Monday, January 29, 2007
Corporate Tax Evasion?
So what the corporations do is become civic donors. How simple, how decent. How...clever. Nike lobbied for nearly $17 million reduction in their corporate taxes per year. Over five years, they’ve donated $9 million. Most of that $9 million went to Portland Public Schools—who definitely needed it, sure. The big developers on the east side of the mountains make all kinds of donations: seasonal festivals, parks, libraries, and schools. They don’t donate more than what they avoid paying under Oregon’s tax laws and under county and city agreements. But what they’ve managed to do is hold the various communities hostage to their donations. If they get offended...bye-bye.
January 20, 2007
Nike's donation of $9 million over five years to three local school districts, including Portland, has district officials doing cartwheels.
But as Steve Duin points out, corporate donations come at a cost --namely, tax revenue. Like $16.7 million in tax revenue that Nike won't be paying to the state for 2006 because of changes in the corporate tax code that the Beaverton-based company actively lobbied for:
"Nike lobbied viciously, and successfully, for the single-sales factor, which dramatically cut income taxes for companies with significant property and payroll in Oregon but a majority of sales outside the state."
No surprise then that Nike donated nine mill over five years when if saved nearly twice that in a single tax year.
Have the district and its board "viciously" lobbied for corporate tax reform at the state legislature? If they have, they've been doing it largely out of the public eye, probably for fear of offending their allies and sugar daddies in the business world.
The increasing reliance on grants and handouts from the private sector to fund schools is worrisome to me. It raises the question: Who ultimately determines policy for Portland Public Schools? Phil Knight? Bill Gates? Or the public in an open and democratic fashion?
The district's excitement over Nike's million dollar donation goes a long way in answering that question.
English Only Movement Comes to Oregon Legislature
There’s a bill in the legislature to make English the “official” language of Oregon.
This makes me nuts. It’s a direct hustle for the vote of those people who believe (I won’t say “thinking,” because that’s not what they’re doing) that America is being innundated with the hoardes of illegal immigrants, sucking up our precious natural essences. That’s an old propaganda piece—the Irish, Italians, VietNamese and various other non-Northern Europeans have invaded our Anglo-Saxon protestant paradise: to arms! to arms! Grab your crosses and torches!
If you start following the links on the English-should-be-official sites, you'll sooner or later come back to the Nasties—the sites advocating the arming of the citizenry, the abolition of equal opportunity laws, outlawing women's rights to their own bodies, and so on. Same ol' same ol'.
Ore. legislators push bill to make English official language
1/20/2007, 1:11 p.m. PT
The Associated Press
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Yamhill County's all-Republican legislative delegation and other Republicans have introduced a bill to declare English Oregon's official language.
"While our diversity makes us strong, it takes a common language to bring diverse people together," said Rep. Donna Nelson, R-McMinnville, the bill's sponsor.
The bill would force few if any changes if passed. It stems from a national English-only movement.
When Arizona voters approved adopting English as their official state language by a 3-1 margin in November it became the 28th state to do so.
U.S. English Inc., a Washington D.C.-based advocacy group, said similar legislation is pending in at least seven other states and that it hopes for a federal bill.
Opponents denounced it as opportunistic at best, racist at worst.
Nelson said on Friday that response has been positive.
It could release public agencies from having to provide services or information in other languages unless mandated by state or federal law.
Officials in the legislative and administrative branches said they were unaware of any such requirements in the first place but that many agencies voluntarily offer some materials and services in Spanish as an option for safety reasons in matters such as road rules or pesticide applications.
But Lonn Lon Hoklin, a spokesman for the state Department of Administrative Services, said he was unaware of any requirements to do so.
Critics of English-only legislation regard it as political posturing or worse.
"They're trying to be attentive to their conservative base. Why else would they bring this up?" asked David Molina, a Beaverton businessman who sits on the Oregon Commission for Hispanic Affairs.
Mike Davis, a University of California historian and co-author of the book "No One is Illegal," said the English-only movement feeds on historical misunderstandings and silly paranoia.
English, he said, is the fastest-growing language on the planet and far from endangered.
"Why then English only? Because it allows racists and nativists to pursue their dirty business with the plausible denial that they are not advocating discrimination, only Americanism," he ***
Information from: News-Register, http://www.newsregister.com
"Affordable Homes?" Where? Where?
The stunning thing about the article is the mention of "affordable homes" being one of the reasons people move to Oregon. The nearest affordable homes I've seen are in Burns or Condon; ain't none around here, folks.
Sunday, January 28, 2007 - 12:00 AM
Permission to reprint or copy this article or photo, other than personal use, must be obtained from The Seattle Times. Call 206-464-3113 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your request.
Company says Oregon No. 2 destination for moving
The Associated Press
SALEM, Ore. — Oregon is the No. 2 destination nationally for people moving from other states, according to a study by United Van Lines.***
The migration trend did not surprise Judy Yriarte, the director of relocation services for Prudential Real Estate Professionals in Salem.
"We saw a 58 percent increase in relocations last year over the same period in 2005," Yriarte said.
The majority of the newcomers moved into areas along the Interstate 5 corridor, from Portland to Salem to Medford, with some settling in Bend, she said.
Some of the reasons they cited include the weather, the landscape and quality of life and affordable homes, said Jeri Scott, the executive vice president of Coldwell Banker Mountain West in Salem.***
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Absurd, utterly Absurd—and mean, too
This is real, by the way...
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2007 16:10:02 -0800
From: "Axis of Love"
Subject: Axis of Love Alert: Robbers Dressed as DEA Agents Trying to Rob SF Dispensaries
Axis of Love Alert: Robbers Dressed as DEA Agents Trying to Rob SF Dispensaries
Law enforcement in San Francisco are stopping by dispensaries in the city today to warn them that robbers are dressing up as DEA agents and trying to rob dispensaries. Axis of Love received the alert from Hope Net, who were tipped off by San Francisco police.
We'd like to remind everyone that whether it's DEA agents or robbers posing as DEA agents or law enforcement, their goals are the same -- to steal our medicine from us.
JUST SAY NO and close your doors to any DEA agent, real or not!
Friday, January 26, 2007
New Mexico Lawmakers Call For Bush Impeachment!
Beneath Bush’s folksy-bullshit there’s as much contempt for the electorate as Cheney demonstrated in the CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer. Neither Bush nor Cheney care what people think. They don’t have to: they’re in power and that’s that.
Lawmakers call for Bush impeachment, NM
04:34 PM Mountain Standard Time on Wednesday, January 24, 2007
By Deborah Baker / Associated Press
SANTA FE (AP) -- Two New Mexico lawmakers have introduced a measure calling on Congress to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
State Sens. John Grubesic of Santa Fe and Gerald Ortiz y Pino of Albuquerque, both Democrats, said the resolution is a serious effort to try to trigger impeachment proceedings.
New Mexico, where lawmakers are meeting until March 17, would be the first state to pass the resolution, they said.
The measure alleges that Bush and Cheney conspired with others to intentionally mislead Congress and the public about the threat posed by Iraq in order to justify the war.
It also cites the administration's warrantless wiretapping program and alleges the torture of prisoners and the denial of constitutional rights to enemy combatants.
A state can't mandate impeachment, but impeachment charges from a state can be forwarded to the U.S. House of Representatives and referred to the House Judiciary Committee, according to impeachment advocates.
Tancredo & Gingrich: Pees in a Pod
Close to Tommy-boy, though, is Newt. Somehow, after utterly disgraceful behavior toward his then-wife, Gingrich has managed to resurface through the scum. Now he’s promoting himself as a possible conservative candidate for president. The excerpt down below, is from a speech he made at a group called ProEnglish which should properly be called Pro-Anglo-American or maybe, Pro-White Folks. Their links lead you to various pro-south, anti-civil-rights, conservation web pages. My belief is that both these guys are closer to the spirit of David Duke than John Adams.
I have to admit, though, Tom Tancredo, Paleo-Re(pub)actionary, since Dick Pombo is gone, is close to the top of the heap. So I put the excerpt about Tancredo first. Newt is below that.
Tancredo: Abolish black, Hispanic caucuses
Calls Congress hypocritical for sanctioning caucuses based solely on race
The Associated Press
Updated: 12:43 p.m. PT Jan 25, 2007
WASHINGTON - White House hopeful Tom Tancredo said Thursday the existence of the Congressional Black Caucus and other race-based groups of lawmakers amounts to segregation and should be abolished.
