Saturday, December 11, 2004

Why Did Kerik Withdraw?

No one really seems to know why Bernard Kerik withdrew his name from the nomination for Secretary of Homeland Security. Newsweek seems to have the best answer, though.

On Friday night, Kerik abruptly informed the White House that we was withdrawing from the nominating process, citing potential problems with the immigration and tax status of a former nanny. “I am convinced that, for personal reasons, moving forward would not be in the best interests of your administration, the Department of Homeland Security or the American people,” Kerik said in a letter to President Bush.

But there may have been other issues at play. Kerik, who recently made millions in the private sector, once filed for personal bankruptcy as a New York cop. And just five years ago he was in financial trouble over a condominium he owned in New Jersey. More serious trouble than anyone realized: NEWSWEEK has discovered that a New Jersey judge in 1998 had issued an arrest warrant as part of a convoluted series of lawsuits relating to unpaid bills on his condo. The magazine faxed documents, including the arrest warrant, over to the White House around 6:00 p.m. Friday, asking for comment. Neither Kerik nor the White House had any immediate response. At 8:30 p.m., Kerik had submitted his letter to the president.
That seems like it would have done it. I'm sure an arrest warrant would have come up in the background check, though, and Kerik insiders seem to agree, telling Newsweek that the nanny issue was not what drove him out.

Another theory I've heard is that the Bushies wanted to portray Rudy Giuliani as an all-powerful kingmaker, his recommendation being the reason Kerik got the nomination. But Team W only wanted to do this to knock Rudy off of his high horse once and for all. They knew the dirt on Kerik would be quickly exposed and tarnish Rudy in the process. After all, they can't hand the reigns of the GOP over to a pro-choice, pro-gay Catholic philanderer. I don't know if I buy this one, but it sure is a fun story.

But then there's what I've witnessed here at my own site. I probably shouldn't talk about this, as I'm going to spook some of my readers, but who cares. A number of people at the servers and have visited the site in recent days, all coming here from the same web search... Search Words: kerik gay

Um... I don't think Bernard Kerik is gay. I just can't imagine it. But I do know that a number of people in New York City and State government wonder if he might be...

posted by Scott | 12/11/2004 | |

You Know What's Weird?

Being in your hometown paper and not even knowing it.

Daily Record - Bloggers post their thoughts for the world to read

My parents mentioned that they'd heard a writer from their local paper was looking to talk to bloggers. I hemmed and hawed, but then sent her an e-mail. I was pretty sure she was looking to talk to 16 year old girls and boys about their blogs on the mall and relationships, but I figured I'd give it a shot.

I never heard back from the writer and thought that was that.

Well, someone pointed me to an interesting article online mentioning my blog and me.

But blog content isn't limited to just gossip.

Scott Shields, formerly of Morris County, for example created a politically based blog, DemWatch ( or, in which he kept personal tabs on the Democratic primary race, the recent election and the aftermath.

"At the beginning, I split my time between DemWatch and Dean Nation -," he wrote in e-mail to the Daily Record. "As you may recall, Dean Nation was THE political blog that transformed Howard Dean from an obscure New England governor into an Internet-powered rock star."
Okay, how freakin' pompous do I sound there?!?! Let me clarify that Dean Nation was a group blog that I had a very brief, albeit well-timed involvement with. If it sounds like I was trying to give myself credit for making Howard Dean, that was absolutely not my intent.

That statement was more or less my way of saying that, especially with political blogs, you never know who is out there, writing what. Dean Nation was THE political blog that turbo-boosted the Dean campaign. But the people behind it weren't Beltway politios -- we were nobodies from out of the way places like Morris County.

Still, there's definitely something gratifying about seeing your name in the paper you grew up with. It just would have been nice to know it was coming...

posted by Scott | 12/11/2004 | |

Friday, December 10, 2004

Kerik. Is. Toast.

I'd like to think that I lit the first match on this fire...

