed federal buy-out plan, "the administration ought to propose an alternative that is proportionate to the problem." There is gulf between what the area needs and the Bush administration and residents are still waiting for an answer. Editors, New Orleans Times-Picayune 01/26/2006 Read Article: New Orleans Times-Picayune

Next time Louisiana: VOTE DEMOCRAT!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The vain search for absolute security…

Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington-based defense policy research group, says the military is over-extended:

"The ground forces required to provide the necessary level of stability and security to Afghanistan and Iraq clearly exceed those available for the mission.”
Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer, said: “You really begin to wonder just how much stress and strain there is on the Army, how much longer it can continue.”

Not so, says Rummy:

This armed force is enormously capable…In addition, it's battle hardened. It's not a peacetime force that has been in barracks or garrisons."

The Hawks are calling for military invasion of Iran:

It's important to give diplomacy a try, but I don't believe we should take any option — including military force — off the table." Sen. John
Cornyn, R.-TX
What is the cost of the "politics of security"? Former Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Republican and soldier, calculated the cost decades ago:

We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.-- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Documents Show Govt Forewarned on Katrina: Did the Bush administration sellout New Orleans?

Today, the Associated Press reports newly released documents from Homeland Security shows that the Bush administration had advanced warning of the devastation that hurricane Katrina would visit upon the city New Orleans. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee documents show the the Bush administration engaged in an exercise known as "Hurricane Pam," which was designed to test "the nation's preparedness for catastrophe."

The exercise began in July 2004 and focused upon "a mock category three hurricane" that would produce "more than 20 in. of rain in 14 tornadoes." In reality, the mock trial was substantially less then the real effects of hurricane Katrina. What is important here is what the Bush administration knew as a result of the test. Associated Press reports:

"It found, among other things, that floodwaters would surge over New Orleans levees, creating "a catastrophic mass casualty/mass evacuation" and leaving drainage pumps crippled for up to six months."

Specifically, the exercise showed that the New Orleans' levees would likely be breached:

"Any storm rated Category 4 or greater ... will likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching, leaving the New Orleans metro area submerged for weeks or months."

A fair assessment of this information shows that the Bush administration knew beforehand that devastation awaited New Orleans as a result of a hurricane the size of Katrina:

"The documents are the latest indication that the federal government knew beforehand of the catastrophic damage that a storm of Katrina's magnitude could cause."

Consequently, it's fair to ask: Why wasn't Homeland Security prepared in advance to meet hurricane Katrina as she approached Louisiana coastline? Was the Bush administration so preoccupied with improving its image in Iraq that it dropped its guard in New Orleans? Does the Bush administration truly understand that charity begins at home?

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Bushit: An A-Z Guide to the Bush Attack on Truth, Justice, Equality and the American Way

Et tu, Democrats? Part Deux: When it comes to campaign contributions from dirty lobbyist, Republicans are the only dirty politicians…

Some of our thoughtful readers have skeptically asked, “So Abramoff is the only dirty lobbyist? And Republicans are the only dirty politicians?” The answer is: Yes!

Mike Stagg, a prolific contributor to this site, has carefully, but fairly, explained the magnitude and depth of the Abramoff scandal, meticulously showing its connection to the Republican Party. See, among others, Contributions + Contracts = Corruption? Nah! They're Republicans!!! Charlie B. Got Some $$$, too!. Mike’s articles show how the “dirty money” has found its way to Louisiana’s 7th Congressional District.

In defense of Abramoff, Fox News reporter Brian Wilson candidly admitted Republicans know “money means access” to political power. The K Street Project was conceived and implemented by Republican strategist Grover Norquist and House majority leader Tom DeLay. The K Street Project insures Republican “access” to money by selling “access” to Congress. Read: How the GOP disciplined K Street and made Bush supreme.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Et tu, Democrats? Not so fast when it comes to campaign contributions from Jack Abramoff….

Et tu, Democrats? Not so fast when it comes to campaign contributions from Jack Abramoff….

Media Matters for America sets the record straight. Democrats did not accept campaign contributions from indicted former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Read: “Kornblut falsely stated that Democrats took contributions from Abramoff.”

Thursday, January 19, 2006

When the deck is stacked and the dealer cheats, is playing the race card unfair?

On Tuesday, January 17, 2006, the Lafayette City-Parish Council engaged in an amazing display of arrogance.

