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January 1, 2012

On the campaign trail, December 2011

On the campaign trail, December 2011 – Wikinews, the free news source

On the campaign trail, December 2011

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

The following is the second in a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2012 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after a brief mention of some of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: the campaign manager for a candidate already seeking two presidential nominations discusses the likelihood his candidate will run for the Reform Party’s nomination; a lesser known candidates forum reveals an alternative fuel possibility and concludes in a dramatic fashion; and the newly nominated candidate for the Boston Tea Party talks with Wikinews.

Summary

Ron Paul speaks at an Iowa campaign event, December 28.
Image: Gage Skidmore.

In December 2011, businessman Herman Cain ended his campaign for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination amid allegations of sexual harassment and an extramarital affair. Hoping to appeal to social conservatives, Texas governor Rick Perry released a commercial in Iowa entitled “Strong”, in which he states, “there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.” While the video received 24,407 likes by the end of the month, it received 725,698 dislikes.

Frontrunner Newt Gingrich had trouble of his own after he suggested during an interview with The Jewish Channel that Palestinians were an “invented people”. He refused to retract the comments at the final GOP debate before the January 3 Iowa Caucus. Gingrich’s lead in the polls disappeared as Mitt Romney won big endorsements from South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, former Senator Bob Dole, and former president George H.W. Bush.

Meanwhile, Congressman Ron Paul rose in the polls as well, trailing Romney by two points in the final NBC/Marist poll of the year with Rick Santorum surging and Rick Perry close behind. However, Paul encountered his own troubles as the media reported on articles published in his newsletters from the 1980s and 1990s that included incendiary comments about blacks, gays, and Israel. Paul says he did not write the articles and has publicly disavowed them in the past. Additionally, Paul won the backing of Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson, who previously served as the state chairman for Michele Bachmann, who continued to sag in the polls since winning the Ames Straw Poll in August.

Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, another candidate who had been low in the Republican polls, announced a switch to the Libertarian Party to run for that party’s presidential nomination. Analysts have suggested that if Johnson wins the Libertarian nomination, he could possibly take votes away from the Republican nominee and help President Barack Obama win re-election.

Possible Reform Party candidate?

Roemer speaks to the Reform Party of New Jersey on December 10.
Image: Greenguy89.

Presidential candidate Buddy Roemer addressed members of the Reform Party of New Jersey on December 10 at a joint Reform Party-Tea Party event. The meeting raised speculation that Roemer, who is currently running for the presidential nominations of both the Republican Party and Americans Elect, would also seek the nomination of the Reform Party of the United States of America.

Dennis Mikolay, a member of the New Jersey party’s leadership, wrote on his blog that “there are efforts within the Reform Party to draft him [Roemer] as their candidate”. However, Roemer, who served as Governor of Louisiana as a Republican, does not seem interested in the nomination. According to campaign manager Carlos Sierra, the Reform Party has “reached out to us…but the Governor does not intend to seek their nomination. He is focused primarily on the GOP nomination. We think once his message gets a stage and an audience, that it will resonate with the Republican Party and Independents. The problem is he keeps getting shut out of the debates.”

Industrialist Ross Perot founded the Reform Party in 1995. He won the party’s presidential nomination the next year and received over eight percent of the popular vote, the highest percentage for a third party candidate since. After this, the party was plagued by infighting, and decreased in prominence. In 2008, Ted Weill was nominated for president, but appeared only on the ballot in Mississippi and received 481 votes.

For 2012, three candidates have announced their intentions to seek the party’s nomination: former college football coach Robby Wells, Earth Intelligence Network CEO Robert David Steele, and small business owner Andre Barnett.

Lesser-known candidates forum

On December 19, the New Hampshire Institute of Politics hosted a forum at St. Anselm College to present lesser-known candidates for the Republican and Democratic Party presidential nominations. Wikinews covered the Democratic Party forum that showcased candidates challenging President Barack Obama for that party’s presidential nomination, including anti-abortion activist Randall Terry and performance artist Vermin Supreme.

Vermin Supreme glitter bombs Randall Terry during the Democratic Party presidential candidates forum as John Wolfe looks on.
Image: Marc Nozell.

A high point of the forum occurred after Vermin Supreme delivered his final statement. He exclaimed, “Jesus told me to make Randall Terry gay” and proceeded to glitter bomb Terry while shouting, “he’s turning gay.” Terry had earlier affirmed his opposition to same-sex marriage, comparing it to slavery and abortion. Supreme later told Wikinews that Terry “took his glittering like a man, a gay man. I don’t know if the fairy dust turned him gay right away, but he took his medicine, and he seemed to enjoy it on some level.” Though Terry could not be reached for comment, he wrote on his blog that the glitter bombing “appeared to have no impact on me becoming homosexual.” Supreme claims he was threatened by a Terry supporter after the forum and is now “seeking Secret Service protection.” He has no plans to glitter bomb anyone else.

Supreme says that he had previously met Terry at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and “was given the distinct impression that he (Terry) wanted to perform fellatio on me.” He says that prior to the forum, he offered “to have ‘homosexual gay sex’ in the lavatory stall”, but Terry declined. During the forum, Supreme said that he planned to write-in Terry, but said afterwards that his support “depends how gay he [Terry] gets.”

Dr. Bob Greene, a physicist who also participated in the forum, commented that the glitter bombing “was inappropriate for the circumstances.” During the forum, Greene differentiated himself from his opponents by discussing the use of thorium as an alternative fuel, saying “we have enough thorium for all of our energy needs for well over a thousand years.” He elaborated further after the forum, explaining that thorium could be used by bombarding it with neutrons, after which it fissions. “The fuel”, he explained, “is a molten salt, really Thorium Fluoride with a couple of stable-izers.” Greene says that it is safer and produces less waste than conventional methods, but “the military favored the uranium cycle because you could get lots of plutonium out of it, which they wanted for bombs. Thorium – not so.”

Others that participated in the Democratic forum include writer Ed Cowan, lawyer John Haywood, activist Edward O’Donnell Jr., and lawyer John Wolfe.


Boston Tea Party presidential nomination

On December 23, the Boston Tea Party (BTP) nominated Howard Community College trustee Tiffany Briscoe of Maryland as its second presidential nominee. The BTP was formed in 2006 and “supports reducing the size, scope and power of government at all levels and on all issues, and opposes increasing the size, scope and power of government at any level, for any purpose.” In 2008, the party nominated boxing manager Charles Jay, who appeared on three state ballots and won a total of 2,422 votes.

Briscoe’s platform calls for the legalization of drugs, a repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act, and an end to subsidies and foreign aid. Former radio host Kimberly Johnson was selected as her running mate.

Briscoe took some time to speak with Wikinews about her campaign and the BTP.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow do you plan to gain ballot access for the BTP?