"It is utterly hypocritical for Congress to extol the virtues of a colorblind society while officially sanctioning caucuses that are based solely on race," said the Colorado Republican, who is most widely known as a vocal critic of illegal immigration.
"If we are serious about achieving the goal of a colorblind society, Congress should lead by example and end these divisive, race-based caucuses," said Tancredo, who is scheduled pitch his longshot presidential bid this weekend in New Hampshire.
© 2007 MSNBC.com
Jan. 25, 2007, 9:33AM
Gingrich pushes for English as official language
Possible GOP presidential candidate says it's key to assimilation
By MICHELLE MITTELSTADT
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — American civilization eventually will collapse if government doesn't do a better job assimilating immigrants into society, possible GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said Wednesday as he urged Congress to enshrine English as the nation's official language.
The former House speaker said political correctness and multiculturalism are clouding the debate about language.
"If you are pro-immigration to America, you should be pro-assimilation into English as the common language because in fact your children and grandchildren will have a dramatically better future if they are part of the common commercial civilization," Gingrich said.
He spoke at a news conference organized by ProEnglish***
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
"Gold Plated" Health Insurance??
Here in Bend we have to clinics for those without insurance—it’s a long wait to get into either one. Otherwise, people wait until medical emergencies and then head for the ER over at St Charles. This isn’t unusual at all in our country. We need a health care plan for all Americans; like Canada has, Japan has, England has, Germany….Those countries have one government agency that handles medical insurance; just like Medicare does. Medicare works and there’re reasons to expect it to work just as well as an agency for insuring all Americans, and save money.
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times
Monday 22 January 2007
President Bush's Saturday radio address was devoted to health care, and officials have put out the word that the subject will be a major theme in tomorrow's State of the Union address. Mr. Bush's proposal won't go anywhere. But it's still worth looking at his remarks, because of what they say about him and his advisers.
On the radio, Mr. Bush suggested that we should "treat health insurance more like home ownership." He went on to say that "the current tax code encourages home ownership by allowing you to deduct the interest on your mortgage from your taxes. We can reform the tax code, so that it provides a similar incentive for you to buy health insurance."
Wow. Those are the words of someone with no sense of what it's like to be uninsured.
Going without health insurance isn't like deciding to rent an apartment instead of buying a house. It's a terrifying experience, which most people endure only if they have no alternative. The uninsured don't need an "incentive" to buy insurance; they need something that makes getting insurance possible.
Most people without health insurance have low incomes, and just can't afford the premiums. And making premiums tax-deductible is almost worthless to workers whose income puts them in a low tax bracket.
Of those uninsured who aren't low-income, many can't get coverage because of pre-existing conditions - everything from diabetes to a long-ago case of jock itch. Again, tax deductions won't solve their problem.
The only people the Bush plan might move out of the ranks of the uninsured are the people we're least concerned about - affluent, healthy Americans who choose voluntarily not to be insured. At most, the Bush plan might induce some of those people to buy insurance, while in the process - whaddya know - giving many other high-income individuals yet another tax break.
While proposing this high-end tax break, Mr. Bush is also proposing a tax increase - not on the wealthy, but on workers who, he thinks, have too much health insurance. The tax code, he said, "unwisely encourages workers to choose overly expensive, gold-plated plans. The result is that insurance premiums rise, and many Americans cannot afford the coverage they need."
Again, wow. No economic analysis I'm aware of says that when Peter chooses a good health plan, he raises Paul's premiums. And look at the condescension. Will all those who think they have "gold plated" health coverage please raise their hands?
According to press reports, the actual plan is to penalize workers with relatively generous insurance coverage. Just to be clear, we're not talking about the wealthy; we're talking about ordinary workers who have managed to negotiate better-than-average health plans.
What's driving all this is the theory, popular in conservative circles but utterly at odds with the evidence, that the big problem with U.S. health care is that people have too much insurance - that there would be large cost savings if people were forced to pay more of their medical expenses out of pocket.
The administration also believes, for some reason, that people should be pushed out of employment-based health insurance - admittedly a deeply flawed system - into the individual insurance market, which is a disaster on all fronts. Insurance companies try to avoid selling policies to people who are likely to use them, so a large fraction of premiums in the individual market goes not to paying medical bills but to bureaucracies dedicated to weeding out "high risk" applicants - and keeping them uninsured.
I'm somewhat skeptical about health care plans, like that proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, that propose covering gaps in the health insurance market with a series of patches, such as requiring that insurers offer policies to everyone at the same rate. But at least the authors of these plans are trying to help those most in need, and recognize that the market needs fixing.
Mr. Bush, on the other hand, is still peddling the fantasy that the free market, with a little help from tax cuts, solves all problems.
What's really striking about Mr. Bush's remarks, however, is the tone. The stuff about providing "incentives" to buy insurance, the sneering description of good coverage as "gold plated," is right-wing think-tank jargon. In the past Mr. Bush's speechwriters might have found less offensive language; now, they're not even trying to hide his fundamental indifference to the plight of less-fortunate Americans.
boilerplate blah-blah cliche blah boilerplate
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Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Canadian Money Not Spying On U.S. Secrets!
The story was that the Defense Department said there were Canadian coins with teeny-little radio transmitters installed in them. Those sneaky liberal Canadians! What did we expect from a country with socialized medicine? And all those tar sands in Alberta...maybe we should do a little pre-emptive invasion….
Wasn’t true. Didn’t think it was.
Friday, January 19, 2007 - 12:00 AM
Canadian spy coins never existed
By Ted Bridis
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Reversing itself, the Defense Department says an espionage report it produced that warned about Canadian coins with tiny radio-frequency transmitters was not true.
The Defense Security Service said it never could substantiate its own published claims about the mysterious coins. It has begun an internal review to determine how the false information was included in a 29-page report about espionage concerns.
The service had contended since late June that such coins were found planted on U.S. contractors with classified security clearances on at least three separate occasions between October 2005 and January 2006 as the contractors traveled through Canada.
"The allegations, however, were found later to be unsubstantiated following an investigation into the matter," the agency said in a statement published on its Web site last week.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company
Blogging For Choice? Ooops! Mea culpa
But, I didn't post anything.
If Bush's appointees to SCOTUS have anything to do about it, Roe v Wade is going to be ancient history. And since Congress approved those guys...What I say or do wouldn't have made much difference.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Iraq: the Brits Set the Stage
Iraq is a near-repeat of an earlier British adventure. After World War One, the allies broke up the Ottoman Empire, picking and choosing among themselves about who wanted what. The Brits got, among other plums, Iraq. Before the war, what we now call Iraq was a collection of nomadic and settled tribes—Arabs, Persians, Kurds, Jews, Turkomen. The allied powers drew some lines on the map and created Iraq. It had no more a national history than did Yugoslavia.
What it did have, of course, was oil. Barry Lando, in this piece for AlterNet, does a good job of summarizing that history; I urge everyone to read all of it.
Surging to Baghdad-The Blockbuster Remake
By Barry Lando
Posted on January 14, 2007, Printed on January 15, 2007
“The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia [Iraq] into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information…..We are today not far from disaster.”
So wrote Colonel T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) in the London Sunday Times, August 1920.
Indeed, reviewing the historical record of British attempts to rule first Mesopotamia and then Iraq you get the feeling you’re watching an old Hollywood black and white classic that has been reshot for an American audience with digitalized sound, computer animation, and the “United States” substituted for “England.”
The "progressives" are a-twitter over Obama's candidacy; the conservatives have fired up their slime machines. Obama's a machine Democrat. As such he's about as much a threat to the system as, say, Jimmy Carter was. The "system," our methods of governance, is extremely self-protective. Nobody who's a real threat stands a chance of getting elected: nobody. There's too much money involved, too many payrolls, too many bribes, campaign war chests—we're stuck with the current system of corporate-capitalism until the whole country crashes. Chances are, the country won't crash without taking the rest of the industrial world down with it—and it would probably turn the 21st Century into a techno-version of the 14th Century.
