Effect Measure

Sad days at NIEHS

I will admit to having a soft spot in my heart for one of the NIH institutes, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. NIEHS is on a separate campus in Research Triangle Park, NC, away from the main NIH campus in Bethesda, MD. It is separated in other ways, too, having a decidedly more public health focus than the other institutes. Its mission, like other NIH institutes, is to ferret out the basic causes of illness, in NIEHS’s case, environmentally caused or influenced illness. Its interest in cancer caused by industrial chemicals, asthma from air pollution, reproductive and development effects from contaminants in the environment are inherently controversial, as is any science when the stakes are high. I’ve known two of its previous Directors, the late David Rall and Kenneth Olden. Rall was one of the great men of public health in his generation and he brought NIEHS to scientific preeminence in the field. Olden brought a special interest in working with communities on vexing problems of environmental contamination. When his second five year term was up, he was replaced by David Schwartz, a pulmonologist researcher (whom I also knew in various ways prior to his assuming the job). To say the Schwartz tenure hasn’t worked out well would be an understatement. Now there is an inquiry by powerful and influential members of Congress. These are very unhappy days for NIEHS (more below the fold).

Even before assuming the job, Schwartz raised eyebrows by refusing to take the job if he were subject to new NIH conflict of interest rules put in place because of flagrant abuses at other institutes. This was public knowledge, but I had heard Schwartz’s prinicipal objection was the new restrictions would make recruiting talented scientists more difficult. It is now reported he also had other concerns:

[Schwartz] delayed taking the job, informing [NIH Director Elias] Zerhouni that some of the rules would prevent him from attracting top talent to NIEHS and harm him personally, though he did not publicly disclose how. He took the job when, he said, Zerhouni assured him that new rules limiting personal investments in pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical equipment companies would be loosened.

NIH refused a 2005 News & Observer public records request and a 2006 appeal for correspondence between Schwartz and Zerhouni on the matter, saying it was exempt from public records because it dealt with personnel issues. (Charlotte News and Observer)

Not long after assuming his position, Schwartz started to make major changes in direction at NIEHS. He was openly hostile to its long standing “Centers” program, thus earning the hostility of some influential scientists. He also pulled the plug on the relatively new Children’s Environmental Health Centers and then put a stake through the heart of Olden’s community outreach orientation. But what got him in the most trouble was his dogged and stubborn effort to privatize NIEHS’s highly prestigious Open Access scientific journal, Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP; see our posts here and here). The pushback from the scientific community was immediate and vigorous. The complaints included pressure applied through members of the former Congress. This reportedly angered Schwartz, who has a short fuse. While publicly backing down, he went ahead with his plans, using a variety of workarounds to accomplish his original ends. One of those objectives, it appeared, was to steer the journal to his previous employer, Duke University. The conflict of interest issue was reappearing, although in an unexpected place.

Now the investigation has widened. I have heard rumors that over ten thousand pages of documents have been requested by Congressmen Henry Waxman and Dennis Kucinich, chair of the House Oversight Committee and one of its Sub=Committees, respectively. Neither are shrinking violets. Waxman, in particular, is a bulldog investigator. They have gone beyond the EHP, issue, to records of personal financial transactions and consulting:

“Multiple sources have contacted the committee to raise additional questions about your conduct as director of NIEHS” beyond criticism of proposed changes proposed at the journal, a March 30 letter from the congressmen states.

We don’t know how this is going to turn out, but however it does, it cannot be good for NIEHS. The stench of corruption that clings to everything the Bush administration and its Republican lapdogs in Congress has reached into one of the jewels in the crown of American science, the NIH. The Bush appointee Julie Gerberding is taking CDC down the toilet and now the Schwartz affair at NIEHS is revealing more damage to federal science. This is without even mentioning OSHA, FDA, EPA and the other do nothing regulatory agencies neutered by this administration.

It will take a generation to recover from the damage. Heck of a job, George. And Julie. And David. And . . .

Comments

  1. #1 Trish Sablic
    April 27, 2007

    How many years will it take us to get these organizations back on track? These problems will take much longer to fix than it took to cause them. Congressman Waxman is one of
    the few that launches investigations into the many forms of
    skullduggery that have been taking place in the Capitol; but, legislators feel free to ignore his requests for documents and frequently do. But, God bless him, he tries.