Briscoe: The BTP is a fairly new political party. Yet, it has great potential. Its message of individual freedom and free markets resonates with a great majority of the American people that do not seem to be content with the current Establishment. We need to campaign massively, which we are already doing, to collect enough petition signatures and get on as many ballots as possible. I will myself contribute financially to help get the party on the ballot in such states as Colorado and Louisiana. At the end of the day, we will probably be able to appear on 14 to 15 states throughout the country, and stay as a write-in candidate in virtually all the others.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngIdeologically, how are you different from Ron Paul or Gary Johnson?

Briscoe: Ron Paul and Gary Johnson are two great men that have helped the cause of liberty by working from the inside of the government. But they do not reflect the true nature of libertarianism. Paul has become a typical politician, taking pork barrel to his district to get reelected, wants to restrict immigration, and wants to plague the economy with an entire new series of tax credits and corporate loopholes for energy and health care reform. Gary Johnson, while he did veto more laws than any other governor in the 1990s, also encounters the same problem: he wants to keep Guantanamo Bay open with the so-called “enemy combatant” inside, he opposes the end of the Federal Reserve that is creating so much troubles with our economy, and even wants to establish a FairTax that would increase consumer prices in a way that will slow economic development. So while I do consider myself as an ideological ally of these two men, I don’t believe they’re doing the best they can when it comes to promoting the philosophy of freedom.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat do you hope to accomplish with this campaign, and what would constitute a success?

Briscoe: Of course, I am not running just to get my name or the party’s name out there, even though the latter is also a goal. I am running to show that there are actually some people outside of Washington that still care about the future of our country, to show that all these independent-minded folks are not alone in their daily fight against the federal government. But with 60% of the people wishing to see a third party play a more important role and with an even greater portion saying they would consider voting for a third party in 2012, we might have more chances to reach success than we may think. Of course, the ultimate success would be paving the way to the White House but at this point, I believe only taking away votes from the true “spoilers” that the Establishment represents in a way that would change the ultimate course of the election would already make us proud.



Related articles

  • “U.S. presidential candidate Gary Johnson leaves GOP to vie for the LP nom” — Wikinews, December 29, 2011
  • “South Carolina governor Nikki Haley endorses Mitt Romney for U.S. president” — Wikinews, December 17, 2011
  • “Republican hopeful Gingrich fuels controversy over Palestinian ‘invented people’ remarks” — Wikinews, December 11, 2011
  • Campaign manager: 100 percent chance Buddy Roemer will run for Americans Elect presidential nomination” — Wikinews, December 1, 2011
  • “U.S. Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann narrowly edges Ron Paul in Ames Straw Poll‎” — Wikinews, August 15, 2011

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May 1, 2009

U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter to retire

U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter to retire

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Friday, May 1, 2009

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David Souter

United States President Barack Obama will get the chance to make his first United States Supreme Court appointment as a number of unnamed sources close to Associate Justice David Souter announced the Justice’s retirement from the body, to take place in June.

NPR suggests that Souter was waiting to confirm that colleagues John Paul Stevens, now 89, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has cancer, were not retiring in the coming year before making his decision; the earliest public indication of his retirement was the April 29th discovery by the Associated Press that unlike the eight other Justices, Souter had not hired a staff for the upcoming session of the Supreme Court, which begins in October.

A spokesperson for the Justice said that Souter had no comments on the reports of his retirement.

Souter, currently 69, retires from the court as the sixth-oldest justice, but his departure is unlikely to change the court’s ideological balance. While appointed by Republican President George H. W. Bush in 1990, Souter has consistently voted as a member of the court’s center-left bloc and a liberal nomination by Obama would likely be confirmed by a majority in the United States Senate.

The Supreme Court is the highest judicial body in the United States; its decisions on the interpretation of the Constitution can be overridden only by a constitutional amendment.



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March 13, 2009

Billionaire philanthropist Leonore Annenberg dies at 91

Billionaire philanthropist Leonore Annenberg dies at 91

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Leonore Annenberg

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Billionaire philanthropist and former Chief of Protocol of the United States Leonore Annenberg, widow of the late publishing magnate Walter Annenberg, died Thursday, at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California. She was 91 and had been in declining health at the time of her death. An Annenberg family spokesperson issued a statement confirming Mrs. Annenberg’s death, and giving the cause of death as natural.

Annenberg served as Chief of Protocol from 1981 to 1982 under President Ronald Reagan. Once out of the public eye, the Annenbergs began donating large sums of their fortune to arts, cultural, medical, and educational facilities through the Annenberg Foundation, established in 1989.

Former President George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush issued a statement in which they referred to Mr. and Mrs. Annenberg as having “exemplified service to others and were two of God’s very special people.” Former First Lady Nancy Reagan called Mrs. Annenberg “a dear and longtime friend” and praised the couple’s “unparalleled” philanthropy that “left an indelible print on education in the United States.”

Plans for a memorial service are underway.


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June 19, 2008

Bush calls for US offshore oil exploration

Bush calls for US offshore oil exploration

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

United States President George W. Bush delivered a speech Wednesday in which he urged the United States Congress to end a ban on oil exploration off of US shores. Currently there is both an executive order and a Congressional moratorium against such exploration.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne looks on as President Bush delivered his statement Wednesday in the Rose Garden of the White House.

The Congress issued its moratorium in 1981. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush issued an executive order in the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

President Bush said that “we should expand American oil production by increasing access to the Outer Continental Shelf, or OCS. Experts believe that the OCS could produce about 18 billion barrels of oil. That would be enough to match America’s current oil production for almost ten years.”

“I know the Democratic leaders have opposed some of these policies in the past,” President Bush said. “Now that their opposition has helped drive gas prices to record levels, I ask them to reconsider their positions. If Congressional leaders leave for the Fourth of July recess without taking action, they will need to explain why $4-a-gallon gasoline is not enough incentive for them to act.”

Senator John McCain, who is the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party, said on Tuesday that he favors offshore drilling.

Senator Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader from the Democratic Party, said: “This week’s flip-flop on offshore oil drilling by President Bush and Senator John McCain is nothing more than a cynical campaign ploy that will do nothing to lower energy prices, and represents another big giveaway to oil companies already making billions in profits.”

“It’s cynical to say that we can drill our way out of this mess,” said Athan Manuel, of the environmental group Sierra Club. “The solution to $4 gas is not off our coast.”

A recent poll conducted by Reuters/Zogby showed that about 60% of Americans support more oil drilling and refinery construction, yet nearly the same percentage also say they are in favor of conservation.

“We will take pressure off gas prices over time by expanding the amount of American-made oil and gasoline. We will strengthen our national security by reducing our reliance on foreign oil. We will benefit American workers by keeping our nation competitive in the global economy — and by creating good jobs in construction, and engineering, and refining, maintenance, and many other areas,” said Bush in his speech.