Friday, January 19, 2007
James II of England: What Gonzales and Bush Don't Know About History
After the English Revolution (#1), the nation was in turmoil: the Puritan regime of Oliver Cromwell was a disaster. England restored the Stuarts to the Throne. Unfortunately, the Stuarts were Catholic and closely aligned with England’s long-time enemy, Louis of France. James II, of England, was a fool. His overt manhandling of the government, the replacement of army officers, judges, and local administrators with Catholics angered the Protestants. The Protestants and those in favor of a restricted kingship—that is, the power of Parliament rather than the absolute power of a monarch—were Whigs. Tories were royalists, believers in the ultimate and almost-mystical power of whoever it was wearing the Crown. Many of them were Protestants, followers of the Church of England.
The Church of England—”Anglican Church”— was essentially divided into two factions: High Church and Low Church. The High Church was and is nearly Catholic. “Nearly” is the key word. Low Church is nearly indistinguishable from innumerable mainstream Protestant churches; indeed, in Canada, it’s become part of the “United Church of Canada.” However.
England was passionately nationalistic in the 17th Century; James’ religion and his ties to France were considered increasingly dangerous. Mainland Europe was still struggling with the fall-out of the Reformation. Scandinavia and Holland and many German principalities saw France as the leading actor in the Counter Reformation, the attempts to return all of Europe (as well as England) to the Catholic Religion.
The threat posed by James’ alliances alienated more and more Tories.
Essentially, what James was attempting was to assert himself as being more powerful than Parliament. Parliament might enact laws, but it was, according to James, the King’s prerogative as to enforcing them. He might, also, create laws as he saw fit. He was, as historians put it, the King above Parliament, rather than the King in Parliament as was the customary situation.
Parliament’s gig was to enact laws and the King’s duty was to enforce them. It was not, however in writing. James began issuing edicts that were more Catholic than Protestants. Some English Bishops objected.
James had them arrested and hauled to the Tower of London. They were brought to trial and acquitted, essentially by popular acclaim. James didn’t see the writing on the wall.
Various high-ranking Englishmen approached William of Orange and his wife, Mary. Mary was a daughter of James, but she was Protestant; his other children were Catholic. William and Mary were offered the throne of England, if they would “invade.”
They did, and James fled to France. He never returned. This became the Second English Revolution. England put some legal customs, like the relationship of King to Parliament, to paper. The result, essentially, was the way Great Britain is today ruled. The King (or Queen, yes) must act in accordance with Parliament; he or she is not the ultimate judge of what is legal and illegal. Judges are a separate branch and it’s their job to interpret and pass on or throw out laws.
That’s one of the traditions of our own legal system, more or less. We have three parts to government: Congress, the Executive, and the Judicial. The Executive is claiming the privilege of creating and enforcing laws without consulting Congress. The Attorney General claims that judges and members of Congress aren’t smart enough to know what needs to be done.
Sounds like James II and his pals defying Parliament.
Gonzales Questions Habeas Corpus
By Robert Parry
Friday 19 January 2007
In one of the most chilling public statements ever made by a U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales questioned whether the U.S. Constitution grants habeas corpus rights of a fair trial to every American.
Responding to questions from Sen. Arlen Specter at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Jan. 18, Gonzales argued that the Constitution doesn't explicitly bestow habeas corpus rights; it merely says when the so-called Great Writ can be suspended.
"There is no expressed grant of habeas in the Constitution; there's a prohibition against taking it away," Gonzales said.
Gonzales's remark left Specter, the committee's ranking Republican, stammering.
"Wait a minute," Specter interjected. "The Constitution says you can't take it away except in case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn't that mean you have the right of habeas corpus unless there's a rebellion or invasion?"
Gonzales continued, "The Constitution doesn't say every individual in the United States or citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn't say that. It simply says the right shall not be suspended" except in cases of rebellion or invasion.
"You may be treading on your interdiction of violating common sense," Specter said.
Gonzales: We Know Best
By Barbara OBrien
Posted on January 17, 2007, Printed on January 18, 2007
You'll like this one. Suzanne Goldenberg writes for the Guardian:
In remarks made after a talk at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative thinktank, the attorney-general, Alberto Gonzales, said: “I don’t think that a judge is equipped at all to make decisions about what is in the national security interest of our country.”
Mr Gonzales’s comments come a few days after a Pentagon official provoked a national backlash after suggesting large corporations boycott law firms that defend detainees at Guantánamo.
The Associated Press reports,
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says federal judges are unqualified to make rulings affecting national security policy, ramping up his criticism of how they handle terrorism cases.
In remarks prepared for delivery Wednesday, Gonzales says judges generally should defer to the will of the president and Congress when deciding national security cases. He also raps jurists who “apply an activist philosophy that stretches the law to suit policy preferences.”
© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/obrien/46869/
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
"24" Another Government Spin On Torture
The hit Fox show, "24," is back with us, showing us how much we need someone who doesn't have to be constrained by the laws. These, we're reminded, and evil times and tens of thousands of evil people (along with thousands of well-meaning terrorist-fellow-travelers) are trying to destroy All That Is Sacred. Again.
It's the Lone Marauder gone anti-terrorist.
The Lone Marauder is an old American stand-by. It’s John Wayne, Zane Grey, Max Brand, Mickey Spillaine—the list could go on for page or two. The Lone Marauder stands, at best, beside the law. He—or she, but I can’t think of any female analogues—is outside the law because The Times Are Bad and Regular Law Is Powerless, or something like that. Steven Seagull karate chopping the bad guys, Mike Hammer blasting them with his .45, add your own anti-hero.
Jack Bauer is another in the long line of such characters. We love them. In our hearts, we feel scared and powerless (thanks to shows like “24”!) and we want those evil bastards to go down. Hard.
But...Yeah: we got along fine for years and years. At least until the authoritarians got what they needed in the way of power and excuses. And now, over and over, we’re being told this is the way it has to be.
Fox Show "24": Torture on TV
By Jon Wiener, TheNation.com
Posted on January 15, 2007, Printed on January 17, 2007
"24" is back on Fox TV -- the hit show starring Kiefer Sutherland, which premiered Sunday night, once again features at least one big torture scene in every episode -- the kind of torture the Bush White House says is necessary to protect us from you-know-who.
The show is much more convincing than the White House at making the case for torture; its ratings have gone steadily up over the last five years, while Bush's ratings have gone steadily down.
In "24," Sutherland plays special agent Jack Bauer, head of the Counter Terrorism Unit. He fights some of his biggest battles not with the dark-skinned enemies trying to nuke L.A., but rather with the light-skinned do-gooders who think the head of the Counter Terrorism Unit should follow the rules.
Back in season four, for example, the bumbling bureaucrats released a captured terrorist before he could be tortured -- because a lawyer for "Amnesty Global" showed up whining about the Geneva Conventions. Jack had to quit the Counter Terrorist Unit and become a private citizen in order to break the suspect's fingers.
It's especially unfortunate to see Kiefer Sutherland play the world's most popular torturer -- because his father, Donald Sutherland, has been a prominent antiwar activist since Vietnam days and starred in some great films critiquing fascist politics, including "MASH" and Bertolucci's "1900" -- and also because Kiefer's grandfather, Tommy Douglas, was Canada's first socialist premier, and was recently voted "the greatest Canadian of all time" -- because he introduced universal public health care to Canada. The grandson meanwhile is being paid $10 million a season by Rupert Murdoch to shoot kneecaps, chop off hands, and bite his enemies to death (Sunday's special thrill).
The show's connection to the Bush White House and the conservative establishment became explicit last June, when Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff appeared alongside the show's producers and three cast members at an event sponsored by the Heritage Foundation to discuss "The public image of US terrorism policy." The discussion was moderated by Rush Limbaugh. The C-SPAN store sells a DVD of the event--price reduced from $60 to $29.95. Sunday night's two-hour premiere again argued not just that torture is necessary but that it works -- and it's also really exciting to watch. The show as usual made the "ticking time bomb" case for torture: we need to torture a suspect, or else thousands, or millions, will die in the next hour.
It's the same case made by Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who proposed that judges ought to issue torture warrants in the "rare 'ticking bomb' case," and by University of Chicago law professor and federal judge Richard Posner, who has written, "If torture is the only means of obtaining the information necessary to prevent the detonation of a nuclear bomb in Times Square, torture should be used." He added that "no one who doubts that this is the case should be in a position of responsibility."
