Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I'll have that TRO wid

(Photo: Rick's Steaks by Marusula.)

It must be a Philly thing. I'm not a native Philadelphian, so I guess I just don't fully appreciate the cheesesteak mystic. The latest Cheesesteak War is not over competitive steakmasters or bigoted vendors, see It's a No-No, Ge-no. Instead, it's over the ouster of the man who's family invented cheesesteaks from his stand at the venerable Reading Terminal Market.

As described in this Inky article, Rick's Steaks owner sues over ouster from market:
The owner of Rick's Steaks, which has lost its lease at Reading Terminal Market, announced yesterday that he was taking his beef with the market's management to court. Rick Olivieri filed for a temporary restraining order aimed at keeping the market's management from forcing Rick's Steaks to leave when his lease expires today, according to his lawyer, Bill Harvey.

* * * *

The market board decided last month not to renew Olivieri's lease. It said Luke would bring a more prominent face to the market. Olivieri's restaurant has been in the market for 25 years.

"I think this is definitely personal," said Olivieri, who claims the board is evicting him because he vocally opposed new lease terms while he was president of the Reading Terminal Merchants Association. The disputed terms included extended workday hours and required reporting of monthly sales figures.

The Reading Terminal Market merchants are behind Oliveri, As Rick’s faces ouster from Reading Terminal ... Merchants vow support, including:
The Amish merchants in Reading Terminal announced that in protest of the board's decision, the 19th annual Dutch Festival set for Aug. 8 through 11 was canceled.

David Esh, owner-operator of the Hatville Deli and a representative of the market's Amish merchants, said in a statement yesterday: "Dutch Fest is a celebration and, quite honestly, we are not in a mood to celebrate."

In addition, 5,000 customers signed a petition in support of Rick's Steaks in recent weeks, according to Olivieri.

Olivieri is a grandson of Pasquale "Pat" Olivieri, who is credited with inventing the Philadelphia cheesesteak with his brother, Harry, about 75 years ago.

See also, Market forcing out one of its veterans and Cheesesteak clash at Reading Market.

For more on the cheese wid controversy, see Foobooz, as well as the discussion at the forum, eG Forums.

Will Bunch of Attytood thinks the whole thing is ridiculously overhyped, which is absolutely true. But we're talking cheesesteaks and Philly -- what do you expect? At least this time, it's not a battle over boycotting of immigrants. See No Cheese Wid for me. However, as Philadelphia Will Do noted:
I think we all know who's to blame: The Pennsylvania Dutch. They're always up to no good!

Cruelly Compassionate

"Tenderly devastating" is how David Kuo refers to John DiIulio's op-ed piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Bush's stand on insurance plan contradicts words of compassion:

DiIulio notes that it was eight years ago this week that Bush delivered the first public policy speech of his campaign, titled 'The Duty of Hope' where he rejected extreme Republican notions that government should just get out of the way and let our social problems solve themselves. Rather, government had to help 'in the common good, and that good is not common until it is shared by those in need.
In his retrospective piece on the lie of "compassionate conservatism," DiIulio observes:

On the other hand, poverty rates have risen in many cities. In 2005, Washington fiddled while New Orleans flooded, and the White House has vacillated in its support for the region's recovery and rebuilding process. Most urban religious nonprofit organizations that provide social services in low-income communities still get no public support whatsoever. Several recent administration positions on social policy contradict the compassion vision Bush articulated in 1999.

In May, Bush rejected a bipartisan House bill that increased funding for Head Start, a program that benefits millions of low-income preschoolers.

* * * *

Last week, Bush threatened to veto a bipartisan Senate plan that would add $35 billion over five years to the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The decade-old program insures children in families that are not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid but are too poor to afford private insurance. The extra $7 billion a year offered by the Senate would cover a few million more children. New money for the purpose would come from raising the federal excise tax on cigarettes.

Several former Bush advisers have urged the White House to accept some such SCHIP plan. So have many governors in both parties and Republican leaders in the Senate. In 2003, Bush supported a Medicare bill that increased government spending on prescription drugs for elderly middle-income citizens by hundreds of billions of dollars. But he has pledged only $1 billion a year more for low-income children's health insurance. His spokesmen say doing any more for the "government-subsidized program" would encourage families to drop private insurance.

But the health-insurance market has already priced out working-poor families by the millions. With a growing population of low-income children, $1 billion a year more would be insufficient even to maintain current per-capita child coverage levels. Some speculate that SCHIP is now hostage to negotiations over the president's broader plan to expand health coverage via tax cuts and credits. But his plan has no chance in this Congress; besides, treating health insurance for needy children as a political bargaining chip would be wrong.

DiIulio realized the scam of the Bush Administration early on, and moved on. He is the author of the "Mayberry Machiavelli" quote, see The Mayberry Machiavellis Are At It Again, which without a doubt is the legacy of the Administration. As Steve Benen writes at Talking Points Memo:
When history looks back at the Bush presidency, one of the more celebrated quotes that will help capture much of what went wrong will be John DiIulio's. It was DiIulio, the first director of the president's White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, who told Ron Suskind, 'What you've got is everything -- and I mean everything -- being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis.'
DiIulio, along with Rao and a host of other former White House officials, finally understood the dissembling of the Administration. Compassionate Conservatism is code for cruel, cold-hearted conservatism. Once he understood that, DiIulio, who was a believer in the policy, not the politics, had to leave.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Cartoon of the Day

* David Horsey, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

The Velveeta Capers

Philly blogger (and Daily News Journalist) Will Bunch, of the superb online blog Attytood, was on Keith Olbermann's Countdown, discussing the inexplicable coincidence of increase in terror alerts whenever there is bad news coming out relating to the Bush Administration. See Attytood on your TV set.

The video is available at Crooks and Liars: Creating Terror Scares. Bunch's appearance is also mocked by Dan Rubin of the Inquirer, who writes about it at his blog, Goodnight, Mr. Bunch.

Attytood follows up his on-air discussion with an acknowledgment by CNN that the latest terrorist alerts issued by the TSA -- the "dry runs" were bogus (and they were aware of this when the alerts were issued, see Told ya so, Part 1: CNN says "just kidding" after terror scare.

And, I also discovered that Blinq is back! Great news.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Cartoon of the Day

* Jeff Danzier, NYTimes

It's Time to Go

While I was away last week, there were a lot of articles that I saved that I wanted to blog about. Where to begin? How about the cat story? Bloggers are cat fans. The other day I listened to the NPR story of Oscar the curmudgeon cat (somewhat redundant, I suppose -- is there any other kind?), Does Feline Have a Feeling That Death Is Near?, the hospice cat at a nursing home who seems to have an uncanny ability to predict when patients are going to die.