  2. #2 M. Randolph Kruger
    April 28, 2007

    Well Revere, one mans damage is another mans necessity. Bloatation of government in particular areas is nothing new, neither is Waxman. Over the years Rep. Waxman has repeatedly subpoenaed documents but only when it did the best to throw the worst light on something. Congress has oversight responsibility and that starts with their own party. It also starts with respect for the law and Rep. Waxman didnt vote for the removal from office of one William Clinton even though he lied in front of a grand jury and to a federal judge. Regardless of whether it was a Republican witch hunt or a Democrat one the above PALES in comparison to what really goes on in government. yep, let me run right down to lie in front of a Grand Jury and see where I end up….. The lecture tour and roving ambassador to “repair our damaged image in the world.” Sorry Hillary. Chelsea asked a soldier what scared him the most and he replied, “Osama, Obama and Yo Momma!”

    Now Revere we are on different ends of the fence. You say you are a Libertarian. Okay Libertarians want a very limited government if I read their page right. I for one would like to see Congress leave town, enact a law to do it for six months out of the year with a fixed start and recess point and prohibit phone calls and meetings with any corporate executives or lobbyists during the recess. That excludes wars, civil disasters.

    Waxman aint going to read 10,000 pages Revere. Jesus H. Christ, what will it accomplish? ZERO, except to throw the administration into a bad light and like the appropriations bill that is going to be vetoed, it screws with the country. . Are you submitting that some sort of wrong doing has been done or is it that like the Gerberdinator, the apple cart has been overturned? Waxman is spinning his wheels and the reference to the “it will take a generation to recover from the damage” doesnt mean squat except maybe to who? We are to assume that there is something wrong here but nothing concrete is asserted, only conjecture. I respect your opinion as you know Revere on one hell of a lot of stuff. Please submit what is directly wrong with what they did or are doing. Is there something illegal going on? If so, I will hammer them personally as you know my feelings on the law… It shall not be broken.

    All this accomplishes is that in someones opinion, yours and others is that somehow the government is being thrown into upheaval because of what is being done. Okay, so lets take that to cases and one of my big rubs. I didnt see anything but politics during Clintons reign. Lets see, first week in we got “dont ask, dont tell.” A month into it we got Waco and Janet “Liberty City Florida” Reno conveniently left town… Oh did I mention that they fired every Republican prosecutor except for one and then went on to fire even Democrats too when they started with the investigations into Clinton?

    Then a scant few months later Osama’s boys tried to drop the WTC’s (he got a pass, George got a reference that his family owned the security firm and Charlie Sheen thinks it was an inside job). Oh, lets continue. It comes to light towards the end of his first term 1that he changed what was clearly military secrets into “satellite technology” that allowed for the Chinese to produce their first ablative shield re-entry missile along with their first not quite working right three stage missile that could hit all the way to Denver once they get the kinks out.

    Hey, what happened to Dept of Commerce head Mr. Brown who conveniently crashed two days before he was to testify in front of a Grand Jury about that satellite thing and WJC’s involvement with it. Did I say anything about the aircrew having been there six times in the previous month. Did I say anything about the single shot stud gun sized hole in his head that was completely vertical and there wasnt a steel rod in the aircraft anywhere that didnt belong to the aircraft. Yep, conspiracy theories.. Everyone has one.

    Then we find that Al “Now here’s an inconvenient truth” Gore took money funneled from the Chinese to Chinese monks to the re-election campaign. How in Hell does anyone skate on that?

    Oh, lets go on to the second term. Whitewater? Yep, got quite a few convictions on that one along with the Rose Law firm records missing, being redacted and then turning up mysteriously on the same table in the White House that everyone had looked at some 20 times. OH HERE THEY ARE !!!! FBI couldnt look there oh, no because it was “executive privilege.” We jump down the bunny trail and Congress is really beginning to wonder whose side he is on. (I for one think that JFK was going to be outed by the Ruskies because of Marilyn M.)

    Next we find that Madeleine “Nuke ‘em all” Notsobright is negotiating for the outright return of Formosa to the Chinese as a part and parcel to the Manchurian Candidates run for the White House. But oh, now we got Monica talking and personally I thought she was going to have an accident right up until Willie’s DNA was found on the dress.

    WJC’S response was oooops, lets run down and start a war in Kosovo that put 3/4’s of the entire free worlds tactical aircraft into range of Russian intermediate range ICBM’s with no tactical high altitude intercept. Slobo had been running around from just at the end of Bush 1, and then all the way thru Clinton 1, and 2.75. But Slobo was not a problem until Monica starts to spill her guts in front of the Grand Jury. Did Willie subordinate Monica in one of the chancey little meetings? We will never really know until she writes her final tell all book when she is eighty. Willie will be gone and buried. Then comes the cruise missile attack…..William J, launches a 30 shot cruise missile attack on Osama and misses. He also has a shot at taking him from the Ethiopians, but declines.