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February 16, 2008

Former president Bush, Romney back McCain

Former president Bush, Romney back McCain

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

2008 United States Presidential Election
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Former President George H. W. Bush
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

Former 2008 Presidential candidate Mitt Romney

Former President George H. W. Bush is reported to have offered his endorsement to Senator John McCain in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. This comes as former Presidential candidate and Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney announced his support for McCain on Friday after a bitter primary battle with the Senator, which ended after Romney exited the race following less than stellar results on Super Tuesday.

Romney, who once referred to McCain as a “liberal Democrat”, had a change of heart as he stood by the Senator’s side and described McCain as “…a man capable of leading our country at a dangerous hour.” McCain accepted the endorsement and thanked the governor. Romney will hand McCain the 280 delegates he won while participating in primaries and caucuses during his campaign.

The endorsement from the 83-year-old former president and father of current President Bush ends his official neutrality on the 2008 presidential race. However, a correlation may exist from the proximity of the endorsements as the Washington Post reports that Bush gave “indications” earlier in the race that he was on Romney’s side, citing the facts that many Bush aides worked for Romney and that Romney’s 2007 “Faith in America” speech was set at the George H. W. Bush presidential library. Nevertheless, the backing marks the second from a former President in the 2008 race, assuming that Bill Clinton supports his wife, Hillary.


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November 12, 2007

Vanity Fair contributing editor Craig Unger on the Bush family feud, neoconservatives and the Christian right

Vanity Fair contributing editor Craig Unger on the Bush family feud, neoconservatives and the Christian right

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Craig Unger: “In Spain my publisher, Planeta, is considered a center-right company and they made me the big book of their season. In Europe I am considered a straight-ahead reporter. In the United States I tend to be shunned by the mainstream media, almost completely, especially by the White House press corp.”
photo: David Shankbone

In a recent interview with the Dalai Lama’s Representative to the Americas, Tashi Wangdi, David Shankbone remarked to him that Americans have trouble relating to centuries-long conflicts that exist between peoples around the world, including those in Asia. Many Asian countries dislike each other tremendously, and the conflict over Tibet is just one enduring multi-national battle.

According to Vanity Fair contributing editor Craig Unger, it is not that Americans do not have these deep-seeded conflicts; it is that they do not remember them and thus have no context in which to see them as they resurface in our political culture.

On the same day he spoke to the Dalai Lama’s representative, Shankbone sat down with Unger, author of The New York Times best-seller House of Bush, House of Saud. In his new book, The Fall of the House of Bush, Unger attempts to fill in some of the blanks of an epochal narrative in American politics. Using a mix of painstaking research, interviews with cultural and political leaders and delving into previously classified records to come up with some overview of how America has arrived at this particular political moment.

To make sense of such complicated history, Unger draws upon three themes: He illustrates the conflict within the modern Republican Party via the oedipal conflict between George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush. Things are not well within the House of Bush. Bush Jr. has not only shut out his father and his allies from his administration—something Bob Woodward discovered in his interviews with the President—but he also appointed many of his father’s bitterest enemies to key cabinet positions.

Unger’s second theme draws upon this Bush family feud: many of Bush Sr.’s foes happen to be leaders of the neoconservative movement, who had been working against the President’s father since the 1970’s. Back then the neoconservatives did not have a base of political support within the Republican Party, which brings Unger to his third theme: the marriage between the neoconservatives and the Christian right to create a formidable ideological block.

Unger is a Fellow at the Center for Law and Security at NYU’s School of Law. In addition to his work at Vanity Fair, he is a former editor-in-chief of Boston Magazine, and former Deputy Editor of the New York Observer. A journalist of the old school who believes in verifying his sources’ veracity, Unger illuminates the Republican Party’s ideological struggle between the old and the new and traces its history for those who do know it.

Unger disputes the recent assertion by The New York Times that these forces are dead; they are thriving. Below is David Shankbone’s interview with Craig Unger about his book, The Fall of the House of Bush.

On the likelihood of an attack on Iran before the 2008 election

David Shankbone: Tim Wirth sent David Mixner this article by Jim Holt in the London Review of Books, and Mixner sent me a link to it. It posits that the Bush administration has all along planned on having a permanent military presence in Iraq. Have you seen it?

Craig Unger: I skimmed this and I know the thirty trillion dollar figure. What is astonishing about the neocons if you read them, is how little they mention oil. You can characterize their plans as strategic dominance in the Middle East for the United States and oil is obviously a part of that. I don’t know if Holt means it ironically or intentionally, but I think it is oversimplifying to say, “Oh, it’s exactly as they intended.” Although there are people like Michael Ledeen who say “Let’s turn it into a steaming cauldron”—those are his words.

According to Unger, Ron Paul is the only Republican candidate who would not attack Iran. “The neocons are in Giuliani’s camp, such as Norman Podhoretz and Daniel Pipes.”

I would never say things went exactly as planned. If you go back to the work of David Wurmser, for example, they really believed that a Shia like Chalabi would take over Iraq and be pro-west and recognize Israel. They talk about the Hashemite among the Shia in Iraq rising up and they hoped they would overthrow the mullahs in Iran. Obviously, that hasn’t happened.

DS: You’ve written that Iran is definitely on the agenda for a military strike by the Americans.

CU: Oh, absolutely. It’s possible it will occur under Bush, but if not and a Republican wins they will do it. The neocons are in Giuliani’s camp, such as Norman Podhoretz and Daniel Pipes.

DS: If the neconservatives succeed, two years into the future where will we be?

CU: The biggest single question is Iran. If we bomb Iran, they will immediately block the Persian Gulf. The Strait of Hormuz is only about thirty miles wide and forty percent of the world’s oil goes through there. Cruise missiles can easily hit Saudi oil facilities. Oil will shoot to $200, maybe $300 a barrel. At the pump it’s hard to calculate, but that would mean at $6 a gallon. We currently have minesweepers in the Gulf, which suggests we are right there for that possibility. That’s one of the scary things. But it unleashes uncontrollable forces. If you have the Saudis attacked by Iran you have the Sunni-Shia conflict erupting throughout the entire region. There’s an inverse correlation between the price of the dollar and oil, so as oil goes up, the dollar goes down. The dollar is already weak and would plummet accordingly, which would start a global recession. There would be a global oil war during a period where we may be approaching peak oil—I know that concept is controversial—but its also at a time when China’s energy needs are going through the roof; their imports are going up as much as forty percent a year. Their energy consumption is going through the roof, and the same with India. We used to be the lone huge consumer and it didn’t bother anyone, but now there are real rivals out there. And in geostrategic terms, we are getting in a weaker and weaker position. If you look at the costs of the Iraq War, 4,000 Americans dead, hundreds of thousand of Iraq dead, four million refugees, hundreds of billions of dollars spent; but in geostrategic terms we are weaker off, Israel is much weaker, and the only beneficiary has been Iran, whose GDP has gone through the roof because of the price of oil has gone from $22 to $98.

DS: Are there any Republican front-runners that would not undertake an assault on Iran?

