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August 23, 2002


If the Press Covered Every Race Like Majette-McKinney . . .
I had planned to spend a few lines swatting down the widespread cant about the McKinney defeat ushering in a new era of black-Jewish tension -- spare me, please -- but Wyeth Ruthven does it more brilliantly than I'd even thought to.
TOM EDSALL'S MAD LIBS: I took the liberty of replacing key words and phrases from today's hand-wringing post mortem about the McKinney-Majette race. . . .
Hey, don't let me spoil it for you -- head on over to see it yourselves. It's well worth a read.

Greg G. @ 1:22 AM | # |

August 22, 2002


Is the Justice Department Above the Law?
A post this morning at Eric Olsen's site, Tres Producers, about a recent article at Publishers' Weekly caught my eye -- once again, Ashcroft's boys are having trouble letting go of information.
A group led by the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers and the PEN American Center has sent a letter of support to House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R., Wis.) and Rep. John Conyers (D., Mich.), the Committee's ranking Democrat, protesting the Justice Department's refusal to reveal how many times it has taken information from bookstores and libraries under the Patriot Act, passed last October as an amendment to the existing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

In June, the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the Justice Department asking 50 questions about the use of the Act. On July 26, Assistant Attorney General Daniel Bryant replied in a letter that the requested information was confidential and would be turned over only to the House Intelligence Committee. The House Judiciary Committee has legal responsibility for overseeing the Patriot Act while the House Intelligence Committee does not. . . .

The issue is of particular interest to booksellers. Section 215 of the Patriot Act grants the FBI the ability to demand that any person or business immediately turn over records of books purchased or borrowed by anyone suspected of involvement with "international terrorism" or "clandestine activities." The act includes a "gag order," preventing a bookstore or library from discussing of the matter with anyone or announcing the matter to the press. A bookstore may phone its attorney at the time of the request, but it can be done only as an afterthought, as the information must be supplied to the FBI immediately, or the employee risks arrest. . . .

Chris Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, told PW Daily, "We're all in the dark here because of the gag provision as to how many subpoenas or court orders have been issued. No one will tell you if there's a few or a thousand that have been issued. It's likely to scare people to hear that the Justice Department is fighting not to reveal the number." He added, "We're not asking for details, we just want to know a number."
Olsen cut straight to the point with this comment:
Again we see a near-paranoid aversion to divulging any information to anyone from John Ashcroft's Justice Department - a condition that only leads others to a similar state of paranoia in others, with or without cause. Why give so-inclined people the opportunity to let their imaginations run wild? When people perceive a pattern of unwarranted secrecy, they suspect the worst.
As if to confirm that very point, The New York Times turned up a story today that told us, well, the worst. The headline: "Secret Court Says F.B.I. Aides Misled Judges in 75 Cases."
The opinion by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which was issued in May but made public today by Congress, is stinging in its criticism of the F.B.I. and the Justice Department, which the court suggested had tried to defy the will of Congress by allowing intelligence material to be shared freely with criminal investigators. . . .

The opinion may be important in documenting why the F.B.I. was hesitant last summer to seek court authority to search the computer and other belongings of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in the Sept. 11 attacks. . . .

Officials have previously acknowledged that at the time of Mr. Moussaoui's arrest, the F.B.I. was wary of making any surveillance requests to the special court after its judges had complained bitterly the year before that they were being seriously misled by the bureau in F.B.I. affidavits requesting surveillance of Hamas, the militant Palestinian group. . . .