    Look Revere I always acknowledge that you could be right about some of this stuff. It is Executive privilege that we are talking about. If the guy up above was promised something that he couldnt deliver on then too bad. The guy who made the statement or did an action isnt GWB. In the same vein I dont hold WJC responsible for the mess the healthcare system is in. Everyone is responsible and 1/2, yep 1/2 of the healthcare system in the US is in the hands of the government already between Medicare and the VA. That will increase to 2/3rds in the next few years and you cant argue with the numbers. They have done a miserable job with both the VA and Medicare and its Congressional responsibility to fund things correctly. Most of the time without our consent. You feel that healthcare is a right, I dont.

    Many believe that because the government is all powerful and has control of our lives so omnipotently already that its actually better to have putz’s in charge. They do what they are told and thats to trim budgets or they bloat it. Nothing in our society in the last ten years has been stable. This is just one of them. The government needs to be trimmed down to the bones and maybe, just maybe they could provide healthcare to those below a certain level at some limited cost. Not 100% coverage but enough to take care of folks like Melanie so she doesnt have to decide whether to eat or not. Mind you say we dont pay enough taxes here in the country… taxes for what might I ask? Taxes to fund a UHC? Not in my book and those old people are already going to be taken care of in just a few short years. So they have UHC coming down the pike for them and they will outnumber our taxpayers by arguably 8-14 to 1. So hyper-inflation is in our future as they will have to spend more than we take in. Wonder?

    Might they just decide to do away with the Open Access Journal entirely. Its controversial, and is it in the perview of the NIEH to even produce such a document or is something that got a life of its own? I dont know. But there are always two sides to every story. You cast aspersions because it breaks up a clique of somekind. It might be a good or bad one. But it does break it up and thats where the rub is. Bottom line from me is that just because a small or large group says its bad, it doesnt make it so. You could be right. I dont know. Time will tell.

    You state that Schwartz aroused the ire of influential scientists. Not so fast… influential to who, the Democrats? Is there something wrong with privatization? The inference above is that there is something wrong or illegal going on, or is it really someones rice bowl? I dont swim in that pool but its just like GAO studies, he who commissions it generally gets the results he is looking for. Bias. Thats the reason we have the system we do. It swings right and left looking for the middle. We rarely find it and yes, you could be right, it might take a generation to repair what is damage in yours and others eyes. But it might not be damaged either.

    So by requesting 10,000 documents the reference is that some sort of wrong doing is underway. I personally try not to hang an Imus without first seeing if Emmett Till is out there whistling. IYO Schwartz has done something wrong or the implication is there. Gerberding is an idiot and daddy, I will just give you that one because when even the media is calling you stupid almost to your face you are really either stupid or on a mission from which there is no return.

    Schwartz certainly isnt stupid. Its the political spoils system and William Jefferson Clinton and company were absolute masters at it, just as maybe Karl and Dick are.

    So whats the fuss? Its business as usual in the good ole US of A. If they find something illegal, they will indict them or not. If not they will funnel something to Duke, you guys will get angry (right or wrongly) and raise your swords and beat your shields and as usual nothing will get done. Its bad and as bad as I have seen it since I was old enough to vote.

    I dont know any of these guys other than what I saw happening with Clinton and that side of it. . You worry about healthcare, I worry about nukes, THAAD, 3 stage rockets, biowarfare, Bird Flu, supplies and whether things could go from bad now to one hell of a lot worse. It all goes back to one thing and that is that he who is in power gets to make the rules. Said rules will be modified by the ability of those people in other positions of power to modify them. Waxman might be able to modify that position slightly, but only if they maintain an edge in Congress. I dont think thats going to hold very long..

    But what the Hell, I could be wrong. Then again, you might also be about the above too. I just wish you wouldnt cast it in the light that something skulky is being done. If what Schwartz is doing is illegal then state it, else please provide some balance of some kind. Its not unreasonable to ask for that. I did the same for Clinton.

  3. #3 Interrobang
    April 28, 2007

    Yeah, what the hell, you could be wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time…

  4. #4 Melanie
    April 28, 2007

    Randy, all you are doing is making assertions. You have no links or citations to back up one word. Cut the crap.

