Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hang on a minute

Hastert and other Republican Senators are running to the defense of besieged Democrat William Jefferson? That doesn't sound right. Unless of course Republicans are concerned that the search of Jefferson's office is a prelude to what they can expect during future justice department investigations into corruption. After all a corrupt Democratic Senator would appear to be an anomaly compared to the rampant corruption in the Republican party.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Justice Department tries to Dismiss EFF’s Wiretapping Suit

By: MIKE MILIARD, Boston Phoenix

As we learn more and more about the scope and extent of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) warrantless wiretapping program, we’re also learning — to the surprise of precisely no one — how difficult it will be to challenge such domestic espionage in court.

Even as USA Today reports that the NSA “has been secretly collecting the phone-call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth,” and even as a new federal lawsuit was filed in Manhattan last Friday seeking $50 billion in civil damages from Verizon, the government has moved to quash the wiretap debacle’s first lawsuit, filed five months ago.

Back in January, the digital-rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation brought a class-action suit against AT&T, accusing the telecom giant of offering the NSA unfettered access to key facilities and databases, and of continuing to assist the government in the surveillance of phone and Internet communications among millions of Americans.

Last Saturday, in the wee hours of the morning, lawyers from the Justice Department filed a motion in San Francisco federal court seeking to dismiss the suit, claiming that a trial would reveal state secrets and compromise national security. The motion was classified — it was kept secret even from EFF and AT&T, the suit’s two parties; only a heavily redacted version was made public — and was accompanied by declarations from Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte and Lieutenant General Keith Alexander, director of the NSA. “Any attempt to proceed in this case,” wrote Alexander, “will cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States.”

“We’re not alleging anything in our lawsuit that isn’t all over the news already,” counters EFF media coordinator Rebecca Jeschke. (Cindy Cohn, the foundation’s legal director, was unavailable for comment.) “Saying that we’re causing grave danger to national security is simply not true. And our lawsuit going away isn’t going to change the national debate about this program. The facts are all out there, reported by a lot of different organizations who have all done a lot of independent research.”

Once upon a time, the executive branch rarely used its state-secrets privilege. (It was invoked 55 times between 1954 to 2001, according to the Washington Post, and 23 times in the four years since 9/11.) But if Saturday’s murky Justice Department gambit is any indication of the difficulties that legal challenges to NSA wiretapping will face, it also means groups like EFF will redouble their efforts.

“It definitely makes things more difficult when there’s a motion to dismiss that we can’t read,” notes Jeschke wryly. “But we’re certainly going to fight it as hard as we can and defend it vigorously because we think this is a case that needs to go forward. We believe it’s important in America that corporations follow the law. There’s very clear law that says you have the right to private communications — through your telephone and through your computer. These companies broke that law.”

US District Court Judge Vaughn Walker will hear its dismissal notion on June 21.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


I had the chance to watch Giuliani speak the Suffolk Law School commencement ceremony this afternoon. I'd be shocked if he doesn't run for President in 2008. The message is clear:
1) Strong leadership even in the face of unexpected tragedies.
2) Optimism and a belief in your vision.
3) Before you have a vision make sure you get some good advice from people who know what they are talking about.
4) Reagan Republican.
5) Doesn't believe God appoints Presidents.

His campaign advertisements are going to include images of the burning towers, it's central to his message. I counted 9 references to 9/11 in his speech. Including a graphic description of a man jumping from one of the towers for effect. It was well received by a conservative audience. Even in "liberal" Boston a Republican is always safe at a law school commencement.

Giuliani centered his speech on the 6 principles echoed by his consulting firm; integrity, optimism, courage, preparedness, communication and accountability.

He was trying to distance himself from Bush but I think some past quotes are going to come back to haunt him in 2008.

"We will see an end to global terrorism. I can see it. I believe it. I know it will happen. Look how quickly the Berlin Wall was torn down, the Iron Curtain ripped open and the Soviet Union disintegrated because of the power of the pent-up demand for freedom. When it catches hold there is nothing more powerful than freedom. Give it some hope, and it will overwhelm dictators, and even defeat terrorists. That is what we have done and must continue to do in Iraq. "

"Bush will make certain that we are combating terrorism at the source, beyond our shores, so we can reduce the risk of having to confront it in the streets of New York. Bush will not allow countries that appear to have ignored the lessons of history and failed for over thirty years to stand up to terrorists, to dissuade us from what is necessary for our defense. He will not let them set our agenda. Under Bush, America will lead rather than follow."

"Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. Since 9/11 Bush has remained rock solid. It doesn't matter how he is demonized, and what the media does to ridicule, misinterpret, or defeat him. They ridiculed Churchill. They belittled Reagan. But like Bush, they were optimists; leaders must be optimists. Their vision was beyond the present and set on a future of real peace and true freedom. Some call it stubbornness. I call it principled leadership. Bush has the courage of his convictions."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A sinking ship

So Rove's big political strategy was to throw the President into an immigration debate with his own party. Seems pretty dumb to me. Democrats are conspicuously absent from this debate, while hard-line Republicans are making it clear that the Presidents policy won't fly. I'm just not sure what the Administration is trying to achieve. Is this a last grab at some kind of legacy beyond the misses the President has had with Bin Laden, Iraq, taxation, healthcare, education and social security? Or maybe they are just trying to distract us from this whole NSA spying on American people thing...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

My nightmare

So I haven't been blogging much. I have been stuck in this mess with 7-Eleven and my insurance company. Thankfully a local news station has taken up my cause. The government department that deals with gasoline verified my complaint. The gas station closed for a day to clean their tanks but I'm still out $1,200 at the moment. I've attached a photo of the gas/water mixture that the dealership took from my tank. Premium gasoline on the top, rusted water on the bottom.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Don't buy your gas from a 7-Eleven

I filled my tank at a 7-Eleven yesterday for $3.09 cents a gallon. I traveled about 50 yards down the road and my car stopped. A tow truck took it to the dealer. After draining some of the tank they found not just premium gasoline but a 50/50 mixture of gasoline and water. Nice. My $40 tank of gas is going to cost me about $2,000 in repairs. I guess the moral of the story is don't buy gasoline from a convenience store.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Unsustainable Energy Policy

Politicians can not handle the responsibility of creating a sustainable energy policy. Between Frist’s proposal for a $100 tax rebate and Menendez’s tax holiday, it’s pretty obvious that Senators aren’t serious about correcting a real problem facing the US economy. When it comes to oil, natural gas, electricity and water I’m in full agreement with Chavez and Morales. The natural resources should be controlled by the state for the good of the people. Citizens should not be held ransom by corporations bowing to greedy shareholders. There’s a large difference between healthy competition and the monopolization of the energy sector that is rampant in US. Unless the government can do something to break up the big 5 oil companies the trend will be towards further consolidation and even less of a chance of relief for Americans. Rebate and tax holidays hide an issue that the government should be openly addressing: a shortage of fuel grade ethanol, coupled with price manipulation by large oil companies and OPEC.