The Peach

Proudly providing the reality-based community with the juice on politics, media, religion and culture

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Supreme Influence

A story from the L.A. Times reports that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas received over $40,000 in gifts from 1998 to 2003. Some of those gifts included $1,200 worth of tires and a $5,000 personal check to "help pay a relative's education expenses." The Peach finds these "gifts" to be somewhat disturbing, considering in 2005 Justice Thomas is expected to make nearly $200,000 for his bench job alone.

When asked to comment on the gifts, Mark Harrison, head of the American Bar Association's Commision on the Moral Code of Judicial Conduct, had this to say:
"Why would someone do that-- give a gift to Clarence Thomas? Unless they are family members or really close friends, the only reason to give gifts is to influence the judge."
The Peach has also discovered that one of these extravagant contributions came from Harlan Crow, whose other gift-giving activities included a donation last summer of $25,000 to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against John Kerry.

The next highest "accepter of gifts" was Sandra Day O'Connor, who received a paltry $5,800 during the same time period.

The SCLM has already failed miserably to shine a rigorous spotlight on Supreme misconduct when it allowed Justice Scalia to go shoot ducks with Dick Cheney with total impunity. The Peach can only hope that Justice Thomas' flagrant disregard for the ethical rules of his profession will arouse a little more scrutiny. What could be more important to the preservation of our democracy than investigating the possibility that the Supreme Court could be transformed into a corrupt rubber-stamping machine for Bush administration interests and policies?

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Breaking News: Department Of Homeland Insecurity

According to an internal watchdog, the Department of Homeland Security is "a dysfunctional, poorly managed bureaucracy that has failed to plug serious holes in the nation's safety net." Clark Kent Ervin, the department's inspector general until last month, went on to say that HS officials:
have wasted millions of dollars because of "chaotic and disorganized" accounting practices, lavish spending on social occasions and employee bonuses and a failure to require bidding for some projects.
One of these over-the-top events was a $500,000 awards banquet given by the Transportation Security Administration for its employees in November 2003. When asked what's wrong with the department, Mr. Ervin stated, "It's difficult to figure out where to start."

What The Peach finds all too shockingly familiar is that, in typical Bush fashion, Mr. Ervin has been fired. Even though the Project on Government Oversight referred to Mr. Ervin as a standout among inspectors general, and an "aggressive overseer" of the department, his criticism has led to his dismissal. It's become all too apparent that this administration is more concerned about appearances than this country's well being. If it's broke, don't fix it, just cover it up.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Breaking News: Family Of Woman Who Died From AIDS Drug Is Suing

According to the AP, the family of a pregnant woman, who died while taking a federally funded, NIH approved, experimental AIDS drug to protect her unborn child, is suing. The $10 million suit faults doctors, drug makers and hospitals for continuing to give the drug regimen despite signs of liver failure and because doctors did not warn the woman of the trial's dangers.

The Peach is quick to remind readers that this is the same drug distributed by the thousands as part of Bush's AIDS plan for Africa. This is also the drug that has started the current firestorm at the NIH, which suspiciously and unceremoniously dismissed Dr. Jonathan Fishbein following his disclosure that the NIH covered up the AIDS drug's flaws.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Prelude To Civil War?

In a certain blow to the January 30th elections, and what could possibly be a step towards civil strife, the main Sunni Muslim political movement, the Iraqi Islamic Party, is withdrawing from next month's general elections. According to the party leader, Mohsen Abdul Hamid, the move was motivated by the refusal to delay elections so that all parts of Iraq could vote. Mr. Hamid stated that six out of 18 Iraqi provinces would be unable to hold credible elections under the current circumstances.

It seems apparent that this administration's insistence that the elections go on will only further divide Iraqi factions, and bring that country closer to utter, irreversible chaos.

Rumsfeld Message Malfunction

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld seems to have made quite a faux pas. In a CNN transcript of Rumsfeld's recent surprise visit to troops in Iraq, he is heard to describe UAL Flight 93, which crashed in a field in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001 as having been "shot down."

Raw Story
notes that Flight 93 has long been the subject of controversy, but this is the first time an administration official has revealed any hint of a crack in the official story -- that the plane crashed when passengers heroically staged a revolt against the hijackers.

Interestingly, while most of the conspiracy-mongers have Flight 93 being shot down by the U.S. military, Rumsfeld's remarks seem to imply a downing by terrorists:
I think all of us have a sense if we imagine the kind of world we would face if the people who bombed the mess hall in Mosul, or the people who did the bombing in Spain, or the people who attacked the United States in New York, shot down the plane over Pennsylvania and attacked the Pentagon, the people who cut off peoples' heads on television to intimidate, to frighten -- indeed the word "terrorized" is just that. Its purpose is to terrorize, to alter behavior, to make people be something other than that which they want to be. (emphasis ours).
The Peach finds it particularly interesting that the only two outlets reporting this story at the moment are Raw Story and the ultra-right WorldNet Daily, suggesting that there is a convergence at certain points between liberal mistrust of the current government and the far-right's mistrust of government in general.

We also wonder how the SCLM can turn something like Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" into weeks worth of salacious video replay while virtually ignoring potential scandals of much greater importance to the American public. We cannot think of anything of greater moment than the possibility that our own military -- or terrorists for that matter -- might have shot down a passenger plane on 9/11 and then subsequently covered it up. We hope to see some serious mainstream reporting on this in the near future.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Breaking News: Feds Won't Protect NIH Whistleblower

In what The Peach finds to be a blow to uncovering questionable and scandalous behavior by scientists and doctors at NIH, Administrative Judge Raphael Ben-Ami has ruled that Jonathan Fishbein, the man who blew the whistle on flawed NIH AIDS research, can not seek protection from firing under the Whistleblowere Protection Act. Ben-Ami argued that, because of Fishbein's special consultant status, the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board lacks authority to consider his claims of discrimination or retaliation. NIH is stating that Fishbein is being fired because of poor performance and that his allegations are coming from a "disgruntled" employee.

There are a couple of problems The Peach is having with NIH's actions here. Doesn't it seem conveniently appropriate that Fishbein's firing comes at a time when NIH is coming under repeated attacks and scrutiny? And who would vigilantly go after him to make sure he didn't receive the protection he requested? The laundry list of questions NIH must answer just keeps getting longer.