The Pope of Florida

Great editorial in the Orlando Sentinel, first noted on Florida Politics. Most Florida papers are talking about the various egregious aspects of the foster-girl-abortion case (including the fact that only now are people asking about the “older man” who made the girl pregnant) but this one is superb. Of course, FlaPol notes its author actually voted for Jeb.

Bush stomps on rights of pregnant girl
Mike Thomas
Sentinel Columnist

May 5, 2005

The state constitution is optional reading for Jeb Bush these days as he continues using his office to push his personal beliefs.

His most recent action as Pope of Florida was trying to block a 13-year-old girl from an abortion.

Yes, this is a tragedy.

The girl had no legal parents — their rights were terminated for unknown reasons. While under the loving care of the Department of Children & Families, she managed to get pregnant…

…the same DCF that botched her care to begin with moved to block her in court. DCF has become a front operation for Bush. It is his right-to-life security force.

Apparently, the plan was to force the girl to deliver the baby.

A Tavares attorney who specializes in children’s issues, Jerri Blair, says DCF most likely would have then taken the baby and put it up for adoption because the girl could not care for it and had no family support.

The baby would have gone out the door because it is easy to find adoptive families for babies. But the girl would have stayed put because that is not the case for teenagers.

The state basically would have forced the girl to become a breeder for another couple.

“We are working for the best interest of the young girl,” said a DCF spokeswoman.

Somehow, the girl didn’t see it that way, and I can’t say that I blame her.

Bush had no legal grounds to intervene, and anyone with a law degree knew it. He eventually had to give up when backed into a constitutional corner, but not before stalling the process in court long enough to increase the medical risk from the abortion (even so, it still would be less risky to the girl than having the baby).

Does anyone really believe that Bush, DCF or all these Christian groups give one hoot about this girl? They simply folded up the circus tent over Terri Schiavo’s hospice and found another place to set it up.

Look at the similarities.

Bush also intervened in the Schiavo case in a blatantly unconstitutional move. He dragged it out, created a ruckus, was cheered on by the zealots and then backed off when his lawyers ran out of tricks.

He also abused his authority over DCF, using it to raise the specter of abuse against Terri’s husband, Michael. Bush never bothered to talk to Michael, and the abuse allegations were false. Bush had to know because DCF had a file that said as much.

There actually was a third case Bush intervened in last week that got little attention. His lawyers helped a Christian legal group that claimed a woman gave birth to a live baby at an Orlando abortion clinic but the baby was allowed to die.

“Something like this never should have happened,” an “outraged” Bush said through a spokesman.

Something like that never did happen, said the medical examiner who autopsied the fetus.

The fetus was stillborn. Bush should be thankful our editors were a bit more skeptical of the story than he was and played it down.

It seems Bush no longer bothers with facts or laws. He simply governs by divine, if not legal, intervention.

GOP Mayor of Spokane, Former State Sen. Majority Leader, Arrested for Molestation

The Republican mayor of Spokane, who also served as the Majority leader in the Washington Senate, has been charged with child molestation. Via
Buzzflash, here’s the lede from Editor & Publisher :

After three years of investigation, the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., today presented a package of stories that include allegations of sexual misconduct by the city’s mayor, Jim West [right].

The probe grew out of the paper’s reporting on a sex-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in 2002. Rumors circulated then that West had sexually molested young boys when he served as a Boy Scout leader (and a sheriff’s deputy) in the late 1970s. Two of his closest friends then, one a sheriff’s deputy and the other a Scout leader, committed suicide after those earlier allegations of sex abuse were raised.

Today, the newspaper revealed that Robert J. Galliher claimed in a court deposition that West molested him in the mid-1970s, when he was a boy. A second man, Michael G. Grant Jr., also accused West of sexual abuse during the same period.

From the Spokane Spokesman-Review:

Through the use of public records, court documents, first-person accounts and a forensic computer expert, the newspaper has uncovered evidence that West has led a secret life for more than 25 years. Beyond the serious allegations of sexual abuse, West had been using his position in the Legislature to block gay-rights legislation. And he has been trolling the Internet for young lovers while while serving as mayor of Spokane, offering gifts and favors.

More on ABC’s Decision to Run Ad by Focus on Family Hate Group

From DailyKos:

ABC, on why it won’t take advertising from the United Church of Christ:

“The network doesn’t take advertising from religious groups. It’s a long-standing policy,” said Susan Sewell, an ABC spokeswoman, in a Religion News Service story on Wednesday.

But they aired an ad by James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. And for the unitiated, this is their mission statement:

To cooperate with the Holy Spirit in disseminating the Gospel of Jesus Christ to as many people as possible, and, specifically, to accomplish that objective by helping to preserve traditional values and the institution of the family.

