Friday, 27 July 2007

IS GOVERNOR SPITZER A CORRUPT THUG?

Ken Berwitz

That is an ugly question to ask.  But, sad to say, a very legitimate one. 

Eliot Spitzer is the Governor of New York.  As its Attorney General he developed quite a reputation as a miserable SOB - but to a large (not complete but large) extent that was due to his actions against people and companies who probably deserved it. 

As Governor, however, he seems to be using exactly the same techniques to stifle and/or destroy his political opposition.  And that is a very different kettle of fish.

Let's start with this brief news excerpt, courtesy of the New York Post, which describes the scandal I am talking about:

July 27, 2007 - ALBANY- The subpoena-armed state Ethics commission yesterday announced it has opened an investigation into Gov. Spitzer and his top aides in the still-unfolding scandal over a campaign to ruin state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.

A spokesman for the Ethics Commission, which is controlled by Democrat Spitzer, said the five-member panel will probe the circumstancies under which top Spitzer aides used the State Police in a political intelligence-gathering effort designed to damage Bruno.

Now, take a look at their lead editorial in today's edition to understand it further:.

Let The Sun Shine In

July 27,2007 - Finally: A panel withy subpoena power - the state Ethics Commission - has agreed to look into Troopergate, the plot by Gov. Spitzer's office to use the State Police to smear Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.

This is potentially good news.

Emphasis on potentially.

Certainly, if the commission undertakes a fair and thorough probe, it can do much to clear away the clouds now hovering over Spitzer's tenure.

But that's a big "if."

Sure, an ethics-panel probe will have many of the trappings of a bona fide courtroom proceeding.

But in this case, it would be a trial in which the defendant gets to pick the judge, the jury and the prosecutor.

That's because Spitzer, as governor, controls the panel. He named its chairman, for example.

Last fall, even Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver - who has defended Spitzer in the Troopergate affair - pooh-poohed the panel's probe of then-Comptroller Alan Hevesi.

Calling it a "political process, through and through," Silver emphasized that "the governor controls" the panel - "there's not a question about it."

Indeed, over the years the panel stood motionless as Albany degenerated into a moral and ethical cesspool.

Yes, it initiated the process that saw Hevesi driven from office - but that was a dramatic exception to the commission's historic lassitude.

Meanwhile, merely by taking on this scandal, it does Spitzer a huge favor: From now on, whenever he's asked about the matter, he can credibly deflect questions by saying, "Sorry, it's under formal investigation and I can't comment."

(Not that he has been even slightly forthcoming to date. Yesterday, the governor wouldn't even say whether, in hindsight, he thinks two top aides, Darren Dopp and Richard Baum, should have cooperated with Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's own probe and testified under oath.)

Thus there are fundamental structural, procedural and political reasons to wonder about the Ethics Commission's efficacy.

Fortunately, there is a way for the panel to boost the credibility of whatever it ultimately finds: It can - and must - conduct every one of its actions in the full light of day.

The public must be able to see whether the panel asks all the key players all the relevant questions - under oath, and before reporters and cameras.

Indeed, it belongs on the Internet - live.

Certainly, if Spitzer had been kept in the dark, as he claims, he'd be pushing the hardest for a fully public, fully independent probe - with sworn testimony from anyone who can clear his name.

The governor is asking the public to trust him - to take his word for it that his aides carried out a rogue operation wholly unbeknownst to him.

It defies plausibility.

Especially when you consider stories like those on the preceding page.

Indeed, reporter Charles Gasparino's account of what happened to him when he fell afoul of Dopp and Spitzer is truly frightening - and offers every reason not to take the governor's word for it.

And these writers are hardly alone.

Again, a fair, open, thorough process by the Ethics Commission may shed light on just what happened - on who knew what and when.

But until that process is worked out - and executed - in full view, it's necessary to reserve judgment regarding this latest development in an increasingly bizarre tale.    .

Once upon a time there was a Republican governor of Connecticut -a very popular one (based on his three winning elections) - named John Rowland.  He was forced to resign from that office and spent almost a year in prison, for the crime of having state workers perform improvements on a home he owned.  He certainly deserved what he got, I have no issue with it at all.

