Above the Fray

Friday, October 31, 2003


With all the stuff going on down here, I forgot to tell you that you have messages.

I have been adding to this for some time awaiting the moment when I would have finished a theme. Now I realize that 'ain't gona happen'. So I have sent you an email with this address.

This blog runs on a reverse time post, so to understand some of the references, you might have to start at the bottom..but maybe not..

Expanded comments are encouraged, but not necessary .

All I can say is Merde

Can't keep the critters down. Happy All Hallos Eve.

TIA is not gone. It has morphed into MATRIX, an interstate electronic data base started by the State of Florida (of course, money to baby brother Jeb), with FEDERAL FUNDS, that involves states' pooling first their criminal database. Then, who knows what else will go into the mix....

“.....In essence, the government is replacing an unpopular Big Brother initiative with a lot of Little Brothers,” he added, noting that the program is receiving $12 million from the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. “What does it take for the message to get through that government spying on the activities of innocent Americans will not be tolerated?.....”

....According to Congressional testimony and news reports, The Matrix (which stands for “Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange”) creates dossiers about individuals from government databases and private-sector information companies that compile files on Americans’ activities for profit. It then makes those dossiers available for search by federal and state law enforcement officers. In addition, Matrix workers comb through the millions of files in a search for “anomalies” that may be indicative of terrorist or other criminal activity. ...

While company officials have refused to disclose details of the program, according to news reports the kind of information to be searched includes credit histories, driver’s license photographs, marriage and divorce records, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and the names and addresses of family members, neighbors and business associates.

Raising even more issues, the Matrix is operated by a private company, Seisint Inc. of Boca Raton, Florida. Ironically, the company’s founder was forced to resign after information about his own past came to light: according to Florida police, he was formerly a drug smuggler who had piloted multiple planeloads of cocaine from Colombia to the U.S.

TIA to Matrix

Friday, October 24, 2003

Arnie Up date: Energy Money bye bye

In an earlier post I 'guessed' that interest in suing the energy companies would dissappear. My guess seems to have been close to the mark. Not quite 'Hasta la Vista' more like We are over that, no es importante..

Richard Katz, an energy advisor to Davis, told the Sacramento Bee last month that he thinks the state will have to sue to recover significantly more money; the state already has refund cases pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"The governor has said he'll go to every court, every venue," Katz said. Litigation "is the only process we have for getting justice for ratepayers."

But Schwarzeneggeer aides said the lawsuits are deterring energy companies from building power plants in California, which could lead to another energy crisis in 2006, and the legal wrangling alone is costing the state millions of dollars.

It’s time to settle and move on,” a top aide to Schwarzenegger said. “We don’t want to inherit litigation.”

Scoop: Jason Leopold: From Terminator To Deregulator



Quaker in a Basement: "God is Watching and Apparently, She's Pissed...

The actor playing the role of Jesus in Mel Gibson's new movie was struck by lightning during filming, but not injured. The bolt also struck the movie's assistant director--the second time he's been hit while on the set.

Talk about your slow learners!" Here

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

LegalWrites: Resources for civil libertarians

Since I know you have an interest in this, and much of the information is spread over the web, this little article might be of use:

Resources for civil libertarians By Laura Poyneer

Keeping up with the latest news on the civil liberties front can often be difficult. Significant court decisions are often made without fanfare and bits and pieces of legislation are introduced and passed quietly.

On September 11, 2003, the Center for Constitutional Rights released a paper [pdf}, A Summary of Recent Court Rulings on Terrorism-Related Matters Having Civil Liberties Implications, which looks at secret and special detentions, Sixth Amendment rights, material support charges (a crime created by Clinton-era legislation and used with increasing frequency by the Bush Administration), and other topics.

On October 8, 2003, the American Civil Liberties Union released a memo on the status of Patriot II proposals, which looks at eleven Bush Administration proposals and their status in Congress.

Together, these two documents provide a good overview of the current status of civil liberties in America, and they are eye-opening reading.

Resources for civil libertarians

HELPFUL TRICK: Personally, I don't like dealing with PDF documents. My machine is too old to to process rapidly so I convert them to html [web pages]. This often messes up the pretty blocking, but the document is readable. If I need it to look pretty, I can change the code, or just copy and paste into a text editor.. I convert by going to Adobe, and follow the directions. you see the results of the conversion and can decide if you want to save it or down load the pdf. Caution, this process does not reproduce graphics or table charts. And so it goes...