  5. #5 revere
    April 28, 2007

    Randy: I know quite well the damage that has been done at NIEHS and CDC. The “generations to recover” is a reference to the stunning loss of institutional memory from mass bailouts by science professionals and the damage to reputation that is hurting these agencies in the discipline. They depend on talented and committed young scientists to staff them and that spigot is being cut off. I didn’t say I was a Libertarian. I said I was a Socialist Libertarian. I believe in a role for government, which doesn’t include further enriching plutocrats and subsizing “free enterprise” and doesn’t include military meddling around the world. The Pentagon is now the largest centrally planned economy in the world and one of the most malignant. Regarding specific wrongdoing at NIEHS, we’ll let the investigation play itself out. There is reason to believe there is fire where the smoke is. I am not able to say more than that. Regarding Clinton, if you want to equate lying about a blowjob with lying us into the biggest foreign policy debacle in US history, then we aren’t on the same page. I didn’t like Clinton. I thought he was a crappy President and I still do. But compared to your guy, he was the Messiah.

  6. #6 M. Randolph Kruger
    April 28, 2007

    http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/impeachments/clinton.htm

    http://www.newsmax.com/articles/?a=1998/11/14/83510

    http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/RANCHO/CRASH/BROWN/bullet.html

    http://www.newsobserver.com/102/story/567530.html

    No crap here Melanie. Just the court of public opinion that seems to always rush to judgement and hammer the administration of a pet agency when someone that someone else doesnt like does something. They dont attack the problem and that is this thing costs one hell of a lot to produce… It also seems to be a little political at first reading of a few. They attack the man/woman. Like I said though, I’ll throw the Gerberdinator to the wolves anytime because clearly IMO she is as dumb as a box of rocks. I am guilty of the rush to judgement too, we all are. I do try to follow up though, most dont.

    As for the move to Duke, looks to me from reading on this that at this time Schwartz hasnt done anything wrong at first blush. No indications that he has. I ran it up the flagpole from the Republican side because I do respect Revere’s opinions and they tell me that they blow one hell of a lot of money over there publishing that thing in paper and to publish it online. Many apparently believe that other journals could do a better job at it. E.g. get rid of it… privatize it.

    But in doing so they will have people that have been entrenched for years going with it. Okay, now I’ll buy that for a reason and that is indeed likely political and thats how things are done. But the inferrence is that automatically when someone does something administratively, they have done something wrong, illegal in fact. We gotta get away from that. They arent attacking a policy, they are attacking the person because its screwing up business as usual. Personally I think its a bad idea to do this and I expressed it. But privatization that takes yet another thing taking out of taxpayers pockets is not and never will be bad. It also means that eveyone will get a shot at advertising in a newly privatized rag. Limited government is never bad and then its truly OPEN ACCESS and limits the ability of either side to sway it except by funding. The pedulum swinging as it should rather than being locked in right or left. Its never in the middle.

    As for Clinton. Fact is the mess we are in now is because Bush 1 didnt march into Baghdad the first time, depose Saddam and institute an Arab Nations government. He didnt do it because the one regional power was Iran and because of the exact thing that is happening now. Destabilizing insurgencies. After that we had Clintons no fly zones that were allowing helicopter attacks on the opposition which was by the the way costing us one million per day beyond normal military budget. As long as Saddam didnt shoot at us or fly in those zones it was Saddam as usual. Please someone throw Kosovo in there along the way with all the above. .

    Clinton? He got a pass. Lying before a Grand Jury in any case about anything is illegal activity. So its okay to break the law and equating it with foreign policy isnt right? So far the law has been followed to the nth degree in Iraq. We are prosecuting soldiers for illegal activity. If there were cover ups then they will be dealt with as obstruction is a felony. It should be.

    The foreign policy debacle? Was it an intelligence lapse or was it a lack of intelligence? Militarily, I would be in Teheran right now having broken one hell of a lot of toys and for once, just left them to pick up the pieces. Its hard to run an insurgency when your capitol buildings are in ruins. But alas, Teheran is the next target and it will come very, very quickly and unilaterally soon. GWB will not leave office with the leadership in power in Teheran. Its legal to start a war under the War Powers Act. Get a copy, its very loosely worded and allows Clinton to kill Kosovo, Bush to bomb Baghdad and later Topple Teheran. Now theres our foreign policy debacle.

    But for us its all about the law and I believe it starts with things just like this and Schwartz. Tearing at the fabric of who we are. Complain all you want but lets not make the implication that there is or has been wrong doing without anything other than whats in front of us. This deal at NIEH is a tempest in a teacup without any substantiation. It pisses a bunch of people off is all. Its like a person I know that got indicted for mail fraud-1800 counts worth. It was actually one letter and every correspondence he sent beyond that was “a count.” He was acquitted of course but that 1800 counts sure sounded good to a Grand Jury.

