Friday, October 31, 2003

Up is Down! Down is Up!

Thanks to corrente for pointing out another lie straight from the lips of the woman who is now in charge of our nation's Iraq strategy, Condi Rice:

From the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York (central to the war on terror, I'm sure):

President Bush's national security adviser said on Thursday that the Clinton and other past administrations had ignored evidence of growing terrorist threats and that despite repeated attacks on American interests, "until Sept. 11, the terrorists faced no sustained, systematic and global response" from the United States.

I wish I could say this was new levels of lies from this administration, but they all run together so smoothly these days. Let's see whether Clinton ignored evidence of growing terrorist threats, shall we?

When President Bush took office in January 2001, the White House was told that Predator drones had recently spotted Osama bin Laden as many as three times and officials were urged to arm the unmanned planes with missiles to kill the al Qaeda leader.

Oh? Why didn't the White House follow through on this?

With powerful winter winds over the mountains affecting the drones' flights, the Predators were taken out of action in Afghanistan after October 2000 and retrofitted with weapons. One was repaired after it crashed on landing, sparking debate whether CIA or the Pentagon would pay the damage. Officials said they planned to put the drones back into the air as early as March 2001 after the winds subsided.

Oh, okay, March 2001. That would've been before Sept. 11, right? So why didn't they put the drones back in the air?

The Predators, however, were not put back in the air before Sept. 11.

Officials said the delay was due in part to arming the Predator with enough lethal force and resolving the debate over which agency was legally and practically best equipped to carry out an attack.

Bureaucracy? It's the bureaucrat's fault? But Ms. Rice said Clinton ignored Osama and other terrorists. That doesn't seem to be true, does it?

Shock of shocks, Fox News had this story this past June:

The officials said that within days of President Bush taking office in January 2001, his top terrorism expert on the National Security Council, Richard Clarke (search), urged National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (search) to resume the drone flights to track down bin Laden, citing the successes of late 2000.

The drones were one component of a broader plan that Clarke, a career government employee, had devised in the final days of the Clinton administration to go after Al Qaeda after the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole (search). Clinton officials decided just before Christmas 2000 to forward the plan to the incoming Bush administration rather than implement it during Clinton's final days, the officials said.

So, yes, Ms. Rice - Clinton was ignoring Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden - if devising plans to go after them, and plans to assassinate him is ignoring.

Main Entry: ig·nore
Pronunciation: ig-'nOr, -'nor
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): ig·nored; ig·nor·ing
Etymology: obsolete ignore to be ignorant of, from French ignorer, from Latin ignorare, from ignarus ignorant, unknown, from in- + gnoscere, noscere to know -- more at KNOW
Date: 1801
1 : to refuse to take notice of
2 : to reject (a bill of indictment) as ungrounded
synonym see NEGLECT
- ig·nor·able /-'nOr-&-b&l, -'nor-/ adjective
- ig·nor·er noun.

Oh wait, it's not. And once again, up is down, down is up ...

Moore frivolous lawsuits

From CNN:

James Nichols, the brother of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, says he was tricked into appearing in the documentary "Bowling for Columbine," according to a federal lawsuit filed against filmmaker Michael Moore.

For anyone who's seen "Bowling for Columbine," it seems wildly implausible that this is the case. Nichols appears slightly off his rocker, but willfully answers questions about guns, the fact that the federal government ought to restrict who can own nuclear weapons, and that Timothy McVeigh wasn't such a bad guy.

Nichols said he told Moore not to film in the bedroom and was surprised when he saw in the movie that Moore had a camera

This is even more implausible. Was Moore using one of those secret high-tech spy cameras you order from comic books? How could Nichols not know Moore had a camera? Furthermore, Moore didn't take the camera into the bedroom, so at least the first part of Nichols' claim is just false.

Nichols accuses Moore of nine counts, including libel, defamation of character, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. His attorney is asking for a jury trial and damages ranging from $10 million to $20 million on each count.


For further information, the docket # is 2:03cv74313 Nichols v. Moore and will be heard in front of U.S. District Judge Paul Borman in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan sitting in Detroit.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Links & Comments

Newly added to Edge Law tonight. It's amazing how much you can do online these days with little to no html/xml/css knowledge.

Suing Mickey Mouse

From the upcoming Nov. 10 issue of Fortune Magazine

In fall 1996, Michael Eisner, the chairman and CEO of Walt Disney Co., decided he had made a big mistake. Just a year earlier he had hired Hollywood power broker Michael Ovitz as Disney's president. Ovitz had flopped, badly. The men needed to find a way to disengage without unduly embarrassing either of them.