Via Kiko's House, in
Sunday Kitty Blogging, the New England Journal of Medicine describes, A Day in the Life of Oscar the Cat:

[Oscar has] an uncanny ability to predict when residents are about to die. Thus far, he has presided over the deaths of more than 25 residents on the third floor of Steere House Nursing and RehabilitationCenter in Providence, Rhode Island. His mere presence at the bedside is viewed by physicians and nursing home staff as an almost absolute indicator of impending death, allowing staff members to adequately notify families. Oscar has also provided companionship to those who would otherwise have died alone. For his work, he is highly regarded by the physicians and staff at Steere House and by the families of the residents whom he serves.
For the contrarian view, see Respectful Insolence: The Kitty of Doom.

And then, of course, there's this: Death Cat Begins Gonzales Vigil.

(Pictured: our cat, Scrunchy, who has an uncanny ability to tell time when it's meal time & is your best buddy then; otherwise, he doesn't even want to know you.)

Dig Deeper

A 2004 dispute over the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance program that led top Justice Department officials to threaten resignation involved computer searches through massive electronic databases, according to current and former officials briefed on the program.

It is not known precisely why searching the databases, or data mining, raised such a furious legal debate. But such databases contain records of the phone calls and e-mail messages of millions of Americans, and their examination by the government would raise privacy issues.

The N.S.A.’s data mining has previously been reported. But the disclosure that concerns about it figured in the March 2004 debate helps to clarify the clash this week between Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and senators who accused him of misleading Congress and called for a perjury investigation.

The confrontation in 2004 led to a showdown in the hospital room of then Attorney General John Ashcroft, where Mr. Gonzales, the White House counsel at the time, and Andrew H. Card Jr., then the White House chief of staff, tried to get the ailing Mr. Ashcroft to reauthorize the N.S.A. program.

The NYTimes reports the latest in Mining of Data Prompted Fight Over U.S. Spying, noting that members of Congress:

[C]onsidered the eavesdropping and data mining so closely tied that they were part of a single program. Both activities, which ordinarily require warrants, were started without court approval as the Bush administration intensified counterterrorism efforts soon after the Sept. 11 attacks. A half-dozen officials and former officials interviewed for this article would speak only on the condition of anonymity, in part because unauthorized disclosures about the classified program are already the subject of a criminal investigation. Some of the officials said the 2004 dispute involved other issues in addition to the data mining, but would not provide details. They would not say whether the differences were over how the databases were searched or how the resulting information was used.

Nor would they explain what modifications to the surveillance program President Bush authorized to head off the threatened resignations by Justice Department officials.

See also, the Washington Post's piece, Data Mining Figured In Dispute Over NSA. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo follows up on this in his post, Data Mining:

I don't doubt that this is true as far as it goes. But this must only scratch the surface because, frankly, at least as presented, this just doesn't account for the depth of the controversy or the fact that so many law-and-order DOJ types were willing to resign over what was happening. Something's missing.

Of course, 'data mining' can mean virtually anything. What kind of data and whose you're looking at makes all the difference in the world. Suggestively, the Times article includes this cryptic passage: 'Some of the officials said the 2004 dispute involved other issues in addition to the data mining, but would not provide details. They would not say whether the differences were over how the databases were searched or how the resulting information was used.'

To put this into perspective, remember that the White House has been willing to go to the public and make a positive argument for certain surveillance procedures (notably evasion of the FISA Court strictures) which appear to be illegal on their face. This must be much more serious and apparently something all but the most ravenous Bush authoritarians would never accept. It is supposedly no longer even happening and hasn't been for a few years. So disclosing it could not jeopardize a program. The only reason that suggests itself is that the political and legal consequences of disclosure are too grave to allow.

Via Suburban Guerrilla, who also notes that the issue has been "rolling around my head for days now, because clearly there’s a larger coverup at work with Gonzales’ testimony. But what’s the big picture?," is this Daily Kos post, Echoes of Watergate, 2001-2007, which provides a likely timeline of the surveillance program and states:

The Bush Administration (Including Gonzales) has refused to answer questions about other (controversial) aspects of the NSA warrantless wiretap program as it existed in March 2004 under the grounds of mission-critical secrecy. The secrecy however is almost certainly to cover-up the controversial portion of the program that existed prior to Comey’s issues with it.
Mueller did not use the TSP terminology because he knows the "TSP" did not exist in 2004- it was a made up term to dissemble the December 2005 leak. Mueller was being honest and refusing to become entangled in the administration ambiguation, knowing full well that "TSP" is an artificial construct in which the administration has invested heavily, but which is not the full truth. He knows the extent of the NSA-surveillance programs and why they were controversial, and is not getting dragged into the cover-up.

* * * *

In retrospect, it is easy to see why Alberto Gonzales was the ONLY candidate the Bush administration would ever consider for replacing John Ashcroft. He is at the heart of the cover-up and is now in control of the usual reins of Justice. It is also why Bush is committed to defending him and keeping him as Attorney General. I suspect they will go down together. A Special Prosecutor is the ONLY way to resolve this crisis.

It is tragically ironic that another Republican Administration will become embroiled, and probably destroyed, by illegal "wiretapping" and the idiotic cover-up that they elected to undertake. Many in the Bush Administration were involved in the Nixon administration, and it is obvious they learned nothing.

Nothing. The more things change, the more they stay the same. . .

The Genius of the Constitution

The timing of the ruling was perfect to allow for one of those teaching moments. On our way back to Philly from our Poconos vacation, we passed the Hazelton exit on Route 80. My daughter studied immigration rights issues last year at school, see Love Park Rally, so it was just the right opportunity to discuss the recent opinion and my favorite quote:

U.S. District Judge James Munley ruled Thursday that the law usurped the federal government's exclusive power to regulate immigration and deprived residents of their constitutional right to due process.

'The genius of our Constitution is that it provides rights even to those who evoke the least sympathy from the general public,' Munley wrote in a 206-page opinion.
See Judge strikes down Hazleton's tough anti-illegal immigration law. I was able to describe the decision, as reported by The Scranton Times:
U.S. District Judge James Munley found fault with just about every aspect of Hazleton's Illegal Immigration Relief Act, which he struck down Thursday in a 206-page opinion that declared states and municipalities have no business trying to stem illegal immigration.

Munley's decision is a road map for judges 'inclined to find in favor of immigrant advocates,' said Peter Spiro, who teaches immigration law at Temple University.

'This is a big victory for immigrants rights advocates, to have a slam dunk in the first major case addressing one of these ordinances,' he said. 'They could hardly have asked for more.'"

* * * *

"Even if federal law did not conflict with Hazleton's measures, the city could not enact an ordinance that violates rights the Constitution guarantees to every person in the United States, whether legal resident or not," Munley wrote.

