Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cartoon of the Day

* Dwane Powell, The News & Observer

I Just Got Stung by a WASP

Help!! The White, Christian, male power structure is in trouble!

Via Crooks and Liars, is the video (which I don't want on my site) of Bill O'Reilly whining to John McCain about the brown-skinned people coming to take his rightful place away from him. I never thought that I'd see such raw bigotry as was in evidence with these two WASPs (even though Bill's a C, not a P).

Bill O'Reilly: But do you understand what the New York Times wants, and the far-left want? They want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure, which you're a part, and so am I, and they want to bring in millions of foreign nationals to basically break down the structure that we have. In that regard, Pat Buchanan is right. So I say you've got to cap with a number.

John McCain: In America today we've got a very strong economy and low unemployment, so we need addition farm workers, including by the way agriculture, but there may come a time where we have an economic downturn, and we don't need so many.

O'Reilly: But in this bill, you guys have got to cap it. Because estimation is 12 million, there may be 20 [million]. You don't know, I don't know. We've got to cap it.

McCain: We do, we do. I agree with you

I never understood the fondness of many for John McCain, see, e.g., More of the Same with McCain. I'm just glad his true self is showing -- that he's becoming increasingly irrelevant, as they say.

As for O'Reilly, I think Bill feels a definite need for some Apartheid laws here in the good old USA to protect his way of life from those brown skinned people who are looking to overrun Whitey. I guess the same holds true for liberal women. GOP women are OK, since they are blond, shrill mouthpieces who know their place.

Bill knows his days of white, Christian "glory" are numbered & I'm just counting the days.

~ ~ ~ ~
An apt quote from Jon Stewart (which can likewise apply to the white male part):

"Is there an expiration date on this Christian Persecution Complex? Because last time I checked, you guys have pretty much controlled everything since Constantine was in power. Can we move on, please? And he converted in, ahhh, what was it, 312 AD? I'm just saying, enjoy your success."

Out of the Cage

Rove protege Tim Griffin is the latest casualty of Attorneygate. According to news reports, Griffin to resign Friday, Ark. congressional staffers say:

Spokesmen for Arkansas congressional members say Tim Griffin, the federal prosecutor in Arkansas whose appointment was among those that led to calls for the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, is resigning Friday.

Griffin, a former assistant to White House political adviser Karl Rove, stepped in as interim U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas in December, replacing U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins.
Griffin was one of the appointments made under the exception which was slipped into the renewal of the USA Patriot Act in March 2006 that allowed the Attorney General to name interim replacements without Senate confirmation. See Terminator In Chief. That change was eliminated once Attorneygate was exposed. It is clear that Griffin doesn't want to go through the Senate confirmation process which would be necessary to keep his job. Answering questions about his prior job duties might prove a wee bit difficult.
Voting rights attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has called for prison time for the new US Attorney for Arkansas, Timothy Griffin and investigation of Griffin’s former boss, Karl Rove, chief political advisor to President Bush.

“Timothy Griffin,” said Kennedy,”who is the new US attorney in Arkansas, was actually the mastermind behind the voter fraud efforts by the Bush Administration to disenfranchise over a million voters through ‘caging’ techniques - which are illegal.”

This is from an article by Greg Palast that my husband Dave sent me, detailing Griffin's involvement in "caging" of minority voters in Florida during the last election, RFK: Rove And Rove’s Brain, ‘Should Be In Jail,’ Not In Office, which explains:

‘Caging’ lists are “absolutely illegal” under the Voting Rights Act, noted Kennedy on his Air America program, Ring of Fire. The 1965 law makes it a felony crime to challenge voters when race is a factor in the targeting. African-American voters comprised the bulk of the 70,000 voters ‘caged’ in a single state, Florida.

Palast wrote in his book, “Here’s how the scheme worked. The Bush campaign mailed out letters,” particularly targeting African-American soldiers sent overseas. When the letters sent to the home addresses of the soldiers came back “undeliverable” because the servicemen were in Baghdad or elsewhere, the Republican Party would, “challenge the voter’s registration and thereby prevent their absentee ballots being counted.”

The Republicans successfully challenged “at least one million” votes of minority voters in the 2004 election.

Kennedy, a voting rights attorney, fumed, “What he [Griffin] did was absolutely illegal and he should be in jail. Instead [Griffin] was rewarded with the US Attorney’s office.”

“They [Griffin, Rove and their confederates at the RNC] knew it was illegal.”

Despite various denials by Gonzales during his Judiciary Committee testimony, it was always planned that Griffin's appointment would come under the Patriot Act exception. See Murray Wass' National Journal piece, Administration Withheld E-Mails About Rove. Waas likewise noted Griffin's confirmation problems:
Griffin faced an uphill battle to win Senate confirmation because, in addition to having served as an aide to Rove, he had served as the research director of the Republican National Committee in 2004, when he had been in charge of opposition research efforts against Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. He had been involved in similar efforts against Al Gore four years earlier as the RNC's deputy research director.
Monica Goodling's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee also referenced Griffin's election activities. Goodling testified that Gonzales' Deputy AG, Paul McNulty, perjured himself, lying to the committee in earlier testimony. Palast describes the lie: McNulty denied Monica had told him about Tim Griffin's "involvement in 'caging' voters" in 2004. See The Goods on Goodling and the Keys to the Kingdom.

With all of the controversy now focused on him, I guess he does want to exit, stage right.

He may be headed back to his old stomping grounds -- working "opposition research" for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign, Former Rove Aide in Talks with Thompson Campaign.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cartoon of the Day

* Clay Jones, Fredericksburg Freelance Star

The Electric City

All I have to say is OMG. I've mentioned before that I'm originally from Scranton, see, e.g., see He's Home from the Office, which is definitely one of those towns that has more clout -- political and otherwise -- than it's size would suggest.

Politicians on the state and national level always pay homage to the old coal town -- in fact, Rick Santorum's replacement, Bob Casey, is from Scranton and his father was Governor of PA. Scranton was home to a major mafia Don, Russell Bufalino, who was linked to the FBI plot to assassinate Fidel Castro Mafia Spies in Cuba:, and the disappearance of former Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa, The American "MAFIA". The show The Office is set in Scranton, see 'Office' Actors Party in Scranton, Pa.

One of the LLWL* mentioned that Sunday's NYTimes had a piece on Scranton as "Tinseltown east." Discussing the dreams of actor Paul Sorvino to make his adopted home a film location, the Times notes, in Hollywood on the Lackawanna?:

The film, “The Trouble With Cali,” the story of a beautiful and talented young woman trying to survive her dysfunctional family, is Mr. Sorvino’s debut as a feature film director. It also represents an initial small step in his grand — and, at first glance, quixotic — dream to turn Scranton, a former coal mining town 125 miles west of Manhattan, into a filmmaking center.