Because I said so,” City-Parish councilman and acting-chairman, Rob Stevenson, bellowed in response to a point of order raised by an African American citizen in attendance. “Because I said so,” Stevenson yelled to crush complaints of unfairness lodged by African American councilmen, Dr. Chris Williams and Louis Benjamin. And amidst Stevenson’s plantation snarl, councilman Dale Bourgeois insincerely bemoaned claims of racism, condemning African Americans present for playing the “race card.”

But, was Stevenson’s arrogance and Bourgeois' lament fair? When the deck is stacked with racism, greed and injustice, is it unfair to play the cards just as they are dealt? When, as happened Monday night, the chairman deals from the bottom of the deck, isn’t the dealer to blame if the race card is played?

“Playing the race card” is a conservative cliché meant to shame the victim into silence. Heck, even a dog knows the difference between being stumbled over and kicked.

Dr. Williams and Mr. Benjamin were right! Right to complain about racism! Right to complain about greed! Right to complain about injustice! And, right to complain about arrogance! After all, like it or not, those were the cards dealt to them by members of the City-Parish council.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Get ready, African-America, for a Neo-Con attack on the memory of Dr. King….

Tomorrow, America honors Dr. Martin Luther King. And, African-Americans should get ready for the perennial Neo-Con assault on Dr. King’s legacy.

In 1971,
Lewis F. Powell, who would later server on U.S. Supreme Court, wrote a memo to Eugene Sydnor, Chairman, Education Committee, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, outlining a strategy for a conservative cultural counter-revolution. The Powell Manifesto, as it’s now called, has become the archetype for attacks on trial lawyers, academics, journalist, and religious leaders who criticize conservative greed, racism, sexism, war and political simony.

A strategy of the
Powell Manifesto is simple but effective: Relentlessly and repetitively attack the character of traditional progressive heroes like Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Dr. King and, in time, the degradation becomes axiomatic.

Taylor Branch’s “
At Canaan’s Edge” does just that. At Canaan’s Edge is the latest attempt to destroy Dr. King’s memory and deprive America of another hero who spoke against conservative greed, racism, sexism, war and political simony. Believing all readers are dumb, Branch offers interviews with FBI agents as proof of the things he writes.

To the jejune reader, inclined to believe Branch’s exaggerations, remember: Branch was the ghostwriter of John Dean’s memoir, “Blind Ambition.” Dean would later denounce
Branch as a liar who fabricated many of the salacious episodes in the book.

Spread the word about Branch’s hatchet job on Dr. King. But also, take time to read the
Powell Manifesto to fully understand the strategy of the Neo-Con autocrats.

Republicans say impeachment is a solution…

Republicans and Democrats alike fear the internal threat of government more than they fear the external threat of a foreign power.

"The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits." -- Thomas Jefferson to M. L'Hommande, 1787.
"All government is an ugly necessity." -- G.K. Chesterton

Thus, the domestic spying scandal of the Bush administration strikes at the heart of our democracy. And, Bush’s justification is weak at best.

Of necessity, what must we – Republicans and Democrats alike – insist upon when a president, like Geroge W. Bush, threatens the existance of our democracy by the abuse of power? Republican Sen. Arlen Spector says impeachment:

“STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, if the president did break the law or circumvent the law, what's the remedy?

SPECTER: Well, the remedy could be a variety of things. A president —and I’m not suggesting remotely that there’s any basis, but you’re asking, really, theory, what’s the remedy? Impeachment is a remedy. After impeachment, you could have a criminal prosecution, but the principal remedy, George, under our society is to pay a political price.”

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Bush administration's preemptive attack kills 17 innocent men, women, and children…

Damadola is a tiny village in the rugged mountains on the Afghan-Pakistan border. In Damadola lives the poorest of poor. What little they have, most Americans throw away. In reality they only have each other.

Yet, today, Damadola was the scene of stealth U.S. drone air attack. Missiles. Bombs. The target: Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaida's No. 2 man. The rationale: The Bush administration’s war-on- terror. The result: 17 men, women, and children confirmed dead! But, “Villagers said more than 30 people had died and others were wounded.”

If the Bush administration thought a terrorist were housed in an American ghetto, would it be just to bomb the ghetto and randomly kill men, women and children? No. By all accounts, it would be murder.

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops call for the removal of troops from Iraq and remain "highly skeptical of Bush's doctrine of preventive war."

Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando, Fla., chairman of the bishops Committee on International Policy, said:

"Our nation's military forces should remain in Iraq only as long as it takes for a responsible transition, leaving sooner than later."
As the Bush administration softens public opinion for apossible invasion of Iran, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops remains "highly skeptical of Bush's doctrine of preventive war."