    Well, Clinton did get impeached, there is that. They didnt remove him. But they should have and not for a BJ, but for lying to a Grand Jury. I underline that and there wasnt a question of whether he did or not. But I gave him what the Constitution afforded him and not what Ken Starr said he did and that was the right to be tried under the law. So it could have been a lot worse if he had stepped down or been removed. That would leave the Manchurian Candidate and yes there is a LOT of evidence that he was compromised. Was he? I dont know….I know I wouldnt take money from any foreign government as an elected official. Winning is NOT everything, close but not everything.

    Biggest foreign policy debaucle Revere? Well only if you dont consider having the Iranians running a third of the worlds oil a bad thing. Lets not call it oil, lets call it the worlds economy that would shatter if Iran gets its hands on it. Clintons sale of the “satellite technology” gave the Chinese access to the engineering on re-entry shielding so the nuke first wont melt and second stay on target. I guess if the bomb doesnt drop in the NE its not a foreign policy debacle. I guess all of us guys down South are just too stupid to understand what a 50 meg strike would do even if it were one in the middle of Nevada and off target by even 500 miles.

    If the Chinese or Iranians create a nuclear shield of any sort that can reach us or our assets even to the range of Hawaii then THAT will be the biggest foreign policy debacle in US history. Its all about perceptions though now isnt it? This thing at NIEHS is going to create a flap, disturb some rice bowls but in the end probably nothing will result from it. Just a lot of noise to cast yet another cloud where there isnt any. Its done to just whip up noise and spend money and make the other guys look bad. Doesnt matter if you listen to the Democrats. Hillary will be in there and she will go out and make things right, now wont she? On the other hand, if you have something Revere please present it. If there is a federal probe and you have evidence to withold it is a crime…obstruction of justice in fact. If he has done something wrong then wait a moment while I get my hat and rope and we will string up the criminal together, as it should be.

    You all be sure to look at Ron Browns skull really close now. Especially as there are no rods of that bore anywhere on a B737. Also someone please tell me how it could go in and not tear anything up other than point of entry and not be laying around in his skull. A .22 powered hand held stud gun. And about those open back doors….Hmm.

    I equate foreign policy with domestic and it starts RIGHT here. Serious allegations have been made that the WTC’s were an inside job… no credible proof has ever been presented to a federal prosecutor or a law enforcement agency and its to everyone with an agenda’s advantage to JFK the fall. Couldnt possibly be that a 150 ton aircraft slammed into it and that Osama was taped taking credit for it and giggling like a school girl that his engineering background paid off. This thing with Schwartz is what? Allegations? Aspersion? What? No jetliner here so I want to see something more than 10,000 pages of what? I want to see proof… or have we forgotten that in this country?

    As for the journal, sometimes the best way to get rid of a problem in government is to de-fund it. I dont agree with what is happening and it shouldnt be privatized. Whether its right or wrong in someones opinion is the question. I think its wrong but maybe not if the reasons are true that I am hearing and reading. From the right side of the aisle Revere and from a former Senator I was told it was another “Waxman Witchhunt” to be followed by a “Murtha Murder.”

    If the law has been broken by Schwartz or the boss, they’ll be indicted and tried. I object to the indication that something illegal has gone on just because they to me at least are doing something administratively. If his personal finances are involved in his administrative act then that indeed should be investigated. But hey lets attack the man first and make it look like something has gone on… it works to the agenda.

    On the other hand. All things change and this may be one of them. The Journal may be a casualty and yes, things may require that someone else other than the taxpayers pay for it. Now that cant be a bad thing. So what is this truly? A change, a crime, or just an administrative move to save some money? As you say, we will just have to wait and see.

  7. #7 revere
    April 28, 2007

    Randy: People lie under oath all the time. Gonzales just did it when he “couldn’t recall.” If you believe all of that, then I’ve got a used Volvo for you. I haven’t accused Schwartz of crimes. Corruption is another matter and the issue of undue influence and conflict of interest has alrady stuck to him. The ethics office already made him do things differently. Whether there is more there will unfold with time. But I wouldn’t want Waxman on my tale if I had anything to hide, so we shall see. BTW, I’m fairly sure you break laws daily. Or maybe you don’t jaywalk. If you are a purist, you are a purist and there is no escape. You’ve never cut a corner? Not every infraction of the law is the same and someone who lies, even to a Grand Jury, about some personal embarrassment just isn’t in the same category in my mind as someone who lies to a whole nation, even if he isn’t under oath, and thereby kills thousands.

    Regarding a Waxman Witch Hunt, do you have an example in mind? Because I don’t think he has been much guilty of what has been more of a Republican trademark, at least in recent decades. Democrats have a bad history, but they have more or less put it behind them.