Munley also wrote that Hazleton's law was at odds with current federal immigration policy, which he said avoids "excessive enforcement" against illegal immigrants so as not to jeopardize foreign relations. Hazleton, he said, failed to consider "the implications of the ordinances on foreign policy."

An editorial in the Scranton Times, Hazleton still part of United States, observed that mayor Barletta is expected to run for congress. Now I get all the grandstanding. I thought it was just simple bigotry in action. See also, The Pennsylvania Progressive: Judge Dismisses Barletta's Bigotry.

As an aside, I must say that the changing "complexion" (pun intended) of the Poconos was amazing -- and I'm not talking about the foliage. The influx of non-whites in that area was quite surprising. It was not that many years ago that the Poconos was a white enclave, with hardly a person of color, never mind substantial numbers of immigrants. This was KKK country, at least in certain parts. Shortly after we arrived, my brother-in-law came back from a trips to the local WalMart to pick up supplies and observed with some shock the ratio of non-whites at the store.

Shaun Mullen of Kiko's House (who also spent last week in the Poconos), reported some time ago on the disgrace of the sweatshops that have populated that area, with a raid on a number of businesses who were employing illegal immigrants, see The Poconos: From Paradise to Sweatshops and Update on the Poconos Sweatshop Scandal.

For more on the other side of the Pocono area, see The Poconos & It's Sick Obsession With Guns.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Guest Pass

Our week in the Poconos is almost over. It was a different vacation for all. Except for a day of rain, the weather has been lovely. We took a trek back to Philly for a day mid-week, so that I could attend a client-related event. Day trips to NYC and Scranton also were on the schedule for various family members.

The vacation crowd has 4 teens (including our daughter) and 2 young children. For them, spending a week in the middle of nowhere has been "boring." Seeing the above visitor in our yard was a highlight. Unfortunately, none of them are particularly outdoorsy. Even worse, nothing is within walking distance -- even the pool and lake, so a car ride is required for all activities.

In the evenings, the darkness up here is pure -- I call it the absence of light. One night, while going to one of the other cottages, flashlight in hand, our daughter was fascinated with the night sky -- since we don't get a view like that in Philly -- and she almost walked into a deer on the road. Needless to say, she raced back to our place.

The cottages that we are staying in did not have internet access, so I stopped by the AT&T store on our way out to sign up for LaptopConnect service. Of course, service in the mountains isn't the best, but I have been able to connect (some family members can't get cell service at all). I have a time limited account, so I haven't been on-line as much. That hasn't been a bad thing. I didn't do much work stuff this week, which is unusual for me and I was able to do some reading, which has been enjoyable.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

To the Mountains

We vacation annually with my husband's family. His siblings are scattered across the country, from Pittsburgh to Atlanta to Los Angeles. Usually we travel to a shore point, such as Newport Beach, San Diego, Clearwater, and of course, the Jersey Shore.

This year, however, we are headed to the mountains. Our vacation is in the Pocono Mountains, at Lake Naomi. His extended family is planning a family reunion near Scranton (our hometown) next week-end.

It will be interesting to go back to the Pocono's. My brothers and I used to own land in Tannersville, near Camelback, many years ago. When we moved to Philly, we built a cottage and occasionally spent week-ends there. Our place was off the beat track, in a secluded area. With each of us raising our families, we found that we didn't get there as much, so we sold it several years ago.

Lake Naomi looks to be more a resort than our old home, with a "beach," pools (heated, of course), and assorted outdoor activities. Plus, lots of R&R . . .

Cartoon of the Day

* Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Swift Justice

It didn't take long. A request for reconsideration was filed in the "Case of the Purloined Pants" a mere few weeks ago, see A Swift Kick in the Pants, in which Roy Pearson requested that Judge Bartnoff reconsider the verdict against him in the dry cleaners case. Silly man.

Marc Fisher provides the latest news of the judicial victory in Pants Update: Cuffed Again!:

D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff is not wasting any time letting the pants man, Roy Pearson, know what she thinks of his persistent efforts to have his $54 million lawsuit against the neighborhood dry cleaners turned around in his favor.

Bartnoff decided in an order released late today that Pearson, the D.C. administrative law judge who sued Custom Cleaners because the cleaners allegedly lost a pair of his pants, "has not presented any new argument or authority that warrants reconsideration of the Court's prior rulings."

* * * *

Enough already, her latest order seems to say.

Except that Pearson has no intention of halting here. He is expected to appeal Bartnoff's verdict in a couple of weeks and he will likely also appeal today's order--all of which only adds to the legal bills faced by the Chung family, the owner of Custom Cleaners.

Doesn't he understand that lawyers already have a bad name, so we don't him to do the honors?

Tags: , ,

Friday, July 20, 2007

Cartoon of the Day

* Justin Bilicki


"Breathtaking" used to be a word used to describe a beautiful scene or piece of art. But, over the past several years, I've noticed that it is the preferred description for the outrageous power grabs of the Bush Administration.

In another instance in the continuing exertion of absolute power by the Lawless Administration, an article today in the Washington Post, Broader Privilege Claimed In Firings:

Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.

The position presents serious legal and political obstacles for congressional Democrats, who have begun laying the groundwork for contempt proceedings against current and former White House officials in order to pry loose information about the dismissals.

Under federal law, a statutory contempt citation by the House or Senate must be submitted to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, "whose duty it shall be to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action."

But administration officials argued yesterday that Congress has no power to force a U.S. attorney to pursue contempt charges in cases, such as the prosecutor firings, in which the president has declared that testimony or documents are protected from release by executive privilege. Officials pointed to a Justice Department legal opinion during the Reagan administration, which made the same argument in a case that was never resolved by the courts.

* * * *

Mark J. Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University who has written a book on executive-privilege issues, called the administration's stance "astonishing."

"That's a breathtakingly broad view of the president's role in this system of separation of powers," Rozell said. "What this statement is saying is the president's claim of executive privilege trumps all."

The administration's statement is a dramatic attempt to seize the upper hand in an escalating constitutional battle with Congress, which has been trying for months, without success, to compel White House officials to testify and to turn over documents about their roles in the prosecutor firings last year. The Justice Department and White House in recent weeks have been discussing when and how to disclose the stance, and the official said he decided yesterday that it was time to highlight it.

* * * *

Under long-established procedures and laws, the House and Senate can each pursue two kinds of criminal contempt proceedings, and the Senate also has a civil contempt option. The first, called statutory contempt, has been the avenue most frequently pursued in modern times, and is the one that requires a referral to the U.S. attorney in the District.