"Commissioner Kerik is withdrawing his name from director of homeland security," the spokesman said. "He informed the White House this evening that he was withdrawing for personal reasons from consideration to be secretary of homeland security."

Kerik informed Bush of his decision to withdraw in a telephone call at 8:30 p.m. EST. "I am convinced that, for personal reasons, moving forward would not be in the best interests of your administration, the Department of Homeland Security or the American people," Kerik said in a letter to the president.

The White House said Bush accepted Kerik's decision.
Thanks to Bill over at Liberal Oasis for sending so many readers my way for Kerik coverage. And thanks to everyone here, dKos, and MyDD who thanked me for doing the homework on Kerik's resume.

In the end, the issue that drove him out of the running was his employment of an illegal housekeeper -- not the totalitarian tendencies which I'd been studying since the summer. Go figure.

Still, I really do think the blogosphere drove this story, as the mainstream media had been praising Kerik up and down when his nomination was announced. As usual, they were asleep at the wheel. We seemed to wake them up on this one, and now here we are.

Bernard Kerik will not be the next Secretary of Homeland Security.

posted by Scott | 12/10/2004 | |

Larry King Is A Jerk... And A Personal Note.

Atrios has a bit of Larry King's questioning of John Edwards on hearing the news of Elizabeth Edwards' breast cancer.

Senator, has there been any thoughts and this happens in any case where the male hears the news from the mate -- aesthetically, how will Elizabeth look, how will she respond? Do you have any of those feelings?"
Aesthetically, how will she look?

Oh, how I wish Edwards was allowed to respond with something along the lines of, "I don't know, Larry, I think she'll still look better than you, you f@#%ing babbling corpse."

What kind of chauvinistic, image-obsessed, pig-headed question is that?!?! "The male hears the news from the mate"?!?! What are they, monkeys? John and Elizabeth Edwards are human beings, Larry. You'd do well to try being one yourself.

Apparently, the Edwardses handled the question with the grace we've come to know them for. Good for them, taking the high road.

Now... here's why this pisses me off so much.

My mother just recently found out she has breast cancer.

I've been reluctant to talk about it here at the site because it's a personal matter and not in the slightest political. However, it has occurred to me that some of you might be wondering why my posting has been somewhat on the light side. My stress level has been a bit on the high side lately, with the news and holiday shopping and work. I had a large piece on the 'Democratic soul searching' in the works last night, but I just couldn't seem to pull it together. It was the same story tonight.

So I apologize if I'm not living up to expectations at the moment -- please bear with me, things will improve. She is having surgery very soon and that should, God willing, be that. I love her very much and would do anything to make this all go away. The bad news is that there isn't much I can do. The good news is that the science and technology have made incredible advances in recent years. My mom's an incredibly strong woman, she's got great doctors, and I'm quite confident she's going to beat it.

But right now, as you might imagine, my mind's laser focus on politics is a little off.

If anyone feels the need to do something, it would be cool if you could just go over to The Breast Cancer Site and do the click-thru thing. Thanks to the site's sponsors, by clicking on the 'Fund Free Mammograms' button, you'll be helping to fund mammograms for underprivileged women across the country.

So thanks for understanding.

Oh yeah. One more thing. F@#% Larry King.

posted by Scott | 12/10/2004 | |

Thursday, December 09, 2004

A Brief Note On Democratic Soul Searching

I have purposefully shied away from commenting on some of the back-and-forth between Democratic liberals and moderates of recent days. Perhaps you noticed. Perhaps you thought I was too wrapped up in making the case against Bernard Kerik to be bothered with the party in-fighting. Whatever the case, let me just make it clear where I stand.

Shut up. All of you. Seriously, just shut up.

How is it that the Iraq War has tied us in knots? Some agreed with it, some did not. Any person who says that Democrats who disagree with his position should be purged from the party is a f#@%ing moron.

The things our coalition agrees on -- massive deficits are dangerous, there shouldn't be a state religion, Social Security is a safety net and not an extra savings plan, having more allies is better than more enemies -- far outweigh our differences on one specific aspect foreign policy.