CU: The only one is not a front-runner: Ron Paul. I don’t think there is a single Republican who has tried to discredit Bush’s policies. One of my concerns addressed in this book is I don’t want people to think, “Oh, the Bushs are gone, it’s all over.” No, no, no. We’re going to be paying for this for decades. The Christian right and the neocons: that is the Republican Party today. It transcends Bush. Bush became the vehicle through whom they carried out their policies.

DS: So it could have been anybody but they ingratiated themselves with Bush?

CU: He was an ideal vehicle. Partly he has a name that was identified with the old Republican establishment—

DS: And he wasn’t particularly well-informed, giving them an “in” to educate him?

CU: That’s for sure. A lot of voters thought they were getting his father. Wall Street Republicans thought of him as a moderate. He used terms like “ Compassionate Conservative” that were perceived as moderate. I have a chapter called “Dog Whistle Politics” where he’s speaking one language to the general public, and another to his base. So compassionate conservatism is precisely that. It really was a program for taking away the social safety net and giving it to right-wing churches. It was a movement that was about anything but a liberal safety net.

DS: Within the United States, what are the neoconservatives and Christian right concerned will happen that could scuttle their agenda?

CU: The Democrats winning, obviously, which is one reason they might bomb Iran before the election. That would change the dynamic of the entire election. I think there are two possibilities: are they going to do it before the next election? I don’t have the answer and I can’t predict it, but it would be a disaster. It would change the dynamics of the election that they are soft on terrorism, they want to throw Israel to Iran—

DS: Would that still work after all this time?

CU: The Zogby Poll just showed 52% of Americans think we should bomb Iran. The media has not improved at all since the Iraq War, and 90% of Americans were behind that. Part of the problem is that this jingoist stuff you might expect from Fox News, but when The New York Times becomes a mouthpiece for Dick Cheney, you then form a consensus in the national conversation and anyone critical is marginalized.

This history behind the Bush family feud

DS: Is there a movement within the Republican Party that is working against the fundamentalism in the party?

CU: I frame it in an almost oedipal way—the first chapter is called “Oedipus Tex”—and they have lost. It was Bush Sr. and his best friend Scowcroft against Bush Jr. On the surface there were no words between them; they would play horseshoes and talk nice about their houses and Midland.

DS: Bob Woodward was astonished when Bush Jr. told him he had not spoken to Bush Sr. about the Iraq War at all. Do you come across what is behind that?

“[I]n 1994 you had George W. and Jeb running for governor of Texas and Florida, respectively, and exactly the reverse happened of what people expected: that George would lose and Jeb would win. The opposite happened.”

CU: First, George W. Bush was not the favorite son by a long-shot. Jeb was, and even Neil was ahead of them. But in 1994 you had George W. and Jeb running for governor of Texas and Florida, respectively, and exactly the reverse happened of what people expected: that George would lose and Jeb would win. The opposite happened. In 1998, George wins reelection and suddenly he’s a two-term governor of a very visible state who has positioned himself for the Presidency. He knows nothing about foreign policy. He had only left the country one time, which was to visit his daughter in Italy. He had no curiosity about the world. Bush Sr. decides they have to educate him about it, so they bring in Prince Bandar and Condi Rice and begin a series of seminars. They are thinking the old guard—by that I mean Brent Scowcroft, Condi Rice, James Baker,Colin Powell—will take charge; that is not what happens at all. In late 1998 the neocons quickly move in, and you have Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and Elliott Abrams making semi-secret trips down to Texas.

DS: That was to educate Bush? The Daily Show did this piece where they did a debate splicing Texas Governor Bush’s views of what he said when he was governor versus what he has said as President, and they are polar opposites. When he was governor he was saying we can’t go out nation-building.

CU: Right. If you carefully, carefully examine what is happening, Richard Perle comes back from one of those trips and tells a breakfast meeting in 1999 that Bush is going to carry out their plan to overturn Saddam. Bush himself says it in the fall of 1999 and says, “I’m going to take him out.” Afterwards people call him on it and ask, “You’re going to take out Saddam?” and he gets criticized for it mercilessly. He backs down and says, ‘No, no, I mean take out the weapons of mass destruction.” He backs off and attacks Gore as you say, and says we are not going to do nation-building instead. But he’s had these private conversations; Stephen Hadley tells these private fundraisers that Bush’s first priority is going to be to overthrow Saddam. This is in early 2000. I paid a lot of attention to the period just after the election was settled. Some fascinating things happen—I wrote about this as a Salon expert; it’s a Wolfowitz story—the neocons realize if they want to carry out the Iraq War, they need to control the intelligence apparatus. The perfect way to do this is to make Paul Wolfowitz the head of the CIA.

DS: What was the problem with the intelligence apparatus at that time that the neocons needed to take control of it?

CU: If you go back all the way to the mid-1970s, the neocons were distorting intelligence even back then. They had an operation known as Team B. From there I start tracing five neocons who are on the staff of Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson. He was a muscular Democrat. He was strong on labor, but a hard-line Cold Warrior who wanted to roll back the Soviet Union. The neocons grew out of that. His hero is Albert Wohlstetter, who was one of the models for Dr. Strangelove. 1976 is the era of détente, and the neocons hate this; they fear losing their favorite enemy, the Soviet Union. They are saying the CIA is coming up with much too rosy of predictions and they don’t believe the intelligence. Who takes over the CIA at this point? George H.W. Bush. They decide they have to go to battle against him and they form what is known as Team B, which starts an “alternative intelligence assessment.” It effectively says the CIA is all wrong and that we have to redo their intelligence. But Team B’s estimates were completely inaccurate. I go into considerable detail of how they vastly, vastly overestimated the power of the Soviet Union.

DS: How did they bring Team B into the present?

CU: What you see back then are events that prefigure the Iraq War to an enormous extent. The key operatives in the White House then are the youngest Chief of Staff in the history of the United States, Dick Cheney; and the youngest Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. They are siding with Team B. Here you have thirty years ago the beginning of this alliance between Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Richard Perle.

Bush appoints his father’s enemies to his Cabinet

DS: So Rumsfeld and Cheney are not seen as old Bush Sr. people.

CU: Rumsfeld is probably the bitterest, bitterest enemy of George H.W. Bush ever.

DS: Weren’t they considered part of the realpolitik school?

CU: Cheney was, but not Rumsfeld. And Cheney was Rumsfeld’s protégé.

DS: What effect did it have on Bush Sr. that some of his bitterest foes were assuming positions in his son’s administration?

CU: He is famously nonresponsive on this, but James Baker spoke out. What you see going on in December 2000 is that Bush Jr.’s team had decided on Indiana Senator Dan Coats for Secretary of Defense.

DS: I remember that mentioned.

