Wednesday, October 05, 2005

NYT: Ladies & gentlemen, the new Martin & Lewis . . . Wyatt & Romero!

Unintended comedy is provided in the New York Times today via Edward Wyatt and Simon Romero's "In Midcareer, a Turn to Faith to Fill a Void."

It's so laughable, it's hard to know where to start.

Take sweetie pie Nathan L. Hecht who has long talks with Harriet Miers and there are rumors of a long running romance of some sort between the two old work buds and phone chums. He's just an evangical Christian who happens to be a judge. That's what Wyatt and Romero tell you. That's all. Apparently, not only are they not good with interviews, they also don't consult the paper's own archives.

So let's do the work they won't. Jim Yardley, the Times, "Bush's Choices for Court Seen as Moderates" (July 9, 2000):

For much of the 1990's, Justice Hecht led a conservative counterrevolution that shifted favor back to defendants and business.

Away from plantiffs. That's a little more important to a story of a prospective Supreme Court Justice than all the "she's a good girl" nonsense. She's had a longstanding friendship with the man who "led a conservative counterrevolution that shifted favor back to defendants and business." It's worked really well. Mother Jones reported an issue ago how well the system works for businesses and how poorly for citizens (see Randall Patterson's "Home Sour Home" to see how home owners are screwed while business wins out).

So Hecht (who apparently is also a lifelong bachelor like Miers) is presented as just another butt on the pew next to her. That's not reality and it's not even reality as reported (previously) by the Times.

Domingo Garcia has some words about Miers. (Billie e-mails to note that no mention is made of Dr. Elba Garcia who is Domingo's wife and currently serves on the City Council in Dallas.) Let's stay with the City Council for a moment because there's a passage that has to have been pasted together while Romero and Wyatt argued over it and then made it into the paper without them forgetting to fix it:

One of the most controversial issues before the Dallas City Council during Ms. Miers's single term that ended in 1991 was a battle over whether the city should adopt a plan doing away with council members elected at large, an election method that minority groups in Dallas criticized as marginalizing them from municipal politics.
Ms. Miers, elected as an at-large council member, initially favored the at-large system, but her position evolved to support a proposal that would create a collection of different districts in the city. This was adopted and eventually led to greater representation of blacks and Hispanics in Dallas.

Billie, In Dallas, Eddie and Dallas all e-mail to say that besides being confusing (the "but" implies something weightier should be coming than the mild statement that follows), that's not accurate. Romero and Wyatt may be big reporters for the Times, but those four members live in the DFW area and they remember how that went down. They also remember that Miers' stated reason (not mentioned in this article) for not seeking a second term (she was weak and it was doubtful she'd be elected if she couldn't count on a pool of voters of "her kind" from around the city) was that she didn't believe in representing one area but wanted to represent the entire city. If she didn't believe in it, her stated reason for not seeking re-election, then it's hard to claim she supported it. But Romero & Wyatt do that because they know best (and, Dallas suspects, because they're going by the Dallas Morning News archives and either not remembering or caring that Dallas was then a two-paper town with the Dallas Times Herald still publishing at that time -- Dallas says to note that DTH carried Molly Ivins and Dallas Morning News is infamous for the ad against JFK that ran the day he was assassinated in Dallas).

Dallas also wonders whether Laura Miller (current mayor of Dallas) might have been covering City Hall for the Dallas Times Herald during that period and feels that, if she was, there would be hard hitting articles on the City Councild from when Miers served.

Back to Domingo Garcia. He and others speak of how she didn't distinguish herself. One friend gushes over how good she was at getting coffee and how she was able to let people think that her ideas were their ideas. That's a Justice?

Romero and Wyatt offer that she moved to the Republican Party as her faith became stronger. That's a nice hunch but one could just as easily argue she moved as the change was taking place in Texas. (Which Billie strongly maintains was the result of the oil boom of the seventies and the influx of people from other states moving to Texas.) You could also argue that she felt the tenor and mood of the area changing and lept to be included. (The same way she apparently joined numerous clubs in high schools, according to the report, without ever distinguishing herself.) You could argue a number of things.