Both chambers also have an "inherent contempt" power, allowing either body to hold its own trials and even jail those found in defiance of Congress. Although widely used during the 19th century, the power has not been invoked since 1934 and Democratic lawmakers have not displayed an appetite for reviving the practice.

In defending its argument, administration officials point to a 1984 opinion by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, headed at the time by Theodore B. Olson, a prominent conservative lawyer who was solicitor general from 2001 to 2004. The opinion centered on a contempt citation issued by the House for Anne Gorsuch Burford, then administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

It concluded: "The President, through a United States Attorney, need not, indeed may not, prosecute criminally a subordinate for asserting on his behalf a claim of executive privilege. Nor could the Legislative Branch or the courts require or implement the prosecution of such an individual."

In the Burford case, which involved spending on the Superfund program, the White House filed a federal lawsuit to block Congress's contempt action. The conflict subsided when Burford turned over documents to Congress.

* * * *

David B. Rifkin, who worked in the Justice Department and White House counsel's office under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, praised the position and said it is consistent with the idea of a "unitary executive." In practical terms, he said, "U.S. attorneys are emanations of a president's will." And in constitutional terms, he said, "the president has decided, by virtue of invoking executive privilege, that is the correct policy for the entire executive branch."

But Stanley Brand, who was the Democratic House counsel during the Burford case, said the administration's legal view "turns the constitutional enforcement process on its head. They are saying they will always place a claim of presidential privilege without any judicial determination above a congressional demand for evidence -- without any basis in law." Brand said the position is essentially telling Congress: "Because we control the enforcement process, we are going to thumb our nose at you."

Rozell, the George Mason professor and authority on executive privilege, said the administration's stance "is almost Nixonian in its scope and breadth of interpreting its power. Congress has no recourse at all, in the president's view. . . . It's allowing the executive to define the scope and limits of its own powers."

I disagree with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who claims that the position is like saying that they are above the law. This is not a case of putting the Administration above the law. This is merely taking the position that the Executive is the law.

The Signs Are Ominous

Politics makes strange bedfellows indeed. Who could have ever imagined that conservatives such as Bruce Fein would be aligned with liberals -- in the cause of impeachment of a Republican president? And now there is another convert to the cause.

According to Raw Story, referring to a new Executive Order which allows the government to seize the assets of anyone who interferes with its Iraq policies, Old-line Republican warns 'something's in the works' to trigger a police state:

Thom Hartmann . . . introduced old-line conservative Paul Craig Roberts -- a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan who has recently become known for his strong opposition to the Bush administration and the Iraq War -- by quoting the 'strong words' which open Roberts' latest column: 'Unless Congress immediately impeaches Bush and Cheney, a year from now the US could be a dictatorial police state at war with Iran.'

'I don't actually think they're very strong,' said Roberts of his words. 'I get a lot of flak that they're understated and the situation is worse than I say. ... When Bush exercises this authority [under the new Executive Order] ... there's no check to it. It doesn't have to be ratified by Congress. The people who bear the brunt of these dictatorial police state actions have no recourse to the judiciary. So it really is a form of total, absolute, one-man rule. ... The American people don't really understand the danger that they face.'

* * * *
Roberts believes instead that Cheney and Rove intend to use a renewal of the War on Terror to rally the American people around the Republican Party. "Something's in the works," he said, adding that the Executive Orders need to create a police state are already in place.

"The administration figures themselves and prominent Republican propagandists ... are preparing us for another 9/11 event or series of events," Roberts continued. "Chertoff has predicted them. ... The National Intelligence Estimate is saying that al Qaeda has regrouped. ... You have to count on the fact that if al Qaeda's not going to do it, it's going to be orchestrated. ... The Republicans are praying for another 9/11."

* * * *

"Americans think their danger is terrorists," said Roberts. "They don't understand the terrorists cannot take away habeas corpus, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution. ... The terrorists are not anything like the threat that we face to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution from our own government in the name of fighting terrorism. Americans just aren't able to perceive that."

Roberts pointed out that it's old-line Republicans like himself, former Reagan associate deputy attorney general Bruce Fein, and Pat Buchanan who are the diehards in warning of the danger. "It's so obvious to people like us who have long been associated in the corridors of power," he said. "There's no belief in the people or anything like that. They have agendas. The people are in the way. The Constitution is in the way. ... Americans need to comprehend and look at how ruthless Cheney is. ... A person like that would do anything."

See Roberts' article, Impeach Now, at Counterpunch.

A reading of this new "Executive Order" will put fear in your heart. Not the fear of terrorists, but of the Bush Administration. And that is not all. The pieces are all slowly being put in place for a total takeover of the government by the Lawless Administration. In a post a few months ago, The Alarms are Ringing, I noted the passage of a new law that amounts to a re-writing of the Insurrection Act, which "makes it easier for a president to override local control of law enforcement and declare martial law."

I am normally not an alarmist, but the signs are ominous. I fell like those Jews in Germany who couldn't believe that their government would actually turn on them, so didn't flee when they had an opportunity. The signs were there, but they kept rationalizing what it meant, disbelieving the worst -- until it happened.

After you read this, check out the video. You'll be a convert yet -- and that means you, Susan.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

He Who Shall Be Nameless

Only a Republican could claim that he wants to be able to spin the case a bit differently during an upcoming trial because he doesn't like the facts as they exist. That's pretty much what happened during pre-trial proceedings in a civil rights case against the Philly suburb of Upper Darby. And the best part of it all is what the lawyer for Upper Darby wants to suppress -- any reference to President Bush, because he's afraid it will be prejudicial to his client's case.

As Monica Yant Kinney of the Inquirer describes in President? What president?:

For a sign of these strange times, look no farther than Upper Darby.

The traditionally Republican township is terrified to be associated with President Bush.

A lawyer representing Upper Darby in a civil-rights lawsuit went so far as to beg the judge not to allow Bush's name to be uttered in court.

It will be hard enough to find people who can be open-minded about an old man arrested for speaking his mind by holding a small sign.

If jurors hear the old man was charged with a crime for protesting Bush and the war in Iraq, they're bound to take his side.

Folks are more than fed up with the president, the township argued.

He's toxic.

Asking a federal judge to suppress evidence as a way to ensure a fair trial is the legal equivalent of a Hail Mary pass.

* * * *

Harold Lischner had a long career in medicine as an immunologist at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children and professor at Temple University's School of Medicine.

Lischner was 78 on Sept. 15, 2003, the day the presidential motorcade roared into Delaware County for a Bush fund-raiser. . . .

He and 50 others stood outside - on Drexelbrook's property, as opposed to a public space nearby set aside for protesters. Lischner held a sign reading:

"Withdraw our troops from Iraq. Give the $87 billion to the Iraqi governing council and UN for immediate relief and repair of the destruction we caused."