In essence, the court said that the F.B.I. and the Justice Department were violating the law by allowing information gathered from intelligence eavesdrops to be used freely in bringing criminal charges, without court review, and that criminal investigators were improperly directing the use of counterintelligence wiretaps.
In fairness, I have to say that most of the abuses happened when Clinton was president. A senior judge credited Ashcroft a few months ago for bringing the problems under control. Still, if the department felt at all chastened by the ruling, you couldn't tell it from this statement:
"We believe this decision unnecessarily narrowed the Patriot Act and limits our ability to fully utilize the authority that Congress provided us," said Barbara Comstock, the Justice Department spokeswoman, referring to the U.S.A. Patriot Act, the broad antiterrorism law that Congress passed after Sept. 11. The act makes it easier for prosecutors to use information gathered from intelligence wiretaps.
Let's get this straight. A court tells you that your investigators ran amuck with the authority they had . . . and you answer by complaining that the court refused to grant them even more? Sorry, that doesn't compute.

Unless you're at the Justice Department, that is, where the words to live by -- for outsiders, that is -- seem to be: "[t]rust. Why verify?" Justice claims that the court stands athwart the express will of Congress, but when Congress asks how often a small part of the Patriot Act gets used, pfffft! mum's the word. Justice says it prefers oversight by the intelligence committees, which meet in secret -- but say, hasn't the FBI put those committees under investigation for supposed leaks of information from . . . the Justice Department? Ummm, who's overseeing whom?

Democracy, people always taught me, means that the people and the laws hold the government to account. The Justice Department, with its constant flouting and stonewalling of Congress, seems to have no patience for popular oversight. The same department contends that courts have no right to even ask how government decides to throw a citizen in jail for the indefinite future. So if neither people nor the courts have the authority, in Ashcroft's eyes, to bring Justice to heel, then who can?

I don't mind having people in government enforce the law, of course. I just wish I knew whether those people bother to obey it.

Greg G. @ 11:52 PM | # |


It Never Ends . . .
Seen on a yard sign by the Pep Boys yesterday while driving the morning commute:
"Sold Out. Denise Majette. Republican."

Gotta love that wit. =,

But that ended up in my rear-view mirror, along with Cynthia McKinney's career in Congress -- so why get mad now?

Greg G. @ 12:30 PM | # |

August 21, 2002


Holy Mary, Mother of G-d . . .
. . . did I really just see these?!

Greg G. @ 8:40 PM | # |


Come One, Come All
Another player in the Majette landslide: Indian-Americans. According to The Times of India:
[W]hen she began talking about the imminent breakup of India because of its '17 different separatist movements,' . . . the Indians of Georgia lost it for her and banded together.

One prominent activist sent out an e-mail to 3400 Indian-Americans in the area reporting her remarks (under the subject line "'Balkanisation of India' advocated by Rep. Cynthia McKinney") and urging them to work for her opponent, a local judge named Denise Majette.

Led by a prominent dotcommer in the area, they were soon holding fund-raisers for Majette, who like McKinney is also African-American. They chipped in with $20,000, although much larger sums came in later from Middle East groups -- the Jews backing Majette and Arabs and Muslims supporting McKinney.

Indian-Americans contributed in other ways too. Several volunteers worked full week for Majette's campaign. She was invited as the chief guest for an Indian-American beauty pageant. A motel owner turned his electronic billboard next to the main highway into her campaign sign.

It was much after the Indian-American effort began that the Jewish lobby rolled into town. But the two sides joined hands for a phono-thon and pooled other resources for the campaign.
I met the dot-communard at Majette's victory party last night, so this has the ring of truth. And it's heartening, really -- after all this time, it turns out McKinney really was a uniter, not a divider. Too bad for her that she did all her uniting on the wrong side. =,

[Link courtesy of The Brothers Judd.]

Greg G. @ 8:17 PM | # |


If Only the Dems Would Use These . . .
Someone at needs to come out from underground and get a job as a campaign consultant, because they've whipped up some of the best poltical ads I've seen all year. Watch them and laugh -- and pass 'em on.

Note: You know, it just hit me that some visitors from the National Review might consider this just a tad offputting. But hey -- as Lyle Lovett would say, "I love everybody." Y'all have fun, now, y'heah?

