The two-day training, starting Friday in Baltimore, is to outline the scriptural basis of evil, instruct clergy on evaluating whether a person is truly possessed, and review the prayers and rituals that comprise an exorcism. Among the speakers will be Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Texas, and a priest-assistant to New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan.
It seemed obvious, as soon as the commission's membership was announced, that "bipartisanship" would mean what it so often does in Washington: a compromise between the center-right and the hard-right.
For more on pruning back executive power see Pruning Shears.
Randy "Duke" Cunningham is the former ace fighter pilot who parlayed his status as a war hero into a congressional seat that he promptly used to enrich himself and his defense contractor buddies by taking over two million dollars in bribes (we'll call that the quid) and in exchange, he made sure they got lucrative contracts (the pro quo).
By 2005, the Dukesters house of cards had come down, and he was facing some serious jail time - so he threw himself on the mercy of the court and took responsibility for his actions and fessed up, admitting in open court that he did indeed take bribes.
Now, five years later, still cooling his jets in the pokey, he has conjured up a new narrative.
Former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, currently in prison for charges stemming from the bribes he confessed to accepting while in office, is presenting a new narrative to those who've been following his spiral into disgrace. Turns out, Cunningham now says, he wasn't bribed at all. At least not as much.
One of the men convicted of bribing Cunningham, former defense contractor Brent Wilkes, is attempting to reopen his case on the grounds that Cunningham now says the hundreds of thousands in money and stuff Wilkes was convicted of giving him was, in fact, not a bribe at all. In a pair of "declarations" Cunningham made in the past few weeks, theSan Diego Union Tribune reports that former Republican congressman said the payments were just "gifts between longtime friends."
"This was not a bribe to me," Cunningham said, referring to a more than $500,000 payment Wilkes was convicted of offering Cunningham to help "pay off a mortgage for a $1.2 million mansion Cunningham purchased in Rancho Santa Fe."
This is the same guy who, just a couple of months ago, wrote to the judge whining that he had suffered enough, and accused him of siccing the IRS on him in violation of the restitution agreement, and besides, he's a war hero, damnit! Like that ought to make him above the law or suspend the rules others have to live by or something.
Former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, currently serving a eight-year sentence for bribery convictions, wrote a letter to his sentencing judge accusing the judge of reneging on Cunningham's plea deal and siccing the "KGB IRS" on him.
Reporter Seth Hettena posted the the three page,hand-written letter, in which Cunningham says the IRS is bleeding him dry.
"The IRS has taken everything I have worked for during my nearly 70 years," Cunningham wrote. "You can only push a man so far, your honor."
"As one of the most highly decorated veterans in the history of his nation and a lifetime of service yes I made mistakes but does that include killing me and my family," he went on.
Cunningham argued that liens the IRS had placed on his pensions went further than the restitution agreement he signed as part of his plea deal.
Judge Larry Burns wrote back, explaining that the IRS liens have nothing to do with his restitution agreement. The agency, he said, is collecting back taxes on the bribes Cunningham received while in office.
It's pretty obvious that Cunningham is far from the brightest crayon in the box, so maybe I shouldn't be too awfully surprised that he is still trying to talk his way out of the mess he made of his life, but the level of shamelessness that he is capable of displaying. Just when I think he has plumbed the depths, he manages to go lower, and insult the intelligence of his intellectual betters all over again.
"I was elected to maintain the kind of tone that says we can disagree without being disagreeable. Over the course of two years, there have been times where I've slipped on that commitment."-Obama, the wild beast, trying to keep his razor-sharp tongue in check, Link
You're apologizing for being too agressive, too unwilling to compromise?
Did Jack teach you how to negotiate at the Beanstalk?
Eugene Robinson on the consequences stemming from Dem's failure to be forceful.
"Why don't they fight back?"
That's the question I've been hearing from the Democratic Party's stunned and dispirited base.
I confess that I don't have a good answer. What I can say with confidence, however, is that the White House and Democrats in Congress ignore these grumblings at their peril. Call it polarization, call it conviction, call it whatever you like: These are not wishy-washy times. If you don't stand for something, you get run over.
What I'm hearing is frustration, and it's getting louder. I'm hearing the view that the Obama administration, which has done much good, can do better – by speaking clearly, standing its ground – and, when pushed by bullies, shoving back.
Yes, Republicans don't play fair but it's not as if this is news to anyone, especially Democrats. Nor can it be used as the excuse for caving in on every piece of legislation between now and 2012. The big test is going to be how Dems handle the Bush tax cuts for the rich. Giving in to Republican demands to keep the cuts for the top 2 percent in place will increase the deficit by $700 billion over the next ten years. It will also make Democrats appear to be sniveling weaklings especially in face of the fact that polls indicate that a majority of Americans are in favor of allowing the tax cuts for the rich to expire.
So, what will it be? Cowardice or push back?