* * * *

Lischner's sign did draw the attention of Upper Darby police, who repeatedly told him to put the sign away and leave, or face arrest.

He didn't, so they did.

Lischner was 'cuffed and driven to police headquarters.

Two months later, a judge found him not guilty of the disorderly-conduct charge.

Two years later, Lischner sued.

In trying to defend its indefensible action in arresting the peaceful protester, the Township wants to hide the truth of what occurred:

Bush is drowning and could sink us, Upper Darby argued in its court filings, citing a string of sorry stats:

Bush has "the worst approval rating of an American president in a generation," the township's lawyer wrote, using italics for emphasis.

"Currently, 62 percent of Americans believe Bush's actions in Iraq show he is 'stubborn and unwilling to admit his mistakes.'

"President Bush's identity, in and of itself, presents the danger that the jury will favor plaintiff," insisted the defendant, Upper Darby.

Luckily, the judiciary hasn't all gone over to the dark side in abandoning the rule of law. In rejecting this argument, the Court said:

Who and what Lischner was protesting that day is absolutely relevant to his case, U.S. District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter ruled last week.

"There is no requirement that trials be made up of the blandest theories, facts and arguments available," she wrote.

The president's identity may not matter to Upper Darby, but it will to the jury and it does to Pratter. Which is especially impressive, since it was Bush who nominated her for the job.

Not sure anything else need be said.

(Via Suburban Guerrilla, who I met last night)

Politics Is All

Jon Stewart explores the world of politics in government under the Bush Administration in "You Have No Idea."

(Via onegoodmove)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wouldn't It Be Lovely?

Larry Flynt has several other names to reveal of those involved in the prostitution ring, a la Vitter. See Political Wire. On Larry King Live, Flynt noted that he was shocked, especially at one senator . . .

I just wonder if he is limiting "Senator" to current members only?

Or if it applies to ex-Senators . . .

(Via Eschaton)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A View from the Top

Cheers to local Philly blogger Brad Maule, of phillyskyline, who was featured in a piece in the Inquirer, Eyes on the city's skyline. As the article notes:

Look up.

Brad Maule has been doing it for five years, documenting the planning and construction of dozens of Philadelphia's high-rise buildings on his Web site, www.phillyskyline.com.

The site is updated daily with information on buildings that have been proposed or are under construction, and it includes commentary about city life, politics and sports. Maule posted 2,000 photos of the construction of the Comcast Center.

It's a great site & I visit it often. His pictures of Philly are not to be missed and his commentary is an added attraction. In fact, I recently noted Maule's great pictures and blog on the Comcast building, in my post, Tip of the Hat.

I guess he's due a Tip of the Hat!

What Happens Here, Stays Here

It seems that the White House is the Las Vegas of the east.

Is there anything that happens in this White House that is not subject to Executive Privilege? I realize that the President would argue that, since everything changed after 9/11 (the only truthful words he ever said), the need for secrecy in the WH has changed, so the old Executive Privilege rules are not operative in today's environment.

However, for those of us who may be out of the loop, has the WH adopted a interpretation of Executive Privilege that could be released, so we could know what's secret and what's not? Or, is that privileged as well? Cynics would argue (e.g., moi) that the all encompassing cloak of secrecy in the WH is merely yet another means for the Mayberry Machiavellis to cover up claims of corruption, malfeasance, misfeasance, and plain old incompetence.

The latest outrageous claim, of course, is the release related to the Tillman matter. In White House Denies Request for Documents in Ex-NFL Player's Death, the Washington Post reports:

"The White House has refused to give Congress documents about the death of former NFL player Pat Tillman, with White House counsel Fred F. Fielding saying that certain papers relating to discussion of the friendly-fire shooting 'implicate Executive Branch confidentiality interests.'"

It seems more than obvious that, in cases like the Tillman cover-up, the White has something to hide, see The right place to fight, since its role in covering up the true facts surrounding the death of Sgt. Tillman was purely policitical, to ensure the right "spin" was put on the incident.

See Crooks & Liars for the video of the Olbermann Countdown segment on this: Harriet Miers, Inherent Contempt, Pat Tillman & Executive Privilege.

Cartoon of the Day

* Clay Jones, The Free-Lance Star

Monday, July 16, 2007

Cartoon of the Day

* Jerry Holbert, Boston Herald

What's Next?

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review is one of those conservative rags that serve one purpose -- wrapping fish. It's the newspaper version of Fox News. The paper is owned by Richard Mellon Scaife, who for years led what seemed to be a one man campaign to bring down Bill Clinton and spent lots of his billions to help do so by any means possible.

Thankfully, I was sitting down when I read these words at Editor & Publisher:

The Pittsburgh newspaper owned by conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife yesterday called the Bush administration's plans to stay the course in Iraq a "prescription for American suicide."

The editorial in the Tribune-Review added, "And quite frankly, during last Thursday's news conference, when George Bush started blathering about 'sometimes the decisions you make and the consequences don't enable you to be loved,' we had to question his mental stability."

It continued: "President Bush warns that U.S. withdrawal would risk 'mass killings on a horrific scale.' What do we have today, sir?

"If the president won't do the right thing and end this war, the people must. The House has voted to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by April. The Senate must follow suit.

"Our brave troops should take great pride that they rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein. And they should have no shame in leaving Iraq. For it will not be, in any way, an exercise in tail-tucking and running.

"America has done its job.

"It's time for the Iraqis to do theirs." (Emphasis added)
OMG. What's next? Scaife campaigning for Hillary Clinton & hanging out with Bill?

Scaife-Owned Newspaper Calls for Iraq Troop Withdrawal -- Questions Bush's 'Mental Stability'

You Will "Feel Good"

An animated cartoon from Nick Anderson, featuring the Lawless Administration.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Cartoon of the Day

* Ed Stein, Rocky Mountain News

We're Sorry You Are You

It's not the front page, above-the-fold apology he sought, but Richard Snowden finally got the mea culpa he demanded from the Chestnut Hill Local. It was in the form of a letter (highlighted in a box) to him, on the opinion page, from the President of the Community Association and the Editor of the Local. Snowden, a real estate "magnate" (through inherited wealth, not due to his own efforts) in tony Chestnut Hill, has had a feud with the local community paper, the Chestnut Hill Local, for several years. See my post Much Ado About Nothing, for background on the story.

As I noted in a follow up piece, Money Doesn't Talk -- It Swears, an Inky article described his requirements: "What Snowden wants is an apology, printed on the newspaper's front page, above the fold, with specific language. He also wants the newspaper to agree not to write about him, his family or his business dealings." See also, Oh, Chestnut Hill.

