Best of 2007
TOP 13 OF 2007 Again, hard to believe another year has passed ...
12. Watching the documentary Imelda and then Meeting Her a Week Later The documentary is a Must-See - it provides great insight into the history of the Marcos' reign in the Philippines, as well as Imelda's psyche (including a jaw-dropping, belly-splitting segment in which she describes and draws a diagram of her philosophy on life that concludes with a Pac-Man). A week after I saw this, I found myself looking into her glazed eyes in disbelief that I was actually speaking to her, and I didn't even look down to see what shoes she was wearing.
11. One Less Year of The Bush Administration! The giddiness is felt around the world!!! Carolyn Castano's Wagon Station
This was my first year to finally attend the event High Desert Test Sites in Joshua Tree, even though I've spent a great deal of time in Joshua Tree and have even stayed at Andrea Zittel's home there for a week after a Vipassana course in 2004. I went with Carolyn Castano, one of the participating artists who customized a Wagon Station on Andrea's property. Highlights included sleeping under the stars in the Wagon Station with the lid up; watching Piotr Uklanski's Summer Love outside at sundown against the old Western set in Pioneertown (the film is the first Polish Western and it was stunning!); and several long hikes through the desert. Schwitters' original Merzbau
9. Kurt Schwitters in Sao Paulo
Totally serendipitous! As we were driving in the taxi from the airport to our hotel, I just happened to see a large sign for an exhibition of Kurt Schwitters' Merzbau. We investigated the next day and found that it was at the Pinacoteca do Estado museum. We headed over and not only were blown away by the reinstallation of Schwitters' Merzbau (as it turns out, Eliza actually knows the daughter of the man who travels around the world recreating and building the Merzbau), but the Pinacoteca was amazing - it's tied for first for my favorite museum (along with the Museu de Arte Contemporanea de Niteroi).
Grizzly outside of my dad and stepmother's home -- it's common to have grizzlies roaming around folks' homes year-round!!!
8. Montana I love my home state! However, I won't be sharing any of the best things about it because I don't want it to change.
Wofford in Manila (photo by EBX)
7. Jenifer Wofford Girl this is your year! What can I say, you are the reason for five of my Bests in 2007 - THANK YOU!!!
Galleon Trade Crew in the Living Room (photo by Juan Caguicla)
6. Participating in Galleon Trade in Manila The project was a whirlwind of activity and wonderful, memorable experiences and my first introduction to the Philippines - I LOVE Manila!
5. THE Men of North Syquia Apartments in Malate, Manila Love these (you) guys! They were three of the best things about the Galleon Trade residency - Bold, Brilliant, Beautiful ... and always up for watching "The Tyra Banks Show".
4. Another One Bites The Dust, Another One Bites The Dust, And Another One Gone, Another One Gone, Another One Bites The Dust ...
Bush Administration Scandals:
* Eric G. Andell - deputy undersecretary in charge of newly created Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (previously senior adviser to Secretary of Education Rod Paige) - pleaded guilty to one count of conflict of interest for using government travel for personal causes and was sentenced to one year of probation, 100 hours of community service, and fined $5,000.
* Claude Allen - Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy- resigned, pled guilty to shoplifting from Target stores.
* Lester Crawford - Commissioner, FDA - resigned in late September 2005 after only two months on the job. On October 17th, he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts, making a false writing and conflict of interest. On February 27, 2007, Crawford was sentenced to three years of probation and was fined $90,000.
* Brian Doyle - Deputy Press Secretary, Department of Homeland Security - Resigned in wake of child sex scandal. Doyle was arrested on April 4th, 2006 and pleaded no contest on September 19, 2006 to seven counts of use of a computer to seduce a child and sixteen counts of transmitting harmful material to a minor. On November 17th, 2006 Brian Doyle was sentenced to five years in state prison and ten years of probation. He will also need to register as a sex offender.
* Steven Griles - Deputy Secretary at the Interior Department - is the highest-ranked administration official yet convicted in the Jack Abramoff scandal. In March 2007, Griles pleaded guilty to lying about his role in the Jack Abramoff scandal. Sentenced to 10 months incarceration.
* John T. Korsmo - Chairman of the Federal Housing Finance Board from 2002 to 2004 - pleaded guilty in 2005 to lying to the Senate and an inspector general. He swore he had no idea how a list of presidents for FHFB-regulated banks were invited to a fundraiser for his friend's congressional campaign. On the invites, Korsmo was listed as the "Special Guest." Got 18 months of probation and a $5,000 fine.
* Scooter Libby - Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff - resigned after being indicted for lying to a grand jury and investigators in connection with the investigation stemming from the leak of Valerie Wilson's covert CIA operative's identity. Convicted on four of five counts, making him the highest-ranking White House official to be convicted of a felony since the Iran-contra scandal. Sentenced to thirty months imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. On July 2nd, after a judge decided that Libby would remain in prison during the appeals process, President Bush commuted Libby's sentence by removing the thirty months in prison.
