Saturday, February 19, 2005

Just Like the Good Old Days

Back when you knew the faces--well, not so much the faces per se--of those who want to stomp you into oblivion:

"Basically he was charged for littering because it's not illegal to hand out pamphlets," said Lt. Chuck Aleck of the Brattleboro Police Department, adding Gearhart was dropping the pamphlets on the sidewalk as well as the street.

The pamphlet is titled "Is Homosexual Activity Normal?" and it includes a warning that its material is explicit and not appropriate for children. It was produced by a group affiliated with a newsletter called "The Truth At Last." A mailing address on the pamphlet is in Marietta, Ga.

The Truth At Last is reportedly a front organization for the Ku Klux Klan.


The United States Crumbles in Arkansas

Just after taking the bold, nay, revolutionary move of admitting that gays exist, my home-state folks go and do this:
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The state House on Friday voted against affirming the separation of church and state in a resolution brought by a legislator who said he was fed up with a religious undertone at the Capitol.

The House voted 44-39 against the proposal. Only two Republicans voted for it, and one of them, Rep. Jim Medley, said he had intended to vote no but didn't get to his machine in time to change his vote.

Democratic Rep. Buddy Blair said he offered the measure because he was tired of conservative colleagues "making every issue into a religious issue."

"It's unbelievable to me. They have just voted against the U.S. Constitution and the constitution of the state of Arkansas," Blair said.
They voted AGAINST the separation of church and state.



The Creation of Gannon

A bit of Renaissance-meets-the-Grotesque art, courtesy of Billmon.

Look at your own risk.


Friday, February 18, 2005

Hotel Cat Blogging

And you have a better way of dealing with all this than doing a few shots? I'd like to hear it.

Okay, so hiding in a drawer isn't your style? I'd suggest...

a teddy bear!


Friday Wreckage Blog

That's right, we are living in a hotel--for a month now tomorrow, while our home has become this.

And if you look close, you can see rorschach!


Our Job Is Done

The United States has officially performed its role: turning Iraq into an urban-warfare training ground for extremists, thereby heightening the chances of successful attacks on cities around the globe.

Well done!
Iraq has become a training ground for extremists who'll take their experience in urban terrorism with them to other countries, the head of the CIA said Wednesday.

"Islamic extremists are exploiting the Iraqi conflict to recruit new anti-U.S. jihadists," CIA Director Porter Goss told the Select Senate Committee on Intelligence in his first Capitol Hill appearance as the agency's chief. They will "leave Iraq experienced in and focused on acts of urban terrorism. They represent a pool of contacts to build transnational terrorist cells, groups and networks." Goss and FBI Director Robert Mueller appeared before the normally secretive committee in its annual hearing to discuss global threats. Their testimony suggested that Iraq may pose a bigger terrorist threat now than it did before the U.S.-led invasion nearly two years ago.


The Bushies Back Down

They reluctantly admit that "LGBT" isn't a naughty word:
The Bush administration has backed down on a call for an LGBT suicide conference to remove the words "gay," "lesbian," "bisexual" and "transgender" from its material.

Charles Curie, Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, now says that it is permissible for groups that receive money from the agency to use the terms "Gay", "Lesbian", "Bisexual" and "Transgender" in the titles of SAMHSA-sponsored public events.

On Wednesday reported that SAMHSA, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, had issued a veiled threat to organizers of the conference to be held in Portland, Oregon on February 28, that the use of LGBT terms could result in its funding being pulled.


Fox News Can't Take the Heat

Unlike, say, The Nation, the delicate flowers over at the right-wing propaganda network simply cannot stand differing opinions, even when it means money in their pockets:
You'd think Rupert Murdoch would laugh all the way to the bank if the liberal magazine The Nation cut a check to conservative Fox News. But the "fair and balanced" ad staff at FNC have rejected a TV spot that The Nation says Bravo, CNN, MSNBC, and TBS/TNT have accepted.

The ad goes like this (watch it here):

It peels away layers of obfuscation. Shreds lies. Slices through White House fog. And you can try it for four weeks absolutely free. It's The Nation - America's hottest, most widely read journal of opinion. Nobody owns The Nation - not Time Warner, not Murdoch. So there's no corporate slant, no White House spin, just the straight dope.