The Dear Dick letter states:

Last fall, the Chestnut Hill Community Association and Bowman Properties began a dialogue to resolve the long-standing issues between our two organizations. As you know, a great deal of time has gone into determining the source of our differences and how we can move past them. What we think we can agree on, without qualification, is that the resolution of these issues has been at an impasse for too long.

As the president of a board and the editor of a newspaper committed to what is fair and also to what is best for Chestnut Hill, we think it behooves us to acknowledge the various ways that we may have contributed to the misunderstanding, and to express our regret for the occasions where we have unintentionally offended the Snowden family. We hasten to add that we seek no reciprocal response from Bowman Properties. We are doing this because it is the right thing to do and also because it is time for us to move forward.

* * * *

We hope that this sincere apology on behalf of the Local is persuasive in helping to bring these troubling issues to a close. We particularly want to express our regret that any of these short comings outlined above coincided with the life summary of one of Chestnut Hill’s most unique, far sighted and generous supporters, Virginia C. Wilmsen, whom we continue to regard with great admiration and gratitude.

I don't blame the Community Association for finally caving in to his petty demands -- it has adversely impacted the retail community in many ways. As they said, they needed to move on.

I wonder who penned the "sincere apology" -- which "hasten[s] to add that . . . no reciprocal response" is requested or expected. But of course who would ever expect someone like Snowden to apologize for his boorish behavior? I certainly wouldn't. That would take a level of maturity and responsibility that I would never expect of "Lord Snowden," as he's snidely called.

I must say, I still prefer my suggested way of resolving the impasse. As I noted in an earlier post: Put the apology in BIG letters on the front page of the Local:

We're Sorry You're an Ass

I should add that I believe Snowden suffers from what I refer to as BALD* syndrome. Unfortunately, there is no cure for those who have a severe case of the malady. It's not contagious or anything, but sufferers of the disease are nonetheless prone to inflict their illness on others in many ways.

(*BALD = Big Asshole, Little Dick)

D Day

You will pass a difficult test that will make you happier.

In one of those weird, inexplicable coincidences, this was my daughter's fortune this morning. We had dinner last night from Cin Cin in Chestnut Hill, but never ate our fortune cookies. She woke up early this morning, worried and nervous. The fortune cookies were sitting on the table in the breakfast room, when she decided to have one for breakfast.

Today -- the day she is scheduled to take her driver's test. I guess someone up there likes her.

She has finished her driving lessons, see Lift-off on Lincoln Drive, and I've survived co-piloting her for as long as possible. She's now ready to do it on her own -- I guess.

UPDATE: She passed -- on her first try. It had to be the fortune cookie bringing her luck, because most of her friends didn't make it the first time.

The Cure

Bill Moyers Journal explores the talk of impeachment with Constitutional scholar Bruce Fein, who wrote the first article of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, and The Nation's John Nichols, author of The Genius Of Impeachment, The Cure for Royalism. This program should be required viewing for every American citizen.

A few quotes:

'The founding fathers expected an executive who tried to overreach and expected the executive would be hampered and curtailed by the legislative branch... They [Congress] have basically renounced — walked away from their responsibility to oversee and check.' — Bruce Fein

'On January 20th, 2009, if George Bush and Dick Cheney are not appropriately held to account this Administration will hand off a toolbox with more powers than any President has ever had, more powers than the founders could have imagined. And that box may be handed to Hillary Clinton or it may be handed to Mitt Romney or Barack Obama or someone else. But whoever gets it, one of the things we know about power is that people don't give away the tools.' — John Nichols
I saw a comment by Will Bunch of Attytood that made me smile, since I've had a similar thought. In an unrelated post, Now that's clout!, Bunch observes:
The Clinton impeachment -- probably unintentionally, although you never know -- innoculated Bush and Cheney, as America can only seem to stomach impeachment once in a generation. (It was never really considered during the severe abuses of the Iran-Contra affair, you may recall).

I'd like to think I'm wrong.
I am hardly a conspiracy theorist, but based upon the machinations and long range planning of the Lawless gang to establish a permanent GOP majority over the past 20 years, I wonder about that more and more. Compared to the transgressions that are revealed daily by the Lawless Administration, Clinton's dalliance was just that -- and hardly the stuff of impeachment. Yet, after that whole mess, even I was reluctant to seriously consider impeachment as a realistically viable option to deal with Bush. See, Chuck Cheney. As time has gone on, with the revelations of abuse and corruption in the Administration, I have reconsidered. See A Long Shot is Still a Shot. And in considering it, I have often had the thought that the Clinton impeachment was a preemptive, protective move for what they were planning to do when the Republicans regained power.

For more on Impeachment (including references and readings), see the Journal's Tough Talk on Impeachment.

“Most important thing for the American people to know is that the great genius of the founding fathers, their revolutionary idea, with the chief mission of the state is to make you and them free to pursue their ambitions and faculties. Not to build empires, not to aggrandize government. That's the mission of the state, to make them free, chart their own destiny. And the burden is on the government to try to understand why that freedom has to be curtailed for a security purpose or otherwise.”

-- Bruce Fein

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Mayberry Machiavellis Are At It Again

When I blog about something, I mostly try to either pick an item that interests or amuses me, or I focus a topic that I think is important, but is not getting the attention that it deserves in the media. So I generally don't cover political issues that have been adequately addressed in the press, but the testimony of former Surgeon General Richard Carmona deserves special comment.

The Pennsylvania Progressive provides a good summary of the litany of issues that confrontly Carmona during his tenure, Ex-Surgeon General Testifies on Bush Censorship:

Among the claims made by Carmona:

* He was not permitted to provide relevant scientific data regarding stem cell research, and Bush appointees would delete references to such from his speech texts
* His report on second-hand smoke was stalled for political purposes
* His reports on mental health and emergency preparedness were blocked from release
* He was not permitted to discuss teen pregnancy outside of the realm of abstinence, despite evidence that abstinence-only is a failed policy
* He attended a meeting with senior officials on global warming, which was labeled 'a liberal cause with no merit.' After discussing the science of global warming with the same officials, he was never invited back.
* President Bush's name had to be mentioned 3 times per page in any speech texts prepared
* He was admonished for giving a keynote address to a group associated with the Special Olympics because it helped a 'politically prominent family'--the Kennedys.
Dick Polman, as always, provides the essence of the problems confronted by Carmona in The national doc's damaging dish:

Dr. Richard Carmona, an ex-Army Special Forces medic and ex-Arizona deputy sheriff who served as U.S. Surgeon General from 2002 to 2006, clearly had an unenviable job. He tried repeatedly to speak out publicly about empirical scientific truths (on everything from stem cells to sex education), but he was working for a regime that adhered to faith-based certitudes; hence, he spent most of his tenure trying in vain to remove the masking tape that had been affixed to his mouth.