  8. #8 M. Randolph Kruger
    April 28, 2007

    Revere-Prove Gonzales lied. Conflicts of interests are not crimes unless specified as such in a state or federal law. If he has been slapped around by the ethics people then good, they are doing their jobs. No I dont jaywalk because there are no sidewalks here except in the city and they fine the crap out of you when you do. Cut a corner? Yep, probably but never broke the law that I know of other than speeding. Not every infraction of the law is the same? I disagree… you break the law then that is what it is and there are specifications for each crime. If WJC had done that outside of the Presidency he would be in jail, no question. Even if GWB lied about Iraq, its still legal because he acted within the law and involved Congress.

    http://www.townhall.com/columnists/RobertBluey/2007/03/25/waxman%E2%80%99s_witch_hunt

    http://www.macsmind.com/wordpress/2007/04/25/waxmans-magical-mystical-witch-hunt/

    http://www.4condi.com/wordpress/2007/03/13/democratic-witch-hunt-targets-condi/

    He also by the way has named his committee something new and ridiculous. The Congress shall have oversight but not Henry Waxman.

  9. #9 revere
    April 28, 2007

    Well I jaywalk all the time. But I only speed inadvertantly, because unlike jaywalking, the laws against speeding are there because if you break THAT law you can kill someone. Not that it would matter. You broke the law.

  10. #10 M. Randolph Kruger
    April 28, 2007

    Yep, and I paid my fine and went on my way. I didnt run, I didnt fight it and I didnt pull out my gun and cap the cop. He did check my paperwork though. I complied with both specifications under the law. I didnt see Henry Waxman though staring over my shoulder. I am sure he would if he could… oversight and all…. you know….. for speeding and such. Jaywalking though would DEFINITELY get you killed here as the sidewalks are only about three feet across.

  11. #11 revere
    April 28, 2007

    Well that was the time they caught you. What about the other times. You know which ones. The ones where you were speeding and no one was around to nab you? If you are a purist about breaking any law (which seems absurd to me), then paying a fine doesn’t get you off the hook. You still — apparently knowingly — broke the law. You are no different than Clinton which means you dn’t get to criticize it seems to me. On the other hand, I don’t think all crimes are the same in that what they have in common is breaking a law. You can be a criminal even if you haven’t broken a law and the converse.

  12. #12 M. Randolph Kruger
    April 29, 2007

    I never said I was a purist only that the law is there for each of us to follow. Waxman has sponsored something like 19 bills in his long tenure and only 3 made it out of comittee. None of which did a thing to stop the runaway left and right and his “oversight” committee even tried to subpoena documents from other Congressmen. Oversight of oversight? Give me a break. No, this will turn into yet another spend a lot of money program. He is using legislative authority like it is judicial and acting as prosecutor at the same time.

  13. #13 revere
    April 29, 2007

    Waxman is an indeftatigable investigator. Oversight is a constitutional mandated function of the Congress, not just law making. Unlike his Republican predecessors he does it well, he does it fairly (in my estimation, but I am willing to listen to arguments he falls short there; politics is part of everything in Congress) and he does it competently. The fact that he investigates his colleagues should be something to be praised, not criticized. Which of his investigations do you think were frivolous and not meriting use of taxpayer money?

  14. #14 Jason
    April 29, 2007

    > Prove Gonzales lied.

    ALL previous stories about the firings have been discredited except for one.

    > Conflicts of interests are not crimes unless specified as such in a state or federal law. If he has been slapped around by the ethics people then good, they are doing their jobs.

    Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean it’s right to do so.

    > If WJC had done that outside of the Presidency he would be in jail, no question. Even if GWB lied about Iraq, its still legal because he acted within the law and involved Congress.

    People commit perjury every day, and are almost never charged, it’s usually used as a threat to make people who are otherwise not guilty tell the truth.

    And what is worse, lying under oath about a BJ which was not otherwise involved in any related crime and caused no physical, or severe emotional damage to anyone? Or is lying to all of us about something that results in the deaths of thousands of US soldiers, and tens of thousands of civilian deaths, at an ABSOLUTE minimum, and HUNDREDS of thousands of civilian deaths, along with MILLIONS of displaced people.

    It might be legal to have done that, but it’s a moral/ethical crime of a level that is rarely equaled, and even more rarely exceeded.

  15. #15 M. Randolph Kruger
    April 29, 2007

    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/04/21/cards_comedy_appearance_angers_waxman/

    Thats abuse, pure and simple.