If all goes as planned, Scranton would not only be home base to Mr. Sorvino’s own Miranda Films but also offer other filmmakers a full-service production house with soundstages, editing and looping rooms and a recording studio. All with costs a fraction of those in Los Angeles or New York.

* * * *

Until recently, it would have been hard to picture Scranton as being ready for its close-up. When Mr. Miller filmed there in the early 1980s, his exterior scenes were full of decaying landmarks and empty storefronts. But Scranton, with a population of 74,000, appears to be at some kind of turning point. Lately economic development has picked up. The city has gained a certain notoriety as the setting of the fictional paper company Dunder Mifflin in the NBC comedy “The Office.” Scranton has opened a film office, though beyond a few cable channel productions, the most high-profile filming has consisted of aerial shots of fall foliage that appeared briefly in “Stuart Little.” This spring the Scranton Yankees took the field as the top minor league franchise of the New York Yankees.

“We hit a home run by getting the Yankees to come here,” Mr. Cordaro said with a laugh. “Maybe now we’re getting a little bit cocky.”

Since making the announcement of his wish to open a production house that would make up to five movies a year, Mr. Sorvino has looked at several possible sites. After he toured a 125-acre former colliery in the nearby borough of Taylor, The Times-Tribune of Scranton ran an article that began: “Picture it: A former coal town reborn as Tinseltown east.” This spring Mr. Sorvino began negotiations with Philadelphia-area developers who own an empty 336,500-square-foot factory on 223 acres 15 miles north of Scranton.

* * * *

“I love Scranton,” Mr. Sorvino said. “It’s a wonderful place. And then I found out how easy it is to do a picture there. Maybe that’s because they understand I love them and they love me.”

I love Scranton too. The article (read the whole piece) just so captures the essence of the city. In the end, it is a wonderful place and no matter what happens to the town, the people keep the spirit of the town alive.

* LLWL = Lady Lawyers Who Lunch (aka, my officemates).

Monday, May 28, 2007

It's Armageddon Time

Paul Krugman provides his own Memorial Day tribute, in his op-ed piece, Trust and Betrayal (via Rozius Unbound), noting Bush's words:

“In this place where valor sleeps, we are reminded why America has always gone to war reluctantly, because we know the costs of war.” That’s what President Bush said last year, in a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

Those were fine words, spoken by a man with less right to say them than any president in our nation’s history. For Mr. Bush took us to war not with reluctance, but with unseemly eagerness.

Now that war has turned into an epic disaster, in part because the war’s architects, whom we now know were warned about the risks, didn’t want to hear about them. Yet Congress seems powerless to stop it. How did it all go so wrong?

Krugman reviews the history of this horrendous, but understandable war, which was engendered by a "nation, brought together in grief and anger over the attack, [who] wanted to trust the man occupying the White House." Krugman also says that although the public has finally seen the truth of their misplaced trust and betrayal, he addresses the disappointment that many on the liberal left felt when the Democrats did not hold firm on Iraq funding measure. He says that is a step too soon for the politicians and the public:
Democratic Party activists were furious, because polls show a public utterly disillusioned with Mr. Bush and anxious to see the war ended. But it’s not clear that the leadership was wrong to be cautious. The truth is that the nightmare of the Bush years won’t really be over until politicians are convinced that voters will punish, not reward, Bush-style fear-mongering. And that hasn’t happened yet.

"Here’s the way it ought to be: When Rudy Giuliani says that Iran, which had nothing to do with 9/11, is part of a “movement” that “has already displayed more aggressive tendencies by coming here and killing us,” he should be treated as a lunatic.

When Mitt Romney says that a coalition of “Shia and Sunni and Hezbollah and Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda” wants to “bring down the West,” he should be ridiculed for his ignorance.

And when John McCain says that Osama, who isn’t in Iraq, will “follow us home” if we leave, he should be laughed at.

But they aren’t, at least not yet. And until belligerent, uninformed posturing starts being treated with the contempt it deserves, men who know nothing of the cost of war will keep sending other people’s children to graves at Arlington."
I just hope we get to contempt soon. Saying that Bagdad "reminded me of something out of Armageddon,"CBS Chief Foreign Correspondent, Lara Logan, remarked about the deteriorating conditions upon her return to Iraq after a few week absence. See Crooks and Liars: “It looks like a wasteland”. I'm not sure we have much more time.

Death takes a Holiday

While I'm on a Philly roll (and I'm not talking cheesesteak), I thought I'd note this bit of news.

The media is always being criticized for not reporting "good news" -- well, the Inquirer is trying to do its part to change that. In Homicide takes a holiday in Phila., the paper observes:

It was a rare Friday night and Saturday night without any homicides in Philadelphia.

"There's no rhyme or reason. No way to predict when a murder is going to happen," said Homicide Lt. Mel Williams, agreeing that a hot Saturday and a Friday night without a homicide was uncommon.

No homicides had been reported as of 8:15 p.m. Sunday, either.

Earlier, a 16-year-old boy was killed in a barrage of gunfire in the 2300 block of Watkins Street in South Philadelphia shortly after 4 p.m. Friday.

As far as I can tell, the lull lasted through Sunday evening. Of course, while it may be welcome news, it's all relative. According to the statistics, A City's Deadly Toll:
Homicides reported by city police through 11:59 p.m. Saturday:


Total for the same period in 2006: 147

Cartoon of the Day

* Paul Combs (and be sure to read his post, Remembering Those Who Still Sacrifice, at his blog)

Decoration Day

Bring Them Home by Pete Seeger is probably the best sentiment that could be expressed on this Memorial Day -- a day that has seen 1,000 more troops killed since last Memorial Day.

(Via The Quaker Agitator)

And like Quaker Dave, I'm a pacifist too.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Cartoon of the Day

* Paul Combs

Home/Car Invasion

As long as I'm following up on things, I thought I'd provide the conclusion to the Home/Car invasion in Mount Airy yesterday. See Lift-off on Lincoln Drive. The SUV that careened into a home on Lincoln Drive in the wee hours of the morning has been removed, leaving the homeowners to deal with the destruction left behind.

ABC News reported, Home Damaged by Out-Of-Control SUV:

As a crowd watched and some took photographs, an SUV was carefully removed from the home where it crashed early Saturday.

* * * *

The home sustained significant damage.

The homeowner Sharon Boyd told Action News, "When I opened the door all this smoke hit me in the face. These two women were out of the car screaming and hollering with blood all over them."

Sharon called 9-1-1 as her husband Larry began tending to the victims.