For instance, he once was invited to attend a meeting on global warming. At that meeting, a Bush official dismissed global warming as a liberal cause. Carmona wanted to discuss the science, but he was “never invited back.” And when he tried to raise the issue of stem-cell science, “I was told to stand down and not speak about it. It was removed from my speeches.”

It’s rare to hear a former loyalist dish on the Decider with such impunity, but apparently he’s still rankled by his dealings with the Bush apparatchiks: “Anything that doesn’t fit into the political appointees’ ideological, theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalized or simply buried. The problem with this approach is that in public health, as in a democracy, there is nothing worse than ignoring science or marginalizing the voice of science for reasons driven by changing political winds…The job of surgeon general is to be the doctor of the nation, not the doctor of a political party…”

All true, as we are finding out more & more each day -- politics is all. Then, Polman notes the highlight of his testimony, stating:
I was particularly struck, however, by one item in his sworn testimony – fresh evidence that the loyal Bushies were trying to compel nonpartisan public servants to subscribe to the kind of leadership cult commonly seen in places like North Korea:

It was the little detail about how he was ordered to invoke Bush’s name three times on every page of every speech. (Emphasis added).
Polman harks back to the prescient words of John DiIuilio, which I've quoted several times over the years, see, e.g., Remembrance of Things Lost and Tears of a Clown:

But Carmona’s remarks need to be seen in proper context – as further evidence of the Bush regime’s unprecedented attempts to politicize the institutions of government, to bend them in the service of partisan ends.

* * * *
Indeed, everything Carmona said yesterday merely confirms what John DiIulio was the first to say, five long years ago. DiIulio, a University of Pennsylvania professor and domestic policy expert, lasted barely a year as director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. His parting shot looks more prescient with each passing day:

“There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you’ve got is everything—and I mean everything—being run by the political arm. It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."
Yes. The Bush Administration: Politics is all.

Via Kiko's House, Rick Moran also discusses the Carmona situation. Both Polman and Moran acknowledge that these positions have always had some degree of politics infused in them by various prior Administrations, but emphasize that this is something very different. This is the "flush the government down the bathtub drain" theory in full force. As Moran says, WHY THE POLITICIZATION OF GOVERNMENT IS WRONG:
There are many disturbing aspects to the Bush Administration that historians will examine and perhaps, if they are charitable, chalk up to an overreaction to the 9/11 attacks or perhaps a zealotry for securing the United States from another, bigger catastrophe.

But there is one facet of the Bush Presidency that historians will universally and roundly condemn; the politicization of governance that, top to bottom, has interfered with many of the vital functions we expect the government to carry out. From the office of the Attorney General, to the Environmental Protection Agency, to NASA, to the National Park Service and more, politics has intruded into what traditionally has been non-political or apolitical functions of government. Science issues seem to be a favorite target of the Bushies for political massaging but other important government operations have also seen the heavy hand of politics interfere with public policy decisions – decisions that affect the health, safety, and security of the American people.
See also, TPMmuckraker.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007


Born this day in 1937
Bill Cosby

A few wise words:

Like everyone else who makes the mistake of getting older, I begin each day with coffee and obituaries.

Gray hair is God's graffiti.

A word to the wise ain't necessary, it's the stupid ones who need the advice.

Human beings are the only creatures that allow their children to come back home.

Special Cartoon of the Day

* Doug Marlette -- RIP

Note: Cartoonist Doug Marlette Dies in Car Accident

A Series of Unfortunate Events

It appears that Rick Santorum has a new job -- fear-mongerer extraordinare. Perhaps he's auditioning as Chertoff's new assistant as "Heck of a job" Brownie. Lord knows, he'd be perfect for that job.

The winds of fear forces are apparently out in full force. Along with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff saying that he had a "gut feeling" about another terror attack, our own Rick Santorum is looking out for our fear levels and trying to keep them up there with the heat wave.

In Santorum Suggest New Terror Attacks Will Change View Of War, it's reported:

In an alarming display of fearmongering, former Republican Senator Rick Santorum has suggested that a series of "unfortunate events," namely terrorist attacks, will occur within the next year and change American citizen's perception of the war.

Appearing on the Hugh Hewitt radio show, Santorum also hyped the necessity of "confronting Iran in the Middle East," and predicted that Giuliani, Romney and Fred Thompson would be the three surviving Republican candidates who would go head to head in the race for the nomination.

Santorum went on to clearly imply that terror attacks will occur inside America which will alter the body politic and lead to a reversal of the anti-war sentiment now dominating the country.

"Between now and November, a lot of things are going to happen, and I believe that by this time next year, the American public’s going to have a very different view of this war, and it will be because, I think, of some unfortunate events, that like we’re seeing unfold in the UK. But I think the American public’s going to have a very different view," said the former senator from Pennsylvania.

* * * *
"A confidential memo circulating among senior Republican leaders suggests that a new attack by terrorists on U.S. soil could reverse the sagging fortunes of President George W. Bush as well as the GOP and "restore his image as a leader of the American people," reported Capitol Hill Blue on November 12, 2005.
With GOP's popularity in deep decline, the daily death toll coming out of the war in Iraq, the various domestic disasters such as Attorneygate and the backlash from the Libby commutation, it's no wonder that the fear factor has reared its ugly head.

The refrain has been building. In No one should look forward to terrorism, The Carpetbagger Report notes:
About a month ago, Dennis Milligan, the chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party, sounded pretty excited about the prospect of domestic terrorism. “At the end of the day, I believe fully the president is doing the right thing, and I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [Sept. 11, 2001], and the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this country,” Milligan said.
Richard Blair of All Spin Zone, Santorum On Terror Attacks and Wishful Thinking, puts just the right spin on it:
[T]he former senator seemed to be pining for some type of domestic U.S. threat to recharge the GOP’s batteries. And Santorum isn’t the only former GOP official longing for the halcyon days of 9/11 and war fever.

Again, and not to put too fine of a point on it . . . the last thing America needs is to put people in power who have such an incredible perceived stake in a successful terrorist attack in the U.S. It’s friggin’ scary if you think about it. The GOP has a bigger stake in a terrorist attack than bin-Laden.
See also, Jon Swift, Do We Need Another Terrorist Attack?.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Day's End

Suite for Judy Blue Eyes -- Crosby, Stills & Nash

Born this day -- Me

(w/o blue eyes)

A Swift Kick in the Pants

The "Case of the Purloined Pants" continues. For earlier posts on the ALJ from DC, Roy Pearson, who took his dry cleaners to the cleaners, see They Beat the Pants off Him and Hell Hath No Fury . . .