Now we have a Democratic governor of New York - a very popular one (based on last year's election win) - named Eliot Spitzer.  If he is shown to have used state workers to destroy another man's reputation and career, what do you think should happen to him?

Let this investigation begin.  Immediately.  INDEPENDENTLY.  And let the chips fall where they may. 

But if New York investigates using a panel that is controlled by Governor Spitzer, I urge you to assume that the fix is in.  And to be infuriated by it.  I know that's what I'll be doing.


DEMOCRATS AND ABORTION POLITICS

Ken Berwitz

I just read a very interesting analysis of the Democratic Party's proposed new abortion legislation, by the always-worth-reading Ed Morrissey of www.captainsquartersblog.com.  Here it is, see what you think:.

Democrats Getting Into Life?

Democrats have long tried to eat into the Republican grip on voters of faith, and now that they have control of Congress, they may have hit on a formula that works. Instead of their normal absolutist position on abortion rights, the Democrats have offered two bills that work to support women who choose to have their babies. Some Republicans are calling foul, however:

Sensing an opportunity to impress religious voters and tip elections Democrats in Congress and on the campaign trail have begun to adopt some of the language and policy goals of the antiabortion movement.

For years, the liberal response to abortion has been to promote more accessible and affordable birth control as well as detailed sex education in public schools.

That's still the foundation of Democratic policies. But in a striking shift, Democrats in the House last week promoted a grab bag of programs designed not only to prevent unwanted pregnancies, but also to encourage women who do conceive to carry to term.

The new approach embraces some measures long sought by antiabortion activists. It's designed to appeal to the broad centrist bloc of voters who don't want to criminalize every abortion yet are troubled by a culture that accepts 1.3 million terminations a year.

The Democrats may have discovered a middle ground on abortion, one that has been rumored to exist but few have seen. They have taken a few steps towards the middle with the Reducing the Need for Abortions Initiative, attempting to recast government services away from incentivizing abortions. It uses the same big government approach that once funded abortions, but now counsels women on the adoption option, home nurses for pregnant women choosing to have their babies, and even federal day care for those who keep the children themselves.

Republicans such as Mike Pence sense clouds in all this silver lining, however. Noting that Planned Parenthood would garner substantial new funding from these programs, Pence says that sending federal monies to the nation's largest provider of abortions in the name of reducing abortions makes no sense at all. Traditional pro-choicers see issues in the new approach as well; New York's Rep. Louise Slaughter argues, women don't have abortions because they can't afford day care.

This new, moderate approach will not win over the entire pro-life caucus, and for good reason -- it doesn't do anything to impede abortions. Democrats still refuse to mandate a review of ultrasounds before an abortion, which pro-lifers insist will reduce the number of abortions. It also seems more than a little like a stalking-horse for government-run medical care.

However, it will provide some hope of saving some children from the abortionist's vacuum pump, and that means that some in the pro-life movement may find themselves swayed by these efforts. Primarily, that will be the pro-lifers who have less investment in the rest of the Republican platform. While that number may be small, it won't take much to boost Democrats in these days of razor-thin margins in state and federal elections.

It's a smart move by Democrats, and as they turn away from their knee-jerk endorsement of abortion, we should applaud the change. However, it really shows how much Republicans have resonated on this issue, and how bad being associated with over 40 million abortions has become for the Democrats..

So?  Is Morrissey making sense? 

In my opinion - as usual - he is making a lot of sense.  But I can't say I'm in complete agreement with him.

What I don't see in this analysis is the backlash that is absolutely, positively sure to come from hard-line abortion advocates;  for example, the NARAL crowd and their pals.  They are the most vocal - and most media-savvy - people in the abortion debate and they will never take this lying down.

Now it is true that pro abortion groups have plenty to be happy about in this proposed legislation.  It does not in any way prevent abortions and it hands more money to Planned Parenthood (which, in case you are unaware, is the single most prolific abortion provider in the USA).  That will surely warm the cockles of the "pro-choice" crowd. 