ABC, NBC, and CBS refused to air this ad from the UCC. NBC and CBS claimed it was “too controversial” because it says “Jesus didn’t turn people away”. Tolerance of gays and ethnic and racial minorities is really, really controversial with the bigoted set.

ABC said it had a blanket prohibition of all ads from religious organizations. Unless, it seems, they are run by conservatives.

Read the original PR story….

EPIC: In the Year 2014

It’s 2014. “The New York Times” has gone off-line and is now a print-only newsletter for the elite and elderly, and EPIC is how you get everything, customized based on your consumption habits. Hey, it could happen, right? “EPIC” is an online film created by two fellows at the Poynter Institute, a well-respected journalism school in St. Petersburg, Fla. It tells the story of what has happened and what could (might? will??) happen to how we get our media and products in the near (immediate???) future. Besides being interesting intellectually, it also represents a cogent analysis of what has happened to the way news is disseminated over just the past six years. See the film here: Epic.

Neocon Pentagon Intelligence Officer Indicted for ‘Unauthorized Disclosures’

After a two-year investigation, Neoconservative Pentagon policy analyst Larry Franklin (in photo on right, with Douglas Feith, left) was charged yesterday with making unauthorized disclosures to a foreign official and to members of the news media, according to the Los Angeles Times today.

This story presents us with many questions, including what allegedly may have motivated Franklin to share US secrets with Israel – and how the dots may connect from this investigation to other better known neocons, including Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and even Vice President Dick Cheney.

Franklin, described as a “pro-Israel Pentagon official,” is rumored to have given unauthorized information about US plans regarding Iraq and Iran to officials from the lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Last month, two AIPAC officials who were reportedly involved in the matter were fired. Steve Rosen was the group’s director for foreign policy issues. Keith Weissman was Rosen’s deputy and a specialist on Iran.

Any casual observer of the Bush Administration might wonder how a government investigation that involved Administration officials could proceed without interference from above. Not surprisingly, the charges against Franklin cover “who, what and when” but avoid mentioning motive, which is an essential element of any criminal case:

The complaint against Franklin does not allege that he engaged in espionage or that he directly shared secrets with Israel. Lawyers for Franklin and for the two lobbyists that allegedly received the classified information issued vigorous denials. And the complaint does not ascribe a motive to Franklin’s disclosures, or identify Israel as an ultimate beneficiary.

Juan Cole at Informed Comment has been following the story, and has this on Franklin’s possible motives:

Franklin was implicated last summer, but it has taken nearly a year to arrest him. In the meantime, he was, amazingly enough, still working at the Department of Defense on Persian Gulf security issues. (I know this for a fact).

Franklin was on the Iran desk of the Near East and South Asia department of the Pentagon, and was the “go-to” man for Iran issues for [former] Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith and [former] Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. His tight connection to the Neoconservatives has been played down in subsequent reporting, depicting him as a low-level employee and a rogue operating on his own. [Feith and Wolfowitz both resigned this year. Feith resigned for “personal and family reasons.” Wolfowitz now heads the World Bank. ]

[Franklin] apparently was concerned that Iran would fund anti-American militias in Iraq to attack US troops, but could not get his ideas taken seriously, and was seeking support from AIPAC and Israel. In fact…some Iranian money may have come to [Iraqi militias] in Basra, but Iranians spread money around to lots of groups in Iraq. Without further details, it is hard to know what Franklin was up to, but he was probably trying to provoke hostilities with Iran by blaming Tehran for Iraqi Shiite militancy.

I first got wind of this story from Josh Marshall’s Talking Points Memo last summer. In August, Marshall wrote:

[Larry Franklin is] an important person in Feith’s operation — which isn’t surprising really since he’s an analyst on a topic — Iran — at the center of Feith’s concerns. And Iran policy is already a dicey matter since this is the same shop that used to be the main locus of Chalabism in the governmnet. And of course [Ahmed] Chalabi later ended up to have been feeding US intelligence to the Iranians.

Feith’s operation has been at the center of a number of bizarre intelligence snafus and embarrassments — at least two of which have now spawned criminal investigations. One of the more memorable ones was being in charge of post-war planning for Iraq, which didn’t pan out that well. Feith’s office is also closely tied to Vice President Cheney’s office, which is the focus of the Plame investigation.

And then in September, Marshall posted this update, based on a story in the Washington Post:

According to the Post, FBI investigators are looking at people in Feith’s office (Harold Rhode), Cheney’s office (David Wurmser) and on the Defense Policy Board (Richard Perle).