Despite the scathing opinion from Judge Bartnoff, which she issued when ruling against Pearson, the Washington Post's Marc Fisher of Raw Fisher notes, in The $54 Million Pants Suit That Wouldn't Die:

He's baaaa-ack: Roy Pearson, the D.C. administrative law judge who filed, fought and lost a $54 million lawsuit against the Korean immigrants who own his neighborhood dry cleaners, chose the Fourth of July holiday to make it clear that he will not be going away.

Despite a clear finding by D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff that Pearson's case against Custom Cleaners had no merit and that the cleaners' possible misplacing of a pair of Pearson's pants was not worth a penny to the plaintiff, Pearson is back. He wrote to defense lawyer Christopher Manning this week to let the Chung family know that Pearson plans to file today a motion arguing that Bartnoff failed to address Pearson's legal claims and asking the judge to reverse her verdict in the case.
A Loser's Loser. Not only did he lose -- badly -- but he remains convinced in his own mind of the justice of his case. He's about to find true justice, if the Judge rules against him in the fee claim filed by the Chungs. The Post reports, Couple Asks Judge To Order Plaintiff To Pay Legal Fees:
A dry cleaning business is turning the tables on a man who unsuccessfully sued the firm for $54 million, asking a judge to order him to cover $83,000 in legal fees.

The motion, filed in D.C. Superior Court, comes less than two weeks after a judge denied Roy Pearson's claim over a pair of pants that allegedly went astray. Pearson accused Custom Cleaners of failing to honor the 'Satisfaction Guaranteed' sign posted at the shop.
Based upon the Judge's original ruling, I would expect that she will grant a fee award (of course, Pearson won't be able to pay). The next (hopefully) loser part of this case is yet to come. Marc Fisher also provides an update on Pearson job-status (his ALJ position expired & has yet to be renewed or otherwise acted upon):
And to complete the pants update, there's still no action from the panel that will determine whether Pearson is to be reappointed for a full, 10-year term as an administrative law judge. At Mayor Adrian Fenty's request, the panel put off consideration of Pearson's case until the mayor had a chance to fill a vacancy on the commission on the tenure of ALJs. Now that Fenty has made that appointment, the panel is apparently waiting for Bartnoff's decision on the attorney's fees aspect of the pants case, which could be some weeks away.
And finally, for a little extra dirt on Pearson, one of the commenter's to Fisher's blog pointed to this site, ShoutPost, which says:
In 2004 Mr. Pearson was accused of corruption for giving his son's girlfriend a city job - after which it was revealed Mr. Pearson was actually sleeping with his son's girlfriend on regular occasion. During his tenure as an administrative judge for Washington DC he was accused of smoking crack cocaine in the courthouse washroom, an accusation supported by camera video that later went 'missing' from the evidence room Mr. Pearson had access to himself.
As I said -- an all around loser.

UPDATE (7/15): Pearson not only asked the Judge to reconsider her decision, he filed his own request for an award of attorneys fee. Marc Fisher notes in astonishment, Pants News: America Held Hostage, Day Too Many:
Plaintiff therefore seeks reasonable attorneys' fees in the amount of $425,000 for excellent legal work performed under extremely trying circumstances - including holding down a more than full time job.
He really wants to piss off the Judge, I suppose. And he's done an excellent job to ensure that will happen.

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Cartoon of the Day

* Steve Kelley, Times-Picayune

Some Things Must Be Said

John Koppel, a long time DOJ Attorney, has written a compelling op-ed piece in the Denver Post, Bush justice is a national disgrace:

I can honestly say that I have never been as ashamed of the department and government that I serve as I am at this time.

The public record now plainly demonstrates that both the DOJ and the government as a whole have been thoroughly politicized in a manner that is inappropriate, unethical and indeed unlawful. The unconscionable commutation of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's sentence, the misuse of warrantless investigative powers under the Patriot Act and the deplorable treatment of U.S. attorneys all point to an unmistakable pattern of abuse.

In the course of its tenure since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has turned the entire government (and the DOJ in particular) into a veritable Augean stable on issues such as civil rights, civil liberties, international law and basic human rights, as well as criminal prosecution and federal employment and contracting practices. It has systematically undermined the rule of law in the name of fighting terrorism, and it has sought to insulate its actions from legislative or judicial scrutiny and accountability by invoking national security at every turn, engaging in persistent fearmongering, routinely impugning the integrity and/or patriotism of its critics, and protecting its own lawbreakers. This is neither normal government conduct nor "politics as usual," but a national disgrace of a magnitude unseen since the days of Watergate - which, in fact, I believe it eclipses.

In more than a quarter of a century at the DOJ, I have never before seen such consistent and marked disrespect on the part of the highest ranking government policymakers for both law and ethics. It is especially unheard of for U.S. attorneys to be targeted and removed on the basis of pressure and complaints from political figures dissatisfied with their handling of politically sensitive investigations and their unwillingness to "play ball." . . . . Law enforcement is not supposed to be a political team sport, and prosecutorial independence and integrity are not "performance problems."

* * * *

As usual, the administration has attempted to minimize the significance of its malfeasance and misfeasance, reciting its now-customary "mistakes were made" mantra, accepting purely abstract responsibility without consequences for its actions, and making hollow vows to do better. . . .

They also underscore Congress' lack of wisdom in blindly trusting the administration, largely rubber-stamping its legislative proposals, and essentially abandoning the congressional oversight function for most of the last six years. These are, after all, the same leaders who brought us the WMD fiasco, the unnecessary and disastrous Iraq war, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, warrantless domestic NSA surveillance, the Valerie Wilson leak, the arrest of Brandon Mayfield, and the Katrina response failure. The last thing they deserve is trust.

The sweeping, judicially unchecked powers granted under the Patriot Act should neither have been created in the first place nor permanently renewed thereafter, and the Act - which also contributed to the ongoing contretemps regarding the replacement of U.S. attorneys, by changing the appointment process to invite political abuse - should be substantially modified, if not scrapped outright. And real, rather than symbolic, responsibility should be assigned for the manifold abuses. The public trust has been flagrantly violated, and meaningful accountability is long overdue. Officials who have brought into disrepute both the Department of Justice and the administration of justice as a whole should finally have to answer for it - and the misdeeds at issue involve not merely garden-variety misconduct, but multiple "high crimes and misdemeanors," including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

I realize that this constitutionally protected statement subjects me to a substantial risk of unlawful reprisal from extremely ruthless people who have repeatedly taken such action in the past. But I am confident that I am speaking on behalf of countless thousands of honorable public servants, at Justice and elsewhere, who take their responsibilities seriously and share these views. And some things must be said, whatever the risk.

As one of the commenters said, "this article speaks not just for public servants but for millions of Americans who have watched in disbelief, fear, and anger, this administration destroy the American way of life."