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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

9/11 = Rich Kid's Christmas 

The trouble with liberals:
For years now we’ve heard the charges echoing off the walls of the left blogosphere: Bush is ruining America; USAPatriot has trounced upon personal liberties; Jackbooted thuggery abounds.

While the substance of the claims is undoubtedly true -- the cause is undoubtedly false. This is the problem with liberals.

For years they’ve been able to break your door down, kick, shoot, kill your dog; beat your face in; hover above your home in a helicopter with infared beams shining through; arrest you; pay someone to testify against you; stop you, search you, demand your identification; jail and imprison you; beat and rape you throughout your incarceration; release you 50 years later (or not at all) as a second class citizen; and refuse to ever reinstate your rights.

Patriot took us further down that road, but so what? We long ago left the 4th Amendment under the steel-toed boot of law enforcement. We long ago, to quote a cliché, traded liberty for the illusion of safety.

The difference is that now there is political gain to be made by highlighting the atrophy of liberty. Dems claim we have no liberty because George Bush and John Aschcroft took it away. To mobilize the masses, and capitalize on the growing feeling that freedom is lost, Dems disseminate lies – and end up looking ridiculous in the process.

For example, the attacks on Patriot. All we can muster in debate on the Act is that librarians have to reveal what books we check out? This bush was burning long before GW and Ashcroft came to town. In fact, the relatively innocuous breadth of Patriot should show just have far we had already come prior to The Day That Changed Everything.

September 11th was a law enforcement wet dream – they could ask for and receive anything they wanted. They did get all they wanted -- but it was like a rich kids Christmas – not too exciting because he already had everything (the presents under the tree just save him a trip to the store).

Katherine Harris Rap Movie 

This is kind of fun. I stress, kind of because it's a little over the top.

"Liberators" 

How's that whole "we'll be greeted as liberators" thing going Dick?
Not too well.


Tuesday, March 30, 2004

The real reason your dad always told you to turn out the lights when you leave... 

I'm shocked this is getting as much press as it is -- shocked...and happy.
Seems that the coppers mistook the family's constant use of the dishwasher, washer/dryer, three computers, four ceiling fans, and other electronic devices as evidence of a felony drug operation. Oops.
Via the Smoking Gun.


Captain Yee still fighting 

It's heartening to see they haven't drained all the life from him yet. Keep swinging Yee.

Via the Assoc Press.

The Dude 

The PD Dude beautifully ties the current political climate with the Last Noble Profession.
People often ask me, why would cops lie? Why should we believe that the government is so corrput so as to put people in jail without cause? Why are you a public defender, not a prosecutor?

The last year or so in this country has made so many of these questions easier to answer.
Go check it out.

MSNBC 

This morning I decided to supplement my morning regimen with some 24hour news via MSNBC. Utterly ridiculous. I just saw a news flash that went something like this,
"This morning is Rasul three hourse of rioting took place. Thousand of Iraqis took to the street demanding jobs this morning. The demonstrations shortly turned to riots....But, despite events like this the reconstruction goes on, and has been going effectively and Richard Engal, NBC News Correspondent, will tell us about; Richard?

[Richard]: That's right, there have been dramatic improvements in the medical care facilities in Iraq...."
What happened to the three hour riots?

I always forget how fucked the tv news system is. During those times of forgetfulness, I believe that George Bush will not be reelected. But, all I have to do to be whisked out of this dream is flick on some 24 hours news; like a warm blanket it is there to assure me that the thought control system is still functioning beautifully.


Shit 

Condi's going to go in front of the 9/11 panel. Her testimony will outshine Clarke's any day of the week. I can hear it now "Mr. Chairman, this President has worked tirelessly to defeat terrorism and destroy al Queda....blah, blah, blah." If the Dems are expecting anything fruitful to come from this, they're dead wrong. This is going to be a Bush talking points presentation -- given by his best presenter.

Shiite.

Gosh, I wonder who stole the files? 

I'm perplexed. I have absolutely, no idea, who in the hell would steal John Kerry's FBI files from a biographer's home.

None.

Via Marin Independent.

What's going to be interesting is how they'll leak the information to their trusty sources for dissemination (see Bob Novak).


