Monday, January 09, 2006

The LA Time's Ronald Brownstein got it partly right when he wrote about the rush to return Indian gaming contributions in his column yesterday:

Sending back the tribes' money isn't only silly, it's destructive to the cause of reforming Washington. It perpetuates the fiction that "bad" contributions can be segregated from "good" contributions in some orderly fashion that allows politicians to raise millions without compromising their independence. ...

[T]he vast majority of contributions legislators in both parties received from Abramoff's Indian clients looks no different, legally or even morally, than the money they collect from all other interests jostling on Capitol Hill. That's why the rush to refund the money is so misguided. By returning the Indian money, the recipients are trying to claim vigilance against suspect contributions.

But political money doesn't sort itself into black and white categories of appropriate and inappropriate; much of it, like the money from the tribes, is gray. It usually comes not with explicit demands but with implied expectations that every legislator must weigh. Is the Indian money really more suspect than the massive pharmaceutical contributions that influenced a prescription drug law that barred Medicare from bargaining for lower drug prices? In practice, the choices are not as clear-cut as legislators imply by returning the Indian dollars while keeping so many other donations that could provoke similar ethics questions.

Ok, we're with you so far, Mr. Brownstein. But then you fall into the trap that Micah wrote about earlier today, arguing that no reform will work. Yes, it is important to vote the rascals out, as you state, "the surest way for Americans to discourage elected officials from providing undue favors to special interests is to vote out some of those who do." We're with you there. But we also need to replace our current system with one that doesn't put special interest donors in a more important position than voters. We need some structural reform in addition to Brownstein's version of "electoral reform."


  • Cruise Line Lobbyists Related to Jack Abramoff Scandal:
    Influence Peddling by the Cruise Lines. Several Lobbyist and some firms for the cruise lines are involved in the Abramoff Scandal. 42 people have gone overboard since 2000. Who is to blame? Go to for more information. Michael Scanlon, lobbyist closest to Jack Abramoff and others from Preston Gates Ellis Rouvelas & Meeds LLP were a lobbyist for Norwegian Cruise. Abramoff, Kevin Ring & David Safavian were involved in the Abramoff scandal and worked at Preston. ICCL hired lobbyists from Barnes & Thornburg where Edward Ayoob and Michales Scanlon worked.

    Cruise Lines and their Lobbyists as reported by The Center for Public Integrity Total Amount Spent by Cruise Lines excluding Disney For Lobbying From 1998 to 2004 =
    $ 9,750,000 (Approximate)
    Total Amount Spent by Walt Disney Co for Lobbying From 1998 to 2004 = $ 23,626,800 (Approximate) It is unknown how much of this amount was for their cruise line.
    Data on Lobbying by Cruise Lines from the Center for Public Integrity Web Site

    Project Safe Cruise will consist of a one week cruise in 2006 that will showcase the type of security and safety system that could be put in place by cruise lines to insure the safety and security of all passengers and crew and at the same time preserve evidence of crimes and/or accidents. On this Maiden Voyage we hope to offer short entertaining seminars and panel discussions by various security experts and perhaps some celebrities, on missing persons, identity theft, date rape, kidnapping, teenage and young child safety, security, safety, and health issues while in other countries or at sea, investment scams for seniors, how to buy art work, etc. We must focus on a positive solution that will benefit all parties involved and prevent future tragedies. This will be a win/win proposition giving all American passengers peace of mind and at the same time reducing crime and saving lives. If you are interested in learning more and perhaps joining the cruise or if you represent the press or would like to sponsor or help plan the cruise please leave contact information in the comment section or send an email to Become a charter member and be a part of history.

    List of 42 Cases of Persons Overboard on Cruise Ships since 2000 Now Posted at

    Project Safe Cruise could be a win-win solution for parties on both sides of the cruise ship safety issue. Look at it as an outside the box idea that is sort of like pre-event arbitration, a partnership if you will. Even though focusing on prevention is less glamorous and less dramatic than solving crimes, it is more efficient and gratifying, especially if we save one life or reduce the suffering of one family. We must work with the cruise lines to set up a cadre of independent contract employees that would act as security ombudsman who would –

     Know how to deal with a terrorist situation.
     Have the authority to lock down crime scenes and secure the chain of evidence.
     Deal immediately and directly with the FBI, Coast Guard, and other agencies and organizations in all ports of call.
     Provide ongoing security and safety training to crew and travel agents and organizers including shore excursion groups.
     Record and maintain a database of incidents and present some analysis of current procedures and conduct of parties involved and recommend improvements for all.
    The cadre could be staffed by ex-military and ex-law-enforcement personnel who would get salary and/or some free cruise or vacation packages for their work, kind of like how many campgrounds have frequent campers act as hosts. What works good on land should work good on the water including a Neighborhood Watch or Guardian Angel type system that could include frequent customers, crew members, contract employees, travel agents, etc. Design an Amber Alert system for use on ships. The use of this and an independent cadre perhaps named Sea Marshals would provide the most important factor or element for preventing and solving crimes: TIME. We will contact Congressman Shays or his subcommittee for possible grants to solve the problem by thinking outside of the box?

    By Blogger Safe Cruise Blog, at 10:12 PM  

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