The Nation has asked FNC how they might alter the ad to get it on the air, but Fox will not give a reason for the rejection. "We have the right to reject a spot. We do not need to give a written statement regarding the rejection," wrote a Fox ad rep to a buyer for The Nation. TBS/TNT hesitated to accept the ad at first, too, but relented when The Nation agreed to omit the references to "Time Warner" and "Murdoch."
In February 2003, Fox took out an $8,700 back page ad in The Nation, which only two years earlier had dubbed the network "a calculated mouthpiece for the right that remains thinly veiled behind its misleading mantra, 'fair and balanced.' " Nation readers revolted at the ad: 250 wrote letters, and at least 50 cancelled their subscriptions. When The New York Times wrote about the reaction of The Nation's faithful to Fox's first spot, the network called and booked a second.

Why did Fox want to advertise in The Nation anyway? Maybe it was trying to win new viewers, though it seems a tough sell to Nation readers. Perhaps it merely wanted to crow to liberal "elites" about its lead in cable news ratings. Or maybe it was intended as a poison pill, to anger Nation subscribers and put the magazine in a tough spot. The Nation could have avoided that, of course, if they simply refused Fox's ads. But Webb says that wasn't considered. When the Fox ad came in, Webb recalls, the reaction at The Nation was " 'Oh no,' and 'Let's charge top rate.' "

Fox bought two more ads last year, each costing $7,395. One ran in the magazine's Republican convention issue. A couple days later, the network first rejected The Nation's TV spot.
Fox did not return phone calls.


"The Act of a Coward"

The British, throughout their long history of colonialism and empire, have been plenty guilty of any manner of atrocities.

However, in the midst of WWII, when as you will recall their capital city was being bombed to pieces on a regular basis, they still rejected the use of torture to gain information that might shorten the war.

And today, here in America, right-wing pundits sit comfortable and safe in their studios and offices and promulgate the notion that we must resort to torture to win the "War on Terror." Listen to Stephens's words, pundits, and burn with shame:
At the time Milmo of MI5 and his fellow-interrogators started grilling Lecube, London and other British cities had barely begun to recover from a Nazi bombing campaign that had killed 42,000 civilians and destroyed 130,000 houses. Britain's merchant fleet was losing 50 ships a month. Most of Europe was under fascist rule and millions of civilians were being slaughtered and enslaved. Britons did not know they would win the war.

Reading through the transcripts and letters relating to Lecube's interrogation in the Public Records Office at Kew, the modern reader awaits the moment the MI5 men would talk about hooding the Spaniard, stripping him naked, handcuffing him till his hands went numb, beating him up, subjecting him to extremes of cold and heat, menacing him with guard dogs, sodomising him or pretending to drown him with wet towels.

They did none of these things.

Violence towards the prisoner, or humiliation of the kind practised in Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, was ruled out. "Never strike a man," wrote Robin "Tin-Eye" Stephens, the monocled commander of Camp 020, in his secret advice to interrogators. "For one thing it is the act of a coward. For another, it is unintelligent, for the spy will give an answer to please, an answer to escape punishment. And having given a false answer, all else depends upon the false premise."


Voting System Screwed? Check. Legal System Screwed? Check.

President Bush is once again boldly protecting defenseless corporations from the evil wiles of well-nigh omnipotent American citizens, taking preliminary steps to stop all those who deceitfully pretend that it's a bad thing to undergo botched surgery or inhale harmless asbestos:
President Bush today signed legislation that rewrites the rules for class-action lawsuits, opening a second-term campaign he said was aimed at "ending the lawsuit culture in our country."

In a ceremony to sign the Class Action Fairness Act, which was passed by the House yesterday and became the first bill to be signed by the president in 2005, Bush vowed to work for passage of "meaningful legal reforms" to curb medical malpractice and asbestos lawsuits.

"There's more to do," Bush said, arguing that medical liability lawsuits are driving up the cost of health care and that asbestos litigation has bankrupted dozens of companies and eliminated thousands of jobs. "I'm confident that this bill will be the first of many bipartisan achievements in the year 2005."
Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), who led the opposition in the floor debate, warned yesterday: "This is not a simple procedural fix. Moving the cases to federal court will result in many cases never being heard."


"Real News Shows" Taking Cue from "Fake News Show"

Having lived for the past several weeks in a hotel cretinous enough to have some cable but not to have Comedy Central, I've been suffering tremendous Jon Stewart withdrawal pains.