Further, the proposed legislation would not mandate use of ultra-sounds.  That is a huge issue.  Anyone who has gone through childbirth in recent years, either firsthand or on the sidelines (we have a 7 month old grandson), surely knows how persuasive they can be in convincing a pregnant woman that there really is a child there, not just a hunk of inanimate tissue.

But, it is also true that the proposed legislation gives considerable ammunition for "pro-life" people to convince pregnant women that they don't have to abort.  It takes away a lot of the financial burden associated with childbirth and implements a support system for women who decline abortions they might have had without such help.  That isn't going to please the hard-line pro-abortion crowd,

Then we have the fact that this is proposed legislation, and not in final form.  What happens, for example, if ultra-sound is added in as part of the inevitable compromising process?  Or if the final bill reduces how much $$$ is handed to the already-rich Planned Parenthood? 

The bottom line is that such legislation may - may - bring Democrats some number of people who are more prone to the pro-life position.  But, on the other hand, how many NARAL, or NOW activists will condemn the Democratic Party for it?  And, while they certainly won't be voting Republican, how many will withhold support for Democrats, maybe even push their own candidates just to teach them a lesson and bring them back into the 100% pro-abortion fold?

This is going to be a very interesting journey.  I'll be following it and will try to periodically report back to you on how it is progressing.


ILLEGAL ALIEN INSANITY

Ken Berwitz

I never heard of Hazelton, Pennsylvania - or at least not that I recall offhand.  Why should I have?  Why should anyone know about Hazelton except its residents, people from nearby towns or people with relatives there?

Well, as of yesterday I have an answer to that question.  Please read the following Reuters Dispatch.  The bold print is mine:.

Court throws out city's illegal immigration law

Thu Jul 26, 2007 2:46PM EDT

By Jon Hurdle

HAZLETON, Pa (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Thursday struck down as unconstitutional a local law designed to crack down on illegal immigration, dealing a blow to similar laws passed by dozens of towns and cities across the country.

U.S. District Judge James Munley said the city of Hazleton, 100 miles north of Philadelphia, was not allowed to implement a law that would fine businesses that hire illegal immigrants and penalize landlords who rent rooms to them.

"Federal law prohibits Hazleton from enforcing any of the provisions of its ordinances," Munley wrote in a 206-page opinion following a federal trial in which Hazleton's law was challenged by civil rights groups.

The city of 30,000 blames a recent rise in illegal immigration for boosting crime and overburdening social services. The law was passed in July 2006 but was not implemented because of a court injunction won by opponents.

About a third of the city's residents are immigrants from Central America and around a quarter of the immigrant population is believed to be undocumented, according to civil rights campaigners.

Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta said the city would likely appeal the decision.

"I believe both sides realized this wasn't going to be the last day. This small city isn't ready to stop fighting yet," Barletta told CNN.

Dozens of towns and cities have modeled their own immigration laws on Hazleton in a bid to deal with an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States..

One of two things is true:  Either this judge is wrong and he's an absolute jerk who has no business being on the bench, or he's right and whichever politicians are responsible for the federal laws preventing what Hazelton did are a bunch of jerks who have no business being in office.

These are ILLEGAL ALIENS.  That, alone, means they have no legal right to be here.  Plain enough? 

But, according to the mayor of Hazelton, they are also responsible for a crime wave and for burdensomely increasing social services.  In other words, people who have no right to be there in the first place are not only committing criminal acts, presumably against the legal population, they are also robbing legals in another way by demanding - and receiving - the social services that legals fund.

Yet, to Judge Munley and/or the politicans in question, this is just fine.  If that isn't insanity, tell me what is?

And if you think THAT'S insane, let's talk about the "civil rights groups" advocating for these illegals who commit the crimes and take the social services. 

I don't care whether they are Latino groups, Black groups or just general-purpose leftwing groups (who else advocates for illegals to be treated as legals?).  They are damaging the legal minorities in this country.

Think about it:  What groups are disproportionately at the lower socio-economic rungs in this country?  These are the people who will compete against illegals for jobs, aren't they?  They will compete against illegals who, for the most part, work for less and demand fewer benefits.  Why?  Because what we consider below-market pay in the USA, is far more than what illegals can get in their homelands.

