Uh Yup

042407_08221.jpgSo Ray Nagin trashed our city in the trash department. As a lifetime Philly resident I can say that he sure is right. I’ve never seen the city so dirty. The park outside my house is literally covered with trash and it has been for weeks no matter who I call or what I do.

But you know what? If you were Ray Nagin and you were driving up Broad street from the airport you would see block after block of overflowing trashcans and litter all over the sidewalks and streets. I lived in New York for a year and I never saw it even get close to as dirty as it is here. Why can’t we clean this damn place?

Do you see the hypocracy yet?

I just don’t get it. Yesterday in Iraq there were two car bombings in the same place that killed 24 people and wounded 120. Today there was another 24 dead and 50 wounded in 4 more bombings.. That makes the 2 day total 48 dead and 170 wounded. Here is a link to my source.
Do I even have to point out to you how insane it is that we obsess for weeks about the VT killings and pay little heed to even greater death tolls in Iraq? Do the Iraqi civilians matter less because they aren’t dying within our borders?

I don’t want to get into a debate about what we should or should not do in Iraq or weather our “surge” is helping or hurting the situation there or if we should get our troops out or not. What I want to get into a debate about is weather we should as a country care more about a story where 30 die as opposed to a news story where 50 die. Do you seriously think that we’ll get 10 24 hour cycles of coverage on 5 news channels about the car bombings? We won’t and there is something fundamentally wrong about this. We have to complain to the media outlets. We have to write letters and emails to them. We have to blog about this. We have to stand up and fight this. Why don’t we? Why does it feel that I’m the only one who is trying to do something about this?

Two Stories from Digg

I saw two good stories on Digg today that you should read and digg up if you agree with me that they are important.

The first is another on the war on drugs. The linked article fictionalizes a jury room and talks about jury nullification and how we, when we are jurors, have the power to actually judge the law in addition to judging just the facts of the case. This is counter to what we are told by judges and counter to what a logical juror would believe:

“That’s because of the despicable Supreme Court decision in “Sparf and Hansen vs. The United States in 1895.” John Straun said. “That decision said juries have the right to judge the law, but that a judge doesn’t have to inform juries of this right. Cute, huh? And guess what happened after this decision? Judges stopped telling juries about their rights.”

The second piece linked to is from yesterdays New York Times titled “You are What you Grow“. This article talks about how farm subsides actually end up subverting market forces and make the most healthy foods the most expensive, which you all know is killing our citizens daily by filling us up with fat and cholesterol. Fascinating and sad…

I can’t take it anymore

Does anyone care that on any given day 33 people die in the Sudan or that 33 people (a good portion american) die in Iraq? Does anyone care that the executive branch of the US govt. is under congressional investigation? Or that the Secretary of State may be be facing a subpoena soon? You wouldn’t think so if you watched or read the news lately. When I come in to work, the lobby of my building has CNN on a big flat screen TV. For the past 3 days the only thing I’ve seen on it (and I’ve walked past it quite a bit) has been this shooting incident at GT. Look, it’s pretty sad that this happened and innocent people died, but guess what? It’s over and its time to report on real news.. stuff that is happening right now..

Yea yea, we need time to grieve.. Blah Blah Blah. Grieve about the other deaths around the world that either we caused directly or by our inaction allowed and allow to happen all the time. Lets grieve about that. Lets grieve about how badly we ruined the environment and how we still have no plan on how to fix it. Lets grieve about New Orleans and how it isn’t much better than it was 2 years ago. And the list goes on.

We need to start questioning why nobody is standing up and pushing back against the fact that our media is failing us, that it is feeding us useless shit every day and we just eat it up. We need to complain. We need to stand up and demand that the media start focusing on things that are important. Don’t you all see where this is headed?

A Woman Wrongly Convicted and a U.S. Attorney Who Kept His Job

From the NY Times (Adam Cohen, Apr. 16, 2007) :

Madison, Wis.

Opponents of Gov. Jim Doyle of Wisconsin spent $4 million on ads last year trying to link the Democratic incumbent to a state employee who was sent to jail on corruption charges. The effort failed, and Mr. Doyle was re-elected — and now the state employee has been found to have been wrongly convicted. The entire affair is raising serious questions about why a United States attorney put an innocent woman in jail.