Thursday, January 12, 2006

DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN: Pat Robertson Apologizes for Sharon Remarks

"My concern for the future safety of your nation led me to make remarks which I can now view in retrospect as inappropriate and insensitive in light of a national grief experienced because of your father's illness," Pat Robertson’s letter of apology said. "I ask your forgiveness and the forgiveness of the people of Israel.” Robertson had suggested that Sharon’s stroke was “Divine wrath” for giving away the land of Israel.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Iraq... depleted uranium (DU) and birth defects....

In 2001, the World Health Organization (WHO) undertook a study of “the possible health effects of depleted uranium (DU) shells fired [by the U.S.] during the 1991 Gulf War.”

By 2003, reports surfaced of children of U.S soldiers exposed to DU being born with deformities. And yet, by 2004, the U.S. was still using DU in Iraq. It’s estimated that the contamination from DU will last for 4.5 billion years.

I never really understood the magnitude of the damage from DU until I saw these photos.

WARNING! WARNING! These photos are not for the squeamish. Photos of Babies Deformed at Birth as a Result of Depleted Uranium (DU) 2003.

Disturbing, very disturbing!

You be the judge.

Republicans say: Enough already with your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free.

Cuban-Americans now see Republicans for what they are!

The Associated Press reports Cuban-Americans are angry over “
the plight of the immigrants — deported Monday back to Cuba” by the Bush administration. The response of the Bush administration is to be expected because Bush’s “immigration policy,” which is part of his perverted "war-on-terror," discriminates against those whom Lady Liberty has always welcomed:

Give me your tired, your poor,
huddled masses
yearning to breath free.
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Emma Lazurus, 1883

The result? AP reports Cuban American National Foundation President Pepe Hernandez says, “This will have an effect of reducing the numbers of Cuban-American voters that would blindly follow a Republican candidate."

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Secret European prisons! Guantánamo forced feedings! Is it tortue? A Roman Catholic Ursuline nun endured a similar CIA-horror

Secret European Prisons

The Bush administration
refuses to come clean about secret prisons in Europe. However, the Swiss claim to have evidence of “secret CIA-run prisons in Europe.” The Swiss claim to have an “Egyptian government message naming countries” where the prisons were kept. The secret prisons included “23 terror suspects at a military base in Romania,” and “similar US detention centres in Ukraine, Kosovo, Macedonia and Bulgaria.”

Forced Feedings in Guantánamo

Cap. John Edmondson, hospital commander at Guantánamo, admits, “
hunger strikers are tied down and fed through nasal tubes.” Edmondson says the procedure “requires that a foreign body be inserted into the body and, ideally, remain in it… a nasogastric tube is never inserted and moved up and down. It is inserted down into the stomach slowly and directly, and it would be impossible to insert the wrong end of the tube.” But, Edmondson admits it’s “painful.”

Sr. Dianna Ortiz – 1989 Guatemala

In 1989, Republican George H. W. Bush was President. That year, Sr. Ortiz, an Ursuline nun from New Mexico, was working in Guatemala. She was
kidnapped,” shuttled-off to a “secret prison” and “repeatedly raped and tortured by troops commanded by General Hector Gramajo (a CIA asset and graduate of the U.S. Army School of the Americas)” According to Sr. Ortiz, "U.S. personnel were present in interrogation and torture rooms.

Torture? You decide.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Bush Advisor Says President Has Legal Power to Torture Children

John Yoo is a law professor and former deputy assistant to Attorney General John Ashcroft. Yoo was one of Bush’s chief advisors in the perverted “war on terror.”

Doug Cassel is an “attorney, journalist and scholar specializing in international human rights, international humanitarian and international criminal law, including terrorism.”

Recently, Yoo and Cassel debated whether Bush could order the torture of a child. Not surprisingly, Yoo said Bush could order the torture of a child. Here’s the exchange:

Cassel: If the President deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?
Yoo: No treaty.
Cassel: Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo.
Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.
That, my friends, is the Neo-Con’s perverted view of humanity and justice. Little wonder entertainer Harry Belafonte called Bush the terrorist.

“Everyone can be an American, but some people, it seems, can be better Americans than others…”

As the debate on the confirmation of Sam Alito begins, it demands a clear idea of “judicial activism,” which reactionary Republicans claim to oppose.

In opposing “judicial activism,” reactionary Republicans hope to eradicate the constitutional “checks and balances” of presidential and congressional abuse of power. In opposing “judicial activism,” reactionary Republicans hope to achieve social homogeny and eradicate social pluralism.