Greg G. @ 11:25 AM | # |


It's a beautiful day, ladies and gentlemen. To see why, just read these primary results:

You read that right: Cynthia McKinney, a 10-year incumbent, lost her primary by 16 points. Life couldn't get any sweeter than this.

Greg G. @ 2:49 AM | # |


I promised never to play the Soup Dragons unless Cynthia McKinney, her dad, and her old chief of staff went down in defeat on the same night.

Well, last night McKinney got whupped, her ex-staff chief was stomped, and a relative unknown forced her dad into a runoff.

Lucky me -- I almost hit the trifecta! Good enough. All together now: "love me, hold me -- love me, hold me . . . "

Hey, Tim: mind if I also put on some Jesus Jones? =,

Greg G. @ 2:29 AM | # |

August 20, 2002


By the Way . . .
To read some up-to-the-minute updates on the Georgia primary, head over to PhotoDude. He's blogging so I don't have to. =,

Greg G. @ 7:30 PM | # |


All in the Family
On a more serious note, local NBC affiliate WXIA-TV asked state Rep. Billy McKinney -- Cynthia's dad -- yesterday about her daughter's recycling old endorsements by Andrew Young, Bill Clinton and Robert Redford. His response:
That ain't nothing. That's nothing. Jews have bought everybody. Jews. . . J-E-W-S.
I could unload a tank farm of righteous indignation right now, but I'm way past tired of it. Someone at the meetings I went to today, though -- we were all bleeding-heart environmentalists, mind you -- planned to spend a little of the evening the evening at the campaign party for Billy McKinney's primary opponent. After this outburst, I hope I can put in some time there myself.

This story has caught on all over the place, by the way. Good. People who support McKinney from afar could stand the education they would get from reading it.

Greg G. @ 7:19 PM | # |


Okay, I'll 'Fess Up--
The check from my buddy Max having failed to arrive in the mail today, I found myself left with no choice but to cast my ballot for (sniff!) Denise Majette. May God have mercy on my soul. =,

The lines were pretty smooth, but my polling place had twice as many voting booths as in the elections in 2000. At my precinct, I was Democratic voter number 729 or so; the Republican tally had only hit twelve. That means crossover votes galore -- which would be the key to a Majette win -- in spite of a mystery mass call last night threatening voters with arrest for voting in the Democratic primary "without the proper documents." (Which would be a driver's license.)

Voter intimidation is a felony in this state, and the Georgia secretary of state and the U.S. Justice Department are investigating. I'm sure they'll find that it was all a Majette setup to make her opponent look bad. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Greg G. @ 7:12 PM | # |


Vote, Baby, Vote
'Nuff said.

I have to spend the day at meetings out in the sticks, but I may have time to post tonight. Catch you then.

Greg G. @ 8:59 AM | # |


Blogging: the Triumph of Knowledge Over Clutter
Über-programmer Ray Ozzie shared some great thoughts on blogging a week ago:
If someone on a blog "posts a topic", others can respond, but generally do so in their own blogs, hyperlinked back to the topic's permalink. This goes on and on, back and forth. In essence, it's the same hyperlinking mechanism as the traditional discussion design pattern, except that the topics and responses are spread out all over the Web. And the reason that it "solves" the signal:noise problem is that nobody bothers to link to the "flamers" or "spammers", and thus they remain out of the loop, or form their own loops away from the mainstream discussion. A pure architectural solution to a nagging social issue that crops up online.
I never took time to think about my sweet tooth for blogging this way, but he's right. Why don't I bother with Usenet or discussion boards anymore? Because they waste my time with useless information. Why do I read blogs? Because they save time by boiling off useless information.

Like I said, great thoughts. Thanks to Brad DeLong for the link.