* * * *

The SUV was removed from the home on Sunday morning.

Another home was damaged by the traffic light, which flew into it after getting hit by the SUV.

See also, SUV Plows Into Mt. Airy Home.

(Video via ABC News)

Philly Fill-ins

For some reason, there's been a lot of "news" to write about in the Philly area (other than the area's murder madness). On this peaceful Sunday morning, I thought a few updates on assorted topics would be in order.

Looks like the Reid boys, sons of Eagles Coach Andy Reid, will end up with a plea agreement on the outstanding gun, drug & related charges dealing with 2 separate road incidents on the same day, see Reid Brothers Back In Court. I mentioned their escapades in Different Strokes for Different Folks.

In Swinging Susie, I noted the story of the serial nanny beater Susuan Tabas Tepper, who was arrested for her 2nd nanny attack in less than a year. She's been compared to Naomi Campbell (whoever that is), but I'd say she's aiming for some "street cred," figuring that's the latest in in. As far as I can tell, she's still spending time in jail, but she has a few more legal troubles to deal with. Nanny #1 has sued her over the first assault, Ex-nanny sues jailed heiress over kitchen assault in 2006:

The Nicaraguan child-care worker roughed up by Main Line nanny-beater Susan Tabas Tepper last May has sued her former employer for assault and battery.

Xiomara D. Salinas, 43, who won a criminal case in February against Tepper - who was arrested Wednesday on charges she had smacked around another nanny - filed a civil suit yesterday seeking damages in excess of $50,000.

* * * *

Vitale said Tepper's second arrest - in an alleged attack on another foreign-born employee, this one from Eastern Europe - brought back painful memories for Salinas. The Philadelphia resident felt validated by her decision to press civil charges, he said.

"This is an ongoing problem," he said of Tepper.

And this time, she does have a friend who's come to her defense. Not the boyfriend who was supposedly there or her family. Instead, it's some guy who's a PI and has provided security to her home & family, Friend Defends Mom Charged With Assaulting Nanny. Perhaps he can get a job providing security to those employed by her.

And there there's Mia Sardella, the Drexel student accused of killing her newborn infant, see Momma Mia. She was granted bail, and was released subject to electronic home-monitoring. Sardella faces charges ranging from first-degree murder to desecration of a corpse. See Delco Mom Makes Bail in Baby-in-Bag Case, which notes that Sardella, the "19-year-old Drexel Hill, Pa. woman is being freed on bail while awaiting trial in the death of her newborn son on New Year's Day" Her lawyer, Arthur Donato, "told the judge that Sardella pulled out of Drexel University, where she was a freshman, about three weeks ago because of the pressure she’s under -- for which she’s being treated by a psychiatrist."

A Smorgasbord of Suck

Bill Maher's season finale New Rules, covers Rosie, Wal*Mart fashion, baby pictures, Rudy and the comb over, and finally, takes Jimmy Carter to task for his comments on calling George Bush the Worst.President.Ever. That is, he thinks Carter should be sent to Guantanamo for not standing by the truth of what he said about Bush.

Maher then leads into his analysis of Bush, compared to other former Presidents. Maher says that while other President's have sucked in their own individual ways, Bush is like a smörgåsbord of suck. He combines the corruption of Warren G. Harding, the warmongering of James Polk and the abuse of power of Richard Nixon. It's brilliant -- and true.

For more discussion and clips of the show, see The Largest Minority.

For more on the Worst. President. Ever, see my previous posts, And the Winner Is?, Worst. President. Ever, Without.A.Doubt, and He's Number One. It's a topic I've covered just a few times before.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Cartoon of the Day

* Justin Bilicki

Lift-off on Lincoln Drive

The timing couldn't have been better. My daughter was getting ready to go on her first driving lesson this morning. We've taken her out driving here and there, mostly off-hour, side road driving, but she hasn't had any real road lessons yet.

She got a call from a friend, telling her about an accident in the neighborhood & she ran out to see. A few minutes later she called me, saying that I should come out too. Out I went, camera in hand. It was a neighborhood event, cars stopping & people gathered to see the car wedged in the sunroom of a home on Lincoln Drive in Mount Airy.

Apparently, sometime after 2 a.m. this morning, the car knocked over a traffic light at the corner, then careened across the street, went through a fence, up an incline and somehow ended up wedged in the sunroom of the home. According to ABC News:

Three women were in the vehicle at the time of the crash. They were all taken to Chestnut Hill Hospital and treated for minor injuries.

Drunk driving is among the charges that the driver of the SUV is facing.

See Vehicle Catapults Off Lincoln Drive into Home. I had heard that the girls were taken to the hospital & so I didn't want to post this until I heard that they were alright.

Lincoln Drive can be difficult to maneuver under the best of circumstances -- it's a narrow, windy road. It's the road Teddy Pendergrass had his near fatal collision in 1982, which left him paralyzed.

As for my daughter, she got her best first driver safety lesson before she even got behind the wheel today.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Cartoon of the Day

* RJ Matson, St. Lewis Post-Dispatch

Swinging Susie

I suppose that this is a fitting epilogue after the recent announcement that the Androssan, the Main Line mansion and home of the legendary Hope Montgomery Scott, who was the basis for Katharine Hepburn's character the "The Philadelphia Story," is being sold. See End of a class act. Of the real Tracy Lord, it was said "Hope was a mistress of the art of making other people feel special, of putting others at ease. In other words, she was gracious." Society in its highest sense. Not exactly how the Main Line Ladies of today would be described.

Instead, there is socialite Susan Tabas Tepper. As described in the Inky, Heiress again accused of assaulting a nanny:

The Villanova heiress, who smacked her children's nanny with a bag of carrots last May, was charged yesterday with roughing up another one, along with the woman's 9-year-old daughter.

Tepper, 45, faces two counts of simple assault and harassment - the same charges on which she was sentenced in February to a year's probation, $2,800 in fines, community service and anger-management classes after hurling the vegetables and a telephone handset at her Venezuelan nanny.

See also, Probation for socialite accused in nanny attack, for details of the first installment of how to harass the help.

The Daily News provides the background with the right amount of flavor for the latest episode, in Nanny, get your gun!:

It's apparently going to take more than a few anger-management classes to slow down the millionaire Main Line nanny-boss-from-hell.

Late Sunday, less than three months after banking heiress Susan Tabas Tepper was sentenced to probation and fined for hitting a nanny with a bag of carrots and beating the woman up, police again were called to her Villanova mansion.

Now, the 44-year-old socialite is accused of assaulting a second nanny - allegedly scratching the side of her face and shoving the woman to the ground when she tried to leave the estate house on Eagle Farm Road.

