Thursday, June 30, 2005

Caving in

Time magazine has decided to submit to a grand jury its source information and notes for Matthew Cooper's story on the outing of former CIA operative Valerie Plame. That action comes on the heels of Monday's Supreme Court decision to let a lower court ruling stand, leaving Cooper (and Judith Miller of The New York Times) in contempt of court for not divulging their source(s). Naturally, the one journalist involved who published the initial story leaking Plume's name, Robert Novak, has not been punished and does not face any charges. At least not that we know of. So let me get this straight:

Novak outs a CIA operative, ending her career. No problem.

Cooper writes a story after Novak's story and is grilled to reveal his source.

Miller does not write a story but will probably be the only one going to jail.

Anyone else see something wrong here? William Safire does here in the Times. So does Carol Marin in the Chicago Sun-Times. For a different view, the All-Spin Zone argues that the Supreme Court decision is correct, but the government official who leaked Plume's name is the real criminal here and is just as much a traitor as John Walker, who sold our Naval secrets to the Soviets for profit.

I'm sure Novak is silent throughout this whole sordid affair on the advice of his legal counsel. But he just strikes me as a seagull journalist - he screeches a lot, shits on everybody, then hightails it out of there. It just burns me up that he faces no consequences for this, yet demands full cooperation from others when he's asking the questions

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Not guilty by reason of...

A rather unusual legal defense argued here. I'll bet he was in agony from an earlier visit from their vicious alien android species, the "hemorrhoids."

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Who and what we've lost in Iraq

Maybe the President should read this blog before he glosses over how many of our troops died this month.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Last throes?

On Sunday, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told several news shows that the Iraq insurgency may last a while:
"Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years. Foreign forces are not going to repress that insurgency"
So much for Cheney's assessment that insurgents are in their "last throes." What will 2006 be like? Will U.S. troop levels in Iraq remain the same a year from now as members of Congress are in the midst of their re-election campaigns, trying to explain to constituents why their sons and daughters continue to come home in boxes (in the middle of the night), three years after "mission accomplished" and one year after insurgents were in the their "last throes?" And what about the veterans waiting for their travel pay? And will the really good armored vehicles make it to Iraq (not the "special ones" that Rumsfeld and members of Congress ride around in, I mean ones that G.I. Joe and Jane have to ride in)? I doubt it, but we'll see.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Take me out to the ballpark

It's not just retailers who get the special treatment, either. Remember when George Bush owned the Texas Rangers? The city of Arlington, TX pushed through the Rangers' new stadium using eminent domain powers (see here for a little blast from the past in 1997 detailing how it was done). Then-Governor Ann Richards helped out too - she signed legislation to create the special stadium authority that used those eminent domain powers. Just for sh!ts and grins, when Bush's group sold the Rangers, he received a total of $14.9 million in proceeds for his $606,000 total investment - not bad. The shame is deals like this go on all the time.

Very eminent domain

I knew I had seen this issue before in multiple places...John Stossel took a 20/20 crew to visit the aforementioned Vera Coking in Atlantic City. He also visited New Rochelle, NY back in 2001 when IKEA wanted to move in. This is a homeowner's quote I remembered:
"I've never felt so powerless in my whole life. What's wrong with my American dream? Why is IKEA's American dream better than my American dream?"

See here for an article about IKEA tearing down a historic row of buildings in Brooklyn to put in a parking for seeing the wrecking ball come to New Haven, CT, and here and here for more on New Rochelle. By the way, pressure from local community groups and exposure from national media, coupled with controversy over ever-changing requirements of the IKEA building and traffic flow, deep-sixed the store's plans.

I don't mean to single out IKEA - it's simply one example of a major corporation that seeks to "persuade" City Hall that "if you build it, they will come." The downside to this is the jobs lost and people displaced, factors that are glossed over in fancy presentations by developers.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Sorry, we need to bulldoze your home to build a Home Depot

From The Washington Post:

The Supreme Court ruled today that cities can claim private homes under eminent domain in the name of economic development:

Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority, said New London could pursue private development under the Fifth Amendment, which allows governments to take private property if the land is for public use, since the project the city has in mind promises to bring more jobs and revenue.

"Promoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted function of government," Stevens wrote, adding that local officials are better positioned than federal judges to decide what's best for a community.

In dissent, [Justice Sandra Day] O'Connor criticized the majority for abandoning the conservative principle of individual property rights and handing "disproportionate influence and power" to the well-heeled.

"The specter of condemnation hangs over all property," O'Connor wrote. "Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory."

Couldn't have said it better myself. O'Connor's dissent also noted that of the parcels in question,
"Parcel 4A is slated, mysteriously, for " 'park support.' " Id., at 345-346. At oral argument, counsel for respondents conceded the vagueness of this proposed use, and offered that the parcel might eventually be used for parking..."