Greg G. @ 1:14 AM | # |


Why I Hate Al Qaeda
What's worse:
  • concluding, against my gentler instincts, that some people -- confoundingly -- have no redeeming virtues aside from mortality;
  • feeling like I ought to repent for thinking that; or
  • writing "hate," a word I used to steer clear of, without considering it particularly inaccurate?
We have to love our enemies, I know. But before last year I never saw how hard that could be. And that -- as much as I can't stand to admit that I could ever feel this way -- is why I hate Al Qaeda.

Note: Esta's also in a religious frame of mind, and it's inspired a great post. Go read it.

Greg G. @ 1:00 AM | # |

August 19, 2002


McKinney in a Nutshell
If you need more explanation of just why my Congress-critter should get the boot, check this op-ed from The Orlando Sentinel:
McKinney's racial-profiling rant was consistent with the rest of her campaign. In ads she has accused Majette of having "sold us out," and has called Majette "Tomette" in a wildly clever play on "Uncle Tom."

McKinney's clear attempt to paint Majette as the "white" candidate, whatever that means, is the definition of racist. It is also an act of desperation, such that one is tempted to join Majette's applause section, if not collapse into rapturous glossolalia.

The Georgia congresswoman should be desperate. Her campaign is in trouble and her re-election far from assured. Even Georgia's Democratic Sen. Zell Miller has turned against her, endorsing Majette. McKinney needs to be replaced.

Not necessarily because of her voting record, or because of her financial ties to certain Arab individuals sympathetic to Islamist terrorist groups. Or because some of those individuals' donations showed up, no doubt coincidentally, last Sept. 11.

And finally, not even because of her bizarre claim that President Bush knew of the terrorist attacks in advance and permitted them so that his pals could enrich themselves through war profits.

No, the reason McKinney needs to go is because these are serious times for serious people. As never before, we need temperate voices and cool heads in Washington. We need keen intellects and educated minds to weigh decisions that could mean life or death to millions and dictate the unforeseeable future.
Convinced yet, Max? =,

[Link courtesy of Stephen Green @ VodkaPundit.]

Greg G. @ 8:05 PM | # |


From the Lazy Reporting Dept.
The New York Times put a hackneyed angle on the McKinney-Majette story today, but Matthew Yglesias called the paper on it:
Why does the Times think that the McKinney-Majette primary election is "evidence of new strains between African-Americans and Jewish Americans"? Majette, who is being supported by many Jewish groups due to McKinney's anti-Israel views, is black and since most resident of Georgia's Fourth Congressional District (and presumably an even larger proportion of Democratic primary voters) are black, the race could hardly be "too close to call" if overwhelming majorities of African-Americans held McKinney's views. . . . Wouldn't it make more sense to say that this is evidence of new strains within the African-American community?
The Washington Post got the story right, though, and one out of two ain’t bad.
Unlike previous challengers, Majette appeals to black voters because she mirrors McKinney in important ways. Both are successful, well-educated black women. Majette has a degree from Yale University and McKinney has attended Tufts University. They are in their mid-forties and live in Atlanta's mostly black Stone Mountain suburb.

But their differences matter. Majette is a soft-spoken moderate Democrat who often espouses conservative views. McKinney is a firebrand who regularly attacks opponents.

Greg G. @ 5:39 PM | # |


C-Mick: How Low Can You Go?
I settle into a nice post-Boar’s-Head-and-Dirty-Chips-lunch groove, and then I read this on PhotoDude: apparently, we’ve made McKinney desperate enough to use fake endorsements! From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young says a recorded telephone message with him endorsing Rep. Cynthia McKinney is "a fudge."

The message, coupled with recorded endorsements by actor Robert Redford, former basketball star Magic Johnson and former President Bill Clinton, played to thousands of homes in the Fourth Congressional District over the past weekend.

However, the popular former mayor and U.N. ambassador did not record the endorsement this year and said Monday he told the campaigns of McKinney and challenger Denise Majette that he was going to sit this primary election out.