What's more, Montgomery County authorities said in an affidavit that when the nanny's 9-year-old daughter, who was present, tried to intervene to protect her mom, Tepper shoved her to the ground and called the little girl a 'bitch.'"

When you are a millionaire main line matron, nothing gets in the way of your mission -- even a 9 year old child. The Inky's report adds:

According to Lower Merion police, the incident took place at 10:30 p.m. Sunday. Kordzior alleged that Tepper, who she said had been drinking, became angry and blocked the door.

The mother of four, ages 2 to 13, followed her employee outside. She demanded that the nanny return the keys to the car that Tepper had provided her, according to the police report. Then she scratched the left side of Kordzior's face and lip with her hand and shoved her down.

When Kordzior's daughter, Maja, approached and asked Tepper not to hurt her mother, Tepper called her a "bitch" and shoved her aside, according to police.

The nanny, who police said spoke with a foreign accent, was treated for her injuries at Bryn Mawr Hospital.

Tepper said yesterday that she was the real victim.

"My boyfriend was present the entire time. Nothing happened," Tepper told 6ABC.

"This is based on malice because [Kordzior] was being let go and she was trying to steal my car," she said.

Got that? Nothing happened. Much ado from a "disgruntled employee," trying to take advantage of the generous spirited Tepper.

Another way of looking at this: It was 10:30 pm on a Sunday night and the woman had her 9 year old daughter with her. She probably had to bring her daughter because she couldn't get a babysitter on a Sunday and was trying to leave because the kid had school the next day and it was getting late. But Tepper no doubt needed help pouring her drinks, so she wasn't going to let the woman go.

For yet another take on this, see Philebrity, Smack My Bitch Up, Tony ‘Burbs Edition.

We've definitely reached the end of an era. I think we've traded crass for class on the old Main Line.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

That Little Birdie Told Him

I know I've said "poop on you" regarding Bush more than once, but who ever would have thought that a little sparrow would do the honors -- for all the world to see.

ABC News reports:

As President Bush took a question Thursday in the White House Rose Garden about scandals involving his Attorney General, he remarked, "I've got confidence in Al Gonzales doin' the job."

Simultaneously, a sparrow flew overhead and left a splash on the President's sleeve, which Bush tried several times to wipe off.
See Political Radar

He speaks for us all!

(Via Crooks and Liars)

UPDATE (5/27): Bill Maher had a few words on the Bird who stood up to Bush. For video, see onegoodmove.

Tags: ,

It's Not Just Sad

I decided to cut out of work a little bit early today. Our IT guy came in to work on my computer and the weather outside was delightful, so I decided to hop into The Red Menace with the top down and enjoy the rest of the day.

As I was driving around, it just so happened that I got to hear the follow up story to the NPR broadcast, Soldiers Face Obstacles to Mental Health Services, by Daniel Zwerdling which I heard in early December, about the woefully inadequate manner in which our military treats those who have the courage to speak up and ask for help. See And How About Them?

In the latest story, Gaps in Mental Care Persist for Fort Carson Soldiers, Zwerdling returned to Fort Carson, noting:

Those stories sparked ongoing investigations of the post, including one by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators and another by Pentagon officials.

Early this year, commanders at Fort Carson responded by launching what they described as an important new program: They required every leader, from sergeants up to generals, to attend a training course on how to spot and help soldiers who potentially have post-traumatic stress disorder. Officials say more than 2,200 leaders have taken the course so far, most of them early this year.

But during a recent return trip to Fort Carson to see whether conditions for troubled soldiers had improved, the most significant changes appeared to be rhetorical.

See also, Checking In on Fort Carson, Part II. For example, Dr. Stephen Knorr, the chief of Fort Carson's mental health center, has a memo posted on his bulletin board stating:

"We can't fix every soldier," Knorr's memo states. "We have to hold soldiers accountable for their behavior. Everyone in life — besides babies, the insane, and the demented and mentally retarded — has to be held accountable for what they do in life."

NPR recounted to comments to an outside mental health specialist, Dr. Stephen Xenakis, a retired brigadier general who used to supervise the Army's medical centers in the southeastern United States. "It really saddens me" to hear that policy, Xenakis said. "It's inhumane."

It's not just sad, it's sickening.

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Cartoon of the Day

John Sherffius
May 22, 2007

Magic Beans

Keith Olbermann did a compelling "Special Comment" on the cowardly compromising Democrats over the recent cave-in on the Iraq War supplemental. He speaks of the betrayal:

The Democratic leadership has, in sum, claimed a compromise with the Administration, in which the only things truly compromised are the trust of the voters, the ethics of the Democrats, and the lives of our brave, and doomed, friends, and family, in Iraq.

You, the men and women elected with the simplest of directions - Stop The War - have traded your strength, your bargaining position, and the uniform support of those who elected you… for a handful of magic beans.

We sure need magic beans, since the officials in Congress and the White House who were elected to run the government are solely focused on politics, not governing. There's no one minding the store -- or the country.

(Video and transcript also available at Crooks and Liars)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Cartoon of the Day

* Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle

Momma Mia

UPDATE #2 (1/29/09): For the latest update on this case, see Justice Blinked.

UPDATE (12/09/08):
For the latest update on this case, see It's No Contest.


In an earlier post, I noted the apparent favoritism being shown to Mia Sardella, the Drexel University freshman & granddaughter of the head of Glenmede Trust, see Different Strokes for Different Folks, who is now accused in the death of her infant son, Charges in newborn's death. I observed the different treatment accorded to Sardella (as well as the sons of Eagle's coach Andy Reid) versus that shown to kids of less prominent folks (i.e., the rest of us).

Now, Sardella has been arraigned and jailed on charges of first degree murder and is scheduled for a bail hearing today. As the Daily News reports, Mother charged with murder College student, 19, held in asphyxiation of newborn:

Yesterday, the baby's mother, Drexel University student Mia T. Sardella, 19, surrendered to police and was arraigned on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated assault, abuse of a corpse, concealing the death of a child, and other charges.

'She's surprisingly strong,' Sardella's attorney, Arthur Donato Jr., said, 'but she's scared. She's never been through anything like this before in her life. I'm sure it's very frightening and upsetting for her.'

The autopsy report issued Monday by Delaware County Medical Examiner Dr. Fredric N. Hellman listed the cause of the baby's death as homicide due to asphyxiation.

After her arraignment, Sardella was remanded without bail to the Delaware County Prison, where she was to remain until her bail hearing scheduled for 9 this morning.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Galantino, who will try the case, said yesterday that prosecutors would like Sardella to remain in jail without bail.