So, they used money. Lots of money.

For 15 months of labor, [Ovitz] got $38 million in cash, plus stock options valued at $101 million. That package caused an uproar and triggered a lawsuit by Disney shareholders, who want their money back.

And well they should - that was 10% of Disney's net income that year.

In a ruling issued in May that has become must-reading in corporate boardrooms, Delaware judge William B. Chandler III said that the suit can go to trial. His reason: The facts, as alleged, indicate that Disney's directors failed to make a good-faith effort to do their job when they approved Ovitz's contract and once again when they allowed him such a lucrative going-away present.

Some of the facts here show just how bad the "good-faith" effort was.

According to the complaint, Eisner was advised by three directors—Stephen Bollenbach, Sanford Litvack, and Irwin Russell—not to hire his old friend Ovitz. He opted to do so anyway. And he hired Russell, his personal lawyer, to represent Disney in its negotiations with Ovitz. Russell was paid $250,000 for his work. Russell then sat on the compensation committee that approved Ovitz's hiring based on a summary of the deal.

It's almost like that line in Dave where Charles Grodin is incredulous at the way the federal government is run, that he'd be fired if he used their accounting tactics in the real world. Well, it looks like those tactics are actually used in the real world.

I don't remember reading about this in May; but it is potentially huge. The best way to cut ridiculous executive compensation down to size is to hold the people who approve (or look the other way) them responsible. This is a first step in the right direction.

Janice Rogers Peckham?

President Bush has nominated California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and is once again bashing Democratic Senators for blocking his nominees. Is he right?

Let's see, as the Washington Post describes:

Justice Brown is one of the most unapologetically ideological nominees of either party in many years. In speeches, she has openly embraced the Supreme Court's so-called "Lochner" era, during which the justices struck down numerous worker protection laws on grounds that they violated the supposed right of free contract. Across the spectrum of constitutional law scholarship, there are few points of greater consensus than that this period is a blot on the Supreme Court's history. The very word "Lochner" -- named for the 1905 case that forged the doctrine -- has come to be used as a pejorative shorthand for judicial usurpation of legislative authority. Yet Justice Brown has insisted that without such usurpation, "a democracy is inevitably transformed into a Kleptocracy -- a license to steal, a warrant for oppression."

The title of this entry is an homage (sic) to Justice Peckham, who authored the Supreme Court's opinion in Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45 (1905), striking down a New York law that prohibited bakers from working more than 60 hours a week. He claimed that this interfered with the rights of workers and employers to be free of governmental interference in their making of contracts.

But that's all well and good, you see, because Justice Brown doesn't really mean what she says in her speeches.

Her speeches, she said, are efforts to be provocative; senators should look at her judicial work to see what kind of federal judge she would be. This might be a reasonable answer, except that her speeches are quite clear in their meaning -- and her judicial work reflects exactly the kind of property-rights adventurism you would expect from their author. Her colleagues on California's high court certainly understand where she's coming from. In one case they rebuked her for seeking to impose her "personal theory of political economy on the people of a democratic state."

Or does she? This is another sick political ploy by the President and his colleagues to further divide our country into haves and have-nots. Of course, he can stand up and claim that the Senate is not performing its duty by not affording Justice Brown a floor vote, as they most certainly should and probably will do. What he fails to recognize is that the Senate is actually performing their duty by refusing to confirm judges like Justice Brown.

[The President] shall have power ... and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ... judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for.

The Senate would be shirking its duty if it didn't render its advice: Janice Rogers Brown is not fit to be a federal appellate judge.

Cronies? What cronies?

The Center for Public Integrity, which is "a Washington-based research organization that produces investigative articles on special interests and ethics in government," or in other words, presumably nonpartisan, released a report today detailing the contracts given to American corporations to rebuild Iraq.

THE STUDY of more than 70 U.S. companies and individual contractors turned up more than $500,000 in donations to the president’s 2000 campaign, more than they gave collectively to any other politician over the past dozen years.

“No single agency supervised the contracting process for the government,” the center’s executive director, Charles Lewis, said. “This situation alone shows how susceptible the contracting system is to waste, fraud and cronyism.”

Besides the obvious Halliburton connections to the Bush administration, I hadn't realized this connection - kind of an odd one.

David Kay, head of the Bush administration’s search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, is a former vice president of Science Applications International Corp. He left the company in October 2002

Oh well, this isn't a surprise, let's just see how much play it gets. Odd that the Center picked today (in advance) to release the report, considering it will probably be massively overshadowed by the GDP numbers.

