Gov. Jeb Bush has moral obligation to pardon every drug offender, Libertarians say

Discussion in 'Politics' started by bungrider, Mar 27, 2004.


    September 10, 2002

    Gov. Jeb Bush has moral obligation to pardon every drug offender, Libertarians say

    WASHINGTON, DC -- Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has a moral obligation to pardon every nonviolent drug offender, Libertarians say, after insisting on Tuesday that his daughter’s latest drug episode should be treated as a “family matter” rather than as a criminal matter.

    “Why is Noelle Bush sitting in a rehab center while other drug-law violators are rotting in prison?” asked Ron Crickenberger, Libertarian Party political director. “The answer is obvious: Because her father happens to be a hypocritical governor who believes in one standard of justice for his family and another standard for yours.”

    Police were called to the Center for Drug Free Living on Monday after employees reported finding a “white, rocklike substance” believed to be crack cocaine in Noelle Bush’s shoe. The 25-year-old daughter of the Republican governor wasn’t immediately arrested, police say, because clinic supervisors refused to cooperate with police and wanted the matter handled “in house.”

    Gov. Bush, whose daughter has had previous drug violations, told the Associated Press: “This is a private issue as it relates to my daughter and myself and my wife. The road to recovery is a rocky one for a lot of people that have this kind of problem.”

    But the question Libertarians are asking is: Why shouldn’t every American get the Noelle Bush treatment?

    “Gov. Bush is exactly right that drug abuse should be treated as a private, medical problem rather than as a criminal problem,” Crickenberger said. “Unfortunately, Bush is an ardent drug warrior who believes in throwing ordinary individuals in jail for committing the same ‘crime’ as his daughter – which makes him a despicable Drug War hypocrite as well.

    “Why does Bush believe that other young men and women should be locked inside steel cages for years for doing exactly what his daughter has done?

    “Why should other Americans have their lives ruined and their careers destroyed by a drug conviction while he hands his daughter a get-out-of-jail-free card?

    “And why must other families be torn apart when a loved one is dragged off to prison while he visits his daughter in a cozy rehab center?

    “The fact is that individuals with drug problems harm only themselves, and perhaps their families. But a politician with a hypocrisy problem has the power to tear everyone’s family apart.”

    But there’s a way that the governor can redeem himself, Libertarians say:

    “Gov. Bush should grant every nonviolent drug offender in the Florida state prison system a full and immediate pardon,” Crickenberger said. “Then let them join his daughter on the road to recovery.”

  2. I bet Rush Limbaugh would go for Jeb to pardon to drug offenders, at least those who are addicted to pain killers.
  3. This is too funny...

    Carlyle's way

    Making a mint inside "the iron triangle" of defense, government, and industry.

    January 8, 2002

    Like everyone else in the United States, the group stood transfixed as the events of September 11 unfolded. Present were former secretary of defense Frank Carlucci, former secretary of state James Baker III, and representatives of the bin Laden family. This was not some underground presidential bunker or Central Intelligence Agency interrogation room. It was the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., the plush setting for the annual investor conference of one of the most powerful, well-connected, and secretive companies in the world: the Carlyle Group. And since September 11, this little-known company has become unexpectedly important.

    That the Carlyle Group had its conference on America's darkest day was mere coincidence, but there is nothing accidental about the cast of characters that this private-equity powerhouse has assembled in the 14 years since its founding. Among those associated with Carlyle are former U.S. president George Bush Sr., former U.K. prime minister John Major, and former president of the Philippines Fidel Ramos. And Carlyle has counted George Soros, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz Alsaud of Saudi Arabia, and Osama bin Laden's estranged family among its high-profile clientele. The group has been able to parlay its political clout into a lucrative buyout practice (in other words, purchasing struggling companies, turning them around, and selling them for huge profits)--everything from defense contractors to telecommunications and aerospace companies. It is a kind of ruthless investing made popular by the movie Wall Street, and any industry that relies heavily on government regulation is fair game for Carlyle's brand of access capitalism. Carlyle has established itself as the gatekeeper between private business interests and U.S. defense spending. And as the Carlyle investors watched the World Trade towers go down, the group's prospects went up.