Thanks to "24," tens of millions of TV viewers know exactly what Dershowitz and Posner are talking about. As Richard Kim pointed out in The Nation in 2005, those are the cases where "the stakes are dire, the information perfect and the authorities omniscient." Of course that's a fantasy of total knowledge and power, and of course the U.S. has never had a real "ticking time bomb" case -- but Jack Bauer faces one every Sunday night on Fox.
© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/46757/
Idaho Elk "Hunting"
Here, for your edification, is a little story about how much of that “ranching” is about as real as Dick Cheyney’s hunting trips. They're places where people can kill animals so they can hang their heads on the walls of their dens and brag to their pals—and or business associates. It's trophy hunting, pure and simple. It's purely and simply revolting, too.
January 15, 2007
How to get a trophy elk: Point, shoot, pay
When John Martone spotted a huge bull elk on a forested slope, he immediately knew it was a trophy, but that killing it would add thousands more dollars to his hunt.
"My plans were to shoot a bull a lot smaller than the one I actually did shoot," said Martone, an options trader from Seattle who after several minutes decided to pull the trigger.
The antlers on Martone's elk measured a whopping 374 and 4/8th points in Safari Club International record book scoring. That bumped the price up to $8,000 at the 1,200-acre Mountain View Elk Ranch, a private facility near Riggins surrounded by high fences where farm-raised elk are bred to produce giant antlers, and hunters are guaranteed the biggest elk they can afford.
Martone's hunt was part of the burgeoning "shooter bull" industry in Idaho, which draws hunters from across the country to stalk farm-raised elk.
"We have a lot of people who are just tired of hunting (on public land) and all they see is wolf tracks," said Ken Walters, owner of Mountain View Elk Ranch. "There's just too much competition out there and there aren't that many elk in the wild."
But what some call the hunt of a lifetime to others doesn't deserve to be called hunting. Idaho's elk ranches themselves are in the cross hairs after the escape of up to 160 domestic elk near wildlife-rich Yellowstone National Park last summer.
Among hunting organizations, the Boone and Crockett Club "condemns the pursuit and killing of any big game animal kept in or released from captivity to be killed in an artificial or bogus ‘hunting' situation."
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation worries that domestic elk could hurt wild herds by spreading disease. Safari Club International approves of canned hunts, as they're called, but frowns on hunting farms that guarantee a kill because that violates the principle of "fair chase," which in essence means the animal being pursued has a sporting chance to escape.
"What is fair chase?" said Ken Sedy, a retired deputy sheriff from Arlington, Wash., who paid $4,000 to shoot a bull that scored 298 Safari Club points. "If you don't see a fence, it's just like hunting in the wild, but you're guaranteed to go home and eat elk meat."
About 15 Idaho elk farms allow hunting. The practice ranges from letting an individual elk go in a small patch of woods to be shot, to large, rugged enclosures where elk can be hard to find. Price charts tell hunters exactly how much a trophy will cost, with deals sometimes made right before the kill.
Bull elk that tally a rare 400 points typically cost about $10,000. Walters said elk with even larger antlers are "negotiable," and the most expensive he has heard of in Idaho was $35,000.
"Out of 10 elk raised on a ranch, maybe only one will have the capability of reaching 400," said Bill Rasmussen, who runs Thunder Mountain Elk Ranch in southeastern Idaho. "It takes a lot of years (six to seven) to raise a bull to that size."
Neither Martone nor Sedy shot the biggest bull in the enclosure.
"I saw one I didn't dare ask the price," said Sedy. "It looked like you could put a bale of hay between his antlers."
Backers of the enclosed elk hunting ranches cite private property rights in defense of their farms, and leave the fair chase ethics up to the hunter.
"It's in the eye of the beholder," Walter said. "Why should I make the decision for someone else if they want to go get an elk in a 5-acre pasture or in a 5,000-acre pasture?"
Still, to retain customers, some elk farm operators are searching for the right balance between offering an authentic fair-chase hunting experience and making sure of a kill.
In a hunt at a different ranch, Martone said he was disgusted at having an elk essentially delivered into his cross hairs.
"They let the animals go in a big yard, and that's the wrong way to do it," Martone said.
His more recent hunt was different, and he said he plans to return.
"You have to hunt them down. You have to sneak up on them. It's traditional hunting," Martone said. "If you're not physically fit, you're going to have a hard time at it."
Both Walters and Rasmussen release 40 to 60 elk, mostly bulls ranging from 1 to 9 years old, in the spring into rugged, forested terrain of about 1,000 acres. By fall, the elk have become skittish around people, they said, making it more challenging for hunters.
"I've got a couple wild bulls that I doubt anybody will ever shoot," Walters said.
Elk that survive return to lower elevations of the ranch in winter, where they are fed until the following spring. Some bulls are kept for breeding.
Idaho's domestic elk hunting industry took a hit in August when an estimated 160 elk escaped from an eastern Idaho elk hunting ranch, prompting then-Gov. Jim Risch to order an emergency hunt, saying the elk could spread inferior genes or disease to wild herds.
Sharpshooters killed at least 36 of the escaped animals from Rex Rammell's Chief Joseph hunting preserve near Rexburg. After the elk escape, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer blasted Idaho for jeopardizing the health and genetics of Yellowstone National Park elk herds. Montana and Wyoming both banned elk-hunting ranches.
Risch has asked Idaho lawmakers to consider doing the same. That seems unlikely given that in 2002 Idaho lawmakers voted to forgive $750,000 in fines the Idaho Department of Agriculture gave Rammell for not properly tagging his farm-bred elk.
"Ultimately it's a social question," said Brad Compton, state big game manager for Fish and Game. "It's just what society wants to offer."
Sacred Bear Butte May Be Protected
Bear Butte is sacred to both the Cheyenne and Sioux Nations. It is where the Cheyenne recieved their Sacred Arrows from Sweet Medicine. It is where, for generations, the Sioux have gone for vision quests and retreats.
We stayed three nights in the ceremonial campground. The butte is a state park, and in general, no camping is permitted. We were there to do some ceremony, so we were allowed to stay at the Butte. We camped in a swale where Crazy Horse and his band used to camp. You can feel it. The trails up the butte are lined with signs: “Indians praying: please be respectful.” Every night we heard hand-drums from vision questers singing their prayers. Day and night there were sweat lodge ceremonies going on at the ceremonial campground.
It was amazing.
But, like most amazing and non-white things, it’s being developed to death. It may be, however, that steps are being taken to protect Bear Butte. I hope so.
Zoning rules may protect Bear Butte
STURGIS, S.D. - The sacred mountain Bear Butte may get some relief from additional biker bars and mega-entertainment venues, with the help of Ellsworth Air Force Base. The Meade County commissioners are considering zoning restrictions to protect the base, and the zoning could also be extended to the area around Bear Butte.
Protesters have camped and prayed at Bear Butte in attempts to stop the growth of large biker bar venues that could attract thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts that attend the largest biker rally in the nation. American Indians have testified at county commission hearings and spoke against any more liquor licenses, with little effect.
A few mega-entertainment venues, in the form of amphitheatres that will seat upwards of 30,000 people, have opened; more are in the planning stages.
American Indians from across the Great Plains consider Bear Butte a sacred mountain and use the area for prayer. People praying on the mountain would be disturbed by the sound of the bikes and the music, zoning restriction advocates claim. Local residents and ranchers have joined the effort to stop growth of the mega-biker bar phenomenon in the county.
Ellsworth AFB is located in Meade County just east of Rapid City. Rezoning would curb residential and commercial development to within a one-mile buffer around the base. Zoning restrictions around Bear Butte would also curtail commercial development.
The county has attempted in the past to zone certain areas in other parts of the county, but the effort was defeated by strong opposition. The region has a deep-rooted individualistic attitude, and land-owner's rights have taken precedence in the past.
South Dakota lawmakers passed a law that allows rezoning in five-square-mile sections. Mead County has one of the largest land areas of any county in the United States.
The August Motorcycle Rally at Sturgis attracts 500,000 bikes for a week or more.
The city charges developers development fees, but the fees to not meet the added costs. The developers and their pals are the geese laying golden eggs for the city; the problem is, those golden eggs aren’t quite large enough...But, nobody wants to say, uhh, fellas, you’re costing us more than you’re paying us. If the city presses the developers, the business community flips out. Bend is in hock to the land-barons and builders.
