Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

With nary a trace of irony Loyal Bushie Hans Von Spakovsky, who did some groundbreaking work in voter disenfranchisement and vote suppression, penned a screed for the wingnut publication Human Events in which he pisses and moans that an Obama administration would have a partisan and politically biased Justice Department.

Kathleen Parker is shocked! Shocked! to learn that right wingnuts are a hateful and threatening lot Now that the vitriol is directed at her, after she wrote a column calling for Palin to step down, she has decided to whine about it. "...[W]hen we decide that a person is a traitor and should die for having an opinion different from one's own, we cross into territory that puts all freedoms at risk." Huh. I don't recall her protesting when her wingnut brethren have called for summary executions of liberals.

Get out your checkbook The national debt passed ten trillion dollars today. Not only that - but under bu$h, the gross national debt as a percentage of the gross domestic product has hit a fifty year high.

Terrorism verdicts overturned in New York This is why you don't ramrod these trials, but instead you build your case methodically. A federal appeals court overturned the convictions of a Yemeni cleric and his deputy today, finding the jury had been prejudiced by inflammatory testimony about unrelated terrorism links. The overturned convictions are the latest humiliation handed to the bu$h administration in their so-called war on terror.

Defense demand for mistrial denied in Stevens trial The defense had accused the prosecution of suppressing exculpatory evidence, and people interested in justice held their breath for a minute after the Judge sent the jury home and agreed to hear arguments from the lawyers before deciding the trial would continue.

Obama hit McCain on jobs today, painting him as out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Americans. Obama was hammering McCain on his lack of economic acumen at two rallies in Michigan today, the same day the McCain campaign ceded that state to the Democrat.

FBI Goes after prominent Puerto Rican politician: The FBI on Thursday arrested a prominent Puerto Rico lawmaker accused of providing political favors in exchange for cash and services totaling roughly half a million dollars, U.S. officials said. Puerto Rico Sen. Jorge de Castro Font was indicted by a federal grand jury on 31 criminal counts including bribery, wire fraud and money laundering, U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez Velez said. An aide to the senator, Alberto Goachet, was also charged in the alleged scheme to extort monthly payments from businesspeople on and off the U.S. Caribbean island, as well as from lobbyists with interests before the territory's government.

Mayor for life? Mayor Michael Bloomberg has decided to try to reverse the term-limits law he had long supported so he can seek a third term next year and help the city emerge from financial turmoil, a person close to the mayor told The Associated Press on Tuesday. Bloomberg made the decision over the weekend and will announce it Thursday, according to the person, who has been briefed on the matter but spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement hasn't been made. The person said the mayor has been wrestling with the decision for the past couple of months. Why not just suspend elections? Why bother with the election at all? Sheesh.

Someone might want to listen to Paul O'Neill: Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said the $700 billion bank-rescue proposal under negotiation in Washington is "crazy," with potentially "awful" consequences for the world's largest economy. "Doesn't this seem like lunacy to you?" said O'Neill, who was President George W. Bush's first Treasury chief, from 2001 to 2002, in a telephone interview Wednesday. "The consequences of it are unbelievably bad in terms of public intrusion into the private sector."

States sue over filthy water:
Nine states sued the Bush administration Thursday over federal rules on water dumped from ships, claiming there is an illegal loophole that could hurt fisheries and contaminate drinking water. The states contend that an administrative ruling could allow the transfer of polluted or contaminated water by ship from one body of water to another where it would do harm. For example, they claim salt water from the ocean could be dumped in the Great Lakes under the June federal decision.

Controversy over prayer: Six of 17 Virginia State Police chaplains have resigned because of a new policy limiting them to non-denomination prayers in public settings, and the policy is drawing condemnation from religious leaders in the commonwealth. The policy has been broadly interpreted to deny chaplains the right to specifically mention Jesus Christ in prayers. "So if someone were to use the name Jesus Christ in a prayer, I could only say it probably in keeping with the history and founding of our country, and purposes why people came here to the new world. And I wouldn't have any problem with them doing that. The recent directive came from state police superintendent Col. W. Steven Flaherty, who ordered chaplains to keep prayers nondenominational at department-sponsored public events such as graduations from the trooper training academy. Common sense, people. Damn.

No good is going to come of this money being spent in this fashion: The Defense Department will pay private U.S. contractors in Iraq up to $300 million over the next three years to produce news stories, entertainment programs and public service advertisements for the Iraqi media in an effort to "engage and inspire" the local population to support U.S. objectives and the Iraqi government. The new contracts -- awarded last week to four companies -- will expand and consolidate what the U.S. military calls "information/psychological operations" in Iraq far into the future, even as violence appears to be abating and U.S. troops have begun drawing down. The military's role in the war of ideas has been fundamentally transformed in recent years, the result of both the Pentagon's outsized resources and a counterinsurgency doctrine in which information control is considered key to success. Uniformed communications specialists and contractors are now an integral part of U.S. military operations from Eastern Europe to Afghanistan and beyond.

Head of Scotland Yard steps down: Scotland Yard chief Ian Blair, whose tumultuous tenure included the London transit bombings of 2005 and his officers' killing of a man wrongly suspected of being a bomber, resigned Thursday, saying he did not have the backing of London Mayor Boris Johnson. "Personally I see no bar to working effectively with the new mayor, but it is there that we differ and hence I am unable to continue," said Blair, 55. Johnson, who took office in May, issued a statement saying Blair, a 34-year veteran of the force, had "done the right thing" by announcing that he will leave the job Dec. 1. "There comes a time in any organization when it becomes clear it would benefit from new leadership and clarity of purpose," Johnson said. "I believe that time is now."