INTEREST RATES

Clive: ‘I disagree that the Fed will lower interest rates on March 21. As even last week’s stats show, inflation is currently too high and combating it will be their first priority.’

☞ I don’t know what the Fed will do March 21. Yesterday‘s guess was more general.

SWIFT-BOATING

John Mudgett: ‘The bashing begins.’

☞ John is referring to the ‘Hillary defends murderers’ e-mail you’ve doubtless gotten or will get. False, of course; but, well, you know the drill

WHY REPUBLICANS CAN’T GOVERN

I assumed this would say it’s because, at root, they don’t much believe in government. But the author takes a different tack.

OOPS – THE RNC DIDN’T MEAN TO SEND US THIS

Bush’s New US Attorney a Criminal?
by Greg Palast

There’s only one thing worse than sacking an honest prosecutor. That’s replacing an honest prosecutor with a criminal.

There was one big hoohah in Washington yesterday as House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers pulled down the pants on George Bush’s firing of US Attorneys to expose a scheme to punish prosecutors who wouldn’t bend to political pressure.

But the Committee missed a big one: Timothy Griffin, Karl Rove’s assistant, the President’s pick as US Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Griffin, according to BBC Television, was the hidden hand behind a scheme to wipe out the voting rights of 70,000 citizens prior to the 2004 election.

Key voters on Griffin’s hit list: Black soldiers and homeless men and women. Nice guy, eh? Naughty or nice, however, is not the issue. Targeting voters where race is a factor is a felony crime under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In October 2004, our investigations team at BBC Newsnight received a series of astonishing emails from Mr. Griffin, then Research Director for the Republican National Committee. He didn’t mean to send them to us. They were highly confidential memos meant only for RNC honchos.

However, Griffin made a wee mistake. Instead of sending the emails — potential evidence of a crime — to email addresses ending with the domain name “@GeorgeWBush.com” he sent them to “@GeorgeWBush.ORG.” A website run by prankster John Wooden who owns “GeorgeWBush.org.” When Wooden got the treasure trove of Rove-ian ravings, he sent them to us.

And we dug in, decoding, and mapping the voters on what Griffin called, “Caging” lists, spreadsheets with 70,000 names of voters marked for challenge. Overwhelmingly, these were Black and Hispanic voters from Democratic precincts.

The Griffin scheme was sickly brilliant. We learned that the RNC sent first-class letters to new voters in minority precincts marked, “Do not forward.” Several sheets contained nothing but soldiers, other sheets, homeless shelters. Targets included the Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida and that city’s State Street Rescue Mission. Another target, Edward Waters College, a school for African-Americans.

If these voters were not currently at their home voting address, they were tagged as “suspect” and their registration wiped out or their ballot challenged and not counted. Of course, these ‘cages’ captured thousands of students, the homeless and those in the military though they are legitimate voters.
We telephoned those on the hit list, including one Randall Prausa. His wife admitted he wasn’t living at his voting address: Randall was a soldier shipped overseas.

Randall and other soldiers like him who sent in absentee ballots, when challenged, would lose their vote. And they wouldn’t even know it.

And by the way, it’s not illegal for soldiers to vote from overseas — even if they’re Black.

But it is illegal to challenge voters en masse where race is an element in the targeting. So several lawyers told us, including Ralph Neas, famed civil rights attorney with People for the American Way.

Griffin himself ducked our cameras, but his RNC team tried to sell us the notion that the caging sheets were, in fact, not illegal voter hit lists, but a roster of donors to the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign. Republican donors at homeless shelters?

Over the past weeks, Griffin has said he would step down if he had to face Congressional confirmation. However, the President appointed Griffin to the law enforcement post using an odd little provision of the USA Patriot Act that could allow Griffin to skip Congressional questioning altogether.

Therefore, I have a suggestion for Judiciary members. Voting law expert Neas will be testifying today before Conyers’ Committee on the topic of illegal voter “disenfranchisement” — the fancy word for stealing elections by denying voters’ civil rights.

Maybe Conyers should hold a line-up of suspected vote thieves and let Neas identify the perpetrators. That should be easy in the case of the Caging List Criminal. He’d only have to look for the guy wearing a new shiny lawman’s badge.


Read the full story, “Caging Lists: Great White Republicans Take Voters Captive” in Greg Palast’s Armed Madhouse: Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales from a White House Gone Wild. The new edition, with a new chapter on Theft of the Election, will be released April 24th (by Penguin/Plume in paperback). Catch our original BBC Television story here – on Palast’s brand new YouTube channel.

☞ This saga ties right in with the theory of ‘why Republicans can’t govern,’ in the previous item. And let’s not forget the convicted New Hampshire phone-line jammers. Or Karl Rove’s allegedly planting a bug in his own candidate’s office, ‘discovering’ it, calling a press conference to denounce it. These guys may not be great in a hurricane or planning a war, but they’re sure good at getting people to vote against their own interests.

BOREF

You will recall that Borealis is majority owner of several sort-of-publicly-traded subsidiaries, with each Borealis share owning approximately one share in each subsidiary. The bid-ask spread on these sort-of-publicly-traded subsidiaries is enormous – in part because they almost never trade. Last night, you could have bought 100 shares in each sub for $30.15 (not counting the ones for which there are simply no bids or asks), or sold 100 shares in each for $10.70. That’s quite a spread!

Meanwhile, one share of BOREF could be bought not for $30.15, but for $12 – seemingly a better deal (and, with a bid of $11, definitely a more reasonable spread).

As I’ve been noting since November 16, 1999, this nutty company raises more red flags than the Soviet Army. And yet in the seven years since that first column, the stock has nearly quadrupled while the NASDAQ’s declined by half. And we’ve had some fun. Most recently, the preposterous statement by the company that its Chorus Motors subsidiary – which sells no motors – has been ‘solidly profitable’ now for two straight years. Tell me that’s not fun. And all the while, the plane moved and the iron ore cores are being assessed and the company says it is delighted with its progress and we get to fantasize about all the money we’d make if it ever panned out.

All the while oath-bound not to have invested a penny we cannot truly afford to lose.

 

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