    In running what its own marketing literature spookily calls "a vast, interlocking, global network of businesses and investment professionals" that operates within the so-called iron triangle of industry, government, and the military, the Carlyle Group leaves itself open to any number of conflicts of interest and stunning ironies. For example, it is hard to ignore the fact that Osama bin Laden's family members, who renounced their son ten years ago, stood to gain financially from the war being waged against him until late October, when public criticism of the relationship forced them to liquidate their holdings in the firm. Or consider that U.S. president George W. Bush is in a position to make budgetary decisions that could pad his father's bank account. But for the Carlyle Group, walking that narrow line is the art of doing business at the murky intersection of Washington politics, national security, and private capital; mastering it has enabled the group to amass $12 billion in funds under management. But while successful in the traditional private-equity avenue of corporate buyouts, Carlyle has recently set its sites on venture capital with less success. The firm is finding that all the politicians in the world won't help it identify an emerging technology or a winning business model.

    Surprisingly, Carlyle has avoided the fertile VC market in defense technology, which now, more than ever, comes from smaller companies hoping to cash in on what the defense establishment calls the revolution in military affairs, or RMA.  Thus far, Carlyle has passed up on these emerging technologies in favor of some truly awful Internet plays. And despite its unique qualifications for early-stage funding of defense companies, the firm seems to have no appetite for the sector.

    Despite its VC troubles, however, the Carlyle Group's core business is set for some good times ahead. Though the group has raised eyebrows on Capitol Hill in the past, the firm's close ties with the current administration and its cozy relationship with several prominent Saudi government figures has the watchdogs howling. And it's those same connections that will keep Carlyle in the black for as long as the war against terrorism endures.

    For the 11th-largest defense contractor in the United States, wartime is boom time. No one knows that better than the Carlyle Group, which less than a month after U.S. troops began bombing Afghanistan filed to take public its crown jewel of defense, United Defense, a company it has owned for nearly a decade. That this company is even able to go public is testament to the Carlyle Group's pull in Washington.

    United Defense makes the controversial Crusader, a 42-ton, self-propelled howitzer that moves and operates much like a tank and can lob ten 155-mm shells per minute as far as 40 kilometers. The Crusader has been in the sights of Pentagon budget cutters since the Clinton administration, which argued that it was a relic of the cold war era--too heavy and slow for today's warfare. Even the Pentagon had recommended the program be discontinued. But remarkably, the $11 billion contract for the Crusader is still alive, thanks largely to the Carlyle Group.

    "This is very much an example of a cold war-inspired weapon whose time has passed," notes Steve Grundman, a consultant at Charles River Associates, a defense and aerospace consultancy in Boston. "Its liabilities were uncovered during the Kosovo campaign, when the Army was unable to deploy it in time. It is exceedingly expensive, and it was a wake-up call to the Army that many of its forces are no longer relevant."

    But the Carlyle Group was having none of that. While it is impossible to say what U.S. secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld was thinking when he made the decision to keep the Crusader program alive, people close to the situation claim to have a pretty good idea. Mr. Carlucci and Mr. Rumsfeld are good friends and former wrestling partners from their undergraduate days at Princeton University. And while Carlyle executives are quick to reject any accusations of them lobbying the current administration, others aren't so sure. "In this particular effort, I felt that they were like any other lobbying group, apart from the fact that they are not," said one Washington, D.C., lobbyist with intimate knowledge of the Crusader negotiations, noting the fine line between lobbying and having a drink with a old friend.

    According to Greg McCarthy, a spokesperson for Representative J.C. Watts Jr. (R: Oklahoma), whose district is home to one of the Crusader's assembly plants, the Carlyle Group's influence was indeed felt at the Pentagon. "Carlyle's strength was within the DoD, because as a rule someone like Frank Carlucci is going to have access," says Mr. McCarthy. "But they have other staff types that work behind the scenes, in the dark, that know everything about the Army and Capitol Hill."