For the reactionary Republican, social homogeny means: “Everyone can be an American,” as Nathan Glazer observed, “but some people, it seems, can be better Americans than others, and they have been defined through most of our history by race, religion, or ethnicity.”

Harry Belafonte calls Bush "terrorist," praises Chavez in Venezuela

IAN JAMES, The Associated Press, writes:

CARACAS, Venezuela – The American singer and activist Harry Belafonte called President Bush "the greatest terrorist in the world" on Sunday and said millions of Americans support the socialist revolution of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

Belafonte led a delegation of Americans including the actor Danny Glover and the Princeton University scholar Cornel West that met the Venezuelan president for more than six hours late Saturday. Some in the group attended Chavez's television and radio broadcast Sunday.

"No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush says, we're here to tell you: Not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people ... support your revolution," Belafonte told Chavez during the broadcas


Chavez said he believes deeply in the struggle for justice by blacks, both in the U.S. and Venezuela:

"Although we may not believe it, there continues to be great discrimination here against black people," Chavez said, urging his government to redouble its efforts to prevent discrimination.
Belafonte accused U.S. news media of falsely painting Chavez as a "dictator," when in fact, he said, there is democracy and citizens are "optimistic about their future."

Dolores Huerta, a pioneer of the United Farm Workers labor union also in the delegation, called the visit a "very deep experience."

Chavez accuses Bush of trying to overthrow him, pointing to intelligence documents released by the U.S. indicating that the CIA knew beforehand that dissident officers planned a short-lived 2002 coup. The U.S. denies involvement, but Chavez says Venezuela must be on guard.

Belafonte suggested setting up a youth exchange for Venezuelans and Americans. He finished by shouting in Spanish: "Viva la revolucion!"

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Boustany, Armpac and an itchy federal prosecutor....

Edwin A. Buckham founded Alexander Strategy Group (ASG). AGS is a “Washington lobbying and public affairs firm expertly equipped to handle all your advocacy needs.” Hum…expertly equipped…advocacy needs?

AGS was deeply involved with Jack Abramoff. Mike Stagg, a contributor to Lafayette Democrats, has written extensively and persuasively on the entire Abramoff scandal. AGS also has bragging rights to Tom Delay. Both distinctions mean AGS is on the radar of an itchy federal prosecutor with a hire trigger for indictments.

Delay’s sudden abandonment of his bid to remain leader of the House wasn’t for the “sake of the country” as Pres. Bush claimed today. No, Delay’s move was more like a scene from the Godfather Part II when Frankie Pentangeli slits his wrist to avoid the inevitable. For Delay, the inevitable is a federal indictment by the Abramoff prosecutors.

The New York Times reported today prosecutors are now looking at the AGS-Abramoff-Delay connection, complete with a hefty salary for Delay’s wife, defrauded Indian tribes, mutual clients who gave “money and perks” to DeLay,” and AGS’ involvement with “Armpac."

Armpac, or
Americans for a Republican Majority, was critical part of the Delay political money laundering empire. And, its Armpac’s presence on the prosecutor’s radar that ought to give Rep. Charles Boustany a tummy ache.

At a recent town hall meeting, Stephen Handwerk – also a contributor to Lafayette Democrats – questioned Boustany about Armpac’s contribution to the Boustany campaign. Boustany refused to discuss the contribution except to say no one has “proven Delay’s quilt.” Maybe not, but that’s why they call it money laundering, Rep. Boustany!

Boustany told Handwerk, if the money were dirty, he’d give it back. Imagine a bank robber who, after being caught, avoids prison by giving the money back. Maybe so, but it sounds naive and disingenuous to me.

Shame on you, Rep. Charles Boustany, for not telling the truth!

During Rep. Charles Boustany’s town meeting, I challenged him on the fairness of cutting Medicare, Medicaid and school loans by $37-plus billion to give tax cuts to the rich.

Rep. Boustany told I was wrong. He denied the Republican congress did cut Medicare, Medicaid and school loans.

Today, Associated Press reports, in his radio address, Pres. Bush “urged Congress on Saturday to save tax cuts from expiring and adopt the first spending restraints in nearly a decade on such benefit programs as Medicaid, Medicare and student loans.” Reminding readers, “Before leaving for the holidays, the Republican-controlled Senate passed legislation to cut federal deficits by $39.7 billion.

Shame on you, Rep. Charles Boustany, for not telling the truth!