Monday, March 29, 2004

The Education of Captain Yee ... the saga continues 

Captain Yee had all charges dropped by the government on Friday March 19th. Interesting thing is, I didn't hear anything about it (and I pay pretty close attention to this shit). You likely didn't either.Via Mercury News?!!!
Many think it's a face-saving maneuver in a case that was overheated from the start. The Army's strongest charges, after hints that mutiny, sedition and spying charges would be forthcoming, were disobeying orders and mishandling classified information. Yee's World War II vet father, Joseph, noted bitterly last month that Army Reserve Col. James Farr was charged with the same thing but continues his duties at Gitmo.

Yee, however, spent 76 days in solitary confinement in a Navy brig, much of that time manacled at the leg, humiliating treatment for an officer, Fidell said. He still faces an administrative hearing.

``Were they aiding the enemy?'' Time magazine asked about Yee and al-Halabi in an Oct. 6 article. It opened by asserting ``a classic plotline of spy novels is that the secret agent turns out to be the bespectacled fellow next door,'' and that Yee ``fit the prototype almost perfectly.''

Time's March 29 edition carried a mere brief in its ``Notebook'' section that Yee was released to resume his duties at Fort Lewis, Wash., and all charges were dropped by the Army.

As is usually the case when government makes arrests or leaks, and news media scramble to make sense of it all, the initial reportage is big. The reportage many months later, when all turns out quite differently, is very small. Richard Jewell, the man initially believed to be the Atlanta bomber during the 1994 Olympics, and Wen Ho Lee, the Los Alamos spy-who-wasn't, will likely agree.
This really makes me sick. Of course, stories this disgusting gets back-of-the-hand treatment from the major media outlets (the same outlets that widely disseminated the sensationalist story of how one of "our own" military chaplains was a spy!).

Where did I found out about the charges being dropped? Well at superblogger Ober's site of course. [Hat tip to Ober for his diligence].


Bush's "Jokes" about missing WMD's is not something to get pissed about 

I'd really love to be indignant about this whole joke thing, but I think the left is going in the wrong direction on this one.

Who gives a shit if he joked about not being able to find the damn weapons? Isn't the left better at being even-handed and viewing even the most disturbing circumstances with a bit of levity? Why do we have to be the joke police? We don't.

Therefore, articles like this one (via the Nation) are off target. Chill the fuck out dorks.

One DA with integrity 

Via Boston Globe Op Ed.

Chomsky Blogs! 

Noam Chomsky has created a blog.

(Note that he has This Modern World linked up -- great minds...)

Democracy Indeed 

Seems we've just shut down a popular publication in Iraq. Via the NYTimes
Many newspapers and television stations have sprouted in Iraq since the fall of the Hussein government. But under a law passed by the occupying authorities in June, a news media organization must be licensed, and that license can be revoked if the organization publishes or broadcasts material that incites violence or civil disorder or "advocates alterations to Iraq's borders by violent means."

But the letter outlining the reasons for taking action against Al Hawza did not cite any material that directly advocated violence. Several Iraqi journalists said that meant there was no basis to shut Al Hawza down.

"That paper might have been anti-American, but it should be free to express its opinion," said Kamal Abdul Karim, night editor of the daily Azzaman.

Omar Jassem, a freelance reporter, said he thought that democracy meant many viewpoints and many newspapers. "I guess this is the Bush edition of democracy," he said.
Now you're getting it Omar. "Democracy" is what we say it is, nothing more.

EmpireNotes has more (scroll down one post).

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Huge Blow to Al Queda and Terrorism Seen in French Elections 

Makes about as much sense as claiming the Spanish elections were a win for the terrorists.

Via the NYTimes.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Prosecutorial Misconduct File 

Here's a shocker -- apparently, prosecutors deliberately elicited perjured testimony in order to get a conviction! I know, I know, I can hardly believe it either.

The federal judge who threw out this conviction is one of my professors. He garnered glory for his work as the prosecutor (He put Gotti away) -- then used that notoriety to get a lifer seat on the federal bench.

To be honest, he and I don't get along real well -- he's a little too pro-prosecution for my taste. That makes this case all the more amazing to me. If this guy threw this out, it must've been fargain terrible.

Via NY Times.

Spain 

I've had about enough of this shit about Spain.

It's insulting enough to hear the administration and the talking heads spewing manure about Libya and how GWB's policies got them to turn over a new leaf. Complete bullshit.