However, Donato said he's 'hopeful' she will be released on bail."
This is definitely a tough call for me. On the one hand, notwithstanding the special treatment she received, as the mother of a 17 year old daughter, I am sympathetic to the plight of Sardella and can see the panic that could have caused such a tragic result. Yet, some of the facts that have been introduced during the hearing give me pause. I think Philebrity sums it up best:
For a second, we were shocked to hear a Delaware County judge had ordered Mia Sardella, the 19-year-old Drexel student from a fancypants Drexel Hill family accused of murdering her son, to jail instead of granting bail.
Then we read the stories about the evidence presented at her arraignment hearing today, to wit:
* The baby was born on Jan. 1, then placed into a pink tote bag and stashed in the trunk of her Beetle, where it stayed until her mom found it on Jan. 22;
* The cause of death was ruled asphyxiation (hence the murder charge), which means the baby was born alive and breathing — and crying? — when his body was put into that tote bag;
* Sardella’s lawyer seems to be planning the “denial of pregnancy” defense, but police reportedly found printouts of an article on that very same syndrome in Sardella’s room. Is it actually possible to be in denial of something you’re reading up on?
The only thing that is certain is that this is a calamity for all involved.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Onward Christian Soldiers

Exemplifying the true Christian spirit that Jerry Falwell stood for, a Liberty University student brought several homemade bombs to Falwell's funeral service to use against protesters.

ABC News reports, in Bomb Plot Thwarted at Falwell's Funeral:

Even in death, the Rev. Jerry Falwell rouses the most volatile of emotions. Thousands came to say farewell to the man who mobilized Christian evangelicals and made them a major force in American politics. A small group of protesters gathered near the service; students from Falwell's Liberty University staged their own counter-protest, but the funeral was not disrupted.

However, Campbell County authorities arrested a Liberty University student for having several homemade bombs in his car.

The student, 19-year-old Mark D. Uhl of Amissville, Va., reportedly told authorities that he was making the bombs to stop protesters from disrupting the funeral service.

I'm sure God is smiling.

I, on the other hand, prefer to remember him this way: A Just Reward.

Fix the Vote

I've long thought that the 2004 election was "fixed" (to say nothing of the 2000 race), see Can We Try Again?, but I thought that the goal was to ensure success in particular key races. Based upon Tom Delay's redistricting efforts in Texas that occurred several years ago, I should have realized that the GOP's mission would expand beyond a particular contest, to focus on a way to alter the outcome of elections generally. Much less effort for maximum result.

A few months ago, I noted the politicization of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, see A Long History, including the Division's new shift away from the protection of voting rights. However, as closely as I followed the story, I still did not realize the true extent of the abuse of power that actually occurred. The Attorneygate scandal reveals the depths to which the Bush Administration was willing to go to subvert the electoral process -- really democracy itself -- for it's own political purposes.

Via Phawker, are the latest revelations in the Attorneygate scandal, in which scope of the Administration's "vote suppression agenda" is discussed. The handiwork of Hans von Spakovsky, who worked first in DOJ and then in the Federal Election Commission, McClatchy writes, in Efforts to stop `voter fraud' may have curbed legitimate voting:

During four years as a Justice Department civil rights lawyer, Hans von Spakovsky went so far in a crusade against voter fraud as to warn of its dangers under a pseudonym in a law journal article.

Writing as 'Publius,' von Spakovsky contended that every voter should be required to produce a photo-identification card and that there was 'no evidence' that such restrictions burden minority voters disproportionately.

Now, amid a scandal over politicization of the Justice Department, Congress is beginning to examine allegations that von Spakovsky was a key player in a Republican campaign to hang onto power in Washington by suppressing the votes of minority voters.

'Mr. von Spakovsky was central to the administration's pursuit of strategies that had the effect of suppressing the minority vote,' charged Joseph Rich, a former Justice Department voting rights chief who worked under him.
See also, TPMmuckraker. The "anonymous" law review article, "Securing the Integrity of American Elections: The Need for Change" (only available through Lexus/Nexis), is a masterpiece. It's premise:
It is unfortunately true that in the great democracy in which we live, voter
fraud has had a long and studied role in our elections. Maintaining the security
of our voter registration and voting process, while at the same time protecting
the voting rights of individuals and guaranteeing their access to the polls,
must be our foremost objective. Unlike what certain advocates in the civil
rights community believe, these goals are not mutually exclusive. Every vote
that is stolen through fraud disenfranchises a voter who has cast a legitimate
ballot in the same way that an individual who is eligible to vote is
disenfranchised when he is kept out of a poll or is somehow otherwise prevented
from casting a ballot. In other words, violations of criminal election crimes
statutes are just as important as violations of federal voting rights statutes
and both cause equal damage to our democracy.
Of course, the law review article goes on to detail various instances of serious voter fraud -- all perpetrated by Democrats, of course, and argues passionately for the urgent need for voter ID laws to protect the integrity of the electoral process. Further, contrary to the view of the Civil Rights Division (where he was employed at the time), he argues that voter ID is the only way to save the integrity of the vote, with no adverse impact on minority voters. Interestingly, he makes a similar argument in a Federalist Society paper, "Increasing the Security of Elections: The Effect of Identification Requirements on Turnout of Minority Voters," citing the Publius law review without mentioning his authorship of that piece. And, but of course, it turns out that von Spakovsky was also involved in the Delay gerrymandering case, see The Mahablog.

The McClatchy article lists several focal areas that von Spakovsky concentrated during his DOJ tenure:

In interviews, current and former federal officials and civil rights leaders told McClatchy Newspapers that von Spakovsky:

-Sped approval of tougher voter ID laws in Georgia and Arizona in 2005, joining decisions to override career lawyers who believed that Georgia's law would restrict voting by poor blacks and who felt that more analysis was needed on the Arizona law's impact on Native Americans and Latinos.

-Tried to influence the federal Election Assistance Commission's research into the dimensions of voter fraud nationally and the impact of restrictive voter ID laws - research that could undermine a vote-suppression agenda.

-Allegedly engineered the ouster of the commission's chairman, Paul DeGregorio, whom von Spakovsky considered insufficiently partisan.

As the scandal conflagrates, there is yet more to pile on the pyre of fraud. Richard L. Hasen, writing about the DOJ issue for Slate, notes yet another aspect to the "voter fraud" fraud, in The incredible, disappearing American Center for Voting Rights. Noting the demise of the American Center for Voting Rights, a voter ID law proponent, Hasen says that this "think tank" was another part of the Republican strategy of raising voter fraud as a crisis in American elections:
Presidential adviser Karl Rove and his allies, who have been ghostbusting illusory dead and fictional voters since the contested 2000 election, apparently mounted a two-pronged attack. One part of that attack, at the heart of the current Justice Department scandals, involved getting the DoJ and various U.S. attorneys in battleground states to vigorously prosecute cases of voter fraud. That prong has failed. After exhaustive effort, the Department of Justice discovered virtually no polling-place voter fraud, and its efforts to fire the U.S. attorneys in battleground states who did not push the voter-fraud line enough has backfired.

