Monthly Archives: July 2007

Georgia Will Kill Innocent Man Tomorrow

It seems that Georgia’s whole justice system is a travesty equal to if not surpassing the abortion of what’s laughingly called “justice” in Texas. Not content with throwing a 17-yr-old in jail for 10 years for having consensual sex with a 16-yr-old girl that she initiated, convicting him under a statute that was meant for career sex offenders, tomorrow it plans to execute a man for a crime it’s patently obvious to everyone he didn’t commit. And there’s one thing Genarlow Wilson and Troy Davis have in common that won’t surprise you: they’re both black.

Troy Davis was convicted of killing a police officer in 1989 on the basis of testimony from the man who was probably the actual killer and from eyewitnesses who now say they were browbeat by police when they tried to tell the truth.

Key witnesses have [said] that police prodded them to implicate Davis. The affidavit from Darrell Collins, the friend who was with Davis that night, was typical.

“I told them it was Red and not Troy who was messing with that man, but they didn’t want to hear that,” Collins, who was 16 at the time, said in his 2002 statement. “The detectives told me, ‘Fine, have it your way. Kiss your life goodbye because you’re going to jail.’ After a couple of hours of the detectives yelling at me and threatening me, I finally broke down and told them what they wanted to hear.”

Seven of the nine witnesses at Davis’ trial tell similar stories and have recanted their original statements, now admitting that it was Sylvester “Red” Coles who fought with and then killed Officer Mark MacPhail. State AG Thurlow Baker’s office investigated the shooting (because a cop was the victim) and came to the same conclusion.

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Courageous Reporter Busts Self

New York Times reporter Michael Gordon, their Man in Baghdad, wrote a courageous article in yesterday’s paper condemning his own reporting. Gordon, who was the first to accept Karl Rove’s latest rhetorical trick wherein the confusing host of insurgent groups in Iraq is re-labeled “Al Qaeda” for clarity, and then authored a series of reports based on the assumption that the trick was an actual description, criticized the very trick he had been using without once mentioning it was him who’d been using it.

[Bush’s] references to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and his assertions that it is the same group that attacked the United States in 2001, have greatly oversimplified the nature of the insurgency in Iraq and its relationship with the Qaeda leadership.

There is no question that the group is one of the most dangerous in Iraq. But Mr. Bush’s critics argue that he has overstated the Qaeda connection in an attempt to exploit the same kinds of post-Sept. 11 emotions that helped him win support for the invasion in the first place.

Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia did not exist before the Sept. 11 attacks. The Sunni group thrived as a magnet for recruiting and a force for violence largely because of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, which brought an American occupying force of more than 100,000 troops to the heart of the Middle East, and led to a Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad.

Gordon, who is famous for re-writing Rove’s press releases without any sort of independent investigation or evaluation as to their veracity or accuracy, adopted Rove’s term-change from “the insurgents” to “Al Qaeda” the same day it was announced by Bush and has been pushing it in his reporting ever since. Yesterday’s article makes it clear that, as a conscientious newsman, he is no longer going to accept such shoddy journalism from himself.

“Michael Gordon”, Gordon said in an interview today with this site’s editor, “has been shamelessly shilling for an Administration with a penchant for telling lies, and I, for one, am not going to put up with it any more.”

Speaking from Baghdad via AIM (his avatar is a cartoon of Pinocchio whose nose grows as Gordon types), Mr Gordon explained that Gordon’s slack, sloppy approach was an insult to the whole concept of professional journalism.

“This business of Gordon’s simply copying press releases and and military PR handouts and then printing them without asking a single question or verifying a single fact,” Gordon grunted in disgust, “has to stop. It brings our whole profession into disrepute, and I can no longer just sit by and watch Michael Gordon destroy our credibility and the trust our readers put in us. It’s a disgrace and I’m calling him on it.”

Asked if he expected Gordon to defend himself in the light of these revelations, Gordon replied, “I doubt he has the guts.”

Genarlow Wilson 6: DA McDade Releases Sex Tape

mcdade This story just gets weirder and weirder. On Tuesday, Douglas County DA David McDade, the birdbrain who’s responsible for letting County Prosecutor Eddie Barker try Genarlow as a sex offender because he didn’t like Genarlow’s attitude and has been trying to cover his ass ever since, making things infinitely worse in the process, released the videotape someone made at the party of the girl in question going down on Wilson.