Poetic Justice

Forgive the pun..

Eminem is off da hook

A Macomb County circuit judge showed she was no playa-hater last week when she tacked on a 10-stanza rap to her 13-page dismissal of an anti-defamation lawsuit aimed at rapper Eminem, who was being sued by former schoolmate DeAngelo Bailey for $1 million.

Judge Deborah Servitto wrote, in part, Mr. Bailey complains his rep is trash / so he's seeking compensation in the form of cash. Bailey thinks he's entitled to some monetary gain / Because Eminem used his name in vain.

Bailey accused Eminem of slander, citing a verse from the rapper's song "Brain Damage" that goes, I was harassed daily/by this fat kid named DeAngelo Bailey / An eighth-grader who acted obnoxious, cause his father boxes/so everyday he'd shove me in the lockers ... / He banged my head against the urinal till he broke my nose / Soaked my clothes in blood, grabbed me and choked my throat.

Servitto's opinion continued: The lyrics are stories no one would take as fact / they're an exaggeration of a childish act / It is therefore the court's ultimate position / That Eminem is entitled to summary disposition.

Public Eye

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Off Topics: The Worst Breakfast Ever.

This is sooo unbelivable, I just had to show it to some one. This is one of those OTT moments..

"I know, I'm exaggerating things a little. People eat junk all the time, it's all about knowing how to moderate. I'm just a little thrown off here - I've never seen a company who uses the 'percentages based on a 2,000 calorie diet' chart actually admit that one serving of their stuff tallies in with 231% of your daily cholesterol allotment. If there exists a saving grace, the Hungry Man meal absolutely must be the best-tasting, magnificent food on the planet. I wasn't willing to find out the hard way, but let's explore the meal's appearance so we can try to gage how well it tastes."

X-Entertainment: The Worst Breakfast Ever.

Too Much Irony

This looks like something from a Dilbert column. However, it is true!

President Bush - living up to his recent declaration that he's in charge - told his top officials to "stop the leaks" to the media, or else.

Bush told his senior aides on Tuesday that he "didn't want to see any stories" quoting unnamed administration officials in the media anymore, and if he did, there would be consequences, a senior administration official who asked that his name not be used told Knight Ridder.

News of Bush's order leaked almost immediately.

`stop the leaks'

Friday, October 17, 2003

Let the Games Begin

Well, now that the first show is over, we can get ready for a bigger Show.

The public wanted a 'hero' to say trust me, I will fix it, so that's what we got. However, Arnie is going to find out fairly soon that you can't govern by fiat. In business that is possible, but usually not wise in the long run, but definitely not in governance. The good ole boys club isn't going to let some outsider change the rules [this goes for both parties].

Arnie may find himself on a 'nantucket sleigh ride'. Once the harpoon is set you aren't sure if you have the whale or the whale has you.

Problem 1 Getting money without taxes or fee increases:

Lionel Van Deerlin No New Taxes Unless

October 15, 2003

I hate playing the cynic. But someone should get up an office pool. Who can pick the date when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will sign a bill raising our taxes?

Yes, I know he promised this won't happen. He has said it in many ways: "I feel the people of California have been punished enough. ... Not only should we not raise tax rates, but we have to reduce taxes that make our state uncompetitive. ... I campaigned that I would not raise taxes. ... I will not raise taxes."....

...Can someone with Arnold's street smarts believe his vaunted "audit" of state government will find billions of dollars in waste? Unlike most states, ours has long benefitted from the watchful eye of a wholly bipartisan "legislative auditor" ever on the prowl for waste, fraud and abuse. Any ripoffs that may have escaped this eagle's notice will not come near closing the present financial gap.....

True to the Churchillian warning that things will get worse before they get better, the new governor surely must keep his promise to roll back an ill-timed hike in auto license fees. But since 33 million of us Californians own almost one car apiece, this will add another $4 billion to our collective indebtedness. Meanwhile, no one should suppose that the outpouring of voter support for Schwarzenegger constitutes a mandate to neglect the highways, law enforcement and related structure which this mass of vehicles requires.

Another promise he cannot take lightly was to impose no financial hit on our public schools and higher education, once the nation's finest. In tightly controlled campaign appearances, Schwarzenegger never missed a chance to cite his understanding of, and devotion to, the welfare of children.