Developers and sub-dividers have already spread out to other central Oregon towns: Prineville, Madras, La Pine, Redmond, even Sisters have subdivisions and expansion problems. Bend is going to be the Beverly Hills of central Oregon, and the other communities are going to house the workers.
In the meanwhile, Bend’s city government has shown itself more than capable in mastering the art of using weasel-words to muddy up the problems. All these fancy phrases do is distance city government from the citizens—at least from the citizens who pay any attention.
I think this phrase deserves some sort of award for bad writing:
"The city will maximize utilization of user charges in lieu of property taxes for services that can be individually identified and where the costs are directly related t the level of service."
They all speak this way: bureaucrats, social workers, graduate students, even elected officials.
Bend's 'stress points' will take $$$ to solve
Growth paying its own way has become a slogan in fast-growing Bend over the years, and with needs outstripping dollars, everyone will be asked to share in burden.
Updated: 11:57 AM, Jan. 15, 2007
By Barney Lerten, KTVZ.com
To tackle what Bend officials call "financial stress points" and a long list of spendy transportation, sewer and water projects, residents of the still-fast growing community are likely to face new or higher utility and development fees - and also be asked for millions of road dollars at the polls in coming months and years.
City councilors this week will take up recommendations from staff on how to meet those needs, ranging from road maintenance and infrastructure to sewer and water system growth, a requirement to add storm water (runoff) facilities and the like.
A special finance committee will be the first, on Tuesday night, to review the city's five-year financial forecast and likely make recommendations to the full council.
The good news in the forecast: the city's "generally discretionary revenues are sufficient to afford increasing costs of police and fire, and likely, very real service level increases."
But the report goes on to say, "To assure this, the operational financial stress points" - transportation system maintenance, the storm water program and public transit operations - "need review for prioritization and level of funding."
City finance officials point to, among other things, the council's established policy: "The city will maximize utilization of user charges in lieu of property taxes for services that can be individually identified and where the costs are directly related t the level of service."
As Bend moves to a new two-year, biennial budget planning cycle this spring, the forecast says the city "is currently experiencing financial stability and health, but the levels of services desired by the growing citizenry of Bend, as recognized by the city council, will increase and broaden."
"Trends indicate that the current revenue structure will not cover the costs of desired service levels and special projects (e.g. Mirror Pond (dredging/silt removal), expanded accessibility, various city facilities) and maintain adequate reserves beyond several years," the report states.
For those "operational stress points," the staff is recommending formal creation of a storm water utility and that a fee be brought before councilors before June budget adoption, noting part of that program to better deal with runoff is state and federally mandated.
The staff also urges the city to "recommend a public transit district to Deschutes County for referral to the voters in November 2008, including a vote for a new permanent tax rate for funding transit operations."
City officials also recommend a study of a "transportation utility fee" to support street maintenance, "for potential implementation before the end of the 2007-09 biennium. (Local gas tax is also a funding option.)"
As for other, infrastructure-based "stress points," the staff proposes the city "refer a local option (tax) levy to voters for specific transportation improvement projects plus certain accessibility infrastructure corrections/expansions."
It's also proposed that sewer and water reclamation system development charges be "upgraded ... to reflect the appropriate impact fee from development." To cover sewer system improvements, the staff proposes issuing revenue bonds, "supported by increased rates."
And for another sticky issue - converting areas from septic system to city sewer - the staff proposes that the city "choose city-mandated local improvement districts, or enact as a matter of policy the city-wide support through increased rates (potentially financed by revenue bonds, although this option would have equability [sic] issues associated with it)."
Monday, January 15, 2007
Police State Threatens (maybe) The Right and The Left
Authoritarianism knows no ethnic, sexual, or national boundaries.
Today, it seems like the authoritarians who threaten our country are all on the Right. At least they’re the ones supporting police state activities. I guess they could be deluded enough to think their paltry collections of weapons will fight off any threats to their freedoms...Who has the biggest and meanest guns? Right: it’s the government. Always. Hitler’s suppression of the S.A. is today’s lesson...
This is from Digby. He carries more blogging weight than I do. Dammit.
We have thrown so much money away on the Department ofHomeland Security that they can't even account for billions in missing funds. Small towns in the Alaskan Bush are putting camera's on every street corner with their free money from Uncle Ted Stevens. (To catch the terrists, dontcha know.)
We are building a well funded national police state apparatus at the same time that we are giving unlimited money and power to our military and foreign intelligence agencies to operate in the United States. This is incredibly dangerous and I can't help but wonder why there is so little effort on the part of anyone in public life to educate the public on the inherant dangers of such powerful, unaccountable institutions. This is why we had a revolution to begin with. It's why we fought two world wars in the last century. (Where is the Al Gore of civil liberties?)
And the most laughable thing is that all of this is apparently perfectly acceptable to the principled right wingers and "libertarians" who spent decades railing against the jack booted government thugs --- at least until a Republican administration was wielding the power. It seems that unless the target in question is buying weapons or explosives (in which case they come roaring in to protect the only amendment in the Bill of Rights they care about) these people are just fine with all this. After all, only the "right" people are being spied upon --- Muslims, war protestors, liberals, Democrats and other enemies of the state.
But guess what? That could change. The list of enemies will grow longer. It always does. And you never know who might land on it. This is not a partisan issue and it's tragic that there are so few on the right who can't extricate themselves from their pep club and cheerleader team sport world to consider that this is one issue we civil libertarians and at least some conservatives should be able to agree upon. I can say with absolute confidence that if a Democratic administration were institutionalizing spying on Americans and building a new all-powerful unaccountable police state apparatus, I'd be screaming just as loudly.
This exposes the right's total intellectual bankruptcy as nothing else has, in my opinion. They are nothing more than rich authoritarian thugs whose only real mission is to maintain their prerogatives. One of these days somebody is going to find a reason to think they are unamerican too --- and they are probably going to use that very same police state power against them. Then they'll screaming too --- but it will be too late.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee Meets Law and Order...
Sidebar: my dad worked in the movie industry most of his life. He was a film editor, starting back in the ‘forties when they were called “cutters.” A book was written about one of the movies he worked on, and described him as “crusty.” I like to think...you get the idea.
At the risk of alienating those friends who are Jews, I want to say that what happened to American Indians was genocide. No way around it. Not as efficient as the one the Germans created, but America is a young culture and hasn’t yet had time to perfect those skills.
How many separate acts of genocidal terror are there in Dee Brown’s book? How many massacres, murderous deceptions...a lot more than can be put into a 2 ½ hour TV special. If they tried to put half of the ones into a movie it would leave audiences gasping, revolted, feeling horribly guilty. Yeah, they should! How else can a nation face up to it’s past without avalanches of emotional pain? It would certainly promote a field day for the pharmaceutical industry…
HBO’s retelling of the real American epic won’t be anywhere near as horrible as, say, the real Trail of Tears or The Long March or Sand Creek… But maybe it will wake up a few people to how America is really a parasite living off the still living hosts...
Dick Wolf Makes Time for 'Wounded Knee'
By Lisa de Moraes
Saturday, January 13, 2007; C01
PASADENA, Calif., Jan. 12 Dick Wolf, the network-saving, moneymaking machine, is doing his first work for HBO, an upcoming 2 1/2 -hour adaptation of the early 1970s book "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," which documented the subjugation of Native Americans during the latter half of the 19th century.
"I'd do anything HBO wants me to, given the strictures I'm under contractually," Wolf, the brain trust behind NBC's "Law & Order," told the media at Winter TV Press Tour 2007. Wolf's production house is set up at NBC Universal, which doesn't leave him a lot of time to do work elsewhere.
Working with HBO was "an amazing experience. I'd love to send some network people to intern there for a while," he said, getting a laugh from the crowd.
One critic wanted to know what the broadcast network interns would learn. He admitted he'd been flip, adding, "It's a little unfair -- they're two completely different business models."
He said: "The attention to detail on every level at HBO is different than a network, but a network has 22 hours to be filled every week. It's a completely different set of parameters. But I can say it's wonderful to be with people whose only aim is to get on the screen the best possible film they can get up there.
"The networks have a tendency -- they're in the numbers game, the daily numbers game. . . . It leads to decisions that are not necessarily artistic."
HBO isn't nearly as rushed to get product on-screen as are the broadcasters, he said, noting that this project was five years in the making.
