Tuesday, March 07, 2006

This train don't
carry no gamblers

"This Train" lyrics

If you've lost track lately of the antics of the religious right, your blogstress recommends bringing yourself up to date via the blogs of Max Blumenthal and Josh Marshall.

Blumenthal has been cranking out pieces on the relationship of Jack Abramoff and his evil schemes to the purportedly anti-gambling leadership of the Christian right. Most delicious in this tale is the apparent manipulation of the self-important James Dobson, king of the Focus on the Family media empire, by the oily Ralph Reed, former director of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition, and currently a candidate for lieutenant governor of Georgia. (Your cybertrix has difficulty envisioning the Chuckyesque Mr. Reed seeing this candidacy through, given the road to indictment on which he may well find himself. If only he were in Texas...where the indicted Mr. DeLay appears to be on his way to winning the primary for his House seat.)

Blumenthal reminds of the Washington Post report that Abramoff paid Reed some $4 million to rally the religious right against the expansion of an Indian-owned casino that would rival one run by the tribe Abramoff represented: the Coushatta.

Last weekend, in Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo, Paul Kiel revealed an even more delicious tale of money laundering involving Reed, Grover Norquist and a Reed Associate. Kiel's post drew on an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report that showed how Reed went to great pains to hide his relationship with Abramoff, enlisting Mr. Norquist and his group, Americans for Tax Reform, to launder the payments he received from the now-indicted lobbyist. Apparently, Abramoff sent Reed's payment to Norquist, who deposted them in the account of Americans for Tax Reform, and then sent a check to something called the Faith and Family Alliance, which then disbursed the payments to Reed.

So all in one tangled web, we have the religious right's purists (Dobson & Co.) duped by the movement's great pragmatist (Reed), with the aid of an economic conservative who has, at times, found himself at odds with his more religious brethren.

Now if the Dems can't find a way to set a few wedges in this grand scheme, they will prove themselves to be as hapless as your Webwench fears.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

The blogger and the all-seeing eye

Think it can't happen to you, ma cherie? I mean, who would want to examine the phone records of little old you -- you're just a regular Jane who graces the occassional Web site with the occasional rant, right?

Welcome to the 21st Century, where the U.S. Constitution appears to be breathing its last. Remember all that scary talk about how, under the Patriot Act, the FBI could demand that libraries and publishers turn over files on the reading and writing habits of selected targets? Now comes word that bloggers -- well, at least one blogger -- are the targets. Doug Thompson, founder of Capitol Hill Blue, which claims to be the oldest news site on the internet, says that, in his capacity as the proprietor of his own Web-hosting company, he received a National Security Letter from the FBI, demanding that he turn over records concerning traffic on his blog. This means that they're not just looking at Thompson himself; they're looking to track who's reading him.

Which has your blogstress wondering if the good folks at her Web-hosting company have received similar love-notes concerning your cybertrix.

Thompson is a mighty brave fellow to reveal his receipt of his National Security Letter. The Patriot Act demand that he not reveal it to anyone, and there's currently a case before the federal courts concerning a librarian who is challenging the terms of the National Security Letter that he or she received.

Your Webwench urges her readers to support Thompson in any way you can. Perhaps we all need to move our sites to his server.

To read Thompson riffing on his National Security Letter, click here.

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