The election being over, it's pointless now to heap blame on Republican legislators for denying Gov. Davis a manageable budget, thus bringing him down. We don't punish cats for chasing birds.

But the new governor must use that smile of his to advantage. Tight-fistedness is unbecoming. We'll have to pay for what we get.

And yes, it's not really a dirty word – we do it through an unpleasant necessity called taxation. [Van Deerlin represented a San Diego County district in Congress for 18 years. ]

Point 2
He tried to rope the president into some help..interesting technique The assumptive close, but chances are nil that Bush will come off his unstated policy of letting the states shift for themselves. He only comes here to collect money, In addition I am sure that his strategists know :

From the perspective of many Californians, though, what happened here Tuesday was revolutionary – but no more wacky than filling Boston Harbor with tea or eschewing a monarchy for democracy.

Residents are fed up with the state of the state. They want radical change.

"People here recognize we've got to make a change," said Kevin Casey, 52, an insurance broker. He said it wasn't so much because he liked Schwarzenegger's ideas as that he disliked the status quo. Exit polls indicate about 80 percent of all Schwarzenegger voters shared that sentiment.

Despite its roots in the nastiest of partisan politics, California's Total Recall ultimately had more to do with the desire – and the relatively unique ability – of voters in this corner of the country to address their problems in a completely different way....
Crazy Californians? No, not at all

Point 3
He was way off on his attack ads on Indian casinos. He implied that they don't pay taxes.
The fact is, the tribes never have paid state taxes. They don't have to.

If he pursues this line of misstatement, he is going to have a heap of trouble. I live down here in 'casino land'..6or 7. Their local donations to schools and civic groups are generally up there at 2 million per year. If the tribes think they are being attacked, they will use their considerable horsepower to defend themselves. They are already beginning to rally the rest of the tribes: A Funny Cartoon

Here is some background:

Friday, October 17, 2003 INDIAN GAMING...
During the California recall, candidate Schwarzenegger and his team repeatedly attacked Indian groups for lavishing casino-generated campaign contributions on Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamente. Then, after the election, Governor-elect Schwarzenegger made taxing Indian casinos one of the centerpieces of his deficit-reduction plan, apparently oblivious to the conflict between this and his pledge not to raise taxes, and to the legal and constitutional issues involved.

Ha ha ha. Did I say no new taxes? I meant no new taxes unless you're an Indian.

Which reminds me: as I was waiting in line yesterday to get my driver license renewed, I listened in on a typically abysmal political conversation that happened to be about Indian gaming. My fellow line-waiters were appalled that Gray Davis "allowed" the tribes to get away without paying taxes and were delighted that Arnold was in town to kick some ass.

These guys were clueless. In case you're interested in actual facts, here's the real story:
The states have no power to tax Indian tribes. Period.

However, although federal law guarantees tribes the right to run casinos, states are allowed to limit their operation in certain ways. Pete Wilson took a hard line on limiting Indian gaming in California, but the main result of his hardball tactics was the passage of Proposition 5 in 1998, which gave the tribes expansive rights with no obligation to pay state taxes. Thanks, Pete!

Prop 5 provided Gray Davis — also elected in 1998 — with virtually no leverage in negotiating with the tribes. So the deal he eventually brokered was probably about as good as possible under the circumstances.

Prop 5 was eventually overturned by the courts and replaced by Prop 1A a couple of years later. However, the bottom line remained the same: the passage of Prop 1A combined with the tribes' demonstrated ability to get propositions passed gave Davis a very weak hand in dealing with the tribes. There really wasn't that much he could do to squeeze higher taxes out of them.

So did Gray Davis give the tribes a "free ride"? Who knows. But the fact is that he didn't "allow" anything: the state has no direct authority to tax the tribes and can only squeeze money out of them through a negotiating process in which it has a pretty weak hand to play.

Can the Terminator do better? Maybe, but I wouldn't bet the lunch money on it yet. There's an awful lot of reality waiting for Arnold up in Sacramento.

Posted by Kevin Drum at 03:49 PM |

Attack Ads Involving Indian Gaming, and Their Larger Context and Significance:

...But to this list I would add another - and perhaps less obvious - factor: the end of Anglo guilt over America's often brutal conquest of the native peoples who originally inhabited what has become the United States.

