1) According to a story on NPR, Erik Prince, who runs Blackwater USA (you know, the company whose contractors were accused of opening fire on unarmed civilians in Iraq?) has solid ties to Conservative Evangelical Christian groups and the Republican Party. Since 1998, he's given about $200,000 to conservative political candidates.
As Gomer Pyle would say, “Surprise, surprise.” Sorry--Gomer was a Marine, Prince is ex-Navy.
Anyway, the AP reported yesterday that
Blackwater's ties to the GOP run deep. [Prince's contributions to GOP politicians presents] a pattern of donation followed by other top Blackwater executives. The company's vice chairman is Cofer Black, a former CIA counterterrorism official who is serving as a senior adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.Sheesh. What more can you add? It's all so, so cynical.
Members of Blackwater's legal team have included former Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr and current White House Counsel Fred Fielding. The company tapped a GOP-connected public relations firm after the grisly 2004 deaths of four Blackwater employees who were ambushed by insurgents in Fallujah. Their remains
were strung from a bridge.
2) And fresh in the "academic freedom" department, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) is mad at Columbia University for letting the nutjob M. A. speak yesterday (9/24). He’s so mad, in fact, the he appeared on “Fox News’s Your World With Neil Cavuto and promised to introduce legislation ‘to cut off funds to Columbia University’” (Chronicle of Higher Ed).
I think what he’s really mad about is his poorly-polling presidential candidacy. Could he be any more obvious (or desperate) in trying to appeal to patriotic zealots? Does he actually imagine this will gain votes? A cynical, silly ploy.
I think it's great that M.A. spoke at Columbia because he revealed himself as an absolutely batsh*t lunatic; the man's lost any credibility he had with Americans sympathetic to Iran's struggles (except, perhaps, for those whacky folks on the fringe).
Moreover, as the Chronicle points out, even if Hunter and his buddies did succeed in pushing some speech-restricting bill through the Congress, chances are it “would probably be struck down by the courts. “Viewpoint-based” allocations of public subsidies are generally unconstitutional [. . . .].” Eugene Volokh, over at the most excellent Volokh Conspiracy, discusses the ramifications of such legislation.
I should think a little something like the first amendment might cause some problems here. What idiocy.
Should I also mention that Hunter has made the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington’s most recent list (9/18/07) of the most corrupt members of Congress? Why not.
* Admittedly, the Iranian people have a point in complaining about how their president was treated at Columbia. Couldn't Bollinger have waited to lambast A. M. at least until after M. A. had spoken, or even the following day? We'd have had right fits if the same had occurred to Bush while at home, much less overseas. Remember how even Charlie Rangel got into a right state after Hugo Chavez made his ridiculous comments about Bush and "the devil" at the UN?