So if you're an employer, you can hire a legal at, say, $10 an hour and be forced to adhere to the countless, costly governmental hiring criteria (benefits, workmen's comp, unemployment insurance, OSHA regulations, etc. etc.).  Or you can hire an illegal at, say, $7 an hour and he/she won't be busting your chops about any of that.  What are you going to do?

And if you're a landlord who can charge double the rent for an apartment because, instead of one family, 10 illegals are going to be living there, what would you do in that case?

That is why Hazelton's law fined employers and landlords.  To make them think twice before benefitting from illegals at the expense of the legal population -- which, in turn, would result in fewer illegals who compete against minorities for lower-end jobs.

And civil rights groups are supporting the ILLEGALS' position?

You want insanity?  There's a treasure trove of it.


ILLEGAL ALIEN INSANITY

Ken Berwitz

I never heard of Hazelton, Pennsylvania - or at least not that I recall offhand.  Why should I have?  Why should anyone know about Hazelton except its residents, people from nearby towns or people with relatives there?

Well, as of yesterday I have an answer to that question.  Please read the following Reuters Dispatch.  The bold print is mine:.

Court throws out city's illegal immigration law

Thu Jul 26, 2007 2:46PM EDT

By Jon Hurdle

HAZLETON, Pa (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Thursday struck down as unconstitutional a local law designed to crack down on illegal immigration, dealing a blow to similar laws passed by dozens of towns and cities across the country.

U.S. District Judge James Munley said the city of Hazleton, 100 miles north of Philadelphia, was not allowed to implement a law that would fine businesses that hire illegal immigrants and penalize landlords who rent rooms to them.

"Federal law prohibits Hazleton from enforcing any of the provisions of its ordinances," Munley wrote in a 206-page opinion following a federal trial in which Hazleton's law was challenged by civil rights groups.

The city of 30,000 blames a recent rise in illegal immigration for boosting crime and overburdening social services. The law was passed in July 2006 but was not implemented because of a court injunction won by opponents.

About a third of the city's residents are immigrants from Central America and around a quarter of the immigrant population is believed to be undocumented, according to civil rights campaigners.

Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta said the city would likely appeal the decision.

"I believe both sides realized this wasn't going to be the last day. This small city isn't ready to stop fighting yet," Barletta told CNN.

Dozens of towns and cities have modeled their own immigration laws on Hazleton in a bid to deal with an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States..

One of two things is true:  Either this judge is wrong and he's an absolute jerk who has no business being on the bench, or he's right and whichever politicians are responsible for the federal laws preventing what Hazelton did are a bunch of jerks who have no business being in office.

These are ILLEGAL ALIENS.  That, alone, means they have no legal right to be here.  Plain enough? 

But, according to the mayor of Hazelton, they are also responsible for a crime wave and for burdensomely increasing social services.  In other words, people who have no right to be there in the first place are not only committing criminal acts, presumably against the legal population, they are also robbing legals in another way by demanding - and receiving - the social services that legals fund.

Yet, to Judge Munley and/or the politicans in question, this is just fine.  If that isn't insanity, tell me what is?

And if you think THAT'S insane, let's talk about the "civil rights groups" advocating for these illegals who commit the crimes and take the social services. 

I don't care whether they are Latino groups, Black groups or just general-purpose leftwing groups (who else advocates for illegals to be treated as legals?).  They are damaging the legal minorities in this country.

Think about it:  What groups are disproportionately at the lower socio-economic rungs in this country?  These are the people who will compete against illegals for jobs, aren't they?  They will compete against illegals who, for the most part, work for less and demand fewer benefits.  Why?  Because what we consider below-market pay in the USA, is far more than what illegals can get in their homelands.

So if you're an employer, you can hire a legal at, say, $10 an hour and be forced to adhere to the countless, costly governmental hiring criteria (benefits, workmen's comp, unemployment insurance, OSHA regulations, etc. etc.).  Or you can hire an illegal at, say, $7 an hour and he/she won't be busting your chops about any of that.  What are you going to do?