CU: It was because he was against gays in the military. What better qualification could one possibly have, right? They first appoint Colin Powell as Secretary of State, and he has a press conference with Bush in which Powell is so dazzling that Cheney freaks out and says, “My God, Dan Coats will never be able to stand up to him!” They need somebody more powerful. They call in Donald Rumsfeld and James Baker warns Bush, “You know what this guy did to your father.” Rumsfeld had sabotaged Bush Sr. again and again and again. Bush had been considered a likely choice for Vice President under Gerald Ford instead of Nelson Rockefeller, and Rumsfeld kept him off the ticket.

DS: Why was there a dispute between Rumsfeld and Bush Sr.?

CU: It was ambition. Rumsfeld had Presidential ambitions himself.

Paul Wolfowitz and the Office of Special Plans

According to Unger’s sources, Paul Wolfowitz’s affair with Shaha Ali Riza (above) scuttled plans to make him the Director of the CIA.

DS: Coming back to current times, what continues to transpire in the formation of Bush Jr.’s 2000 cabinet?

CU: They want to appoint Wolfowitz head of the CIA. Well, there’s a problem: he is dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and he is allegedly caught having an affair with a female staff member. He’s also allegedly having another extramarital relationship with another woman who had become more famous, Shaha Ali Riza.

DS: I believe Riza was called Wolfowitz’s “neoconcubine” by his critics.

CU: Yes. To him, that relationship was the romantic embodiment of the neocon venture: he’s a secular Jew; she’s a secular Muslim. He parades her on his arm at all the neocon events that season. There’s one person who doesn’t like this situation: Clare Wolfowitz, his wife of thirty years and mother of his three children. She’s not happy.

DS: What does Mrs. Wolfowitz do about his extramarital affairs?

CU: She’s writes a letter to George W. Bush saying, ‘You can’t possibly make my husband head of the CIA because he’s a security risk,’—she has not commented on this, by the way—that ‘he’s a security risk not just because he has undisclosed relationships, but because one of them is with a foreign national, Shaha Ali Riza.’ This alleged letter I’m told was intercepted by Scooter Libby, who is Wolfowitz’s protégé at Yale and is to become Chief of Staff to Dick Cheney. They are now very wary of putting Wolfowitz up for Congressional hearings; this could be a mess! Instead, they call in Donald Rumsfeld and they see that if they are going to handle intelligence they are going to do it through the Defense Department. This is where the Office of Special Plans gets created.

DS: So they decide to redo the entire intelligence apparatus for Wolfowitz?

CU: This is an alternative national security apparatus. We spend $40 billion a year on intelligence and a great power has to have accurate intelligence. So they put up disinformation pipelines to have the intelligence they want to back up their policies.

DS: What was the CIA’s reaction to this?

CU: They awaken to it bit by bit by bit. The people in the CIA who were aware of it became incredibly angry and there were battles and some people who have spoken out about it are former CIA officials and defense intelligence people. Patrick Lang, Ray McGovern, Melvin Goodman, Philip Giraldi, and so on. I ended up with around ten people like that on the record. The Defense Department was going ballistic. Rumsfeld and Cheney, in a stroke of bureaucratic brilliance, devise this way to hijack for the executive branch the whole national security apparatus. They now can stop the bureaucracy when they want to, grease the wheels when they want to; for example, they put in Josh Bolton as under Secretary of State, who acts as a spy watching Colin Powell.

DS: Was Powell aware of this?

CU: Yes, and he didn’t act. He could easily have fired Bolton. He failed to act.

DS: Why?

CU: He has to answer for that and in the end it was moral cowardice or weakness. The State Department has its own intelligence apparatus, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and they were finding fault again and again with the intelligence that was coming out of the new Pentagon unit. INR wanted to discredit Curveball, for instance; they wanted to discredit the aluminum tubes and the Niger documents. So Bolton and his people forbade INR director Greg Thielmann from attending various key meetings. Now you would think Powell would have stood up for his own intelligence unit, but he did not. When it came to the week before the United Nations meeting in which he made his speech, Colin Powell could have had his people there. He did call them to go over the material somewhat, but they were not present to argue out these points of conflict, and as a result, Cheney’s information got in. When they were preparing for the UN meeting, all the intelligence data came from Cheney’s office and not from the CIA.

What the neoconservatives want

DS: What is the end goal with all of these machinations?

CU: You can see it in the neocon foreign policy papers that they have been writing as early as 1992. The first one was a Defense Department policy guidance paper. Cheney was Defense Secretary and he had under him Wolfowitz, Khalizad and Feith, key neocons who helped formulate this policy, which was considered so radical that Bush Sr. rejected it out of hand. Then you see duplicity on Cheney’s part: publicly he sides with Bush Sr. and Scowcroft , who were very very deliberate. One of the most important foreign policy decisions they made was to not topple Saddam. They had a REAL coalition—unlike the one we have today—of thirty-four countries, eight of which were Arab who supported us throwing Saddam out of Kuwait. They decided, and it was very deliberate, that if they went after Saddam and continued on to Baghdad they would ruin their coalition, alienate their Arab partners, and be mired in a quagmire forever.

DS: Saddam was so unpopular in the region; how did they foresee they would ruin the coalition if they rid Iraq of a very brutal dictator?

CU: American troops occupying an Arab country is a real, real problem, especially in view of Israel. Notice they kept Israel out of it; they were not part of that coalition. They handled it with certain dexterity and were much tougher on Israel, who was unhappy to some extent. This is where you see enormous bifurcation. Out of this comes the effort to sabotage the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The term “a clean break” comes out of a very important neocon policy paper called “A Clean Break from the Land for Peace Process.” It means they are throwing that out, which is very interesting because that was official American policy, it was the Oslo policy, and it was even Israeli policy at that point.

DS: It still is.

CU: Theoretically, but they have sabotaged it so badly. Netanyahu did not make good on a lot of the promises…

DS: Arafat didn’t—

CU: Arafat backed out.

DS: So what is the end goal?

CU: It’s a strategic vision of the Middle East.

DS: To control it?

CU: Yes, and they saw Iraq becoming at worst something like Jordan, which is a Hashemite Kingdom that is pro-west and reasonably nice to Israel. We’d have military bases there and we’d have oil deals. Iraq would be a beachhead from which we could go on to Iran. And Iran is a great prize. In 1996 Netanyahu comes to Washington, he’s presented with the Clean Break policy by Richard Perle, and a couple of days later he makes an address before a joint session of Congress and borrows from A Clean Break, but he adds a new country and says ‘the most important country in the region is Iran.’

DS: Was that a surprise?

CU: What’s interesting is that you start to hear the terms “Democracy in the Middle East” and “Democratization” and what you realize is that it’s not about democratization at all, it’s about strategic dominance of the region, and that’s what their policy has been about.

The Christian right and the neoconservatives

DS: In your book you talk about a confluence of social forces. You have the Christian right and you have the neoconservatives, who came together to assist each other in their agendas.

CU: Absolutely. This goes way, way back.

DS: To the 1970s?