Now, I've got to listen to/read about how Al Queda "won" in Spain. First of all, it hasn't been proven that Al Queda was responsible for that attack -- but lets just go ahead and assume it for argument's sake. It still doesn't matter.

Spain -- 90% of the population OPPOSED the Iraq war. 90% of the population did not want the government to follow US marching orders and put their sons in danger. Their "leader" ignored them and went to war anyway. Democracy.

Now the elections happen -- and the people vote that fuck face out of office --> that's real democracy. Yet, according to Perle, Condi, and Rumsfeld -- this isn't democracy; this is Al Queda winning.

Translation = If the electorate holds a leader responsible for his mistakes/misrepresentations/deaf ears --> the terrorists win. Got it?

So anyway -- I've had enough of it. Assclowns.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Out of town 

for the next week or so -- and through next weekend.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Libertarian Purity Test 

I scored a 42, see where you rank.

Test.

It was a wallet, no a gun, no a bazooka 

Yet another example of police lying after the fact to justify unjustifiable use of force and infringe on the basic of First Amendment rights -- the right to protest.
Via Washington Post:
Most of nearly 400 people in the park -- a group that included not only demonstrators but also tourists, other bystanders and journalists -- were arrested.

The council report says that just after the arrests, police said the protesters had failed to obey an order to disperse. But many of the cases fell apart when it was found that no such order had been given.
Attorney: Why did you arrest them?

Cop: They failed to follow an order to disperse.

Attorney: What order to disperse?

Cop: Um...may I be excused?

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Brush With The Law 

Been meaning to link to this site -- they post a chapter of my personal bible every Wednesday -- Go.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

The day that changed everything... 

Except the things we say it didn't.

I'm sick of seeing the Bush admininstration justify everything they do by reference to "the day." Somehow, this day changed the people's right to be free from invasion of privacy; the ban on using the military for domestic policing; the country's long-standing policy of affording prisoner of war status to enemies; and the press' right to ask tough questions.

Yet, it apparently didn't change anything that might make the Bush administration divulge what they knew prior to "the day". Via NYTimes:
The commission has also been pressing the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, to reconsider her refusal to testify at a public hearing. Ms. Rice has already submitted to several hours of questioning at a private session.

Her spokesman, Sean McCormack, has said that the decision against public testimony was made at the recommendation of administration lawyers who warned of separation-of-powers issues.

"Based on law and practice, White House staff members have not testified before legislative bodies," Mr. McCormack said earlier this month, "and this is considered a legislative body."
See? We'd love to help you out with this whole thing, but longstanding law and practice simply won't allow it. Now, who asked that question? To the back of the press room with you -- as a matter of fact, you can see yourself out.

Haiti, Iraq, and Chomsky 

Why did Haiti fail?:
the standard version is that in "failed states" like Haiti and Iraq the US must become engaged in benevolent "nation-building" to "enhance democracy," a "noble goal" but one that may be beyond our means because of the inadequacies of the objects of our solicitude.... "Like the French in the 19th century, like the Marines who occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934, the American forces who are trying to impose a new order will confront a complex and violent society with no history of democracy."

These explanations will again be offerred to explain why Iraq remains a failure (a few days, years, decades from now). As they are already offerred to explain why Afghanistan remains a battlefied. According to Chomsky, the real reasons are:
The basic contours of what led to the current tragedy are pretty clear. Just beginning with the 1990 election of Aristide (far too narrow a time frame), Washington was appalled by the election of a populist candidate with a grass-roots constituency just as it had been appalled by the prospect of the hemisphere's first free country on its doorstep two centuries earlier.

The Bush I administration reacted to the disaster of democracy by shifting aid from the democratically elected government to what are called "democratic forces": the wealthy elites and the business sectors, who, along with the murderers and torturers of the military and paramilitaries, had been lauded by the current incumbents in Washington, in their Reaganite phase, for their progress in "democratic development," justifying lavish new aid.

Policy returned to normal when a military junta overthrew the Aristide government after seven months, and state terrorist atrocities rose to new heights. The perpetrators were the army - the inheritors of the National Guard left by Wilson's invaders to control the population - and its paramilitary forces.