"It must be recycled," he said of the recording. "I really didn't want to get involved."
The call I got from Andy Young on Friday stuck in my craw for the next half-hour, so hearing him disavow it leaves me relieved. Still, you have to wonder: what with her attack mail, her election law violations, and choose-your-own-endorser stunts, is there any level of shamelessness to which McKinney won’t stoop?

Update: A great search just turned up in my referrer log: "Congresswoman McKinney nut case." Aye, that's the spirit!

Also: My question for McKinney.

Greg G. @ 3:22 PM | # |


Too Many Records, Too Little Time
New Beck, new Steve Earle, and new Peter Gabriel dropping on the same day?! I hate to admit it, but Hilary Rosen should make a mint from me on Sept. 24.

Greg G. @ 2:29 PM | # |


Election Notes
Remember: the polls stay open from 7 to 7. As Boss Daley used to say: "Vote early, vote often."

Greg G. @ 1:45 PM | # |


Country Feedback
Atlanta, Ga., fancies itself the hub of the South -- for business, that is. Darned if you can find a cornpone drawl, a porch swing, or anything but upscale grits for ladies who lunch in the city's tonier districts, but we've got a mighty fine airport and convention center. Ain't that enough?

Rootless as the place can seem, though, it is a Southern city, and in some places that doesn't take long to figure out. Like the radio, for instance. Atlanta's got a bad case of Clear Channel, don't get me wrong -- but if you tune in to a country radio station down here at just the right time, you'll get an earful of the biggest ten-gallon accents you've ever heard.

Strike that: you used to get 'em. Station management scrubbed those clear off the airwaves last week after deciding the morning DJ sounded too Southern.

You have to pause for a moment at the sheer wonder of it all. Like much of the rest of the industry country music has taken a nosedive -- but that has nothing to do, so we're told, with playlists programmed by committee, managers so out of touch that a quintuple-platinum Grammy-winning sleeper hit still can't get airplay, or artists that aim to sound less like Johnny Cash than Rick Dees. Nope, the problem is that the DJ -- on a country station -- in Dixie! -- sounds too Southern.

Well, at least they didn't blame the Internet.

The fired DJ has kept an even keel about all this. "If they want somebody who sounds like they're from New Jersey," he says, "that's fine with me." Sandblasting Southerness from the airwaves doesn't jibe with my notion of progress, though, and I can't help but hope that the station gets hit with a listener revolt. Or some common sense. Or, barring those, a proverbial 2x4 to the head.

Update: Reid Stott sounds just as aggrieved.

Greg G. @ 1:37 AM | # |


Over Here!
Hey, guys. Sorry to leave you stranded for the last couple of days; I've been saddled with a wee case of writer's block. That probably sprang from my insomniac habits last week -- tucking in at 2, rising at 7:30 -- but I'd rather put the blame on incessant blogging about Cynthia McKinney. An overdose of her is enough to drive even the most stolid of people nuts.

I'm not through with her yet, though. Not by a longshot.

On Friday I finally got around to making my sad Mac glad. I found a way to make a lite version of DiskWarrior crank out a salvageable version of my hard drive, and I took advantage of that by buying a new 20 GB hard disk and using that as backup. I ran into some stumbling blocks during reinstallation, but sleep and rethinking let me slip past those without too much agony.

So right now, for the first time in nearly a month, I'm blogging from the trusty iMac. [Yippee!] It's a little less trusty -- the OS wants to crash too much, my custom icons have gone missing, and my file associations are so scrambled that I have to walk the computer through opening SimpleText -- but for now, I've got it working, and all my documents are still here. That's good enough.

And as for whipping this puppy back into peak condition, no need to worry: Jaguar, the latest edition of the Macintosh operating system, hits the streets next weekend. That ought to give me some help. [According to The New York Times, it may also give Apple a skeleton key to the handheld market -- but I'll believe that when I see it.

[Hey Apple -- where's our interactive television box o' wonder, anyway?]

Greg G. @ 12:05 AM | # |