DeLay Abandons Bid to Remain House Leader

Friday, January 06, 2006

A Louisiana hero dies: "These people were looking at me for help and there was no way I could turn my back on them..."

Jessica Bujol, Associated Press, reports Hugh Thompson, a Louisiana hero, has died. It took almost 40 years for the world to notice his courage. I met him several times, but sadly I did not have the opportunity to sit and talk with him more. Because of Hugh Thompson innocent lives were saved. Because of Hugh Thompson our nation's honor was salvaged.

Louisiana will miss Hugh Thompson.

“NEW ORLEANS - Hugh Thompson Jr., a former Army helicopter pilot honored for rescuing Vietnamese civilians from his fellow GIs during the My Lai massacre, died early Friday. He was 62. Thompson, whose role in the 1968 massacre did not become widely known until decades later, died at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Alexandria, hospital spokesman Jay DeWorth said.

Trent Angers, Thompson's biographer and family friend, said Thompson died of cancer.

‘These people were looking at me for help and there was no way I could turn my back on them,’ Thompson recalled in a 1998 Associated Press interview.Early in the morning of March 16, 1968, Thompson, door-gunner Lawrence Colburn and crew chief Glenn Andreotta came upon U.S. ground troops killing Vietnamese civilians in and around the village of My Lai….” Jessica Bujol, Associated Press.

House GOP Calls for DeLay Replacement....

US Rep John Conyers, Jr. : Impeach Pres. George W. Bush.....

U.S. Rep., John Conyers, Jr., a Detroit Democrat, writes:

“I have taken steps to begin the inquiry into possible impeachable offenses by the Bush Administration, and have called for censure of the President and the Vice President. Now I am asking for your help to stand with me in fighting for accountability.

We need to present a unified front in our call for justice. A coalition of organizations, led by, has organized a series of town hall events and house parties this weekend to coordinate grassroots activity in support of efforts to investigate impeachable offenses. Find an Event in Your Area

On January 7th, there will be over 130 events held across the country, several attended by Democratic Members of Congress. These will provide an opportunity to meet like-minded people from your area and to coordinate efforts to hold this administration accountable for misleading us into war. I will be at the Speak Out on the War Town Hall in Livonia, Michigan.

These events will also set in motion a massive grassroots campaign in support of our efforts. The Progressive Democrats of America have set up a follow-up outreach program on January 9th, called the PDA National Call-In Day, the details of which may be found here.”

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Sago Mine disaster: A study in Republican indifference!

Tonight twelve men are dead, and one man may never recover.

Each man shared something in common. Each was a miner. Each was someone’s son…brother…uncle… father…husband…friend. And each gave up his life aware of his dark, cold, damp, lonely earthen tomb, comforted only by a vision of a tomorrow he would never be part of. Each was a preventable death but for Republican indifference.

Mines are regulated by the Republican controlled Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Under Republican leadership, MSHA cite the Sago Mine 273 times for safety violations, of which about a third were classified as ‘significant and substantial,’" yet mine regulations were never enforced in a meaningful way. The more serious allegations resulted in proposed penalties of $250 each.

Tony Oppegard, a former MSHA senior adviser, said in the last eight months over a dozen violations were “serious safety infractions for which the [owner of the mine] had either already been warned, or which showed ‘indifference or extreme lack of care.’”

I know…I know…things happen, right? It was just their time to go, right? Or, was it the result of indifference?

In 2003, 4.3 million workers were injured and 5,559 workers were killed do to job hazards…[and] 6000 died to occupational disease.”

In response, the Republican controlled congress and the Bush administration slashed the job safety budget, tried to dismantle worker safety and health training programs, shut down all new workplace safety and health rules, favored employer voluntary programs over enforcement and excluded workers and unions, and killed workplace ergonomic protection.

Don't blame the lawyers

Austin American Statesman
Claude E. Ducloux, LOCAL CONTRIBUTOR: Don't blame the lawyers
Thursday, January 05, 2006

As a teacher and writer on legal ethics, I enjoyed my friend Tom Palaima's recent op-ed column in the American-Statesman ("Doing the right thing in a world full of spin," Dec. 28). But the denouement, which decries the collusion of lawyers in unethical conduct, does require a response — if for no other reason than to help squelch the eternal cultural myth that lawyers are responsible for society's ills.

The world's most dangerous lawyer can't accomplish anything without the complicity of judges and society generally. It ain't a problem of not having enough rules. We love rules. We have plenty of them — boxes of them, suitcases full of them. As the guardians of justice, lawyers and judges are always creating and refining the rules, penalties and sanctions.