Now, before we go all boggly at the notion that a Georgia District Attorney would make public the tape of a sex act by two teenagers, let’s first note that the tape is evidence in an on-going case. The legality of doing such a thing a week before a scheduled hearing in front of the Georgia State Supreme Court on whether or not Judge Thomas Wilson’s order to free Genarlow is legally valid (State AG Thurlow Baker is trying to protect McDade and Barker by arguing that the judge had no right to make such a decision), is highly questionable if not downright illegal. The only possible motivation for it is as an attempt to prejudice public opinion and possibly the court’s judgment. Apparently McDade knows that in Georgia, judges on the Supreme Court can be swayed by porno.

In any reasonable state – any state driven by law rather than racism, puritanical sex-hysteria, and prosecutorial hissy fits, that is – McDade would right now be walking the streets without a job at the very least, or possibly in jail.

Not in Georgia.

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Conservative Propaganda: The Trickle-Down Scam

For almost 100 years, from the moment the income tax was instituted, conservatives have insisted with increasing hysteria that taxes are what kill the economy. Not taxes on you or me, of course. They’re not much concerned with those, as they’ve proved time and again. No, they’re talking about the taxes on Bidness and the Rich. You know, the “trickle-down” theory, wherein there seems to be a hard-core, faith-based belief that if the rich get richer because they don’t have to pay taxes like the rest of us, why, they’ll “invest” that “extra” money to create more low-paying jobs, and thus a tiny portion of their wealth will “trickle down” to the lower economic strata.

There is zero evidence to suggest, let alone prove, that economies work this way, but that doesn’t stop Grover “The Toad” Norquist’s Bathtub Battalion from claiming otherwise at the tops of their lungs. Our so-called “president”, acting in his capacity as chief mouthpiece and corporate rip-off enabler, was out on the hustings yesterday saying the same old shit, decorated by his usual smirk.

“The message is unmistakable: America’s economy keeps growing, government revenues keep going up, the budget deficit keeps going down — and we’ve done it all without raising your taxes,” Bush said during a speech at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where he introduced two small-business owners, a member of the National Guard and the parents of eight children. He said they all racked up big savings thanks to the tax cuts.

“When you’ve got more money in your pockets to save, spend or invest, this causes the economy to grow,” Bush said, adding that “a growing economy has led to growing tax revenues. Because people are making more money, they’re also paying more taxes.”

Like everything else Bush says (“How do you know when Bush is lying? His lips are moving”), it isn’t true. In point of fact, the economy has been growing at pretty much the same 2-3%/yr pace that it did during the 90’s. There are a couple of big differences, alright, but they’re not in the rate of economic expansion, a fact that even faux-economists at the conservative propaganda unit, The American Enterprise Institute, have been forced to admit.

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Bush Blogs

On Scooter (Via Open Left)

Genarlow Wilson 5: Hearings Moved Up

Two weeks ago, after Georgia AG Thurlow Baker appealed a judge’s order to release Genarlow Wilson, Al Sharpton decided to get involved. A few days after that, a Superior Court judge denied Wilson’s (and Baker’s) request for an expedited bond hearing and a speedy appeal hearing. A few days after that (last Thursday), Sharpton organized a rally in front of the Douglas County courthouse.

Longtime civil rights activist Al Sharpton headlined an energetic rally at the Douglas County courthouse Thursday in support of Genarlow Wilson, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for engaging in oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17.

“Ten years in jail is not a correction,” Sharpton, a onetime Democratic presidential candidate, told a crowd of elected officials, clergy and other supporters that county authorities estimated at more than 250. “It is wicked… It is immoral… And it is illegal.”

Wilson’s mother, Juannessa Bennett, stood by Sharpton’s side as he spoke at the entrance to the county courthouse, where Wilson stood trial.

“The case of Genarlow Wilson … is a national issue,” Sharpton said, “because if they can establish a precedent in Georgia, it will be a precedent that we will have to live with in California, New York, Oregon and everywhere.”

“And as long as they can lock up her son,” he added about Bennett, “they can lock up your son.”