But, it's good to hear that he's continuing to outdo himself with regard to Gannongate or Guckertgate or Ganondrum or whatever it'll wind up being called.

And it's good to hear cable news stations might finally be learning the lessons they so desperately need:
THE prayers of those hoping that real television news might take its cues from Jon Stewart were finally answered on Feb. 9, 2005. A real newsman borrowed a technique from fake news to deliver real news about fake news in prime time.

Let me explain.

On "Countdown," a nightly news hour on MSNBC, the anchor, Keith Olbermann, led off with a classic "Daily Show"-style bit: a rapid-fire montage of sharply edited video bites illustrating the apparent idiocy of those in Washington. In this case, the eight clips stretched over a year in the White House briefing room - from February 2004 to late last month - and all featured a reporter named "Jeff." In most of them, the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, says "Go ahead, Jeff," and "Jeff" responds with a softball question intended not to elicit information but to boost President Bush and smear his political opponents. In the last clip, "Jeff" is quizzing the president himself, in his first post-inaugural press conference of Jan. 26. Referring to Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton, "Jeff" asks, "How are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?"

If we did not live in a time when the news culture itself is divorced from reality, the story might end there: "Jeff," you'd assume, was a lapdog reporter from a legitimate, if right-wing, news organization like Fox, and you'd get some predictable yuks from watching a compressed video anthology of his kissing up to power. But as Mr. Olbermann explained, "Jeff Gannon," the star of the montage, was a newsman no more real than a "Senior White House Correspondent" like Stephen Colbert on "The Daily Show" and he worked for a news organization no more real than The Onion. Yet the video broadcast by Mr. Olbermann was not fake. "Jeff" was in the real White House, and he did have those exchanges with the real Mr. McClellan and the real Mr. Bush.

"Jeff Gannon's" real name is James D. Guckert. His employer was a Web site called Talon News, staffed mostly by volunteer Republican activists. Media Matters for America, the liberal press monitor that has done the most exhaustive research into the case, discovered that Talon's "news" often consists of recycled Republican National Committee and White House press releases, and its content frequently overlaps with another partisan site, GOPUSA, with which it shares its owner, a Texas delegate to the 2000 Republican convention. Nonetheless, for nearly two years the White House press office had credentialed Mr. Guckert, even though, as Dana Milbank of The Washington Post explained on Mr. Olbermann's show, he "was representing a phony media company that doesn't really have any such thing as circulation or readership."

Link via Avedon Carol.



And as long as I'm blogging about loathsome, wasteful, all-too-American vehicles, I might as well mention this amusing site, dedicated to posting pictures of people flipping off Hummers nationwide. (Obviously, the site's a tad crass for workplace viewing, but it isn't obscene.)

Send in your picture today!


Consumer Protection, Bush Style

Recently, I've been noticing a very bizarre advertisement on television depicting SUVs as dangeous, ill-tempered rodeo bulls and their drivers as hapless riders, thrown off left and right. (The ad can be viewed online here.)

This ad encourages SUV drivers not to get carried away with feelings of power and invulnerability while driving, because doing so leads to roll-overs and other accidents.

Now, I'm all for trying anything that might encourage SUV drivers to behave less like assholes on the road.

However, I don't think that such ads will be quite as effective as, say, requiring the redesign of SUVs to make them less prone to roll over. (Call me crazy...)

The simple fact is that many people buy SUVs precisely for the false sense of security and safety these vehicles provide by virtue of their sheer bulk. That false sense, in turn, leads to less careful driving.

And all the rodeo-based ads in the world won't change that fact, not even here in Texas.


More Useful Idiots

It seems more and more as though that term could be applied to, oh, say 85% of all Bush supporters:
Some farmers from battleground election states who campaigned and voted for President Bush (news - web sites) say they are not happy about proposed cuts in federal farm subsidies and other agriculture programs.

"We wouldn't call it a double-cross or anything like that, but I don't think this is going to sit real well," said Harold Bateson, whose family's grain farm covers 2,300 acres in northwest Ohio near Bowling Green.

The president has proposed an across-the-board cut of 5 percent for all farm payments and a reduction in the cap on individual subsidies to $250,000. The cuts would total $2.5 billion — more than reductions in health, housing and law enforcement.