Society just isn't always willing to use them. When push comes to shove, we often makes excuses and turn a blind eye to obvious wrongdoing. Giving our government "the benefit of the doubt" has become nearly a national pastime.

So how do we punish people in a society that, as Palaima points out, seems to celebrate "getting away with it?" When we've had enough, we do what has become actually our greatest social legacy: We turn to the third branch of government and say, "This isn't right." Yes, we sue. And we slowly change society.

Thus, the Bush administration's attorney general can use all the sophistry in the world to justify a breach of civil rights, but any good constitutional lawyer knows that won't stand up in court. So go to plan B: Hedge your bet and attempt to make lawyers the problem.

It's always fun to demonize lawyers, and the myth that lawyers are responsible for society's ills is a comfortable, uncomplicated yarn — like the myth that courthouses are brimming with "frivolous lawsuits" (despite a 50 percent reduction in non-family law cases over the past decade). And that prejudice gives the opposition a leg up when lawyers exercise their most important role in society: messengers of a society unhappy with itself.

When someone finally declared that it was time that African Americans stop being treated as second-class citizens, it was said with a lawsuit. But bringing these social messages in lawsuit form condemns lawyers for challenging the status quo and upsetting the apple cart. And it takes courage. Those Fifth Circuit judges who originally ruled that blacks deserve an equal education (in a ruling eventually affirmed in Brown v. Board of Education) were subject to vicious criticism, social ostracism and even physical attacks on their families and property.

The most important changes in society all too often make us squirm. Remember, we live in a country that, in 1959, produced a poll indicating that 90 percent of our fellow Americans favored legal bans on interracial marriage. Such an abhorrent proposition would be unthinkable today. But how could one expect a 1959 lawmaker to buck that social norm? So when our lawmakers fail to act, we are often forced to turn to our third branch of government.

Remember that our society changes largely without violence and anarchy because lawyers and judges serve as constitutional ombudsmen between social progress and the inattention, political deafness or outright refusal of the other two branches to secure that progress for us.

The most important right ever created by this society is your right, under our Constitution, to hire a lawyer and go to the courthouse. We must never forget that. Those who dislike your legal rights to an equal playing field and a jury trial haven't forgotten. Every Texas Legislature brings us more statutes and even constitutional amendments to curb that right. We're slowly but inexorably nailing the courthouse doors shut to people and entities with less resources — requiring instead slow, expensive, ineffective and unpredictable nonjudicial remedies.

When enough people finally get fed up, the pendulum will swing back, but at what cost? As both: a) access to unbiased reporting, and b) public interest in knowing the truth continues to diminish, the journey could be slow and miserable.

In this country, when I know I'm right, I don't want a gang of thugs or henchmen — or even a press secretary. Just give me a good lawyer and a good judge. And it should ever be so.

Ducloux is an attorney in Austin and chairman of the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Former communist are better profiteers than their capitalist teachers……….

Former communists are better profiteers than their capitalist teachers……….

Recently Russia used gas to squeeze the Ukraine for political concessions. The BBC reports:

“Russia wants to more than quadruple the price of supplies to the Ukrainian market, to between $220 and $230 per 1,000 cubic metres. Ukraine says it is happy to pay market rates, but wants price increases to be phased in gradually over several years.”

Ukraine claims it has a “right” to the gas as a transition country. Russia called Ukraine’s claim “irresponsible,” “legally ignorant” and “theft.”

In the midst of it all, the Bush administration stepped forward to lecture mother-Russia on the vulgarity of using oil as a political ploy. "Such an abrupt step,” the Bush administration lectured disingenuously, “creates insecurity in the energy sector in the region and raises serious questions about the use of energy to exert political pressure.”

Run that by one more time: “Serious questions about the use of energy to exert political pressure?” You mean, oil and politics do not mix? And, to boot, from an administration with a cadre of “Halliburton-experience” on how to squeeze anyone, anywhere for oil-profit without getting caught?

It’s a shame the Bush administration didn’t feel that way when oil hit $60 a barrel and squeezed American farmers, truckers, and families. “Obviously, $60 oil begins to bite,” Vice President Cheney offered remorsefully, but then reflected, “on the other hand, oil is much less important to our economy than it was 15 or 20 years ago … and when you allow for inflation, we have not got back to the highs we had back in the early '80s.

Expect to see more “energy to exert political pressure” a la Hugo Chavez style as communist countries out profiteer “Uncle Sam,” the ole’ profiteer himself.