But the second prong of this attack may have proven more successful. This involved using ACVR to give "think tank" academic cachet to the unproven idea that voter fraud is a major problem in elections. That cachet would be used to support the passage of onerous voter-identification laws that depress turnout among the poor, minorities, and the elderly—groups more likely to vote Democratic. Where the Bush administration may have failed to nail illegal voters, the effort to suppress minority voting has borne more fruit, as more states pass these laws, and courts begin to uphold them in the name of beating back waves of largely imaginary voter fraud.

Like the lie repeated often enough becomes the truth, Hasen fears that "even with the demise of ACVR, the hard work—of giving credibility to a nonproblem—is done." How true -- after all, how many people still believe Iraq was behind 9/11? These same people will still believe a voter fraud crisis exists years from now.

Back on the Street Again

Upper Darby is where the Tower Theater is located; the place I recently went to to see Jon Stewart. As he said about Upper Darby:

"I'm not an urban planner, but if I was trying to revitalize downtown Upper Darby, I don't know if I would go with the giant 69. I find that when you're trying to lure business back, it's best not to go with an oral sex joke on your walking bridge."
Upper Darby is famous for more than the sexy pedestrian bridge. The Inquirer reports about the police department's revitalization efforts, Seized guns resold by police:
Hundreds of guns seized by Upper Darby police are back in circulation, many after police supplied them to two of the region's most notorious gun shops, The Inquirer has learned.

These guns included illegal sawed-off shotguns and assault rifles. Just last month, special-education students found one of Upper Darby's confiscated guns as they collected litter near their school.
It's unclear exactly what the practices were (and even where the money from the gun sales went). Two of the dealers used by the police force were problematic, but that didn't put a damper on things:

"This involves hundreds of guns," said retired police detective Ray Britt, one of four current and former officers who told The Inquirer that police routinely resold seized firearms.

"Lots of people knew it was happening, and some officers tried to stop it," Britt said. "But it went on for years."

Upper Darby suspended the practice in 2005, shortly after federal agents raided one gun shop and quickly traced a sawed-off shotgun to the Police Department.

"We don't need to be putting guns used in crimes back out on the street," said Township Manager Thomas Judge Jr., who said he had learned of the practice after the raid. "Guns used in crimes are now melted down."

* * * *

In interviews, several current and former Upper Darby officers said the practice had troubled them.

"I tried to stop it," said one officer who asked not to be identified because he feared repercussions. He said a supervisor had told him to mind his own business.

"They beat you down. After a while, you try to justify it. You get to thinking what they're doing is OK. But I wake up at night worrying about where the guns went."

Harry T. Davis, a retired senior Upper Darby officer, called it a "a moral issue."

"It sickens me," he said of the gun selling.

Britt, the former detective, said the department had kept seized guns in haphazard fashion, many dumped in cardboard boxes on the second floor of police headquarters. Officers came and went with no controls on what they carried out, Britt said.

And in neighboring Philly, there were 6 homicides this week-end -- all death by gunshot -- bringing the year-to-date number to 159, see 7 MORE DEAD.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Just Reward

I originally wasn't going to post anything about the demise of Jerry Falwell. Not nice to speak badly of the dead and all that. But then I thought perhaps I'd practice a little bit of what he preached. So I figured I'd give my own "tribute" to Jerry Falwell.

First up is Bill Maher, who devotes his final New Rule -- Heaven Can Hate -- to Jerry Falwell.

And then I would be remiss to exclude Christoper Hitchens, who eulogized Falwell on CNN as only he could.

Hitchens' comments can also be found at Slate, Jerry Falwell, faith-based fraud. For yet another Hitchens video on Falwell, see Crooks and Liars.

Finally, for some insightful highlights of Falwell's life, see The Carpetbagger Report.

I will withhold the RIP.

Cartoon of the Day

* Tony Auth, NYTimes

No Talking in the Library

As Quaker Dave notes, in Get up. Stand up. Get busted, "Free speech in this country is in serious trouble, especially when it comes to debating the war or anything having to do with the military."

The Quaker Agitator is referring to a recent incident involving a former Gulf War Vet and his wife who were in the Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library in Ohio, when they noticed two military recruiters trying to enlist someone in the next room. Deciding to have her say, the wife wrote a few messages on 3x5 cards & placed them on a window sill.

“Don’t fall for it! Military recruiters lie,” said one.

“It’s not honorable to fight for a lying President,” said another.

This episode was reported by The Progressive's Matthew Rothschild, Vet Prosecuted for Opposing Recruitment in Library, who added:

The recruiters were none too happy with the cards.

One of them came out and asked Coil who put them up.

When she admitted she had, he asked for her name, which she didn’t give him.

He told her that she and her husband couldn’t put the cards up.

“My husband asked him if he was trying to keep us from using our freedom of speech,” Coil says.

He didn’t answer that, she says, but he did tell her again to stop.

He took the cards and went to find the library director.

In the meantime, Coil put some more card on the sill:

“Don’t do it.”

“My husband is a Gulf War Veteran. He can tell you the TRUTH.”

“To the military, you are cannon fodder.”

“Recruiters: You’re fighting for my freedom of speech, too!”"

The library director, Doug Dotterer, told them that if they put up one more card, he was going to ask them to leave, Coil says. He told them they couldn’t display things that were disturbing other people in the library. She told him that the Army had its brochures out on a nearby table, and they were disturbing her, she says.

“My husband said that the library was a public place and we are allowed our freedom of speech,” Coil says. “The director said it was his library, and so we would have to follow his rules.”

* * * *

But on his way out, Tim called the director a name.

“One more word from you and I’ll arrest you,” the police officer told Tim.

Then Tim shouted, “Don’t let the military recruit people in the library.”

Whereupon the police arrested him and took him to the station and booked him for disorderly conduct.

* * * *
The police report says Coil was arrested for “causing a disturbance within a library.”
Quaker Dave expresses his objections to allowing military recruiters in publically-funded places, like schools and libraries -- especially in light of the aggressive tactics being employed these days (which I agree with).

The free speech (or lack thereof) issues are also extremely troublesome to me. Incidents such as this, as well as the man who was arrested for approaching the vice president and saying, ' 'Your policies in Iraq are reprehensible,' see Reprehensible You, are all signs of the erosion of our First Amendment rights to freedom of expression. By playing to our fears post-9/11, with a slogan of "you have no civil liberties if you are dead," the government has slowly, but surely eviscerated our constitutional rights beyond recognition.