Some farmers say they understand the need to balance the budget, but believe they have been burdened with an unfair portion of the budget reductions compared to other programs.

"It's kind of a slap in the face," said Neil Clark, an Ohio grain farmer who worked to gather support among farmers for Bush's campaign in Hancock County.


Arkansas: Slightly Less Stupid Than Expected

Book-burnings averted. But only just barely:

A bill that would have forced schools to use only books that omitted any reference to gay families has failed to win the endorsement of the Arkansas' Senate Education Committee.

The committee cast a 3 - 3 tie vote. The bill needed at least four votes to move to the Senate floor. It had already passed the House.
And meanwhile, in Texas and Alabama:
The Texas Board of Education in November approved new health textbooks for the state's high school and middle school students only after the publishers agreed to change the wording to depict marriage as the union of a man and a woman. (story)

Legislation pending in Alabama would go even further. The bill, if enacted, would bar any representation of homosexuality in schools, libraries, and state funded universities.


Not Just a Bigot, but a Bald-Faced Liar

More shameful behavior from the AMA President:
After being criticized by gay and lesbian groups, the president of the American Medical Association said Thursday his views were misrepresented in a newspaper article that quotes him defending a Roman Catholic-affiliated medical school's decision to ban a gay student group.

The Journal News of White Plains, N.Y., said Dr. John Nelson likened the ban at New York Medical College to Brigham Young University's decision to suspend four former football players accused of rape, and with the Mormon school's refusal to allow caffeinated soft drinks on campus. (story)

Joel Ginsberg, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, said Nelson's comparison criminalized and trivialized homosexuality, and prompted dozens of complaints to his organization.

"His comments were inappropriate and hurtful," Ginsberg said.

Nelson issued a statement Thursday saying his views "were grossly misrepresented" by the Feb. 12 article.

"I apologize to anyone who may have been offended by what they read," but the article "does not represent my views or the policies of the AMA," Nelson said.

CynDee Royle, the newspaper's senior managing editor, said the reporter taped the interview and that neither Nelson nor the AMA had requested a correction.

"We absolutely stand by the story," Royle said.


Cornyn's Doing Something Right!

This is truly a man-bites-dog story, as far as I am concerned. Cornyn fighting for democracy:
National Newspaper Association President Mike Buffington, editor of The Jackson (GA) Herald in Jefferson, GA, announced NNA's support of S.394, the OPEN Government Act of 2005, introduced today by Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX. The bill is aimed at strengthening the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT, is the bill's cosponsor.

NNA represents almost 2,500 community newspapers nationwide, and has traditionally supported open government initiatives. Freedom of information laws have long been useful tools for members of the press, as well as the general public, in researching the actions of government.

"At both the state and national levels, openness in government has come under assault in recent years. The public's right to know about the actions and expenditures of their tax dollars is being shielded by a growing army of ill-conceived, closed-government laws. Cornyn's OPEN Government Act of 2005 is an important bulwark in arresting this rising tide of secrecy," Buffington said.


Torture and Murder, Cont'd

More stories come trickling out:
An Iraqi whose corpse was photographed with grinning U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib died under CIA (news - web sites) interrogation while in a position condemned by human rights groups as torture — suspended by his wrists, with his hands cuffed behind his back, according to reports reviewed by The Associated Press.

The death of the prisoner, Manadel al-Jamadi, became known last year when the Abu Ghraib prison scandal broke. The U.S. military said back then that the death had been ruled a homicide. But the exact circumstances under which the man died were not disclosed at the time.

The prisoner died in a position known as "Palestinian hanging," the documents reviewed by The AP show. It is unclear whether that position was approved by the Bush administration for use in CIA interrogations.

Well, all you Rush Limbaughs and Ann Coulters? Is this just more fraternity hazing?

How about this?

A British resident has been blinded in one eye by American military police at Guantanamo Bay, his lawyer claimed today.

Omar Deghayes' family appealed for the British Government to intervene and secure his release, almost 25 years to the day since his father was assassinated by Colonel Gaddafi's regime in Libya.

Mr Deghayes mother Zohra Zewawi, from Brighton, wept as lawyer Clive Stafford Smith described the injuries the detainee has allegedly suffered at the Cuban base.

"In March 2004 the Emergency Reaction Force in Camp Delta came into his cell," he said. "They brought their pepper spray and held him down.