Given the cozy relationships between corporations, developers and city governments, it wouldn't appear to take much "leaning" to get a city to do a major company's bidding - after all, that already happens now. As the homeowners' petition stated, if the Supreme Court ruled in their favor, the sky would not fall. But if the Court ruled in favor of New London, the floodgates would open. Maybe that lady in Atlantic City whose home is surrounded by one of Donald Trump's casinos should start packing. Tonight

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Every picture tells a story - or does it?

This picture was used in Edward Klein's new book, The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She’ll go to Become President:

However, as photographer Jay Clendenin tells it, the picture was cropped to such a degree and captioned so that it corrupted the context, which was a political rally in Philadelphia. The long shot appears a bit different:

If you remember that Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton were photographed together at a political rally, then you've just drawn the conclusion that this woman is also Bill's mistress. I'm sure Klein wasn't eager to disturb that impression.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Control Room

Finally watched the documentary Control Room tonight. Fascinating movie. For those of you unfamiliar with it, the subject matter is Al-Jazeera, the Arab world's major satellite news source. Jehane Noujaim shows how Al-Jazeera and Western media covered the initial days of the Iraq war from the Central Command in Qatar, and from Al-Jazeera's headquarters, also in Qatar.

The Bush Administration's largest complaint of Al-Jazeera is its willingness to show hostage beheadings on video, US soldiers and contractors in captivity, and countless shots of civilian casualties. Not to mention the occasional rah-rah speech from Osama Bin Laden. Of course, Al-Jazeera is also widely condemned by several Arab governments for their criticism and for having Israeli guests interviewed. Al-Jazeera presents all of this, it says, in order to provide "balance." Sound familiar?

Pol Pot? I think not.

Previously, I sarcastically said I couldn't think why a Democrat would compare our president to a previous German president. One senator, Dick Durbin (D-IL), did go so far as to compare Gitmo to Nazi concentration camps, Cambodia's Pol Pot, and the Soviet gulags. Let's see: Did they have air conditioning at Dachau? Glazed chicken in the Archipelago? Copies of religious books in Cambodian killing fields? No? And let's get something straight: no one died (that we know of) at Gitmo. Yes, some of these interrogations are brutal. And this administration's selective use of the Geneva Convention is not just irritating, it's pathetic. And because their definition of torture is so fluid, it is clearly designed to evade public scrutiny and Congressional oversight. But before you compare chilling a room and playing incessant rap music to killing millions of people (many horribly), work a little on the analogy. As stated on this site previously, Amnesty International made that comparison to bring light on the subject. That doesn't mean the comparison is valid. I lost family in the Nazi concentration camps, and to me, Durbin's comment trivialized their deaths.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

And this company is going to save US Airways?

A jury convicted two former America West pilots of drink driving today. The pair had split 14 beers the night before a morning flight. Defense attorneys claimed the two were not actually "operating" the aircraft since it was being pushed back by another vehicle, as shown in the following sample:

Based on this argument, the pilots would, um, pray that they'd be under the state legal limit by the time they were airborne? Since they were arrested before the flight took off, they claimed it was a moot point. The jury thankfully disagreed.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

"We'll have to keep the bloody chain saw, but go on ahead, sir."

Let me get this straight....we're confiscating Swiss army knives and nail clippers from airline passengers, we've kept detainees in Gitmo on various charges because they're either persons of interest or enemy combatants, but when a guy with a bloody chain saw wants to cross the border from Canada, we can't find a reason to arrest him? Argh. Those of you along our Northern border, take note.

Saturday, June 04, 2005


While the recent Minuteman project focused attention on illegal Mexican immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border in Arizona, there is a vast increase in the number of non-Mexican illegal immigrants crossing the border at McAllen, Texas. The San Diego Union-Tribune notes :
Of the 8,908 notices to appear that the immigration court in nearby Harlingen issued last year to non-Mexicans, 8,767 failed to show up for their hearings, according to statistics compiled by the Justice Department's Executive Office of Immigration Review. That is a no-show rate of 98 percent.

Central and South Americans refer to this notice as a "permiso" or permission slip. In practice, this is literally permission to get lost - since the vast majority of these illegals have no criminal record, and due to a lack of detention facilities, the INS is forced to let them go. Even after 9-11, our nation's borders are still inadequately protected, and with loopholes like this one, the problem will only get worse.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

A matter of lexicon

Interesting how Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) didn't hesitate to compare Democrats to Hitler on the filibuster issue, yet back in March Santorum criticized Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), who made remarks likening the Republican plan to block filibusters to the Nazi party. Also see how the GOP recently flipped out over Amnesty International's recent report comparing Gitmo to a gulag.

Yes, I do happen to know my history. I realize that millions perished in Stalin's gulags. I also realize that by using a deliberately inflammatory word, Amnesty International is seeking to bring renewed attention to Gitmo.