I'm not suggesting that the current Administration is the first to try to muzzle anti-government protesters, but this gang has taken it to a new level. By using national security as a means to quell dissent, through tactics such as proactive arrests to minimize political demonstrations, see Just Calm Down, Please, to "Free Speech Zones" or Protest Areas, see “Free-Speech Zone”, where protesters herded to keep the Administration far from the maddening crowd, we've grown accustomed to not being permitted to say our piece. Speech has been chilled -- if not frozen. As I said before, when we reach this point, Dead or Alive -- It's Lost.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Different Strokes for Different Folks

I was struck by this article in the Daily News, Coverup in trunk-baby death?:

UPPER DARBY'S police chief yesterday accused the Delaware County District Attorney of a coverup on the autopsy of an abandoned infant because the mother is the granddaughter of a prominent businessman.

The infant was found Jan. 22 in the trunk of a car parked in front of the Drexel Hill home of Albert E. Piscopo, chief executive of the Glenmede Trust Co., an elite Philadelphia-based investment firm.

The family's attorney, Arthur Donato Jr., directed police to the trunk of a Volkswagen Beetle. Inside, detectives found a dead infant boy, swaddled in bloody clothes and his unbilical cord, in a pink tote bag. Investigators determined the child's mother was Piscopo's granddaughter, 18-year-old Drexel University student Mia Sardella.

Nearly four months after the discovery of the dead baby, no autopsy report has been released.

Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood contended that the medical examiner had determined the cause of death but that the information is being withheld from the public and police by the examiner and the D.A.'s office.

"If this would have been somebody from a lower socioeconomic background, would we be here today?" Chitwood asked. "My experience is we wouldn't be."

It reminded me of another recent case, involving Eagle's coach, Andy Reid, and the manner in which the legal difficulties of his two sons were handled. Last month his sons entered not guilty pleas arising out of incidents that occurred in late January, Sons Of Andy Reid Plead Not Guilty:

Britt Reid, 21, is accused of brandishing a handgun at another motorist during a traffic dispute in suburban Montgomery County. He faces a felony charge of carrying a firearm without a license, as well as misdemeanor charges of assault, drug possession and making terroristic threats.

Garrett Reid, 24, faces assault, drug possession and other misdemeanor charges after he allegedly admitted, following a car accident, to having used heroin the same day. Police said he was speeding and ran a red light, causing an accident that injured a woman.
Despite the fact that one son later admitted using heroin before being involved in the car accident and the other, who pulled a gun during a road rage incident, had been involved in another traffic accident previously, no charges were even filed against the Reid boys for some time. See, Victim: Police Showing Favoritism to Andy Reid's Son.

And in contrast to those cases, there was the case of the 10 year old who was prosecuted for first degree felony burglary charges for going into a neighbor's home in Bucks County, with an 8 year old friend. In that case, the home was that of an Assistant DA, who made sure they threw the book at the kid. See This is Not Justice.

I find it amazing that the same "Law & Order" proponents who are always clamoring for swift, punitive action for crimes haven't been protesting the laxness exhibited by the police and DA's office in the Piscopo and Reid cases. Somehow, they don't seem to see any injustice in the application of a different form of justice for those who have and those who have less.

Different strokes for different folks. Looks like the same holds true for Justice.

UPDATE (5/21): The latest news reports on the infant death is that it was suffocated, see Coroner: Baby found dead in trunk was asphyxiated. According to the AP article:
Delaware County Coroner Frederic N. Hellman conducted the autopsy and ruled that the baby died of asphyxiation. Prosecutors have been waiting for the coroner to rule so they could determine whether charges would be filed.
To me, this is further evidence of special treatment. In fact, Mia Sardella, who is the granddaughter of the president and chief executive officer of The Glenmede Trust, still has not been charged. The body was found in January -- it's now May. I realize that he wheels of justice move slowly, but that usually happens after the individual is charged, not before.

Makes you wonder if it took the Upper Darby Police Superintendent's going public with this to force the issue, eh?

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cartoon of the Day

* Steve Benson, United Media

A Fair Decision?

It's one of those cases that has generated passionate views on either side. Just the words "Free Mumia" stir strong feelings and have done so for 25 years. And the case is back in the news:

One of the most controversial death row inmates in American history, convicted cop killer Mumia Abu Jamal is heading back to court to seek a new trial.

A folk hero to some and a cold-blooded murderer to others, Abu Jamal has been on death row for 24 years. Today his case gets a new day in court, as a panel of judges in Philadelphia decides whether to strike his death sentence and grant him a new trial.

Abu Jamal, an outspoken journalist and active member of the Black Panthers, was convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1982. On a cold December night in 1981, Officer Daniel Faulkner was found dead, shot once in the back and once between the eyes. When police arrived at the scene, Abu Jamal was sitting on the curb a few feet away from Faulkner's body.

Crime scene witnesses testified that they saw Abu Jamal fire a shot at Faulkner's back. Next to Abu Jamal was a gun prosecutors say they linked to the bullets that killed Faulkner. Together, the collective physical and testimonial evidence led a jury to find Abu Jamal guilty after a few hours of deliberation.

Abu Jamal proclaimed his innocence from the start of the investigation. He and his lawyer, Robert Bryan, say there were substantial flaws in that trial. Bryan, an expert in death penalty litigation, argues that the trial was poorly run and that the jury was tainted by racial bias.

So says ABC News, Mumia: Folk Hero or Cold-Blooded Killer?

The case was back in federal court today, with oral arguments being heard in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. Several hundred people rallied today in Philly (and elsewhere) in support of Mumia, see Supporters Rally For Ex-Black Panther. As the Inquirer said, Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case before federal court:

A federal appeals court heard conflicting legal arguments this morning on whether Philadelphia's most notorious death-row inmate received a fair trial in 1982 when he was convicted of killing police officer Daniel Faulkner.

The court proceeding marks a turning point in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former radio reporter and Black Panther who has been trying to escape the death penalty for 25 years.

If the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upholds the death sentence, Abu-Jamal would be more at risk of execution than at any point in the last 25 years.

I didn't move to Philly until about 5 years after the murder, so I'm somewhat of a latecomer to the case. I've followed it off and on over the years and have read a fair amount about the facts of the incident, as well as the trial proceedings. However, I'm certainly not in a position to know whether Mumia is innocent or not.

I do know that this is the city that had Frank Rizzo as Police Commissioner before he was Mayor. For those who are familiar with the name, I need say no more. This was a time when the police didn't just wear brown shirts. Likewise, the City of Brotherly Love wasn't so lovely to its black brethren.