This easing of conscience, largely attributable to the proliferation of Indian casinos, already has transformed the legal relationship between Indian tribes and the nation that overwhelmed them. It will doubtless have baleful consequences for the many hundreds of thousands of Native Americans who are in no position to exploit the economic bonanza of reservation gaming....

...But as a practical matter, Davis did not have the option of snubbing the tribes - as his predecessor Pete Wilson had. At roughly the time Davis became governor, the people of California - in response to the Wilson administration's refusal to permit Indian gaming - passed a ballot initiative giving Indian tribes the right to engage in gaming without paying any taxes to the state...

The deal Davis struck placed limits on slot machine play (the biggest casino draw). It also got the state a share of gaming revenues, albeit not in the form of "taxes." Indeed, the Davis deal has garnered the state more than $100 million in revenue from the tribes.

So if it the deal was a "sweetheart" deal for anyone, it was a sweetheart deal for the State of California. But the Schwarzenegger ad portrayed it very differently....

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, Supreme Court watchers commonly joked that Indians always won at the Court (and that when they did, either Justice Thurgood Marshall or Justice Harry Blackmun would write the opinion). Exactly the opposite is true now. Now, Indians seem virtually always to lose at the Court.

In the last decade, the Court has repeatedly been called upon to consider the degree to which Indian tribes enjoy full sovereignty over their lands. The Court has considered, for instance, the right of tribes to exercise jurisdiction over non-Indians. And the Court has also considered the right of States to exercise jurisdiction over tribes. In almost every instance, the Court has sided with the non-Indian, or with the states, in opposition to tribal interests.

There is a deep irony in this switch. Thirty years ago, when the vast majority of tribal governments had few resources and little inclination to flex the muscles of sovereignty, the Court gladly recognized their theoretical powers. Yet now, when many tribal governments have both the resources and inclination to wield real governmental authority, the Court often denies them that right.

I have little doubt that Indian gaming has played a role in this tectonic shift in the law. The creation of Indian casinos - sometimes by tribal groups of infinitesimal size and attenuated tribal lineage - has created a powerful, and often woefully inaccurate perception of Indians. According to this perception, tribes and their members are merely rich opportunists, taking advantage of long-lost tribal affiliations in order to feast on our national obsession with games of chance....
One Reason Why Arnold Won, Richard Lasarus

additional article from Indian Country

Point 4
Arnie has some real iffy connections to the energy folks that might indicate some real trouble. The article appeared toward the end of the campaign and didn't get much play. If it is true, Karnak predicts a big dust up:

Greg Palast: 'It's hasta la vista to $9 billion if the Governator is selected'
..The wannabe governor has yet to deny that on May 17, 2001, at the Peninsula Hotel in Los Angeles, he had consensual political intercourse with Enron chieftain Kenneth Lay. Also frolicking with Arnold and Ken was convicted stock swindler Mike Milken.

It turns out that Schwarzenegger knowingly joined the hush-hush encounter as part of a campaign to sabotage a Davis-Bustamante plan to make Enron and other power pirates then ravaging California pay back the $9 billion in illicit profits they carried off.

...While Bustamante's kicking Enron butt in court, the Davis Administration is simultaneously demanding that George Bush's energy regulators order the $9 billion refund. Don't hold your breath: Bush's Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is headed by a guy proposed by … Ken Lay....So the Bush commissioners cook up a terrific scheme: charge the companies with conspiracy but offer them, behind closed doors, deals in which they have to pay only two cents on each dollar they filched....Once Arnold is Governor, he blesses the sweetheart settlements with the power companies. When that happens, Bustamante's court cases are probably lost. There aren't many judges who will let a case go to trial to protect a state if that a governor has already allowed the matter to be "settled" by a regulatory agency....

So far there has been no response from Arnie on this article, however we are back to deja vodoo all over again:
Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger is preparing a push to deregulate the state's electricity markets -- a move embraced by business leaders and some energy analysts but criticized by many Democrats and consumer advocates as a return to the failed policies that sparked California's energy crisis.
Schwarzenegger's energy strategy is being driven by some of the same members of former Gov. Pete Wilson's team who led the push for energy deregulation in the mid-1990s. The governor-elect, for example, picked for his transition team Jessie Knight, a former Wilson appointee to the Public Utilities Commission and a leading proponent of deregulation.
"Deregulation has already cost the state $50 billion, give or take," said Mike Florio, senior attorney for The Utility Reform Network. "Why on earth anyone would want to do that again is mystifying to us." SF Chronicle 11 Oct

Point 5 The Character thing:

Arnie seems to have the basic functional neurotic narcissism required of actors and politicians, however the 'groping' incidents have a little darker ramifications. Others seem to blow this off as some kind of Hollywood industry standard prank. Not so. I find that behavior disgusting, and not something I really want to see in a so called leader.