When Aristide was overthrown by the 1991 military coup, the Organization of American States declared an embargo. Bush I announced that the US would violate it by exempting US firms. He was thus "fine tuning" the embargo for the benefit of the suffering population, the New York Times reported. Clinton authorized even more extreme violations of the embargo: US trade with the junta and its wealthy supporters sharply increased. The crucial element of the embargo was, of course, oil. While the CIA solemnly testified to Congress that the junta "probably will be out of fuel and power very shortly" and "Our intelligence efforts are focused on detecting attempts to circumvent the embargo and monitoring its impact," Clinton secretly authorized the Texaco Oil Company to ship oil to the junta illegally, in violation of presidential directives. This remarkable revelation was the lead story on the AP wires the day before Clinton sent the Marines to "restore democracy," impossible to miss - I happened to be monitoring AP wires that day and saw it repeated prominently over and over -- and obviously of enormous significance for anyone who wanted to understand what was happening. It was suppressed with truly impressive discipline, though reported in industry journals along with scant mention buried in the business press.

Also efficiently suppressed were the crucial conditions that Clinton imposed for Aristide's return: that he adopt the program of the defeated US candidate in the 1990 elections, a former World Bank official who had received 14% of the vote. We call this "restoring democracy," a prime illustration of how US foreign policy has entered a "noble phase" with a "saintly glow," the national press explained. The harsh neoliberal program that Aristide was compelled to adopt was virtually guaranteed to demolish the remaining shreds of economic sovereignty, extending Wilson's progressive legislation and similar US-imposed measures since.

Matters then proceeded in their predictable course. A 1995 USAID report explained that the "export-driven trade and investment policy" that Washington imposed will "relentlessly squeeze the domestic rice farmer," who will be forced to turn to agroexport, with incidental benefits to US agribusiness and investors.

The punishment of Haiti became much more severe under Bush II -- there are differences within the narrow spectrum of cruelty and greed. Aid was cut and international institutions were pressured to do likewise,

The Aristide government, once again, was undermined by US planners, who understood, under Clinton, that the threat of democracy can be overcome if economic sovereignty is eliminated, and presumably also understood that economic development will also be a faint hope under such conditions, one of the best-confirmed lessons of economic history. Bush II planners are even more dedicated to undermining democracy and independence, and despised Aristide and the popular organizations that swept him to power with perhaps even more passion than their predecessors. The forces that reconquered the country are mostly inheritors of the US-installed army and paramilitary terrorists.
Via Chomsky.

Monday, March 08, 2004

David Kay 

So, this space would have been filled with a Public Opinions exclusive interview between yours truly and former WMD expert David Kay. However, I neglected to recognize that Mr. Kay was sitting across the aisle from me for the duration of a 3.5 hour train ride until the train was pulling into the station.

We'll get him next time.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Sad 

This is upsetting. Let the man go.

Via AP:
A man was arrested at his Florida home Friday, nearly 44 years after he escaped from a Georgia prison work detail, officials said.

Authorities learned who Eddie Mayes was after he visited his son at a prison in Avon Park in December and wrote his real name on a visitors list, the Fort Pierce Tribune reported. A routine check of the names identified him as a fugitive.

This situation reminds me of an Unsolved Mysteries I saw about 8 years ago. A bank robber was serving 15 years. After 2 years, he met a woman via the mail and they were married. She moved to be closer to the prison and visited at every opportunity. It was a relatively low security prison -- it allowed the two of them to walk the prison grounds together. He was a model prisoner, and had a good chance of making parole.

They were caught having sex on the prison grounds (there were no conjugal visits allowed). She was barred from visiting him. He was denied parole for the transgression, and was likely to not see her for another 12 years. He escaped, and they went on the lamb.

The program ended with their photos and the familiar line from Robert Stack -- If you have any information about where ____ is, call us, at 1 800 876-5353.

I was disgusted.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Some MADD motherfuckers 

I can honestly say that I truly despise "victim advocate" groups -- in whatever form. But the mother of them all, no pun intended, is MADD. No single group has had greater effect. No single group has had such success. Why? There's no lobby for "drunk" people.

The problem is, as MADD has gone unchecked, running rampant through a legislature near you, who the "drunk" person is has broadened dramatically.

In the old days, you weren't DUI unless you had a BAC of .20 or above. Then, through MADD pressure, the limit was lowered to .15; then .10, and now -- they're pushing again. They want a national .08. The problem? It won't make you any safer -- it just puts more people in jail -- maybe you.Via The National Review:
A study by the Harvard Injury Control Center found that 67 per cent of those drivers who were killed in automobile accidents after drinking had BAC levels of .15 or higher. -- Fewer deaths occur in accidents involving drivers with BACs between .08 and .09 than involving those with BACs between .01 and .03, which is cough-syrup territory.