    Perhaps even more disconcerting than Carlyle's ties to the Pentagon are its connections within the White House itself. Aside from signing up George Bush Sr. shortly after his presidential term ended, Carlyle gave George W. Bush a job on the board of Texas-based airline food caterer Caterair International back in 1991. Since Bush the younger took office this year, a number of events have raised eyebrows.

    Shortly after George W. Bush was sworn in as president, he broke off talks with North Korea regarding long-range ballistic missiles, claiming there was no way to ensure North Korea would comply with any guidelines that were developed. The news came as a shock to South Korean officials, who had spent years negotiating with the North, assisted by the Clinton administration. By June, Mr. Bush had reopened negotiations with North Korea, but only at the urging of his own father. According to reports, the former president sent his son a memo persuasively arguing the need to work with the North Korean government. It was the first time the nation had seen the influence of the father on the son in office.

    But what has been overlooked was Carlyle's business interest in Korea. The senior Bush had spearheaded the group's successful entrance into the South Korean market, paving the way for buyouts of Korea's KorAm Bank and Mercury, a telecommunications equipment company. For the business to be successful, stability between North and South Korea is critical. And though there is no direct evidence linking the senior Bush's business dealings in Korea with the change in policy, it is the appearance of impropriety that excites the watchdogs. "We are clearly aware that former President Bush has weighed in on policy toward South Korea and we note that U.S. policy changed after those communications," says Peter Eisner, managing director at the Center for Public Integrity, a watchdog group in Washington, D.C., which has an active file on the Carlyle Group. "We know that former President Bush receives remuneration for his work with Carlyle and that he is capable of advising the current president, but how much further it goes, we don't know."
  4. (cont'd)

    While the Center for Public Integrity looks for its smoking gun, others in Washington say hard evidence is unimportant. "Whether the decisions made by the former president are a real or apparent conflict of interest doesn't matter, because in the public's eye they're equally as damaging," says Larry Noble, executive director and general counsel of the Center for Responsive Politics. "Bush [Sr.] has to seriously consider the propriety of sitting on the board of a group that is impacted by his son's decisions."

    And the controversy is expected only to increase as Carlyle's investments in Saudi Arabia are scrutinized during the war on terrorism. Mr. Eisner says that very little is known about Carlyle's involvements in Saudi Arabia, except that the firm has been making close to $50 million a year training the Saudi Arabian National Guard, troops that are sworn to protect the monarchy. Carlyle also advises the Saudi royal family on the Economic Offset Program, a system that is designed to encourage foreign businesses to open shop in Saudi Arabia and uses re-investment incentives to keep those businesses' proceeds in the country.

    But the money flowing out of Saudi Arabia and into the Carlyle Group is of even more interest. Immediately after the September 11 attacks, reports surfaced of Carlyle's involvement with the Saudi Binladin Group, the $5 billion construction business run by Osama's half-brother Bakr. The bin Laden family invested $2 million in the Carlyle Partners II fund, which includes in its portfolio United Defense and other defense and aerospace companies. On October 26, the Carlyle Group severed its relationship with the bin Laden family in what officials termed a mutual decision. Mr. Bush Sr. and Mr. Major have been to Saudi Arabia on behalf of Carlyle as recently as last year, and according to reports, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is currently looking into the flow of money from the bin Laden family. Carlyle officials declined to answer any questions regarding their activities in Saudi Arabia.

    But for all the questions, Carlyle has stayed clean in the eyes of the law. Lobbying laws in Washington, D.C., are ambiguous at best, requiring only that former politicians observe a one-year "cooling-off period" before they reënter the lobbying scene on behalf of industry. It is playing within this gray area that has given the Carlyle Group some of the best returns in the business.