CU: Certainly to the 1970’s. The Christian right is part of the DNA of America. I go back to English Puritanism, and you see John Winthrop in the 1630’s saying, “We are starting a shining city on a hill.” Shining city on a hill means we’re the New Jerusalem, we’re the new Zion. America is the Promised Land. What we do is ordained by God. This is Christian Zionism. It is a phrase that has never appeared in the New York Times, but it is an incredibly powerful force that is operative today. It has been picked up by the Christian right and unites them with Israel. It brings together the Christian right, the neocons and the Israeli right: Likud and Benyamin Netanyahu.
You see it come alive in the seventies. Prime Minister Menachem Begin, the first non-Labor Prime Minister in Israel, called Jerry Falwell realizing that America is only 2.5% Jewish and they need a broader base. About 30% of America is evangelical. If you read the Bible, the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis where God says to , “ I give to you this land between the Euphrates and the Nile.” If you believe in biblical inerrancy, as evangelicals do, then you have to believe, “I shall bless those who bless thee; I shall curse those who curse thee.” That’s in Genesis, and I talked to Falwell and a lot of evangelicals. I traveled undercover with Tim LeHay.

Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), who is a Christian Zionist: “God appeared to Abram and said, ‘I am giving you this land — the West Bank.’ This is not a political battle at all. It is a contest over whether or not the word of God is true.”

DS: Did they openly talk to you about these things?

CU: Yes, this alliance is not a secret. What I do in the book is reframe the entire paradigm. Everyone talks about “Islam vs. The West” and I say that no, it’s fundamentalism—and by that I mean Christian and Jewish fundamentalism, not just Islamic—against the modern, post-Enlightenment world, and it happens that our government is on the wrong side. We are carrying out a fundamentalist foreign policy.

DS: How did the neoconservatives and Christian right come together?

CU: They play very different roles. The neocons are an ideological vanguard and the Christian right is a mass electoral base. You have a couple hundred thousand pastors who can bring them together. The role is the way the unions used to be for the Democratic Party, for example. You had Netanyahu calling Jerry Falwell, which I told you about. You also have people like Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein who formed the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. He has worked with a lot of the evangelicals. It has been fostered by the Israeli right and the neocons. I asked Michael Ledeen why he was on the 700 Club and he said, “It’s just we like to promote our views.” People like Gary Bauer have participated in a lot of these policy discussions. You have people like Tom DeLay proclaiming himself as a Christian Zionist openly, or Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma. They would say it’s not a political issue whether Israel should have this land, that it’s a biblical certainty. This has to happen.

DS: It would seemingly take a lot of collusion between them. How does it work?

CU: The Christian right are not policy-makers in general, though there is a Council for National Policy. Falwell told me it’s an umbrella group overseeing all these evangelical groups. It has four or five hundred members and I list some. They are the big honchos of the Christian right, and within that is a smaller group called The Arlington Group, which has about fifty people. They were in regular contact with Karl Rove on a regular basis.

DS: Bush is convinced this is all God’s will?

CU: I go back to the Puritans for a reason because we are the new Zion and what we do is God’s will. I have a very interesting quote by Rabbi Daniel Lapin, an Orthodox rabbi who met with Bush. He says that Bush believes God has a mission for America and, “In that belief he is no different from the Founders who actually saw themselves replaying the Israelites crossing the Red Sea…” When he speaks of the “Founders” he is not talking of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine; he is talking about Cotton Mather and John Winthrop. When you got to Liberty University you see the halls have portraits of the great Puritans as precursors of the evangelicals. Yes, I believe that Bush thinks what he has done has been ordained by God. He’s smart enough not to talk about it in those terms.

Orthodox Jews and Fundamentalist Christians

DS: You have a chapter about the assassination of Yitzak Rabin; how did that advance the neoconservative agenda?

CU: It’s one of the least understood events in contemporary history and it is really important in terms of our policy today. Yes, it was done by this one right-wing Israeli, but it was ordained by Orthodox rabbis because Rabin was backing the land-for-peace process. It’s parallel to the Sadat assassination by Islamic fundamentalists. Rabin was breaking Halakhic law by supporting land for peace because it is divinely-ordained land.

DS: Are the Israeli orthodox Jews in touch with the Christian right in the United States?

CU: Completely. And the neocons are a secular version of that, and you see it start coming together, and Netanyahu becomes one of the great backers of an alliance with the Christian right. Michael Ledeen is going on Pat Roberton’s 700 Club shows. You start to have this weaving together.

DS: What does the Christian right have to gain from this?

CU: It’s theological.

DS: The End of Days?

CU: Yes, Christ will not return until that land is given back to the Jews. I try to draw this in the book. People try to talk about the Culture Wars, Red State/Blue State. But no, it’s much deeper than that. It goes back to the founding of America and the Puritans, really. I thought I grew up in a country that put a man on the moon, unraveled the human genome, that discovered DNA and invented the iPod, but no. No western country believes so strongly in Creationism and that the world was born 6,000 years ago; that evolution is wrong. This war is deep and profound and what’s happened now is the government is run by people who believe in dictating our policies based upon the Bible.

DS: This is so much material to be covered in just one book.

CU: Yes, because you can see it in the judiciary. So many students come from Pat Robertson’s law school—

DS: They have a model of the Supreme Court for arguing these fights.

CU: Right. So many of the people in the White House come from Patrick Henry College. It used to be you went to the Ivy League. Now they have people who are homeschooled by evangelicals because they didn’t want them to be poisoned by the secular public school system.

DS: Our society has always been complicated, but there are so many layers to this complex onion of a social movement that it must have been a challenge to articulate it in your book. We hold a lot of myths about our history.

CU: This book goes from biblical times to English Puritanism to espionage and intelligence battles at Langley to the Likudniks in Israel to the assassination of Rabin to the Deep South and the Bible Belt today. You do see the same themes again and again. I tried to do a narrative with three narrative lines: The rise of the neocons in the 1970’s; the rise of the Christian right, which goes back to Biblical times through English Puritanism and the founding of America to becoming a powerful force in American politics and taking over the government because they have a leader who is now President of the United States. It’s important to understand that the Christian right thinks of Bush as a leader, or they have. Although he certainly has lost credibility, the Christian right is not dead at all. I would take issue with The New York Times in their cover story a week or so ago where they proclaim the death of the Christian right, which they do that same story time and again.

DS: Exactly, they recycle the same thematic stories over and over and that one has been written before.

CU: Right. I also try to weave it through the father-son battle. Although I have written critically of Bush Sr. in the past, he certainly is within the framework of the post-Enlightenment reason and reality-based world. There is this quiet sub-rosa battle in which he uses intermediaries in the book like Scowcroft. If there’s a tragic hero in the book, it’s Scowcroft, who is in a very delicate position because he doesn’t want to jeopardize his close friendship with Bush Sr.

DS: But Scowcroft is loathed by George W.’s administration for coming out against his foreign policy.

CU: Right, and now Scowcroft speaks out early and often. He’ll see what’s happening and does what he can, but ultimately he fails.

DS: What does Bush Sr. think or say about Scowcroft’s public statements?