"I'm not kidding. I think this picture was fast-tracked at HBO." HBO, he said, is "famous and notorious for taking a great deal of time between the first meeting and [my being] up here talking to all of you. The reality is, they end up doing it right. Sometimes it's way too expensive, like 'Rome,' but 'Rome' was one of the most awesome TV [projects] in the last 20 years. You look at it and say, 'Wow, they really didn't care how much it cost!' "
"Wounded Knee" is scheduled for a May premiere on HBO. It stars Aidan Quinn, Adam Beach, August Schellenberg and -- as President Ulysses S. Grant -- former Republican senator and "Law & Order" regular Fred Thompson.
Wolf said he hopes "Wounded Knee" not only "affects people's way of thinking about this part of our history" but also gives them pause when thinking about "other things this nation becomes involved with."
One TV critic asked him if he was referring to Iraq. "If Iraq was the only thing you could reference, maybe," he said. "When any society says to another group, whether indigenous, offshore, next-door, that our way of life will be better for you and we have a better way than you have, you get into real trouble. That's why the world is multicultural and multicolored. What works here is not necessarily going to work there."
* * *
© 2007 The Washington Post Company
Techniques of Right's Spin Control Regarding Iraq
Where we're lucky—very lucky—is that 90% of this spin control is people trying to out-intellectualize each other. It's like the arguments the Marxists love to get into: Who's fault is it that we lost? Until the Right gets some shock troops out on the street—which they've done a couple of times, but never with any numbers—this is bloviating, contributing to global warming by adding a lot of methane.
This article can be found on the web at
by Eric Alterman
Iraq and the Sin of Good Judgment
[from the January 29, 2007 issue]
The Bush/Cheney war in Iraq has proven to be even more catastrophic than those who had the good sense to oppose it could have predicted. It has killed Americans and Iraqis, destroyed a functioning, albeit unfree nation, increased the threat of terrorism, destabilized the region, empowered our enemies--particularly Iran and Syria--inspired hatred of the United States across the globe and will ultimately cost American taxpayers upwards of a trillion dollars. It is, almost certainly, as Al Gore has noted, "the worst strategic mistake in the entire history of the United States."
The problem the war creates for the punditocracy and the rest of the political establishment is twofold. First, the leaders they backed have not only been wildly incompetent but also impervious to reality. Offered a face-saving exit by the Baker Commission, Bush, Cheney & Co. prefer instead to double down on disaster. Second, there is the problem of the pundits' individual reputations. If William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Lawrence Kaplan and David Brooks et al. are so smart, why were they so wrong about something so crucial? And why, given their sorry records, do they and their editors still think anybody ought to keep listening to them? At the very least, those they misled are entitled to an explanation.
Even those who have offered up their mea culpas have often sought refuge in what The American Prospect's Sam Rosenfeld and Matt Yglesias have aptly termed "The Incompetence Dodge." Almost all the most prominent prowar neocons featured in Vanity Fair's recent report, for example, blamed the Bush Administration for failing to execute its beautiful war plans more efficiently.
Accompanying this tactic has been a corollary effort to smear the liberals who got it right rather than renounce the calumny that was heaped on their heads during the run-up to the invasion (from "pacifist" and "isolationist" to "anti-American" and even "pro-terrorist"). I first noticed this tendency when, in June 2005, Thomas Friedman, the New York Times's extraordinarily influential foreign affairs columnist whose analysis of the war proved completely misguided, accused liberals of "deep down" wanting America to fail in Iraq "because, with a few exceptions...they thought the war was wrong." He presented no supporting evidence and named no names. More recently, Time's McCarthyite columnist Joe Klein explained that in "listening to leftists...it's easy to assume that they are rooting for an American failure." Andrew Sullivan has opined that antiwar liberals were "objectively pro-Saddam." Slate editor Jacob Weisberg dismissed those whose analysis proved correct as "the isolationist left," as if idiotic wars were the only means this great country has to engage the rest of the world.
The purest embodiment of this tendency, perhaps, is a recent screed by Roger Cohen, formerly the foreign editor of the Times, now the editor at large of the International Herald Tribune, author of the "Globalist" column and international writer at large for the Times. According to Cohen, writing in the IHT and on the Times website, the people who tried to save America and the world from the horrific catastrophe we must now endure are nothing but "hyperventilating left-liberals [whose] hatred of Bush is so intense that rational argument usually goes out the window." We are "so convinced that the Iraq invasion was no more than an American grab for oil and military bases...[we] have forgotten the myriad crimes of Saddam Hussein." We are "America-hating, over-the-top rant[ers] of the left--the kind that equates Guantánamo with the Gulag and holds that the real threat to human rights comes from the White House rather than Al Qaeda." And for good measure, we also "equate the conservative leadership of a great democracy with dictatorship."
To support these amazing charges, Cohen quotes exactly one person: Scottish MP George Galloway, last seen making an ass of himself on the reality TV show for washed-up gossip fodder, Celebrity Big Brother. Galloway, who was thrown out of the Labour Party, can be said to represent the "left-liberals" here and abroad about as well as, say, ex-KKK Grand Wizard and Holocaust denier David Duke represents the right.
Naturally curious about the actual evil-doers he had in mind, I e-mailed Cohen and politely asked for specifics. He was on vacation with his family and replied by BlackBerry that he would not be able to respond. A few minutes later, however, he apparently changed his mind and replied with a lengthy and rather hostile set of questions regarding my own views on Iraq, including: "What makes you think you can express an informed opinion...?"
The same Cohen column that inveighed against Bush-bashers contained an endorsement of what he called "an expression of moderate sanity," a document titled "American Liberalism and the Euston Manifesto," which, he explained, "precisely because of its sanity...has received too little attention." Cohen celebrates this manifesto--which, naturally, embraces the incompetence dodge--as an alternative to "sterile screaming in the wilderness, tired of the comfortably ensconced 'hindsighters' poring over every American error in Iraq, tired of facile anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism."
Again, on the identities of these "hindsighters," "screamers," anti-Americans and anti-Semites "masquerading as anti-Zionists," Cohen was silent. Had he taken a look at the 232 manifesto signatories, meanwhile, he'd have had trouble identifying more than three, counting generously, actual liberals. The roll is dominated by the likes of Walter Laqueur, Martin Peretz, Ronald Radosh and, I kid you not, Iran/contra adventurer Michael Ledeen.
So what's the point of the exercise? Simple: Again, it is to discredit those on the left who were right about Bush and Iraq and remain so today. Shortly after the invasion, Bill Kristol tried to smear war opponents as "the Dominique de Villepin left." Today such smears ought to be a badge of honor. There are few forces so powerful as the will to evade responsibility for one's mistakes. Too bad it's our brave young soldiers who must die for them.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
More Government Intimidation Over Detainees' Rights
And, if you notice, in the middle of this article, the Pentagon spokesthug said, "others are receiving moneys from who knows where, and I’d be curious to have them explain that.” What a flashback: HUAC, McCarthy, J.Edgar Hoover, all those folks assuming that their position is so morally clear and unambiguous, the only reason people would oppose it is because they're being financed by some sort of international conspiracy...
The more it changes, the more the thugs' tactics remain the same...
The New York Times
January 13, 2007
Official Attacks Top Law Firms Over Detainees
By NEIL A. LEWIS
WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 — The senior Pentagon official in charge of military detainees suspected of terrorism said in an interview this week that he was dismayed that lawyers at many of the nation’s top firms were representing prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and that the firms’ corporate clients should consider ending their business ties.
The comments by Charles D. Stimson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, produced an instant torrent of anger from lawyers, legal ethics specialists and bar association officials, who said Friday that his comments were repellent and displayed an ignorance of the duties of lawyers to represent people in legal trouble.
“This is prejudicial to the administration of justice,” said Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University and an authority on legal ethics. “It’s possible that lawyers willing to undertake what has been long viewed as an admirable chore will decline to do so for fear of antagonizing important clients.
“We have a senior government official suggesting that representing these people somehow compromises American interests, and he even names the firms, giving a target to corporate America.”
Mr. Stimson made his remarks in an interview on Thursday with Federal News Radio, a local Washington-based station that is aimed at an audience of government employees.
The same point appeared Friday on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, where Robert L. Pollock, a member of the newspaper’s editorial board, cited the list of law firms and quoted an unnamed “senior U.S. official” as saying, “Corporate C.E.O.’s seeing this should ask firms to choose between lucrative retainers and representing terrorists.”