    After David Rubenstein, a former aide in the Carter administration, and William Conway Jr., former chief financial officer of MCI Communications, hooked up at New York's Carlyle hotel in 1987 to form the company, the Carlyle Group spent two lost years investing in a hodgepodge of companies. It wasn't until 1989, when the company brought in Mr. Carlucci, fresh off his two-year stint as U.S. secretary of defense, that Carlyle got serious in government. In 1991 the company made a name for itself by facilitating a $590 million purchase of Citicorp stock for Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. Shortly thereafter, Carlyle snatched up defense contractors Harsco, BDM International, and LTV, turning the companies around and selling them to the likes of TRW, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin.

    The Carlyle Group has diversified its holdings since then, investing in everything from bottling companies to natural-food grocers. In the process, it has become one of the biggest, most successful private-equity firms in business, with annualized returns of 35 percent. (Judging by the early numbers from some of their funds, however, like many other private-equity funds, 2001 will be a considerably less profitable year for Carlyle.) "They are the new breed of private equity, acting more like a large mutual fund of private companies," says David Snow, editor of, a Web site that tracks private-equity firms. The numbers are impressive: Carlyle employs 240 people, as opposed to the 10 or 12 typical of most private-equity firms. It has ownership stakes in 164 companies, which collectively employ more than 70,000 people. George Soros invested $100 million in the group's funds; the California Public Employees' Retirement System is in for $305 million.

    Carlyle has succeeded by raising money first, then finding the talent to manage it. For instance, it raised a fund for buying out telecom companies and hired William Kennard, the former U.S. Federal Communications Commission chairman, to run it. Accused early on of being nothing more than a bunch of Washington grip-and-grinners, Carlyle has proven its critics wrong. At a Salomon Smith Barney private-equity conference last March, a panel of professional investment managers were asked who the best fund managers are. Carlyle cofounder Mr. Conway was one of two managers chosen.

    With its size and success, questions about the firm's ability to grow revenue has arisen. Carlyle has placed its bets for future growth on the VC markets, which it entered in 1996. But to date, it has found that venture capital is a game with far different rules than that of corporate buyouts. "They may be very established in private equity, but it seems to me that they don't really know the venture capital business," says one VC who has done deals with Carlyle. "In buyouts, you take over a company and fight the management, but in venture capital it's the opposite. You want to work with people."

    Carlyle executives admit as much. As a result, the Carlyle Europe Venture Partners fund has been slow to commit its capital. So far, it has spent just more than 20 percent of its $660 million, and 3 of its original 17 investments have already folded. None has gone public or been acquired. As Jack Biddle, cofounder of Novak Biddle Venture Partners, dryly puts it, "I haven't been involved in a lot of venture deals where the participation of a president mattered that much. In venture capital, it's all about the technology."

    For a firm that has made its money in highly regulated, politically charged industries, picking business-to-business plays is hardly second nature. While Carlyle has investments in highly regulated sectors like telecom and banking, it has avoided defense entirely, instead focusing on tech industries that have already gone flat. The firm's European fund alone boasts six B2B companies, two optical-networking companies, and Riot-E, a wireless media play. Jacques Garaïalde, managing director of the Europe fund concedes that expectations have been shifted. "Clearly, we can't make 100 times returns on B2B, but there are some situations in which we can make 3 times."

    But the struggles in its VC business may be offset, at least temporarily, by the expected windfall from the war on terrorism. The federal government has already approved a $40 billion supplemental aid package to the current budget, $19 billion of which is headed straight to the Pentagon. Some of the additional government spending is likely to find its way into Carlyle's coffers.

    The Bush administration isn't afraid to mix business and politics, and no other firm embodies that penchant better than the Carlyle Group. Walking that fine line is what Carlyle does best. We may not see Osama bin Laden's brothers at Carlyle's investor conferences any more, but business will go on as usual for the biggest old boys network around. As Mr. Snow puts it, "Carlyle will always have to defend itself and will never be able to convince certain people that they aren't capable of forging murky backroom deals. George Bush's father does profit when the Carlyle Group profits, but to make the leap that the president would base decisions on that is to say that the president is corrupt."