I'll have more on my feelings about this in the coming days, but I wanted to wade in before the water got too bloody.

posted by Scott | 12/09/2004 | |

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

AP: "Disgruntled Troops Complain to Rumsfeld"

The media may be deathly afraid of direct confrontation with the powerful Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, but the American troops sure as hell are not.

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - Disgrunted U.S. soldiers complained to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Wednesday about the lack of armor for their vehicles and long deployments, drawing a blunt retort from the Pentagon chief.
Some of [the] soldiers, however, had criticisms of their own — not of the war itself but of how it is being fought.

Army Spc. Thomas Wilson, for example, of the 278th Regimental Combat Team that is comprised mainly of citizen soldiers of the Tennessee Army National Guard, asked Rumsfeld in a question-and-answer session why vehicle armor is still in short supply, nearly two years after the start of the war that ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?" Wilson asked. A big cheer arose from the approximately 2,300 soldiers in the cavernous hangar who assembled to see and hear the secretary of defense.

Rumsfeld hesitated and asked Wilson to repeat his question.

"We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry with us north," Wilson said after asking again.

Rumsfeld replied that troops should make the best of the conditions they face and said the Army was pushing manufacturers of vehicle armor to produce it as fast as humanly possible.

And, the defense chief added, armor is not always a savior in the kind of combat U.S. troops face in Iraq, where the insurgents' weapon of choice is the roadside bomb, or improvised explosive device that has killed and maimed hundreds, if not thousands, of American troops since the summer of 2003.

"You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can (still) be blown up," Rumsfeld said.
So basically, Secretary Rumsfeld has taken the position that Iraq is too dangerous a place to seriously try to protect the troops, whose questions he doesn't really want to answer.

As of this moment, Rumsfeld looks to be one of the only Bush administration cabinet members not resigning from his position.

posted by Scott | 12/08/2004 | |

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Smoking Gun: New DHS Secretary Kerik "A Former Deadbeat"

Anyone who's been here in the last few weeks knows that I'm not a big fan of the new Secretary of Homeland Security, Bernard Kerik. While he is a fellow Garden State native and resident who will undoubtedly make protecting my home state a priority, I just can't get past some of the things the man has said and done.

But my questions about Kerik have so far been mostly ethical. I never gave much thought to the question of what kind of manager Kerik would be. Certainly, other of Kerik's critics had pointed to mismanagement in both the NYPD and the NYC Corrections Department under Kerik, but I was willing to overlook those failings as indicative of the systems rather than their leader.

But it turns out that in 1987, Kerik went personally bankrupt.

Kerik filed for Chapter 7 protection in October 1987, when he was a 32-year-old New York Police Department officer living in Greenwich Village, according to federal court records. As detailed in Kerik's bankruptcy petition, a copy of which you'll find below, he listed debts totaling about $12,000, the largest of which was a $2089.52 Visa bill. He also claimed an inability to pay a $174 Sunoco tab. According to Kerik's filing, his expenses exceeded his income by about $200 per month. Along with costs like rent ($700), food $200), and "alimony, maintenance, or support payments" ($280), Kerik typed in "Barber" on the line calling for other expenses to be listed. Those tonsorial treatments set him back $20 a month.
None of these charges bother me so much as the $80 a month Kerik saw fit to budget himself for "Recreation, clubs, and entertainment". What kind of managerial skills can someone claim to have when they can't fork over the money for credit card and auto repair bills, but they can take time out to spend $80 on entertainment? Kerik also seemed to have a penchant for taking out multiple lines of credit -- even, to be exact -- not to mention two loans of $2,000 each.

While this may fit right in with the borrow and hope spending policies of the Bush administration, it's not a good sign for the man charged with running the nation's third-largest federal agency with a budget of nearly $34 billion. After all, if he couldn't handle $40,000 a year, what's he going to do with an amount almost 1,000 times larger?

posted by Scott | 12/07/2004 | |

The White House Has Been Lying About Gitmo Torture

A little over a week ago, a report from the International Committee of the Red Cross to the US government on the treatment of 'enemy combatants' being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba was leaked to The New York Times. Immediately, it was dismissed by the Pentagon. Even the ICRC would not comment on the report's contents. Within a few hours, the White House denied the charges as well.