    Here’s another one and it has to do with emails….. And that the Dems will use the Patriot Act if a Dem gets into the White House to spy on Americans and not just the RNC. It turns the Watergate deal into a legal activity.

    http://thinkprogress.org/2007/03/26/rnc-emails-waxman/

    Note the comment that “This committee directs…”

    That committee doesnt have the authority and they damned well know it. Think of it Revere, even if the Republicans are using it to move info back and forth outside of normal channels its still on a private server. Do you want the Republicans to spy on the Dems using the Act? Or Dems to spy on the Republicans or private citizens. Waxman is a big proponent of use of subpoena and this is pure bull crap. Its legislation by subpoena. It completely destroys the ability of the government to function. It removes a communications tool and they would respond. They would use the phone and then they will try to expand the wire tap rules to create problems. Then Henry “Adolph” Waxman starts making the rules.

    The courts have repeatedly found in the favor of the Administration when this kind of stuff goes on. They have to have something to take it to a court first before this kind of spying against political opponents goes on. Its not oversight and those are private emails. The RNC is going to fight this to the nth degree and ultimately it will fall before a Republican High Court. Hence the bloody stump. Dont get me wrong. If there is wrong doing and it is of high order then yep, go get them and stop by. I’ll be weaving that new rope. But I dont want any committee of any kind having the authority that Waxman is asserting. Its dangerous and the House UnAmerican Activities committee comes to mind. It ruined hundreds of people for their thoughts. Communists many, but now thats the system. I dont like that but its their right to do so.

    If they ever get to where they arent then the courier services are going to work overtime in DC. Its politics and if the opposing parties ever get the right to spy into the day to day operations of the Adminstration whomever’s it is, then we are in incredibly deep trouble. It took almost two years to find out that there were 15 minutes missing on the Nixon tapes. How much time are we going to spend along with money to listen to H. Waxman constant diatribe? They are trying to create illegal activity rather than oversight. If this is allowed to continue there will be a huge backlash against the new “Tail Gunner Joe” and when the majority shifts the reprisals will be long, loud and hard. Even if Obama/Hillary get in there they will experience a shift in the majority and with that kind of name on a committee they will use it “in the name of the people”. More like certain people with agendas as Waxman has right now. He could lose his seat over this. The next one up at the plate is going to have to have their act together as President because of the world situation. Oversight? Bull. I am pretty jaded against a Clinton in the White House again, but you know I could be wrong. I have to always give them their shot but if we get Hillary and the first major order of the day is to put gays into the military or something like that then she will go down in flames. She also will spend the next four years with the bashers or something like them on her heels.

    This committee is nothing and going to be nothing but an attack dog for or against whomever is going to be in power at the time. If the Dems win the White House and there is a shift in the house and senate, they are going to hammer them and hard. Governance by impeachment after impeachment on both sides of the aisle. But Oversight Committees do not have the authority to ursurp the Ethics Committee. Thats what they are there for and Waxman is trying to extend his reach and he is going to draw back a bloody stump. Even as chair he can be voted against and they have to put things on the agenda according to the rules. Their majority is very slim and with this kind of stuff its going to get slimmer. Congress had better act now to pull him back else its going to be really bad in the long run.

    A correction to the above. Waxman has sponsored 72 bills and very few have made it past committee.

  16. #16 revere
    April 29, 2007

    Randy: I know about both of these stories and I don’t see what it has to do with his prowess or appropriateness a an investigator. What does the Patriot Act have to do with either of these stories? I hope the Dems repeal the blasted thing rather than use it, but if they use it as Bush has for spying I will scream as loud about it as I have for the Republicans. Dems are on record as opposing the spying provisions, as you know.

    As for the 72 sponsored bills, many or most I presume were while in the Minority, which explains why they didn’t make it out of committee. He has sponsored a lot of bills, it seems. Have you looked into whether they were good bills or bad bills and who scuttled them?

    I don’t like Hillary, either, but you don’t have to worry about her “putting” gays in the military. There are plenty there already and it hasn’t made it better or worse. It has nothing to do with whether the military (the largest centrally planned economy in the world and one of the biggest wastes of money) works well or not.

  17. #17 M. Randolph Kruger
    April 30, 2007

    Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) said Sunday that Democrats in Congress could consider impeachment as a way to pressure President Bush on his handling of the war in Iraq.

    “What I’m saying, there’s four ways to influence a president. And one of them’s impeachment,” Murtha, chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation”

    Any questions? I think I covered it above. We can agree to disagree and move on but this thing with Waxman is going out to look for something that might, mind might be a high crime and/or misdemeanor. Same deal with Karl Rove, they got nothing and had nothing as with Cheney. Valerie P. wasnt an covert agent and thats the reason no one is going to jail.