And if you're a landlord who can charge double the rent for an apartment because, instead of one family, 10 illegals are going to be living there, what would you do in that case?

That is why Hazelton's law fined employers and landlords.  To make them think twice before benefitting from illegals at the expense of the legal population -- which, in turn, would result in fewer illegals who compete against minorities for lower-end jobs.

And civil rights groups are supporting the ILLEGALS' position?

You want insanity?  There's a treasure trove of it.


FREE SPEECH LOVERS

Ken Berwitz

Here, courtesy of the Associated Press, is moveon.org's latest attempt to censor everyone who disagrees with them.   See how you like it..

Liberals Go After Fox News Advertisers
Jul 27 04:21 PM US/Eastern
By DAVID BAUDER
AP Television Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - Liberal activists are stepping up their campaign against Fox News Channel by pressuring advertisers not to patronize the network.

MoveOn.org, the Campaign for America's Future and liberal blogs like DailyKos.com are asking thousands of supporters to monitor who is advertising on the network. Once a database is gathered, an organized phone-calling campaign will begin, said Jim Gilliam, vice president of media strategy for Brave New Films, a company that has made anti-Fox videos.

The groups have successfully pressured Democratic presidential candidates not to appear at any debate sponsored by Fox, and are also trying to get Home Depot Inc. to stop advertising there.

At least 5,000 people nationwide have signed up to compile logs on who is running commercials on Fox, Gilliam said. The groups want to first concentrate on businesses running local ads, as opposed to national commercials.

"It's a lot more effective for Sam's Diner to get calls from 10 people in his town than going to the consumer complaint department of some pharmaceutical company," Gilliam said.

Some of videos produced by Gilliam's company compile statements made by Fox anchors and guests that the activists consider misleading, such as those that question global warming.

Representatives for Fox News Channel, which is owned by News Corp., did not immediately return calls for comment.

Home Depot has not had an unusual number of calls, said spokesman Jerry Shields, and the home improvement chain will not change its advertising strategy.

"We're not in the business of censoring media," Shields said. "We need to reach our customer base through all mediums available."

Groups like the Sierra Club have targeted Home Depot because they believe it's inconsistent for the company to promote environmentally friendly products while advertising on a network that has questioned global warming.

The groups seem particularly angry at Fox's Bill O'Reilly, who has done critical reports on left-wing bloggers. On July 16, O'Reilly said the DailyKos.com Web site is "hate of the worst order," and sent a reporter to question JetBlue Airways Corp. CEO Dave Barger about the airline's sponsorship of a gathering run by DailyKos.

He'll never ride on JetBlue again, O'Reilly said.

MoveOn.org is campaigning against Fox because it says the network characterizes itself as a fair news network when it consistently favors a conservative point of view, said Adam Green, the organization's spokesman.

"We're not trying to silence anybody," Green said. "Rush Limbaugh has a right to be on the airhe admits his point of view. Fox doesn't."

.

God how I love that last quote:  "We're not trying to silence anybody. Rush Limbaugh has a right to be on the air - he admits his point of view.  Fox doesn't"

Let me translate for you.  That quote means "If you admit to being what we consider to be a rightwing pig from hell we'll let you stay on so that we can attack you.  But if you don't classify yourself the way WE classify you, we want you off the air and we're going to move heaven and earth to make it happen".

I wonder if mainstream media are paying attention.  Because in truth, even if these brownshirt wannabes don't admit it, Fox news IS mainstream.  And if they ever succeeded in getting rid of Fox, the other networks would be next unless they toed the moveon.org line too. 

Say it our way or no way at all!!

Seig hate!  Seig hate!  Seig hate!


DEMOCRATS AND ABORTION POLITICS

Ken Berwitz

I just read a very interesting analysis of the Democratic Party's proposed new abortion legislation, by the always-worth-reading Ed Morrissey of www.captainsquartersblog.com.  Here it is, see what you think:.

Democrats Getting Into Life?