The conviction of Georgia Thompson has become part of the furor over the firing of eight United States attorneys in what seems like a political purge. While the main focus of that scandal is on why the attorneys were fired, the Thompson case raises questions about why other prosecutors kept their jobs.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which heard Ms. Thompson’s case this month, did not discuss whether her prosecution was political — but it did make clear that it was wrong. And in an extraordinary move, it ordered her released immediately, without waiting to write a decision. “Your evidence is beyond thin,” Judge Diane Wood told the prosecutor. “I’m not sure what your actual theory in this case is.”

Members of Congress should ask whether it was by coincidence or design that Steven Biskupic, the United States attorney in Milwaukee, turned a flimsy case into a campaign issue that nearly helped Republicans win a pivotal governor’s race.

There was good reason for the appeals court to be shocked. Ms. Thompson, a 56-year-old single woman, seems to have lost her home and spent four months in prison simply for doing her job. Ms. Thompson, who spent years in the travel industry before becoming a state employee, was responsible for putting the state’s travel account up for competitive bid. Mr. Biskupic claimed that she awarded the contract to an agency called Adelman Travel because its C.E.O. contributed to Mr. Doyle’s campaign.

To charge her, Mr. Biskupic had to look past a mountain of evidence of innocence. Ms. Thompson was not a Doyle partisan. She was a civil servant, hired by a Republican governor, with no identifiable interest in politics. She was only one member of a seven-person committee that evaluated the bidders. She was not even aware of the Adelman campaign contributions. She also had a good explanation for her choice: of the 10 travel agencies that competed, Adelman submitted the lowest-cost bid.

While Ms. Thompson did her job conscientiously, that is less clear of Mr. Biskupic. The decision to award the contract — the supposed crime — occurred in Madison, in the jurisdiction of Wisconsin’s other United States attorney. But for reasons that are hard to understand, the Milwaukee-based Mr. Biskupic swept in and took the case.

While he was investigating, in the fall of 2005, Mr. Biskupic informed the media. Justice Department guidelines say federal prosecutors can publicly discuss investigations before an indictment only under extraordinary circumstances. This case hardly met that test.

The prosecution proceeded on a schedule that worked out perfectly for the Republican candidate for governor. Mr. Biskupic announced Ms. Thompson’s indictment in January 2006. She went to trial that summer, and was sentenced in late September, weeks before the election. Mr. Biskupic insisted in July, as he vowed to continue the investigation, that “the review is not going to be tied to the political calendar.”

But the Thompson case was “the No. 1 issue” in the governor’s race, says the Wisconsin Democratic Party chairman, Joe Wineke. In a barrage of commercials, Mr. Doyle’s opponents created an organizational chart that linked Ms. Thompson — misleadingly called a “Doyle aide” — to the governor. Ms. Thompson appeared in an unflattering picture, stamped “guilty,” and in another ad, her name was put on a graphic of jail-cell doors slamming shut.

Most of the eight dismissed prosecutors came from swing states, and Democrats suspect they may have been purged to make room for prosecutors who would help Republicans win close elections. If so, it might also mean that United States attorneys in all swing states were under unusual pressure.

Wisconsin may be the closest swing state of all. President Bush lost it in 2004 by about 12,000 votes, and in 2000, by about half that. According to some Wisconsin politicians, Karl Rove said that their state was his highest priority among governor’s races in 2006, because he believed a Republican governor could help the party win Wisconsin in the 2008 presidential election.

Mr. Biskupic insists that he prosecuted Ms. Thompson only because he believed a crime was committed, and that he did not discuss the political implications of the case or the timing with anyone in the Justice Department or the White House. Congress has asked the Justice Department for all e-mail messages about the case to help resolve the matter.

But even if there were no discussions, Mr. Biskupic may have known that his bosses in Washington expected him to use his position to help Republicans win elections, and then did what they wanted.

That would be ironic indeed. One of the biggest weaknesses in the case against Ms. Thompson was that to commit the crime she was charged with she had to have tried to gain personally from the contract, and there’s no credible evidence that she did. So Mr. Biskupic made the creative argument that she gained by obtaining “political advantage for her superiors” and that in pleasing them she “enhanced job security for herself.” Those motivations, of course, may well describe why Mr. Biskupic prosecuted Ms. Thompson.

Great Essay

Just read this great essay in the back of Time : A Can-Do Nation (by Bill Bradley)

It talks about the fact that if we would just get our shit together and change our national attitude, we could turn around the insane pessimism that permeates our society..