"They held both of his eyes open and sprayed it into his eyes and later took a towel soaked in pepper spray and rubbed it in his eyes.

"Omar could not see from either eye for two weeks but he gradually got sight back in one eye.

"He's totally blind in the right eye. I can report that his right eye is all white and milky - he can't see out of it because he has been blinded by the US in Guantanamo."

Mr Stafford Smith added that one of the officers also pushed his finger into Mr Deghayes' eye.

It was a combination of the pepper spray and the gouging which led to loss of his sight, the lawyer claimed.


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Pre-emptive as All Hell


Bush v. American POWs

They went and fought the first Gulf War. They were captured. They were tortured. And they were awarded a large sum in compensation.

And the Bushies don't want them to get it:
The latest chapter in the legal history of torture is being written by American pilots who were beaten and abused by Iraqis during the 1991 Persian Gulf War (news - web sites). And it has taken a strange twist.

The Bush administration is fighting the former prisoners of war in court, trying to prevent them from collecting nearly $1 billion from Iraq (news - web sites) that a federal judge awarded them as compensation for their torture at the hands of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s regime.

The rationale: Today's Iraqis are good guys, and they need the money.

The case abounds with ironies. It pits the U.S. government squarely against its own war heroes and the Geneva Convention.

Many of the pilots were tortured in the same Iraqi prison, Abu Ghraib, where American soldiers abused Iraqis 15 months ago. Those Iraqi victims, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has said, deserve compensation from the United States.

But the American victims of Iraqi torturers are not entitled to similar payments from Iraq, the U.S. government says.


Bush: Uniter

In all the worst ways:
Iran and Syria, who both are facing pressure from the United States, said
Wednesday they will form a "united front" to confront possible threats against
them, state-run television reported.


I Am Saddened

Virginia seems to have come to its senses sooner than expected:
Legislation has been withdrawn that would have seen cars in Virginia bearing license plates promoting heterosexual marriage.


Shut Up, Ya Queers

Bush's administration does it again. Idiocy reigns:
The Bush administration has told a federally funded conference on LGBT suicide to remove the words "gay," "lesbian," "bisexual" and "transgender" from its material.

The conference will be held Feb. 28 in Portland, Ore., and was organized by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center of Newton, Mass with funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

It was originally titled "Suicide Prevention Among Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Individuals."

But the SAMHSA balked at the name according to the Washington Post. The request to change the name came from SAMHSA project manager Brenda Bruun who suggested the organizers use "sexual orientation" the Post reports.

One of the three specialist who will lead the meeting says that "sexual orientation" is inadequate. "Everyone has a sexual orientation," Ron Bloodworth told the Post. "But this was about gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders."

In addition, he said that trans people differ from others in terms of sexual identity, not sexual orientation.


As Long As We Are There This Will Go On

And do you really think this does anything but kill innocent people while further inciting (dare I say "justified"?) hatred of America?

There are new allegations that heavily armed private security contractors in Iraq are brutalizing Iraqi civilians. In an exclusive interview, four former security contractors told NBC News that they watched as innocent Iraqi civilians were fired upon, and one crushed by a truck.

The contractors worked for an American company paid by U.S. taxpayers.

The Army is looking into the allegations.

The four men are all retired military veterans: Capt. Bill Craun, Army Rangers; Sgt. Jim Errante, military police; Cpl. Ernest Colling, U.S. Army; and Will Hough, U.S. Marines.

All went to Iraq months ago as private security contractors.

"I went there for the money," says Hough.

"I'm a patriot," says Craun.

"You can't turn off being a soldier," says Colling.

They worked for an American company named Custer Battles, hired by the Pentagon to conduct dangerous missions guarding supply convoys. They were so upset by what they saw, three quit after only one or two missions.

"What we saw, I know the American population wouldn't stand for," says Craun.They claim heavily armed security operators on Custer Battles' missions — among them poorly trained young Kurds, who have historical resentments against other Iraqis — terrorized civilians, shooting indiscriminately as they ran for cover, smashing into and shooting up cars.


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Time to Fight, Again

Bush isn't wasting any time in nominating extremist freaks for judgeships. This one's a rerun, but that makes it no less serious:
A year after naming former Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor to a temporary seat on a federal appeals court, President Bush has launched a fresh attempt to put the controversial attorney there for life.