Democrats have long tried to eat into the Republican grip on voters of faith, and now that they have control of Congress, they may have hit on a formula that works. Instead of their normal absolutist position on abortion rights, the Democrats have offered two bills that work to support women who choose to have their babies. Some Republicans are calling foul, however:

Sensing an opportunity to impress religious voters and tip elections Democrats in Congress and on the campaign trail have begun to adopt some of the language and policy goals of the antiabortion movement.

For years, the liberal response to abortion has been to promote more accessible and affordable birth control as well as detailed sex education in public schools.

That's still the foundation of Democratic policies. But in a striking shift, Democrats in the House last week promoted a grab bag of programs designed not only to prevent unwanted pregnancies, but also to encourage women who do conceive to carry to term.

The new approach embraces some measures long sought by antiabortion activists. It's designed to appeal to the broad centrist bloc of voters who don't want to criminalize every abortion yet are troubled by a culture that accepts 1.3 million terminations a year.

The Democrats may have discovered a middle ground on abortion, one that has been rumored to exist but few have seen. They have taken a few steps towards the middle with the Reducing the Need for Abortions Initiative, attempting to recast government services away from incentivizing abortions. It uses the same big government approach that once funded abortions, but now counsels women on the adoption option, home nurses for pregnant women choosing to have their babies, and even federal day care for those who keep the children themselves.

Republicans such as Mike Pence sense clouds in all this silver lining, however. Noting that Planned Parenthood would garner substantial new funding from these programs, Pence says that sending federal monies to the nation's largest provider of abortions in the name of reducing abortions makes no sense at all. Traditional pro-choicers see issues in the new approach as well; New York's Rep. Louise Slaughter argues, women don't have abortions because they can't afford day care.

This new, moderate approach will not win over the entire pro-life caucus, and for good reason -- it doesn't do anything to impede abortions. Democrats still refuse to mandate a review of ultrasounds before an abortion, which pro-lifers insist will reduce the number of abortions. It also seems more than a little like a stalking-horse for government-run medical care.

However, it will provide some hope of saving some children from the abortionist's vacuum pump, and that means that some in the pro-life movement may find themselves swayed by these efforts. Primarily, that will be the pro-lifers who have less investment in the rest of the Republican platform. While that number may be small, it won't take much to boost Democrats in these days of razor-thin margins in state and federal elections.

It's a smart move by Democrats, and as they turn away from their knee-jerk endorsement of abortion, we should applaud the change. However, it really shows how much Republicans have resonated on this issue, and how bad being associated with over 40 million abortions has become for the Democrats..

So?  Is Morrissey making sense? 

In my opinion - as usual - he is making a lot of sense.  But I can't say I'm in complete agreement with him.

What I don't see in this analysis is the backlash that is absolutely, positively sure to come from hard-line abortion advocates;  for example, the NARAL crowd and their pals.  They are the most vocal - and most media-savvy - people in the abortion debate and they will never take this lying down.

Now it is true that pro abortion groups have plenty to be happy about in this proposed legislation.  It does not in any way prevent abortions and it hands more money to Planned Parenthood (which, in case you are unaware, is the single most prolific abortion provider in the USA).  That will surely warm the cockles of the "pro-choice" crowd. 

Further, the proposed legislation would not mandate use of ultra-sounds.  That is a huge issue.  Anyone who has gone through childbirth in recent years, either firsthand or on the sidelines (we have a 7 month old grandson), surely knows how persuasive they can be in convincing a pregnant woman that there really is a child there, not just a hunk of inanimate tissue.

But, it is also true that the proposed legislation gives considerable ammunition for "pro-life" people to convince pregnant women that they don't have to abort.  It takes away a lot of the financial burden associated with childbirth and implements a support system for women who decline abortions they might have had without such help.  That isn't going to please the hard-line pro-abortion crowd,

Then we have the fact that this is proposed legislation, and not in final form.  What happens, for example, if ultra-sound is added in as part of the inevitable compromising process?  Or if the final bill reduces how much $$$ is handed to the already-rich Planned Parenthood? 