* David Safavian - former head of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget - convicted of lying to ethics officials and Senate investigators about his ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff. On October 27, 2006, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He is currently appealing the ruling.
* Robert Stein - former comptroller and funding officer for the now disbanded Coalition Provisional Authority, Southern Central Region in Al-Hillah, Iraq - pleaded guilty to conspiracy, bribery, conspiracy to commit money laundering, possession of a machine gun, and being a felon in possession of a fire arm. On January 30, 2007 Stein was sentenced to nine years in prison and ordered to forfeit $3.6 million.
* Roger Stillwell - desk officer, Interior Department - pleaded guilty to failing to report Redskins tickets and free dinners from Jack Abramoff. Resigned Due to Investigation, Pending Investigation or Allegations of Impropriety
* Philip Cooney - chief of staff, White House Council on Environmental Quality - a former oil industry lawyer with no scientific expertise, Cooney resigned after it was revealed he had watered down reports on global warming.
* George Deutsch - press aide, NASA - resigned amid allegations he prevented the agency's top climate scientist from speaking publicly about global warming.
* Michael Elston - chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty - announced his resignation on June 15, 2007. Despite allegations that he'd threatened at least four of the eight fired US Attorneys, McNulty said Elston had served the Justice Department "with distinction for nearly eight years."
* Kyle Dustin "Dusty" Foggo - appointed executive director of the CIA, the agency's third-highest post, in October 2004 - resigned and was ultimately indicted on bribery charges related to the Duke Cunningham scandal.
* Alberto Gonzales - former Attorney General - resigned without explanation amidst investigations of the firings of U.S. Attorneys, the politicization of the Justice Department, warrantless surveillance, and the torture and mistreatment of detainees.
* Monica Goodling - former Justice Department liaison to the White House and senior counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales - resigned on April 7, 2007 amidst the investigation of the firings of U.S. Attorneys.
* Michelle Larson Korsmo - deputy chief of staff, Department of Labor - Helped her husband (see John Korsmo, above) with his donor scam. Quietly left her Labor plum job in February 2004, about two weeks before news broke that she and her husband were the targets of a criminal probe.
* Howard "Cookie" Krongard - former State Department inspector general -- accused of not properly investigating State Department contractor fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan; of retaliating against whistleblowers in his own office; and of not telling the truth about his knowledge of his brother's ties with Blackwater, a State Department contractor. Faced with a possible perjury investigation, Howard Krongard resigned on December 7, 2007.
* Julie Macdonald - former deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks at the Interior Department - resigned in May 2007 after an "inspector general's report found she had improperly leaked information to private organizations, bullied staff scientists and broken federal rules." The Department of the Interior is investigating many of her decisions regarding endangered species; so far seven have been overturned.
Paul McNulty - Deputy Attorney General for the Department of Justice - resigned, after questions about his involvement in the U.S. attorney firings and his testimony to Congress about the firings.
* Richard Perle - Chairman, Defense Policy Board - resigned from Pentagon advisory panel amid conflict-of-interest charges.
* Susan Ralston - assistant, White House - resigned amidst revelations that she had accepted thousands of dollars in gifts from Abramoff without compensating him, counter to White House ethics rules.
* Janet Rehnquist - inspector general, Department of Health and Human Services - resigned on June 1, 2003 in the face of an investigation into her alleged efforts to block a politically dangerous probe on behalf of the Bush family.
* James Roche - secretary, U.S. Air Force - resigned in the wake of the Boeing tanker lease scandal, after it was revealed he had rather crudely pushed for Boeing to win a $23 billion contract.
* Kyle Sampson -former chief of staff for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales - resigned amidst the investigation of the firings of U.S. Attorneys.
* Joseph Schmitz - Inspector General, Defense - Resigned amid charges he personally intervened to protect top political appointees.
* Bradley Schlozman - resigned from his third and final post with the Justice Department after accusations of actively politicizing the department. He's currently under investigation by the Department's inspector general.
* Thomas Scully - Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - shortly after Scully resigned in 2003, an investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general found that Scully had pressured the agency's actuary to underestimate the full cost of the Medicare reform bill by approximately $100 billion until after Congress passed the bill into law. Scully was also hit with conflict of interest charges by the U.S. attorney's office for billing CMS for expenses incurred during a job search while he still headed the agency. He settled those charges by paying $9,782. * David Smith - deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife, and parks, Interior Department - resigned on July 21, 2006 after shooting a buffalo and accepting its skeletal remains and meat as an illegal gratuity. He eventually paid over $3,000 for the dead buffalo, but only after the internal inquiry had commenced. The Department of Interior inspector general also noted in a May 16, 2006 report that Smith's involvement in the designation of Houston as a port of entry for imported wildlife in order to benefit a friend was inappropriate.