In the 2003-2004 session of Congress, Pryor's nomination was blocked by Senate Democrats, who charged that he was too extreme to make impartial judgments. Last February, the president instead placed him on the 11th Circuit in a temporary assignment set to expire late this year. (story)

Late Monday and without comment, Bush resubmitted Pryor's name to the Senate, which must again decide whether to confirm him for the lifetime appointment to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

While in his temporary position on the court Pryor cast the deciding vote to uphold Florida's outright ban on gay adoption. (story) Florida is the only state in the country that explicitly bans children from being adopted by gays and lesbians.

As Attorney General of Alabama, he was the only attorney general outside of Texas to author an amicus brief in the Supreme Court defending Texas's anti-gay sodomy statute. Pryor argued that states have an interest in singling out same-sex relations for punishment, even though his own state's statute made no distinction between same-and opposite-sex relations. His brief also compared same-sex relationships to pedophilia, bestiality and necrophilia.


Bullshit-Based "Initiatives"

Note to all people of faith who think that Bush is your man: You are nothing more to him than, to coin a phrase, useful idiots:
The Bush administration is defending the president's faith-based agenda against criticism from a former White House staffer who alleges the president gained politically from his vow to let religious-affiliated organizations use federal money to help the needy, but lacks a commitment to the initiative.

Kuo, in an article posted on the religious web site,, argues that Capitol Hill gridlock could have been eased with minimal West Wing effort, but that over time, it became clear that the White House didn't need to expend Bush's political capital for "pro-poor" legislation.

"Who was going to hold them accountable? Drug addicts, alcoholics, poor moms, struggling urban social service organizations, and pastors aren't quite the NRA," Kuo said of the powerful National Rifle Association lobby.

"The initiative powerfully appealed to both conservative Christians and urban faith leaders — regardless of how much money was being appropriated," he writes. "Democratic opposition was understood as an attack on his personal faith. ... The Faith-Based Office was the cross around the White Houses' neck showing the president's own faith orientation. That was sufficient."


Bitter Irony

I caught a bit of CNN, much to my chagrin, this afternoon. They were reporting on this:
The United States has recalled its ambassador to Syria amid rising tensions over the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri of Lebanon, a U.S. official said Tuesday.

Before departing, U.S. Ambassador Margaret Scobey delivered a stern note, called a demarche in diplomatic parlance, to the Syrian government, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The talking heads on CNN were going on and on about the fact that, whether or not Syria is directly behind this assassination, the Bush administration is going to use the incident to protest Syria's overt political and military presence in Lebanon.

Any logical mind would therefore hold the United States occupation of Iraq responsible for the many, many assassinations that have taken place since our invasion of that country. Right?



Grand Jury Time in the Plame Affair

I don't know what, if anything, will come of this:
A U.S. appeals court ruled on Tuesday that two journalists must testify before a federal grand jury about their confidential sources in an investigation into a leak that exposed the identity of a covert CIA operative.

The three-judge panel ruled that New York Times reporter Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper of Time Magazine must comply with a subpoena from a grand jury investigating whether the Bush administration illegally leaked the officer's name to the news media.

The decision upheld a ruling by a federal judge that Miller and Cooper were in contempt of court and should be jailed for refusing to testify about their confidential sources. Miller and Cooper each face as much as 18 months in prison.

"There is no First Amendment privilege protecting the evidence sought," Judge David Sentelle wrote in the opinion.


Democracy v. Capitalism

Rarely are the lines drawn so utterly clearly as in this case, brought to my attention by Karin:
Fifteen houses are all that remain of Fort Trumbull, a once vibrant immigrant neighborhood on the southeastern Connecticut shore. For years, bulldozers have been leveling houses to make way for a city's high hopes: a hotel and convention center, office space and upscale condominiums.

The homes, surrounded now by swaths of rutted grass and gravel, stand in defiance to the project. Refusing to sell or leave, seven families will go before the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 22, arguing their city has no right to take property solely in the name of economic development.
"It's quite an amalgamation of people to be taking this case where it's going," said Matthew Dery, who lives in one of four houses on a compound his family has owned since 1901. "It's a case of the rich eating the poor. Sometimes the poor are difficult to digest."

Leading the charge is Susette Kelo, a 47-year-old nurse and mother of five boys who bought her apricot-colored home in 1997. With a decorative outhouse in the front yard and wind chimes made of silverware, her house doesn't fit in the city's development plans.