    Additional reporting by Lawrence Aragon, Mark Chediak, Julie Landry, Christopher Locke, Eric Moskowitz, Mark Mowrey, and Michael Parsons.
  5. The latest Bush hypocrisy
    Gov. Jeb Bush calls for jail time for nonviolent drug offenders as his daughter gets sent to rehab.

    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    By Arianna Huffington

    Sept. 16, 2002 | I feel nothing but sympathy and concern for Noelle Bush. Her latest stumble on the rocky road to recovery -- being caught with crack cocaine at a drug rehab center -- shows that she is in desperate need of help. As a parent, I can also easily empathize with the anguish Noelle's father, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, must be experiencing. And I'm in total agreement with his insistence that his daughter's substance-abuse problem is "a private issue."

    But when I think about the heartless stance the governor has taken toward the drug problems of those less fortunate and well connected than his daughter, my empathy turns to outrage.

    While Noelle has been given every break in the book -- and then some -- her father has made it harder for others in her position to get the help they need by cutting the budgets of drug treatment and drug court programs in his state. He has also actively opposed a proposed ballot initiative that would send an estimated 10,000 nonviolent drug offenders into treatment instead of jail. I guess what's good for the goose gets the gander locked away.

    Of course, Jeb's wildly inconsistent attitude on the issue -- treatment and privacy for his daughter, incarceration and public humiliation for everyone else -- is part and parcel of the galling hypocrisy that infects America's insane drug war on every level.

    The latest example of this madness is last week's early morning DEA raid on a medical marijuana club in Santa Cruz, Calif., that caters to terminally ill patients. Although the hospice-style operation has been lauded by local law enforcement officials for its caring and ethical approach, federal agents stormed the place with guns drawn and chainsaws whirring -- leveling its pot garden, handcuffing ailing patients (including a paraplegic) and carting off its founder and director, Valerie Corral, a woman who has been called the Florence Nightingale of the medical marijuana movement.

    So much for the president's compassionate conservatism, and its conservative consistency. Back when he was running for president, candidate George W. Bush declared that medical marijuana is a states' rights issue. "I believe," he said, "each state can choose that decision as they so choose." Although the mangled syntax makes it a little hard to tell exactly what the president was getting at, is it consistent with allowing John Ashcroft to order a holy-roller war against cannabis clubs in California, even though it is one of 12 states that have decriminalized the use of pot for medical purposes?

    Surely there has got to be a better use of our limited law enforcement resources than busting grievously ill cancer and AIDS patients searching for relief from their suffering. How about unearthing a terrorist cell or two?

    And the White House continues to bombard us with those offensive -- and expensive -- TV spots implying that youthful drug users like Noelle Bush are the moral equivalent of Mohammed Atta. Maybe her Uncle George can get her an audition for the next round of taxpayer-funded ads. Show her pulling some crack out of her shoe while saying, "I helped blow up buildings."

    Or does that kind of overheated and stigmatizing rhetoric only apply to those other, non-Bush-family youthful drug users? After all, a glaring double standard has been a hallmark of our nation's drug policy for decades. It's why African-Americans make up only 13 percent of the country's drug users but 55 percent of those convicted of drug possession and 74 percent of those sent to jail on possession charges. And why the youthful indiscretions of the rich are routinely treated with a slap on the wrist and a ticket to rehab while poor kids are shipped off to prison.

    If America's drug laws were applied consistently, Jeb Bush and his family would be evicted from their publicly funded digs, just as people living in public housing can be thrown out of their homes if any household member or guest is found using drugs -- even if the drug use happened someplace other than in the housing project. And Noelle could find herself joining the tens of thousands of young people unable to get a college education because of a provision in the Higher Education Act that denies financial aid to students convicted of possessing illegal drugs.

    But the rich and powerful are judged by a very different set of rules. That's why the staff at Noelle's rehab center tore up a sworn statement incriminating Noelle even though the facility's standard policy is to turn all such matters over to the police.

    If, through her pain, Noelle Bush can help open her family's minds as well as their hearts and force them to rethink their disastrous drug policy, the nation -- and millions of young Americans in particular -- will owe her a tremendous debt of gratitude.