* John Tanner - Voting Rights Section Chief, Justice Department - resigned in December of 2007 and moved to the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices. Already under suspicion for aiding efforts to politicize the voting section, the bumbling proponent of voter identification laws angered lawmakers with his comments that such laws actually discriminate against white voters because "minorities die first". Even more impressive was his apology for the comment. The DoJ's Office of Professional Responsibility is currently investigating his travel habits and those of his deputy.
* Sara Taylor - Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Political Affairs at the White House, where she was Karl Rove's top aide - resigned amidst the U.S. attorneys investigation and other probes of Rove's alleged politicization of the government.
Ken Tomlinson - Board Chairman, Corporation for Public Broadcasting; member, Broadcasting Board of Governors - resigned at the release of an inspector general report concluding he had broken laws in spending CPB money to hire politically connected consultants to search for "bias" without consulting the board. At BBG, a separate investigation found he was running a "horse racing operation" out of his office, and continuing to hire politically-wired individuals to do "consulting" work for him. After being nominated and serving another term, he finally stepped down from that spot earlier this year.
* Carl Truscott - Director, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau - resigned. A report by the Justice Department's inspector general found that Truscott wasted tens of thousands of dollars on luxuries, wasted millions on whimsical management decisions and violated ethics rules by ordering employees to help his nephew with a high school video project.
* Paul Wolfowitz - World Bank President - resigned in May 2007 after a committee report found that he broke ethics rules by giving his girlfriend a substantial raise.
Nomination Failed Due to Scandal:
* Linda Chavez - nominated, Secretary of Labor - withdrew her nomination in January 2001 amidst revelations that an illegal immigrant lived in her home and worked for her in the early 1990s. Chavez blamed what she said were the "search-and-destroy" politics of Washington.
* Timothy Flanigan - nominated, Deputy Attorney General (also Alberto Gonzales' top deputy at the White House) - withdrew his nomination in October 2005 amidst revelations that he'd worked closely with lobbyist Jack Abramoff when he was General Counsel for Corporate and International Law at Tyco, which was a client of Abramoff's.
* Bernard Kerik - nominated, Secretary, Department of Homeland Security - withdrew his nomination amidst a host of corruption allegations. Eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor relating to improper gifts totaling tens of thousands of dollars while he was a New York City official in the late 1990's. Subsequently, on November 8, 2007, Kerik was indicted on sixteen counts for bribery, tax fraud, and false statements with a maximum sentence of 142 years and more than $5 million in fines. Kerik has pleaded not guilty. For a rundown of Kerik's myriad indiscretions, check out TPM's Ultimate Kerik Scandal List!.
* William Mercer - the former associate deputy attorney general and US Attorney for Montana - withdrew his nomination to be the permanent number three official at the Department of Justice on June 22, 2007 due to his role in the U.S. attorney firings.
* Hans von Spakovsky - Commissioner, FEC - nomination to another term after his recess appointment failed due to allegations that he'd worked at the Justice Department to suppress minority voter turnout.
Under Investigation But Still in Office:
* Stuart Bowen - Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) - was once admired for his successes while investigating allegations of waste and fraud in Iraq, but now employee allegations have prompted four government investigations into the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).
* Lurita Doan - Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration - still in office, despite investigations by both the Office of Special Counsel and the House oversight committee that found that Doan had "crossed the line" by suggesting that the GSA use its resources to help Republicans get elected.
* Alfonso Jackson - Secretary of Housing and Urban Development - following reports that Jackson told a business group in April 2006 that he once canceled a contract after the contractor criticized President Bush, an investigation by the HUD inspector general found that while Jackson told his deputies to favor Bush supporters, there was "no direct proof that a contract was actually awarded or rescinded because of political affiliation." A second, criminal investigation was triggered in part by Jackson's claim before Congress in May 2007 that "I don't touch contracts." That probe, now before a federal grand jury, has turned up evidence that Jackson may indeed have touched contracts - and steered them towards friends.
My dad (in the skull cap -- consensus is that dad always has the best outfits), my uncle Sande, and great grandfather Jack Wilson
3. Wilson Family Mining Over the past year, I've become responsible for the Wilson Family archive - it's been wonderful to hear so many stories and go through hundreds of photographs from the different branches of our family - dating back to the late 1800's. Still much work to do, but it's a total treat. EBX and I in front of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio. 2. X-plorations in Argentina and Brazil Amazing experiences in Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro. Applause to the mayor of Sao Paulo, Gilberto Kassab for his Cidade Limpa law, which prohibits all forms of external media and visual pollution such as billboards. It helped to make Sao Paulo my favorite city during these travels. Dad and I at the Red Lodge Cafe 1. Family Time, Especially With My Dad Last March my dad was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. It's been heartbreaking for our entire family; however there is a silver lining. The family has become very close and we've spent a good deal of time together over the past year that has been such a blessing and great fun. I look forward to more of this in the New Year.