"They have over 90 acres now," Kelo said. "It's more than enough room the build on. We never said they can't build. We just said, 'We want to stay."'

City officials say that's impossible.

"They just would not be compatible with all the other uses," said Edward O'Connell, an attorney representing the New London Development Corporation, the quasi-public agency behind the redevelopment effort.

He points to Byron Athenian's low-slung black house as an example: "You're going to put up a $20 million hotel next to that?" O'Connell said.

Besides, he said, if a few holdouts can force an entire city to remake its development strategy, cities could never make plans.

Whether building a highway, laying railroad tracks or eliminating blight, governments have long relied on eminent domain laws to allow them to take private property.

New York used eminent domain to improve Times Square, expand the New York Stock Exchange and build the World Trade Center. Baltimore replaced a downtrodden waterfront with a bustling harbor development.

But Fort Trumbull is not besieged by blight, poverty or crime and New London is not building a highway or government building. The Supreme Court will decide whether governments can take taxpayer property to encourage private development.



This insightful equation is brought to you by none other than the head of the American Medical Association:
The president of the American Medical Association has come to the defense of New York Medical College under attack for banning a gay students group from campus.

In an interview with the Westchester Journal News AMA President John Nelson said as a private institution the college has the right to set and enforce its own policies.

Nelson then said that the school was acting no differently than Brigham Young University in banning Coca-Cola from campus or its suspending of four athletes accused of raping a 17-year-old girl.


Speaking Truth to Power

More soldiers need to realize that they have not only the right but also the duty to do this:
A soldier from Britain's military reserve, the Territorial Army, formally resigned from the force in protest at the "illegal" war in Iraq (news - web sites), and urged fellow troops to do the same.

Lance Corporal George Solomou, 38, who handed in a letter of resignation to his commanding officer at a Territorial Army base in south London, said a number of other reservists felt the same way about the conflict.

"There is a sizeable minority within the Territorial Army that do not agree with this war, but many soldiers do not realise they are legally entitled to conscientiously object to serving in a war," he told reporters.

"Soldiers have a moral, public and political duty to defend democracy. When democracy fails as it did when (Prime Minister Tony) Blair led us into this illegal war, they have a duty to uphold democracy by not taking part in it."


Did Someone Say Nepotism?

It just strikes me as an interesting choice, when all is said and done:
Elizabeth Cheney, the daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, will become the second-ranking U.S. diplomat for the Middle East, the State Department said on Monday.


Monday, February 14, 2005

The Justice Cancer Spreads

Oh, the problems caused by the evil civil rights movement in Massachusetts. This is almost as heinous as forcing the respect of interracial marriages in the South a few decades back, is it not?
The Tiverton school committee has voted to grant health care benefits to the spouses of gay and lesbian employees who were legally married in Massachusetts.

Businesses and governments in the states surrounding Massachusetts are still coming to terms with how to treat employees who were married in Massachusetts, live in Massachusetts, but work in neighboring states.
But, when Attorney General Patrick Lynch indicated the state would honor same-sex unions performed elsewhere unless they were contrary to the “strong public policy” of the state, the solution for Tiverton became clear.


The National Security Party

There's been plenty of blogging all around the lefty blogosphere about the oddity of having a male prostitute shooting soft-ball questions at the president's press secretary for two years, but luckily Scott McClellan has put all anxieties to rest:
Talon News reporter James D. Guckert got to ask questions at White House press briefings for nearly two years, but White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan didn't know he was using an alias until the past few weeks, McClellan told E&P today.

Asked if he had discussed the Guckert/Gannon episode with President Bush, McClellan said, "We've only talked about it briefly," but declined to be more specific. "He's got a lot of other priorities," McClellan added.

McClellan also said he was unaware of Talon News' ties to the Texas Republican Party until recently, when scrutiny of Guckert, also known as Jeff Gannon, increased after he asked President Bush a question at a press conference last month.

"I first came across him two years ago when I was deputy press secretary and he started covering the White House," McClellan said about Guckert during a phone interview with E&P. "I knew he asked questions from a conservative viewpoint, but that was all."

McClellan added that he had known "relatively little" about Talon News, Guckert's former employer, which is linked to, a Republican Web site with ties to Texas Republican groups. "I knew it was a conservative Web site that reported news," he said.