In his radio interview, Mr. Stimson said: “I think the news story that you’re really going to start seeing in the next couple of weeks is this: As a result of a FOIA request through a major news organization, somebody asked, ‘Who are the lawyers around this country representing detainees down there?’ and you know what, it’s shocking.” The F.O.I.A. reference was to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Monica Crowley, a conservative syndicated talk show host, asking for the names of all the lawyers and law firms representing Guantánamo detainees in federal court cases.
Mr. Stimson, who is himself a lawyer, then went on to name more than a dozen of the firms listed on the 14-page report provided to Ms. Crowley, describing them as “the major law firms in this country.” He said, “I think, quite honestly, when corporate C.E.O.’s see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those C.E.O.’s are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms, and I think that is going to have major play in the next few weeks. And we want to watch that play out.”
Karen J. Mathis, a Denver lawyer who is president of the American Bar Association, said: “Lawyers represent people in criminal cases to fulfill a core American value: the treatment of all people equally before the law. To impugn those who are doing this critical work — and doing it on a volunteer basis — is deeply offensive to members of the legal profession, and we hope to all Americans.”
In an interview on Friday, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said he had no problem with the current system of representation. “Good lawyers representing the detainees is the best way to ensure that justice is done in these cases,” he said.
Neither the White House nor the Pentagon had any official comment, but officials sought to distance themselves from Mr. Stimson’s view. His comments “do not represent the views of the Defense Department or the thinking of its leadership,” a senior Pentagon official said. He would not allow his name to be used, seemingly to lessen the force of his rebuke. Mr. Stimson did not return a call on Friday seeking comment.
The role of major law firms agreeing to take on the cases of Guantánamo prisoners challenging their detentions in federal courts has hardly been a secret and has been the subject of many news articles that have generally cast their efforts in a favorable light. Michael Ratner, who heads the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based human rights group that is coordinating the legal representation for the Guantánamo detainees, said about 500 lawyers from about 120 law firms had volunteered their services to represent Guantánamo prisoners.
When asked in the radio interview who was paying for the legal representation, Mr. Stimson replied: “It’s not clear, is it? Some will maintain that they are doing it out of the goodness of their heart, that they’re doing it pro bono, and I suspect they are; others are receiving moneys from who knows where, and I’d be curious to have them explain that.”
Lawyers expressed outrage at that, asserting that they are not being paid and that Mr. Stimson had tried to suggest they were by innuendo. Of the approximately 500 lawyers coordinated by the Center for Constitutional Rights, no one is being paid, Mr. Ratner said. One Washington law firm, Shearman & Sterling, which has represented Kuwaiti detainees, has received money from the families of the prisoners, but Thomas Wilner, a lawyer there, said they had donated all of it to charities related to the September 2001 terrorist attacks. Mr. Ratner said that there were two other defense lawyers not under his group’s umbrella and that he did not know whether they were paid.
Christopher Moore, a lawyer at the New York firm Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton who represented an Uzbeki detainee who has since been released, said: “We believe in the concept of justice and that every person is entitled to counsel. Any suggestion that our representation was anything other than a pro bono basis is untrue and unprofessional.” Mr. Moore said he had made four trips to Guantánamo and one to Albania at the firm’s expense, to see his client freed.
Senator Patrick J. Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, wrote to President Bush on Friday asking him to disavow Mr. Stimson’s remarks.
Mr. Stimson, who was a Navy lawyer, graduated from George Mason University Law School. In a 2006 interview with the magazine of Kenyon College, his alma mater, Mr. Stimson said that he was learning “to choose my words carefully because I am a public figure on a very, very controversial topic.”
Well, he can probably find a job as a politician or at Homeland Security.
Principal's a flasher, police say
Man to plead not guilty to indecent-exposure charge
Tuesday, January 9, 2007
By JESSICA BLANCHARD
Even before he became principal at North Seattle's Whittier Elementary School three years ago, police believe, Alex Coberly had been occasionally driving by women and exposing himself.
Last week, the City Attorney's Office filed an indecent-exposure charge against Coberly, 33. He has been on paid administrative leave from the school since Dec. 7.
Vogel [Coberly's lawyer] said Coberly was very concerned he'll lose his job at Whittier Elementary over the criminal misdemeanor charge.
"There is no connection between this incident and his job," Vogel said. "It does not involve any children, and it does not involve his work."
© 1998-2007 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Friday, January 12, 2007
Friday night follies
I know the moon isn't full. I know nobody's thowing a hex on me (we-ll...maybe...). I know I'm tired, and that always makes a difference. I tend to put off hard stuff until a point where I've done everything else to distract myself that is possible, and then I go for the hard stuff. And, surprise, it's harder!
Well, it's Friday night. My shoulders hurt (I've been using crutches to get around with my broken leg), and I should just go drop some Tylenol, maybe half a percoset, and read myself sleepy...Hmm, that seems like a very good idea. I should pay more attention to my good ideas. So I think I will...
Idaho Gov Calls for Wolf Massacre
He’s well-loved by farmers and ranchers, and probably has to dance with those that brought him to the ball. He used to be president of Simplot, the big potato outfit (he was married to the daughter of the founder of Simplot, but had his marriage annulled to marry a former Miss Idaho—yeah, he's Catholic).
And, he’s a reactionary no matter how you look at it.
He’s a popular guy with that twerp in the White House.
Here’s some stats I found:
Rated 17% by the NEA, indicating anti-public education votes. (Dec 2003)
Rated 11% by APHA, indicating an anti-public health voting record. (Dec 2003)
Rated 10% by the ARA, indicating an anti-senior voting record. (Dec 2003)
Rated 5% by the LCV, indicating anti-environmentalist votes. (Dec 2003)
Rated 33% by SANE, indicating a mixed record on military issues. (Dec 2003)
Rated 20% by the ACLU, indicating an anti-ACLU voting record. (Dec 2002)
Rated 0% by NARAL, indicating a pro-life voting record. (Dec 2003)
Rated 67% by CATO, indicating a pro-free trade voting record. (Dec 2002)
Rated 71% by NTU, indicating "Satisfactory" on tax votes. (Dec 2003)
Rated 0% by the AFL-CIO, indicating an anti-labor union voting record. (Dec 2003)
Rated 100% by FAIR, indicating a voting record restricting immigration. (Dec 2003)
Rated 97% by the US COC, indicating a pro-business voting record. (Dec 2003)
Rated 92% by the Christian Coalition, indicating a pro-life, anti-gay marriage voting record. (Dec 2003)
Idaho Governor Calls for Gray Wolf Kill
By Jesse Harlan Alderman
The Associated Press
Friday 12 January 2007
Boise, Idaho - Idaho's governor said Thursday he will support public hunts to kill all but 100 of the state's gray wolves after the federal government strips them of protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter told The Associated Press that he wants hunters to kill about 550 gray wolves. That would leave about 100 wolves, or 10 packs, according to a population estimate by state wildlife officials.
The 100 surviving wolves would be the minimum before the animals could again be considered endangered.
"I'm prepared to bid for that first ticket to shoot a wolf myself," Otter said earlier Thursday during a rally of about 300 hunters.
Otter complained that wolves are rapidly killing elk and other animals essential to Idaho's multimillion-dollar hunting industry. The hunters, many wearing camouflage clothing and blaze-orange caps, applauded wildly during his comments.
Suzanne Stone, a spokeswoman for the advocacy group Defenders of Wildlife in Boise, said Otter's proposal would return wolves to the verge of eradication.
"Essentially he has confirmed our worst fears for the state of Idaho: That this would be a political rather than a biological management of the wolf population," Stone said. "There's no economic or ecological reason for maintaining such low numbers. It's simple persecution."
Wolves were reintroduced to the northern Rocky Mountains a decade ago after being hunted to near-extinction. More than 1,200 now live in the region.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to start removing federal protections from gray wolves in Montana and Idaho in the next few weeks.
A plan drafted by Idaho's wildlife agency calls for maintaining a minimum of 15 wolf packs - higher than Otter's proposal of 10 packs.
Jeff Allen, a policy adviser for the state Office of Species Conservation, said 15 wolf packs would allow "a cushion" between the surviving wolf population and the minimum number that federal biologists would allow before the animals are again considered endangered.
Allen said Otter and state wildlife officials agree on wolf strategy and will be able to reach a consensus on specific numbers.