Add to that, the Judge who tried the Mumia case, Judge Sabo, was reported to have remarked -- on several occasions during the trial -- that he would "fry the n*****" For an interesting summary of the case, see Are you telling me the Gates of Hell are in Philadelphia?. The DA's Office in Philly has had a problem with removing blacks from juries for years. In fact, Ron Castille, who was a DA at the time and then Supreme Court Justice, was involved in a "training video" with tips on the best ways to do it. He later refused to recuse himself from the Abu-Jamal appeal, despite the fact that he was involved in the case. See Justice.

So, with this history of the black experience with Philly Justice, would it shock me to learn that Mumia did not receive a fair trial? Perhaps the better way to put it would be to say that I'd be more surprised to find out that he did.

Well, everything must change. Maybe even Philly. The Inquirer's report notes:

After the two-hour proceeding, people on both sides of the controversial case said they thought the judges were well-prepared and fair to both prosecutors and lawyers for Abu-Jamal.

"They were informed. They asked very important questions. I think they seemed impartial," said Francis Goldin, Abu-Jamal's literary agent.

Maureen Faulkner, the widow of Faulkner, said that she, too, thought the judges were fair. "I have to trust that the federal courts will look at what's presented to them to . . . make a fair decision," said Faulkner, who traveled from California for the hearing.

The Third Circuit will now review Yohn's reasoning and consider whether there was racial bias during jury selection, and whether Abu-Jamal's constitutional rights were violated by the prosecutor's closing argument and by the alleged bias of the trial judge, Albert Sabo, during post-conviction review.

The Third Circuit could:

- Reverse Yohn and uphold the death sentence.

- Uphold Yohn and order a new sentencing hearing.

- Grant a new trial.

- Send the case back to Yohn for a hearing.

Whatever they do, let's hope it's the right thing.

UPDATE: In a January 27, 2007 article, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports on the status of the Mumia appeal, Ruling near on Abu-Jamal jury:

In the nearly 26 years since his conviction for the murder of Officer Daniel Faulkner, the international tempest over Mumia Abu-Jamal has fixed primarily on this question: Did he do it, or was he framed by Philadelphia police?

Yet inside the chambers of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Abu-Jamal's innocence or guilt is not the issue. Since May, three judges have been weighing whether to reinstate his death sentence, overturned in 2001. If they do, his last hope will be the U.S. Supreme Court, which hears fewer than 2 percent of all petitions filed each year.

The Third Circuit's decision, expected soon, will be based on knotty constitutional questions relating to the fairness of his 1982 trial in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court and subsequent state appeals:

Were the jury instructions confusing?

Was the trial judge biased in a later hearing?

In addressing the jury, did the prosecutor downplay the likelihood of a capital sentence's ever being carried out?

And - a key contention in Abu-Jamal's appeals - were African Americans purposely excluded from the jury?

He was convicted by 10 white and two black jurors on July 2, 1982. They sentenced him to death the next day.

The subject of racial discrimination in jury selection dominated the spirited oral argument in May between Abu-Jamal's legal team and the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office before the Third Circuit panel.

* * * *

If the Third Circuit decides in Abu-Jamal's favor and does not reinstate his death sentence, he could get a chance to persuade a new jury to give him a life term, and perhaps a hearing on whether black jurors were intentionally excluded.

He also could be awarded a new trial, though most do not expect that. Any ruling in Abu-Jamal's favor would likely prompt the District Attorney's Office to ask the Supreme Court to intervene.

What is interesting about the article -- and truly the main point of the piece -- is the fact that no decision has been rendered to date. The case was argued in May and it's rare for the Third Circuit to delay a decision for such an extended length of time. Of course, the court does not release any details about pending appeals, so there is no way to know why the decision has been held up. Although each three judge panel circulates an opinion to the full court before it is released, if the full court had wanted to re-hear the case en banc, I would think that this decision would have been made before now. As the Inky article observes:

"The fact that we're still waiting for a decision indicates that it's not an easy case," said former Third Circuit Judge John J. Gibbons, a lawyer in North Jersey who became an opponent of capital punishment after he left the court and worked to abolish the death penalty in New Jersey.

Former Third Circuit Judge Arlin M. Adams called eight months "a little on the long side" to wait for a ruling. But no doubt, he added, the judges are being cautious, especially since the U.S. Supreme Court could review whatever they do.

"This case has gotten a lot of attention - internationally and nationally," said Adams, a lawyer in Center City. "They want to get it right."

For more on the case, see Spotlight on Death Row.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Cartoon of the Day

* Nate Beeler, Washington Examiner

Did He or Didn't He?

The election is over. As KYW noted Few Problems at Phila. Polls, But Some Long Waits. Unfortunately, I was in the latter category. We got to the polls at 7:45 pm & had to wait 1 1/2 hours to cast our ballot. That's what happens when you live in Mount Airy, with a bunch of politically active people. My Ward, the 22nd, had a line out the door and down the walkway when I got there at 7:40 pm. I didn't get into the voting booth until 9:15 pm (and there were still a dozen or so people behind me). I guess that's a good thing, but it was a loooong wait.

In the end, the good news is that Michael Nutter won the Mayoral race (since the primary is pretty much it in this one party town). For a change, I picked a winner, Nuts for Nutter. Even better, I think he'll be good for Philly.

A breakdown of the results:

Election Category: MAYOR-D

96.25 % 1618/1681 Precincts Completed.

Overall winner(s) Denoted by Winner vs Runner(s) up
Candidate Name Party Votes % of Total Votes
Write In
6 0.00 %

Source: Philadelphia Comprehensive Election Results

Note the "Write Ins" -- my husband Dave claims that he is in that last category. He says he wrote in his own name. My daughter & I were outraged that he would waste a vote like that. Did he really is the question we keep asking ourselves -- and he won't tell.

My pick for Philly Court of Common Pleas -- Ellen Green-Ceisler -- also won, but my choice for Supreme Court, Darrel Jones, lost, McCaffery, Krancer win shots at Supreme Court, as well as my other picks, see Who Else.

Seems to mostly happen that way. Reminds me of my days in Harrisburg. Two guys I worked with decided to run for congress and both asked me to work on their campaigns. However, the one that I was sure would win -- he was a bright, hard working, policy wonk running in a largely Democratic district, lost. The other, who I was sure would lose -- a good looking, charming but mostly no-substance kind of guy, who ran in a mostly Republican district, won. That's when I knew politics was not my forte. Luckily, I said no to both & ended up going to law school instead.

One final note. Too bad Diane Gibbons won. Gibbons appears headed to the bench. Based upon her conduct in the Ramos matter, see This is Not Justice, the the last thing I would call her is judicial.