Asked if “anyone there” was aware of Guckert before he started showing up for briefings, McClellan said: “No.”

Although his office handles credentials, McClellan said he did not find out that "Gannon" was an alias, or that Talon News had political party links, until recently, when blogs and news organizations began to question Guckert's credentialing. "I checked into it more recently," he told E&P, adding that "the president didn't know who he was."
So, this administration is relying upon bloggers to secure the White House press room?


Racism on the March

Our homegrown fascists are growing ever more bold. I wonder why that could be? I'm sure it has nothing to do with the Culture of Fear the Bush administration has so lovingly crafted over the last few years:
White supremacist groups around the country are moving aggressively to recruit new members by promoting their violent, racist ideologies on billboards, in radio commercials and in leaflets tossed on suburban driveways.

Watching with mounting alarm, civil rights monitors say these tactics stake out a much bolder, more public role for many hate groups, which are trying to shed their image as shadowy extremists and claim more mainstream support.

Watchdog groups fear increased violence from these organizations as they grow. But perhaps an even greater fear is that the new public relations strategy will let neo-Nazis recast themselves as just another voice on the political spectrum — even when that voice might be advocating genocide.

The National Alliance, which calls for ridding the land of minorities, has led the drive to raise the profile of white supremacists.

The local chapter spent $1,500 on MetroLink ads here in St. Louis last month, plastering nearly every commuter train car in the city with a blue-and-white placard declaring "The Future belongs to us!" and listing the group's Web site and phone number.

"We want to use mainstream advertising to say to the public: We're not a shadowy group. This is what we believe in, and we're proud of it," said chapter leader Aaron Collins.


I'm Getting Nostalgic for $200 Screwdrivers

The Pentagon waste of the eighties seems so cute and quaint these days:

A test of the national missile defense system failed Monday when an interceptor missile did not launch from its island base in the Pacific Ocean, the military said. It was the second failure in months for the experimental program.

A statement from the Missile Defense Agency said the cause of the failure was under investigation.

A spokesman for the agency, Rick Lehner, said the early indications was that there was a malfunction with the ground support equipment at the test range on Kwajalein Island, not with the interceptor missile itself.

If verified, that would be a relief for program officials because it would mean no new problems had been discovered with the missile. Previous failures of these high-profile, $85 million test launches have been regarded as significant setbacks by critics of the program.


Oh, and by the way, even if it were magically to begin working perfectly tomorrow, it'd already be obsolete:
Russia has tested a ballistic missile that would render the United States Star Wars scheme useless, a U.S. expert has said.

The SS-27 Topol-M mobile ballistic missile It is too fast to hit right after takeoff unless the interceptor is lucky enough to be really close to the launch pad, former arms inspector in Iraq Scott Ritter reportedly told Business Week.

According to Ritter, who in the past correctly concluded that Baghdad had no weapons of mass destruction, the SS-27 is hardened against lasers, so the U.S. defense system’s airborne laser —- a program that is already behind schedule —- wouldn’t work. And because the missile is maneuverable and capable of releasing three warheads and four decoys, it would be much harder to defeat as it falls in the terminal stage of flight.


Beer, Bait, Ammo, and Really Fucking Big Trucks

Are you an asshole with a hankerin' for more than a Hummer can give ya? Texas is ready to provide:
For some drivers, even a Hummer may not be enough. At a curb weight of more than 3.5 tons, the Humvee-inspired Hummer H1 is no skinny guy who gets sand kicked in his face. But the Bad Boy Heavy Muscle Truck, a dressed-up military vehicle more than twice as heavy, is being billed as bigger, badder and more bodacious.

"It's the rugged Bubba," said Daniel Ayres, president and CEO of Homeland Defense Vehicles LLC and its division Bad Boy Trucks.

The East Texas company aims to market the machine to civilians with disposable cash and a hankering for more protection from the outside world. A $379,000 version made its public debut in January at the Dallas Safari Club convention.

I can't even begin to describe all the things that are wrong with this, but here's a start: Homeland Defense Vehicles LLC is based in Newton, but the dateline on the report is 16 miles away in, yes, Jasper, Texas - which raises all kinds of scary specters as to just who might be in the market for extra-rugged "Homeland Defense Vehicles" - and why.