--snip--

adoption of the .08 standard has the potential to increase by 60 per cent the number of motorists arrested for ''drunk driving'' -- but without any concomitant decrease in either fatality or accident rates.

--snip--

BUT MADD marches on, arguing that drunk drivers are responsible for 40 to 50 per cent of all highway fatalities. In this, MADD operates in collusion with the NHTSA, which misleadingly defines as ''alcohol-related'' all traffic fatalities where any trace level of alcohol -- no matter how small -- is discovered in the bloodstream of any person involved in the accident, even if it's not the driver.

The NHTSA is working hard in the campaign to lower BAC standards, even if it means playing fast and loose with the evidence. James Fell, the NHTSA's chief of research and evaluation at the time, testified in January before a committee of the Minnesota House that was considering legislation to lower Minnesota's threshold for drunk-driving arrests from .10 to .08 BAC. Fell claimed that the state of California had experienced a 12 per cent reduction in alcohol-related fatalities after it adopted the .08 BAC threshold.

But it turns out that that figure was a prediction made by a consultant in favor of the .08 limit. In fact, following the implementation of the .08 BAC threshold, California's alcohol-related deaths declined 6.1 per cent -- slightly less than the country-wide decline of 6.3 per cent over that same period.
The founder of MADD jumped ship many years ago -- after she felt the organization had gotten too "overzealous". Maybe it's time somebody went to bat against the bastards. Any suggestions?

Captain Kangaroo 

What the FACK is going on in this country. I'm serious. Sometimes I just want someone to wake me. Via Reuters:

We're starting the process of "trying" the Gitmo "detainees".

Here's the "procedure":
The rules are rigged to produce convictions, compel guilty pleas, and make it as easy as possible to win the death penalty. The Pentagon has said it will not seek the death penalty against either man currently charged.

Critics say hearsay evidence and coerced confessions could be admissible under the rules. Even the military lawyers assigned by the Pentagon to represent Guantanamo prisoners during the trials have called the rules fundamentally unfair and hopelessly antiquated, ignoring decades of legal advances since World War II.


No need to worry says 'ole Donald Rumsfeld-->
Rumsfeld dismissed criticism by human rights and legal activists of the rules created by the Pentagon for these trials, which include government eavesdropping on conversations between defendants and their lawyers and no appeals to U.S. civilian courts or existing military courts.

"The United States is a country that makes a practice of doing things in a fair and responsible way, and we will. And people will see that," Rumsfeld said. "And in the meantime, people will make irresponsible charges like ... with a kangaroo court allegation or suggestion."
See. We're the US. We always do things in a fair manner (ingore slavery, japanese internment, racial segregation, assasinations, rigged trials, covert operations, invasions, etc). It IS "responsible" to seize and detain people indefinitely, then try them in a pig circus atmosphere with made up rules and procedures. It ISN"T "responsible to call those actions a "kangaroo court." Got it?

Unbelievable.


One Ring To Rule Them All 

The Right Wing.

Bwaaa, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha 

I wish this were a joke, but it comes directly from a Reuters article on the wires today.

The Egyptian President is complaining that the US's policy towards the middle east is too simplistic (no more one-size-fits all). Here's how the article described the US policy he's upset about:
"He is not the first Arab leader to complain at being left in the dark about the U.S. administration's plan, which seeks to deal with the Middle East's unemployment, poverty, repression and other conditions that U.S. officials believe have stoked anti-Western, anti-American extremism."
As though we're over there setting up Social Security and giving out home loans. Ridiculous.

The sad part is morons read this and think "Hey man, what the hell is he complainin' bout? We're just over there giving them Arabs money and freedom."

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Do it! 

Here' s the letter MoveOn.org is sending members today. Please give $5.

Dear MoveOn member,

It's now clear that John Kerry will be our Democratic nominee. And that means we've reached one of the most important points in the race to defeat George Bush.

Today President Bush begins airing the first of his campaign ads. He's amassed a campaign fund of more than $100 million to use for this purpose. Now that the nominee's known, the Bush campaign and allied groups will "go nuclear," saturating the air waves in swing states with ads intended to frame the contest early.