    I wish her much luck.
  6. Truly, it's good to see that it's not just me who gets driven batshit by all this war on drugs insanity.

    While most of the blame does belong on the shoulders of heartless anti-freedom Rebublicans...I have not seen Dems do jack shit to correct the problem- at least not on the federal level.
  7. Released from drug rehab, Bush's daughter 'grateful'
    By Associated Press
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published August 9, 2003


    ORLANDO - Gov. Jeb Bush's daughter completed a drug rehabilitation program Friday, when a judge dismissed drug charges against her and allowed her to go home with her parents.

    Noelle Bush, 26, hugged Circuit Judge Reginald Whitehead as the governor and wife Columba looked on.

    The governor's daughter was ordered into treatment after she was arrested in January 2002, accused of trying to pass a phony prescription at a Tallahassee pharmacy to obtain the antianxiety drug Xanax.

    "It has been quite a challenge, and I really am grateful," she told the judge during a hearing in Orange Circuit Court. "It has been an honor to know you."

    The governor refused to comment, but his press office released a statement expressing his family's happiness.

    "Columba and I are pleased that our daughter Noelle has completed this step, and grateful for the treatment she's received," the statement read. "She has worked hard to get here. We are proud of her efforts and love her very much."

    Whitehead twice sent Noelle Bush to jail for violating drug rehab rules. She was jailed for three days in July 2002 after being caught with prescription pills and served 10 days in October after being accused of having a small rock of crack cocaine in her shoe.

    "This is your day today," Whitehead said. "I'm not here to recognize your family members or anything. They're here because they're proud of you and care about what you've done."

    Noelle Bush was sent to the drug court program because she was a first-time offender. If she had gone through the regular criminal justice system, she could have faced as much as five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

    Before her arrest, the Bush family had acknowledged that one of their children had a drug problem, and Columba Bush has been active in antidrug programs.
  8. Columba Bush says she's ashamed about run-in with U.S. Customs

    Thursday, July 29, 1999

    By MIKE SCHNEIDER, Associated Press

    ORLANDO - Florida's first lady said Wednesday she was ashamed about failing to declare $19,000 worth of clothes and jewelry she purchased on a Paris shopping spree last month.

    "The embarrassment I brought on myself made me ashamed to face my family and friends," Columba Bush said in her first public appearance since her run-in with U.S. Customs officials in Atlanta.

    Florida's first lady, Columba Bush, addresses the 1999 Kids for Wish Kids luncheon sponsored by the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Orlando Wednesday. Bush told reporters she was ashamed about failing to declare $19,000 worth of clothes andjewelry she purchased on a shopping spree last month. Peter Cosgrove / AP

    Mrs. Bush was fined $4,100 and became the butt of jokes by Jay Leno and others after the incident made headlines across the nation.

    Speaking at a luncheon for the Central Florida Make-A-Wish-Foundation, Mrs. Bush apologized for what she called "an awful mistake."

    Mrs. Bush said she now realizes the responsibility that comes with being married to Gov. Jeb Bush.

    "I am by nature a very private person, some might even call me shy," she said. "I did not ask to join a famous family, simply to marry a man that I loved. But with that decision came a responsibility beyond anything that I could imagine and my recent actions made that painfully apparent."

    Mrs. Bush paid the duty and fines with a personal check after she landed in Atlanta on her return from Paris to Tallahassee.

    International travelers do not have to pay duties on foreign purchases that total less than $400. Mrs. Bush declared only $500 worth of merchandise.

    Mrs. Bush told reporters the governor has helped her through the public criticism following the incident.

    "Jeb has been wonderful. He has been very supportive, very loving and he says 'C'mon, we have to keep on going,'" she said.

    Mrs. Bush wouldn't elaborate on what she purchased nor did she offer an explanation for why she failed to declare the merchandise.

    "It's an accident and I regret it with all my heart," she said.
    #10     Mar 27, 2004