From The Dallas Morning News, 11/30/04

The Bush administration rejected the ICRC accusations that detainees were in any way abused at Guantanamo.

"We strongly disagree with any characterization that suggests the way detainees are being treated is inconsistent with the policies the president has outlined," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said on an Air Force One flight from Washington to Ottawa, where President Bush was meeting Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin.

McClellan insisted Guantanamo detainees "were being treated humanely," though he pointed out "the combatants that were picked up on the battlefield" were seeking to harm the United States.
One wonders, then, how the White House is going to handle this revelation...

Reuters, 12/6/04
FBI agents saw military interrogators use abusive tactics on prisoners at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including a woman interrogator who grabbed a detainee's genitals, officials said on Monday.

The account of incidents in 2002 involving foreign terrorism suspects held at the base was contained in a July letter from FBI counterterrorism official Thomas Harrington, to Maj. Gen. Donald Ryder, the Army's provost marshal, and was confirmed by Pentagon and Justice Department officials.
On December 5, the right-wing Washington Times feigned concern for the ICRC's credibility.

The ICRC, which is based in Geneva and is separate from the American Red Cross, defines itself as "an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of war and internal violence and to provide them with assistance." Also, it endeavors "to prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles." Given that mission, the ICRC's credibility in alleging acts of torture, or anything related to torture, is critical. It must be careful to ensure the practices it complains about rise to that level.
... Without more concrete and substantiated evidence to the contrary, there seems little reason to pay the ICRC report much heed.
Will the Times now lament the loss of credibility at the FBI and claim their findings baseless? Well, I'm sure they will. That's just the atmosphere we're living in.

It may be conveniently easy for administration officials to shrug off the findings of an international body as being fueled by current anti-American bias. Fortunately, they won't be so lucky in making the same case about the FBI.

posted by Scott | 12/07/2004 | |

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Zogby Polling On 2008 Dems

Just a quick note to let you all know that my wife, who takes part in the Zogby Interactive polls, just got a poll about the 2008 Democratic candidates for the Presidential nomination.

In order, here's the list:

Hillary Clinton
John Edwards
Tom Vilsack
Bill Richardson
Evan Bayh
John Kerry
Howard Dean
Mark Warner
None of the Above
Not Sure

Her pick was Bill Richardson. My pick would probably be "Not Sure," but there are some solid names in there. Richardson, Dean, and Warner are probably the most attractive at the moment, but only time will tell...

posted by Scott | 12/05/2004 | |

NJ GOP Gov Candidate Forrester Donated Illegally To Bush

Doug Forrester, the former Republican Mayor of West Windsor I wrote about just a few days ago, broke federal limits in giving President Bush a $2,000 PAC donation after both he and his wife gave Bush $2,000 personal donations. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem. However the only people who donated to the PAC, Liberty and Prosperity, were the Forresters.

This means that the Forrester's PAC was set up as little more than a front for funneling money to the Bush campaign. Obviously, this was an attempt by Forrester to gain favor over ultra-conservative Bush ally Bret Schundler in the 2005 New Jersey Governor's race.

In an interview with Gannett newspapers' New Jersey division, Aaron Pilhofer of the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity tries to give Forrester the benefit of the doubt, saying that it could be a "simple mistake," that donors "don't always know the law." But then he drops the pretension, admitting that as a former candidate for US Senate, Forrester should certainly know many of the finer points of federal campaign finance law. "You cannot use a political action committee as a front to essentially launder money."

The biggest problem here for Forrester, as the article points out, is that he's running on a platform of cleaning up corruption. It's hard to make that case when you're engaged in corruption yourself.

posted by Scott | 12/05/2004 | |
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