"You don't want to be too close to 10 because all of a sudden when one (wolf) is hit by a car or taken in defense of property, you're back on the list," Allen said.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
It's "Augmentation," Not "Escalation." This week, anyhow...
What utter bullshit. Somebody should give her a pair of rubber boots and a shovel and make her clean up after herself.
Anyhow, she was defending Bush's policy in front of a senate panel. Chuck Hagel, bless his little heart, stood up to her when she quibbled with his term "escalation." Then he essentially told her she was lying. Which she was. But, hey, she's the president's pal, so that means it's OK to lie, right?
In a heated exchange with Hagel, a potential presidential candidate in 2008, Rice disputed his characterization of Bush’s buildup as an “escalation.”
“Putting in 22,000 more troops is not an escalation?” Hagel, a Vietnam veteran and longtime critic of Bush’s Iraq policy, asked. “Would you call it a decrease?”
“I would call it, senator, an augmentation that allows the Iraqis to deal with this very serious problem that they have in Baghdad,” she said.
Mercenaries: These Automatic Weapons for Hire
Over the last few decades, we’ve seen mercenaries become a world-wide force. They work as good proxies, of course, employed by governments, but unofficially and off the books.
Assuming the current mess in the Middle East will wind down, one way or the other, one hundred thousand or so men (I presume they’re most all men; I don’t mean to be sexist...oh, who cares?) with training in modern weapons and a lack of loyalty (except to the source of their paychecks) is a scary concept.
100,000 mercenaries, the forgotten "Surge"
By Barry Lando
Posted on January 8, 2007, Printed on January 9, 2007
What is striking about the current debate in Washington - whether to "surge" troops to Iraq and increase the size of the U.S. Army - is that roughly 100,000 bodies are missing from the equation: The number of American forces in Iraq is not 140,000, but more like 240,000.
What makes up the difference is the huge army of mercenaries - known these days as "private contractors." After the U.S. Army itself, they are easily the second-largest military force in the country. Yet no one seems sure of how many there are since they answer to no single authority. Indeed, the U.S. Central Command has only recently started taking a census of these battlefield civilians in an attempt to get a handle on the issue...
The private contractors are Americans, South Africans, Brits, Iraqis and a hodgepodge of other nationalities. Many of them are veterans of the U.S. or other armed forces and intelligence services, who are now deployed in Iraq (and Afghanistan and other countries) to perform duties normally carried out by the U.S. Army, but at salaries two or three times greater than those of American soldiers.
They work as interrogators and interpreters in American prisons; body guards for top U.S. and Iraqi officials; trainers for the Iraqi army and police; and engi-neers constructing huge new U.S. bases. They are often on the front lines. In fact, 650 of them have been killed in Iraq since the 2003 invasion
Their salaries, are, in the end, paid directly by the U.S. government - or tacked on as huge additional "security charges" to the bills of private American or other contractors. Yet the Central Command still doesn't have a complete list of who they are or what they are up to. The final figure could be much higher than 100,000.
The U.S. Congress, under Republican control until now, knows even less.
Yet these private contractors man their own helicopters and Humvees and look and act just like American troops.
"It takes a great deal of vigilance on the part of the military commander to en-sure contractor compliance," William L. Nash, a retired general, told the Washington Post. "If you're trying to win hearts and minds and the contractor is driving 90 miles per hour through the streets and running over kids, that's not helping the image of the American army. The Iraqis aren't going to distinguish between a contractor and a soldier."
But who, in the end, do these contractors answer to? The U.S. Central Command? Their company boss? Or the official they've been assigned to protect?
A recent case in point: The former Iraqi minister of electricity, who had been imprisoned on corruption charges, managed to escape in broad daylight in the heavily fortified Green Zone. Iraqi officials claim he was spirited away by con-tractors from a private security detail that had been hired when he was minis-ter.
Which raises another question. Who has jurisdiction over these private contractors if they run afoul of the law in Iraq? Also, are they supposed to follow the Geneva Conventions? Or George W. Bush's conventions?
For instance, according to The New York Times, although 20 civilian contractors working in U.S. prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq - including Abu Ghraib - have been charged with mistreating prisoners, none has ever been successfully prosecuted.
Another point, which brings us back to the discussion about increasing Ameri-can troop levels in Iraq: It would seem that the Pentagon could outsource a "surge" by a simple accounting sleight of hand, quietly contracting for another 10,000 or 20,000 mercenaries to do the job, and the Congress and press would be none the wiser.
Barry Lando, a former 60 Minutes producer, is the author of "Web of Deceit: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq from Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush." He also blogs at Barrylando.com.
© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
LBJ v. GWB: history does repeat itself
« "E-Day": Mad as hell? | "E-Day": It was 40 years ago today
This comes with a huge hat tip to a good Friend of Attytood who was born 40 years ago on this date -- Happy Birthday, dude! -- and as a result is more up to speed on what happened on January 10, 1967, than the rest of us.
The big news story that night? President Lyndon B. Johnson's State of the Union address.
The topic that dominated all others: Vietnam.
I'm going to guide you to some excerpts of that address -- exactly 40 years ago tonight. See how it compares to some of the excerpts from President Bush's speech that were just released minutes ago:
LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: We have chosen to fight a limited war in Vietnam in an attempt to prevent a larger war--a war almost certain to follow, I believe, if the Communists succeed in overrunning and taking over South Vietnam by aggression and by force. I believe, and I am supported by some authority, that if they are not checked now the world can expect to pay a greater price to check them later.
GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Tonight in Iraq, the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged in a struggle that will determine the direction of the global war on terror – and our safety here at home. The new strategy I outline tonight will change America's course in Iraq, and help us succeed in the fight against terror.
LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: I wish I could report to you that the conflict is almost over. This I cannot do. We face more cost, more loss, and more agony. For the end is not yet. I cannot promise you that it will come this year--or come next year. Our adversary still believes, I think, tonight, that he can go on fighting longer than we can, and longer than we and our allies will be prepared to stand up and resist.
GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have.
LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: Our South Vietnamese allies are also being tested tonight. Because they must provide real security to the people living in the countryside. And this means reducing the terrorism and the armed attacks which kidnaped and killed 26,900 civilians in the last 32 months, to levels where they can be successfully controlled by the regular South Vietnamese security forces. It means bringing to the villagers an effective civilian government that they can respect, and that they can rely upon and that they can participate in, and that they can have a personal stake in. We hope that government is now beginning to emerge.
GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Only the Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people. And their government has put forward an aggressive plan to do it.
LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: This forward movement is rooted in the ambitions and the interests of Asian nations themselves. It was precisely this movement that we hoped to accelerate when I spoke at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore in April 1965, and I pledged "a much more massive effort to improve the life of man" in that part of the world, in the hope that we could take some of the funds that we were spending on bullets and bombs and spend it on schools and production.
GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.
LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: We have chosen to fight a limited war in Vietnam in an attempt to prevent a larger war--a war almost certain to follow, I believe, if the Communists succeed in overrunning and taking over South Vietnam by aggression and by force. I believe, and I am supported by some authority, that if they are not checked now the world can expect to pay a greater price to check them later.
GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time…In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy – by advancing liberty across a troubled region.
LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: A time of testing--yes. And a time of transition. The transition is sometimes slow; sometimes unpopular; almost always very painful; and often quite dangerous. But we have lived with danger for a long time before, and we shall live with it for a long time yet to come. We know that "man is born unto trouble." We also know that this Nation was not forged and did not survive and grow and prosper without a great deal of sacrifice from a great many men.
GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship…A democratic Iraq will not be perfect. But it will be a country that fights terrorists instead of harboring them – and it will help bring a future of peace and security for our children and grandchildren.
Not much to add here -- the words of Lyndon Johnson and George W. Bush pretty much speak for themselves.
Two things, though. First of all, only 7,917 American troop had died in Vietnam through the end of 1966, or ten days before Johnson's speech. From the beginning of 1967 though the end of the war, an addition 50,285 -- more than six times as many -- Americans would lose their lives.
Also, and we're not endorsing this action by any means, then or now, but it is interesting to note that in that 1967 SOTU, LBJ also called for a 6 percent surcharge on personal and corporate income taxes to pay for the cost of the war. That's a level of responsibility -- and yes, sacrifice -- for war that our current president is unwilling to take.