Senator Kerry is coming off a long and hard primary fight during which much of his money has been spent. But as the media focus on him and he steps into the role of the Democratic nominee, he also has an opportunity to frame the choice before voters. The big question is whether Kerry will have the resources in this key moment to powerfully respond to the Republican attacks and present his positive vision for our country.

Together, we can answer this question. If you've been holding off on contributing to a Presidential campaign, now's the time to jump in. We have a Democratic nominee, and he needs our support today. Please join us in contributing $5, $50, or $500 today to the Kerry campaign.
Go and do it. Please.


When Mascots Attack! 

These "victims" really do have some gall. First, some of them opt-out of the Congressional bill that waives their tort claims (how dare they want to sue people who negligently killed their family member). NOW, they're refusing to allow their dead relatives be used as a prop for the President's reelection.

Via The Associated Press:
Relatives of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and a firefighters union said Thursday they're angry that President Bush's new campaign ads include images of the destroyed World Trade Center and firefighters carrying a flag-draped stretcher through the rubble.

They say the ads are in poor taste and accuse Bush of exploiting the attacks. Bush's campaign defended the commercials as appropriate for an election about public policy and the war on terror, saying they were a tasteful reminder of what the country has been through the last three years. The campaign had said in the past that it would not use the attacks for political gain.

Some gall these people have.

Prosecutorial Misconduct Overturns Conviction...In Germany 

I guess this one goes in the normal prosecutorial/government misconduct file, but I'm open to suggestions if anyone thinks it should have its own file.

Via the New York Times:
Germany's highest court today overturned the verdict against the only person convicted of involvement in the Sept. 11 terror attacks and ordered a retrial.

--snip--

His lawyers had asked the court to overturn the verdict, arguing that he was denied a fair trial because the United States refused to allow testimony by Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who is believed to have been a member of the cell and central to the Sept. 11 plot.

--snip--

Mr. Motassadeq's attorney, Josef Graessle-Muenscher, said that without the key witness, the rest of the evidence was not sufficient for a conviction. He called the court's decision a "life saving" one for Mr. Motassadeq, who was 28 when convicted. "Fifteen years would have been the end of normal existence."

He also said it was not acceptable for a country, in this case the United States, to influence an important legal decision by withholding evidence. Today's decision was a "clear critique of Washington but not clear enough," he said, adding that he wished there had been stronger condemnation of what he called American intransigence.


Couple of things about this one. Note that even after a conviction -- the guy only got 15 years. Yet, his lawyer, rightly so, was arguing that a sentence of that length is effectively a death sentence. We have forgotten that in the United States. In the US, he'd have gotten death, and if not, 300 something years. Kudos to Germany for staying in touch with their humanity in sentencing.

Next thing -- They overturned the conviction because of something the United States did (or refused to do), not because of something German prosecutors or the German government refused to do. That's extra cool, because there is no facking way a US court would overturn a conviction based on something another government did.

In short --> I would venture to say that the country that gave the world Nazi's has a fairer judicial system than does the United States (the "beacon" of freedom and liberty). Congratulations to Germany, where liberty and freedom still have meaning, and aren't merely terms used to market the enlistment in the Army.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

The Worm Has Turned 

Over the past few weeks and months, seems like you couldn't turn on a tv, or open up a newspaper without seeing some statuesque photo of John Kerry (usually connected to a headline proclaiming his invincibility in the primaries).

Often nearby, there were articles critical of Bush & Co. That time has passed. The worm has turned.

Today's New York Times headline reads "Kerry Begins Grueling Race Against Bush" (link). Grueline race? What happened to the relative cakewalk the media had been beating their chests about? What happened to the "weak" president Bush? What suddenly made the race expectedly grueling?

Such are the whims of the mainstream media -- and the appearance of thought-control. It doesn't seem to matter what people actually think, and whether the people's thoughts in any way reflect the headlines and bold proclamations spewed out by the thousands via running banners on the bottom of CNN or Fox.

When they say it is: the race will be grueling; the race will be close; Bush is weak; Bush is strong; Dean is the frontrunner; Kerry's campaign is "dead"; Dean is a loser and a madman; Kerry is the comeback kid, and so on.