You could even speculate as to why she and her phone buddy appeared at GLBT meeting.
(Wyatt & Romero assure us that it was to get votes and that, so very Lou Reed of them, those were different times.) It's interesting that "newspapers reported that" Miers & her phone chum were an "item" and instead of asking if it was true, Romero & Wyatt ask 'is it still true?' That's a bit of a leap of faith that members from the area aren't willing to make.

It's also interesting the way that passage reads, about her conversion to another religion. Hecht reports that, apparently in 1979, "One evening she called me to her office and said she was ready to make a commitment." Hecht, the one time church organist and pianist, joined the church in 1971. If their friendship was indeed over thirty years, that would mean, presumably that he was witnessing to her for at least four years before she decided to leave one religion and embrace another. Did the Times ask about that?

If they're going to play riddle-me-this-Batman, might that not be an interesting component of the story. She leaves her family's religion. How did that happen?

In Dallas wonders why the same subgroup seems to be making all the appearances in the Times. Diane Ragsdale yesterday, Al Liscomb today. In Dallas wonders if John Wiley Price will pop up tomorrow? He wonders why, for instance, neither Ann or Katy Hubener (mother and daughter) have been interviewed by the Times?

From In Dallas' e-mail, I'll note: Both are active and long standing Democrats. Katy Hubener recently ran for Congress. Both mother and daughter are Catholic so they may have something to share about Miers who started out Catholic. The Hubeners are a Dallas family of four generations. In Dallas also wonders why Pauline Dixon hasn't been sought out. If Miers was any kind of a Democrat prior to her "conversion," In Dallas finds it hard to believe, as tight as the circles are in that area, that Dixon and the Hubeners wouldn't have some knowledge of Miers.)

Instead, we keep getting treated to Miers two years of elected office (city council). In Dallas's point is that Democratic women in that area (and Miers was supposedly one) knew one another. If the Times continues to attempt to solve The Riddle of Harriet, why do they keep focusing on her cronies and then someone who served on the city council? If they want to figure out why she changed (or her position on abortion), why not go to the women who would probably know a little more about it? If they knew her or of her, they might be able to help unravel The Riddle of Harriet. Then again, it might not paint her the way she appears in the Times today.

Such as when her former campaign manager for city council, who's been quoted elsewhere, is suddenly rather weak on Miers' abortion stance. Did the Times downplay what the woman actually said?

Miers attended a "largely white" school. Is that why she attended Church irregularly? The Church was downtown. During the time she would have been a member of that church, Eddie notes that the segregated schools (non-whites) were downtown. (They aren't there now. Emminent domain took out the neighborhoods.)

Romero & Wyatt are the ones attempting to figure her out. Eddie offers that downtown was less white than other areas of Dallas at that time due to the schools as well as the makeup of Harry Hines back then.

How much do Romero & Wyatt know about the city's history for the period they're writing about (and acting informed) because the e-mails I'm reading through provide huge details that would have aided the article.

What do we learn from the article?

She's got a phone buddy. She's anti-choice. She played sports well in high school but otherwise left no real impressions on her classmates. She plays the "servent" (in the article, not my word) and fetches coffee, et al. In 1979 she abidicates her family's religion (remember how her family has been so huge in the press narrative on her) to join the religion of her organ playing phone chum. The Times wants you to think they had a romantic relationship, she and phone chum, and that it may still be ongoing. Is anyone buying that?

She's the family oriented person, the woman of God, and they've known each other for thirty years plus and attend the same church (the one he brought her to). If there was a relationship, considering her stated beliefs in family and church, don't we kind of think that they would have been married years ago?

There was probably no relationship of any signficant romantic nature. But tossing out that red herring allows the Times not to have "space" to get to the heart of the relationship as it pertains to the Court -- he led a conservative revolution on the Texas courts. He led the wave of ruling against citiziens and in favor of business. As a corporate attorney (Microsoft, Disney, et al), Miers' friendship with this man is pertinent only because she values his opinion. (Enough to switch religions.) So will the Times be addressing the issue of whether or not she'll be the voice for corporations on the Court (if she makes the cut)?

Or will they continue to treat us like children with their movie mag writing of a romantic relationship that defies anything a reasonable person could expect?