CU: They are still friends. He rarely comments on them, and he doesn’t like to be called out about it. There have been a couple of incidents that I open the book with, statements by Bush Jr. that have been perceived as digs at his father, such as saying “We don’t want to cut and run again.”

DS: Why would Bush Sr. not feel he has a moral obligation to the nation to make his feelings known to his son instead of keeping quiet and not speaking up?

CU: I’m wary of psychoanalyzing him, but I believe they don’t discuss it. He’s come forth several times and said, “Look, why don’t you talk to Scowcroft or James Baker” and he kind of leaves it at that. The Iraq Study Group report did have some earmarks of anger venting . Scowcroft actually goes to Egypt and Saudi Arabia to get their support of the Iraq Study Group plan. He also goes to Condi Rice, who is the last person from that world who seems to have real access to Bush, and talks to her about it. She seems to sign on and at one point she says something like, “Well, when do you think we should do this?” and Scowcroft says, “Not we, you.” She never really does anything; she never stands up. She has become an enabler for the neocons such as Wolfowitz, who have convinced Bush to believe that we have to democratize the entire Middle East, topple Saddam, and only then can we deal with the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Of course, that’s absolutely disastrous.

DS: The neoconservative’s policies are so high-risk and there are so many things that could make it go even more wrong. Grover Norquist came out and said that nothing the supporters of the war said would happen with Iraq has happened, and that everything the critics said would happen has happened. If Mubarak suddenly dies in Egypt and that country erupts into a civil war, which is a scenario that is often discussed as likely, that would implode the region even further. How do they account for all these risks they are laying in the lap of the United States?

CU: I’m not sure I have a good answer for that, but I can say they are REAL ideologues. It’s worth going back to their history and a lot of this stuff is toxic, third-rail stuff. David Brooks attacked me as a conspiracy nut. The point isn’t that the neocons had this weird Communist conspiracy or anything like that, but that they were trained ideologues and trained in ideological battles and sectarian disputes. They purge people who disagree with them and work in an echo-chamber environment where they don’t admit any facts that contradict their preconceived ideas. You see them operate as this ideological cadre. They purged people in the State Department who were part of the Realist crowd, and I go into that. They’ve had the same ideas for thirty years.

On the press

DS: What sort of reaction do you get to your work?

CU: That’s a good question. The reaction to my previous book was actually terrific, but it’s interesting the patterns. In Europe—England, Spain, The Netherlands—it was terrific and I am thought of as a reasoned Centrist. I am not thought of as particularly left-wing in any way.

German artist Thomas Demand speaking with Craig Unger about The Fall of the House of Bush.
photo: David Shankbone

DS: You painstakingly researched this—

CU: I have over 2,000 footnotes there. So in Spain my publisher, Planeta, is considered a center-right company and they made me the big book of their season. In Europe I am considered a straight-ahead reporter. In the United States I tend to be shunned by the mainstream media, almost completely, especially by the White House press corp.

DS: Who have lost almost all credibility with the public…

CU: But they are still there.

DS: We’re stuck with them.

CU: Right, but they haven’t changed, so I will get almost nothing from them. This includes the supposedly liberal New York Times. I deal with the press to a fair extent in the book; not as much as I would like because that’s a whole interview in itself.

DS: I interviewed Gay Talese, who had nothing but contempt for the Washington press corps. He feels they should be broken up and dispersed around the country to report on the federal government. Report on Washington from Denver, from Austin…national reporting from the states.

CU: It’s shocking the difference between the British and the Americans. The huge part of it is the addiction to access. It’s opportunism—

DS: You get to go to a party; you get to ride in Air Force One—

CU: Right! “I want that interview with Donald Rumsfeld so I’m not going to do anything to alienate him by writing a story that is critical of him.” And when you get that story you end up writing exactly what he tells you and it ain’t the truth.

DS: Just to be able to say, “I interviewed Donald Rumsfeld.”

CU: Right, you get front page and it helps you within your newspaper. You’re considered a star at whatever publication there is. That’s how the phony stories of WMDs got in The New York Times and other publications. More than ideology, it was opportunism, careerism on the part of the reporters.

DS: Talese also said that the press is as much responsible for getting us into this war as are the people running it.

CU: Part of what I did with this book is I am explicitly critical of the American press corp., which has done a dreadful job of covering these issues. That in and of itself means they are less likely to cover you. If you look at the national conversation it has a narrative. The only place you can go to find an alternative narrative is Jon Stewart or Colbert or Keith Olberman. But there’s almost nothing in the tradition of the old Walter Cronkite reporting. It barely exists. The other alternative voices are the international press, and the blogs.



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July 7, 2007

Group claims Fred Thompson lobbied for abortion-rights, Thompson denies

Group claims Fred Thompson lobbied for abortion-rights, Thompson denies

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Saturday, July 7, 2007

Fred Thompson

Two days after presidential hopeful Fred Thompson was branded a ‘Mole’ for warning President Nixon’s White House about information the investigating committee had on the Watergate scandal, an abortion-rights group claimed that Thompson lobbied for them in the past. A spokesman for Thompson “flatly denied” the claim.

According to the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, it hired Thompson “to lobby the administration of President George H.W. Bush to ease a regulation that prevented clinics that received federal money from offering any abortion counseling.”

Judith DeSarno, the association’s president at the time, provided the LA Times with the group’s board minutes of September 1991. In the documents Thompson was hired to “aid us in discussions with the administration.” Ms. DeSarno said in an interview that Mr. Thompson served as the group’s liaison to the White House.

Former Rep. Michael D. Barnes who recommended Thompson for the lobbying job, remarked that Thompson’s denial is “absolutely bizarre”.

The Los Angeles Times opined that “Thompson’s lobbying then would clash directly with the anti-abortion movement he now seeks to rally as a conservative candidate.” Thompson has positioned himself as a conservative opponent of abortion rights.

Previously, the Gannett News Service reported that on Thompson’s 1994 campaign questionnaire it contained a handwritten note that stated: “I do not believe abortion should be criminalized. This battle will be won in the hearts and souls of the American people.” While in another questionnaire for his 1994 Senate campaign in Tennessee, “Mr. Thompson or his campaign staff checked a box stating that he believed abortion should be legal under any circumstance during the first three months of a pregnancy.” Meanwhile in a televised debate the same year, Mr. Thompson told the moderator that he disagreed with outlawing abortion: “Should the government come in and criminalize let’s say a young girl and her parents and her doctor?” Mr. Thompson said. “I think not.”

According to the LA Times, while Thompson “sided with antiabortion advocates on most key issues” as Senator (1994 to January 2003) and publicly criticizes the Roe v Wade decision, the article noted “Some conservatives said the [abortion] lobbying claims added to anxieties” about Thomspon.