Douglas County District Attorney David McDade, whose office originally prosecuted Wilson, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

I’m not surprised. McDade is one of the two nitwits who created this situation and he’s been hiding from the press ever since. Sharpton’s rally may not have had any effect on him, but it had an effect on somebody. Today the State Supreme Court reversed itself and voted to hold both the appeals hearing and the bond hearing two months earlier than expected.

 A hearing is now set in Genarlow Wilson’s case for July 20 at 10 a.m. In voting today, the court reversed an earlier decision to deny a speedier process, a ruling that would have delayed a hearing on the appeal until October.

Attorney General Thurbert Baker is appealing a Monroe County Superior Court judge’s decision to reduce Wilson’s felony conviction to a misdemeanor and free him from prison. Baker said the judge overstepped his authority when he granted Wilson’s habeas corpus last month. Wilson’s attorney is arguing his 10-year prison sentence is cruel and unusual punishment.

The court also decided to hold an expedited hearing on a Douglas County Superior Court judge’s decision to deny bond for Wilson pending Baker’s appeal.

Well, it’s a step in the right direction.

The Bush Library 6: Corruption at SMU

Last month, the Rev Andrew Weaver, one of the leaders of the opposition to the Bush propaganda center masquerading as a presidential “library” that’s proposed for the campus of Southern Methodist University, sent me a link to an article he’d written for Media Transparency. It’s an astounding piece detailing conflicts of interest on the part of the SMU Board so serious that they approach corruption. Rev Weaver begins by noting that the campaign to site the library at SMU has been years in the making.

To convince the United Methodist Church (UMC) to stain its good name and a major university to give away its academic respectability by linking itself with a president that much of the world views as an authoritarian bully (Public Diplomacy, 2005; World Public Opinion, 2007) who has authorized and advocated for torture and international kidnapping is one nifty trick (Miles, 2006; Grey, 2006). Such an endeavor required skilled operators and years of stealth planning (Schutze, 2006), which according to SMU President R. Gerald Turner began in 2001, shortly after Bush became president. It required that the SMU administration hide its intentions from its faculty and from church leaders who would understand that a partisan institute lacking standard academic controls, whose mission undoubtedly will include justifying crimes against humanity, would be a bad idea (Weaver and Crawford, 2007). To achieve these goals Bush needs powerful friends in high places and he has them in the SMU Trustees.

He sure does. The Board is packed with family friends.

At least 25 of the 41 trustees (61 percent) have personal, financial, and/or political relationships with Bush, and many have been major fundraisers and contributors to his political campaigns. Furthermore, one of the three United Methodist bishops who serve as SMU trustees, Scott Jones, publicly endorsed the Bush project months before a formal proposal was even presented to the Board (Tooley, 2007).

Twenty-two of the trustees have donated to one or more of the Bush political campaigns and/or the Republican National Committee in support of Bush….

Whoosh. So a comfortable majority of the Board are Bush Babies and the vast majority of them are actual Bush donors. “Conflict of interest” is putting it mildly.

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Cindy Sheehan Threatens Run Against Pelosi

Cindy Sheehan, gawd bless her, didn’t retire for long. The Libby pardon commutation and the Democrats’ refusal to play hardball to shut down the Iraq war have between them goaded her into rejoining the fray, and at a higher level than before: she’s threatening to run against Nancy Pelosi if Pelosi continues to keep impeachment off the Congressional table.

Antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan said Sunday that she plans to run against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) unless Pelosi introduces articles of impeachment against President Bush in the next two weeks.

Sheehan’s deadline, July 23, is the same day she and her supporters are to arrive in Washington after a 13-day caravan and walking tour departing from the group’s war protest site near Bush’s Crawford ranch.

Sheehan said she lives in a suburb of Sacramento but declined to disclose the city, citing safety reasons. She added that she would run against Pelosi in 2008 as an independent and “would give her a run for her money.”

“Democrats and Americans feel betrayed by the Democratic leadership,” Sheehan said. “We hired them to bring an end to the war.”

As times get on, it becomes increasingly harder to find rational excuses for the Democrats’ lack of spine here, especially as the on-going desertion of Republican rodents from the capsizing ocean liner of Iraq and Lamar Alexander’s recent proposal threaten to seize the initiative on our war strategy right out from under the Dems’ chicken beaks. Sheehan, who lost a son to the neocons’ fantasies of quick oil profits, has had enough and one can certainly understand her position.