They can keep pimping the story of the long distance romance for the two bachelors (he has no children, an e-mail just came in on that, and apparently has never been married) and we can all coo and awe over the shy kids and they're awkward courtship. Or we can get down to something really serious, something that will impact the citizens of the United States. Don't hold your breath for the Times to get to reality. Romero and Wyatt were swooning so hard over the likely mythical romance that Eddie wonders if they didn't take a trip to a club called The Round Up after turning in the article.

Wherever they landed, they didn't have time to address Ralph Nader's charge made yesterday on Democracy Now!, "Ralph Nader Debates Fmr. Boston Univ. Law School Dean on Miers Nomination to the Supreme Court:"

AMY GOODMAN: What have you been writing to Harriet Miers?
RALPH NADER: Well, we're trying to find out whether Karl Rove, during the 2004 election, obeyed federal law and properly allocated the time he spent in the White House on political activity, the resources he spent in the White House on political activity from his taxpayer funded role as special assistant to the President, performing duties that are well defined. And we can't get an answer. We wrote her -- Harriet Miers, that is -- in March, asking for an allocation to be made public, if there was an allocation, and there was no answer. We wrote her on the 18th of July, and there was no answer. And today, I'm writing President Bush, asking that that allocation be made public and if there is no allocation, what is his explanation under federal law?
The performance by Harriet Miers on this matter is not trivial. Karl Rove was the architect of President Bush's re-election campaign. Those were the words that President Bush used on the celebration after the election last November. And here we have the counsel to the President, Harriet Miers, a nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States, refusing to answer a simple letter that basically says, "Did Karl Rove obey federal law 5-USC-7321 and have an accounting, separating his duties in the White House, in terms of time and resources? And if so, make it public." No answer.

Whether she wants to respond to his request or not isn't the issue. She's supposed to respond to it. That was her job and the law appears not to have been followed. (Most requests of this such have a cut off of X number of business days. Nader says he made the request in July. Even the loosest policy would suggest that Meirs is now derelict in her duties. If they're legally bound to keep a record, they're legally bound to provide it to the public upon request.)

For further reality, we'll turn quickly to what Joan e-mailed to highlight, Robert Parry's "How Rotten Are These Guys?" (Consortium News):

The separation of the Bush political machine from organized crime is often like the thin layer of rock between a seemingly ordinary surface and volcanic activity rumbling below. Sometimes, the lava spews forth and the illusion of normalcy is shattered.
In the weeks ahead, a dangerous eruption is again threatening to shake the Bush family's image of legitimacy, as the pressure from intersecting scandals builds.
So far, the mainstream news media has focused mostly on the white-collar abuses of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for allegedly laundering corporate donations to help Republicans gain control of the Texas legislature, or on deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove for disclosing the identity of a covert CIA officer to undercut her husband's criticism of George W. Bush's case for war in Iraq.
Both offenses represent potential felonies, but they pale beside new allegations linking business associates of star GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff -- an ally of both DeLay and Rove -- to the gangland-style murder of casino owner Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2001.
These criminal cases also are reminders of George H.W. Bush's long record of unsavory associations, including with a Nicaraguan contra network permeated by cocaine traffickers, Rev. Sun Myung Moon's multi-million-dollar money-laundering operations, and anti-communist Cuban extremists tied to acts of international terrorism. [For details on these cases, see Robert Parry’s
Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.]
Now, George W. Bush is faced with his own challenge of containing a rupture of scandals -- involving prominent conservatives Abramoff, DeLay and potentially Rove -- that have bubbled to the surface and are beginning to flow toward the White House.
Mobbed Up
On Sept. 27, 2005 -- in possibly the most troubling of these cases -- Fort Lauderdale police charged three men, including reputed Gambino crime family bookkeeper Anthony Moscatiello, with Boulis's murder. Boulis was gunned down in his car on Feb. 6, 2001, amid a feud with an Abramoff business group that had purchased Boulis's SunCruz casino cruise line in 2000.

In addition to Parry, you can also check out Barry Yeoman's "The Fall of a True Believer" (Mother Jones, and note this is more of an excerpt/abstract than the article in full).

Rod e-mails to note today's Democracy Now!:

Wednesday, October 5:* Legendary broadcaster Studs Terkel joins us in our Firehouse studio for the hour.

And let's note Seth who's now been blogging for a week at Seth in the City. Seth is the newest community member to start a site.

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