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  • “Fred Thompson accused of being a “mole” for Nixon White House” — Wikinews, July 5, 2007

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December 27, 2006

Former U.S. President Gerald Ford dies, aged 93

Former U.S. President Gerald Ford dies, aged 93

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerald R. Ford

Former United States President Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. (born Leslie Lynch King, Jr.) died yesterday at 6.45 pm PST (0345 UTC Wednesday) at his home in Rancho Mirage, California at the age of 93.

Gerald Ford was a prominent politician from Grand Rapids, Michigan before his appointment to the vice-presidency, having served in the United States House of Representatives for 24 years from 1949 to 1973 and acted as Minority Leader. He was appointed Vice President of the United States following the resignation of Spiro Agnew.

Ford was sworn in as the 38th President of the United States following the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974 following the Watergate scandal. He served the appointed term and ran an unsuccessful re-election bid for the office of the presidency in 1976 against Jimmy Carter. Ford is the only president to have held the office of the presidency without ever having been elected to either the presidency or the office of the vice-presidency.

Ford’s presidency was marked by his pardon of former President Nixon, a controversial move that many felt cost him the 1976 election. Ford also attempted to tackle inflation (at the time, only a modest 7%) with a public relations campaign to “whip inflation now”. Ford’s presidency also saw the final United States evacuation of South Vietnam.

Once one of the most active former Presidents, in recent years Ford was perceived as becoming increasingly frail, particularly since suffering a small stroke in 2000. For the first time since becoming active in national politics, he did not attend the Republican National Convention in 2004. He also did not attend the inauguration of President George W. Bush in 2005 — former President Bill Clinton indicated in an interview with Larry King that Ford was increasingly uncomfortable flying. In 2006, he was hospitalized on four separate occasions by the month of November.

Ford was the longest-lived President in the history of the United States surpassing Ronald Reagan on November 12, 2006; the oldest-living President is now George H. W. Bush. After a state funeral in Washington, D.C., Ford’s body will lie in state in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, before a private burial outside the museum.

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March 24, 2006

Correspondence of late Greek Orthodox leader of Americas to be published

Correspondence of late Greek Orthodox leader of Americas to be published

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Thessaloniki, Greece — The personal correspondence of the former Archbishop of North and South America, and spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox community in the United States of America for 37 years, Iakovos Coucouzis,[[1]] will be published during 2006. The Archbishop passed away in 2005. The publication of the correspondence of the late Archbishop will be the result of co-operation between the Theology School of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki [2], the non-governmental Institute for National and Religious Studies and the program Ecumenical Hellenism[3].

According to Athanasios Angelopoulos — who, along with theology professor Athanasios Karathanasis and political science student Nicolaos Mottas, has the scientific diligence of the project — the personal correspondence of Iakovos contains important information about the national issues of Greece, such as the Cyprus, Macedonian and the northern Epirus issues.

A dynamic personality, the spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox community in the United States from 1959 to 1996, Iakovos, constructed relations with all the American presidents, from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton, and with various personalities from the Americas, such as minority leaders, with most famous being his friendship with Martin Luther King Jr. The personal correspondence of the Greek Orthodox leader contains letters between Iakovos and various United States presidents, including John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, and with other political personalities — ministers, ambassadors, Washington, D.C. officials and former Greek Prime Ministers, including Constantine Caramanlis and Andreas Papandreou. According to professor Angelopoulos, the two-volume publication will contain photocopies of the original correspondence documents and moreover a major text — written in by Angelopoulos in Greek and translated into English by Nicolaos Mottas — which will summarize the essentians and meaning of Iakovos’ correspondence, as well as its impact on the political, social and religious life of the Greek Orthodox Community in the United States of America and on Greek-American relations.

Archbishop Iakovos with John F. Kennedy, 1960s.

The supervisor of the project, professor Athanasios Angelopoulos, stated that Archbishop Iakovos’ personal correspondence will be published in 2006. The publication, which will be prefaced by the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Archbishop Christodoulos, will be presented in Thessaloniki, Athens, and possibly to the Greek Community in the United States.

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January 31, 2006

U.S. Senate confirms Supreme Court nominee Alito

U.S. Senate confirms Supreme Court nominee Alito

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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Samuel A. Alito Jr.

After several weeks of at times contentious deliberation in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the United States Senate confirmed Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. to the Supreme Court with 58 votes in favor and 42 against. Only one Republican, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, voted against confirmation. Four Democrats, including former Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd of West Virginia, voted for confirmation. Alito was sworn-in later in the day.

Alito had been nominated by President George W. Bush following the withdrawal of his original Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, a criminal lawyer and close associate of Bush since before his tenure as Governor of Texas from 1994-2000. Miers, facing harsh criticism of her qualifications for a position on the high court, along with growing opposition from members of the conservative movement, elected to withdraw in October 2005.

Alito was nominated shortly after Miers’ withdrawal, and faced the Judiciary Committee in January 2006.

With the Bush Administration facing poor approval ratings following the withdrawal of Miers, Senate Democrats put forth a strong offensive to the confirmation of Alito. They questioned Alito extensively of his record on abortion, exercise of executive authority, his opinions on various legal issues while studying at Princeton University and his membership in the CAP group there.

Following the Judiciary Committee’s party-line vote approving Alito, efforts were spearheaded by ranking Judiciary Committee member Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) and Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA) to filibuster Alito’s confirmation. However, the motion to end debate on Alito ended with a 72-25 cloture vote; Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) acknowledged that a filibuster was not a realistic option to stop Alito’s confirmation.

Alito is the second judge to be appointed and confirmed to the Supreme Court by President Bush. His first appointee, Judge John Roberts, was confirmed by the Senate in the autumn of 2005. Following the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Roberts was immediately selected to fill Rehnquist’s post.

Alito will be replacing Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who was a crucial swing vote in an ideologically divided Court. With the appointment of Alito, the Court will most likely experience a shift to the political right. How much of a shift cannot be precisely determined, as it remains to be seen how Alito will rule in cases involving critical social issues.

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has more about this subject:
Samuel Alito Supreme Court nomination

Alito earned a bachelor’s degree in law from Princeton University, and did his graduate work at Yale Law School. Most of his bench experience has come at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, where he has served as a justice since 1990, when President George H.W. Bush nominated him for the post. He follows current Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia as the second Italian-American member of the high court.

Reactions

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) told the AP that the United States would “be better and stronger and more unified if we were confirming a different nominee, a nominee who could have united us more than divided us”.

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) said he is concerned with Alito’s “philosophy of the Constitution [and] his great effort of many years to expand presidential power at a time when there are real serious questions about the powers the president has”.

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said there are no doubts about Alito’s “qualification in terms of education, professional career and his service on the court of appeals.”

And in a written statement, President Bush called Alito a “brilliant and fair-minded judge who strictly interprets the Constitution and laws and does not legislate from the bench. He is a man of deep character and integrity, and he will make all Americans proud as a Justice on our highest court.”

Related News

Bush nominates Alito to U.S. Supreme Court” — Wikinews, October 31, 2005

Sources



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