Update: Thanks to Billmon for the link to the full report here

Amtrak's Future

Lean Left posts an interesting contribution from Dennis Miller of all people, who thinks we ought to take NASA's budget and dedicate it to rebuilding our nation's rail system.

I've been thinking about rail travel quite a bit lately, from a visit to the Museum of Transportation here in St. Louis to trips to Chicago that I wish I could take reliably on a train to an syndicated article I read last weekend by Arthur Frommer, the travel guru.

Having driven across this great continent in 39 hours during college, I have an idea of how wide it is and how far apart things are, but this graf took me by surprise and shock.

Would you believe that across the entire northern swath of the United States — from Seattle to Fargo to Minneapolis to Chicago — there is only one train? One daily train (the Empire Builder) in each direction? One slow choo-choo that laboriously departs the Pacific Northwest to cross the prairie states and arrive in Fargo at 2 a.m., before proceeding for another 14 hours to Minneapolis and then to Chicago?

No, actually, I had no idea. That's horrifying. I wondered why our rails were in such shoddy shape, especially, as one Lean Left commenter responded, 9/11 should have given us a huge incentive to reinvest in train travel.

Then I realized that if the Europeans do it, fat chance we'll jump on board.

On Sept. 28 a Eurostar train made it from Waterloo Station, in London, to the Gare du Nord, in Paris, in two hours, 18 minutes. An earlier train had traveled from London to Brussels in one hour, 58 minutes. The English Channel is being eliminated as an impediment to a united Europe of high-speed trains.

If only we could say the same about Connecticut.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Wen Ho Lee = Karl Rove?

A federal judge has set the stage for an unusual clash over assertions by reporters for four news organizations that they need not disclose the names of their sources, a traditional journalistic practice that underpins much of news reporting in Washington.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson late last week ordered journalists at the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press and Cable News Network to reveal who in the government may have disclosed derogatory information to them about Wen Ho Lee, a former nuclear weapons scientist who was the chief suspect in an espionage case.

According to the Washington Post, Lee's lawyers have encountered "a pattern of denials, vague or evasive answers, and stonewalling" on the part of the government officials they questioned. "

Odd the Post didn't mention the Plame Affair in connection with this, but of course that investigation is proceeding smoothly, right?

Q Thank you, Mr. President. You have said that you are eager to find out whether somebody in the White House leaked the identity of an undercover CIA agent. Many experts in such investigations say you can find if there was a leaker in the White House within hours if you asked all staff members to sign affidavits denying involvement. Why not take that step?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the best person to that, Dana, so that the -- or the best group of people to do that so that you believe the answer is the professionals at the Justice Department. And they're moving forward with the investigation. It's a criminal investigation. It is an important investigation. I'd like to know if somebody in my White House did leak sensitive information. As you know, I've been outspoken on leaks. And whether they happened in the White House, or happened in the administration, or happened on Capitol Hill, it is a -- they can be very damaging.

And so this investigation is ongoing and -- by professionals who do this for a living, and I hope they -- I'd like to know.

Friday, October 24, 2003

People Who Stand Up for Their Beliefs

Last week, the Senate voted to approve President Bush's ludicrous $87 billion appropriation for Iraq without adequately demanding a coherent plan for how that money would be spent.

These twelve Senators stood up for their taxpaying constituents in demanding that the President have actual plans grounded in reality and backed up with facts before acceding to his every whim and demand.

Boxer (D-CA); Byrd (D-WV); Edwards (D-NC); Graham (D-FL); Harkin (D-IA); Hollings (D-SC); Jeffords (I-VT); Kennedy (D-MA); Kerry (D-MA); Lautenberg (D-NJ); Leahy (D-VT); Sarbanes (D-MD)

Kudos to them.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Video Games don't kill people.

Okay. This isn't new.

Lawsuit filed against Sony, Wal-Mart over game linked to shootings

Thompson has made similar claims in the past and lost, notably a $33 million lawsuit against video game makers stemming from the 1997 school shooting near Paducah, Kentucky, by a 14-year-old boy.

I actually wrote a brief on this very issue last year, though it was a local ordinance trying to restrict teenage access to violent video games, and it was struck down (caveat: I was not involved with the actual case at all).

As the article notes, this isn't anything new - this is the bad side of trial lawyers. Many plaintiff lawyers are out there fighting real problems in society, representing people who have actually been wronged by corporations. This is someone attempting to capitalize on tragedy.