The bottom line is that such legislation may - may - bring Democrats some number of people who are more prone to the pro-life position.  But, on the other hand, how many NARAL, or NOW activists will condemn the Democratic Party for it?  And, while they certainly won't be voting Republican, how many will withhold support for Democrats, maybe even push their own candidates just to teach them a lesson and bring them back into the 100% pro-abortion fold?

This is going to be a very interesting journey.  I'll be following it and will try to periodically report back to you on how it is progressing.


IS GOVERNOR SPITZER A CORRUPT THUG?

Ken Berwitz

That is an ugly question to ask.  But, sad to say, a very legitimate one. 

Eliot Spitzer is the Governor of New York.  As its Attorney General he developed quite a reputation as a miserable SOB - but to a large (not complete but large) extent that was due to his actions against people and companies who probably deserved it. 

As Governor, however, he seems to be using exactly the same techniques to stifle and/or destroy his political opposition.  And that is a very different kettle of fish.

Let's start with this brief news excerpt, courtesy of the New York Post, which describes the scandal I am talking about:

July 27, 2007 - ALBANY- The subpoena-armed state Ethics commission yesterday announced it has opened an investigation into Gov. Spitzer and his top aides in the still-unfolding scandal over a campaign to ruin state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.

A spokesman for the Ethics Commission, which is controlled by Democrat Spitzer, said the five-member panel will probe the circumstancies under which top Spitzer aides used the State Police in a political intelligence-gathering effort designed to damage Bruno.

Now, take a look at their lead editorial in today's edition to understand it further:.

Let The Sun Shine In

July 27,2007 - Finally: A panel withy subpoena power - the state Ethics Commission - has agreed to look into Troopergate, the plot by Gov. Spitzer's office to use the State Police to smear Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.

This is potentially good news.

Emphasis on potentially.

Certainly, if the commission undertakes a fair and thorough probe, it can do much to clear away the clouds now hovering over Spitzer's tenure.

But that's a big "if."

Sure, an ethics-panel probe will have many of the trappings of a bona fide courtroom proceeding.

But in this case, it would be a trial in which the defendant gets to pick the judge, the jury and the prosecutor.

That's because Spitzer, as governor, controls the panel. He named its chairman, for example.

Last fall, even Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver - who has defended Spitzer in the Troopergate affair - pooh-poohed the panel's probe of then-Comptroller Alan Hevesi.

Calling it a "political process, through and through," Silver emphasized that "the governor controls" the panel - "there's not a question about it."

Indeed, over the years the panel stood motionless as Albany degenerated into a moral and ethical cesspool.

Yes, it initiated the process that saw Hevesi driven from office - but that was a dramatic exception to the commission's historic lassitude.

Meanwhile, merely by taking on this scandal, it does Spitzer a huge favor: From now on, whenever he's asked about the matter, he can credibly deflect questions by saying, "Sorry, it's under formal investigation and I can't comment."

(Not that he has been even slightly forthcoming to date. Yesterday, the governor wouldn't even say whether, in hindsight, he thinks two top aides, Darren Dopp and Richard Baum, should have cooperated with Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's own probe and testified under oath.)

Thus there are fundamental structural, procedural and political reasons to wonder about the Ethics Commission's efficacy.

Fortunately, there is a way for the panel to boost the credibility of whatever it ultimately finds: It can - and must - conduct every one of its actions in the full light of day.

The public must be able to see whether the panel asks all the key players all the relevant questions - under oath, and before reporters and cameras.

Indeed, it belongs on the Internet - live.

Certainly, if Spitzer had been kept in the dark, as he claims, he'd be pushing the hardest for a fully public, fully independent probe - with sworn testimony from anyone who can clear his name.

The governor is asking the public to trust him - to take his word for it that his aides carried out a rogue operation wholly unbeknownst to him.

It defies plausibility.

Especially when you consider stories like those on the preceding page.

Indeed, reporter Charles Gasparino's account of what happened to him when he fell afoul of Dopp and Spitzer is truly frightening - and offers every reason not to take the governor's word for it.

And these writers are hardly alone.

Again, a fair, open, thorough process by the Ethics Commission may shed light on just what happened - on who knew what and when.