    If all they are going to do is create a committee that has subpoena authority that does nothing but throw a wrench into the workings of the government, then only the best and brightest crooks will be around on both sides of the aisle to run it.

    Murtha needs to resign.

  18. #18 revere
    April 30, 2007

    Randy: If lying us into a disastrous war isn’t an impeachable offense — compare it to lying about a blowjob — then I don’t know what is.

  19. #19 M. Randolph Kruger
    April 30, 2007

    Guess we will just have to decide, “What is, is”

    You know thats the problem here. “Is” here is that the law was followed. Congress agreed to send in the troops as per the resolution. Rush to judgement? Yeah, probably. Fact is that Saddam still never accounted for the 2000 plus gallons of UN verified VX, and yep, was trying to buy yellow cake uranium. I guess it was for the summer Olympics there. Saddam was a good thing gone.

    Unfortunately, lying to the people is what Presidents do in varying degrees. I just dont want us getting into this impeach, counter-impeach thing and thats all that Waxman is going to accomplish and it will finish him, his committee and likely bring the government down if it doesnt right itself. As I said though, we may have been lied to but it was legal. Waxman is just trying to savage the Administration.

  20. #20 revere
    April 30, 2007

    Randy: Waxman will savage the administration, which deserves every last shred of savaging it will get. Going after Bush is a no-brainer and richly deserved, as is impeachment (but in my view the latter is notworth the trouble or the danger of having the maniac who is next take over). Waxman is doing his job, and as far as I can see, doing it responsibly. There is nothing frivolous about his investigations which pertain directly to the operations of our government, unlike the totally frivolous investigations of the Republican majority. This is not tit for tat. This is a Congress finally doing its Constitutional duty.

  21. #21 Melanie
    April 30, 2007

    Glenn Greenwald nails Randy’s myopia this morning:

    The hard-core 20% Bush followers (the ones who not only approve of the Leader’s performance but who strongly approve) simply do not live in reality, literally. They want to believe that Americans support the ongoing occupation of Iraq, so no polling data, election slaughters, or anything else will ever convince them otherwise.

  22. #22 M. Randolph Kruger
    April 30, 2007

    Melanie, thats an opinion as is Revere’s. Constitutional authority is the reason we have separation of the branches. Waxman starts this he wont be able to finish it. You call it myopia, fine. I see that the Congress who had oversight hasnt really done its job in recent history and I think the sign on for the war was nearly 100% on all sides….. Guess my blindness is catching huh? The Dems did it for expediency and because they were given information that wasnt correct, the Republicans likely did it because of both of those and Saddam had to go.

    Anyone want to resurrect Saddam. If I had been President I would have hit him long before 9/11 and he would have richly deserved it. Cant parse this one. Getting rid of Saddam and taking on the problems was inevitable. Would have been nice to have had someone other than the UK going in there too. When you are getting oil at 30 bucks a barrel when the rest of the world is getting it at 45, you cant expect the French to help.

    Glenn Greenwald?…Melanie, give me a break. All of the day jobs are taken I guess.

    Mind it was the Administration that REELED IN the NSA and not the courts or Congress.

    Greenwald attracted national media attention in January 2006 when he announced on his blog his finding that U.S. Senator Mike DeWine had proposed an easier standard for domestic eavesdropping by federal agents in 2002, but the administration had declined any interest in the legislation and advised him that it would probably be unconstitutional, a direct contradiction of much of the later rationale for the NSA warrantless domestic spying program once it was known. This discovery became widely covered by the national media, which often credited Greenwald for breaking the story. For example, The Washington Post reported:[5]

    The Bush administration rejected a 2002 Senate proposal that would have made it easier for FBI agents to obtain surveillance warrants in terrorism cases, concluding that the system was working well and that it would likely be unconstitutional to lower the legal standard. … Democrats and national security law experts who oppose the NSA program say the Justice Department’s opposition to the DeWine legislation seriously undermines arguments by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and others, who have said the NSA spying is constitutional and that surveillance warrants are often too cumbersome to obtain. “It’s entirely inconsistent with their current position,” said Philip B. Heymann, a deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration who teaches law at Harvard University. “The only reason to do what they’ve been doing is because they wanted a lower standard than ‘probable cause.’ A member of Congress offered that to them, but they turned it down.” … The DeWine amendment — first highlighted this week by Internet blogger Glenn Greenwald and widely publicized yesterday by the Project on Government Secrecy, an arm of the Federation of American Scientists — is the latest point of contention in a fierce political and legal battle over the NSA monitoring program.’

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