It makes no difference that these taglines change 180 degrees in a matter of days (presumably faster than actual public thought could ever change -- I'm reminded of the "we're there to spread democracy" claim of Bush after it became clear that there were no WMD's -- not a moment later the streamers proclaimed that we were in fact there to spread democracy.) I would drop a 1984 reference here, but even Winston Smith quotes are becoming commonplace, and that they too risk becoming a tag line.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

For the memory of a lifetime, recall, recall, recall 

I loved Total Recall, but the repubs are getting WAY out of hand in California.

Via the AP:
A new district attorney who has accused a huge lumber firm of fraud in California redwood country could see his political career felled by a threatened recall.

The Pacific Lumber Co., through its corporate parent Maxxam Inc. of Houston, has fueled the recall of District Attorney Paul Gallegos with $229,000 in contributions.

The company and Gallegos detractors say the district attorney is too lenient with criminals, too friendly with radical environmental activists and too accommodating to marijuana smokers who say they use the drug for medicinal purposes.

Oh, you meant ALL of our files? 

Still MORE for the law enforcement/prosecutorial misconduct files.

Via the AP:
In an oversight that could impact cases nationwide, the FBI hasn't routinely searched a special computer space where agents store investigative documents to see whether those materials should be sent to defense lawyers, Congress or special investigative bodies like the Sept. 11 inquiry.

The existence of the unsearched ``I-drive'' computer files, brought to the attention of The Associated Press by concerned FBI agents, could give lawyers an avenue to reopen numerous cases to determine whether documents that could have aided the defense of criminal defendants were withheld.

--snip--

FBI supervisors said they were unaware of the problem until it was brought to their attention by AP.


Monday, March 01, 2004

The Union Marches On 

There's an awesome lament about the current state of unions in the good ole US of A over at Kos. Well worth a read.

Gentlemen do not read each other's mail 

I haven't seen a word about this in the blogosphere yet, so I actually decided to do a little independent research.

It's been revealed that the US and the Brits bugged Kofi Annan's office in NY, and it also appears they bugged Hans Blix too.

People HAVE been saying this is a violation of international law. That may be so, I don't know much about international law (other than it isn't violated unless the US says it is). But, what I know at least a little bit about is US Law. And these activities are in violation of US Law.

LAW --> there are two ways to legally use electronic surveillance: one, is under the Federal Wiretapping Law (Title III); the other, is under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

A Title III warrant would/could never be used to monitor foreign persons unless they are engaging in certain enumerated crimes (nothing under Title III would come close to anything Hans Blix or Annan might be alleged to be doing). So, Title III is out.

Under FISA (50 U.S.C.S. § 1801), all bugs and wiretaps must first be approved by the Attorney General (that's right, John Ashcroft would have had to have signed off on this warrant). Then the warrant is taken to secret FISA court (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court) and approved by that court. Of approximately 1200 warrants issued under FISA every year since 1978, the FISC has only denied ONE WARRANT. It was in 2002. That denial required the first ever appeal to the FISC appeals court (also secret), it had never met until 2002. Not surprisingly, they reversed the FISC and allowed the warrant to issue [See In re Sealed Case, 310 F.3d 717 (Foreign Int. Surv. Ct. Rev. 2002).]

In reversing, the appeals court made clear what FISA authorizes, and what it doesn't --
[FISA] authorizes a judge on the FISA court to grant an application for an order approving electronic surveillance to "obtain foreign intelligence information" if "there is probable cause to believe that ... the target of the electronic surveillance is a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power," and that "each of the facilities or places at which the surveillance is directed is being used, or is about to be used, by a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power." 50 U.S.C. § 1805(a)(3). As is apparent, the definitions of agent of a foreign power and foreign intelligence information are crucial to an understanding of the statutory scheme. The latter means
(1) information that relates to, and if concerning a United States person is necessary to, the ability of the United States to protect against -

A) actual or potential attack or other grave hostile acts of a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power;

B) sabotage or international terrorism by a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power; or

C) clandestine intelligence activities by an intelligence service or network of a foreign power or by an agent of a foreign power.


This does not describe Hans Blix, Kofi Annan, or any activities they could even be alleged to have been participating in.

THE GIST --> These warrants were Ok'd by J. Ashcroft, and ostensibly, approved by the FISC. Yet, there is no possible way anyone could claim that Blix or Annan were engaging in preparation for international terrorism or anything similar. In short -- these bugs violated US law.

How's about some Congressional hearings?

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