But until that process is worked out - and executed - in full view, it's necessary to reserve judgment regarding this latest development in an increasingly bizarre tale.    .

Once upon a time there was a Republican governor of Connecticut -a very popular one (based on his three winning elections) - named John Rowland.  He was forced to resign from that office and spent almost a year in prison, for the crime of having state workers perform improvements on a home he owned.  He certainly deserved what he got, I have no issue with it at all.

Now we have a Democratic governor of New York - a very popular one (based on last year's election win) - named Eliot Spitzer.  If he is shown to have used state workers to destroy another man's reputation and career, what do you think should happen to him?

Let this investigation begin.  Immediately.  INDEPENDENTLY.  And let the chips fall where they may. 

But if New York investigates using a panel that is controlled by Governor Spitzer, I urge you to assume that the fix is in.  And to be infuriated by it.  I know that's what I'll be doing.


FREE SPEECH LOVERS

Ken Berwitz

Here, courtesy of the Associated Press, is moveon.org's latest attempt to censor everyone who disagrees with them.   See how you like it..

Liberals Go After Fox News Advertisers
Jul 27 04:21 PM US/Eastern
By DAVID BAUDER
AP Television Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - Liberal activists are stepping up their campaign against Fox News Channel by pressuring advertisers not to patronize the network.

MoveOn.org, the Campaign for America's Future and liberal blogs like DailyKos.com are asking thousands of supporters to monitor who is advertising on the network. Once a database is gathered, an organized phone-calling campaign will begin, said Jim Gilliam, vice president of media strategy for Brave New Films, a company that has made anti-Fox videos.

The groups have successfully pressured Democratic presidential candidates not to appear at any debate sponsored by Fox, and are also trying to get Home Depot Inc. to stop advertising there.

At least 5,000 people nationwide have signed up to compile logs on who is running commercials on Fox, Gilliam said. The groups want to first concentrate on businesses running local ads, as opposed to national commercials.

"It's a lot more effective for Sam's Diner to get calls from 10 people in his town than going to the consumer complaint department of some pharmaceutical company," Gilliam said.

Some of videos produced by Gilliam's company compile statements made by Fox anchors and guests that the activists consider misleading, such as those that question global warming.

Representatives for Fox News Channel, which is owned by News Corp., did not immediately return calls for comment.

Home Depot has not had an unusual number of calls, said spokesman Jerry Shields, and the home improvement chain will not change its advertising strategy.

"We're not in the business of censoring media," Shields said. "We need to reach our customer base through all mediums available."

Groups like the Sierra Club have targeted Home Depot because they believe it's inconsistent for the company to promote environmentally friendly products while advertising on a network that has questioned global warming.

The groups seem particularly angry at Fox's Bill O'Reilly, who has done critical reports on left-wing bloggers. On July 16, O'Reilly said the DailyKos.com Web site is "hate of the worst order," and sent a reporter to question JetBlue Airways Corp. CEO Dave Barger about the airline's sponsorship of a gathering run by DailyKos.

He'll never ride on JetBlue again, O'Reilly said.

MoveOn.org is campaigning against Fox because it says the network characterizes itself as a fair news network when it consistently favors a conservative point of view, said Adam Green, the organization's spokesman.

"We're not trying to silence anybody," Green said. "Rush Limbaugh has a right to be on the airhe admits his point of view. Fox doesn't."

.

God how I love that last quote:  "We're not trying to silence anybody. Rush Limbaugh has a right to be on the air - he admits his point of view.  Fox doesn't"

Let me translate for you.  That quote means "If you admit to being what we consider to be a rightwing pig from hell we'll let you stay on so that we can attack you.  But if you don't classify yourself the way WE classify you, we want you off the air and we're going to move heaven and earth to make it happen".

I wonder if mainstream media are paying attention.  Because in truth, even if these brownshirt wannabes don't admit it, Fox news IS mainstream.  And if they ever succeeded in getting rid of Fox, the other networks would be next unless they toed the moveon.org line too. 

Say it our way or no way at all!!

Seig hate!  Seig hate!  Seig hate!


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