Pelosi, who came into power like a lion, seems in the eight months since the election to have morphed into a timid lamb with a big mouth for bleating but not too much in the way of political courage. She talks a good game but does…nothing.

Maybe she’s too busy having secret White House meetings to sell out the environment and workers in a new Trade Deal that hands the Bush Administration the power to write it all by themselves on behalf of K Street and a slew of global corporations without interference from the rank-and-file of Congressional Democrats.

Or maybe her hands were full killing the bill to control lobbyist activities and the ability of Congressional players to join K Street the day after they lose an election.

From a certain standpoint, Cindy couldn’t possibly be any worse.

The Right Has Always Been Wrong

CANDORVILLE – Darrin Bell (Click to enlarge)

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The 6th District Wiretapping Decision (Updated)

So let’s see if I’ve got this straight:

  1. A Mayor announces publicly that he’s given himself the right to walk into any house in town and go through anybody’s personal effects, without permission from either them or a court, if he thinks they might be involved in criminal activity.
  2. A number of prominent members of the Mayor’s opposition, along with critics of his policies, notice shortly thereafter that someone broke into their homes and searched them. They call the police.
  3. The police investigate but when the homeowners try to find out what the evidence shows, they discover that the Mayor has declared the evidence “secret” on the grounds that releasing it might tip his hand to criminals, and he refuses to allow it to be seen by anyone except himself, select members of his re-election team, and police officers loyal to him.
  4. The homeowners bring suit against the Mayor on the grounds that they have “a reasonable expectation” that the Mayor was the one who broke into their homes, seeing as how he announced that’s what he planned to do, and ask the court to declare the Mayor’s assumption of such powers to be illegal – which, absent the Mayor’s solo declaration that it isn’t, it is.
  5. The Judge agrees with them, but when the Mayor appeals to the City Superior Court – where, of the three judges, two are loyalists of his party and one of them was appointed by him – the Superior Court overturns the Judge’s ruling because the plaintiffs can’t prove it was the Mayor (what with the evidence being locked up and all) and therefore “have no standing” – ie, they can’t prove that a) “they were harmed”, or b) the Mayor was the one who did it.

That’s essentially what just happened in the 6th District Court of Appeals over the ACLU’s wiretapping suit.

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He’s Got a Point

Dan Wasserman

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Read at Your Own Risk

 

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Is Michael Kinsley Really That Stupid?

Probably not, but his latest column does illustrate perfectly how otherwise intelligent liberals can get trapped into saying incredibly stoopid things.

One of the characteristics that sets liberals and progressives apart from conservatives and of which we are most proud is our willingness to listen. Being a conservative means never having to say you’re sorry, never having to admit you’re wrong about anything no matter what the facts say, and never again having to actually listen to anybody who disagrees with you. You just memorize a few of the standard slogans and shout them as loud as you can, loud enough to drown out critics – and facts. It’s easy.

Left-wingers, otoh, have taken a blood oath of fairness, and they’re just as rigid about its application as conservatives are in despising it. Lefties will listen to anyone with respect, even if they are obviously raving lunatics frothing at the mouth and falling over backwards. And not just listen, mind you, but try to understand their point of view.

It’s all very fair and balanced but it can lead to precisely the same disregard of the truth as he said/she said journalism when you bend over so far to be “fair” that you give the same weight to a lie as a fact just because it comes out of your opponent’s mouth. For instance, Kinsley claims that Libby’s trial came about through a “perjury trap” similar to the one Ken Starr used on Bill Clinton.

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Jim Capozzola, 1962 – 2007

The Rittenhouse Review‘s Jim Capozzola died Monday. He was one of only two or three bloggers who could legitimately be considered a pioneer, and there are a lot of posts around expressing gratitude for his generosity and appreciation for his talent.

Unlike the others who are writing postmortems, I didn’t know him personally, I never corresponded with him, and as far as I know, he never had so much as an inkling that I existed. So I wasn’t going to write anything about him, figuring it wasn’t really my place.

Then I read this short eulogy by Anthony Cartouche, who’s subbing for Roger Ailes this week, and when I read the last graf, I realized that Mr Capozzola had after all influenced me in a significant way that I had almost forgotten.

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They’re All Scooters Now

Tom Toles

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