I am not a prude, nor am I naive, PMSS is there, it is a dynamic, but what is disturbing is that most, if not all the incidents occurred in public. These actions were not about sex, they were about power, dominance, and humiliation. This behavior pushes the profile into the red alert zone. Perhaps he is a bit socially retarded and can be schooled, or he may be a bubble and a half off plumb... I need more time and data. There are noticeable traits that can predict 'flame outs' ie L Johnson and R Nixon, John Tower, [There is a good book on character determination for presidents. It has a model that, at least post facto, is accurate. When I find the reference I will give it to you.].

The Character Thing applies to the people he is using as advisors. Most of them are the same folks that advised Pete Wilson. That doesn't inspire confidence that we are going to see any 'big changes'. Warren Buffet may prove to be the exception [if he sticks with the job]. Hoe ever the hardball tricks were right there:

Mark Kleinman:
Mark Paul of the Sacramento Bee links to this truly appalling Dennis Roddy story
from the Pittsburg Post-Gazette about how Sean Walsh, the Gubernator's chief media spokesman, skirted the very edge of the libel laws in sliming one of the women who accused his boss of sexual battery. The technique couldn't have been simpler: Walsh just pointed the media towards the criminal recrord of another woman with the same name (though not the same birthdate).

Naturally, Drudge, Limbaugh, Fox, and a bunch of talk show hosts picked it up. Drudge took the accusation off his site, without a retraction, after it was shown to be bogus. The others have simply gone on to sliming their next victims.
Close enough for government work, Dennis Roddy

Point 6 Who is doing who  Side Bar 

I want to believe that Arnie is sincere in his belief that he is our saviour  Side Bar . He probably thinks that the battles he has fought in Hollywood has prepared him for the political arena, however I believe he is is a political naif. I think he is being carefully managed behind the scenes. And probably isn't aware of it, or if he is, plans to cross them when his needs and self image conflict with theirs. Then the 'fat will be in the fire.'

Shades of San Francisco ca. 1904 The Mayor Gene Schmitz 'actor' and the 'manager/boss' Abe Ruef..and as long as we are reminiscing . What an irony it would be if this change process resulted in the new 'octupus' of power, oil, energy. Gov Hiram Johnson will be somewhat perplexed  Side Bar 

So, I think I will stop here. I am sure that as time passes more of this soap will be revealed. If I have created a high cognative dissonance level in my reader, I feel that my job is done. Side Bar 

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Pushing Back a Bit

We had talked about the new laws, but I had not seen anything encouraging until I stumbled across this article:

Ignored by most media, an array of prominent federal judges, government officials, and other members of the legal establishment has joined in a historic rebellion against George W. Bush's unprecedented and unconstitutional arrogance of power that threatens the fundamental right of American citizens to have access to their lawyers before disappearing indefinitely into military custody without charges, without seeing an attorney or anyone except their guards...

The case, Padilla v. Rumsfeld, is now before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. In a compelling friend-of-the-court brief on Padilla's behalf by an extraordinary gathering of the aforementioned former federal court judges, district court judges, and other legal luminaries of the establishment bar, they charge:

"This case involves an unprecedented detention by the United States of an American citizen, seized on American soil, and held incommunicado for more than a year without any charge being filed against him, without any access to counsel, and without any right to challenge the basis of his detention before a United States judge or magistrate . . .

"[We] believe the Executive's position in this case threatens the basic 'rule of law' on which our country is founded, the role of the federal judiciary and the separations in our national government, and fundamental individual liberties enshrined in our Constitution."

Perhaps there is some hope yet!
Bush Accused by Lords of the Bar by Nat Hentoff

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

To Don

I set this up for convenience. There are articles I want to send, and those that are better posted.

I find that it is hard to read within an email, so here is a better way..and an easier on the eyes way of giving you the text.

Note: all the external links will open up a new window.

Note: When you see 'Side Bar', put your cursor on it and wait for a message to pop up.

Try it Side Bar
If you can't see it, you need to get Internet explorer..or not, but you will miss my brilliant asides...